Chad’s finance minister, Attieb Doutoum, has said he hopes to see the country’s oil output triple in just two years: “We aim to become the business hub of Francophone central Africa”, the minister said. Through increasing its oil production, the extra revenue will be used to fund the construction of a business zone in the capital city of N’Djamena: the cost of the project is thought to be more than $500 million.
Oil exports are invaluable to the Chadian government; they bring in about $1.2 billion annually, or 80 percent of revenue. The government hopes that output will hit 200,000 bpd next year and 300,000 bpd by 2015 once new oilfields near Lake Chad begin production. Although the plans are somewhat ambitious for the vast central African country, it still wouldn’t come close to the output from Africa’s biggest producers like Nigeria, which boasts about 2 million bpd, or Angola, which peaked at around 1.7 million bpd this spring.
However, Chad has come under fire for not using the oil revenue as promised. At the beginning of its oil boom, Chad worked closely with the World Bank, which helped build the Cameroon pipeline but set out a key condition: 80 percent of all royalties raised as a result of the pipeline would have to be spent on development initiatives. This was because half of Chad’s population continues to live in poverty, the literacy rate is less than 40 percent, and life expectancy is among the world’s lowest at 50.
Chad did not stand by to the agreement, claiming the country’s defence had to take a priority due to ongoing insurgent activities along the border with Sudan. The World Bank withdrew from the agreement in 2008, at which point China swooped in with investments of its own to spur Chad’s growing hydrocarbon industry.
Doutoum is vague about the cause of the recent production slowdown: he said that technical difficulties were to blames. There have also been suggestions that China’s involvement has not been all smooth sailing: in August this year, Chad suspended the operations of the China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) in a southern field, after it had spilled considerable amounts of oil, which caused serious environmental damage.
Although the country has been moderately stable since the mid-1990s under President Idriss Deby, Chad is still rebuilding after decades of unrest: armed militants, religious tensions and poverty still plague the country.
- Chad is Africa’s fifth-largest country. It has a population of 13 million.
- It ranks 10th in terms of the size of its oil reserves: 1.5 billion barrels.
- Oil production began in 2003, after a pipeline was completed connecting Chad to the Atlantic Ocean via Cameroon.
- Production was around 115,000 barrels per day in 2011, but dropped to about 105,000 in 2012, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
- This year, production has fallen below 100,000 bpd.
- Another Big Oil Producer For Africa? Chad Hopes To Triple Crude Output By 2015 (peakoil.com)
- Chad suspends China firm CNPC over oil spill (theoilandgasworld.wordpress.com)
- Chad suspends China state oil firm (bbc.co.uk)
- Chad’s Finance Minister Says Crude-Oil Output to Triple by 2015 – Bloomberg (bloomberg.com)