LONDON (Reuters) - Equatorial Guinea announced plans to build two new oil refineries among other energy projects worth $1 billion, its energy minister was quoted as saying, in a bid to diversify a sector that provides more than 90% of its foreign revenue.
Minister of Mines and Hydrocarbons Gabriel Obiang Lima said the new refineries would process 30,000-40,000 barrels per day (bpd) of crude oil including from the key Zafiro offshore field, said a statement from the Africa Oil Power Conference held in the capital Malabo this week.
Other plans include more oil product storage infrastructure, a methanol-to-gasoline plant and the expansion of a liquefied natural gas (LNG) project, the statement added.
“Phase two is the investment year ... For many years, we have been exploiting our resources and exporting them, but now is the time that we get to the stage of processing,” Obiang Lima said, citing 10 new public-private partnerships the country hopes will attract foreign investment.
Equatorial Guinea, a member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, has struggled to attract investment to stem steady declines in production as newer players such as Mozambique and Namibia garner interest.
U.S. oil major Exxon Mobil plans to shed its operations in the country along with $25 billion worth of other assets worldwide as it seeks to free up cash to focus on a handful of mega-projects.
Equatorial Guinea on Tuesday awarded an offshore bloc with the related Fortuna gas development project to Russia’s Lukoil and national oil firm GEPetrol after the concession was reclaimed from Ophir Energy Plc this year.
Recipients of other blocs included U.S.-based Noble Energy as well as Nigeria’s Walter Smith, which picked up a concession relinquished by Marathon oil.
The World Bank projected the country’s output would decline by over three percent in 2019, warning it was vulnerable to volatile oil prices and needed to improve its business climate in order to diversify its economy and better distribute wealth.
Reporting by Noah Browning; editing by David Evans