Tullow oil production in Gabon unaffected by presidential coup, CEO says

Paul Burkhardt, Bloomberg September 13, 2023

(Bloomberg) – Tullow Oil Plc’s assets in the central African nation of Gabon, which account for around a quarter of its crude oil production, remain unaffected by a presidential coup last month.

The Africa-focused company produced about 12,800 bopd from non-operated assets in the nation, Tullow said in its half-year results on Wednesday. Gabon’s army seized power on Aug. 30, placing deposed President Ali Bongo under house arrest and later releasing him. The military authority also replaced the OPEC member’s oil minister.

“Everything has been business as usual, there’s been a number of cargo liftings,” Chief Executive Officer Rahul Dhir said of Gabon in an interview. “We’ve obviously watched carefully, but it’s been fine.”

Weeks before the overthrow of the president, Tullow gained approval to extend some of its licenses to 2046. It conducted a cashless asset swap earlier in the year with Perenco SA’s Gabon unit.

Tullow’s strategy under Dhir has been to focus on the assets it’s already familiar with, particularly those in Ghana. Shares rose on July 17 after the company announced gross production of the Jubilee field surpassed 100,000 bpd. It also exited its Guyana business, marking an end to the company’s identity as a wildcat explorer.

“We’re entering into a harvesting phase,” said Dhir. Any exploration would be concentrated around existing assets in Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire or Gabon.

One potential growth project in Kenya has suffered ongoing delays and recently the withdrawal of minority partners TotalEnergies SE and Africa Oil Corp. Having the Kenyan government left as its sole partner “gives us a lot more flexibility” and options to advance the project, Dhir said.

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