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Pollution of the Obangué River (also Dubanga River), Gabon

Addax Petroleum, a subsidiary of the Sinopec Group, from China, has been in Gabon since 2004, polluting the river Obangué, and engaged in conflicts over taxes with the Gabon government.


Gabon main source of income is petroleum exports. Addax Petroleum, which is a subsidiary of the Sinopec Group, one of the largest oil and gas producers in China and the third largest worldwide oil refiner, has been present in Gabon since 2004.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Pollution of the Obangué River (also Dubanga River), Gabon
State or province:Ngounié
Location of conflict:Mandji Isle, Department of Ndolou
Accuracy of locationMEDIUM (Regional level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Fossil Fuels and Climate Justice/Energy
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Oil and gas exploration and extraction
Landfills, toxic waste treatment, uncontrolled dump sites
Oil and gas refining
Specific commodities:Crude oil
Project Details and Actors
Project details

Reuters reported in January 2014, in the midst of the legal battle, that "the asset was small, pumping around 10,000 bpd, but a source close to the company said it was considered strategically important by Beijing as part of its West African portfolio."

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Project area:N/A
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:80,000 – 100,000 (population of Mandji / Port-Gentil)
Start of the conflict:01/01/2004
Company names or state enterprises:Addax Petroleum from China
Sinopec (China Petroleum & Chemical Corporation) from China
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:-Brainforest (
-World Wildlife Found (WWF)
-Croissance Saine Environnement
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:International ejos
Local ejos
Forms of mobilization:Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Oil spills, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality
Potential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage)
Health ImpactsPotential: Other environmental related diseases, Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Infectious diseases
Socio-economical ImpactsPotential: Loss of livelihood
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Corruption
Court decision (undecided)
Application of existing regulations
New Environmental Impact Assessment/Study
Project temporarily suspended
Abandonment of the oil field by Addax, take over by the Gabon National Oil Company in 2013 and reopening of the operations.
Development of alternatives:Especially the NGO Croissance Saine Environnement has said that the only alternative would be to stop oil exploration in the area.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:According to Business and Human Rights and the local NGO Croissance Saine Environnement, it seems that although the government of Gabon has won the case against Addax in court over the pollution incident in 2010, the area is still polluted, has not been cleaned up and affected inhabitants have not been compensated.
Addax Petroleum's license for the Obangué oil fields had been temporarily suspended due to a formal legal struggle and the license has been transferred to the national oil company in 2013, but Addax Petroleum is still continuing to operate other oil fields in Gabon and other parts of the region, without suffering any consequences of the pollution caused or having repaired the damages caused.
Sources & Materials
References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

MBOUTOU ZEH, Jean Briand; NGO CROISSANCE SAINE, (2010), Letter to ADDAX PETROLEUM, Pollution et déséquilibre de l'écosystème sur les sites d'exploitation de la société ADDAX PETROLEUM d'Obangué, de Tsengui, et dans les villages alentours (Département de Ndolou dans la Province de Ngounié), (French), Le Blanc Mesnil, 28.04.2010

PRATT, Joseph A., MELOSI, Martin V., BROSNAN, Kathleen A, (2014) Energy Capitals: Local Impact, Global Influence, University of Pittsburgh Press, 1.4.2014, p. 174-180

BUSINESS & HUMAN RIGHTS (2014), Regional Briefing: Francophone Africa, March 2014,
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Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

ADDAX Petroleum Homepage:
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Gabon Oil Company Homepage:
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Pollution au Gabon: une société pétrolière chinoise épinglée, Pierre Eric MBOG BATASSI,, 3.5.2010,
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Silence, on pollue à Obangué!, L'Union, 03.03.2010,
[click to view]

China's Addax pays $400 mln to end Gabon oil Conflict: sources, Emma Farge and Jean-Rovys Dabany, REUTERS, 24.01.2014,
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Gabon: Addax Petroleum Oil & Gas Gabon signe un partenariat culturel avec la ville de Port-Gentil, Info Plus Gabon, 14.05.2014,
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Reuters: China's Addax locked in $1 billion oil dispute with Gabon-sources
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Other documents

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Last update26/08/2015
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