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An oil terminal in tiny oil-rich Gabon has been shuttered following a union strike action on Tuesday, according to union statements carried by Reuters, in a move that may further sour foreign oil companies on its current offshore oil licensing round.
The strike at VAALCO Energy’s terminal, which took offline 14,000 barrels per day, is expected to last five days, according to ONEP, the union responsible for organizing the workers’ strike. ONEP has organized other strikes in Gabon’s oil sector as recently as December, over six workers who were fired from French Total.
This time around, the strike has been called over the issue of annual leave for its represented workers.
Gabon, which lies on the Atlantic Coast in Central Africa, though small, is a member of OPEC. Gabon first became a full member of the organization back in 1975, but terminated its membership in 1995. On July 1, 2016, Gabon re-joined the OPEC group of the oil exporting nations.
Gabon’s oil production stands at 203,000 bpd as of OPEC’s latest Monthly Oil Market Report—a marked decline from the days of 300,000+ bpd decades ago. Still, Gabon is Africa’s fifth largest oil producer. Oil accounts for 80 percent of all Gabonese exports, 45 percent of Gabon’s GDP, and 60 percent of its fiscal revenue in recent years, according to the World Bank. It remains a vital component of Gabon’s economy.
Gabon has substantial oil reserves, but efforts to attract foreign investments have been slow going, mired by regulatory uncertainties, stiff corporation taxes, and political instability, and it has moved its closing date twice for the current offshore licensing round, which is now set to end in September versus the original closing date of April.
A failed coup in January may have further spooked foreign oil companies that may otherwise be interested in its lucrative oil industry.
ONEP said that today’s strike may be extended beyond the promised five days if its demands go unanswered.
By Julianne Geiger for Oilprice.com
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Julianne Geiger is a veteran editor, writer and researcher for Oilprice.com, and a member of the Creative Professionals Networking Group.