CAMEROON OIL LEAK SHOWS WEAKNESSES IN WORLD BANK PIPELINE
Fishermen in the southern coastal town of Kribi are warily casting their nets after a leak in the massive Chad to Cameroon pipeline recently. "Our town survives on fishing and tourism. And if more incidents like this or worse occur it will be the economic future of the town that is threatened," Kribi Mayor, Gregoire Mba Mba told reporters.
The Cameroon Oil Transportation Company (COTCO), which built the Cameroon leg of the pipeline, announced on 19 January that the structure's water evacuation system had failed. The company said the leak was quickly brought under control and no impact on the coast or on the sensitive marine environment was anticipated.
But two Cameroonian NGOs, the Centre for Environment and Development and the Network for the Fight Against Hunger, both said that there was a delay in detecting the leak and that COTCO waited five days to inform the public at large about the problem.
The NGOs said that the accident at the Kome-Kribi terminal, 11km offshore exposed weaknesses in Cameroon's ability to manage such a crisis and that the authorities had yet to devise an emergency plan of action in the event of a major spill.
The $3.7 billion Chad to Cameroon pipeline brings oil from landlocked Chad through a 1,100km pipeline - with 890km of it passing through Cameroon - to the Atlantic. The pipeline reaches the coast at Ebome, near Kribi, and continues out to sea to the Kome- Kribi tanker loading terminal.
The pipeline project was overseen by the World Bank, which demanded strict environmental and social standards, in part to prevent oil money from disappearing from government coffers. It signed a new memorandum of understanding with Chad last July after the Chadian government demanded its original promise to put 90 percent of its share of oil revenues into development be reduced to 70 percent.