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Operators looking for oil and gas “elephants” across Africa


With the oil price heading for the US$80 on the first day of the Africa E&P Summit, which opened today in London, ambitious operators are seeing multiple opportunities and seeking out the “elephants” – the remaining big hydrocarbons discoveries across the continent

Access to energy will be boosted by oil and gas investment in Africa. (Image Source: Rod Waddington/Flickr) Access to energy will be boosted by oil and gas investment in Africa

Speakers at the opening session were upbeat about the opportunities that exist in Africa, particularly in regard to gas-to-power to meet the continent’s energy demands with a growing population and increased urbanisation. Access to energy is still a major issue particularly in sub-Saharan Africa.

Craig Goulder, VP for exploration, Woodside Energy, highlighted the links between poverty, average life expectancy (60 years for people living in sub-Saharan Africa) and access to reliable electricity (less than 40 per cent of people in sub-Saharan Africa have access to power). Woodside has a deepwater focus in Senegal, Morocco and Gabon, with LNG technology playing an important role, as well as other advances such as the Internet of Things, big data, robotics and cognitive computing. In regard to attractive countries for investment, Mr Goulder cited factors such as emerging plays, attractive fiscal regimes and the need for transparency as being critical in deciding where Woodside will invest.

Tracey Henderson, senior vice president, exploration, Kosmos Energy, said the company’s main focus was on the enormous discoveries off the coast of Senegal and Mauritania, with gas rather than oil taking centre stage. She said the peak oil was reached in Africa in 2010 while peak gas is still distant. “The demand for gas is growing in Africa,” Ms Henderson told the conference. “Oil has not really delivered the catalyst for progress that was hoped, but gas can.” FLNG and FSRU projects, as well as conventional onshore LNG, will help deliver gas to new markets and create new demand, according to Ms Henderson. FID on the Tortue project for Senegal and Mauritania is expected by the end of the year, with first gas expected in 2021 and FLNG as a “key enabler” for the “accelerated timeline”.

The aim is for gas to be used to supply power for both countries.

Senegal is also the focus for Cairn Energy. Eric Hathon, the company’s exploration director, said first oil is expected between 2021 and 2023 on an investment that was made in 2014. “We need to benefit not just us and our shareholders, but also the people of Senegal,” Mr Hathon said in regard to the company’s corporate social responsibility programme and commitment to training Senegalese employees.

As well as the emerging markets of Senegal and Mauritania, the “old guard” markets, such as Nigeria, are seeking to innovate.

Austin Avuru, CEO, Seplat Petroleum, spoke about the work his company has been doing in the established market of Nigeria. “The Nigerian story is changing,” he told delegates. “We are seeing independents coming in where majors are dropping out … it takes a lot of courage.” Mr Avuru said there is “huge potential” in the domestic market as well as export markets such as Europe and Asia.

At a domestic level, “low gas consumption, low electricity availability and low domestic competition” are opportunities, he said. Establishing a diversified portfolio with gas as a hedge against risk and establishing “robust relationships with local communities” were the words of advice from Mr Avuru for operating successfully in Nigeria.


25 Comments on "Operators looking for oil and gas “elephants” across Africa"

  1. Shortend on Fri, 25th May 2018 8:46 am 

    Looking off shore….for GAS…sounds real inexpensive operations…. Good luck
    Another PR BS article from the Financial
    VooDoo Debt Sellers….
    Couldn’t make this up…

  2. dave thompson on Fri, 25th May 2018 8:52 am 

    All of the big elephants have been found and slaughtered.

  3. Sissyfuss on Fri, 25th May 2018 9:40 am 

    Double entendre much, dt?

  4. Outcast_Searcher on Fri, 25th May 2018 10:12 am 

    Higher oil prices will ramp up exploration. Why should anyone be surprised. They will also ramp up incentives to produce more of what has been found, as long as producers think the high prices can be maintained.

  5. MASTERMIND on Fri, 25th May 2018 11:56 am 


    New oil discoveries peaked in the 1960’s..And we have found less oil every decade since..No matter what the price of oil was..our problem is a geology issue, not a money issue.

  6. dave thompson on Fri, 25th May 2018 12:04 pm 

    Sissyfuss, It was meant as a metaphor. A double entendre has a sexual connotation.

  7. Cloggie on Fri, 25th May 2018 12:40 pm 

    Not sure what a “gas elephant” is. Even less sure if I want to meet one. But I am 100% sure I do not want to smell one.

  8. Sissyfuss on Fri, 25th May 2018 3:03 pm 

    Aue contraire, DTs. The first definition in the dictionary is ” a double meaning”. The second mentions that one may or may not be risque. Your serve.

  9. Duncan Idaho on Fri, 25th May 2018 3:04 pm 

    The elephants are extinct.
    Might find a few rats and cockroaches though–
    Although they may take more energy to catch, than you are going to get out of them.

  10. dave thompson on Fri, 25th May 2018 3:36 pm 

    Sissyfuss, First definition from Websters;

    Definition of double entendre
    plural double entendres play \ same also -ˈtäⁿz; -ˈtän-drəz\
    1 linguistics : a word or expression capable of two interpretations with one usually risqué flirty talk full of double entendres
    2 literature : ambiguity of meaning arising from language that lends itself to more than one interpretation

  11. dave thompson on Fri, 25th May 2018 3:39 pm 

    Sissyfuss, The point is that humans have found and are burning through all of the “elephant” oil fields. In all likelihood there are no more to be found.

