An Offshore Energy Bonanza Spells Doom for Senegal’s Fishermen

An Offshore Energy Bonanza Spells Doom for Senegal’s Fishermen
A boatman rows his boat on the Senegal River in Saint Louis, Senegal, Jan. 14, 2020 (Sipa photo by Jana Cavojska via AP Images).

SAINT LOUIS, Senegal—When Kosmos, an U.S. energy company, made a major energy discovery off Senegal’s northern coastline in 2015, many Senegalese, including President Macky Sall, hailed it as a miraculous development. Amounting to more than 1 billion barrels of oil and 425 billion cubic meters of natural gas, the reserves seemed set to make Senegal rich—great news for a country where more than half of the population lives below the poverty line.

But with the reserves due to come online this year, the situation is more complicated than it was when celebrations broke out almost eight years ago.

Fishermen in the northern town of Saint Louis, which is about six miles from the offshore reserves, are beginning to realize that vast quantities of oil and gas may not bring them the good fortune they had hoped for.

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