East Africa Holds Gas Future

Gaborone – With open access and attractive leasing terms, Africa’s oil and natural gas resources continue to attract a broad spectrum of investors, according to a new report from Ernst & Young titled ‘Natural Gas in Africa: The Frontiers of the Golden Age’ launched at Africa Oil & Gas Week.

The report spotlights Africa’s rapidly evolving natural gas sector. Though Algeria, Nigeria, Egypt and Libya hold significant reserves, the production of gas is considerably low in these countries.

Most recently, the sector’s growth has been concentrated in West Africa, with the huge gas reserves that accompanied the deep-water oil boom, led by Nigeria and Angola.

While the West African gas growth will continue as flaring is reduced and local gas infrastructure is developed, the big future for African gas lies in the East of the continent following massive gas discoveries, particularly of the coast Mozambique and Tanzania.

Commenting on the report, Ernst & Young’s Oil & Gas Leader for Africa, Elias Pungong, explains that natural gas development holds tremendous opportunity for Africa.

“It can be a primary driver of economic growth and broader social development, as well as a major spur for local employment growth and infrastructure development,” Pungong said.

Pungong added that, “While the risk rankings overall in Africa are quite high, for many countries the ‘risk trend’ is improving.

“Most importantly though, the opportunities for Africa in this sector are enormous and the challenges and risks can be addressed and mitigated.

“Africa’s gas reserves will be more than just headlining opportunities for the national oil companies (NOCs), the deep-pocketed oil and gas majors, their big international exploration and production (E&P) counterparts as well as well-known African oil and gas specialists”.

“The ramp-up in E&P activity brings opportunity for the oilfield services (OFS) segment, but again, not just for the big international players, but also for local and regional companies that can contribute to the supply chains and to the associated upstream support infrastructure.

“The broader infrastructure build-out could also include massive export facilities, as in the case of liquefied natural gas (LNG), but also smaller projects such as pipelines and gas distribution networks to support local/regional domestic gas demand.

According to Pungong, development or expansion of the domestic gas demand sector could bring substantial commercial opportunities in the power generation, industrial and transportation sectors.

“Indeed, many of the gas flaring reduction efforts are tied to domestic gas use projects.

Pungong adds, “African governments and regional NGOs will, of course, have critical roles to play.

“First by developing a meaningful and practical master gas development plan, one that addresses the upstream tax and licensing models, as well as the necessary infrastructure issues and investments, and local training and job creation issues. Collaboration and partnerships with the IOCs, both big and small, will likewise be critical.”

November 2012
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