Equatorial Guinea and Gabon Drive AfCFTA with Energy Deal: African Energy Week in Cape Town will Place Post-AfCFTA Opportunities at the Forefront of the African Energy Agenda

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With the recent 2,000MT methanol delivery from Equatorial Guinea to Gabon illustrating the benefits of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, African Energy Week will build on this momentum, showcasing the value of regional trade and cooperation in driving African economic growth.

Equatorial Guinea is well on its way to become a regional natural gas producer and exporter, having recently delivered the country’s first shipment of methanol to neighboring Gabon. Carried by the Jipro Isis Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) carrier, the 2,000MT methanol shipment arrived at the new international port of Owendo in Gabon from Equatorial Guinea’s state of the art Punta-Europa petrochemical complex.

The shipment marks an important step in the move to create a viable regional natural gas trade network, whereby reserves can be effectively monetized – through the conversion into LNG, power and petrochemicals – and used to drive regional economic growth and industrialization. Enabled by the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), implemented in January 2021, the methanol delivery is expected to spark a significant increase in regional petrochemical and LNG trade. Accordingly, as Africa’s premier energy event, African Energy Week (AEW) 2021 in Cape Town will not only promote the value of regional trade and cooperation in driving energy sector growth, but will both emphasize and showcase post-AfCFTA opportunities.  

The AfCFTA was established to position Africa as the largest free trade area in the world, enabling tariff reductions and market liberalization while significantly reducing barriers to trade. Since its implementation, the agreement has boosted output in the services, manufacturing and natural resources sectors, enabling resource-rich countries to enhance production and monetize resources, and energy deficient countries to capitalize on new trade opportunities. Accordingly, the AfCFTA has opened up significant investment opportunities and has, and continues to be, a key driver of industrialization continent wide.

Most notably, the AfCFTA has created fundamental regional trade opportunities regarding natural gas. By creating new and improved trade opportunities, the agreement is enhancing gas utilization and monetization, particularly regarding gas-rich countries such as Equatoria Guinea. With an estimated 1.5 trillion cubic feet of natural gas reserves, Equatorial Guinea has been quick to develop ways to effectively monetize its resources. The most notable developments in the country have been the Equatorial Guinea Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) project at Bioko Island at Punta Europa; the Alba Liquified Petroleum Gas plant; West Africa’s first-ever LNG storage and regasification plant. Using natural gas derived from the Alba and Alen fields, and driving exploration to increase new commercial deposit supplies, the Punta Europa facility has been established as a gas-processing center for the Gulf of Guinea. Leveraging the benefits brought about by AfCFTA, Equatorial Guinea has made the first step in achieving its regional gas hub goals, delivering 2,000MT of methanol to neighboring Gabon.

H.E. Gabriel Obiang Lima, Equatorial Guinea’s Minister of Mines and Hydrocarbons stated in a press release on the 26th of August that “with the delivery of Methanol to our sister the Gabonese Republic, we demonstrate once again the unique positioning of Equatorial Guinea for the monetization of gas in the Gulf of Guinea. It is also a pride that the resources monetized in our country serve as an input for the economic growth not only of Equatorial Guinea, but of the CEMAC area.”

Consequently, African countries have a lot to gain from the AfCFTA. While countries are making moves to increase exports to international markets, the agreement will drive up regional exports, allowing demand to be met and a rapid increase in industrialization. Natural gas can be used to supply critical products to emerging industrial zones across the continent, and AEW 2021 plans to present these opportunities to both regional stakeholders and international investors. Placing an emphasis on post-AfCFTA opportunities, and providing an ideal platform whereby regional deals can be made, and partnerships creates that will enhance Africa’s trade network, AEW 2021 is committed to driving Africa’s future.

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