Despite the global shift towards cleaner sources of fuel, the African continent – representing the highest number of people without access to energy globally – still requires fossil fuel development, if it is to meet its developmental goals. Accordingly, oil and gas-producing nations across the continent are ramping up efforts to develop a sustainable, viable, and high-reward petroleum sector in Africa. Speaking at an African energy producers’ forum at African Energy Week (AEW) 2021, African oil and gas ministers provided insight into Africa’s oil potential, strategies to expand the energy value chain, and opportunities for regional and international cooperation.
Opening the African energy producers’ talk, Irene Etiobhio, Senior Petroleum Industry Analyst at the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), emphasized the role of oil in Africa’s energy future. Presenting OPEC’s World Oil Outlook 2021, launched earlier this year, Etiobhio offered key insights into both Africa’s and the world’s oil outlook.
“The OPEC outlook provides an in-depth view and analysis of global oil issues. It is important to restate that the outlook is not about projections, but should be viewed as a helpful and insightful guide. Our data is based on key assumptions,” stated Etiobhio.
Oil will play a significant role in the African energy mix and will take the highest share over all forms in the future mix
Alongside the presentation, African energy ministers elaborated on the role of oil in Africa. Panel participants included H.E Gabriel Mbaga Obiang Lima, Minister of Mines and Hydrocarbons of Equatorial Guinea and Hon. Dr. Mohammed Amin Adam, Deputy Minister of Energy of Ghana.
Africa’s oil and gas industry is facing a dual challenge: to satisfy growing demand for petroleum products and to outpace the deployment of alternative, non-fossil sources of energy. Taking these two challenges into consideration, the panel participants provided insight into how the sector, and oil and gas companies in particular, plan to increase production while decarbonizing industry activities.
“Oil will play a significant role in the African energy mix and will take the highest share over all forms in the future mix. However, with the demand of over 600 million without access to electricity, Africa must do this in a modern way. We must not solve one problem while creating another. Africa needs to also take care of the environment,” continued Etiobhio. “We must have a clear mandate and one voice on how we are going to meet our emissions targets. China has said that by 2060, it will achieve carbon neutrality. Europe has set its target for 2025. Africa needs to do this, as well.”
Many African countries are looking to significantly enhance production, and are therefore looking to attract investment, as well capacity enhancement, across the entire energy sector value chain. During the panel, speakers discussed how Africa can fast-track the creation of an investor-friendly environment, while still increasing local capacity.
“At this stage in Africa, we have come to the realization that someone has to be responsible, and for the first time, we have to take responsibility for the sector,” stated H.E. Minister Lima. “When the lockdown started, flights and movements stopped, and many ex-pats could not fly or work. Could we actually continue operations with just national companies? The answer was yes, and for five months, Equatorial Guinea was operating almost 90% domestically. Our installations were operated by our own people, and so it was thanks to COVID-19 that we realized this.”
“Ghanaians took over the Liquefied Natural Gas processing facility. We have built a reasonable local capacity to operate this facility. I am so hopeful that it is potential for Africa to develop, but we have to start doing it. If we make the effort to develop our capacity, then we will be able to do that,” added H.E. Deputy Minister Dr Adam.