Gabon: facing the oil crisis

he global crisis, caused by the drop in the price of a barrel, seriously affected Gabon, one of the major oil-producing countries in the Gulf of Guinea. As the Shell group announces its final withdrawal, the country adapts as best to the new global economic context.

Falling oil revenues

When the world oil market is in crisis, the entire Gabonese economy is not going well. « The public budget resources for 2017 are estimated at CFA 2,477.5 billion (or € 3.77 billion) against 2.626 in the 2016 Finance Act, a decrease of CFA 145.5 billion (€ 95.7 million) », according to the draft budget adopted by the Council of Ministers. It is no secret that the decline in public resources is due to the fall in oil revenues.

« Oil revenues would have declined by CFA 122.1 billion compared to the 2016 Finance Act, reflecting the fall in oil production in volume, despite a slight rise in prices in the international market », according to government sources. In a recent statement, the new Prime Minister, Emmanuel Issoze Ngondet, also mentioned that Gabon’s oil revenues increased from CFA 1500 billion to CFA 400 billion between 2012 and 2016, a decrease of CFA 1100 billion.

An extremely-nervous labor market

The negative impact of the crisis has not left behind the employment market in Gabon, especially oil companies in Port-Gentil, the country’s economic capital, where most of the jobs are linked to oil industry. According to the Deputy Secretary-General of the National Organization of Petroleum Employees (ONEP), Sylvain Mayabi Binet: « To date, more than 1,500 jobs are in insecurity. Many families live in difficult situation. In terms of redundancies, nearly 800 employees have lost their jobs due to the oil crisis … In terms of technical leave, we have already registered nearly 400 workers. Regarding negotiated dismissal, some companies are trying to get rid of workers by mutual consent, which guarantees better benefits. 300 employers are thus concerned by these measures. »

Robert Service, an oil services company, announced in 2016 that nearly 400 workers would be made redundant. All oil companies, including Total, Maurel & Prom, Perenco and Schlumberger, drastically reduced their workforce. The local press reported that more than 3000 workers lost their jobs in oil industry in 2016. After 56 years of activity in the country, the Anglo-Dutch group Shell has decided to leave Gabon permanently by selling its local subsidiary to Carlyle, an American global asset management company set up thirty years ago.

Recruit and train locally

To tackle, successfully, the oil crisis that hits the country, the government has taken necessary measures which will also be crucial to recover oil industry, a vital sector of the country’s economy. The measures include an in-depth audit of the oil sector and the strengthening of controls, the creation of a National Hydrocarbon Company called Gabon Oil Company and the implementation of a new oil code. The new code also helped set up a clear and attractive legal framework to boost investment and oil exploration.

Moreover, the provisions of the code now encourage the recruitment of Gabonese contractors with subcontractors. For capacity building and opportunities of the national labor force in the oil industry and to fill the inadequate local skills, the Government created the Oil and Gas Institute (OGI) in Port-Gentil. The results of these very recent initiatives are still impalpable.


Author: Pierre Eric Mbog Batassi // Photo : Technicien pétrolier – © DR

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