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« British High Commission Lauded For Sponsoring Local Projects | Main | Douala Tit-bits: 2 Million Unemployed Youths Roam The Country »

Monday, 16 February 2009


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Let them go.What has the Frenchman done to Cameroon since they tok over from the Germans?WHat has Total done to an ordinary Bakweriman even to give them whisky and take more land.
They should never come back or we wll start fight like the Ogoni people of Nigeria


It's a good idea they left. At times you wouldn't believe how Ignorant the forieign expatriates could appear. We got the talents and we should never at any point in time think thiers ideas are better then our. If they were good enough, they shouldn't have prefered to work in sub-sahara Africa in the first place.Trust me, they can't manage a similar role anywhere in Europe. Many thanks to our General Manager who did not buy their ideas.


I am very sorry to say we have begin worshiping this french people for so long,for what reason can someone tell me our give me an answer.
To all cameroonians after france most have drank all our blood off our bodies then what would be left?
Lets take examples of Nigeria all this while.Have we no able camerroians to run our companies without the help of forieign expatriates.
what is so call big schools and big book in cameroon ment for.
Please Cameroonians we are not more children we can take care of our companies rather than there little money we own be taken away by this french peolpe we so call.


They go or they do not go, it makes no difference. The company is french and the oil owned by the french. I have never heard of Cameroon being mentioned as one of the oil producing nations. Also the cost of gas in Cameroon is one of the dearest on earth.


look at the fools, threatening to quit if their demands were not met. Who do these idiots think they are? Africa really needs to be ashamed. We loan our companies to 3 or 4 common white people who escaped the West because they were not qualified enough to have jobs. Such a shame!
Good riddance.

Tekum Mbeng

When a crude is heavy, it produces more bitumens and less lights. Bitumens are precursors to road tar. Lights can be chemical feedstocks. The money lies in the middle - less volatile fuel blends for aviation and cars. New storage facilities and in fact vacuum distillation infrastructure may be needed. The economics also change.

SONARA technical staff therefore need to consider their options very carefully. Much can be gained by collaborating with South Africa and China. Furthermore, a gradual transition, involving processing blends of imported crude and domestic crude may be better than jumping into heavy crude in one go.

The "allo allo" men are leaving because of inflated egos. They cannot stand an African ordering them around. Any refinery can be set up to refine any crude. The baseline is economics. Most refineries blend to optimize revenues - you have to make the fuel for your market!

Another issue is maintenance and the care-free attitude of Cameroonians. Beware of petrol!!!! One error and it is a fireball.

Ma Mary

Original frogs (the French) always have the last say in Republique francais du Cameroun over the copy cat frogs (Camerounese). Revisit this issue in one year regarding the status of Metouk.


First, these suckers have no business hanging around.They don't have our interest at heart, and they are not supposed to. Tekum, you bring up some very good points and let me just add to that. Crude that has a high sulfur content yields a lot of residue when refined. The end result is a lot of its bye products end up as grease which is needed for lubrication. Some of it makes up the tar we need for construction. Cameroon built its refinery along the same line as Nigeria's first two refineries. They had no capacity for refining crude with a high sulfur content. So, they had to build a third in Kaduna. The so called line that runs from Port Harcourt to Kaduna is not actually carrying crude from anywhere in Nigeria to the North, but carrying crude imported from the Gulf States to Kaduna for refining. The Frenchmen kicking against Cameroon having such a refinery are simply saying, "the sooner you have this capability, the sooner France will lose some of the market where to dump its exports.
If some of you will recall, we were expected to have completed a paper mill back in thew 90s to produce newsprint for the entire central African region. The equipment were expected to handle tropical soft wood. France, under the directives of a French engineer convinced uf the texture of the type of wood in question was not an engineering problem. We got the equipment and work was completed. On the first day of production, the equipment blew up, killing 15 employees, all Cameroonians. I met the daughter of the said engineer here in North America and was tempted to strangle her. We couldn't even find a buyer to take the damaged equipment at its salvage value. Here we are, forty-nine years after independence, and still having Frenchmen print our money, holding us at gun-point and telling us they will quit if their opinions are not listened to.For all I care, they should not have been there in the first place. Its time the university of Buea opened up a department of petroleum engineering and start training some of the kids who will run the oil business. When we have trained enough of them, we nationalize the industry. Ghadafi did it, and is alive and well, thank you. Mexico did it, so did Venezuela. What is Cameroon waiting?
How often do you hear of such rubbish coming out of Nigeria, Ghana or Libya for? Where is the superior Franco-African thinking for christ sake? It only gets accentuated when they see an Anglo?

