April 22, 2010 / 7:47 PM / 10 years ago

Gabon to launch national oil company by year-end

LIBREVILLE, April 22 (Reuters) - Gabon, Africa’s seventh-biggest oil producer, will create a national petroleum company to own and manage the country’s stakes in oil fields, an adviser to President Ali Bongo said late on Thursday.

“The national petroleum company will consolidate all government positions and with these revenues invest in creating value-added production facilities,” the adviser told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“By the end of the year, it will be fully legally ready.”

Oil companies active in Gabon, which produces around 250,000 barrels per day, include Total (TOTF.PA) and Shell (RDSa.L).

“The oil companies have been told. They have been waiting for this, not just a political counterpart but a business and technical counterpart,” he said.

Currently the government holds stakes in Gabonese oil fields, but the new firm will group them together and manage their revenues.

The company will operate along the lines of Sonangol, Angola’s national oil firm, and GNPC in Ghana.

“It’s a successful model,” the adviser said.

The central African state relies on crude oil output for about two-thirds of its income, and ships around half of its production to refineries in the United States and most of the rest to Western Europe.

A two-day strike by oil industry union ONEP brought output to a near standstill last week, but by Monday production was back to 100 percent, the union said.

Bongo, who last August won an election to succeed his late father, has made diversifying the economy to lessen its dependence on oil revenue a policy priority. (Reporting by Daniel Magnowski; Editing by David Lewis and Jim Marshall)

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