Can you introduce Gabonaise de Chimie and its operations to our worldwide audience?

Gabonaise de Chimie was established in 1991 by two businessmen, one French and one French Lebanese, with a focus on francophone African countries. Today, the company has subsidiaries in 12 entities worldwide, including Gabon. As an independent company, our main activity revolves around water supply to the chemical industry. However, we also cater to various other sectors such as beverages, forestry, agriculture, petroleum, and mining. Our goal is to bring added value to Gabon, a country heavily reliant on imports. We strive to provide essential supplies that promote the country’s transformation and resource creation. Around 30% of our activities are dedicated to agriculture, forestry, and poultry, with 12 small shops spread across the country. Our petroleum activities are centered in Port-Gentil, where we collaborate with European, Asian, and American companies. Within the petroleum sector, we offer commodities such as solvents to facilitate fluidity in pipelines, methanol, and eco-friendly detergents for offshore platforms. Our client base includes notable companies like Assala, Total, Perenco, and many others.

Can you provide an overview of your operations and the main products you offer in the oil and gas sector?

Gabonaise de Chimie has been operating in Gabon for 29 years, initially focusing on agricultural and chemical products, as well as commodities for the petroleum industry. Over time, we diversified our product offerings based on market demand and ventured into specialty chemicals. Our operational model relies on partnerships with suppliers in Europe, representing them locally in Gabon. Some of our esteemed partners include REP, Nalco Ecolab company, Savana, and Dupont. These companies choose Gabonaise de Chimie over direct imports from the United States or Europe due to our excellent storage facilities, enabling large-scale trading. Our competitive advantage lies in providing comprehensive solutions to our customers by bundling products as per their requirements. We have contracts for importing, stocking, and delivering products. Our clients range from major producers like Perenco, Total, Addax, and Maurel et Prom to affiliated subcontractors and service providers.

How has the demand in the petroleum sector fluctuated in the past decade?

Between 2010 and 2014, the petroleum industry experienced significant activity due to the high price of petrol. However, the subsequent years saw a decline, leading many companies to exit Gabon. Gabonaise de Chimie’s ability to survive relied on its diversified portfolio in other sectors, such as agriculture and equipment. In the past two years, business has shown signs of improvement, but we do not anticipate a return to the boom of 2010. Those years represented a bubble that eventually burst.

How has Gabon recovered since the 2014 oil price crisis, and what are the prospects moving forward?

Since the 2014 oil price crisis, Gabon has been on a path of recovery. However, it is important to note that the industry is cyclical, and periods of growth are often followed by negative cycles. Gabonaise de Chimie has learned to be resilient and perseverant despite the challenges. With 17 years of presence in Port-Gentil, our team remains highly involved in the social fabric of the region, providing continuous service from one generation to the next.

What are your thoughts on Gabon’s potential to diversify its economy and develop other economic sectors?

Gabon has significant potential for diversifying its economy, particularly in the field of agriculture. Currently, a substantial portion of the country’s food supply relies on imports from neighboring countries like Cameroon. However, transitioning to a diversified economy might face challenges as the Gabonese people have a long-standing tradition in the oil industry and may not easily see themselves in the agricultural sector. It is crucial for the mindset to evolve, considering that the petroleum sector will not remain the same in the next 20 years. Diversification is necessary to secure the country’s long-term economic stability.

What challenges do you face as a business operating in Gabon?

Doing business in Gabon presents its share of difficulties, primarily due to uncertainty. Economic and fiscal certainties are vital for businesses, and stability is key. Foreign companies require confidence in the stability of a country to invest effectively. Over the past two years, we have faced issues with foreign exchange regulations, making many European companies hesitant to export to Gabon due to concerns about payment guarantees. The government must earn the trust of new investors to attract them to Gabon, and this remains a significant challenge in the coming months.

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