Africa's share of the world's oil production12 percent
Africa's share of consumption of this produced oil4 percent
An energy transition for AfricaOctober 26, 2015
In light of low oil prices, Mahaman Laouan Gaya, executive secretary of the African Petroleum Producers’ Association (APPA) and former secretary-general of hydrocarbons in Niger, discusses Africa’s shifting energy matrix, resource maximisation and the role of APPA to assist African countries in securing access to better, cheaper energy.
What will Africa’s role be in the energy industry in the future, and how can APPA help shape this?
Africa pumps out about 12 percent of the world’s oil production but only consumes 4 percent. Based on these figures, APPA countries decided to reform the association in order to have a greater impact on African countries.
In this global energy context of low oil prices, we need to consider a new policy based on a vision for APPA. In April 2015, APPA’s member states agreed to launch a global, in-depth institutional reform to reshape the association towards better efficiency and visibility.
Even though discussions about facing peak oil and the possibility about the end of the petroleum era seem alarmist, we should still be concerned. One area of concern is the amount of petroleum products wasted in Africa. For instance, billions of cubic meters of gas torched every year could be used to fuel power generation units.
Reducing the waste of oil and gas will require APPA to train countries in implementing new policies for reaching energy efficiency.
What will APPA’s new objectives be after the reform?
Like every other international organisation in the energy industry, APPA needs to integrate itself in the context of an ongoing energy transition. To this end, we have been seeking collaboration with the UN to be integrated into its Sustainable Energy for All programme launched in 2010-2011.
The objective is for each member country to achieve at least a 30-percent share of renewable energy in their energy mix before 2030. The energy transition in Africa means first switching to available hydrocarbons resources, such as natural gas, before moving to renewables.
Africa presents a challenge with renewable energy contributing only 1 percent to this mix. To meet this goal, we need to reduce the use of wood, which represents 80-85 percent of the energy matrix of the continent.
What is the role of gas in these new energy policies?
Each country has a different perspective on its energy policy, because resources, needs and consumption habits vary from one to another. In particular, natural gas should be used to produce electricity and for activities in the petrochemicals sector.
This gas can fuel the production of polyethylene and other natural gas-based commodities, such as methanol, urea and potash. This approach would be much more efficient than using it for power generation as other sources, such as renewable energy and hydroelectricity, are cheaper for that.
How could Africa become more energy independent?
The need to import technology for electricity production from Europe and the US has had a negative impact on Africa’s energy security. We need to find a balance to become less dependent on foreign countries and to better use our own resources.
This objective has become a priority among the members of APPA. National policies will converge according to APPA’s guidelines to guarantee countries safer and more reliable access to energy. Ensuring that hydrocarbons production benefits the African population will be crucial in this.
APPA will conduct a project to study the African market of crude oil and petroleum products. This exhaustive study will include all operations related to upstream development and downstream transformation of petroleum in refineries.
How can APPA help African countries maximise their energy policies?
APPA’s comparative study of the regulatory texts of all major African countries’ upstream sectors will be a step towards harmonisation of African oil and gas regulations. This includes hydrocarbons codes as well as oil and gas exploration and production contracts.
APPA has the capacity to help countries better define their policies. It can also reach out to non-member states to assist them in adopting a modern oil and gas regulatory framework.
Finally, we are also working on a study to draw a comprehensive map of the geology basins and stratigraphy characteristics for all African countries. It will include a complete analysis of fields and blocks and potential development in Africa.
The upcoming study will finalise a record of the petroleum network in Africa, which could then be used to draft international agreements to prevent border conflicts. This would give us the basis for a unified African petroleum policy.