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Energy industry in Gabon
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General State of the Economy

Gabon, the official name – Gabonese Republic, with its capital in Libreville, is located in Central Africa and borders Equatorial Guinea and Cameroon (in the north), Republic of the Congo (in the south and east), and the Gulf of Guinea (in the west).
In terms of its size, Gabon is 76th; ahead of many countries in the region, including Uganda, Senegal, and Guinea. However, according to population density Gabon is at the bottom of the list – at 182nd, with an average density of 8 people per 1 km2 [1,2]. The total length of the country's coastline is 885 km [3].
According to 2018 statistics, the country is home to around 2 million people [3]. The administrative map of Gabon is divided into 9 provinces; the official language is French; the political form of government is presidential republic [3].

Gabon / Gabonese Republic
Capital: LibrevilleDensity: 7.9/km2Currency: Central African CFA franc (XAF)
Official languages: FrenchLife expectancy at birth: 66.53 yearsGDP (PPP): $19.319 billion (2023 est.)
National Day: 17 AugustArea: 267,668 km2GDP - per capita (PPP): $8,831 (2023 est.)
Population: 2,397,368 (2023 est.)Coastline: 885 kmInternet country code: .ga

Source: [1,2,3,4,5]

The economy of Gabon is mainly orientated towards the export of oil, the revenues from which account for about 45% of GDP [3]. Due to its small population and the rather rich resource base, Gabon demonstrates relatively high levels of GDP per capita for an African region. However, for the majority of the selected ratings, Gabon is either not represented or is at the bottom of the diagram (Fig. 1).

   Sources:
1. GDP (purchasing power parity), 2020 est. / The World Factbook/Library/Central Intelligence Agency *228
2. GDP - per capita (PPP), 2020 / The World Factbook/Library/Central Intelligence Agency *229
3. Inflation rate (consumer prices), 2019 est. / The World Factbook/Library/Central Intelligence Agency *228
4. Charges for the use of intellectual property, receipts (BoP, current US$), 2020 / International Monetary Fund, Balance of Payments Statistics Yearbook, and data files. / License: CC BY-4.0 *88
5. The Global Competitiveness Index 2019 / Rankings / Reports / World Economic Forum *141
6. High-technology exports (current US$) 2019-2020 / United Nations, Comtrade database through the WITS platform / License: CCBY-4.0 / Data *134
7. 2021 Index of Economic Freedom / International Economies / The Heritage Foundation *178
8. Reserves of foreign exchange and gold, 2017 est. / The World Factbook / Library / Central Intelligence Agency *195
9. Annual average GDP growth in %, for the last 10 years (2011-2020) / World Bank national accounts data, and OECD National Accounts data files / License: CC BY-4.0  *206
10. Public debt (% of GDP), 2017 est. / The World Factbook / Library / Central Intelligence Agency *210
  * Total number of countries participating in ranking


Figure 1. Economic Indices of Gabon


Between 2010 and 2017, the country experienced rapid growth in GDP at purchasing power parity, amounting to $36.66 billion in 2017 [3,4]. For this indicator, Gabon is 123rd in the world [3].
According to GDP at purchasing power parity per capita, Gabon shows a figure above world average – $18 100 in 2017 [3]. The inflation rate in 2017 was 2.7%, compared to 2.1% in 2016 [3].
According to the Index of Economic Freedom, which is based on freedom of business, freedom from government action, property protection, and freedom from corruption, Gabon was 109th in 2018, out of the 180 countries considered, ahead of Egypt. In terms of reserves of foreign exchange and gold Gabon is 132nd out of 176 countries, ahead of the Republic of Congo. According to the indicator for the average GDP growth in percentage over the last 10 years, in 2017 the country was 94th out of 200 countries. In terms of public debt, calculated as a percentage of the country's GDP, Gabon was ranked 136th out of 202 countries considered in 2017.

