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Gabon Overview

Gabon

in figures

Oil reserves2 billion barrels

Oil production210,000 bopd

Gas reserves26 bcm

Gas production368 mcm

Gabon: Deepwater Potential

Gabon is a small country with a long history of oil exploration and production. Oil was first discovered near the African nation’s capital of Libreville, in 1931, when it was still a French colony. During the 1960s the country saw a flurry of exploration and production activity, which led to a dramatic increases in production. 1996 remains the country’s record year: Gabon produced 365,000 bopd in 1996. Dwindling production due to maturing fields and a lack of major new finds have led to a significant decreases in production. In 2019, Gabon produced 218,000 bopd, according to the BP Statistical Review 2020.

Given that the oil industry accounts for more than 50% of Gabon’s GDP and 80% of the country’s export earnings, diminishing production and the oil price downturn have hurt the nation’s economy. Many operations have been cancelled. Gabon is aware of the challenges and is looking to improve its business climate by drastically improving the country’s infrastructure and facilities. Improving the road network is one target: The government aims to have 700 kilometres of additional paved roads in Gabon by 2020. Gabon is also investing in a series of special economic zones, such as the Mandji Island SEZ, which will focus exclusively on Gabon’s hydrocarbons industry.

Currently Gabon’s licensed deepwater plays cover an area of 128,000 square kilometres, representing around half of the country’s total acreage. Gabon has 19 deepwater plays, which are operated by 10 companies, including international players such as Marathon Oil, Shell and Vaalco. To achieve production goals, Gabon has invested in exploration and is offering several blocks in deepwater acreage for tender. To help promote the blocks to international operators, Gabon’s Ministry of Petroleum and Hydrocarbons hired the Oslo-listed Spectrum and the French geoscience firm CGG to conduct a multi-client seismic survey of 25,000 square kilometres in Gabon’s South Basin area. The data collected covered the deepwater blocks available for licensing as well as some bordering plays. On May 31, 2016, Gabon closed the 11th licensing round. As of this December 2017, the results have not yet been disclosed.

Given that Gabon’s deep offshore has geological formations reminiscent of Brazil’s deepwater pre-salt plays, the government harbours hope of sparking a similar pre-salt boom in Gabon. The fact that exploration projects until now only uncovered gas and condensate does not make the case for deepwater pre-salt operations stronger.

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