Some countries in Africa are emerging as potentially exciting players in the oil and gas space – from Sudan, which has emerged out of the clutches of civil war, to Niger, which is rising up as a new producer of petroleum products.
Sudanese Petroleum and Gas Minister Azhari Abdalla Abdelgader on Tuesday explained to delegates attending Africa Oil Week, in Cape Town, how Sudan’s oil production had peaked at 500 000 bbl/d in 2011.
But then political instability rocked the region and oil production dwindled to 75 000 bbl/d. However, with a June 2018 pact between warring factions to stop the fighting, oil is starting to flow again.
“The good news is that things are looking up. The fields that produce oil are poised to flow again, like it was before the secession,” Abdelgader noted.
He said oilfields that had been idle since 2013 are now being put on stream again, with the first oil flowing in August.
He said three Ministers were now looking after securing Sudan’s energy requirements, while the country was also trying to heal its broken economy.
“We are now emerging out of the situation. The embargo imposed upon us since 1997 by the US is being lifted. We hope that in the second phase of negotiations with the US, we will put this behind us. That will make an important impact in changing our image and attracting investors,” said Abdelgader.
He said Sudan was also planning to use solar power “because we have sunshine almost 365 days a year”.
Meanwhile, Niger has started to carve out a niche by exporting refined products to Burkina Faso, Mali and Nigeria, said Niger Petroleum Minister Foumakoye Gado.
Niger’s neighbour, Nigeria, has been enjoying the benefits of higher oil prices. Oil is the main driver of economic growth in Nigeria, producing 85% of its income. The government is, however, trying to diversify into other sectors, as it is concerned about its dependence on oil, said Nigeria Petroleum Resources Minister Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu.
“There’s a continuing malaise of dependency as people see oil as the only go-to area,” he added.
Nigeria is also on a serious drive to boost its refining capacity, with hopes that it will be able to refine one-millions barrels of oil a day with its expected new refinery, said the Minister.
“No matter what we do over the next 25 years oil will remain relevant,” he asserted.
Namibia, which does not produce oil or gas, is still hoping that oil and gas exploration in the country will be successful.
“We had a bit of gas in the 1970s, but we haven’t found oil yet,” said Mines and Energy Minister Tom Alweendo. “We’re hopeful though.”
Meanwhile, Tullow Oil CEO Paul McDade commented that the difficult downturn of the past two to three years had been tough but good for the industry.
“It has helped focus our minds on what is core, what is surplus, and what we can remove. This up-cycle will be different, because we have an energy transition ahead of us. We need to work with governments to manage the energy transition,” he said.
He envisaged environmental stewardship as a key area in its work with governments.
Millenial staff members were also more acutely aware of the environment.
“There is a big shift. There is pressure from within. Young people want to work for an oil company, but only one that cares for environmental stewardship.”