The landlocked Central African Republic has no known commercially exploitable petroleum or gas resources and consequently no upstream oil industry. Previous drilling attempts have resulted in no oils shows; however, the government believes there is oil in the country and aims to re-launch the petroleum exploration campaign in the country.

The downstream oil industry is wholly dependent on refined petroleum products imported from neighbouring African countries.

The oil industry of the Central African Republic is regulated by the Ministry of Energy, Mines, Geology and Water Resources.

Upstream

The Central African Republic has no known petroleum resources and no upstream oil industry.

Downstream

The downstream oil industry forms an important sector in the country’s economy with its annual petroleum tax revenue providing in excess of 50% of government indirect taxes. Oil-derived products supply over 90% of the country’s commercial energy needs.

In 1997, consumption of petroleum products was in the region of 94,000 tons per annum. The allocation of this consumption per product is as follows (figures from the US Department of Energy):

Product Consumption 1997
(in metric tons)
Gasoline 17,120
Jet fuel 23,936
Kerosene 22,193
Distillate 26,906
Residual 3,836
LPGs 0
Unspecified 0
Total 93,991

Distribution and marketing of fuels and lubricants products is carried out by Petroca, the only oil company operating in the Central African Republic. Petroca is owned by the Central African Republic government (76%) and Total, Fina, Mobil, Texaco and Shell and is operated by Total. Another state-owned entity, Total Centrafricaine de Gestion (TOCAGES) is responsible for storage, retailing and transport of petroleum products.

Petroleum products are imported over a distance of 1,815 kilometres by rail and river from Pointe Noire in the Congo to the central depot facilities at Bangui, the country’s capital.

Shaun Bakamoso

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