News / Africa

Africa's Oil, Gas Frontiers Set to Boost Supply

An oil processing facility is seen at an oilfield in Unity State, South Sudan, April 22, 2012.An oil processing facility is seen at an oilfield in Unity State, South Sudan, April 22, 2012.
x
An oil processing facility is seen at an oilfield in Unity State, South Sudan, April 22, 2012.
An oil processing facility is seen at an oilfield in Unity State, South Sudan, April 22, 2012.
Reuters
New producing countries are set to redraw sub-Saharan Africa's oil and gas map over the next five years, contributing to a significant net increase in output and attracting the top global companies.

Today, the region's heavyweight producer nations, Nigeria and Angola, together pump around four million barrels per day [bpd] of crude oil, and they also dominate natural gas output. Only a handful of other countries in the region produce more than a couple of hundred thousand barrels of oil and gas equivalent.

A few years from now, the balance could be very different. A decade of high prices, good terms for exploration drillers from governments increasingly open to business, and better seismic techniques for finding deposits have lengthened the list of African nations that are on the brink of production.

Uganda, Kenya, Ghana and Niger are among those that could see new fields producing more than 100,000 bpd of oil by the end of the decade. Mozambique and Tanzania are looking for gas and planning compression plants to liquify it for shipping to Asia.

By 2018, sub-Saharan Africa could be producing an extra 400,000 bpd of oil, according to consultants Wood Mackenzie. That would, for example, almost meet the demand of wealthy Sweden and Denmark together - 15 million people - and would increase the sub-Saharan region's total crude output to 6.6 million bpd.

Natural gas output this year is about 6.8 billion cubic feet per day (bcf/d), or 70 billion cubic meters annually, enough to supply the gas needs of Italy or Germany. Production should top nine bcf/d by 2018 and reach 12.7 bcf/d by 2023, Wood Mackenzie estimates.

At present, some two thirds of sub-Saharan Africa's gas is exported as liquefied natural gas [LNG] from Nigeria, Angola and Equatorial Guinea.

Big players

Until recently, the largest companies in such states seen as being on the "frontier" of the industry included the likes of African exploration specialist Tullow Oil, mid-ranked international groups such as Anadarko and ENI, and smaller exploration players such as Ophir Energy, Kosmos, Africa Oil and a host of others.

Lately though, global heavyweights like Chevron and Total have become involved.

"The supermajors are looking at the success that some of these companies have had, and they're trying to get in on the ground floor, picking up the exploration acreage at an early stage and working with that all the way up to drilling the prospects," said Martin Kelly, Wood Mackenzie's lead analyst on sub-Saharan Africa.

In the past couple of years, Chevron has taken up exploration blocks in Liberia and Sierra Leone, while Total has new acreage in deep water off Kenya and deepwater blocks in Mozambique. Royal Dutch/Shell is prospecting deepwater acreage off Tanzania with Petrobras. Exxon Mobil, Shell, and Total all are exploring in the waters off of South Africa.

"There's a bit of a land-grab ongoing by the supermajors," said Kelly.

Political risks from unforeseen government action remain, as Heritage Oil discovered when Uganda presented it with a heavy tax bill when it sold up in the country. Research this week from Credit Suisse re-assesses recent deals in the light of possible tax demands, though, and says valuations still look strong.

And broker, RFC Ambrian, lists association with industry heavyweights as a bonus for small explorers in the region: "The potential for new petroleum discoveries in sub-Sahara Africa is being underestimated by equity markets," it said.

New Production

One of the big recent finds, the offshore Jubilee field, already is producing 110,000 bpd for Ghana and Tullow, a company which has become Europe's number one oil and gas independent thanks to developments in 16 sub-Saharan countries.

Also in Ghana, Ghana and Tullow said the Tweneboa, Enyenra, Ntomme [TEN] cluster of fields could be processing some 80,000 barrels a day initially once it gets Ghanaian government approval.

In Congo Republic, a modest producer already, Chevron made its final investment decision last month on the $10 billion deepwater Moho Bilondo and Moho Nord projects. These are set to deliver their first oil in 2015, and to peak at 170,000 barrels a day in 2017.

In Uganda, Tullow has recruited France's Total and CNOOC of China to develop oil. Discussions with the government over the size of an associated refinery have caused delay but plans for a 200,000 bpd pipeline that could link up with more  potentially productive wells in Kenya show its potential.

Niger, whose main international partner is China's CNPC, hopes to be producing from its Agadem block early next year, with output ramping up to 80,000 bpd.

As for today's big two producing states, Nigerian output has fallen from 2.5 million bpd in 2011 to slightly more than two million today, as theft and technical troubles plague producers. Off Angola's coast, however, Chevron last year sanctioned the $5.6 billion Mafumeira Sul field, which plans to be pumping by 2015, with maximum output estimated at 110,000 bpd.

Wood Mackenzie's oil output projections have the region's overall production in decline once more after 2018, but Kelly said this could be a function of conservative modeling.

Certainly there is no shortage of ambition, as demonstrated by Tewodros Ashenafi, an Ethiopian driller who was in London this week looking for $100 million of financing.

He sees his country as a potential 400,000-bpd producer based on geology that crosses the Red Sea from the oil-rich Middle East, and he believes the rise of indigenous companies like his privately held SouthWest Energy could be the next corporate wave for the region.

"That trend is something that's on the uptick," said Ashenafi. "We've been approached by a number of African governments to come and explore."

You May Like

Multimedia Obama Defends Immigration Action

Obama says with his executive action on immigration, enforcement resources will be focused on 'felons, not families; criminals, not children' More

US-Led Airstrikes in Syria Kill Over 900: Monitoring Group

British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the toll includes more than 50 civilians, five of them women and eight of them children More

Report: Obama Broadens US Combat Role in Afghanistan

The New York Times says resident Barack Obama has signed a classified order extending the role of US troops in Afghanistan for another year More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
New Skateboard Defies Gravityi
X
November 21, 2014 5:07 AM
A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid