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Effiong Okon: Africa a fertile ground for huge gas investment



By Zacheaus Somorin in Toronto

Seplat Petroleum Development Company Plc’s Operations Director, Mr. Effiong Okon, has restated Africa’s stance as the destination for gas development and investment. He gave this insight during his keynote address at the Africa E & P Summit held in London recently. The Africa E&P Summit is a landmark event on Africa, which brings together key players and senior executives in the oil sector and governments involved in African oil and gas business. The conference provides insights into the diverse approaches and strategies of Africa’s key movers.

Okon, in his keynote titled: ‘Oil and Gas Rising in Africa’, provided an overview of the oil and gas landscape in Africa, stressing that there has been abundant discoveries of oil and gas reserves, which have over the years, attracted key international oil companies to the continent. Alongside these majors is the rising of the independents who have also come into existence and have continued to grow in leaps and bounds, he explained, adding that: “The appetite for African oil and gas is still growing and continues to present significant investment opportunities.

Investors are attracted to the many recent and ongoing licence bid rounds in the continent. “Most of the oil majors and the independents companies have continued to flourish with some exporting not just oil but also gas out of the continent. Most companies had to restrategise portfolio balancing after the recent downturn in oil price. Assets have been changing hands between the oil majors and the Independents.”
Some challenges, according to the Seplat director, still exist despite the significant discoveries and impressive production of oil and gas across the continent, which has a good balance of oil and gas.

He said Africa has a good balance of oil and gas but still faces the challenge of importing the refined products with the lack of sufficient refining capacity.
He stressed: “A lot of people in Africa still do not have access to electricity. Lack of adequate infrastructure also still presents a problem. “These challenges present huge opportunities for gas development and investment. As a result, a company like Seplat has remained bullish with its gas development. Seplat, with a strategic location on the gas hub in the Niger Delta, facilitates its gas development.

According to him, the growing need for capital for emerging infrastructure such as refining and transportation of petroleum commodities and products and the development of a robust petrochemical industry, place the continent at a vantage point for investments. The Seplat director said currently, Seplat contributes about 30 per cent of domestic gas supply in Nigeria.

He said given the huge opportunity in Nigeria, the company has continued to make significant investment of well over $300 million at growing its gas business resulting to its massive current daily production capacity. He said: “Seplat current well stock is capable of delivering around 400 MMscfd (gross).
“In addition to these, our Sapele Gas Plant upgrade and Assa North-Ohaji South (ANOH) project is to add 315MMscfd xapacity by 2020.” Okon noted that of the top-20 discoveries globally between 2012 and 2016, Africa had the greatest contribution compared to any other area. According to him, 2019 looks promising for Africa with discoveries in South Africa, Egypt and Angola.

He explained: “Africa is home to some of the world’s fastest growing economies, some of them lifted by new oil and gas discoveries. “An estimated 7.5 per cent of global proven oil reserves (126.5bn bbls) and 7.1 per cent of global proven gas reserves (487.8Tcf ) sits in Africa. “Oil and gas play a strategic role in economies of African countries giving them power and influence on world stage, and this trend is likely to continue with new discoveries in Ghana, Egypt, Algeria, Libya, Tunisia, Mozambique, and Uganda.” These opportunities, he highlighted, have attracted the majors with an increasing participation of indigenous oil companies.



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