Does gas truly promise cleaner, efficient energy for Africa? Robert O’Keefe’s answer was in the affirmative.
There is no doubt that Africa is a resource rich, yet under exploited region for both oil and gas. According to PWC Africa Oil Review 2017 Africa has oil reserves 128.0 billion barrels, 7.5 per cent of the world’s proven reserves, while gas reserves are 503.3Tcf, 86.8 billion BoE, 7.6 per cent of the world’s proven reserves up 0.1 per cent from the prior year. But it is gas that is becoming the fuel of choice for explorations and production in the region.
The BP Statistical Review reported that 90 per cent of African gas production continues to come from Algeria, Nigeria, Egypt and Libya though the overall quantity produced in 2016 reduced by 1.1 per cent down to 208.3 bcm. As a result of the decrease in production and some additional discoveries, we have seen the years of available natural gas production go up from 66.4 to 68.4.
According to Robert O’Keeffe of DNV GL, gas is becoming more important in the energy mix in Africa. “Gas is more important on a global scale, and Africa is increasingly becoming a source for, and customer of, that gas whereas in the past the greater focus has been on oil exports,” he says. “The maturity of LNG/FLNG technologies has enabled projects in Africa, and elsewhere, to be cost effective, while FSRUs can provide gas import opportunities.
“Gas as a source of energy is significantly less harmful in terms of CO2 emissions than oil or coal therefore government policy should support it to become a greater share of the energy mix if we wish to avoid excessive climate change.”
This is reinforced by the UN Sustainability Goals that underpin business and government policy thinking on any activity. Sustainable development is defined as ‘development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs’. Oil and gas arguably has a difficult place in this equation, while it provides jobs, development and much of the current energy demands of society, it also contributes to climate change which affects the future. “DNV GL promotes the use of gas as the cleanest pathway to a sustainable future until the renewables sector develops its capacity and cost effectiveness – a sector which we also support in many ways,” O’Keeffe adds.
The increased importance of gas to Africa is bolstered by the size and scale of the gas find on the east coast. “The Mozambicans, for example, have decided on a fairly large domestic gas obligation that says that 25 per cent of its gas needs to find a home and a market locally,” Chris Bredenhann, Africa oil and gas advisory leader, at PwC, explains. “That on its own creates an interesting challenge because given the size and scale of these projects there is a lot of thinking that needs to go into local gas markets and how they would work. If they want 25 per cent of that large gas play what do they do with it in Mozambique and in the region? There is a need to start thinking about applications and perhaps thinking around how we do more regional gas master planning by country.”
As for the operators, they are already focused on gas. BP’s stated policy has been for some time to make a shift to gas and what they call advantaged oil. This is driven by their belief that there is a cap on the oil price that is set by US shale and the resource rich countries in the Middle East. “We think that some of the oil might be left in the ground so any oil that we participate in has to compete at the lower oil price range,” Jasper Peijs, vice president of exploration for BP Africa, says. “Also, as a company we fundamentally believe that society at large has an aspiration for a lower carbon future and that gas has a significant role to play in that lower carbon future as a replacement for coal as a potentially cleaner fuel. For us, putting that balance in our portfolio between gas and oil is truly important. Courtesy, Africa Oil Week.