H.E. Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, President of Equatorial Guinea, and H.E. Paul Biya, President of Cameroon, have signed a bilateral treaty under which the two West African countries will collaborate on cross-border oil and gas development and monetization. The agreement was signed last week in Cameroon during the heads of state summit of the Economic and Monetary Community of Central African (CEMAC) countries, and it is expected to open up new opportunities for oilfield development and regional energy security.
As the African energy sector’s voice, the African Energy Chamber (AEC) applauds and supports the signing of the bilateral treaty between Equatorial Guinea and Cameroon. The Chamber is confident that the agreement will usher in a new era of cooperation, serving as a model for other African countries looking to strengthen knowledge sharing, skills and technology transfer, infrastructure development, and local content, all in the name of maximizing cross-border oil and gas.
As a result, the AEC urges the governments of Equatorial Guinea and Cameroon to act quickly, utilizing the treaty to accelerate field development, address fiscal challenges, and bring new supplies to the regional market.
For its part, the agreement paves the way for the joint development and monetization of cross border hydrocarbon fields, and more specifically, the Chevron-operated Yoyo (Cameroon) and Yolanda (Equatorial Guinea) oil and gas fields, which are located along the maritime borders of the two countries. Following Chevron’s acquisition of Noble Energy in 2020, the energy major has been committed to developing the promising fields, seeking to acquire a gas sharing agreement for the Yoyo and Yolanda discoveries with the aim of fast-tracking resource development.
The bilateral agreement is set to not only aid in the field’s development, with the two states now set to progress to the Unitization Agreement of the Yolo-Yolanda field and the various monetization options, but in the development and launching of various other fields.
Notably, the development of Cameroon’s Etinde gas field – operated by New Age – and Equatorial Guinea’s Camen and Diega fields are also set to be incorporated in the treaty, thereby maximizing the implementation of the Gas Mega Hub – an Equatorial Guinea initiative which aims to optimize the development and monetization of stranded offshore gas reserves in regional basins – and bringing long-term energy security and affordability benefits as well as gross domestic product growth for the two countries.
The two countries’ success in achieving this milestone of signing the bilateral treaty can be largely attributed to the efforts undertaken by an integrated team led by the National Hydrocarbons Corporation of Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea’s Ministry of Mines and Hydrocarbons. The agreement itself is set to kickstart the joint development of the countries’ vast energy resources, with oil and gas industry growth inevitable on the back of improved cooperation between Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea.
However, the treaty represents just the start, with several challenges including restrictive foreign exchange regulations implemented by the Bank of Central African States (BEAC) that continue to deter foreign investment in need of addressing. In this regard, the AEC urges further collaboration between the two countries towards improving the enabling environment for investment so that progress seen with the signing of the treaty is not only maintained but accelerated.
“The Chamber commends the move made by Equatorial Guinea and Cameroon to unite on oil and gas resource development and exploitation. We believe that cooperation among African countries is key for driving the development and monetization of hydrocarbon resources to address looming energy access and affordability issues across the continent. We are confident that cooperation between Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea will unlock long-term economic benefits for the entire region,” states NJ Ayuk, the Executive Chairman of the AEC, adding that, “What we need to see now is consolidated efforts by all West African countries to address regulations that continue to deter investment, thereby putting in place enabling environments that trigger further growth across the energy sector. Policies such as those implemented by BEAC continue to limit growth.” Concluded Ayuk
The AEC urges the Cameroonian and Equatorial Guinean governments to expand their cooperation even further to address business challenges caused by the BEAC regulations. Unless address, these regulations will continue to restrict the flow of foreign investments, the development of hydrocarbons as well as employment creation and market growth across the CEMAC region. Leveraging already existing partnerships such as the recently signed treaty, Equatorial Guinea and Cameroon have the chance to set a precedent across West Africa, with energy cooperation representing the first step towards long-term and sustainable economic growth.