JOHANNESBURG — In late 2019, Africa Oil Corp. President and CEO Keith Hill informed Petroleum Economist that, given Africa’s unproven oil and fuel basins, the continent was in all probability “the best frontier,” with excellent alternatives for exploration, manufacturing, and improvement corporations, together with independents.
Three years later, Hill stays bullish about Africa, and Canada-headquartered Africa Oil Corp. is driving oil and fuel exploration right here. The corporate is a part of a rising pattern we’re seeing: impartial oil and fuel corporations that acknowledge the super promise of our underexplored continent and are discovering methods to thrive right here — and make a optimistic impression.
I’m extraordinarily optimistic about independents like Africa Oil Corp and BW Vitality, that are constructing on their profitable monitor data in exploration and manufacturing, and Perenco, which is constructing Africa’s pure fuel trade.
I’m inspired by the efforts of Trident Vitality, which is discovering methods to bolster manufacturing in mature fields, and by Eco Atlantic, which has been convincing buyers to not flip their backs on our continent. Firms like these are precisely what Africa wants.
They’re bringing non-public capital, expertise, and know-how to the continent. They’re accelerating useful resource monetization and maximization for the great of Africa. And, actually, I can’t wait to see what they do in 2023.
Placing pure fuel to work for Africa
As David Christianson so eloquently put it in a current weblog for Commerce Regulation Centre, a South Africa-based assume tank, “Africa’s fuel future is floating offshore.” Floating liquified pure fuel (FLNG) models are a super method to capitalize on Africa’s ample pure fuel sources.
They are often deployed quickly and extra affordably than onshore LNG trains, making a sensible pathway to fuel monetization. London-headquartered impartial, Perenco, which has operated in Cameroon for almost 30 years, is capitalizing on these alternatives.
Not solely did Perenco set up an FLNG plant in Cameroon, however it additionally made historical past there. The Hilli Episeyo FLNG, which started business operations in March 2018, is the world’s second-ever FLNG plant to enter operation and the primary on this planet to function from a transformed LNG tanker.
The plant, moored off the coast of Kribi, is the property of Norwegian Golar. Not solely does the undertaking have world significance, however it additionally entails native entities. Perenco partnered with Cameroon’s Société Nationale des Hydrocarbures (Nationwide Hydrocarbons Firm) to launch the undertaking.
The Hilli Episeyo is designed to supply 2.4 million metric tonnes every year (2.65 million tons per yr) of LNG and has 125,000 m3 of storage capability. Pure fuel for the plant is sourced from Perenco’s Sanaga and Ebome fuel fields.
What’s extra, Perenco is rising its upstream exercise on the continent. Earlier this yr, it signed a cope with oil and fuel firm New Age Ltd. to purchase its stake and take over the operatorship of the Etinde fuel subject, which is in shallow water within the Rio del Rey Basin offshore Cameroon.
In July, Perenco acquired Anglo-Swiss multinational Glencore’s entities in North Africa. The acquisition consists of PetroChad Mangara, which operates the Mangara, Badila, and Krim oilfields in Chad’s Doba Basin.
And in November, the corporate introduced it had found oil within the Tchibeli North East pre-salt Vandji exploration prospect offshore Congo, describing it as a possible “play opener.”
Every of those actions and successes represents a possible for better power safety, financial development, and primarily based on Perenco’s monitor file, extra good jobs for Africans.
Perenco is a robust instance of an impartial firm that has efficiently developed methods for Africa’s distinctive challenges, wants, and alternatives. And it’s not alone.
Respiratory new life into maturing fields
Have a look at British impartial Trident Vitality, which is introducing a brand new period of operational effectivity and manufacturing enhancements in Equatorial Guinea.
Trident’s enterprise technique requires buying mid-life-producing belongings across the globe, notably oil and fuel fields missing consideration and funding, re-developing them, rising manufacturing, and unlocking reserves. This strategy is tremendously invaluable in Africa, the place we’re seeing manufacturing declines in legacy belongings all through the continent.
In Equatorial Guinea, Trident is the operator of Block G, which incorporates the manufacturing Ceiba and Okume Advanced fields — made up of six oil fields within the Gulf of Guinea, in shallow and deep water within the Rio Muni basin – with a 40.375% working curiosity. The corporate additionally holds a 40% stake in Block S, W & EG-21.
In Could of this yr, the Ministry of Mines and Hydrocarbons of Equatorial Guinea and Trident’s three way partnership companions for Block G, Kosmos Vitality, Panoro Vitality, and GEPetrol, agreed to increase the Manufacturing Sharing Contract (PSC) for the block by 2040, giving Trident extra time to unlock the block’s full potential.
Trident has earned the respect of each the federal government and the businesses it really works with. Trident credit these robust working relationships with the corporate’s dedication to be an lively, seen member of the communities the place it operates.
Overseas undertaking leaders and their households relocate in-country, as the corporate fulfills its position as a serious contributor to the native economic system and neighborhood. Most significantly, constructing native capability and bettering native content material has been a key technique for the corporate’s management.
Trident can be recognized for providing native residents high-quality jobs and respectful therapy, creating empowering ability improvement, healthcare, and education schemes in host communities, and implementing greatest practices to guard the setting.
Trident Vitality’s upgrades at Okume Discipline, which have been underway this yr, name for changing 15 fuel raise wells to electrical submersible pumps (ESPs), that are extra reasonably priced to function and keep.
To organize for the conversion, the corporate has been engaged on a $57 million improve at Okume’s central processing amenities. Trident Vitality’s staff in Equatorial Guinea has managed each side of the undertaking together with provide chain, logistics, and coordination.
