President Paul Biya recently granted an audience to Gali Ngothé Gatta, Secretary General of the Presidency of the Republic of Chad. Not much information has emerged from the Cameroonian presidency about that audience. The communication department of the Etoudi palace merely indicated that the Chadian emissary was bearing a message from Chadian President Mahamat Idriss Déby Itno.
On the Chadian side, however, the audience was warmly welcomed. The Presidency of the Republic of Chad hailed the normalization of the relations, which were briefly clouded by the Savannah Energy affair.
According to official sources, Mahamat Idriss Déby Itno sent a delegation, led by Gali Ngothé Gatta, to Yaoundé to thank Paul Biya "for the support he has given Chad in the oil transaction process." This phrase is a thinly veiled reference to the decisions taken by President Paul Biya, enabling Chad to increase its stakes in Cameroon Oil Transportation Company (Cotco), which manages the pipeline transporting Chadian oil through Cameroonian territory.
Cameroon first lifted its veto on the acquisition by Chadian Oil Company (SHT) of the assets of Petronas Carigali Chad Exploration & Production Inc., a subsidiary of the Malaysian energy group Petronas. As a result, Chad became the majority shareholder in Cotco, with a 53.77% stake. Cameroon also decided to freeze the transaction concluded, on April 19, 2023, between the Cameroonian Oil Company SNH and British oil junior Savannah Energy. This transaction, which provides for mutual support between the parties in the management of the company, was to enable SNH to acquire 10% of the assets claimed by Savannah Energy in Cotco. However, the Chadian authorities do not want to hear about Savannah Energy, which they describe as a shady company.
Yaoundé about to achieve a long-asserted goal
N'Djamena can now count on the support of Yaoundé in its dispute with Savannah Energy. At the end of the audience with President Paul Biya, Gali Ngothé Gatta indicated that his country wishes to achieve "good co-management" of its oil transit infrastructure with Cameroon.
To get its transaction with Petronas validated, Chad promised to cede part of its Cotco stakes to the SNH. In a confidential letter sent on June 2, 2023, to the Chadian Minister of Petroleum by SNH Managing Director Adolphe Moudiki, we learn that Cameroon is demanding 20% of the 53.77% stakes held by Chad in Cotco’s share capital. This would give SNH a 25.17% stake in Cotco, compared with 33.77% for the Republic of Chad and, in principle, 41.06% for Savannah Energy. This corresponds to Yaoundé's ever-expressed desire "to significantly increase its stake in Cotco".
"The meeting between the emissaries of the Head of State and the President of the Republic of Cameroon marks an important step in the consolidation of relations between the two countries. Above all, it underscores the willingness of the two leaders to work together, share ideas, and find common solutions to the challenges they face. The meeting also testifies to the importance of diplomatic dialogue for the peaceful resolution of differences and the promotion of active regional cooperation,” reads a statement published on the website of the Presidency of the Republic of Chad.
Michel Ange Nga