Gas : Africa’s new extraction centres
Association Climate Chance (Climate Chance)
Gas extraction in Africa is changing: a number of new pre-production sites are being proposed in countries that have not previously exploited fossil fuels. This trend runs counter to the global scientific consensus that the construction of new fossil fuel infrastructure should be halted.
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The Global Energy Monitor’s (GEM) Global Oil and Gas Extraction Tracker (GOGET) lists data on 421 extraction projects, 79 of which are in the pre-production stages. Nigeria, Egypt, Libya and Algeria traditionally have the most proven gas reserves and production sites. However, GOGET data shows that 84 per cent of new pre-production reserves are located in new entrants to the African gas market: Mozambique, Senegal, Tanzania, Mauritania, South Africa, Ethiopia and Morocco. These new reserves amount to more than 5,137.5 billion cubic metres (bcm), which would generate around 11.9 billion tonnes of CO2 emissions. The potential impact on local communities and ecosystems is also fuelling opposition to production at these fields. In the short term, these countries should stimulate the development of gas activities, as « Mozambique, Mauritania, Tanzania, South Africa and Ethiopia will account for more than half of Africa’s gas production by 2038 ». If all these new gas field development projects are sanctioned, African gas production would increase by a third by 2030. The development of gas extraction and export infrastructure would require greenfield investment of $329 billion. However, as the vast majority of these gas field developments are for export, they will have little effect on the continent’s low electrification rate. Africa’s energy mix, meanwhile, will be exposed to the volatility of gas markets. African investment in the development of extraction infrastructures on virgin sites will certainly have serious consequences for the health and environment of local populations. Climate change is likely to worsen, while Africa’s capacity to invest in its own energy transition and the electrification of its communities will be weaker. This summary presents the emerging players in the African gas market, the key fields proposed for development, and the cost and ownership structure of the projects. It concludes by showing that, because of the export destination of these gas sites, Africa will reap very limited benefits when it comes to providing access to clean, affordable and reliable energy for all.
New market entrants and emerging trends
Historically, Algeria, Nigeria, Libya and Egypt have concentrated the majority of Africa’s gas reserves and production. According to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), these four countries will account for 78% of Africa’s gas reserves in 2021. Between 1970 and 2021, they accounted for 92% of Africa’s gas production. The discovery of new gas fields in the Indian Ocean, off the coasts of Mozambique and Tanzania, and in the Atlantic Ocean, near the border between Senegal and Mauritania, has enabled new players to enter the African gas market. In a report, the African Chamber of Energy describes Ethiopia, Mauritania, Mozambique, Senegal, South Africa and Tanzania as the « next natural gas hubs ». According to data from Rystad Energy, Mozambique is set to become Africa’s second largest gas producer, taking 18% of the continent’s gas between 2020 and 2050. For its part, Oil Change International estimates that Algeria, Egypt, Libya and Nigeria will still dominate gas production in the short term, but that Mozambique and other new competitors will account for more than 50 per cent of African gas production by 2038. Among the new market entrants, Mozambique has the lowest electrification rate: only 30 per cent of its population has access to electricity. The situation is similar in Tanzania, Mauritania and Ethiopia, where electrification levels are 40, 47 and 51 per cent respectively. Compared to other new market competitors, Senegal and South Africa have relatively high levels of electrification: 70% and 84% of their respective populations have access to electricity. Despite the low levels of electrification and the challenges of providing affordable and reliable electricity, the needs of the energy sector are neglected at a national level. The majority of gas from these new projects is not for domestic consumption, as many pre-production gas extraction sites are associated with LNG export terminals. By 2022-2025, Algeria and Nigeria are expected to account for the majority of exported gas volumes. Equatorial Guinea, Egypt, Mozambique, Senegal and Mauritania will share the rest.
Foreign interest in African gas
All these new explorations are largely explained by the European Union’s efforts to find sources of gas outside Russia. By 2021, 90 per cent of the EU’s gas consumption will come from imports, half of which will come from Russia. Africa, and in particular Algeria with 12.6%, accounted for a fifth of the EU’s gas imports. Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the EU has been striving to achieve independence from Russian gas by 2030. However, no one knows how much longer the EU will be interested in African gas. New entrants to the market could therefore find themselves in debt for assets that are difficult to use domestically without massive investment in infrastructure development. More than 97% of the new LNG infrastructure planned in Africa is for export, mainly to Europe and Asia. According to Amos Wemanya, Senior Analyst at Power Shift Africa, « from Mauritania to Mozambique, Europe’s addiction to fossil fuels is largely driving new LNG projects ». Nevertheless, in line with EU climate legislation, the EU as a whole must reduce gas demand by 35 per cent from 2019 levels by 2030. In addition, « REPowerEU », the plan proposed by the European Commission in May 2022, if fully implemented, would also mean a 52 per cent reduction in EU gas demand by 2030 compared to 2019. Europe’s current interest in African gas is clearly the result of a short- to medium-term supply crisis, while African development projects will not generate significant volumes until the late 2020s. The possibility that this gas will not find a buyer is therefore very real. Furthermore, the anticipated growth of Asian LNG has not yet materialised, as countries that were once threatened with exclusion from the LNG market because of prices are considering repositioning themselves in the light of the current downward trend.
