Browsing: Africa Oil and Gas

Africa seizing opportunities in the Russia-Ukraine war.

The crisis has thrown the energy market into chaos, sending fossil fuel prices soaring. This has birthed the global demand for thermal coal, especially from the Asian and European markets; with most countries in both regions having been dependent of Russia, as the country is the world’s third largest supplier of thermal coal used chiefly for power generation. Coal plants that had been scheduled for closure in Europe have been reopened, to fill the deficit in mitigating fuel costs and generating electricity; as the alternative gas, is inarguably more expensive. With energy security under threat, climate policies and commitments have taken a back seat. The EU recently declared that natural gas now qualifies for green investments.

The African coal market is projected to enjoy double its revenue for the next one year. The prevailing energy gap has created a window of opportunity for African coal producing nations. According to a report by Reuters, South Africa’s coal exports rose by 11 folds in the months following the war. Botswana has also projected growth in its coal market. The massive demand far outstrips the available supply, resulting into prices of thermal coal leaping to record levels. African countries with coal resources, have doubled profit margins, with the surge in demand from European buyers. Italy, France, Portugal and Spain have been sourcing from Nigeria, whilst Germany has sought Senegal for gas supplies.

The revenues gained from increased energy exports to Europe and other markets could be reinvested to boost agricultural productivity in Africa to mitigate reliance on Russia and Ukrainian wheat products. In addition, the surplus could boost the continent’s manufacturing sector, pertinently fertilizers to promote agricultural productivity which fuels most economies in Africa.

Only last December, the OPEC (and partners) coalition agreed to chop oil output by 1.7 million bpd, and in turn, Saudi Arabia agreed to cut its output by 400,000 bpd. However, Moscow is now backing away from more cuts in production because reducing production would give breathing room to the already suffering US producers. 

The US remains unmoved. It refuses to lower output despite the falling oil prices that have seen Washington suffer a minus US$4 in oil futures. Meanwhile, the Kremlin’s response has been to flood the market with even more oil output to push prices down.

While US oil producers have previously proved to be rather resilient to low prices, managing to counterbalance prices as low as US$30 per barrel in the past (see details below), they may not fare so well this time around. 

The shale producers were already suffering over the last year as Moscow waged an outright oil price war on them, persistently flooding the market to keep prices down. Needing prices to stay at US$65 per barrel to at least break even, let alone sniff a profit, many US producers filed for bankruptcy. 

The findings are quite encouraging for Sonatrach and Algeria, both of which have not seen major increases in their hydrocarbon reserves since the middle of the 2000s.

Since the beginning of the year, Algeria has experienced an increase in the amount of oil and gas being exported via pipeline and sea; Algeria has provided Italy with 13.9 billion cubic metres, which is more than 113 per cent of the amounts that were originally expected.

More recently, Occidental (US), Total Energies (France), and Eni (Italy) came to an agreement worth US$4 billion to develop a site located in the Berkine perimeter and generate 1 billion barrels of oil equivalent. The transaction was signed by all three companies.

Sonatrach and other international oil firms can now enter into production-sharing agreements according to a hydrocarbon law passed in 2019, despite the fact that the legislation sparked some street protests. However, it established a legal basis for more investment in Algeria.