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Operations carried out by the Ministry of Water and Energy in collaboration with law enforcement officers on the ground made it possible to seize 2,633,088 litres of petroleum products during year 2022 in the Centre, Littoral, South, South West, East and
The Minister of Water and Energy, Gaston Eloundou Essomba, has warned against the tendency among certain players in the downstream oil sector to maximise their profit margin to the violation of law.
The world energy crisis born of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, marked in particular by the surge in the price of petroleum products has, among other consequences in Cameroon, invigorated fraudulent practices like the adulteration of fuels, the use of illegal detours, imports and exports of goods, and illicit storage and sale of petroleum products.
According to Minister Gaston Eloundou Essomba, the repression operations carried out by his teams in collaboration with law enforcement officers on the ground made it possible to seize 2,633,088 litres of petroleum products during year 2022 in the Centre, Littoral, South, South West, East and West regions. That is more than a third of the quantities seized over the last five years, amounting to 5,603,673 litres, all products combined.
The Minister reports a rise in fraudulent exports of petroleum products to neighbouring countries like Central African Republic (CAR), where the price of kerosene at petrol stations is FCFA 1150 per litre, against FCFA 350 in Cameroon. Super in CAR costs FCFA 1300 per litre, against FCFA 730 in Cameroon, diesel is sold there across pumping stations at FCFA 1450 per litre against FCFA 720 in Cameroon.
He denounces certain players in the downstream oil sector for being behind these rapidly expanding fraudulent practices of tankers intended for local consumption, with the aim of "increasing their profit margin at all costs, to the violation of current regulations." These practices obviously weigh heavily on subsidies, which were more than FCFA 700 billion in 2022. For the year 2023, the State has decided to reduce this envelope by half and has adjusted fuel prices at the pump. In particular, it increased the price of a litre of superfood by + FCFA 100, which thus rose from FCFA 630 to FCFA 730 and by + FCFA 145 for a litre of diesel to FCFA 720 in 2023, against FCFA 575 in 2022.
Financial Losses To The State
On the financial losses linked to the fraud of petroleum products, the Minister of Water and Energy stresses that no reliable study carried out over the past two decades is available. The last study carried out on the issue by the Oil Professionals Group (GPP) dates back to the early 2000s. Those distributed were either adulterated or simply diverted from their normal channel.
"These phenomena had caused losses for the State estimated at around FCFA 32 billion per year," the Minister recalls. There is no doubt that these losses have increased tenfold over the past 20 years, given the scale of fraud, which goes with the sophistication of techniques. In response to this phenomenon, several fraudulent supply corridors have been identified, on the basis of which the fight is organised.
The Minister cites that, "Fuel is smuggled from neighbouring countries, particularly Nigeria or quite simply from maritime piracy in the Gulf of Guinea, fuel mixing centres installed in barracks adjoining the vicinity of oil depots of the Cameroon Company of Petroleum Depots (SCDP), fuels coming from the high seas from fishing boats and oil platforms.” The same is true, he continues, "of the removal of petroleum products from wagons and tankers by destroying the seals affixed to the valves, military fuels and those intended for export which are tax-exempt products end end up in service stations and other private distribution points through illegal routes.