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Cabinda Gulf oil&gas exploitation, Angola


Angola is sub-Saharan Africa's largest oil producer after Nigeria, exporting more of 800,000 barrels of oil per day and delivering more crude oil to the US than Kuwait.[1] The first such joint ventures were established with the three foreign oil companies which had been working in Angola prior to independence from Portugal (1975): the Cabinda Gulf Oil Company (CABGOC), a joint venture operated by Gulf Oil which subsequently became a subsidiary of Chevron; Texaco and Petrofina.[4] Chevron has been in this African nation since the 1930s, when Texaco products were first marketed in Angola. In 1958 the Cabinda Gulf Oil Company Limited drilled its first onshore well and in March 1984, Cabinda Gulf Oil was taken over by Chevron. In 1986, additional exploration by Chevron coincided with the delineation of Angola’s Block 0 and in the 2012, the company reached an impressive milestone in Angola: 4 billion barrels produced from Block 0, offshore Cabinda [3] [6].  Cabinda is a small enclave, physically separated from the rest of Angola by a narrow strip of land which gives the Democratic Republic of Congo access to the Atlantic Coast. Since the 1960s a small separatist movement, the Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda (Frente de Libertacao do Enclave de Cabinda – FLEC), and a number of splinter groups, have fought a low intensity guerrilla war, first against the Portuguese and subsequently against the MPLA ( a social fabric), to win independence for Cabinda. Consequently  the Angola civil war intersects with secessionist conflict in which the role of oil  it’s quite clear: Cabinda is Angola’s most oil-rich province, accounting for 60 to 70 per cent per cent of the country’s total current production and nearly all of its foreign-exchange oil earnings (EIU 2001). Obviously the government does’t want to lose this province. [4] Chevron and its Angolan subsidiary exploit one of the largest oil and gas offshore in the world, in Takula, off the coast of Cabinda. Their platforms are equipped with the latest technology for deepwater drilling.  Chevron's operations have been repeatedly blamed for oil spills by the local press and environmental activists. In 1999 an oil spill near the Malonga oil base dealt a severe blow to the struggling local fishing industry. Oil giant Chevron-Texaco gave about $2000 to 10 percent of the affected fishermen. Flaring, hydraulic fracturing, use of dispersants have also dramatically decreased ecological productivity in the region.

Angola was the first African nation to impose a fine on a company operating in its waters; in June 2002 the ministry for the environment and fisheries said in a statement that a spill earlier from ChevronTexaco's offshore platforms in northwest Angola polluted beaches and forced fishermen to stop work. A government investigation in May and June found that the spills were the result of leaks from poorly maintained pipes ad obsolete tubing used to transport crude from the platforms. Consequently the Country in June 2002 has fined ChevronTexaco $2m (£1.3m) for causing environmental damage  and the fine was handed down as Chevron met President Fradique de Menezes of Sao Tomea, a small island nation off Angola's coast, to discuss oil exploration. Chevron has promised to invest $108m replacing the pipes [1]. However, the independent Cabinda radio reported on 9 March 2004 that Giant Oil Company Chevron has denied responsibility for an oil spill that has affected fishing near all its operations in the occupied Cabinda Republic. Radio Ecclesia, Catholic broadcasting station of Angola, reported Chevron Africa spokesman Timeteo de Almeida as saying: "Giant Chevron investigated and said the stain near all its operation was oil and plants coming from the Congo River". [6] There was confirmation of how big the spill was, and a local fishing commission told Radio Eclessia it had affected all local catches. Fishermen told the fishing commission they had been denied use of all nearby beaches by intimidating Chevron Security Services and that Chevron military helicopters with the help of american mercenaries had allegedly spread a substance on the water, the same material reportedly used on another Chevron spill in the same areas in December 1999 and July 1998. Chevron paid 200 local fishermen affected by the 1999 spill $150 each. Another 350 fishermen have sued Chevron for damages but the case is still pending, and going no where. [6] Consequently to control the onshore oil facilities and gold mining ventures, in the center of the province  are prevalent private and well-armed security firms. [5]In fact according to a report by Human Rights Watch, there has been, in Cabinda, a "disturbing pattern of human rights violations by the Angolan armed forces and state intelligence officials. Between September 2007 and March 2009, at least 38 people were arbitrarily arrested by the military in Cabinda and accused of state security crimes. Most were subjected to lengthy incommunicado detention, torture, and cruel or inhumane treatment in military custody and were denied due process rights".[2]  In January 2010, Cabindans,  including lawyers, members of the Church and human rights activists, have expressed concern that human rights abuses will increase. This would not be difficult for the Angolan authorities to organize: they have one of the most powerful armies in Africa.  [2]

