Gabon sets quota on foreign workers

GABON'S GOVERNMENT HAS agreed to trade union demands to limit the number of foreign workers in its oil sector to 10 per cent and requires that all executive posts be held by Gabonese.


Legislation to implement the limits will be finalised by the end of the year, said oil sector union ONEP spokesman Arnaud Engandji, adding oil companies in the central African state would have two years to adjust to the 10 per cent limit and six months for what he called the "gabonisation" of all executive positions.

Engandji said an accord on the limits was signed Friday by Oil Minister Julien Nkoghe Bekale, Labour Minister Maxime Nozo Issondou and ONEP Secretary-General Guy-Roger Aurat Reteno.

The deal averts the risk of a strike in Africa's seventh largest crude producer, one of the few in sub-Saharan Africa to have launched a Eurobond.

Gabon produced about 250,000 bpd in 2008, according to US Energy Information Administration data. Foreign investors include Shell, Total, Tullow Oil, Canadian Natural Resources and many others.

A recent report estimated that foreign workers held 1893 of the total 8,590 staff in the sector, with Gabonese holding just 17 per cent of executive posts.

Oil accounts for around half of Gabon's $14.5bn per year economy, a dependence it is trying to reduce through an economic diversification programme.

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