SONARA– Société Nationale de Raffinage is the only refinery in Cameroon at the moment.
In more ways than one, the national topping refinery has been meeting several needs in the West African country.
According to the company’s website, it was created in 1973 and inaugurated in 1981. Sonara refines and markets petroleum products.
Aside a major operation in oil production, the company also produces other petroleum products like butane, gasoline, jet fuel, kerosene, fuel oil, distillate, fuel oil. Surplus supplies are usually for exports in the CEMAC zone, the West African
Surplus supplies are usually for exports in the CEMAC zone, the West African Coast and the USA.
Having existed for over 40 years, the company is still soaring strong. In 2005, a developmental upgrade was initiated for the company.
The modernization which is in phases is still in progress.
Last year, the Cameroonian government announced that the first phase of the modernization project was about to be completed. Report said that extension works were improved and production capacity increased as well.
The national refinery is a topping refinery which basically means that it produces gasoline. It only separates the crude into its constituent petroleum products by atmospheric distillation and produces naphtha but no gasoline.
Topping is one of the simplest refinery configuration. As a topping refinery, it produces large quantities of unfinished oils and are highly dependent on local markets.
The refining capacity of Sonara increased from an initial 1,600,000 to 2,100,000 tons of crude oil per year. With the extension and modernization project, this capacity is expected to increase to over 3,500,000 tons and more in due time.
The first operation the refinery carried out was to treat light crude.
Cameroon generally makes a current production of heavy crudes. After the expansion project, it is believed that the refinery will be able to treat heavier crudes and give better results.
Observers of petroleum production in Cameroon have spotted the discrepancy between the machines and the finished work. The government intends to digitize the company’s tools and premise in order to maximize its potentials.
In 2012, the Cameroonian government deliberated on the issue of establishing another refinery. The new refinery will basically be for export purposes.
As clearly stated on their website, their major objectives of expansion and modernization revolve around “strategic, economic and marketing.”
- At the strategic level, it is intended to maximize the use of crude oil produced in Cameroon.
- In economic terms, this project aims at reaching a critical size in order to improve the using of all units in the refinery.
- On the Marketing side, the aim is to maximize production of certain products, namely diesel and kerosene (jet aircraft fuel/kerosene) which are in high demand on the Cameroonian and regional markets.
The refinery goes through series of maintenance processes from time to time. Over time they have worked on the reduction of the maintenance costs. While installing a good number of maintenance policies, the refinery is also big on safety regulations
As a sensitive part of their structures, Sonara has an equipped laboratory accredited by COFRAC (French Committee of Accreditation).
The laboratory helps the bring about “conformity with specifications”.
Sonara being the only refinery in Cameroon has and is serving a significant economic purpose for the country.
First, the company has helped in the production and supply of petroleum products. Secondly, a percentage of unemployment has been addressed.
The refinery does not intend to be all about petroleum and marketing profits. They also want to make an impact in the lives of the people. As a result, the government has shared plans of investing in the wellbeing of the future generation via education, skill development, and training.
The firm is working on the construction of a new quay. An all time objective of the company is to foster energy independence in the country, thereby ensuring a permanent growth in the company.
An all time objective of the company is to foster energy independence in the country. They also want to register a permanent growth in the company.
The modernization project has taken as much as 200 billion CFA francs.
In 2011, it made a turnover of a recorded 100.3 billion francs.
Sonara has over 700 employees and 23 billion(CFA francs) share capital. The Cameroonian government holds about 82% of Sonara shares.