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Military Coup In Small OPEC Member Gabon Fails

Soldiers seized early on Monday local time Gabon’s national broadcaster in an attempted coup in the oil-rich African country, but the government said later in the day that the coup had failed and four of the five plotters had been arrested.

Gabon, which lies on the Atlantic Coast in Central Africa, 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 in November was 176,000 bpd, down by 11,000 bpd compared to October, according to OPEC’s latest Monthly Oil Market Report (MOMR). In terms of oil production, Gabon is one of OPEC’s smallest members—only Equatorial Guinea produced less oil than Gabon in November, at 125,000 bpd on average. Any potential decline in Gabon’s oil production due to the coup would not have any noticeable effect on OPEC’s total production, considering that Gabon’s output accounts for just 0.5 percent of the cartel’s total production.

The five soldiers who briefly took control over the national broadcaster in the early hours on Monday read a brief statement announcing a “National Restoration Council” and appealed to young people to “take charge of their destiny,” the BBC reports.

Related: Falling Rig Count Supports Crude Prices

Gabon’s incumbent president, Ali Bongo, is currently out of the country after suffering a stroke in October, but appeared in a New Year’s address to say that he was feeling fine. Ali Bongo succeeded his father Omar Bongo in 2009 and narrowly won re-election in 2016 amid violence and accusations of fraud.

Guy-Bertrand Mapangou, a spokesman for the Gabonese government, told the BBC that the situation in the country is now “under control.”

“The situation is calm. The gendarmes who are often stationed there have taken control of the entire area around the radio and TV headquarters, so everything is back to normal”, Mapangou told the BBC.

According to the BBC’s Firmain Eric Mbadinga, the coup attempt was a huge surprise because the army has always been loyal to the family of the president.   

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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