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Ministers Downplay Impact Of SONARA’s Shutdown On Locals

At a joint press conference in Yaounde Sunday June 2, the Ministers of Water & Energy, Trade and Communication dispelled fears of fuel scarcity, assuring the public that, the fire incident at Cameroon’s lone oil refinery company SONARA will not affect the prices of petroleum products in the local markets.

They claimed that Government has already taken measures to import the products with the first shipment to arrive the country today Tuesday, June 4.
Trade Minister, Luc Magloire Mbarga Atangana told reporters that the cost of living will not be affected by the disaster.

The prices of petroleum products and cooking gas remain unchanged. Super will remain at 630 FCFA per liter, Gasoil 575 FCFA , Kerozene 350 FCFA and Cooking Gas 6500 FCFA for a 12.5KG bottle. He added that, ” Price control teams will be on the field to guarantee that prices do not scale up.”

Gaston Eloundou Essomba, the Minister of Water and Energy revealed that it will take at least 12 months for repairs to be done. But Government will revive the four damaged production units, after thorough investigations.

The Minister of Communication Rene Emmanuel Sadi revealed that the extension project of the company will continue despite last week’s incident.

“SONARA is a jewel to our industrial efforts,” the Government spokesman proclaimed.

The press conference follows a crisis meeting chaired by the Prime Minister, Chief Dr Joseph Dion Ngute aimed mapping out a concret plan to deal with the shocks of the incident.
Despite Government’s assurance, experts argue that, the National Price Stabilization Fund CSPH will be expected to go deeper into her purse to make sure households don’t take an unfavorable hit. And for this to happen, it will incur a huge financial inconvenience.

The state will be forced to seek for loans. And with a separatist insurgency and Boko Haram already gulping billions of francs CFA, Dr Eyong Tabe, a Governance expert says, Government will be forced to increase taxes which will obviously affect purchasing power of consumers.

The fire incident has also raised questions over the functioning of the Refinery. Experts are wondering why a refinery will be using hydroelectricty when it can conveniently produce its own energy source from crude products .
SONARA presently refines just 25 percent of its local (light) crude with a huge quantity sent abroad for the process.

The reason is because the country’s refinery is not adapted to deal with heavy crude. This explains why despite having 10 percent of the world’s petroleum reserves, Cameroon is not a member of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries – OPEC.

Experts also wonder why a refinery was not initially built for the country’s crude when oil was discovered in the late 60s before its creation.

The ongoing extension of the company started in 2005 and has already swallowed hundreds of billions of FCFA .

The company hopes to increase its production capacity to at least 3.5 million tons, capable of treating the country’s heavy crudes in the future.

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