Gabon’s natural gas draws US$1.3 billion deal


LIBREVILLE — Resource rich Gabon Saturday signed a US$1.3 billion deal to set up a fertilizer complex with Singapore-based Olam International, on the back of its cheap natural gas reserves, officials said. Gabon President Ali Bongo Ondimba hailed the agreement as an opportunity to “build one of the most competitive fertilizer businesses in the world in Gabon.” Olam Group Managing Director and chief executive Sunny Verghese said Olam believed that “Africa, and Gabon in particular” offered the best prospects for the complex “due to long term availability of natural gas at competitive prices.” Gabon was “the ideal location” largely due to “one of the lowest cost natural gas reserves in the world,” he added. The Gabonese presidency added in a statement released in Libreville that the agreement could generate around 10,000 jobs. The deal was inked in Singapore by Gabonese Finance, Commerce and Tourism Minister Magloire Ngambia and Mines, Petrol and Hydrocarbon Minister Julien Nkoghe Bekale at a ceremony presided by the president, it said. Olam added it had also signed a US$236 million deal with Gabon to develop large scale palm oil plantations. Gabon said in August it had signed US$4.5 billion in contracts with Indian and Singaporean companies for infrastructure projects although it did not name the companies involved. The projects included the construction of 1,000 kilometers (600 miles) of roads, the construction of a special economic zone for the processing of wood, creating palm plantations and building 5,000 homes.