The ceremony recognized and celebrated the successful partnership between the Governments of Chad and Cameroon, the Project sponsors (Esso, Petronas and ChevronTexaco) and the World Bank Group. This partnership was created and built through years of collaboration and consultation with the citizens of Chad and Cameroon.
Achievements in the construction and the operational phases of the Project were also celebrated. These include completion of the pipeline construction and pipeline fill operations one year ahead of schedule along with the field facilities at one of the three oil fields under development. The first cargo of crude oil was loaded on October 3, 2003, from the Floating Storage and Offloading vessel, offshore Kribi, Cameroon, and is on its way to world markets.
Addressing inauguration attendees, Morris Foster, president of ExxonMobil Development Company, said, "It is with great pride that I am here today to celebrate this tremendous accomplishment with everyone who has been involved in the Project. I want to personally thank President Deby and President Biya for their support along with important contributions of our co-venturers, Petronas and ChevronTexaco, and the World Bank Group for their commitment to this Project.
"Today we celebrate not only what was achieved during the construction but Esso, as operator, also celebrates the manner in which it has been accomplished," Mr. Foster added. "We maintained our long-term focus on this project over 27 years of effort and changes in the consortium, increased the known oil reserves to commercial levels and helped turn a vision in 1976 into a reality. We believe this project will help prepare a brighter future for the citizens of Chad and Cameroon, and I am proud we are part of it."
The Project represents unprecedented efforts in the areas of socio-economic planning and public consultation. Since 1993 the Project has held nearly 5,000 public consultation meetings reaching tens of thousands of people in hundreds of villages throughout the Project area -- by far the most extensive public consultation process ever undertaken in Africa.
The Project has also created and implemented one of the most rigorous environmental management plans ever developed in Africa. Multiple levels of monitoring including several external groups verified the project's compliance with the plan and its commitments.
The Project continues to make important contributions to the economies of the two host countries. For example, 35,000 people held jobs during the construction phase of the Project with 80 percent of these being citizens of Chad or Cameroon. In addition to direct employment, the Project has spent over $650 million with 2,200 local Chadian and Cameroonian companies and helped create significant economic growth in the local economies through investments in infrastructure such as roads and bridges linking local villages to outside markets. In Chad the growth rate of the gross domestic product (GDP) has soared to nearly 11 percent per year since construction began, compared to a rate of 1 percent prior to Project commencement.
The Project has implemented extensive public health education programs focused on malaria and HIV/AIDS prevention. The Roll Back Malaria efforts included distribution of 80,000 insecticide-treated bednets and training of health workers in diagnosis and treatment. HIV/AIDS prevention programs included partnerships with local non-government organizations in extensive village-level education initiatives. In addition, facilities have been donated such as schools, community water wells and clinics.
Key next steps for the project include completion of the central treating facilities by year-end 2003. Full production capacity of 225,000 barrels per day is targeted for early in 2004, while drilling operations will continue in the oil fields over the next two years.
The consortium developing the project is comprised of subsidiaries of ExxonMobil (operator, 40 percent), Petronas (35 percent) and ChevronTexaco (25 percent).
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