[Column] NJ Ayuk: Africa’s gas markets interconnected and in a squeeze, going into 2023
The global gas markets are interconnected. As the recently released report from the African Energy Chamber (AEC), “The State of African Energy: 2023 Outlook,” notes, just how closely they’re linked becomes more apparent — and more important — during times of strife, such as the war in Ukraine.
Before invading Ukraine, Russia expected to increase its gas production by 800 billion cubic meters (bcm) by 2030, both to expand its presence in the Chinese market and to maintain its European market share. But just as Russia didn’t consider the possibility of a protracted conflict with Ukraine, it seems they also didn’t predict the response across Europe: Many customers expressed their outrage by cutting their imports of Russian natural gas.
The significant drop in export volumes to Europe is taking a substantial bite out of Russian revenues, which in turn means that some projects — like developing huge gas condensate resources in east Siberia and the Yamal Peninsula — will be delayed by at least three to four years. The AEC’s latest estimates see Russia’s average production loss at around 140 bcm per year between 2022 and 2030.
We’re All Connected
As Russian output decreases, global volumes of natural gas are expected to fall in the short term, despite additional production in North America.
Prior to 2022, global natural gas volumes were expected to rise marginally higher. But since the invasion of Ukraine, the AEC report indicates a 150 bcm decrease for this year and anticipates a 165 bcm decrease in 2023.
The decline over the medium term is even more striking: The average drop in global output between 2022 and 2030 is estimated to exceed 200 bcm per year.
Because of Russia’s dominance in the oil and gas industry, we’ll all feel the effects of their decreased production. The resulting squeeze on the global LNG market likely will continue to push natural gas prices higher around the world.
Changing Market Partners
What’s more, Europe’s attempt to wean itself from Russian gas has put it in a precarious situation. The region still needs huge volumes of liquefied natural gas (LNG) imports to fulfill their substantial energy needs. The chamber’s report anticipates Europe’s LNG demand to increase by 20-40 million tonnes per annum (mtpa) through 2030. Europe, wisely, has been considering multiple strategies to replace the gas it had been receiving from Russia, including more imports from Africa.
We expect to see Algeria, Egypt, and Nigeria leading African gas and LNG flows to Europe. This seems like a natural progression. After all, as Africa’s largest energy producers they already supply some natural gas to Europe and have enough capacity to increase production within the next few years.
While our report expects to see Africa’s overall natural gas production dip through 2025, LNG exports are expected to pick up in short term in response to Europe’s need. Algeria, for one, is already supplying fuel directly to Spain and Italy through two pipelines across the floor of the Mediterranean Sea. And with overall gas liquefaction capacity of about 75.3 mtpa, this activity could help solve Europe’s energy crunch in the medium term.
As I discussed back in August, a few other African countries are pursuing some exciting long-term natural gas developments that seem fit to help Europe free itself from its dependence on Russian gas:
- Tanzania and Mozambique: LNG plants capable of sending large volumes of fuel to European markets are expected near the end of the decade.
- Republic of Congo: A medium-scale modular project may begin production a few years earlier than planned.
- Mauritania and Namibia: Several completely new grassroots greenfield projects are under discussion.
- Angola: A group of international majors plans to bring new fields online to facilitate LNG production.
- Fortuna LNG in Equatorial Guinea
- GTA in Senegal and Mauritania
Search for a ‘Just’ Transition
What we find quite striking is that, amid campaigns for a carbon-neutral future, the pursuit of independence from Russian energy has softened Europe’s stance on natural gas. European countries, which had been heavily pushing for African nations to make a rapid transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources, have a renewed interest in investing in African gas. The European Union has even started referring to gas as a “green energy.” This reversal reveals a key lesson: Wealthy countries will always seek to safeguard their own energy security – at any cost.
This is not the case when it comes to radical environmental group extinction rebellion and privilege Europeans like Chloe Lebrand who have never spent a day without lights or gone hungry for a day. I wish they can swap places with black girls in Africa rather than crop them out. In their Orgarnisation, black women are not hired. They have made Africans fighting poverty their targets of their smear campaign against the gas industry. I bet to say it is very racial for rich white liberals to engage in this approach. White liberals are becoming the biggest stumbling block for black energy empowerment. It is disappointing and no African child deserves to be victim of their anti-African rhetoric and smears.
To be clear, I am glad Europe is looking at Africa’s natural gas in a new light. I see their softened stance as a win-win for both continents, one with the potential to speed up the development of African gas infrastructure while helping Europe meet a pressing need.
I would only encourage Western leaders and radical environmental activists from around the globe to stop dismissing Africa’s right to benefit from our natural gas reserves as well. It is time to stop demonizing our oil and gas industry and pressuring Africa to stop pursuing new natural gas projects. In light of our vast energy poverty—a crisis impacting more than 600 million Africans—it is not at all unreasonable to harness our resources for much-needed gas-to-power initiatives. Nor is it unreasonable to use our gas resources to foster economic growth, industrialize Africa, diversify our economies, and create a better future for our rapidly growing population. It is not unreasonable for Africa to set the timing for our transition to renewable energy sources, either.
Those are a few of the reasons that the AEC will continue working, unapologetically, well into the future to foster a thriving natural gas industry for Africa.
NJ Ayuk, is the Executive Chairman, African Energy Chamber