In December, TotalEnergies sold seven mature fields off the coast of Gabon, as well as the Cap Lopez oil terminal. The buyer has put the tidy sum of $350 million on the table. It is a compatriot of the French giant, an unknown company, yet number two in the tricolor oil sector: Perenco. Its activity consists of buying and exploiting deposits that have reached maturity. A paradoxically very profitable business, with flourishing prospects.
A short technical explanation is in order. Once an oil field has reached its peak production, which happens after ten to thirty years, it declines by about 5% per year. To delay this phenomenon called “depletion”, companies like TotalEnergies or ExxonMobil can drill new wells or exploit hitherto unexploited subsoil layers. They seek to stem the decline. But the more time passes, the less profitable the extraction is because the proportion of water increases to the detriment of that of oil.