Leading the Exploration Game: African Energy Week in Cape Town to Emphasize Angolan Upstream Prospects

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African Energy Week (AEW) 2021 has emphasized the value of exploration in driving Africa’s energy future. By promoting how the upstream market can be consolidated as a key driver of sustainable socio-economic growth, AEW 2021 in Cape Town has placed African frontier exploration at the center of African energy dialogue. With the second edition of the Angola Oil and Gas (AOG) 2021 conference taking place on the 9th-10th of September, 2021, an introduction into Angola’s exploration projects, upstream potential, and future development strategies was provided. AEW 2021 in Cape Town will extend on this discussion, driving a strong exploration narrative with Angola serving as a prime example for other emerging African hydrocarbon markets.

As the third largest oil producer in Africa – crude oil production is estimated at over 1 million barrels per day – and with over 8 billion barrels of oil (bbl) reserves and over 11 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of proven gas reserves, Angola has established itself as a hydrocarbon giant and is committed to accelerating exploration and production in 2021 and beyond. Undeterred by global pressures to abandon fossil fuels in the wake of the energy transition, Angola’s oil and gas industry serves as an example of how the energy sector can be used a catalyst for regional economic growth. With the active presence of global oil giants including Eni, TotalEnergies, BP, Cabinda Gulf Oil Company, ExxonMobil, Equinor and Schlumberger, as well as a committed national oil company, Sonangol, Angola has accelerated exploration and production, positioning itself as a global hydrocarbon competitor.

“Angola has made significant progress in the last few years in terms of reforms and has set the base for further development in the country. At Eni, we did not stop exploring. We discovered more than 2 billion barrels of resources since 2018 and we believe the future will be full of investments and developments in Angola’s oil and gas industry. By maximizing the existing infrastructure facilities and with new areas and basins to be explored, the future is waiting for us,” stated Matteo Bacchini, Managing Director, Eni – Angola during an upstream forum at AOG 2021.  

Angola’s recent bid licensing round, revised hydrocarbon exploration strategy – which seeks to stabilize oil production and expand recoverable reserves by intensifying exploration – as well as the recent restructuring of the national oil company (NOC) Sonangol – aimed at improving partnerships with international oil companies (IOC) and enhancing hydrocarbon operations through exploration investments – has positioned the country as a competitive exploration market. Oil and gas companies in the country have no intention of slowing down, emphasizing the role of Angola’s resources in eradicating energy poverty and boosting economic growth. Companies such as ExxonMobil and Eni have made significant progress in advancing hydrocarbon exploration.

“In Block 15 where ExxonMobil is the operator, we have just celebrated our 27th anniversary. We have had 18 commercial discoveries and are in the process of a redevelopment program. This time next year, we will have two rigs active in Block 15, with hopefully further discoveries made,” stated Melissa Bond, Lead Country Manager/Managing Director, ExxonMobil, Angola.

Meanwhile, despite investment flows tightening due to the COVID-19 pandemic and energy transition, Angola has managed to stay competitive regarding hydrocarbon exploration, and hopes to enhance its upstream market in 2021 and beyond. An enabling regulatory environment coupled with new hydrocarbon evaluations which estimate that the country could in fact hold up to 57 bbl and 27 tcf – yet to be proven however – position Angola as a significantly attractive destination.

“There is a much smaller pool of capital available in the energy industry today regarding investment as there was in 2019. When we look at the opportunities globally, competitiveness, fiscal terms, stability and sanctity, tax environments etc, are important factors for investors. Having these factors in Angola has created competitive terms for stakeholders,” stated Dereck.

With H.E. Diamantino Pedro Azevedo, Minister of Mineral Resources, Petroleum and Gas of Angola, coming to AEW 2021 in Cape Town, Angola’s position on exploration and production will be emphasized. The minister is focused on enhancing upstream sector activities in Angola, so as to correspondingly accelerate economic growth and long-term energy sustainability. Angola serves as an example for other African countries as to how to create an enabling environment for accelerated hydrocarbon exploration and production. The country has made significant achievements in recent years, and by coming to Cape Town, engaging with stakeholders, and driving the discussion on upstream growth, H.E. Azevedo will play a central role in the African exploration dialogue.

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