Wednesday, June 12, 2024
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Friends of the Earth: Now that the North Doesn’t Need African Energy, Oil and Gas Must Stay in the Ground

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Following a series of attacks during the Invest in African Energy forum in Paris this May, environmental group Friends of the Earth has attempted to justify their actions at the event – a forum which sought to increase investment in African energy and bolster Africa’s economic development. The group stated that it is an “illusion” that developing oil and gas will lead to development in Africa, despite stating that the Global North has used African resources to develop for decades.

Friends of the Earth Africa explained to Rigzone that, “Fossil fuels have been extracted from different parts of the African continent for more than 60 years, mostly for export to serve the countries of the global North.”

This is true. They continue to explain that this has resulted in environmental degradation, gas flaring, negative health impacts, human rights abuses and more, all while 600 million people lack access to electricity and 700 million have no access to clean cooking solutions. This is also true, and yet, rather ironically, the group continues to demonize the development of oil and gas in Africa at a time when the continent is planning to utilize these resources to address its own energy access and clean cooking challenges.

As sovereign nations, African countries have the right and the responsibility to use their natural resources to improve the lives of their people. At the African Energy Chamber (AEC) – the voice of Africa’s energy industry – we are confident that we can, indeed, achieve this goal – despite blatant and spiteful attacks by foreign environmental groups. It is disheartening to see groups like Friends of the Earth pursuing actions that could jeopardize Africa’s oil and gas development all in the name of preventing climate change. Never mind the importance of natural gas to Africans; of its potential to grow and diversify economies; of the role it will play in alleviating energy poverty and bolstering clean cooking access; of the considerable time and resources that African governments have invested in making LNG projects possible.

“This is not the first time that non-Africans have attempted to interfere with Africa’s oil and gas industry. International organizations such as the World Bank, the International Energy Agency and private investors face pressure by environmental groups to stop financing African fossil fuel production,” states NJ Ayuk, Executive Chairman of the AEC.

Natural gas, in particular, is set to transform African countries. Mozambique, for example, has placed gas-to-power at the very heart of its development plans. The country has over 100 trillion cubic feet of offshore gas reserves, with the 450 MW Temane power plant on track for production in 2024. Energy major TotalEnergies has also announced plans to supply 1,000 MW of electricity to South Africa from the Matola LNG-to-power project in Mozambique.

In North Africa, Algeria has used gas to not only power its economy, but also generate revenue that feeds into other industries across the country. The country is the fifth largest LNG producer globally and has used export revenues to develop its local power generation and transmission infrastructure. Power plants consume 40% of the country’s gas resources and the country enjoys an electrification rate of 99.8%.

Nigeria is on a similar trajectory. At over 200 tcf, the country has the largest gas reserves in Africa, with the share of gas in the domestic energy mix projected to increase to 57% by 2040. The $2 billion Egbin Phase II project is expected to come online this year, increasing output by an additional 1,900 MW at the 1,320 MW facility. Construction has also started on a 1.35 GW gas-to-power project, developed by technology company GE Vernova, while the Nigeria LNG Train Expansion project – a $5 billion development – will increase the Nigeria LNG terminal production capacity by 35%.

Angola is already taking concrete steps towards eliminating gas flaring – having endorsed the World Bank’s Zero Routine Flaring by 2030 initiative – and positioning natural gas as a key pillar of economic growth. TotalEnergies recently achieved FID on its Cameia-Golfinho gas field development, which is set to utilize a zero-flaring concept and supply gas to a combined cycle turbine to produce electricity for domestic use. Development of the Quiluma and Maboqueiro fields – the country’s first non-associated gas project – is also underway and will supply the Angola LNG facility.

Meanwhile, the Republic of Congo is finalizing its Gas Master Plan, which will provide a framework for harnessing natural gas both for domestic consumption and export. The country exported its first LNG cargo from the Congo LNG project earlier this year, and with 10 tcf of natural gas resources, is well on its way to monetizing untapped reserves. Yet, Friends of the Earth – a group which has also benefited from African resources – believes they know what is best for the continent. They believe that their solutions, and not the ones of Africans, should be adopted. They are proving time and time again that they have no qualms in dismissing African voices.

“Africa cannot be a continent where our budgets are left to donors. Every time we go begging to other countries for aid, the dignity of Africans suffers. What the AEC is advocating for – and will continue fighting for despite attempts by foreign groups to disrupt progress – is for all Africans to have the dignity of work, the ability to build better lives and to harness their natural resources to alleviate energy poverty. We want an Africa that not only develops but thrives, and leveraging natural gas is the only feasible path to achieving that goal,” added Ayuk.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of African Energy Chamber.

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