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Pete Kramer

For the records, the Tiko-Douala highway was completed in 1969 long before the SONARA refinery in Limbe which was opened in May, 1981. I can still remember walking along that road before it was commissioned. The Tiko-Victoria road was rebuilt in 1972 by RAZEL with a new bridge over the Ombe river and surfaced by Spie Batignolles (both French companies) at a cost of CFA 916 million. The SONARA oil refinery was commissioned in 1981 by Ahidjo. Construction was by ProcoFrance (a subsidiary of Procon Corporation of America) with subcontractors, Keang Nam Enterprises of South Korea (fractionating columns), Bouygues Offshore of France for the loading terminal, and other smaller contractors from Morocco and Tunisia. The refinery was not built to refine Cameroon's heavy-grade crude, but for imported light crude from other countries, including Nigeria and Angola. Only recently is it being upgraded to refine heavy crude. It could not have been sited in Douala because the Wouri river estuary is too shallow for large sea-going oil tankers to berth at its port. The site of the refinery is not where the drilling of crude oil is done and therefore building a pipeline to Douala was technically out of the question. However, with finished products, it is still technically feasible to build a pipeline to Douala provided the volume involved makes it economical especially with an expanded refinery with more capacity.

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