Gabon, Central Africa, April 22, 2002—The
International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private sector lending arm
of the World Bank Group, is investing US$10 million to help develop the
Etame offshore oil field in the central African country of Gabon.
The project, located off the southern coast of the country, will support
recent efforts of the Government of Gabon to attract smaller independent
producers to invest in exploration and development of new oil fields. As
the highest producing oil fields approach maturity, the development of
new fields has become a priority for the government.
IFC’s loan will finance a portion of the investment program of the project
operator, VAALCO Etame (Gabon) Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Houston,
U.S.A-based company, VAALCO Energy. VAALCO Energy is an independent energy
company principally engaged in the acquisition, exploration, development,
and production of crude oil and natural gas.
VAALCO Etame (Gabon) Inc., which holds 30.35 percent of the permit, has
drilled four wells to date and will drill up to three additional wells
to fully develop the field. Oil production is expected to begin in
late 2002 with initial production of up to 15,000 barrels per day from
the first three wells.
Rashad Kaldany, Director of IFC’s Oil, Gas, and Chemicals Department,
said, “We hope that this project will have a demonstration effect and
help to encourage smaller independent energy companies to invest in exploration
and development of new fields in other oil producing countries in west
and central Africa.”
Mr. Kaldany added that independent oil companies often have difficulty
attracting long-term financing for their activities. The availability
of external financing, such as IFC’s, is therefore essential to boost
prospects for further investment in new and/or marginal offshore fields.
The Government of Gabon will use a portion of the revenue from this project
to fund the development of petroleum research in Gabon and support the
training of Gabonese nationals to encourage local participation in the
IFC’s mission is to promote sustainable private sector investment in developing
countries, helping to reduce poverty and improve people's lives. IFC
finances private sector investments in the developing world, mobilizes
capital in the international financial markets, and provides technical
assistance and advice to governments and businesses. From its founding
in 1956 through the close of the last fiscal year on June 30, 2001, IFC
committed more than $31 billion of its own funds and arranged $20 billion
in syndications for 2,636 companies in 140 developing countries. IFC’s
committed portfolio at the end of FY01 was $14.3 billion.