Tekum Mbeng


I think you mean a department of petroleum technology to combine petroluem engineering and chemical engineering. It takes both disciplines and a bit of electrical engineering to get a refinery going. You also need plenty of experience!

You may be shocked to find that the "Allo Allo" men have no formal education. Sending them home gives the refinery an ability to replenish spare parts at cheaper prices from the open market. The "Allo allo" generally curry business for French firms - a benefit of having an empire to plunder.

Cameroon's Kole crude is not really a super heavy crude with an API of 32 and sulphur content of 0.33%, according to the US Department of Energy. Heavy crudes, for example Venezuela heavy comes at an API of 22 and sulphur contents in excess of 1.5%. Light crudes, for example Ebony light stand at APi of circa 45.

The crew in Victoria need to apply due diligence to define the effects on capacity before jumping into Kole. A blend of Kole and Ebony Light might be a better strategy. It is a management of change exercise for them and we wish them success.


There are certain observations I would like to make with respect to this article .
1- Total has but 18% not 28% share as stated by the reporter.
2- The share capital of SONARA is 23 Billion not 17.8 as stated.
3- Saying "foreigners" quit their job is Wrong. Total oil company is a shareholder of SONARA, with 18% share. The same company has a different contract with SONARA as a TECHNICAL ASSISTANT. The technical assistant contract is what has been put into fire. Those white people, qualified or not where under this umbrella. Its very normal for them to leave when the contract is on fire.
4- The expansion of SONARA will include the installation of new units like Hydro cracking of which Total has little experience. What is happening in Cameroon is what happened in Ivory Coast in 1990 where, when they had to expand their refinery. Because Total wanted to hide its ignorance on running Hydro cracking units(hydro cracking is the conversion of topping residue into lighter products),they redrew from the project and came back after the new production units where installed and running properly. Total Oil Company installed its first Hydro cracking unit in 1997 in Normandy and had to invite operators from Ivory Coast to start up the unit. I only hope that Cameroon will not behave like Ivory Coast.( True facts). 5- Saying that SONARA refines only 10% of Cameroonian crude is absolute nonsense. SONARA refined 20% of Cameroonian crude last year and 28% of Cameroonian crude in 2007.
I would like people to know that, SONARA transforms crude oil into finished products like Cooking gas, super(premium fuel), kerosene, Jet fuel, Gas oil, Hydro cracking feed, and atmospheric residue( Fuel oil 1500 and Fuel oil 3500). Products like super, Jet fuel and Gas oil have better values in the markets than the other products. Light crude generate these 3 products more. Heavy crude generate more of residue and hydro cracking feed. These two products have little value in the market.
Mr.Tekum talked about blending. SONARA has been blending crude for the past 3 decades. There is even an "Online" mixing pump just to ensure proper blending with respect to what the market at the time looks like (not forgetting other constrains like the availability of a desired crude type). It should be noted that, the company involve in the revamping project (Forster Wheelers) is a world leader in refinery construction and revamping.
I would like to say that, what these frogs have allowed Metouck to do is what Forgimdam started but was not given the chance to finish. Also I think Anglophone journalists need to create good relations to have proper information. La nouvelles expressions and Mutations, which are both French papers, did a better job with this story.



Tekum Mbeng


I take your writing in good faith though your logic seems questionable.

For example, you wrote "Saying that SONARA refines only 10% of Cameroonian crude is absolute nonsense. SONARA refined 20% of Cameroonian crude last year and 28% of Cameroonian crude in 2007.

28% in 2007
20% in 2008

The above is too few data to be drawing hard conclusions as the journalist attempted. The fact is SONARA is not majoring in the local Kole yet but is doing something about it.

Secondly, do not write off Total engineers. Hydrocracking is an old technology taught in undergraduate courses to chemical engineers. Total people certainly know about it. There is no proof that Total needed a team from C d'I because of lack of in-house experience. It could have been for other credible reasons, e.g. cost and availability. Total built SONARA. Give credit where it is due.

Mr Forjindam is the guy who went around calling for a Life Presidency for Paul Biya and not Mr. Metouck. When parastatal leaders get drunk, like Forjindam did after President Biya called his name in an end of year message, it is possible to get carried away into a gutter. Keep cool and work for the people. Stay away from open politics. Forjindam got involved in Politics.


