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AEW 2023: Africa’s Untapped Oil and Gas Potential Beckons Investors

At the recent African Energy Week (AEW) 2023 conference, a seismic shift was palpable as African nations put their best foot forward, showcasing their abundant hydrocarbon reserves and the prospects of oil and gas exploration. Three standout presentations emerged as central themes, reflecting not only the continent’s rich hydrocarbon landscape but also the aspirations of its stakeholders.

1. Africa’s Resurgence in High-Impact Drilling and Exploration

The African Energy Chamber‘s organized panel discussion was the focal point of many discussions, shining a spotlight on Africa’s rebound in high-impact drilling success rates. With exploration hotspots sprouting across the continent, significant discoveries in both on- and offshore basins were highlighted.

Emmanuelle Garinet, representing TotalEnergies, captivated the audience by delving deep into the crucial role that data plays in exploration. Quality data, particularly the 2D and 3D varieties, is not just a mere tool but the backbone of successful exploration. Garinet emphasized the role of the next generation, highlighting the criticality of continuously nurturing young talent, specifically geoscientists, in the realm of exploration. She articulated, “Exploration isn’t just about machinery and tools; it’s equally about the minds that use them.”

However, the panel didn’t just concentrate on tools and talents. Africa’s rise as a key player in global oil and gas exploration became clear. Angola’s successes and Azule Energy’s bold targets illustrated a continent poised for elevation. Brian Reinsborough, the mastermind of ReconAfrica, captured the sentiment perfectly. He highlighted Africa’s vast potential and stressed the crucial partnership between governments and explorers for lasting success.

2. Sierra Leone: An Emerging Titan in Oil and Gas Exploration

Sierra Leone, often overshadowed by its resource-rich neighbors, made its mark at AEW 2023. PDSL Director General Foday Mansary’s presentation was a testament to Sierra Leone’s untapped energy potential and its recent strides to establish itself as a frontrunner in the industry.

Boasting of an enviable track record with eight wells drilled and four significant discoveries, PDSL’s achievements are nothing short of commendable. Mansaray, with a flair for capturing attention, detailed their efficient licensing process, taking a mere 85 business days from initiation to completion. Such efficiency, combined with Sierra Leone’s resource potential, makes a compelling case for investment.

The nation’s licensing initiative offered a staggering 150 graticular blocks. But more than just numbers, Mansaray’s emphasis was on the nation’s comprehensive data sets. Investors weren’t just being invited to participate but were being provided with a veritable treasure map, laden with 2D and 3D seismic data, guiding them to hydrocarbon gold.

Beyond the geological prospects, what truly stood out was Sierra Leone’s invitation to investors. Mansaray emphasized a vision where partnerships were transparent, flexible, and beneficial for all parties involved. With a keen eye on the future, the nation is actively working on legislative measures to bolster onshore operations, all while fostering an environment that’s conducive to business growth.

3. Namibia’s Balanced Approach: Hydrocarbon Exploration with an Environmental Heartbeat

Maggy Shino, representing Namibia’s Ministry of Mines and Energy, brought forth an enticing blend of ambition and responsibility. Her session was an enlightening narrative about Namibia’s proactive steps to elevate its oil and gas stature without compromising its environmental commitments.

Total’s Deepsea Mira rig, an engineering marvel, is set to make its way to Namibia. Shino provided detailed insights into the logistics and preparations underpinning the five wells scheduled for drilling in 2024. However, what was equally, if not more, intriguing was the nation’s resolve to balance its exploration pursuits with its green initiatives.

Namibia’s vision isn’t one-dimensional. Alongside its aggressive exploration strategies, the nation is laying the foundation for a sustainable energy ecosystem. The plans encompass a gamut of initiatives from gas-to-power projects to the establishment of a robust petrochemical industry. But Shino emphasized that the nation’s efforts don’t stop there. The proactive strategy to leverage blue hydrogen and its potential impact on the agricultural sector demonstrates the nation’s holistic vision for its energy sector.

Shino’s concluding remarks resonated deeply with attendees: “We are open for business.” It was a clear signal that Namibia is not just seeking investors but partners to navigate the challenges and seize the abundant opportunities that lie ahead.

In conclusion, the African Energy Week 2023 was not just a conference; it was a clarion call for stakeholders across the world to recognize, respect, and invest in Africa’s burgeoning energy landscape. With nations like Sierra Leone, Namibia, and Angola at the forefront, the continent’s energy narrative is being rewritten, promising a brighter, more sustainable future for all.

Feel free to contact the Energy Transition Centre today with questions. 

·  Julius Moerder, Head of Energy Transition Centre [email protected]

·  Oneyka Ojogbo, Head of Energy Transition Centre, Nigeria & West Africa [email protected]

·  Leon van Der Merwe, Head of Energy Transition Centre, South Africa [email protected]

Author: Memoona Tawfiq