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Gabon to Introduce New Petroleum Code, Set Out State Ownership

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Dec. 1 (Bloomberg) -- Gabon will introduce a new petroleum industry code next year to make regulations and production-sharing rules more transparent, the country’s oil ministry said.

The new code sets out limits on state ownership of foreign companies, Julien Mbourou, the official responsible for oil laws at the ministry, said in an interview in Libreville, the capital.

“The state has vowed to limit its stakes to a maximum of 62.5 percent as a way to attract international oil companies,” he said. The actual stake would depend on the size of the operation, Mbourou said.

The central Africa nation was sub-Saharan Africa’s sixth-biggest oil producer in 2009, pumping 229,000 barrels a day, according to a BP Statistical Review. The oil and gas laws include “appealing” tax incentives to encourage exploration in deep and ultra-deep water, Petroleum Minister Julien Nkoghe-Bekale said on Nov. 4. The state is also setting up a national oil company, he said.

“The new mining code will promote the efficient control and monitoring of the activity, as well as supervision of the operating system of contracts and production sharing,” Mbourou said.

Total Gabon, 58 percent owned by France’s Total SA, and Shell Gabon SA are the country’s biggest oil producers.

To contact the reporter on this story: Antoine Lawson in Libreville via Johannesburg at pmrichardson@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Antony Sguazzin at asguazzin@bloomberg.net