Che Sunday

I am so proud of you all. Reading through the comments above gives me the believe that we shall someday extricate ourselves from this pythonic stranglehold from this cadre of mediocrity at the helm of our country. Look through the degree of expertise being exhibited above! That is why I am an advocate of letting us learn by making our own mistakes. If we take away the generation of corner cutters, with their propensity for reaping where they never sow, Cameroon should be regarded as fertile ground for some good minds. You proved it well beyond the basics in this discusion and several that we have had the chance to ponder on this forum. By the way, its me Nsahlah under a different AKA. Good day all.



Ta Muma

Popoul has moved residence from France to Switzerland and has been insubordinate to Sarkozy.This however does not mean the ties have been severed.French mediocre nurses act like medical doctors in Cameroon.French licentiates are revered lecturers in our very big IUTs.If our dictators could at least be nationalist,tell me why we will not be convinced that should they die,our map will disappear from the face of the earth.
Cameroonians though are noted for some oddities, have some of the most talented in almost every art in the world.It is one of the riches in Africa in terms of raw materials, human resources et al.The worse tax system.The riches state or government officials.The most docile people. So much in the diaspora in terms of brains and capital to operate lots of job-creating businesses,even patroleum engineers to take charge of minute problems like the one in SONARA,yet authoritarian,nepotic and balkanizational governing methods have rent the whole place asunder.What is even more appalling is that trivialities like the above subject easily sway us to waste energy forgetting about real issues.When an executive spends all its time to tailor the judiciary in such a way that institutions are best known under individual names any thing can happen.Don't be surprise at Metouck's next move in spite the patriotism we are all seem to have. Our parents look at us in the eyes but keep lying.I fear we would be nothing different from them , unless they change their egoistic lies telling tendencies.


Hi to all readers and commentors,

It's quite interesting to note the interest and passion or rather emotions with which we react to this article. I would like to thank the publishers first for the information even if it's not very accurate in all aspects. My thanks also go the readers who have posted comments for the interest exhibited and the varying degrees of awareness exposed. I wish to retain one very important issue brought to light by this article: SONARA's management has at long last thought of modifying the limited plant to a more comprehensive one that would face less limitations in futur if properly managed. This is called vertical integration and can involve horizontal as well. Cameroon's production of heavy crude is sure an argument for this step, but there would be others as well. The decision to expand, integrate vertically and/or horizontally has to be the end product of the number of studies - projections, analyses and forecasts, but most important should be choice as a matter of policy and national strategy. Aside from economic interests which put profit above every other consideration, the national interest with regards to autonomy, strategic positioning, the national market and socioeconomic impact should be heavily weighted on the positive side of decision making. You would all bear with me that the french nationals working for TOTAL have nothing but profit as guiding principles and wouldn't care a damn what national interests we may wish to defend. What I like in Mr. METOUCK's attitude is his ability to withstand and oppose blackmail from such suckers who sure don't care about Cameroon and Cameroonians. Against all the fears expressed above as to what Metouck's next steps or his whereabouts would be, I hope he is being professional enough to get backing for his project and good intentions from SNH, the powers that be and of course the common Cameroonians to whom it matters to know the adaptability and productivity of SONARA's equipment for several reasons. Now, we know that this project is in the pipeline, Metouck or no Metouck and the will of our age old bureaucrats and irresponsible opportunists and psycophants not withstanding, we should take interest in the project and see it come to realisation. please follow up this subject and keep the debat alive!


joke joke

Those guys should not leave now. I am thinking they should be arrested and investigated. They had some hidden interest with the importation of crude.

Some one should tell me why should we import crude oil if we can buy crude oil locally.
Further, if these guys did not have an un- official dealing with the importation of crude why and how does a change of business strategy affect their roles?

Were they having some benefits from the imports, or are they the suppliers of the crude, or are they in partnership with the foriegn crude suppliers?

I am of the opinion that these guys should declare the interest they had with the crude suppliers before they leave the country. Don't be supprise the importation of crude was their private business and the price SONARA was paying for the crude is highly above average market price.
No white man will leave his family and prefer a role in sub-sahara Africa expect he is printing money in that role, or he is not good enough to manage similar role in Europe. Hope the GM has order for a foriensic audit in procurement or supply chain management.


Great ideas guys. I totally agree with most of you regarding the French guys, however we should not just give all credits to this chap yet. We should remember that our leaders have always been of the habit of creating projects (even when they know it is not feasible) just so that they can have something to embezzle rather than out of national interest.

The unfinished and abandoned projects(especially Buildings and Bridges)all over the country are there for all to see. If METOUCK's intentions are good we tahnk God for him, then the next question is does he really a have a good project management plan so that the project does no end up consuming money only to be abandoned soon. Remember even with good intentions such a project if poorly managed could send SONARA towards the path of CAMAIR and other parastatals we have seen dissapear.


