Opinion: Guyana deserves to develop oil, gas discoveries, and so does Africa

African Energy Chamber November 05, 2023

(WO) – At a time when both African and Caribbean nations are making great strides towards developing recently discovered oil and gas reserves, countries whose development was driven by hydrocarbons are accelerating efforts to transition to a renewable energy future. This transition has seen wealthy nations establish a “green agenda,” one which does not take into consideration Africa’s economic needs. The African Energy Chamber, therefore, strongly calls for an end to the demonization of oil and gas, encouraging African and Caribbean nations to collaborate towards a common and fair energy agenda.

Source: African Energy Chamber

Africa and Guyana are just starting to uncover the true potential of their oil and gas resources. More than 30 discoveries were made in Guyana since 2015, with one block alone – operated by ExxonMobil – expected to hold as much as 11 Bboe. The same can be said for countries in Africa such as Namibia, with five major discoveries since 2022; Mozambique, with its major gas projects; Angola, Nigeria, Equatorial Guinea and many more. The green agenda fails to recognize the substantial potential resources such as natural gas – abundant in both Africa and the Caribbean – offer. Africa, for its part, holds over 600 Tcf of natural gas reserves, and yet continues to be told to leave these resources in the ground.

Unfortunately, climate panic and fear mongering are alive and well, and for some reason, Africa is public enemy number one. A continent that emits a negligible amount of carbon dioxide - at most, 3% of the world’s total emissions - is being disproportionately pegged as a threat to the planet by developed nations. In particular, the West is vilifying Africa’s energy industry because it is based on fossil fuels, even though the proportion of renewables is growing.  There’s no question that much of this anti-African oil and gas sentiment is based in fear of climate change, which is intertwined with the sheer terror that a fossil fuel boom in Africa, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, Suriname and other Caribbean nations could be devastating to the world at large.

For countries such as Mozambique, with 100 Tcf of proven reserves; Nigeria, with 200 Tcf of proven reserves; Angola, with 10 Tcf of proven, and many others, leaving gas in the ground is simply not an option. With significantly fewer emissions than resources such as coal, gas stands to play a catalyzing role in Africa. Through gas, the continent can bring economies to life, unlocking a prosperous future in the form of job creation, business opportunities, capacity building and monetization. Despite this potential, the green agenda advocates for an immediate transition, thereby ignoring the sustainable, logical and realistic solution gas provides. In this scenario, both Africa and Guyana are proposing an alternative agenda, one in which gas is developed to meet the current needs and future demand of nations. Through gas, countries will be strategically positioned to finance the transition to renewables.

“Demonizing the oil and gas industry must stop. We see it constantly, in the media, in policy and investment decisions, and in calls for Africa to leave our fossil fuels in the ground. We see it with lawsuits to stop the financing of projects such as Mozambique Liquefied Natural Gas or lawsuits to prevent Shell from even carrying out a seismic survey,” stated NJ Ayuk, Executive Chairman of the AEC. “Actions like these, even as Western leaders have pushed OPEC to produce oil and are pushing European nations to increase their own production and escalate coal use, are not fair, and they’re not helpful.”

Africa is on a mission to make energy poverty history by 2030 and this can only be achieved through oil and gas. Currently, over 600 million people are without access to electricity while over 900 million are without access to clean cooking solutions. The wealthy nations green agenda does not consider how much Africa needs natural gas to bring electricity to the growing number of Africans and Caribbeans living without it. They do not understand that we, as Africans, are focused on growing Africa’s energy mix to include fossil fuels and renewables, instead of insisting on an all or nothing approach to our energy transition. Africa’s energy and economic future hinges on an integrated, not separated, energy mix.

As such, countries are calling for a new discussion to take place at COP28 in Dubai, one in which both Africa and the Caribbeans voices are not only heard but a part of. During the African Energy Week 2023 conference this October, African leaders emphasized the critical need to adopt an Africa-centric and just energy transition, one that heavily incorporates oil and gas. Global leaders, financial institutions and project developers should comply with this agenda, putting a continent’s needs before the world’s problems.

“I also would respectfully ask financial institutions to resume financing for African oil and gas projects and stop attempting to block projects like the East African Crude Oil Pipeline or Mozambique’s LNG projects,” Ayuk concluded.

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