(Business in Cameroon) - France spent a total of €966 million (about CFA 633.6 billion) on purchasing goods from Cemac countries during the first six months of 2023, according to data reported by French Customs. Compared to the same period in 2022, this represents an increase of €82.6 million (about CFA 54.2 billion, or +8.6%).
The French Customs Department attributes this higher import volume to 'the rise in hydrocarbon purchases (+€89 million, or CFA 58.4 billion), which represent just over 3/4 of France's overall imports from the Cemac zone in H1 2023.' The department further indicated that “Cameroon leads our purchases of hydrocarbons in the region, particularly liquefied natural gas, accounting for €463.8 million (CFA 304.2 billion) of our total spending on hydrocarbons during the period under review.”
This means that in the first half of 2023, France has already exceeded the total amount it spent in 2022 to purchase liquefied natural gas in Cameroon (CFA 196.2 billion). This surge in purchases could indicate that France has turned to Cameroon to make up for some of its natural gas imports from Russia, as the country faced an embargo after invading Ukraine in February 2022. This is all the more plausible given that the French oil and gas company Perenco is Cameroon's leading producer of hydrocarbons, including liquefied natural gas.
New market opportunities
As a reminder, on March 12, 2018, as part of a consortium with Cameroon’s national oil and gas corporation (SNH) and Golar LNG, the builder of floating LNG liquefaction platforms, Perenco began producing LNG from a floating liquefaction unit off the coast of the seaside town of Kribi in southern Cameroon. The infrastructure, the second-largest in the world after the one installed in Malaysia in 2017, enabled Cameroon to join the select circle of natural gas producers and exporters.
Named Hilli Episeyo, the floating vessel operating off the coast of Kribi, whose initial LNG production has already reached 1.2 million tons (projected to reach 1.6 million tons in 2023), exclusively supplied the Asian market between 2018 and 2019 (China, India, etc.). The plant has since supplied other destinations, namely Thailand, Pakistan, South Korea, Kuwait, and Turkey, in addition to France."