Basic Data

Name of conflict:Cabinda Gulf oil&gas exploitation, Angola
State or province:Cabinda
Location of conflict:Soyo municipality in Zaire province - coastal Cabinda municipalities
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
Specific commodities:Crude oil
Natural Gas

Project Details and Actors

Project details

In 2009, Offshore magazine selected Tombua-Landana, a Chevron's well in Cabinda, as one of the five most notable projects in the world. That year, the $3.8 billion project began production. The deepwater project includes 46 wells and has the fourth-highest compliant, or flexible, tower in the world. [3]

Type of populationRural
Affected Population:300.000 [4]
Start of the conflict:0000
Company names or state enterprises:Chevron Polska Energy Resources Sp. z o.o. from United States of America
ROC oil from Australia
Texaco Petroleum Co. from United States of America
Ente Nazionale Idrocarburi (Eni) from Italy
Total SA from France
ELF from France
ExxonMobil Corporation (Exxon) from United States of America
Cabinda Gulf Oil Company Limited (CABGOC) from Angola - operates as a subsidiary of Chevron Corporation
Relevant government actors:Angolan Government;
The Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda (Portuguese: Frente para a Libertação do Enclave de Cabinda, FLEC);
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:
FLEC - Angola, Global Witness - England, Human Rights Watch - USA, Gremio ABC, Mpalabanda

Conflict & Mobilization

IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Local ejos
Local government/political parties
lawyers; human rights activists
Fisher people
Forms of mobilization:Official complaint letters and petitions
The Angola was the first African nation has imposed a fine on a company operating in its waters.


Environmental ImpactsVisible: Food insecurity (crop damage), Oil spills
Potential: Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Soil contamination
Health ImpactsPotential: Violence related health impacts (homicides, rape, etc..), Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Malnutrition
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Increase in violence and crime, Militarization and increased police presence, Violations of human rights, Loss of livelihood
Potential: Land dispossession
Other socio-economic impactsFishermen stoped to work for pollution of beaches.


Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Corruption
Criminalization of activists
Deaths, Assassinations, Murders
Court decision (undecided)
Under negotiation
Violent targeting of activists
Proposal and development of alternatives:Full transparency from the oil companies and the government regarding the impacts on the local environment, the risks to human health and the revenues earned from exploitation of the resources.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:The multinational companies continue with oil extraction and the internal conflict continues.
The authorities in both the corporations and government have responded to resistance with violent repression and blatant corruption. The low level of activism right now is due to fear more than any resolution of the issues at stake.

Sources & Materials

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

[4]Philippe Le Billon, "Drilling in deep water: oil,business and war in Angola", pp.100-129 in Mary Kaldor, Terry Lynn Karl and Yahia Said, "Oil Wars",

Pluto Press, London, 2007

[5]Julia Maxted, Exploitation of Energy Resources in Africa and the Consequences for Minority Rights, Journal of Developing Societies, 2014

They Pushed Down the Houses. Forced Evictions and Insecure Land Tenure for Luandas Urban Poor. Human Rights Watch. Ed. Human Rights Watch. 2007.

Report: All the Presidents Men, Global Witness

Angola : Anatomy of an Oil State, T. Hodges, 2003

Oil Revenues in Angola: Much more information but not enough transparency, Osisa Report February 2011

Oil and Politics in the Gulf of Guinea (Angola Chapter), R., Soares de Oliveira, 2007

Rajen Harshe, Politics of Giant Oil Firms: Consequences for Human Rights in Africa, Economic and Political Weekly, Vol. 38, No. 2, pp. 113-117, January 11-17-2003.

[1]News BBC, Angola fines Chevron for pollution, 1 July, 2002

[2]Lara Pawson, Let's keep Cabinda in the spotlight,The guardian, January 12, 2010

[3]Chevron, Angola Record of Achievement, 2015 Supplement to the Annual Report

[6], Murder Rape and Theft in Cabinda. Chevron & MPLA:Chevron-Gulf Keeps Marxist Angola Afloat , 31 October 2006

JAMES BROOKE, INTERNATIONAL REPORT; Chevron's Angola Unit Copes, Special to the New York Times, December 1, 1986

Chevron, Angola Fact Sheet, May 2015

Lara Pawson, Rebels bid for total conquest of Angola, The guardian, 30 March 1999

BBC News, Oil giants eye African prospects, New York Times, 20 May, 2003

Janine Zacharia, U.S. Sees Opportunities in Angola, New York Times, September 15, 2009

Meta information

Contributor:Myriam Bartolucci, EjAtlas internship researcher, [email protected]
Last update18/08/2019
Conflict ID:2248

Images, Angola fines Chevron for pollution, 1 July, 2002

ChevronTexaco has promised to upgrade its pipes

BBC News, Oil giants eye African prospects, 20 May, 2003

Angola: sub-Saharan Africa's No 2 oil producer