By Paul J. Lysinge
Cameroon’s economy is crumbling following significant loses in oil and gas processing and as the government continues fighting an undefeatable guerilla warfare insurgency in Ambazonia. After the Swiss chocolate company known as Barry Callebaut has remained implicated in the interest of the Swiss government in the ongoing conflict that has affected 4.5million people, displaced 450,000 Ambazonians, caused over 60,000 to become refugees around the globe, and killed more than 4,000 people on both sides, two other Swiss companies are also rapped in what has become Swiss-led process for Swiss economic interest (“Swiss P for Swiss I”). These two Swiss companies are Swiss-Reinsurance Company Ltd and Threshold Capital SA.
On May 31 this year, an explosion in SONARA caused the shutting down of all production in the oil refinery. Experts have not conclusively determined the cause of the explosion. However, two main possible causes have been named. These include an attack by the defense forces of Ambazonia fighting for the independence and sovereignty of the Ambazonia territory, or an accident by neglect of standard protocols in regulating the industry’s electrical circuit system during power outages.
The Cameroon government declared “a situation of force majeure” following the incidence and was hopeful that the refinery will be up and running within a year. This hope has been shattered as possible reconstruction of the lone refinery that the Cameroon government relies on for oil and gas processing has entered limbo due to four reasons.
AmbaNews24 has received reliable expert business documents both from sources within the government and in the oil and gas extraction, processing and distribution chain in Cameroon, which reveal that the Paul Biya’s regime of Cameroon shall be unable to reconstruct SONARA even in the next two years for multiple reasons. These include:
(1) the refinery itself, SONARA, has no means of financing the reconstruction. No rainy day fund was kept for the refinery as Cameroon government officials – especially at the Presidency in Yaoundé to which they directly report – embezzled profits from the refinery in the systemic of pandemic corruption and tyranny that characterizes the decaying republic.
(2) Cameroon’s public finances are highly stretched with very little or no revenue coming from the two largest “internal” sources of cash that have historically funded the government. These sources are SONARA itself, and the Cameroon Development Corporation (CDC), an agro parastatal that the Ambazonia pro-independence forces have brought production in to a virtual halt in their successful guerilla warfare strategy of economic sabotage.
(3) The International Monetary Fund (IMF) will likely veto any further borrowings by the Cameroon government because the government has lost its alliances overseas, especially the United States of America, following the government’s violent response to a peaceful Ambazonian quest for self-determination in 2016, which since then turned the self-determination cause into an armed struggle in self-defense against Cameroon’s barbaric military actions, extensive violation of human rights, killing of more than 4,000 unarmed civilians and the burning down of more than 300 towns and villages in Ambazonia. The IMF believes that with the stretch in the country’s finances, the government shall be unable to pay back loans.
(4) SONARA was uninsured at the time of the fire incident; the refinery was not paying its premium to Swiss-Reinsurance Company Ltd, commonly known as Swiss-Re that is headquartered in Zurich, Switzerland. The Swiss-Re Group is a global leading provider of reinsurance, insurance and other forms of insurance-based risk transfer. The Cameroon government has attempted to back-pay the lapsed insurance in the hope that Swiss-Re would accept and pay for the reconstruction of the refinery, but the insurance corporation has rejected the proposal because of the more than $800million it will have to pay out to Cameroon for the reconstruction of the refinery. Attempts by the government to re-purchase premium from the Swiss corporation faced roadblocks as the insurance company labelled SONARA as extremely risky considering both the current destruction and the high probability of future destruction by Ambazonian pro-independence fighters.
However, Swiss-Re has tentatively assured the Cameroon government that it will consider re-insurance and assist with access to credit lines if the Biya regime resolves the Ambazonian conflict through the proposed Swiss-led facilitation process. This process is also facing significant roadblocks as Ambazonian fighters such as those of the Ambazonia Defense Forces (ADF) and its allies that are actually exercising dynamic control (and static control in some areas) in the territory have pointed out significant flaws in the Swiss-led mediation process and are unwilling to lay down arms without Cameroon first withdrawing its troop from the territory, thus paving the way for recognition of the independence and sovereignty of Ambazonia.
With the above four reasons putting Cameroon’s oil and gas supply in jeopardy, Threshold Capital SA is providing to companies such as Alpha Oil Cameroon SA market solution and commercialization for entry for an importer into Cameroon. Threshold Capital SA (CH-660.0.203.017-3) it should be noted, is another Swiss investment advisory company that provides private market transactions and advisory solutions in alternative investments and commodities, and is active in crude oil, middle distillates (low sulfur gasoil, gasoline and high octane components), liquefied natural gas, thermal goal, coal and base metals and non-ferrous metals.
