Page last updated at 15:11 GMT, Friday, 9 October 2009 16:11 UK

Chad pipeline threatens villages

Oil installation in southern Chad
Chad's first pipeline has been a source of controversy

Human rights activists in Chad say they fear a new Chinese-backed oil project will displace hundreds of people and will destroy at least 10 villages.

Work has begun to build a 300km (185 mile) pipeline from the Koudalwa oilfields in the south of the country, to a new refinery north of the capital.

But activists say an environmental impact assessment was inadequate and residents were not properly consulted.

Chad's government says those who have to move will be compensated.

It is six years this week since Chad's first US-led oil project at Doba came on stream.

The BBC's Celeste Hicks in the capital N'Djamena says efforts were made to ensure that the revenues were used for development.

Every day people are coming to their villages and starting work and then they leave, but they never tell the villagers exactly what they're doing
Najirambaye Nelungar
Research and Monitoring Group on Cameroon-Chad Pipeline

But in 2008 the World Bank withdrew its support from this project, saying that Chad had not respected the original agreements.

Our reporter says this time round much criticism revolves around the fact that the deal is directly between the Chadian government and the China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC), without any scrutiny from the international community.

But both sides are eager to show that it is still a good deal for Chad and Ali Yonous, director general at the oil ministry, insists that even higher standards are being applied than at Doba.


Sources at the CNPC say a good environmental impact assessment has been done, and compensation will be the same as with Doba.


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Civil society groups say the environmental assessment was done by the government in August - the team apparently covered the whole length of the pipeline in less than one month.

And Najirambaye Nelungar from the Research and Monitoring Group on the Cameroon-Chad Pipeline says very few local people were consulted.

"They are scared because they don't have any proper information," he said.

"Every day people are coming to their villages and starting work and then they leave, but they never tell the villagers exactly what they're doing, and what is being planned for them. So doubts and uncertainty are beginning to implant themselves."

A copy of a map showing the proposed route of the Koudalwa pipeline obtained by the BBC shows 26 villages lying directly under a thick red line which denotes its path.

Koudalwa MP Mohamed Kana told the BBC that he was initially told 10 villages would have to be relocated, he was recently assured no-one would have to move.

But he says he is still worried because he has not been able to see documentation drawn up between the Chadian Minister of Oil and the CNPC.

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