Thursday, June 12, 2008

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Doba Oil Fields

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The Chad Export Project brought an investment of approximately US$3 500 million to one of the poorest countries in the world. Among the stated goals was to "provide additional resources to alleviate poverty through social sector and infrastructure development." Concerns were voiced by non-governmental organizations at the outset; these concerns included displacement of people from traditional land and livelihoods, environmental degradation, opportunity for corruption, and inadequate capacity to enforce environmental regulations.

The project included drilling 300 oil wells in farmland surrounding Doba and construction of a 1 050-km pipeline across Cameroon to Kribi on the Atlantic Coast (see map under photos panel). Small patches of light green in the 1976 satellite image show agriculture already present in the area. By 2007, the intensity of agriculture had increased greatly and three clusters of oil wells, concentrated over three oil fields, can be seen. The fields of well pads show as light coloured squares at the end of access roads (yellow arrows).

While the project has brought an influx of revenue, it remains to be seen if this translates to a better life for the people living in the vicinity of the oil fields or in Chad as a whole. World Bank documents rate the project's performance in this regard as "moderately satisfactory." Other reports have taken a less favourable view.
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