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Home >> Business
UPDATED: 11:08, September 27, 2005
Investment opportunities emerge in oil-rich Africa
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Vast oil and gas investment opportunities are emerging in Africa, especially in Nigeria, Algeria, Angola and Libya, officials from these oil-rich countries said on an oil summit in South Africa's Johannesburg on Monday.

Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Funsho Kupolokun said that the global oil sector was at "new dawn," with the price of oil facing long-run upward pressure.

About 67 billion dollars is sent to be invested in Nigeria's oil and gas sector by 2008, Kupolokun told representatives at a plenary session titled "African Perspective" during the World Petroleum Congress that opened here on Sunday.

"There are tremendous opportunities for participation in Nigeria," he added. "Don't miss the Nigerian investment train."

Nigeria has proven oil reserves of 35 billion barrels and annual production of 2.5 million barrels per day and produced about 10 percent of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries' (OPEC) oil production.

Nigeria is also developing a number of gas fields and is seeing the second largest liquefied natural gas (LNG) growth in the world, Kupolokun said. The country is also a relatively secure supplier of oil, with no conflicts on the go, he added.

Oil is central to the Nigerian economy and accounts for over 30 percent of the country's gross domestic product (GDP) and 70 percent of government revenue, according to Kupolokun.

Nigeria's 130 million strong population accounts for about 20 percent of Africa's population and 67 percent of west Africa's population.

For northern Africa's Libya, the ending of sanctions has opened up oil and gas opportunities in the country, Chairman for Libya's National Oil Corporation (NOC) Abdullah Salem El-Badri said on the same occasion.

The company's planning director Tarek Hassan-Beck said Libya had earmarked 7 billion dollars in international oil and gas exploration over the next 10 years. He estimated Libyan oil reserves at 39.5 billion barrels and gas reserves at 54 trillion cubic feet (1,890 trillion cubic meters).

Libya, the continent's second-largest player after Nigeria, has been gearing up for an energy boom since international sanctions were lifted in 2003.

The country currently has oil production of 1.6 million barrels per day and about 4 billion dollars in investment opportunities available.

NOC was established on November 12, 1970, to assume the responsibility of the oil sector operations. The state-owned integrated oil company controls Libya's petroleum industry while oil accounts for 95 percent of Libya's exports.

A presentation by Angola's state oil company, Sonangol, revealed that the company was producing 1.3 million barrels of oil per day and was set to increase output to 2 million barrel per day by 2008. The company also has reserves of 12.5 billion barrels of oil.

A new law enacted in Angola allowed for the establishment of private Angolan oil companies. Angola is also developing natural gas and liquefied natural gas projects.

The country is in talks with oil majors Total, Chevron and ExxonMobil about building a 200,000 barrel-per-day refinery.

Angolan Petroleum Minister Desiderio Costa told reporters Sunday that investment in the refinery would be tied to the award of certain blocks.

"The people that are interested in the blocks, they have also to show some interest in the refinery," the minister said.

Angola is sub-Saharan Africa's second biggest crude producer after Nigeria and is boosting output as it rebuilds after 27 years of civil war, but it has been hit by fuel shortages as petrol fails to meet demand in the capital Luanda.

Angola's existing refinery in Luanda is prone to maintenance problems and stoppages which force Angola to import many refined products.

A plan for the second 3.75 billion dollars refinery in the port city of Lobito has been floated but hit snags, with sources saying state-run Sonangol was struggling to find partners willing to give it their financial backing.

President of Algerian state oil company Sonatrach, Mohamed Meziane, said that Africa held 7 percent of the world's proven oil reserves and remained very much under explored.

About two thirds of Africa's population had no access to hydrocarbon resources, Meziance said.

Sonatrach, established in 1963, is aiming to produce two million barrels of oil per day by 2010, he added. The company is also looking to produce 85 billion cubic meters of natural gas and liquefied natural gas by 2010.

Algeria, aiming for an output of two million barrels per day by 2010, is planning to spend 500 million dollars on exploration activities, said Mohamed Meziane.

Algeria's oil sector, though, is not completely open to foreign companies. All foreign operators must work in partnership with Sonatrach, with Sonatrach usually holding majority ownership in these production-sharing agreements.

South Africa also put its case forward for oil and gas investment opportunities at the session.

Chief Executive of the Petroleum Agency of South Africa Mthozami Xiphu said that there had been a tremendous increase in petroleum exploration off the South African coast recently, with 134 million dollars set to be spent off the country's coast in the current 2005/06 year.

Over the past three years, the number of companies drilling for petroleum off South Africa's coast had increased from two or three to 11 international oil companies, Xiphu said.

South Africa's sedimentary basins were well understood, while the country's deepwater areas are under explored, the official said.

Over 3,500 petroleum executives, 250 students and 400 journalists worldwide are gathering here to attend the 18th World Petroleum Congress, the first time the World Petroleum Council (WPC) holds its tri-annual event on the African continent in 72-year history.

Founded in London in 1933, the WPC is an international, unbiased, non-political organization that provides a forum for discussing world issues facing the oil and gas industry. It is dedicated to scientific advances in the oil and gas industries, technology transfer and to promote the management of the world's petroleum resources for the benefit of mankind.

The WPC's 62 member countries represent over 90 percent of the world's major oil and gas producing and consuming nations of the world.

Source: Xinhua

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