“I was very surprised to see how the emerging company was able to challenge the major company of the sector. We got over 20 companies in competition,” Etienne Ngoubou, Minister of Oil and Hyrdo resources told CNBC Africa.
The oil blocks are supposed to boost oil production in Gabon and double its output to 500,000 barrels per day. Despite the lack of sufficient technical skills in the central African country and Africa as a whole, the minister is positive this won’t cause too much of a problem as a lot of the operations will be handled by expatriates.
Tullow Oil, which is currently operating in Kenya has had to deal with issues where expatriates who came in and offered their skills caused a stir amongst the locals as they felt their jobs were being taken away from them. However, Ngoubou is confident this won’t be an issue in Gabon.
“Part of the contract is to look carefully at the social income for the local population.”
Gabon’s coastline saw new interest from investors after the major oil company, Total, discovered a gas condensate buried deep in of pre-salt (a layer of the ocean bed). By setting up a national oil company in 2011, the government sought after a greater role in the oil sector and plans on seeking a stake in oil blocks owned by foreign firms.
There are elevated hopes that the West African offshore blocks may contain reserves comparable to that of the Brazilian offshore resources.
“The target of this program is to improve oil production, to improve the income of our economy and to be able to build our infrastructure program design and put in place by our head of state and we are looking for opportunities to have better income for oil contracts to be able to finance this development,” he concluded.