Energy Resources

The main resource of the country is definitely oil (Table 1). In terms of tons of oil equivalent, in 2017 proved reserves of conventional hydrocarbons in Gabon were: oil – 91.4%, gas – 8.6% (Fig.5).
According to information presented in [3], as of the beginning of 2018, oil reserves in the country amounted to 2 billion barrels, and gas reserves were 28.32 Tcm. According to the BP report, from 1998 to 2018, the total proved oil reserves decreased from 2.6 to 2.0 billion barrels [6]. 


Table 1. Fossil energy resources of Gabon

Resource /ExplanationsCrude oil*Natural gas*CoalAssociated petroleum gasOil sands heavy oil
Value2(0.12%)0.9(0.01%)no datano datano data
Unitbillion barrelsTcf
Year20212020
Source[15][15]

*share of the country’s reserves in world total is provided in brackets

Gabon has relatively low potential for the development of clean energy production (Table 2).
The most typical level of global horizontal irradiation is lower around 4.6 kW/m²/day, and it can reach the level of 5.0 kW/m²/day in the northern part of the country and in the east [7].
Wind speed in most parts of Gabon doesn't exceed 4 m/s [8]. More than 90% of Gabon is forested аnd 20% is covered by agricultural land [9,10]. Which is a very rich resource for bioenergy production.
Hydropower potential of the country is estimated to be 6 000 MW [11]. Potential for the use of ocean energy and sea wave energy in the south of the country can reach 10 kW/m [12].

Table 2. Renewable energy resources of Gabon

Resource/
Explanations
Solar Potential
(GHI)*
Wind Potential
(50 м)*
Hydro energy
Potential**
Bio Potential
(agricultural area)
Bio Potential
(forest area)
Municipal Solid
Waste
Value<4.6<4.06 00020900.45
UnitkWh/m2/daym/sMW% of land area% of land areakg/per capita/day
Year201820182013201620162012
Source[7][8][11][9][10][13]

*for most of the territory of the country

This energy review of Gabon would not be complete without mentioning municipal waste (0.45 kg per person per day), the disposal of which is the optimal solution from both an environmental and economic point of view [13]. However, the application of these technologies in the country has not received the necessary expansion.

Energy Balance

Gabon is one of the top five oil producers in Sub-Saharan Africa [14]. The production of oil remained stable since 2006, and in 2017 it was 198 thousand barrels/day [15]. In 2018 it was at the level of 196 000 barrels/day according to [3].
The volume of consumption of this resource also remained stable (Fig. 2), and in 2018 reached the level of 21.3 thousand barrels/day [15]. As reported in [3], the volume of oil exports from Gabon in 2015 amounted to 214 200 bbl/d. The main importers of oil from Gabon are Australia, Malaysia, South Korea, Singapore, and Japan [5].
Up to 2011 production, as well as consumption, of natural gas remained stable around 3 Bcf. However, in 2012 there was a sharp increase to 14 Bcf [15]. In 2017, both indicators were at the level of 14 Bcf [15]. Moreover, 80% to 90% of associated petroleum gas produced is being reinjected into the wells to improve oil production, or being flared [14,16].

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration (Sep 2023) / www.eia.gov

Figure 2. The production and consumption of fossil fuels in Gabon (coal – left, gas – in the center, oil – right)

Historically, Gabon has a high share of hydropower in electricity production, but in recent years most of the electricity has been produced from fossil sources (Fig 3.).

                                       
Sources: U.S. Energy Information Administration (Dec 2021) / www.eia.gov
 
 Figure 3. Electricity Generation in Gabon 


In 2019 Gabon produced about 3.01 TWh of electricity, of which 41.8% was by fossil fuels and 57.8% by hydropower and 0.4% by other renewable sources (Fig. 5). Gabon’s position in the comparative diagram of energy index is shown in Fig. 4. The indices, which are based on reserves of oil and export opportunities, show Gabon’s distinct advantage over most of the world, especially in terms of the production-consumption ratio. However, similar indicators for natural gas look less convincing.

