Were measures adopted with a specific impact in the oil & gas sector?

Yes. There is currently an ongoing daily curfew between 7 pm and 6 am of the following day, and those that break curfew have to pay a 5,000 CFA franc-fine. Yet, vehicles for the transportation of personnel working in the oil & gas sector are not covered by curfew rules while working as authorized by the proper authorities.

Also, following the declaration of a State of Alarm in the Country, several measures with a specific impact in the Country’s oil & gas sector were enacted under Decree 43/2020, including (inter alia) the following:

  • As a State revenue-related measure, the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Mines and Hydrocarbons should, in 2020, negotiate with companies carrying out activities in the oil sector the settlement of any tax debts assessed in connection with fiscal year 2019 (this would be different from the measures adopted regarding entities not in the oil & gas sector; for more details please see our chapters on the impact of COVID-19 on Tax and Contributory Obligations and on Public Administration and Public Procurement); and
  • As a public spending-related measure and taking into account the status of Public Finances, due to force majeure, the Government would reorganize its spending to avoid delays; accordingly, save for those projects that the Government declares that have maximum priority, a Certification Committee together with awarding companies should reschedule public spending obligations so that they would only be due in the second semester of 2020.

In addition, in accordance with information made available by the Equatorial Guinea Government, the Ministry of Mines and Hydrocarbons held a meeting on 4 April 2020 to discuss temporary-yet-necessary measures to protect the jobs of national and foreign citizens in the hydrocarbons sector during the period of confinement due to COVID-19, including:

  • Protecting and supporting national employment in the hydrocarbons sector;
  • Providing support to service companies during the COVID-19 prevention period;
  • Recommending, in the absence of foreign citizens’ manpower, to foreign operator companies to work with national citizens (that are highly qualified to carry out activities in the sector);
  • Exempting service companies from paying the fees due for the registration/registration renewal at the Ministry of Mines and Hydrocarbons;
  • Instructing the National Content General Directorate and General Inspectorate to make an inventory of all national personnel providing services in the hydrocarbons sector affected by the confinement measures due to COVID-19;
  • Implementing, together with the Ministry of Health, measures to control the personnel carrying out activities at platforms; and
  • Providing support, together with the companies of the hydrocarbons sector, to the Ministry of Health to equip the Baney Epidemiologic Investigation Lab with (inter alia) equipment, reagents, additional testing, personal protection equipment and personnel reinforcement.

We also understand that the Ministry of Mines and Hydrocarbons announced on 4 May 2020 that it has passed an Order enacting the following measures:

  • Oil & gas exploration companies in Equatorial Guinea were granted a two (2)-year extension on their exploration programmes;
  • The Ministry of Mines and Hydrocarbons will ensure flexibility on the work programmes of producing companies to ensure growth and stability in the market; and
  • The Ministry of Mines and Hydrocarbons will continue working with oil companies benefitting from such incentives to make sure that the recovery of Equatorial Guinea’s oil sector is made through local content promotion, increased technology transfers and procurement of additional local goods and services (particular emphasis being put on educating, training and promoting local workforce to help further reduce operational costs for international companies while maximising the creation of local value and revenue).

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Mines and Hydrocarbons passed, on 13 April 2020, Order 1/2020, to foster the hiring of national employees in Equatorial Guinea’s oil and gas industry, by limiting to three (3) years the period during which companies may employ foreign citizens in said industry, which is in line with Equatorial Guinea’s efforts to ensure that, when the Country recuperates from the impact of this outbreak, the creation of national employment and the strengthening of local content are favoured.

Taking into account the current status of the oil and gas industry due to the COVID-19 outbreak, its diversification through the development of oil refining and distribution activities are (at least) rumoured to be seen by the Ministry of Mines and Hydrocarbons as the next step to boost the industry in the Country.

Finally, in accordance with a media report of 9 August 2021, the Ministry of Mines and Hydrocarbons apparently ordered the vaccination of all national and foreign personnel of oil companies (vaccination being a condition to work onshore or offshore) and is also involved in the process of deciding whether weekly flights related with oil & gas operations may be permitted as an exception (to ensure the continuity of operations).

 

 

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This information is being updated on a regular basis.

All information contained herein and all opinions expressed are of a general nature and are not intended to substitute recourse to expert legal advice for the resolution of real cases.