The National Refining Company, SONARA, is on the verge of boosting its production capacity. The move to increase output has seen the country’s lone petroleum refining facility shut down since Sunday April 15, 2018. Officials of SONARA say the “programmed” shutdown for technical rehabilitation is expected to last till July 2018. The rehabilitation works will enable SONARA to connect phase one of their extension and modernization project to existing installations in relation to the end of the first phase of the SONARA project. Once completed, production capacity will jump to 3.5 million tons per annum, up from 2.1 million tons per year.
Though production has been temporarily stopped, supply will not be affected, Ibrahim Talba Malla, General Manager of SONARA assured. “Measures have been taken to ensure the continuous supply of refined petroleum products to the national market until the relaunch of production,” the General Manager stated in a press release.
According to Blasius Ngome, Director of Public Relations, Communication and Translations of SONARA, the shutdown for maintenance is periodic – every five years. He said enough stock of petroleum products is always kept to respond to local demand during such periods of stoppage.
It should be noted that the ongoing refurbishment is thanks to President Paul Biya’s government’s efforts to source the funds. On Wednesday April 4, 2018, the Minister of the Economy, Planning and Regional Development, Alamine Ousmane Mey contracted an FCFA 44.6 billion loan from the International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (IFTC); an autonomous entity within the Islamic Development Bank Group. The signing of the Murabaha loan accord with officials of the multilateral finance institution took place in Tunis, capital of Tunisia, on the sideline of the 43rd annual meeting of the Islamic Development Bank.
During the signing ceremony, Minister Alamine on behalf of the Head of State and the people of Cameroon thanked the development bank for their efforts in supporting the county’s development.
According to Cameroon government officials, the mobilised resources will enable the country’s lone oil refinery to increase its importation of petroleum crude, with the ultimate goal to diversify production in a bid to satisfy national and sub-regional demand.
The financing falls in line with government’s support to strategic sectors of the economy. It’s coming at a time SONARA has been pursuing a refurbishment and modernisation programme of its installations since 2005.
Since it officially kicked off production in 1981, SONARA has been putting at the disposal of the market petroleum products namely: butane, gasoline, jet fuel, kerosene, fuel oil, distillate and fuel oil.