As an historic producer in Africa, with first oil produced in 1956, Gabon saw a peak production in 1997. This year is marked as a decisive year in Gabon’s oil production history. Twelve exploration licenses have been signed during the country’s 12th licensing round, which is ongoing, offering a total of 35 blocks. The renewed attractiveness of Gabon’s oil sector includes a new oil and gas code; increased focus on natural gas development and an agreement with the International Monetary Fund to revitalize Gabon’s economy, thus increasing international confidence in the country’s development.
Gabon’s oil and gas sector is managed and regulated by the Ministry of Petroleum and Hydrocarbons, which implements the government’s hydrocarbons policy. Gabon’s initial Hydrocarbons Code was signed in August 2014, in the midst of plummeting oil prices.
Following revisions to the oil and gas code and its promulgation in early 2019, hopes are high that a revised and more flexible regulatory framework will translate into new capital and technology injections into the sector.
With an ongoing licensing round to wrap up in 2020, the new legal basis for the petroleum sector emphasizes heightened financial incentives for operators.
Gabon’s energy sector revitalization strategy remains welcomed by established operators, as well as investors eyeing central African long-term producers, whose ambitions had been tamed by an outdated fiscal regime. The new code has enabled Gabon to be more competitive in undertaking increased petroleum production through potential offshore discoveries while sustaining current production levels.
The Gabonese government has shown a strong commitment to revamping the energy sector as a whole, adding renewables and power as key areas of development. Boasting one of Africa’s highest access to power rates, the country aims to add close to half the current power capacity to the grid.