From Gas to Liquids – An African Promise

From Gas to Liquids – An African Promise

Africa holds plenty of promise when it comes to unexplored regions both on and offshore for oil & gas.

Most recently Mozambique, Tanzania, Kenya and South Africa have been a hot topic with respect to massive LNG potential luring investors into exploring its coastal waters.

More recently at the 2013 OTC conference in Houston, the National Petroleum Institute of Mozambique (INP) together with Anadarko announced +65 TCF of natural gas reserves have already been confirmed in Area 1 Block, in total its offshore fields may hold as much as 250 TCF speculating that Mozambique will have the 3rd or 4th largest LNG reserves in the World. Anadarko & ENI hold the majority of the exploration rights. The potential positive economic impact for the country is substantial, with more than 20,000 potential jobs that can be created during the construction and operation phases. Initial plans for the Gas processing facilities in Palma, north of Pemba, include 4 trains with expected production capacity of around 20 MMTPA (~400,000 BOEPD) which may later be expanded to 14 trains (over 100 MMTPA). A massive marine terminal will be built expected to be almost 2 km in length in order to meet offloading capacity onto LNG tankers exporting the commodity globally.

Also in South Africa Anadarko, ExxonMobil and Shell are all actively exploring new opportunities – with Anadarko having acquired the rights to two massive blocks offshore located southwest of Cape Town[1]. With its carbon-rich history, South Africa will soon neither be remembered for the source of the largest diamond in the world (The Cullinan or Star of Africa weighing over 3,100 Carat[2]) nor for having a couple of the largest coal-fired power plants in the world supplying over 90% of the nation’s power demands. Instead South Africa, via its previously state owned Sasol, aims to become the world’s leading experts in synthetic fuels production with its gas-to-liquid (GTL) and coal-to-liquid (CTL) processing experience using the Fischer-Tropsch process. They already managed to successfully commercialise this in 1955 in order to meet South Africa’s petroleum demands. Its CTL Secunda plant can produce 160,000 barrels per day – supplying over 35% of the Nation’s transportation fuel requirements. With demand exceeding coal supply, Sasol is now looking to expand its access to LNG from Mozambique, already running an 865km pipeline, in order grow its local GTL capacity. It may also further diversify its downstream application of LNG, including power generation. With its sights set on the global market, Sasol is planning to build the second largest 11-14 billion USD GTL plant in the world in Louisiana – capable of producing 96,000 barrels of fuel a day[3].

To the southwest of the African continent HRT recently drilled to a depth of over 5km offshore Namibia discovering oil although not at commercial volumes as yet[4]. Tullow Oil will operate the Kudu field offshore Namibia at a depth of only 170m aiming to supply a gas-to-power project currently expected to start FEED later this year[5].

Altogether the coastal waters of Southern African coastlines hold much promise – although a combination of political stability and substantial foreign investments will hold key to successfully commercialising Exploration and Production activities, much needed in order to accelerate local economic development through the generation of jobs and revenue in Africa.

Written by:

Gijsbert Bakker

Business Development Manager (Cape Town, SA)
The Global Edge Consultants is a full service firm specializing in the recruitment of technical and project personnel for industries such as Government, Oil and Gas, Petrochemical, Chemical, Engineering, Power, Nuclear and Manufacturing. Check out our careers page!

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