Press Releases

Gabon, Central Africa—IFC Invests $10 Million in Offshore Oil Development

L. Joseph
Phone:  (202) 473-7700

Fax:  (202) 974-4384


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 sector.

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.