#AEW2023 Panel Explores Fundamentals of African Petroleum Systems

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The 2023 edition of the African Energy Week (AEW) conference and exhibition featured a panel session focused on the fundamentals of exploration in Africa’s petroleum system.

Hosted by EnerGeo Alliance, the panel session took a scientific view of Africa’s petroleum resources, highlighting the importance of hydrocarbons, particularly liquid fuels, in the continent’s future energy mix.

“Greater than 50% of the energy mix will be oil and gas, even by 2050,” stated Phil Birch, Impact Oil and Gas Exploration Director, adding, “The increase in indigenous sources of energy and indigenous sources of hydrocarbons will prevent further energy poverty and also prevent nations from having to source really expensive fuel oil.”

Boasting favorable legislative and regulatory systems throughout much of the continent’s largest hydrocarbons producers, rights to explore, produce, establish facilities, and transport petroleum resources was noted as a requisite for Africa to enable the next generation of major discoveries.

“Uncertainty has a cost, so more predictability is better for bringing interested investors,” stated Rune Olav Pedersen, CEO of global geophysical company, PGS, adding, “When a licensing round has been held, it is clear to everyone what the terms are, and then negotiations rise up. So, limiting the time period between the award and signing agreements will cut down on periods of uncertainty.”

Meanwhile, the panel explored market factors – including geopolitical tensions and the global energy transition – as a means for Africa to benefit from its natural endowment of vast petroleum resources. The panel also highlighted technology as an imperative tool to ensure new opportunities in some of the continent’s more mature fields.

“We believe the future for energy is lower-carbon and that energy truly does enable human progress,” stated Liz Schwarze, Chevron Vice President of Global Exploration adding, “At Chevron, we are investing in our oil and gas business, including recovery technologies and exploration to find additional resources to offset depleting rouses and fields. And we’re also investing in newer forms of energy and technology, like carbon capture, sequestration, geothermal, etc. and we’ve been very consistent in this approach.”

“It’s going to take a number of different technologies to unlock this opportunity, and speaking in the seismic space, SLB has seen quite a lot of innovation in a few different areas, particularly near-field development while leveraging existing date to create really detailed earth models,” stated Tristan Allen, SLB Global New Ventures Manager.

Africa boasts considerable crude oil reserves, estimated to a total combined 125.3 billion barrels. The continent’s oil output – at 7.9 million barrels per day – accounted for approximately 9.6% of the global output in 2019, resulting in a revival of oil and gas exploration in Africa. It was concluded during the panel discussion that, given the exponential rise in global population – estimated to rise to 10 billion by 2050 – new technologies and more efficient extraction techniques for hydrocarbons will be imperative to making energy poverty in Africa history by 2030.

Taking place under the theme, ‘The African Energy Renaissance: Prioritizing Energy Poverty, People, the Planet, Industrialization and Free Markets’, this year’s edition of AEW aims to chart a new course for Africa’s energy landscape. As such, citing Africa’s rich hydrocarbon endowment and frontier discoveries in Namibia, Côte d’Ivoire, and South Africa, the panel positioned petroleum development as the key to alleviating energy poverty and spurring industrialization across the continent.

#AEW2023 – organized by the African Energy Chamber – takes place this week in Cape Town under a mandate to make energy poverty history by 2030. Keep following www.aecweek.com for more exciting information and updates about Africa’s premier energy event.