Gabon oil production stops declining
- afrol News, 13 October - Steadily dropping since its peak in 1997,
Gabon's oil production is finally experiencing a slight growth, new
statistics reveal. In the same period, Gabon has been reduced from
the third to the sixth largest oil producer in sub-Saharan Africa.
According to statistics released by the US government agency Energy
Information Administration (EIA), Gabon's decrease in oil production
has now stopped. During the first nine months of 2006, Gabon produced
237,000 barrels per day (bbl/d) of crude oil, EIA informs. This is a
small increase from 2005.
Contrasted with Gabon's 1997 peak of 371,000 bbl/d, 2006 oil
production however has declined by 36 percent. "In part, the decline
in production is due to maturing fields and a lack of new fields
coming online, something that Gabon is working to change over the
next few years," the US agency explains. Despite these efforts, EIA
however foresees further "looming oil export declines."
The main reason for Gabon's decreased oil production is found on its
largest producing oil field, Shell's offshore Rabi-Kounga, which now
only produces around 55,000 bbl/d. This is down from its 1997 peak of
217,000 bbl/d. In an effort to extend the productive life of the
field, Shell in 2003 however began re-injecting associated natural
gas into the field.
Apart from Rabi-Kounga, Gabon in fact has been successful in
increasing its oil production during the last years. Given the
current high world market prices, Libreville authorities have managed
to recruit several smaller firms to bring new oil fields online in
Vaalco, Addax Petroleum, and Sasol are involved in the Etame offshore
field, with a current of approximately 18,000 bbl/d. In July this
year, Addax Petroleum purchased the interests of Pan-Ocean Energy in
Gabon for US$ 1.4 billion. The acquisition now makes Addax the
largest producer in Gabon, with total production of more than 100,000
Further investments are also on track. Only last month, FirstAfrica
Oil completed initial drilling in the offshore East Orovinyare
oilfield. The company hopes to have production from the field online
by the third quarter of 2007. Initial production is expected at over
7,000 bbl/d. Several onshore fields are also currently being
explored, developed or expanded.
Gabon was hit hard by the declining oil production, with its highly
ineffective administration being used to almost unlimited revenues.
Despite its small population of about 1.4 million, limited social
spending and a very slow progress in developing infrastructure, the
Libreville government had accumulated a debt of around US$ 3.8
billion - debt payments now amounting to 40 percent of the annual
Faced with a financial crisis, Libreville during the last two years
has reformed its economy, increased transparency, embraced good
governance and achieved new oil investments. In 2005, Gabon finally
experienced sustainable growth figures, with GDP increasing by 2.7
percent - around the same as population growth. Also inflation was
reduced to close to nothing, following decades of hiking prices in
the oil-driven economy.
In 2005, Gabon registered per-capita GDP of approximately US$ 5,000,
which is significantly higher than the sub-Saharan African average of
US$ 1,500. However, analysts estimate that 6070 percent of Gabonese
live below the poverty line despite forty years of large oil exports.