At a time when global pressure to transition away from oil and gas is growing, Africa’s resources have a critical role to play in making energy poverty history, enabling much-needed energy security while kickstarting a new era of industrialization and economic growth. Considering this role, H.E. Gabriel Mbaga Obiang Lima, Minister of Mines and Hydrocarbons of Equatorial Guinea and the President of both Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and the Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF) for 2023 emphasized his objectives for both OPEC and the GECF this year, reiterating that natural gas serves as the fuel of the future in Africa.
According to H.E. Minister Lima, “This is a very special and challenging year. For us in Equatorial Guinea, it is special because we hold the Presidency of both organizations. For both OPEC and the GECF, a lot of our objectives are similar.”
In this role, Equatorial Guinea has the opportunity to not only advance its own energy development agenda but the African continents at large. As such, H.E. Minister Lima has made clear his objectives for the year, emphasizing energy poverty eradication, energy security and climate change as key factors.
“As African members, one key aspect that is important for us is energy poverty. We still have many people that lack access to electricity and energy for cooking. Another issue that will be important for these organizations is to be able to have energy security. Additionally, and one which will be important for me, is that both organizations have a large number of African members, but at the same time we have many African members that are still discovering oil and gas. We want to encourage them to participate as members for us to have a collective organization. Another issue that is important for us is climate change. It is important for us to be able to mitigate the problems that come with climate change. Lastly, is what I call the Equatorial Guinea mark. I want to take this opportunity to cooperate with other members to be able to develop this resource for our population,” stated H.E. Minister Lima during an interview.
While focus is being placed on climate change, the African continent’s growing energy poverty challenges have made clear that different priorities need to be addressed. Specifically, while the world decarbonizes, H.E. Minister Lima emphasized that Africa should industrialize, utilizing its significant oil and gas resources to usher in a new era of market growth and economic prosperity.
“We have different priorities. We have close to 600 million people without access to electricity and 900 million without access to clean cooking. Clearly, hydrocarbons will be an important part of this development, and African countries need to have the chance to develop,” stated H.E. Minister Lima, adding that, “Africa needs to be able to develop their resources, mainly because we need to be able to jump into industrialization. Another issue that is important for us, is that for many years, resources have been used for other industries and markets. This will require that our own African markets are developed so that in the future, we can use that oil and gas to create employment and take us to the next level of development.”
For the continent’s developmental agenda, natural gas represents the ideal solution, boasting significantly less emissions and representing one of the most widely available resources on the continent. In this scenario, both H.E. Minister Lima and the GECF are pursuing an accelerated gas agenda.
“Gas is good for Africa. Many of the African GECG members who have hydrocarbons have been in the situation where they do not have a use for that gas. Now, GECF will have an important role to recommend, coupled with the technology and know-how to be able to know how to do it,” H.E. Minister Lima continued, emphasizing Equatorial Guinea’s top priorities in 2023 and beyond. “Regarding gas, we are continuing with the development of the gas mega hub. We have finished phase 1, and now, we will be launching phase 2 and 3 this year. These will allow our plant to have a longer period of life and production. Regarding oil, many of our contracts are about to expire so we will be going to the next phase, where we will become operators. We will modify infrastructure while continuing with the drilling campaign. We are engaging exploration companies to come to the country.”