Cameroon is hoping to resume exploration onshore in the Logorne Birne basin after operations were suspended by the Chinese operator, YanChang Petroleum, in the wake of deepening civil insecurity.

YanChang, which operates the Zina and Makary blocks, ceased work shortly after drilling the Zina-1X well on the Zina block on 2011, encountering 18-metre thick reservoir sandstones with traces of hydrocarbons.

"We discovered oil but don't know how much. The company drilled and planned another on the Makary block without getting an understanding of the play," according to Jeam Jacque Koum, head of exploration at Cameroon's oil parastatal SNH.

Koum, who also acts as gas development manager and number two advisor to SNH's executive general manager, said working committee meetings had resumed and that he hoped exploration activities would soon recommence.

"It is true that Zina has been under force majeure but Makary has not", while the overall the situation is now a little calmer" he said.

Koum told the Africa Oil Week conference in Cape Town this week that the new Petroleum Code, passed in April this year, aimed to spur a resurgence of exploration, which has declined in recent years.

"We must raise the bar, encourage risk and we hope the new regime will offer more flexibility to companies coming in to explore our deep water and mature basins."

To that end, SNH has been ring fenced as the technical arm of government, while Permanent Commission for Negotiating Oil Contracts has been inaugurated under the auspices of SNH to orchestrate implementation of the new framework for revising fiscal and economic terms.

Moreover, corporate tax has been reduced from 50% and 40% on petroleum contracts to just 35%, alongside a five to seven year tax holiday.

Companies may now recover specified seismic costs and dry hole expenses, he added

"We do not as yet have a dedicated law imposing local content, but we do adjust projects to ensure they encourage local business and do not hamper the local economy," said Koum.