 Sources:
1. Crude oil proved reserves, 2021 / International Energy Statistic/Geography / U.S. Energy Information Administration (Nov 2021)*98
2. Natural gas proved reserves 2021 / International Energy Statistic / Geography / U.S. Energy Information Administration (Nov 2021) *99
3. Total recoverable coal reserves 2019 / International Energy Statistic / Geography / U.S. Energy Information Administration (Nov 2021) *81
4. Combination production-consumption for Crude oil 2018 / International Energy Statistic / Geography / U.S. Energy Information Administration (Nov 2021) *219
5. Combination production-consumption for Natural gas 2019 / International Energy Statistic / Geography / U.S. Energy Information Administration (Nov 2021) *123
6. Combination production-consumption for Coal 2019 / International Energy Statistic / Geography / U.S. Energy Information Administration (Nov 2021) *128
7. Electricity – from other renewable sources (% of total installed capacity), 2017 est. / The World Factbook / Library / Central Intelligence Agency *170
8. GDP per unit of energy use (PPP per unit of oil equivalent), 2020 *66
Primary energy consumption - BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2021/BP;
GDP (purchasing power parity) - The World Factbook/Library/Central Intelligence Agency
9. Energy use (primary energy use of oil equivalent per capita) 2020  *127
Primary energy consumption – BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2021; Population - United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs,
Population Division (2019). World Population Prospects 2019, custom data acquired via website. Retrieved 15 November 2021
*66
10. The Global Energy Architecture Performance Index Report (EAPI) 2017 / Rankings / Reports / World Economic Forum
11. Electric power consumption (kWh per capita), 2016 *217
Electricity Consumption - The World Factbook / Library / Central Intelligence Agency; Population - United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs,
Population Division (2019). World Population Prospects 2019, custom data acquired via website. Retrieved 15 November 2021

12. Combination of electricity production-consumption (kWh)/The World Factbook/Library/Central Intelligence Agency *216

* Total number of countries participating in ranking

Figure 4. Energy indices of Gabon
 

GDP per unit of energy use is below the world average – 102nd place out of 130 countries considered, while energy consumption per capita is higher – 44th out of 135 countries.
In terms of electricity consumption per capita, the country is 141st in the world, however, for the indicator of combination of electricity production-consumption, Gabon is 119th in the ranked list of 216 countires.

Energy Infrastructure

A territorial map of the distribution of the largest infrastructure projects of the fossil fuel sector in Gabon is shown in Figure 5.
As mentioned previously, oil accounts for 91.4%, and natural gas reserves account for 8.6% of the energy potential of fossil resources. The main oil and gas fields are concentrated in the south-west of the country and along the coast (Fig. 5). The largest oil field in Gabon is Rabi Kounga Oil Field, located in the province of Ogooue-Maritime, produces 150 000 barrels per day. The oil pipeline is 1 639 km long (Fig. 5) and connects the fields to the Sogara oil refinery with an installed capacity of 21 000 barrels/day [17,18].
Map of energy infrastructure in Gabon
Figure 5. Basic Infrastructure facilities of the fossil fuel sector and electricity in Gabon
(click on the map to view a PDF version)

The most important oil storage facilities are located both in the area of the deposits, the capital, and in the south-east of the country. The main oil terminals are located in the Port-Gentil area and in the west of the country. The largest FPSO (Floating Production, Storage and Offloading) terminal Knock Allan Yinson, has an installed capacity of 35 thousand barrels/day [19].
There are two large combined cycle power plants and one gas power plant with a capacity of more than 50 MW (Fig. 5).
The leading gas power plant is Owendo Natural Gas-fired Power Plant, with a capacity of 151 MW, and the largest combined cycle plant is Port Gentil (Mandji) Combined Power Plant, with a capacity of more than 105 MW [20,21].
The total installed capacity of hydropower in the county amounted to 330.2 MW in 2018 [22]. The largest hydropower plant Grand Poubara Dam Hydroelectric Power Plant has a capacity of 160 MW [23].
The country adopted an Energy Development Strategy – Plan Stratégique Gabon Émergent, which is mainly focused on providing the entire population with access to electricity, increasing the share of renewable energy sources (mainly hydropower) in electricity generation and diversifying energy sources.
It is planned to increase the share of renewable energy sources in the production of electricity to 80% [24] by 2020.