From the documents that AmbaNews24 has received, current supply options prevent customers from accessing any market arbitrage opportunities into the local market from international refiners without significant credit lines. The local independent fuel distributors are mainly held captive by the high barriers of entry to access the local infrastructure and the extensive financial (working) capital commitments required.
The refined product positions held on anchorage, floating storage, lightering the mother vessel to the daughter vessel and working capital cost will self-liquidate every 65-75 days. The trade facility required for the business is expected to be USD50million.
The positions will be unsecured. Payment will take place from the final end receiver of the oil, before the product is released from floating storage on anchorage to the Daughter vessel (Collateral Management Agreement). The expected return for the project is 32%. The receiver of the oil has proposed a collateral management agreement system where the receivables are placed into escrow account.
Trampling on Ambazonian Blood in Ambazonia’s Oil
One reason the Republic of Cameroon completed its annexation scheme of Ambazonia in 1972 when Cameroon completely abolished every Ambazonian institution was because of the discovery of oil in the Atlantic cost shore of present day Ambazonian city of Limbe, previously known as “Victoria”, where SONARA is located. Ambazonia lies on the eastern border of oil-rich Nigeria. With the illegal annexation of Ambazonia and the extraction of its oil and gas, the Republic of Cameroon became the fifth largest oil producer in Sub-Saharan Africa that was producing 100,000 barrels per day (1999). Gas reserves estimated at 110 billion cubic metres (bcm) are still unexploited in the Rio del Rey basin – all in Ambazonia.
SONARA’s total refinery produce in 2018 was 221,286 m3. Production stopped in April 2018, to upgrade the installation in order to reach a capacity of 2,100,000 m3 per year. SONARA imported 963,559m3 to cover needs for 2018.
Over 80% of fuel and petroleum products consumed both in Cameroon’s territory and in the occupied territory of Ambazonia is refined in SONARA. The refined fuel, however, is transported by trucks tanks from the refinery to the main depot of Bessengué or Mboppi, both in Douala in Cameroon’s territory. In fact, the SONARA refinery pays no dime in taxes directly or indirectly to the local council in its area of location; it pays to councils in Douala.
Until May this year, SONARA was supplying 70% of the refined product and the balance via marketers for 30%. The total production of SONARA was estimated at 80-85’000 barrels per day. With SONARA missing in the supply chain, the market is short of a further 150kt on a monthly basis.
While the Cameroon government is daily killing the Ambazonian people, Swiss firms and other business partners are daily engaged in business oil deals involving oil and gas in Ambazonia. The Cameroon military is daily burning down Ambazonian grandmothers and grandfathers in their homes, firing live bullets at hospitals and schools and killing the sick and kids therein. The streets of Ambazonia are dyed red with the blood of innocent victims of Cameroun’s tyranny in Ambazonia while the Swiss government, for the interest of Swiss businesses, propagates and maintains shady deals behind the scene, dangling with Ambazonian resources in Ambazonian blood and using a “Swiss-led” conflict resolution scheme in which it appears as the peace maker to shield its tracts.
In the midst of all these Cameroon government massacres and property destruction coupled with Swiss distractive, purported conflict mediation talks without written mandate from Cameroon, the Swiss government has effectively built a firewall around itself using some supposed Ambazonian leaders who daily defend the Swiss in diatribes embracing, without any hesitation and questions, a Swiss-led facilitation process in which the economic interest of Switzerland is becoming more and more prominent by each passing day.
The Ambazonian people are asking serious questions following startling revelations by veteran journalist and leader of the Consortium, John Mbah Akuroh. In these revelations, he details the origin of the Swiss-led facilitation process; the persuasive manipulations by the Swiss government envoys to obtain a mandate from some Ambazonian groups – some of which are unknown to those fighting, suffering and dying in the territory; the brainwashing of “leaders” of these groups to see themselves at the beg and call of Switzerland with no hope and opportunity for any other mediator; the pushing of these “leaders” into so-called capacity building sessions which the Swiss Foreign Ministry through the Humanitarian Dialogue Center in Switzerland has used as a means to gather intelligence on the Ambazonian liberation struggle; the dragging of these “leaders” into pre-talks without immunity for attendees, which has ultimately ended in the illegal abduction and incommunicado detention of Ambazonia’s truth and justice advocate, Abdulkarim Ali by the Cameroon government; and the turning of these “leaders” into desperate sophists who are more interested in defending the interest of the Swiss than raising a well-armed and disciplined army in Ambazonia that will skillfully defend the Ambazonian people, assume static control of the territory, put an end speedily to the barbarism of Cameroon in the homeland, and terminate Cameroon’s illegal occupation and rule of Ambazonia.