Scramble for Africa…The “Final Frontier” of Conventional Sources of Oil

As reported by Reuters, high oil prices and the onslaught of resource nationalism from Russia to South America have sent Western majors delving ever deeper into the waters of the Gulf of Guinea, triggering a new scramble for Africa.  As the article notes:

“…Unlike more established oil-producing regions, the Gulf of Guinea offers easy access and attractive terms for Western oil companies …desperate to replenish their flagging reserves.

A number of West African countries, from established producers Nigeria and Angola to newcomers like Liberia, will tender acreage this year. But, with Asian giants China and India jockeying for resources, a battle is under way.

“Africa, and particularly the Gulf of Guinea, is one of the hottest destinations in the world today for the oil industry,” said industry expert John Ghazvinian. “It’s the final frontier in terms of conventional sources of oil.”

According to consultants PFC Energy, only 7 percent of the world’s oil and gas reserves are in countries that allow majors free rein. Two-thirds are in the hands of powerful state companies such as Saudi Aramco and Venezuela’s PDVSA.

West Africa holds much less than a tenth of the world’s proven oil reserves, compared to two-thirds in the Middle East, but for foreign companies, it is an oasis of opportunities….

…Discovery rates are high. Since 2000, a third of the world’s oil finds have been in Africa, most in the Gulf of Guinea. Ghana struck oil last year and aims to start production by 2009, while tiny Sao Tome hopes to join the club of West African producers.

…Even if prices tumble, interest in West Africa is likely to be sustained by its strategic location between the U.S. and Asian markets, and the low sulphur content of its oil which makes it less corrosive to refine and more environment-friendly.

…Thirsty for oil to feed their booming economies, China and India are pouring billions of dollars into acreage in Nigeria, Angola and Equatorial Guinea, and they are reaping the benefits.

Angola has become the largest supplier of oil to China, shipping a record 900,000 barrels a day in December. China’s CNOOC expects first oil this year from Nigeria’s giant deepwater Akpo field, after it paid $2 billion for a stake in 2006.

“…European firms have grown wary of Moscow and are seeking sources of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG).

“The Europeans want to diversify away from Russian supply,” said independent oil analyst Anthony Goldman. “The LNG story is going to be even bigger than the oil story in West Africa.”

In Equatorial Guinea and Angola, multi-billion-dollar projects are under way to build or expand existing LNG plants. Nigeria aims to become the world’s third-largest supplier of LNG by 2010, and has a string of huge projects in development….”

This entry was posted on Friday, January 25th, 2008 at 11:44 am and is filed under Angola, China, Gazprom, Nigeria, Nigerian Petroleum Company, Russia, Sinopec.  You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.  Both comments and pings are currently closed. 

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