The draft of the new Petroleum Code, in preparation for more than a year now, is in the process of being finalised. Its text was preliminarily presented to journalists by the Gabonese Ministry of Petroleum, Etienne Ngoubou in October, however, its official entry into force has still not been outlined.
The bill will replace the existing obsolete Petroleum Code governing the sector since 1962. The Government has announced that it is to be aimed at assuring socioeconomic equity and national stability seen as a more balanced approach that will keep more generated revenue by the industry for the State. It provides limits on state ownerships of foreign companies setting the maximum stake of 62.5% as a way to attract international oil companies. The new code is to promote the efficient control and monitoring of the sector, as well as supervision of the operating system of contracts and production sharing. The Ministry declared that the State is planning to take stakes in all foreign companies operating in Gabon in the nearest future.
The proposed changes coupled with the governmental newly launched action of auditing existing oil contracts are perceived by investors as a chance for the state to squeeze more money out of foreign oil companies. The Ministry’s moves to exert more control over the sector may scare potential investors and force some foreign energy companies already operating in the country to revise their strategies in a way that it will not jeopardise their interests in this West African country.