Gabon has a well-developed oil and gas industry, but has experienced declining production as the country's fields mature. This trend may eventually reverse as operators work on various exploration and development activities in 2012.

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Overview
Gabon had proved oil reserves of 3.7 billion barrels at the end of 2010, according to the BP (NYSE:BP) Statistical Review of World Energy.

Oil production averaged 245,000 barrels per day in 2010, making Gabon the sixth-largest producer in Africa. Oil production has been stable here the last few years, but has been in a long-term decline from the peak level of about 365,000 barrels per day reached in 1996.

Operators
Total
(NYSE:TOT) is one of the largest producers in Gabon, with 2011 production of 58,000 barrels of oil equivalent (BOE) per day. This production has been declining in recent years as producing fields mature.

Total is working on the redevelopment of the Anguille Field and recently finished installing a new platform at the field. The company plans to drill 21 development wells from this platform starting in the second quarter of 2012.

Total is active in other license areas as well. During the first quarter of 2012, it brought two wells onto production and is drilling two other wells. The company also has several exploration prospects that it expects to start drilling over the next year.

SEE: Oil And Gas Industry Primer

Royal Dutch Shell (NYSE:RDS.A, RDS.B) is also active in Gabon and reported production of 65,000 barrels of oil per day from five oil and gas fields in Gabon.

Addax Petroleum has interests in five areas located in both onshore and offshore Gabon. The company operates the onshore Panthere and Maghena license areas and is involved on a non-operated basis with Royal Dutch Shell on a third onshore and two offshore license areas. Addax Petroleum was acquired by China Petroleum & Chemical Corp. (NYSE:SNP) in 2009.

VAALCO Energy (NYSE:EGY) owns around a 28% working interest and operates the offshore Etame Marin license area. Gross oil production from here totaled 22,000 barrels per day from 10 wells as of February 2012. The company is progressing on several exploration prospects on this license area and another opportunity in the onshore.

Harvest Natural Resources (NYSE:HNR) operates the Dussafu license area and reported a successful exploration well here in 2011. The Ruche Marin-1 found 55 feet of net oil pay, and after two successful appraisal wells, the company is evaluating the results to plan a possible development program.

SEE: A Primer On Offshore Drilling

The Bottom Line
Many oil and gas operators have operations in Ghana and are actively developing existing producing fields as well as exploring in new, nearby areas. These activities will result in increased production in Gabon over the next few years.

At the time of writing, Eric Fox did not own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this article.

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