Education and Innovation

The set of indices reflecting the position of Gabon among other countries in the field of education and innovation can be seen in the Figure 6.
Gabon is represented in half of the selected indexes, only one of which demonstrates indicators at the level of the world average. According to the number of patents granted to the residents of Gabon, both inside the country and abroad, the country ranks 122nd in the world.
Gabon's indices, based on scientific and technological activity and state support of education, seem to be more convincing. In the Scimago ranking, Gabon is 134th out of 239 participating countries, and in the ranking of Scientific and Journal Activities it is 136th out of 196 countries.

 
 
Sources:
1. The Global Innovation Index 2021, Rankings / Knowledge / World Intellectual Property Organization / Cornell University, INSEAD, and WIPO (2021):
Energizing the World with Innovation. Ithaca, Fontainebleau, and Geneva *132
2. Patent Grants 2011-2020, resident & abroad / Statistical country profiles / World Intellectual Property Organization *185
3.Patents in Force 2020 / Statistical country profiles / World Intellectual Property Organization *109
4. QS World University Rankings 2022 *97
5. SCImago Country Rankings (1996-2020) / Country rankings / SCImago, (n.d.). SIR-SCImago Journal & Country Rank [Portal]. Retrieved 17 Nov 2021 *240
6. Internet users in 2018 / The World Factbook / Central Intelligence Agency *229
7. Internet users in 2018 (% Population) / The World Factbook / Central Intelligence Agency *229
8. Government expenditure on education, total (% of GDP), 2019 / United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Institute for Statistics.
License: CCBY-4.0 / Data as of September 2021*177
9. Research and development expenditure (% of GDP), 2018 / UNESCO Institute for Statistics. License: CCBY-4.0 / Data *119
10. Scientific and technical journal articles, 2018 / National Science Foundation, Science and Engineering Indicators. License: CCBY-4.0 / Data *197
  * Total number of countries participating in ranking
 
 Figure 6. The indices of education and innovation in Gabon 

Ecology and Environment Protection

A diagram of environmental indices is shown in Figure 7. The ecological situation in Gabon cannot be called favorable. Most of the indicators are located in the lower part of the chart.

 
 Sources:
1. CO2 total emission by countries 2020 / European Commission / Joint Research Centre (JRC) / Emission Database for Global Atmospheric Research (EDGAR)*208
2. CO2 per capita emission 2020/European Commission/Joint Research Centre (JRC) / Emission Database for Global Atmospheric Research (EDGAR) *208
3. Forest area 2020 (% of land area) / The Global Forest Resources Assessment 2020 / Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations *234
4. Forest area change 2010-2020 (1000 ha/year) / The Global Forest Resources Assessment 2020 / Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations *234
5. The Environmental Performance Index (EPI) 2020 / Rankings / Yale Center for Environmental Law & Policy / Yale University *180
6. Annual freshwater withdrawals (m3 per capita), 2017 *179
Annual freshwater withdrawals, total (billion m3), 2017 – Food and Agriculture Organization, AQUASTAT data. /License: CC BY-4.0; 
Population – United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division (2019).
World Population Prospects 2019, custom data acquired via website. Retrieved 15 November 2021
7. The National Footprint Accounts 2017 (Biocapacity Credit / Deficit) / Global Footprint Network *188
8. Methane emissions (kt of CO2 equivalent), 2018 / Data for up to 1990 are sourced from Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center, Environmental Sciences Division,
Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Tennessee, United States. Data from 1990 are CAIT data: Climate Watch. 2020. GHG Emissions. Washington, DC: World Resources Institute.
Available at: License : Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0)  *191
9. The Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI) 2022 / Overall Results / Jan Burck, Thea Uhlich, Christoph Bals, Niklas Höhne, Leonardo Nascimento /
Germanwatch, NewClimate Institute & Climate Action Network *60

