Gabon output slows to trickle

A STRIKE BY energy sector workers has brought Gabonese oil output to a virtual halt, with only three per cent of the country's production on stream, the head of the national petroleum stockpile said.

"Production has stopped by 97 per cent by this morning," Christophe Akaga Mba, director-general of the Gabonese Petroleum Depot (SGEPP), told Reuters.

"We hope to have a quick solution to the problem because if it continues at this rate, we risk running out of supplies at ... filling stations by Tuesday or Wednesday."

The strike in the West African state, which produces 250,000 barrels of oil per day and relies on energy for two-thirds of its revenues, is one the biggest setbacks for President Ali Bongo since he replaced his father as president last year.

The ONEP oil workers union said it called the strike over government regulations, most notably a requirement to provide minimum service in the sector that unionists say breaches a basic employee right to strike.

An ONEP delegation is meeting government officials later today after a scheduled meeting on Thursday night with Engongha Owono, the secretary general of the Gabonese presidency, was cancelled.

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