While Cameroon's near-term oil production outlook is somewhat uncertain, there are projects capable of delivering modest volume growth over the medium-to-long term. More efficient usage of associated gas, through the limitation of flaring and the development of domestic resources, offers prospects for sustainable growth in the upstream gas segment, with potential output available for domestic use, power generation and eventually for export as liquefied natural gas (LNG).
The main trends and developments we highlight for Cameroon's oil and gas sector are as follows:
- BMI expects growth in crude production to be somewhat irregular over the next decade, with output of an estimated 63,000 barrels per day (b/d) in 2012 peaking at just under 87,000b/d in 2015. This uncertain growth outlook is based on a small number of modest new projects, which are only capable of temporarily offsetting the underlying decline of older fields. The Cameroonian government has estimated that domestic oil production will average nearly 79,000b/d in 2013.
- Consumption of crude is likely to steadily increase from 2012 to 2022. We therefore anticipate consumption rising from an estimated 30,000b/d in 2012 to 50,000b/d by 2022.
- BMI forecasts that gas production will increase from 0.24bn cubic metres (bcm) in 2013 to 3.31bcm by 2022, as the country reduces the practice of flaring and starts monetising associated gas resources. Gas production is to be boosted further by new projects, such as the Victoria Oil and Gas Logbaba scheme. Gas output growth provides export prospects, notably in the form of LNG as suggested by the proposed 4.8bcm liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal in Kribi.
- Bowleven has applied formally to the government for permission to start extracting gas. The company moved forward with a final investment decision (FID) in March 2013, with the first gas from the MLHP-7 block on the Etinde permit expected to be produced in 2016.
- Gas demand is set to rise steeply on the back of numerous infrastructure projects that will boost domestic consumption. The most notable of these projects is the 216 megawatt (MW) Kribi power plant which was commissioned in June 2013. As a result, we see gas consumption rising from 0.23bcm in 2012 to 1.01bcm by 2022.
- In the downstream sector, the government has ambitious plans to expand capacity at Societe Nationale de Raffinage (SONARA), the country's only refinery located in Cape Limboh, from 45,000b/d to 70,000b/d; and to upgrade the facility so that it will be able to process the heavy crude oil that is produced in Cameroon, and not simply imported light grades. We expect this expansion to be completed in 2015.
- The government has entered into a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with US-based International Refinery Consultants (IRC) to build a new oil refinery in the country. The IRC will conduct extensive studies for building the high-capacity Cameroon Atlantic Refinery Project in Kribi. Initially, the refinery will produce at least 200,000b/d of oil and could be expanded to 350,000b/d after that. With no recent update on this project, we have decided not to include this plant in our forecast at the moment.
Cameroon's dependence on oil prices leads to high volatility in the country's export revenues. Our assumptions of tight supply due to booming demand in emerging markets is clearly an opportunity for the country. At the time of writing, we forecast OPEC basket oil prices to remain elevated and average US $105 per barrel (bbl) in 2013, before falling back to US$97/bbl in 2017 and to US$96/bbl in 2022.