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Gabon Signs Deal to Build New Oil Refinery

President of Gabon Ali Bongo Ondimba speaks in the U.N. General Assembly during high-level meetings on HIV/AIDS on Wednesday, June 8, 2011.

Energy and Environment adviser Gin Park says, when complete, new Port-Gentil oil refinery will produce about 50,000 barrels per day

An adviser to Gabon’s President, Ali Ben Bongo Ondimba, said the government has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Samsung, a South Korea-based company, to build a new oil refinery in the Central African nation.

The refinery is expected to be the constructed in the oil hub of Port-Gentil.

Energy and Environment adviser Gin Park said the new refinery would replace SOGARA, the Gabonese Refining Company, which he said is too old and incapable of processing the quantities required by Ondimba’s policy on developing the country’s raw materials.

The old refinery, which was built in 1967, currently produces about 21,000 barrels per day.

“The old refinery will shut down in 2016, so it is important the new refinery is right on schedule. The new refinery will be built in the same site where the old one is.”

Park said the construction of the new refinery is scheduled to be completed before the end of 2016. He said experts from South Korea are currently in Gabon to begin feasibility studies about the refinery project.

When completed, Park said, “The capacity of the refinery will be 50,000 barrels per day and the total investment cost is $1 billion.”

Half of the refined oil, he said, will be exported, while the remainder will be for local consumption.

Park said negotiations are still ongoing between the government and Samsung before a deal is finalized for the construction to begin.

“The contract is not signed yet, [it was] the MOU that was signed between Gabon and Samsung…The construction will be done by Samsung and the maintenance will be done by them and the Gabonese people,” said Park.

“The main product of the refinery will be diesel for domestic market and the other products will be for other markets, and the heavy fuel oil will be for the European market.”

Park said the government has embraced public and private partnership in the president’s agenda of the “Emerging Gabon Initiative” for the construction of the new oil refinery.