Mr Tekum, I will not like us to debate on this issues but i believe that you are one of the positive contributors on this article. With your knowledge of blending and knowing that SONARA has is only a Hydroskeaming refinery it is economically very profitable for SONARA to refine only light fuels.


Mr Tekum.
I did not finish the article.
I would like you people to know that, SONARA buys more than 85% of its crude through SNH. SONARA pays the same custom duty on cameroonian crude ( Kole and Ebome) just like imported crude.( Dont ask how).
Secondly you should know that, engineers don't run refineries, they MONITOR refineries. The production department of any refinery in the whole world is made up of people with a maximum certificate is the GCE Advance level. No Total Engineer has ever worked in SONARA. They work at the CERT in France. If you don't mind read SONARA journals and you will see that all those white people received but in house training.I am not saying that they are not competent what I am saying is that they come to SONARA with a lot of experience that running a small refinery like SONARA is just allowing them to prepare thier retirement.
Also, its very through that Hydrocracking is found in textbooks. But as a matter of fact go to Total website and you will know when they started operating a Hydrocracking unit. The one in Ivory coast was built by Forster Wheeler directly from the USA.
Of course you should know that building a Hydrocking Unit involves the construction of subsidiary units like, a Hydrogen unit,construction of a second catalytic reforming unit, steam of about 60 bars, SONARA4 present steam is just 17 Bars used for stripping, turbines, soothblowing etc.
The expansion of SONARA requires 300 Billion fcfa. Metouck has raised the money already. I don't think those who gave him the money did not ask Total's Opinion( what did you think Total said?).
Sincerely speaking I hate Forgindam as a politician but will always hail him like a technocrat. Metouck is just on his own class. I think we should all work with him.


Mr Nyama

I read your comment and I see you have a lot of info about this project and the petroleum industry in general.From the information I read on this blog I turn see issue differently from you about the possible success of this project.My reason is simply from a project management pespective and what I read from you guys. I understand that this Metouck guy is saying that he can realise a 300Billion fcfa project to remodel SONARA so it can handle heavy crude in a year or two? from 2009 to 2010? and you guys think he can make this fly? He has to be a magician.

You seem to know all that is need as you list out from time to time on your comments, from a procumment pespective I know that equipements for such projects are not just hanging on the shelves for pick up even when you have the money. Some of these things are only manyfactured on demand and require customers to put in thier request well ahead of time. How long did it take to construct a simple bridge of 120m long over
the Mungo? a project which cost only 9.5billion fcfa Hellooo let's get real


nice comments.
Just a question: if you cameroonians are so clever why then you live in such miserable status ?

Tekum Mbeng


You provide useful info.

You wrote

"The expansion of SONARA requires 300 Billion fcfa. Metouck has raised the money already."

300 billion FCFA = $650m approx.

That is a lot of cash. If you're correct, one can safely conclude that the project is very costly.

Beware of Foster Wheeler. Engineering contracting firms can be worse than highway robbers! The final bill from Foster Wheeler could ruin the economic case for SONARA for many years to come, especially if a post-Biya leader deregulates the refining sector allowing other companies to be set up (my recomendation).

At 3% APR, it would cost SONARA $6.3m (2.8 billion FCFA) per month in principal and interest payment over 10 years.

So we would hope that the central african market will absorb the product! Raising the price of petrol from Victoria simply makes the economic case to smuggle refined products from Nigeria more compelling, regardless of strikes by taxi drivers. Equatorial Guinea would soon be refining. No one can corner the market.

I am not sure of Metouck's background. Is he another philosophy graduate or a cook-out from ENAM? At $650m, the stakes are vey high.


Mr Tekum, I appreciate your recent analysis, the stakes are really high and it is really a thing far beyond weather or not the French are competent or not. To me the questions are, are we prepared? Have the authorities done thier home work? is this some other project that will enrich a few cameroonians and send the rest of us deeper into debts?

Oh Mr enricodemag,I am not sure who told you that Cameroonians leave in a miserable status, we know we deserve better and can do better but we are not miserable. Secondly we are voicing our opions in an effort to contribute to nation building what are you doing? By your statement I guess you are implying that cameroonians are stupid so we should not speak but your question also suggest to me that where ever it is you come from, it may be a breading ground for the people you describe'A holes'.Real minds know that sharing opinions is the best way towards progress.I invite you to think I am certain that you will have better things you can share if you take time to think.


To me this Fench people should be even send away because their main aim is to exploit us. Let more Cameroon go for training instead of depending on this so call France ,what has they done in this country, when i think of this of this french people i developed headach ,i hate them, they should go.

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