- Reports of new oil discoveries and production increases in Gabon are issued at a more frequent rate. Yesterday, Shell Gabon and its partners announced the discovery of a new onshore field. Last week, Vaalco Energy announced that Gabon's offshore Etame Field had increased production. Gabon seems to turn the negative tide of negative production figures.
Shell Gabon and its co-venturer PanOcean Energy yesterday announced a light oil discovery in the exploration well AWOKOU-1 in the Awoun Permit, located eight kilometres to the north of the Total/Shell producing Avocette field, onshore Gabon. Shell is the field's operator with a 50 percent interest, while the Gabonese government has a 20 percent option in the new discovery.
According to a statement issued by PanOcean, the AWOKOU-1 exploration well was successfully drilled and logged. "Based on the data collected thus far, the AWOKOU-1 well has come in close to prognosis and found oil in thick Gamba sandstone," the statement said.
AWOKOU-1 is the first well drilled as part of a two-well exploration campaign in the new permit. The second exploration well (AWODAM-1) is set to be drilled in October 2004, some three kilometres to the southwest of the AWOKOU-1 discovery, according to the minor US oil company that already has a substantial light oil production in Gabon.
The announcement by PanOcean and Shell Gabon comes less than one week after the Texan oil company Vaalco Engery issues a press release, announcing an increase in its production in Gabon. Its recently completed development well, ET-5H, in Gabon's offshore Etame Field was now producing oil at the rate of 9,200 barrels per day, the company said.
- We have been able to stabilise production at approximately 9,200 barrels per day, stated Vaalco Chairman Robert Gerry. "This brings total production from the Etame Field to approximately 23,500 barrels per day. We continue to carefully monitor all aspects of our operations to ensure reservoir stability at this higher production level," he added.
These announcements come after several small and large oil companies - mainly based in the USA - recently increased their exploration efforts in Gabon, probably as part of Washington's national strategy to secure at least 25 percent of its oil imports from Atlantic Africa within the next decade. New oil explorations have also strongly been encouraged by Gabonese authorities.
Only a few years ago, Gabon had been widely given up as a location for new oil investments. This was due to the fact that the country's oil reserves were among the first to be exploited in Africa and known reserves were rapidly being depleted. So far, the all time peak of Gabon's oil production was reached in 1997, with 371,000 barrels per day. In 2003, this had fallen to under 240,000 barrels per day.
Due to Gabonese and US government incitements to explore new oil resources in Gabon, the country's proven oil reserves have doubled since 1996 and have now reached an estimated 2.6 billion barrels. Production is however still decreasing, although at a much slower rate than in the late 1990s. The tide nevertheless seems to have turned.
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