U.S. Energy Information Administration - EIA - Independent Statistics and Analysis
Country Analysis Note
- Gabon is a mature oil producer off the coast of West Africa that has been facing declining output for more than a decade. Gabon's economy is heavily dependent on its oil production. Oil revenue accounted for nearly 56% of total government revenue and hydrocarbon exports accounted for nearly 90% of total export revenue in 2011, according to the International Monetary Fund.
- Gabon was a member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) from 1975 to 1994, but it departed from the organization because of high annual fees.
- Gabon is among the top five oil producers in Sub-Saharan Africa. The country produced around 240,000 barrels per day (bbl/d) of petroleum and other liquids in 2013. Gabon exports a vast majority of its production, mostly to Japan, the United States, Australia, India, and Spain.
- Mature oil fields, coupled with the lack of major new finds, have caused oil output to decline by more than one-third since its peak of 370,000 bbl/d in 1997. However, the decline rate slowed in recent years, as international oil companies invested in longevity projects at mature fields and brought online moderate levels of new production.
- Total, the French oil major, and Royal Dutch Shell are the largest oil producers in Gabon. Other significant oil producers include the Paris based-Perenco, the Sinopec-owned Addax Petroleum, and the Houston-based Vaalco Energy.
- In June 2011, the government created a national oil company (NOC), the Gabon Oil Company, to increase the government's involvement in oil production by taking equity stakes in future awards. Gabon did not have a NOC for more than two decades after the previous one, Société Nationale Petroliére Gabonaise, was disbanded in 1987.
- The government is working on a new petroleum law. It was scheduled to be enacted in 2014 but was delayed to 2015. According to Platts, Gabon's NOC is expected to take a 15% equity stake in all new projects, and the law is also expected to propose that at least 90% of all jobs in the energy sector be held by locals, including executive positions.
- In October 2013, Gabon's Ministry of Energy awarded 13 oil and natural gas blocks to 11 companies, as part of a deepwater licensing round. Some of the winners included Ophir Energy, ExxonMobil, Eni, and Repsol, among others.
- Brazil's offshore deepwater and pre-salt discoveries have piqued investor interest in Gabon's potential because of geological similarities with Brazil's east coast. These similarities stem from the separation of the African and South American tectonic plates through the Early Cretaceous period, explained by the scientific theory of plate tectonics and continental drift.
- Gabon consumed almost 16,000 bbl/d of petroleum in 2012. The country's downstream sector is very small and the country has one refinery, the Sogara Refinery located at Port-Gentil, with a crude oil distillation capacity of 24,000 bbl/d, according to the Oil and Gas Journal. The refinery operates below capacity and output fluctuates because of maintenance challenges faced at the aging facility, which was built in 1967.
- Gabon and the South Korean company Samsung signed a memorandum of understanding in July 2012 for the construction of a new 50,000 bbl/d refinery in Port-Gentil to replace Sogara. It is scheduled to be completed in 2016, at which point Sogara would be shut down.
- Gabon's gross production of natural gas was 78 billion cubic feet (Bcf) in 2012, of which only 7 Bcf was marketed or commercially used. More than 90% of the natural gas produced in Gabon is either flared and vented or re-injected into oil wells to aid oil recovery.
- There has recently been some progress in building pipelines to connect some associated gas fields to onshore power plants, but there are no firm project commitments to continue expanding infrastructure and commercializing additional natural gas output.
- In 2010, Gabon's total electricity net generation was almost 1.8 billion kilowatt-hours, of which 55% was from fossil fuel sources, 45% from hydropower, and very small quantities of biomass and waste used at power plants. Gabon's urban areas consume a majority of the power generated, while electricity access in rural areas remains low. According to the latest 2010 estimates from the World Bank, 60% of Gabon's population has access to electricity, leaving more than 600,000 people without energy access. Most of Gabon's rural population relies on traditional biomass and waste (typically consisting of wood, charcoal, manure, and crop residues) to meet household cooking and heating needs.
- Gabon has an estimated 5,000 to 6,000 MW of undeveloped hydropower potential, according to IHS Cera, which if exploited, could substantially increase the country's electrification rate. However, the country's main business hubs have suffered from blackouts in the past because of low levels of rainfall.
- Gabon recently launched a plan to expand the hydroelectricity sector by constructing new power plants and extending transmission lines to satisfy rising demand from industrial consumers, according to IHS World Markets Energy. The first project anticipated to come online is the 160-Megawatt Poubara hydroelectric dam on the Ogooué River.
Analysis Last Updated: January 2014
Overview data for Gabon+ EXPAND ALL
-- = Not applicable; NA = Not available; E = Estimate value
Sources: EIA. For more detailed data, see International Energy Statistics.
Data last updated: May 30, 2013
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