The military junta in Gabon has named Marcel Abeke, a former executive of French mining company Eramet, as the country’s new Petrol Minister. This comes after the military deposed President Ali Bongo and seized power on 30 August.  

Abeke was an executive of Eramet, the world’s largest producer of high-grade manganese ore, mined at the Moanda mine in Gabon. In March 2022, Abeke was appointed to the 12-person high commission and was in charge of evaluating and implementing government action.  

Gabon is a member of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec+) and produces around 200,000 barrels of oil per day, comprising around 0.2% of global supply.  

Among other appointments is Colonel Maurice Tocui, who replaced British-Gabonese conservationist Lee White as the environment minister. Tocui’s appointment comes at a crucial time for Gabon’s green agenda, including its recent debt-for-nature swap to fund marine conservation.  

The newly sworn-in “transitional” military leader, General Brice Clotaire Oligui Nguema, has been meeting local authorities and promising “real development” to people whose oil wealth has been seen to be concentrated in the hands of a few. The country’s oil export revenue was $6bn (CFA Fr3.67trn) in 2022, according to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA). 

Besides being an oil-rich country, Gabon is the world’s second-largest supplier of manganese, a key ingredient in the steelmaking industry. Eramet has played a crucial role in investing in Gabon’s manganese resources. In 2022, the company paid $144m (€132.56m) in taxes and dividends and spent $442m on local purchases.  

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