Africa

Gabonese President Bongo pleaded for an inclusive energy transition

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Gabonese President Bongo pleaded for an inclusive energy transition

Like Gabon, many other African countries need oil and gas development for their economic development.

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, September 27, 2021 / APO Group / –

Ahead of the African Energy Week organized by the African Energy Chamber (www.EnergyChamber.org) in partnership with the South African Ministry of Mineral Resources and Energy, we examine the work of President Ali Bongo on an inclusive energy transition. He describes the state of his country’s energy industry and calls for Africa’s priorities to be taken into account as the world prepares to move away from fossil fuels. The country has been an oil and gas producing region for over 50 years and has historically been heavily dependent on energy revenues, although it is diversifying its economy. At the same time, Gabon recently took an important step in the fight against climate change. Africa must have a say in how the continent approaches and responds to climate change goals and believes that requiring nations to curtail or abandon their oil and gas activities before they are ready will have consequences. broad and lasting consequences.

For more than 50 years, oil and gas production has provided an economic base for the government and citizens of Gabon. Gabon, which joined OPEC in 2016 after an absence of 21 years, is the fifth largest oil producer in sub-Saharan Africa with a current production of 198,000 barrels per day. Over the past five years, Gabon’s oil sector has represented on average 45% of GDP and 60% of tax revenue. The World Bank credits Gabon’s oil and manganese sectors for the strong economic growth over the past 10 years and describes Gabon as an upper middle-income country. Yet we recognize that there is income inequality in the Gabonese nation. It is important to note, however, that most of Gabon’s impoverished population works in the agricultural sector.

In 2017, oil revenues fell slightly on the mature fields of Gabon, which are in natural decline. This is not unusual or unique in Gabon. Energy reservoirs have life cycles and production eventually drops, although technology can revitalize even abandoned fields.

To counter the decline, Gabon lobbied for a diversified economy and sparked interest in new oil and gas developments, especially in previously unexplored deep waters. Offshore resources represent more than 70% of Gabon’s 2 billion barrels of total reserves.

In 2018, for example, Malaysia’s Petronas, in partnership with this ministry, announced a discovery from its first ultra-deep water exploration well. The company called it a milestone for its activities in the region as well as a boost to Gabon’s oil and gas industry. Since then, Petronas has contracted drill ships for additional exploration, and Gabon has opened new license cycles for shallow and deep water opportunities.

The Gabonese government is working tirelessly to advance and support these efforts and promote foreign investment. This includes the reorganization of the Gabon Special Economic Zone (GSEZ). GSEZ was created in 2010 to facilitate local trade through tax advantages and customs simplification. By creating a stable business environment, Gabon has been called the regional standard bearer for foreign investment, and Gabonese citizens are enjoying the fruits of the related economic rise.

Proof that oil and gas, trade and the fight against climate change can coexist, Gabon in July became the first African country to receive performance-based payments for reducing emissions from deforestation and land use. forest degradation.

Gabon received payment of $ 17 million from the Central African Forests Initiative (CAFI), hosted by the UN, which is helping six partner countries implement the Paris Agreement on climate change and the sustainable fight against poverty, among other objectives. The money will be used to further reduce CO2 emissions through scientific research, forestry and forest management practices, among other activities.

Gabon began a comprehensive strategic effort to preserve Gabon’s tropical forests, which cover 90% of the country, in the early 2000s. This included the establishment of 13 national parks. One of them, the Invindo National Park, was recently named a UNESCO World Heritage Site, becoming the second Gabonese national park to achieve the designation. The first was Lope National Park in 2007.

The tropical forests of Gabon have been called the second lung of the Earth, behind the Amazon, and for good reason: the forests of Gabon absorb a total of 140 million tonnes of CO2 per year. According to the UN, this is equivalent to taking 30 million cars off the road worldwide.

Gabon is fortunate in being able to contribute so much to the global reduction of greenhouse gases, but we recognize that many African brothers in Gabon are not in this enviable position. Gabon’s meetings during African Energy Week in Cape Town will allow us to discuss how, as a continent, we can balance the often competing goals of protecting the environment and lifting out of poverty. Many countries brought together by the African Energy Chamber are struggling to reduce the use of biomass for cooking and to improve and expand an unreliable electricity grid that is accessible to too few people, especially outside urban areas. Expecting them to adhere to a Western timetable for achieving climate goals is unfair and short-sighted. Like Gabon, many other African countries need oil and gas development for their economic development; Gabon expects the benefits of growth to be shared among all. To deny Gabon and Africa the fair and appropriate chance to make one’s own decisions and to benefit from a just energy transition is to “keep Gabon in its place”, to turn off the lights and to cut people off from economic opportunities. .

We have the right to be heard.

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