Key projects by new market competitors
In the short term, a number of key projects are expected to boost production volumes on the African gas market. Coral South, the first floating liquefied natural gas (FLNG) project in Mozambique, was commissioned in 2022. Following receipt of a final investment decision, the second project, Golfinho-Atum, also in Mozambique, entered the construction phase. Other gas extraction projects in pre-production include Grand Tortue Ahmeyim, Zafarani and Mamba, located in Mauritania, Senegal and Mozambique respectively. These projects will have a significant impact on local communities and biodiversity.
Estimated investment required for planned gas extraction infrastructure
According to data from Rystad Ucube, greenfield investment would put new entrants to the African gas market on a par with incumbents in terms of capital expenditure on oil and gas production. Greenfield investment is expected to intensify in the second half of the decade, with the investment decision for many projects expected at that time. According to GEM data, total capital expenditure on LNG terminals under development would amount to $103 billion, of which 92% would finance LNG export terminals. The top five African countries developing export terminals are Tanzania, Mozambique, Nigeria, Mauritania and Senegal. With the exception of Nigeria, all these countries are among the new market entrants now driving gas extraction in Africa.
Trends in ownership of gas fields under development
GEM data shows that the majority of reserves in Africa’s new gas fields are owned by companies headquartered in Europe. The Algerian and Mozambican state-owned companies Sonatrach and Empresa Nacional de Hidrocarbonetos (ENH) are the only African companies to rank in the top 10 owners of reserves in new African gas fields. If we combine the shares of Asian, North American and European companies, they account for more than half of the volume of reserves in new gas fields held by the top ten companies operating in Africa. British and French companies BP and TotalEnergies are the largest operators of new gas reserves in Africa. By 2021, 25 per cent of TotalEnergies’ hydrocarbon production will come from Africa. Given the predominance of multinationals, the majority of the profits from these projects will not benefit the African continent.
Algeria, Nigeria, Libya and Egypt will remain major players in African gas production, but it is inevitable that the share of new entrants to the market will grow. However, many developing gas fields make no secret of their links with existing or new LNG export terminals. Much of the gas from new projects is expected to leave Africa, certainly for Europe or Asia. Investment in LNG export terminals remains a priority in African countries, despite unmet domestic demand and limited access to electricity. Both the growing domestic demand to meet Africa’s energy needs, and the gradual erosion of the window of opportunity to exploit the European and Asian markets, call into question the long-term success and sustainability of the plans of new market competitors.
Global Energy Monitor (GEM) is a not-for-profit research organisation dedicated to providing information on energy projects around the world. In 2022, Global Energy Monitor launched its Africa Gas Tracket (AGT). This is an online database that identifies and maps the main gas pipelines, gas-fired power stations (of at least 50 MW), LNG terminals and gas extraction sites. Following its latest update, the tracker includes 64 GW of gas-fired plant under development, 75 mtpa of LNG terminal capacity under development, 22,600 km of gas pipeline under development and 60 gas extraction areas in the pre-production phase. The AGT uses wiki footnote pages to document each pipeline, gas plant, LNG terminal and extraction site. It is updated twice a year.
GOGET is a global dataset on oil and gas resources and their development. It includes information on units discovered, under development or in operation worldwide, listing both traditional and non-traditional assets. The dataset tracks the status, ownership, production and reserves of each unit, where available. GEM estimates the investment in LNG terminals under development by summing the capital expenditure for each project within a region. Where data from project cost reports is not available through secondary research, GEM produces its own cost estimates based on global and regional averages. North African and Sub-Saharan terminal costs are estimated separately where sufficient data exists to confirm the regional average. Otherwise, cost estimates are deducted from global averages. For LNG import terminals, costs are estimated at $269.7 million per mtpa for onshore infrastructure and $134.7 million per mtpa for floating units. For export terminals, costs are estimated at $544.8 million (for North Africa) and $623.6 million (for Sub-Saharan Africa) for onshore infrastructure, and $567.5 million per mtpa for floating units. Emissions were calculated using the Oil Climate Index Plus Gas (OCI+) tool for a barrel of crude oil from Egypt’s Zohr field: 394 kg CO2e/boe, using a GWP of 100 years for methane. The OCI+ emission intensity values were then multiplied by estimated field reserve values, based on GOGET data. To find out more, see the tracker landing page and the methodology summary. Visit the data download page to obtain primary data from AGT.
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For more information, contact Christine Juta, Africa Gas Tracker Project Manager, at Christine.Juta@globalenergymonitor.org