  * Total number of countries participating in ranking
 
 Figure 7. Environmental Indices of Gabon 

For a number of indices, Gabon demonstrates high results not only for the region, but for the whole world. According to forest area as a percentage of land area, Gabon is among the world leaders – 4th in the world. The trend associated with its change also looks very positive. In this rating, the country is 6th out of 234 countries surveyed. Gabon is not among the 56 countries in the world responsible for more than 90% of the world's energy-related CO2 emissions, according to the Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI). The country demonstrates moderate levels of CO2 emissions in general and per capita, and the level of methane emission is also relatively low. According to the Environmental Vulnerability Index, which is based on years of observations and 50 indicators, which include for example, changing climatic characteristics or the quality of water resources, waste volumes, oil spills and other hazardous substances, etc. In this rating Gabon is 12th out of 234 member countries. According to the Ecological Footprint Atlas rating, Gabon is among the environmental creditors.
At the same time Gabon has a relatively low valuation of the Environmental Performance Index 2018 (EPI), which focuses primarily on assessing the environmental performance of national governments. In this rating Gabon is 140th out of 180 member countries and demonstrates a positive trend.

References

[1] List of sovereign states and dependencies by area / Wikipedia / https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_sovereign_states_and_dependencies_by_area
[2] List of countries and dependencies by population density / Wikipedia / https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_and_dependencies_by_population_density
[3] Gabon / The world factbook / Library / Central Intelligence Agency / https://www.cia.gov/
[4] GDP, PPP (constant 2011 international $) / World Bank, International Comparison Program database. License: CC BY-4.0 / Data / The World Bank / http://www.worldbank.org/
[5] GDP per capita, PPP (current international $)/ World Bank, International Comparison Program database. License: CC BY-4.0 / Data / The World Bank / http://www.worldbank.org/
[6] BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2019 (PDF) / BP / https://www.bp.com/
[7] Solar resource data obtained from the Global Solar Atlas, owned by the World Bank Group and provided by Solargis / Global Solar Athlas / http://globalsolaratlas.info/
[8] Wind Map / Global Wind Atlas 2.0, a free, web-based application developed, owned and operated by the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) in partnership with the World Bank Group, utilizing data provided by Vortex, with funding provided by the Energy Sector Management Assistance Program (ESMAP). For additional information: https://globalwindatlas.info
[9] Agricultural land (% of land area) / Food and Agriculture Organization, electronic files and web site. License: CC BY-4.0 / Data / The World Bank / http://www.worldbank.org
[10] Forest area (% of land area) /Food and Agriculture Organization, electronic files and web site. License: CC BY-4.0 / Data / The World Bank / http://www.worldbank.org/
[11] Gabon has hydroelectric potential of 6,000 MW / Esi Africa / https://www.esi-africa.com
[12] Wave Power / Wikipedia / https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wave_power
[13] World Bank What a Waste / Data / The World Bank / http://www.worldbank.org
[14] Gabon / Geography / U.S. Energy Information Administration (December 2016) / http://www.eia.gov/
[15] International Energy Statistic / Geography / U.S. Energy Information Administration  / http://www.eia.gov/beta/international/
[16] Gabon hopes to increase hydrocarbons production through new discoveries / Oxford Business Group / https://www.oxfordbusinessgroup.com/
[17] Rabi Kounga Oil Field / African Oil and Gas Fields / A Barrel Full / http://abarrelfull.wikidot.com/
[18] Gabon’s Sogara oil refinery restarts after 5-day outage / September 5, 2016 / Reuters / http://www.reuters.com/
[19] FPSO Allan / Yinson FPSO, FSO, MOPU / Yinson Production AS / http://www.yinson.com.my/
[20] La SEEG dope sa centrale d’Owendo / 10 December 2015 / Weblogy Group Ltd. / http://news.alibreville.com/
[21] 105 MW Port Gentil, Gabon / Telemenia / http://www.telemenia.com/
[22] Gabon / IRENA / http://resourceirena.irena.org/
[23] The Grand Poubara Dam will soon be in operation!" / 05/17/2013 / The Official Portal of the Gabonese Republic / http://www.en.legabon.org/
[24] Thanks to green growth, Gabon is at the forefront of a sustainable Africa / 01/12/2016 / Africa Times / http://africatimes.com

The sources of charts and curves are specified under the images.

For more information about the energy industry in Gabon see here