Environment & Climate ChangeNews

Environmental Pollution: Gabon Groups Continue War Against Perenco

Environmental advocacy groups in Gabon, Central Africa, have persisted in their fight against Anglo-French petroleum company, Perenco, for environmental damage.

Non-governmental Organisations (NGOs) focusing on environmental issues in Gabon have continued their fight against the Anglo-French petroleum company Perenco over the alleged continued pollution of the Gabonese environment in areas where the company has been carrying out oil exploration.

Grouped under the canopy of the Reseau des organisations ibres pour la bonne governance – Network of Liberal Organisations for Good Governance (ROLBG) and other NGOs, the environmental activists have raised the alarm over the pollution in Etimboue situated in the Ogooue-Maritime province of Gabon.

According to the NGOs, continued spillage of hydrocarbons at petroleum production sites of Perenco is poisoning the water, air and land in the areas.

They argued that the spillages were occasioned by the lack of maintenance of the company’s petroleum installations.

Perenco had on Feb. 4, 2021, announced that it was “actually carrying out an investigation with a view to determining the exact causes of the pollution.” Still, the environmental activists have denounced the Perenco operations as “opaque and criminal”.

The NGOs Feb. 5 through Georges Mpaga, the president of ROLBG, announced that they were on the field in Etimboue and “We intend by this active presence on the ground to resolutely intensify our campaign against large scale pollution generated by Perenco and which effects are devastating on the ecosystems and the health of the riverine populations”.

Perenco has said it has taken note of all recent pollution and have already taken action to circumscribe, clean and proceed with the handling of waste adding that it had factual information concerning pollution in the areas in question.

On their part, the civil society activists say they have “more incriminating proofs against Perenco within Gabon and internationally.”

“We are more than ever before convinced of the global responsibility of Perenco as concerns the different crimes imputed on it,” Mpaga said.

“We firmly denounce the false propaganda of Perenco, the criminal polluter, a mafia and opaque multinational,” he declared. He added that the NGOs and the local communities call on Perenco to “maintain a low profile instead of engaging in false declarations which instead discredit it, whereas its criminal activities in Etimboue are known by the entire world.”

HumAngle reports that the Franco-British petroleum company, Perenco Oil and Gas Gabon, in Jan. agreed to repair the environmental damage caused by oil leakages from its pipelines in the various areas in the country.

The case of the pollution on its site in CB-1 Olende where mangroves were seriously polluted came up for special mention. The decision to repair the damage follows meetings on Jan. 25 and Jan. 26 between the company represented by its Gabonese Director-General, Baptiste Breton and Gabon’s Minister of Justice, Arlyne Antonela Ndembet-Damas, with the participation of the Minister of Water and Forest, Lee While, and the Minister of Petroleum, Vincent de Paul Massassa.

Perenco and Gabonese government officials’ concertation was on instructions from President Ali Bongo Ondimba and Prime Minister Rose Christiane Ossouka Raponda.

Earlier, the NGOs had kicked against the inclusion of the oil company in the joint government-polluter committee to tackle the country’s environmental pollution.

The organisations demanded that the government take firm action to defend Gabon’s interests and the riverine communities seriously impacted by pollution.

The Network of Liberal Civil Society Organisations for Good Governance in Gabon – Réseau des organisations libres de la société civile pour la bonne gouvernance au Gabon (ROLBG) estimates that the reaction of government on pollution by Perenco is a “confirmation of its inaction, its lack of authority and its regal power in spite of the confirmation of the disastrous results of the generalised damage to the environment caused by Perenco”.

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Chief Bisong Etahoben

Chief Bisong Etahoben is a Cameroonian investigative journalist and traditional ruler. He writes for international media and has participated in several transnational investigations. Etahoben won the first-ever Cameroon Investigative Journalist Award in 1992. He serves as a member of a number of international investigative journalism professional bodies including the Forum for African Investigative Reporters (FAIR). He is HumAngle's Francophone and Central Africa editor.

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