Gabon’s 12th Shallow and Deep-Water Licensing Round Underway

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In February 2020, Gabon announced a new closing date for its 12th shallow and deep-water licensing round, from 10 January 2020 to 30 April 2020. The round was initially set with a deadline of April 2019.

Since its launch in November 2018, Gabon’s 12th shallow and deep-water licensing round is still underway, however, the closing date has been delayed due to challenges regarding the implementation of the new hydrocarbons code as well uncertainty around the COVID-19 pandemic.

While Gabon’s government is focused on the global fight against COVID-19, the official closing of the licensing round is due to be announced soon after the crisis is over.

Thirty-five blocks are on offer; 12 shallow water and 23 deep water blocks. Geophysical company TGS was appointed as an official technical partner in support of Gabon’s Directorate General of Hydrocarbons and it has gained 17,000km2 of 3D broadband services across key areas, in addition to offering strategically placed national 2D seismic coverage.

In August 2019, Gabon signed two exploration contracts for blocks off the coast of southern Gabon – the first in five years, which came when the country had just adopted a new petroleum code, presented as being more favorable to investors.

Malaysia-based Petronas officially acquired the blocks Yitu (F12) and Meboun (F13), located off Mayumba, in the south of Gabon, which cover a total area of more than 4,300 km2. With these two exploration and production sharing contracts – in accordance with the terms of the new petroleum code – Petronas now has three assets in Gabon which, once developed, will be able to reach a total production of 200,000 barrels per day.

In November 2019, Gabon signed seven new exploration and production sharing agreements (EPSA’s)with Assala Upstream Gabon, Assala Gabon SA, Perence Oil & Gas Gabon Limited and Sinopec Overseas & Gas limited.

The agreements were signed by the country’s former Minister of Petroleum and Hydrocarbons, H.E. Noël Mboumba and come as a result of the country’s revised hydrocarbons code, which seeks to create a more competitive environment for oil and gas investment.

The contracts, which will also drive $250 million in investments, are for assets in the Ogooué-Maritime province covering approximately 2829,35 Km2.

Further, the former minister stated that the signing of the EPSA’s spoke to the attractiveness of the country’s new hydrocarbons code, which was enacted in July this year and has already seen the signing of nine new petroleum agreements.

In February, Franco-British major Perenco and Libreville signed three new exploration and production sharing contracts, following direct consultations between the two parties.

Three offshore blocks including Ezila G4-260, Onembe G4-261 and Evaro G4-262:, located off the Ogooué Maritime over an area of 5,161 km2, will be operated by Perenco Exploration Gabon SA. On February 14 this year, the Gabonese state and the major leader in the oil sector in the country with 90,000 barrels per day, signed three exploration and production sharing contracts.

The company has an exploration period of eight years and undertakes to invest an amount of at least $90 million for the search for hydrocarbons in this sedimentary basin.

The three contracts were negotiated after direct consultations. Perenco, who bought Total’s assets in the country in 2018, is also one of Libreville’s historic partners.

The country, where the oil sector accounts for around 50% of GDP, had suffered the full force of the fall in oil prices in 2014 – 2015. In view of what has been described as an economic crisis, Gabon benefited from an enlarged agreement from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in June 2017, for a total amount of $642 million.

Boasting 2.5 billion barrels in proven oil reserves, Gabon is one of the more established hydrocarbons producers in the Gulf of Guinea and, is currently on a mission to increase its oil production 50% by 2020/2021.