Gabon’s economy is highly dependent on oil production, with the country’s oil exports accounting for 51 percent of GDP and 63 percent of government revenues. Gabon’s per capita GDP is approximately $5,500, well above most of sub-Saharan Africa.
According to Oil and Gas Journal (OGJ), Gabon had proven oil reserves of 2 billion barrels as of January 2007, down from 2.5 billion in 2006. Oil production for 2006 was an estimated 240,000 bbl/d, making Gabon the sixth largest producer in sub-Saharan Africa. This figure however, represents a sharp decline from the 1997 peak production of 370,000 bbl/d as most fields are beyond their peak production.
Gabon currently has 122 producing fields and new drilling is expected to increase production figures over the next couple of years. According to EIA’s Short-Term Energy Outlook, Gabonese oil production averaged around 240,000 bbl/d from January to September of 2007, increasing to 250,000 bbl/d in the fourth quarter of 2007. In 2006, domestic oil consumption was at 12,000 bbl/d, allowing most of the oil produced to be exported to the United States, Europe (mainly France) and, increasingly China and India.
The two major oil companies operating in Gabon are Royal Dutch Shell and Total—although the largest producer is currently Addax Petroleum, an independent company. Other independents operating in the country include Tullow Oil, Vaalco Energy Inc, Maurel et Prom (M&P).
Gabon’s Oil Ministry is responsible for all regulation in the oil industry. The country has a national oil company, Société Nationale Petrolière Gabonaise (SNPG); however, SNPG is not actively involved in development projects.
- Oil production: 268,900 bbl/day (2005 est.)
- Oil proved reserves: 1.827 billion bbl (2006 est.)
- Natural gas production: 100 million cu m (2004 est.)
- Natural gas proved reserves: 33.98 billion cu m (1 January 2005 est.)
- The onshore Shell-operated Rabi-Kounga field contains the vast majority of Gabon’s proven oil, while additional reserves are located in the offshore Tchatamba Marin and Etame fields.
- In July 2006, Addax Petroleum purchased the interests of Pan-Ocean Energy in Gabon for $1.4 billion. The acquisition makes Addax the largest producer in Gabon, with total production of more than 100,000 bbl/d. According to Addax Petroleum, some of their near-term development plans include the continued drilling in the Tsengui and Obangue fields (where production has already increased by 20,000 bbl/d in the first half of 2007), completion of an export pipeline, which will transport oil from the onshore Obangue field to the Coucal pipeline system and export terminal at Cap Lopez, and future development of the Koula field.
Tullow Oil recently increased its acreage position in Gabon and as a result holds interests in 18 licences including eleven producing fields. Oil production from Gabon during 2006 averaged 15,125 bopd net to Tullow, representing 23% of the Group's total.
In a recently completed deal Tullow acquired a package of assets from the Gabonese Government through a 50:50 Joint Venture with AIC-Petrofi Limited. The package comprised interests in three producing fields and back-in rights to a further nine Exploration Licences. Two additional fields, where Tullow has back-in rights, are awaiting development approval and are expected on stream over the next 18 months.
The acquisition adds production of approximately 550 boepd net to Tullow from the Obangue (3.75%), Tsiengui (3.75%) and Oba (5%) fields. This figure is expected to rise to approximately 1,000 boepd by early 2008 as development of the three fields progresses and when the two additional developments are brought on stream.
The exploration licences are located in areas of significant potential and when combined with Tullow's existing Gabonese interests give the Group exposure to almost 40% of Gabon's currently licensed acreage.
Development of the first Etame satellite, the Avouma (7.5%) field, was successfully completed in December 2006 and first production commenced in mid January 2007. Detailed planning for a further Etame satellite, the Ebouri discovery (7.5%) is under way with a view to first production during 2008.
Gabon is regarded as a key growth area within the Tullow portfolio, with a range of exploration, development, commercial and acquisition activities. Opportunities to expand the Gabon portfolio are continually being assessed.
- VAALCO Energy, Inc has a 30.350% (28.074% development and production) interest in the 750,000 acre Etame Marin Block offshore Gabon, West Africa. VAALCO also has a production sharing contract with the Ministry of Mines, Energy, Petroleum, and Hydraulic Resources of Gabon for the Mutamba Iroru G4-219 Permit located onshore Gabon containing approximately 270,000 acres.