With the demand for oil and gas expected to remain strong until 2050, African nations are turning to technological advancements to improve output at mature assets while reducing overall costs and carbon emissions.
Global energy demand is projected to increase steadily by 2050, with oil continuing to dominate the market. For African producers, this spells new opportunities for nations to bolster economic growth on the back of revenue generated from petroleum. However, the African Energy Chamber (AEC) notes in its Q2, 2023 Outlook, The State of African Energy, that all major producers across the continent are already going through terminal declines in production, largely due to natural declines in legacy oilfields. As such, many nations are turning to digitization to maximize output and revenue while reducing costs and carbon emissions. Ultimately, the deployment of digital tools such as Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR), reservoir management and monitoring techniques is expected to unlock hidden value from Africa’s maturing basins.
During this year’s edition of the African Energy Week (AEW) conference – taking place on October 16-20 in Cape Town – a panel of industry experts will discuss this very topic. A strategic session entitled, ‘Unlocking Hidden Value: Maximizing Revenue in Africa’s Mature Fields,’ will delve into the strategies producing nations are deploying to stay ahead of the production curb.
The COVID-19 pandemic coupled with both geopolitical and energy transition-related challenges has accelerated the need for digital rollout across Africa’s oilfields, in part because countries have had to adopt digital tools to reduce costs and carbon emissions while meeting rising demand. Currently, legacy fields account for 30% of African production. The continent’s biggest producers (Angola, Nigeria, Algeria, Libya and Egypt) – which account for 80% of Africa’s liquid output – are left with a choice: adopt digitization techniques or risk losing out on the opportunities presented by rising global demand.
Digitization and optimization technologies have emerged as principal cost-cutting and value addition solutions. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and data analytics play a vital role in monitoring reservoir performance, predicting decline patterns and identifying potential areas for enhanced recovery. Such digital applications essentially unite real-time data with advanced analytics to improve decision-making and boost efficiency. Optimizing production through such technologies is estimated to generate up to $20 million in annualized cash flows on a 100-well project.
Meanwhile, effective reservoir management is deemed crucial for extending the lifespan of mature fields while maintaining steady production. Integrated reservoir modelling and simulation tools can not only help companies understand reservoir characteristics but essentially improve decision-making regarding well-placement, drilling and production. Water or gas injection technologies as well as periodic well testing can manage production decline by optimizing performance and efficiency. Coupled with EOR techniques such as thermal methods (steam injection); chemical methods (utilizing surfactants to alter fluid properties); and gas injection, which help mobilize trapped oil, companies can boost output at legacy fields while effectively reducing overall costs and emissions.
Various E&P and tech companies are already turning to digitization to revive legacy fields in Africa. In November 2021, engineering firms Avanceon and PE Energy partnered to provide digital solutions to revive the Kalaekule oilfield in Nigeria while technology provider Huawei launched an all-digital oilfield Internet of Things solution in 2020 to enhance operational transparency and security in the O&G industry – a solution which is currently being deployed across several Nigerian oilfields. Angola’s National Oil Company (NOC) Sonangol is also exploring the use of advanced EOR techniques and AI models while Algeria’s NOC Sonatrach is investing $4 billion in the onshore Blocks 404 and 208, with the scope of work including the implementation of digital solutions for oilfields and of two EOR pilot projects. However, digitization requires further attention if nations are to mitigate production decline in both the near- and long-term.
The AEW 2023 panel discussion will address how African producers can deliver higher returns more sustainability. Conversations around the application of digital tools and the adoption of EOR techniques will be integrated with ideas on how nations can attract the investments they need to accelerate digitization across the industry. Thought-leaders will explore potential partnership opportunities, methods of stimulating skills and technology transfer and how regulation can serve as a catalyst for unlocking value through technology. As the premier event for the African oil and gas sector, AEW tackles the most pressing issues in the industry, thereby better equipping companies and countries to make energy poverty history by 2030.
AEW is the AEC’s annual energy event uniting African government and policymakers with global investors and project developers. The event takes place this October in Cape Town and represents the biggest gathering of energy stakeholders on the continent. For more information, visit www.aecweek.com.