Roughly 55% of the companies have been offered by native contractors. 32% of companies have been offered by regional contractors, and solely 13% have been offered by worldwide contractors.
Tasks that enhance manufacturing in declining belongings, just like the Okume upgrades, are extraordinarily essential for each Equatorial Guinea and the continent at giant. We hope extra corporations comply with Trident’s lead.
Setting the stage for achievement
The African Vitality Chamber additionally has been impressed with Norwegian impartial BW Vitality, which has been very strategic in its strategy to fuel exploration and manufacturing in Namibia.
BW, which additionally has a robust presence in Gabon, targets confirmed offshore oil and fuel reservoirs and minimizes danger with phased developments. By working in websites with current manufacturing amenities, the corporate reduces time to first oil and retains money circulate in verify, the corporate web site explains.
In 2017, the corporate acquired a 56% stake within the Kudu fuel subject within the northern Orange sub-basin, roughly 130 km (80.78 m) off the southwest coast of Namibia. A number of years later, BW elevated its curiosity within the fuel undertaking to 95%.
The Kudu subject is believed to carry no less than 1.3 trillion ft3 of fuel, however the website has remained undeveloped since ChevronTexaco first found fuel there in 1974. The sphere has had a protracted string of operators, however as Pan-African analysis company, Hawilti put it, components starting from the shortcoming to agree on a fuel worth to delays in getting governmental help initiatives have stored the undertaking in limbo.
The positioning’s remoted location, and lack of infrastructure to move fuel, haven’t helped issues.
However, with BW within the driver’s seat, I imagine that chapter is now closed. As introduced throughout African Vitality Week in Cape City, BW is pursuing a revised improvement plan for Kudu that features utilizing a repurposed semisubmersible drilling rig as a floating manufacturing unit (FPU), which can permit it to maneuver fuel onshore for home power technology.
BW bought the rig it wants for this effort earlier this yr.
BW’s efforts might have far-reaching results on day-to-day life in Namibia. Presently, the nation depends on electrical energy imports to fulfill its home wants.
BW’s work at Kudu will assist present the fuel Namibia means to reliably ship electrical energy to its folks, drive industrial development, create jobs, and place Namibia as a regional power hub.
Overcoming hurdles, modeling dedication
One other impartial firm modeling what could be achieved in Africa is Toronto-headquartered Eco Atlantic. It has been overcoming the challenges of elevating capital in an period when corporations are being pressured to not start new oil and fuel initiatives on our continent.
In April, Eco Atlantic raised roughly $25.5 million to cowl drilling bills on the Gazania-1 effectively, on Block 2B offshore South Africa, though the corporate introduced that its analysis effectively didn’t present proof of business hydrocarbons.
That’s not stopping the corporate from shifting ahead in Africa. Together with its companions, Africa Vitality Corp, Panoro 2B Restricted (a subsidiary of Panoro Vitality ASA), and Crown Vitality AB, Eco Atlantic is planning further exploration drilling, together with a two-well marketing campaign on Block 3B/4B offshore South Africa, set to start in 2023, and no less than one effectively on the Orinduik Block offshore Guyana.
“Whereas it’s naturally disappointing not having made a business discovery, the Gazania-1 effectively was solely the primary of 4 wells we’ve deliberate for the subsequent 18-24 months throughout our wider portfolio,” Eco Atlantic co-founder and CEO Gil Holzman mentioned.
Tenacity is a required trait for all corporations on this trade. Eco Atlantic’s ongoing dedication to exploring South Africa’s offshore basins is commendable.
As lately as Dec. 19, the corporate introduced its subsidiary, Azinam Restricted, had acquired one other 6.25% collaborating curiosity in Block 3B/4B offshore South Africa. Eco Atlantic additionally acquired regulatory approval for the acquisition.
Now Eco Atlantic will maintain an elevated collaborating curiosity of 26.25% in Block 3B/4B, with Africa Oil Corp., the block’s operator, and Cape City-based upstream firm, Ricocure.
Large finds, huge ambitions
As for Africa Oil Corp., certainly one of its strengths is the respect it has earned within the sector and amongst authorities leaders. The corporate has been concerned in such main finds because the 2022 Venus mild oil discovery made with Whole Energies offshore Namibia (by subsidiary Impression Oil & Gasoline Restricted).
Since then, the corporate has stored its give attention to continued exploration operations. It has producing and improvement belongings in deep-water offshore Nigeria, improvement belongings in Kenya, and a portfolio of exploration belongings in Guyana, Kenya, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa, and the Senegal Guinea Bissau Joint Improvement Zone (AGC).
The businesses’ successes in East Africa are notably thrilling. Exploration in Kenya inside the final decade has opened two new basins that reach into southern Somalia. Keith lately informed Vitality, Oil & Gasoline journal that the basins cowl an space the dimensions of the North Sea.
And in Puntland, the corporate is assured that it discovered an oilfield by drilling on the Shabeel effectively.
Hill mentioned he remembers when most corporations believed alternatives in East Africa have been restricted.
“At most oil and fuel conferences at present, the common opinion is that East Africa now represents one of many hottest oil and fuel exploration areas anyplace on this planet,” he mentioned. “Africa Oil Corp’s forward-thinking strategy meant that it was capable of get in and safe all of the acreage it wished earlier than this area actually took off.”
“What which means is that at present you’re looking at a company that boasts the very best onshore acreage place of any firm now current in East Africa.”
Earlier this yr, I mentioned Africa won’t obtain the power future it needs, together with making power poverty historical past, with out the presence of independents. At present, that reality is clearer than ever.
Sure, majors and nationwide oil corporations nonetheless have an essential half to play in Africa’s power trade, however the impartial corporations at work listed here are giving us each motive to be optimistic about Africa’s future.