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Republic of Congo debuts first LNG carrier, paving the way for major gas exportation news

Republic of Congo debuts first LNG carrier, paving the way for major gas exportation

The launch of the Republic of the Congo's first LNG carrier, emerging from the nation's premier Congo LNG Project, showcases the country's firm dedication to responsibly harnessing its natural resources and advancing towards a more sustainable and eco-friendly economy.

This inaugural LNG delivery stands ready to bolster the local electricity supply and provide essential gas to other countries, marking a significant step forward in the Republic of the Congo's energy sector.

With its first LNG delivery, the Republic of the Congo takes a historic step in the development of its burgeoning hydrocarbons sector. The tanker was launched in the presence of the Republic of the Congo’s President Denis Sassou N’Guesso and Minister of Hydrocarbons Bruno Jean-Richard Itoua and is set to meet the country’s stated goal of becoming one of the globe’s major LNG exporters.

First gas for the Congo LNG project– which is strongly supported by the African Energy Chamber (AEC) – the voice of Africa’s energy sector – boasts a liquefaction production capacity of 1 billion cubic meters (bcm) per year and was received in December 2023. The project leverages gas resources and existing production infrastructure from the Marine XII concession - roughly 3km offshore the Republic of the Congo. As such, with a specific focus on exporting its natural gas and oil resources to Europe, the long-awaited expansion of the Marine XII project is set to raise the country’s hydrocarbons output to 500,000 barrels of oil per day (bpd) and 4.5 bcm of gas within two years.

LNG production at the project will be driven further by the arrival of a second LNG vessel with a capacity of 3.5 bcm, which is currently under construction and will begin production in 2024. This additional unit will be able to store over 180,000 cubic meters of LNG, which will be used to meet domestic demand.
Aimed at driving the optimal exploitation of the Republic of the Congo’s abundant gas resources – which are estimated at 10 trillion cubic feet – and boasting a zero-flaring technological approach, the entire volume of LNG produced from the project will be marketed to international buyers by energy supermajor Eni.

Meanwhile, with the anticipated start-up of the Republic of the Congo’s new 50,000 bpd refinery - due to come online in 2025 - the country is set to become self-sufficient in domestic demand while leaving excess production available for further export to international markets. Construction of the refinery is slated to begin in Q1 2024, with production expected to start 18 months later.

With a focus on natural gas monetization and development, the Republic of the Congo launched its Gas Master Plan (GMP) during the 2021 edition of the African Energy Week (AEW) conference and exhibition – the continent’s largest energy event that drives investment into African energy growth with the mandate of making energy poverty in the continent history by 2030. Comprising a framework that aims to incentivize the development of and investment into the Republic of Congo’s natural gas sector, the plan presents significant investment opportunities for regional and international stakeholders.

The GMP is being implemented with full support from the country’s NOC SNPC Congo – spearheaded by Director General Maixent Raoul Ominga - as well as a number of IOCs participating in the country’s upstream sector. These include supermajors Chevron, TotalEnergies and Eni, as well as independent hydrocarbon producers Perenco and Lukoil.

“Through initiatives such as the GMP, the Republic of the Congo is making great strides towards capitalizing on its natural gas wealth. The country’s gas resources stand to play a central role in facilitating global energy security while accelerating a transition to a decarbonized energy future. The launch of the first carrier from the Congo LNG Project is a testament to this and we are proud to have reached this milestone,” stated Minister Itoua.  

As a testament to the NOC’s dedication towards hydrocarbon exploration in the country, the SNPC, Eni and Lokoil signed a contract for the purchase and sale of LNG in September 2023, showcasing a commitment towards harnessing the Republic of the Congo’s natural gas potential for both domestic and international opportunities. The deal will leverage resources from the Marine XII permit while utilizing income derived from the project to support the country’s electricity, mining, agriculture and industries sectors, thereby promoting diversification and socioeconomic development.

The Republic of the Congo is also the fifth largest exporter of crude oil in Africa, with an average export volume of 210,000 bpd at its flagship Djeno crude in 2022. The country also produces and exports light sweet M’Kossa and heavy sweet Yombo crude derivatives, primarily to Chinese markets.

“It’s safe to say that the Republic of the Congo is closing in on its LNG export dream and proving to the world that there are ways to monetize immense natural gas discoveries while helping to decarbonize the world’s energy mix,” states NJ Ayuk, Executive Chairman of the AEC. “With such exciting developments on the way in the country, the Republic of the Congo will be able to drive investment and establish itself as a competitive market.”

The Republic of the Congo’s hydrocarbons strategy and GMP aligns with the AEW conference’s agenda to open the dialogue on Africa’s energy strategy. By presenting stakeholders with valuable insight into current and emerging natural gas markets, and by explicating transformative gas plans such as that of the Republic of the Congo’s, this year’s upcoming AEW: Invest in African Energy conference in November aims to promote and drive investment into Africa’s hydrocarbons sector.

www.energychamber.org

 


 

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