Lagos — Virtually all oil and gas projects and licensing rounds are on hold in Equatorial Guinea as it braces for an extended oil downturn because of the coronavirus pandemic, the country’s hydrocarbons minister said on Monday.
Equatorial Guinea, a tiny west African nation that relies on oil and gas for 90% of state revenue, had already been grappling with falling output and the desire of certain oil majors, such as ExxonMobil, to exit the country.
Hydrocarbons minister Gabriel Obiang Lima said the country would offer quick licence extensions and generous leeway on drilling requirements to keep companies afloat during the historic downturn that has sent oil prices to 20-year lows.
“The year 2020 and the year 2021 are ‘lost years’,” Obiang Lima said, referring to the oil industry.
The latest developments represent a stark reversal for a country that late last year said it would press companies to either drill or drop their licences.
The only project likely to continue this year, Obiang Lima said, was a gas backfilling project with Marathon because all the equipment was already in the country.
The flexibility being offered by the government could help Equatorial Guinea’s oil and gas industry to remain attractive to international oil companies, Obiang Lima said
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