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Gabon oil workers start indefinite strike over COVID-19 measures


Perenco's upstream operations unaffected: source

Gabon has been pumping around 200,000 b/d

  • Author
  • Robert Perkins
  • Editor
  • Herman Wang
  • Commodity
  • Electric Power Oil

Oil workers in Gabon began an indefinite strike Jan 11. in protest over measures to combat the spread of COVID-19 including the cost of PCR tests, the country's National Petroleum Workers Union (Onep) said.

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Alongside the water and electricity sector union, Onep first threatened strike action on Jan. 8 over an increase in the cost of PCR test and measures which, among other things, establish the health pass as a condition for access to work or to spaces.

The former French colony, which rejoined OPEC in 2016 after a 20-year absence, is frequently subject to strikes by Onep, which has had long-standing grievances with the government and oil companies over employment terms.

A spokesperson for Anglo-French oil company Perenco, Gabon's biggest producer at around 100,000 b/d, declined to comment on the impact of the strike. A source close to the company, however, said that Perenco's operations have not been affected.

A video on social media appeared to show workers at Maurel & Prom's Onal oil field on its Ezanga block on strike but the company did not respond to requests for comment.

Carlyle-backed Assala Energy, Gabon's second-largest producer which operates the major fields Rabi Kounga and Gamba fields, and energy major TotalEnergies did not respond to requests for comment.

OPEC's second-smallest producer, Gabon has seen a drop off in exploration and development drilling in the past five years, significantly hurting its oil output.

Gabonese crude oil output has fallen sharply recently, averaging about 182,500 b/d in 2021 from around 250,000 b/d in 2016, according to S&P Global Platts estimates. In December, it pumped around 200,000 b/d.

This fall in output is also due to its commitments under the OPEC+ supply cuts.

Production reached a peak of 365,000 b/d in 1996 but has declined steadily since due to maturing fields.