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Cabinda Gulf oil&gas exploitation, Angola

In June 2002 Angola imposed a fine for causing environmental damage on Chevron operating in waters of Cabinda Gulf because spill from poorly maintained pipes, polluted beaches and forced fishermen to stop work. Chevron has denied any responsibility.


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.

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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
[click to view]

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

Oil Revenues in Angola: Much more information but not enough transparency, Osisa Report February 2011
[click to view]

Oil and Politics in the Gulf of Guinea (Angola Chapter), R., Soares de Oliveira, 2007
[click to view]

Report: All the Presidents Men, Global Witness
[click to view]

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

Angola : Anatomy of an Oil State, T. Hodges, 2003
[click to view]

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.
[click to view]

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

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

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

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

Chevron, Angola Fact Sheet, May 2015
[click to view]

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

Janine Zacharia, U.S. Sees Opportunities in Angola, New York Times, September 15, 2009
[click to view]

Lara Pawson, Rebels bid for total conquest of Angola, The guardian, 30 March 1999
[click to view]

BBC News, Oil giants eye African prospects, New York Times, 20 May, 2003
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Myriam Bartolucci, EjAtlas internship researcher, [email protected]
Last update15/03/2018
Conflict ID:2248
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