Elf Aquitaine is France’s largest industrial corporation and the seventh-biggest oil company in the world. The French government is the main shareholder, though it is slowly reducing its stake. The company has a strong presence in Africa, particularly in the Francophone countries, where it plays a key role in the local oil industry, both upstream and down.
On the upstream side of the business, Elf has major exploration and production interests in West Africa from which it produces 30 million tons of crude each year. The company has net output of 159,000 barrels a day in Gabon and 108,000 barrels a day from Nigeria. While Gabonese output is likely to increase in small steps, Nigerian output is likely to remain at a constant level. Progress on the Nigerian LNG project could change this. In Angola, the Elf subsidiary, Elf Exploration Angola, is the second largest oil producer in that country.
In the Congo, Elf has bought the 25% stake which the Congolese government previously held in Elf Congo for $ 50 million, which accounts for 80% of the country’s 200,000 barrels per day production. In turn, Elf has sold small stakes of its holding in the N’kossa and Haute Mer fields to Chevron and Engen.
Elf’s downstream activities are predominantly in French-speaking West Africa where it operates in 17 countries. In 1991 Elf bought BP ‘s West African affiliates. Elf has an extensive service station network which is clearly recognisable by the characteristic Elf livery. At the present time Elf’s presence in South Africa is restricted to a senior company representative; however Elf has publicly expressed a desire to enter the South African refining and marketing sector.
Elf has taken out a patent in several African countries as well as in France and Europe for a “transportable service station” that can be assembled in two days on any site providing it has a level and hard surface and be connectable to water, electricity and telephone lines. It allows for payment by credit card and can be run by a single employee.