ExxonMobil's Chad Project Runs into Trouble

ExxonMobil's oilfield development project in Chad ran into some environmental trouble, but remains on course to start mid-year. The company encountered trouble when it went ahead with plans to build portion of the pipeline across three archaeological sites rather than bypass them. "The archaelogist advising the World Bank group contends that the site treatment plans devised and implemented by the project's archaelogical experts were not the best approach for managing the sites," ExxonMobil said in its first quarter 2003 update on the project submitted to the World Bank. The company said it went ahead with the building but increased archaeological searches of the site. Under this program, approximately 470 previously undiscovered archaeological sites have been identified. The project attracted environmental protests mostly over the 1,070 kilometres pipeline from landlocked Chad to the Cameroonian coast.

ExxonMobil has five rigs working on the project and a total of 60 production wells had been drilled by the end of the first quarter. Drilling started in the Bolobo field in the second quarter and drilling is now in progress on all three fields. ExxonMobil said that significant advances this quarter have put the project within reach of its goal to commence crude oil production in mid-2003. At the end of the first quarter of 2003, the entire project was 87 percent complete. Construction was nearly finished on the first two pumps required for initial oil production. Work on a third pumping station is continuing.

Initial crude oil production will be in excess of 50,000 barrels per day (bpd), which will rise to the peak rate of 225,000 bpd in 2004 once the project is completed. A total of 265 wells are currently planned over the course of the estimated 25-30 years of the field's life.

ExxonMobil holds a 40% interest; Petronas holds 35% and ChevronTexaco holds 25%.