Major opportunities in African gas, Africa Oil Week hears


As the energy industry decarbonises its operations, natural gas is becoming an ever more important part of the energy mix – opening up a range of opportunities for the African gas industry.

CAPE TOWN, 06 October 2022 – As the energy industry decarbonises its operations, natural gas is becoming an ever more important part of the energy mix – opening up a range of opportunities for the African gas industry.

“Sometimes, oil is even seen as a by-product of gas,” remarked Luca Vignati, upstream director of global energy company Eni, speaking during Africa Oil Week (AOW), taking place at the Cape Town International Convention Centre here, from October 3-7.

Vignati gave the example of Eni’s Baleine project in Cote d’Ivoire, which holds an estimated 2.5 billion barrels of oil, and a far larger 93.4 billion cubic metres of gas.

Vignati said another decarbonisation strategy was to structure projects to include major carbon-offset initiatives.

He said Eni was operating Baleine as the first net-zero Scope 1 & 2 emissions development in Africa. The project includes carbon offsetting certified by the international VERRA standard. Under the project, Eni will distribute 100 000 improved cooked stoves, targeting more than 300 000 people. The aim is to replace traditional wood-based cooking devices, reducing pressure on forest resources.

During another presentation at AOW, McKinsey associate partner Oliver Onyekweli pointed out that Africa was one of the few regions in the world likely to see growing energy demand over the coming decades. However, he said businesses hoping to be part of this coming energy boom, must look to decarbonise their production.

“Decarbonising is becoming like a licence to operate,” said Onyekweli. He said an effective way for African oil producers to decarbonise was through expanding into natural gas, while renewable energy offered an opportunity to open up new revenue streams, and secure energy access for the continent’s people.

Recent natural-gas discoveries leave Africa well positioned to take advantage of the trend towards decarbonisation.

The Brulpadda and Luiperd discoveries off South Africa’s southern Cape coast, for instance, have been hailed as potential “game changers”. Luiperd is estimated to contain 2.1 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of gas and 112 million barrels of condensate, while Brulpadda is estimated to hold 1.3tcf and 80 million barrels of gas and condensate.

With increasing pressure to decarbonise, it is also becoming more difficult to secure finance for African hydrocarbons projects.

“The main constraint to growth in the energy sector in future will not be in the area of human resources or deal flow, but in access to capital,” said Paul McDade, CEO of Afentra, an African energy independent.

Other independent energy businesses agreed that gas projects were easier to finance.

“American and European banks seem to have a greater willingness to finance gas projects,” said Thomas Kolanski of oil-and-gas independent BW Energy. “We’re shifting our focus in that direction. Gas is cleaner, it reduces global carbon footprint and everybody's always on our side.”

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