- Despite dramatically sinking oil prices, major investments in Gabon's oil sector are getting a "go ahead" notice, with a 145-kilometer pipeline now being updated.
The update constructions of a new 145-kilometer pipeline connecting an oil-field production plant operated by Total in Onal to a refinery in Coucal, both located in Gabon, is going ahead, it was learnt today.
The US company Colfax Corporation today announced it had been awarded a US$ 2 million order for pumping systems from French oil company Maurel et Prom. Its pumps will be used to move crude oil through the Onal-Coucal pipeline. The pumps are to act as "pipe-acceleration pumps to move up to 30,000 barrels of crude oil every day and clean the pipeline with water at a rate of 50 cubic meters/hr at 50 bar," according to Colfax.
Basic engineering on the Onal-Coucal pipeline, which is easing oil exports from Gabon, began in 2007, as oil prices were moving beyond the US$ 100 a barrel mark. The massive project included the pipeline, the erection of storage tanks and the construction of the production centre.
European oil analysts today expect prices to stabilise at a level of about US$ 50 a barrel in 2009, or even lower prices at some times. This, they say, will strongly slow down oil exploration and infrastructure investments world-wide.
For Gabon, this has raised some fears regarding the future of oil investments. Despite the fact that Gabon has already seen the peak of its oil production, government over the last few years - engaging in economic and transparency reforms - managed to attract many new investors, which were able to make new oil discoveries and started looking into the lucrative upstream market.
The economy of Gabon is still overwhelmingly dependent on the oil sector and may therefore see a downscaling next year as world market prices have been cut half during the last few months. The Libreville government however increasingly is investing in the non-oil sector.
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