Gabon's President Ali Bongo has confirmed recent reports that Royal Dutch Shell is working towards selling out its onshore assets, estimated to be worth $700 million, though the company has so far refrained from commenting on these reports.
Shell's Gabon assets include the Rabi Kounga and Gamba fields and it is expected that the bidding for them will be held in June.
Shell has been operating in Gabon since the 1960s and enjoys status as one of the biggest investors in the energy sector. For more than 10 years, though, Shell’s output here has been on the downward slide.
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Not only is Shell working to refocus its African assets, but it’s also committed to divesting some U.S. $30 billion in assets over the next three years to close some gas in the wake of its acquisition of BG Group.
Gabon is the fifth-largest producer of oil in sub-Saharan Africa. Italian energy giant Eni and Australian Woodside Petroleum are also very active here.
Over the past decade, oil production in Gabon has declined by an estimated 30 percent, while the government struggles to keep production leveled for now at around 250,000 barrels per day—a volume it hopes to double by 2025. According to the most recent official data available by authorities, the country was producing 240,000 bpd in 2014.
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Formerly a member of OPEC, Gabon is now in talks to rejoin the group, which it may succeed in by June this year. Gabon would be the smallest producer in the club.
It will be a decisive year for Gabon, which will hold presidential elections in August to determine whether the Bongo family—which has ruled for some 50 years—will continue at the helm. Petroleum exports account for some three-quarters of the country’s exports.
By James Burgess of Oilprice.com
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