October 3, 2016 / 2:52 PM / a year ago

Gabon state oil firm aims for offshore via first production licence

LIBREVILLE, Oct 3 (Reuters) - Gabon's state oil firm has agreed its first oil production contract and says it hopes to soon generate enough revenue to compete with international firms for offshore blocs.

Gabon is an OPEC member and Africa's fourth largest producer with an output of around 220,000 barrels per day, dominated by international oil majors Total and Royal Dutch Shell .

Its state oil firm Gabon Oil Company (GOC) was created by decree in 2011 and has until now mostly been focused mostly on selling crude oil produced by international firms and refined products.

"The Mboumba field...(was) signed a few days ago with the oil ministry," said GOC managing director Arnauld Engandji-Alandji, a former advisor to President Ali Bongo, in an interview with Reuters.

"Our strategy is to optimise our revenues onshore...to generate enough cash so that in two or three years we can be a major actor with offshore finds," he added.

The acquisition of the Mboumba field will mean GOC has production of around 1,500 barrels per day.

Engandji-Alandji did not say how much it was acquired for or whom it was purchased from. Local media said it formerly belonged to Total Gabon but this could not immediately be confirmed with a Total spokesman.

Gabon has allocated many new offshore licences in the past few years amid hopes that explorers would find vast reserves tucked deep below a layer of salt in the seabed similar to those discovered offshore Brazil.

However, falling oil prices have dashed investment. (Reporting by Geraulds Wilfried Obangome; Writing by Emma Farge, editing by William Hardy)

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