Nigeria: Opec, African Energy Firms Seek Cleaner Fuel

14 October 2021

Ahead of the United Nations (UN) Climate Change Conference (COP26) next month, African energy firms, the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), and the African Energy Chamber (AEC) are pushing for funding strategies that could spike the adoption of cleaner fuels in Africa.

At a virtual meeting to mark African Refiners and Distributors Association (ARDA) 15th anniversary/conference, ARDA experts from OPEC, AEC, and other groups noted that there are different strategies for the energy transition from fossil fuel to cleaner fuel use.

The UN COP26 holding from November 1 to 3, 2021, was earlier billed for November 2020, but was disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

At the conference, government officials are expected to discuss technical issues, including carbon credits, funding for countries vulnerable to climate change, and nature-based solutions in the first week of the summit. In the second week, heads of state are expected to meet to negotiate and reach agreements.

For the first time in history, the UNCOP is being held in the UK as Scotland's largest city, Glasgow, serves as host.

In his address at the African energy stakeholders' gathering, the Secretary-General of OPEC, Mohammed Sanusi Barkindo, said OPEC's World Oil Outlook projected cumulative oil-related investments of $11.8tn till 2045. This consists of $9.2tn for upstream, $1.5tn for downstream, and $1.1tn for midstream.

However, Barkindo stated that under-investment posed challenges that might worsen the global energy crisis.

The OPEC scribe also said Africa's oil and gas sector had a bright future with significant opportunities. Citing figures, he said in 2019, Africa produced about 8.5 million barrels per day of oil and currently had proven oil reserves of about 126 billion barrels as of 2019.

For the downstream, he stated that Africa's local refining capacity was expected to increase, with a corresponding reduction in imports, and that the continent's long-term demand growth would lead to about 5 million barrels per day of throughput in 2045.

The Minister of Mines, Petroleum, and Energy of the Republic of Cote D'Ivoire, Thomas Camara, stressed the need to secure the requisite funding to ensure that the energy transition is successful. This funding will be used for key projects, including upgrading African refineries to decrease the level of pollutants, developing LPG storage facilities, execution of power co-generation projects, and construction of pipeline networks to transport cleaner fuels across Africa.

The Executive Secretary of ARDA, Anibor Kragha, said Africa's energy transition plan(s) must focus first on cleaner cooking and transport fuels in the near term to reduce air pollution before embarking on global Net Zero Emission plans.

Nigeria's Minister of State for Petroleum, Chief Timipre Sylva, last week agreed with this notion when he said Nigeria rejected the one-way approach of energy transition but adopted multiple approaches, including the use of gas as the energy transition fuel to meet the Net Zero Emission timeline by 2050.

The Executive Chairman of AEC, NJ Ayuk, disclosed that Africa must not continue to depend on aid or foreign investors before solving the energy crisis. He also said Africa must tap existing resources and using those resources to address challenges on the continent before joining the broader global energy transition push.

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