  12. Harquebus on Fri, 25th May 2018 5:25 pm 

    “When the missionaries came to Africa, they had the Bible and we had the land. They said, ‘Let us pray.’ We closed our eyes. When we opened them, we had the Bible and they had the land.” — Desmond Tutu

  13. Sissyfuss on Fri, 25th May 2018 5:31 pm 

    DT , you’re making a mountain out of elephant mound. I’m an ultra doomer and while both interpretations are correct we still both lose.

  14. dave thompson on Fri, 25th May 2018 6:05 pm 

    Sissyfuss, No mountain only pointing out your incorrect assessment of my original post. And making the point about finding new large oil fields.

  15. MASTERMIND on Fri, 25th May 2018 6:31 pm 

    The 2020s Might Be The Worst Decade In U.S. History

    And this writer is totally unaware global oil production is peaked and we are headed for a massive oil price spike and global oil shortages around 2020 as well..

    Mark my words..This world will burn..

  16. Manila1 on Fri, 25th May 2018 7:12 pm 

    MM, The Us will definitely “burn”. As for the rest, well, some heat for sure, but not on the Us scale. The Us is due for some serious blow-back from their plunder and killing around the world. Well deserved. Be patient.

  17. MASTERMIND on Fri, 25th May 2018 7:22 pm 


    One thing I have thought about is..When the oil shortages hit..What if the rest of the world freaks out at the US.. Since we have by far consumed the most oil over the last fifty years..And do so right now currently..What if they all rationalize it by saying ‘we would have had plenty of oil left for us and our children if it wasn’t for those bastards in the US all driving trucks everywhere and fighting endless wars..And what if they all or a bunch want to team up and attack us as payback?

  18. Davy on Fri, 25th May 2018 7:34 pm 

    3rd world, when you go back to your shit hole town in the P’s you will be setting yourself up for some heat when the food stops.

  19. Davy on Fri, 25th May 2018 7:47 pm 

    OOps, somebody is lying

    “MH17: Russia ‘liable’ for downing airliner over Ukraine”

    “Australia and the Netherlands say they are holding Russia responsible for downing a Malaysia Airlines passenger jet in 2014.”

    “The team of international investigators, however, found that “all the vehicles in a convoy carrying the missile were part of the Russian armed forces”. It was fired from rebel-held territory in eastern Ukraine.”

  20. Pat on Sat, 26th May 2018 4:23 am 

    the 2020 is too far world will see crisis of oil by end of 2018. There will be epic proportion event begin 2019 the worst being US people will prep, start to head to safe heavens, places which can provide safety, food, water on self sustain basis, best place on earth can be new zealand..the world global economy, trade will collapse and many not going to survive. It is geological on epic proportions as world searches for Rats, elephants of gas, oil pockets after all high quality, easy oil had been found, consumed. Prepare.. can head for safe heavens, God blesss….

  21. Cloggie on Sat, 26th May 2018 4:45 am 

    “OOps, somebody is lying”

    Indeed and probably not the Russians.

    MH17 needs to be seen in a geopolitical context, where the West (US + Germany) successfully had overthrown a legitimate democratically elected government in Kiev in order to transfer the Ukraine from the 1000 year old Russian sphere of influence in that of the 1945 upstart construct “The West” = US empire (may the devil get it).

    The point to make is that Russia absolutely had zero interest in downing a western airliner. At best a mistake was made by Russian rebels, who took the MH17 for a Ukrainian army Antonov or similar, but it is unlikely. But most likely the MH17 was downed by a Ukrainian jet fighter with the purpose of blaming it on Russia. Numerous eyewitnesses have said that a fighter jet was near the MH17 when it came down. The very fact that potential culprit Ukraine is part of the official, Dutch-led investigation and Russia is not, speaks volumes. This is a political investigation with the purpose to demonize Russia, with NATO club Bellingcat acting supposedly as an independent investigation team:


    Until real evidence is presented, I give Russia the benefit of the doubt, not the West.

  22. Davy on Sat, 26th May 2018 4:51 am 

    “Indeed and probably not the Russians.”
    Oops that sure messes with the neder’s PBM empire message

    “Until real evidence is presented, I give Russia the benefit of the doubt, not the West.”
    Sure you do neder because that is how your emotional extremist agenda works. It has to be this way or the puzzle doesn’t come together.

  23. Simon on Sat, 26th May 2018 7:31 am 

    Hi Dave

    To be fair if the Russians shot this down (not arguing the point) it was a scared grunt in a military convoy that has seen the damage planes can do, so he just killed it.

    The real culprit, is the fecking idiot who allowed a passenger plane to fly over a war zone.


  24. Davy on Sat, 26th May 2018 7:40 am 

    I am not arguing the point. I have no opinion because this whole issue is part of an ongoing political mess. Both sides will lie to cover their asses. I agree with you that the airline is to blame for flying over this war zone. That was complete negligence.

  25. twocats on Sat, 26th May 2018 7:41 am 

    this article is more of a sales pitch than a reflection of reality. lets see some numbers

    Barclays baker hughes is saying 7.3% rise in 2017 from 2016 and still below 2015. if even close to true it is hard to believe that will be enough.

    Mckinsey says even by 2021 budgets will probably not exceed 2014 levels.

    the reality is oil and gas companies aren’t looking very hard for new oil and gas because even if they find it it’s too expensive to produce and get to market because they’re in hard to reach parts of the globe or complex fields. that’s why they went all in on shale – it might be expensive but at least you get more than a dry well at the end of the day. the math and risks are simpler and well-known.

    but even that shale shell game has an expiration date. the wall of debt that SRSrocco has been stressing

    is upon us. the strains are apparent everywhere. get out and enjoy these final days if you can.

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