Challengers and Change-makers
The theme of Africa Oil & Power, Catalysts for Change, encompasses the major changes that African governments and firms are undergoing in 2017, and the significant developments in the oil, gas, power and finance industries in response to a sustained low oil price. We asked the leading voices in the African oil, gas and power business to give us their views on the drivers for change and the challenges to established practices in the energy industry.
Sufian Hemed Bukurura
Tanzania Petroleum Development Corporation
Emerging market investors and operators are among the drivers for change. Chinese companies – especially through the EXIM Bank of China, which has enormous reserves – are doing wonders, and cannot be ignored. So are financiers from India. These international investors are changing the investment norms and dynamics to a greater degree than we have ever witnessed in the past.
Co-Founder & Managing Director
I believe local companies will be the drivers for change in the African oil and gas sectors. Local content paired with a withdrawal by IOCs from marginal field provinces will boost the presence of, and transfer of know-how to, indigenous players. This is good news as these companies run on lower cost-bases, meaning cheaper production; they are more intimately tied to local communities, meaning more local jobs and greater respect for local environment; and they are more committed to their country and government, meaning more sustainable practices. On the downside, efficiency levels will decrease due to a less developed skill base and less financial muscle.
Market uncertainty and concerns over the new US administration’s impact on the global oil and gas industry have created an environment where it is difficult to attract funding for projects in the near term, and independents and major oil companies alike will need to look at non-traditional sources of funding. I think you will find that bank-sourced debt funding will be challenging, and sources of funding going forward might likely be from private equity, development-type institutions and export-import banks.
Additionally, I believe there will be a significant shift in the types of projects being considered for development. Those companies experiencing stress from overleveraged capital positions will be forced to optimize their balance sheets by focusing on assets that are near to production, and putting aside those that require more time and money to reach production. We will see companies moving to shallow water fields with good reserves and low capital requirements. It is going to be very difficult to find funding for deep water drilling in the current environment. None of this means that the business of oil production is coming to an end; it just means that projects will be done more selectively, based on available funding and the quality of the inherent risk.
South African Oil & Gas Alliance
Creating a gas economy in South Africa could have a catalytic effect. If we can land LNG economically and use it in power and industry, we can begin to create an energy ecosystem that drives growth and jobs, and also helps reduce our carbon footprint. Thereafter, if we find indigenous South African oil and gas, we have another catalyst and we can begin to build energy and fiscal security.
South Africans have already developed a powerhouse renewable energy system that is globally acknowledged. We know gas complements and enables renewables, so together the two streams can be hugely positive catalysts for change. A luta continua!
Chairman & CEO
African Energy Consortium
The drivers in the oil and gas sector for me will be to look at how we are able to arrest the challenges African producing countries face when there is a drop in oil and gas prices. One important measure will be building cost-effective refineries to refine our own crude so we save the millions of dollars we use to import refined petroleum products, and by so doing, create trade when we supply to other African countries. We need to increase capacity building in the local content arena and learn from each other. Marginal field exploration and production can be done by local companies. Indigenous gas production and development has potential to add huge value and create new industries, such as fertilizer manufacturing, which would further reduce import costs. All of these are examples of catalysts for change through diversification.
In the power sector, the drivers of change will be monetization of gas-to-power and speeding up the adoption of renewables in our power generation mix. But most importantly, the greatest changes will come from how we use our hydrocarbons revenues to invest in those parts of the economy, including within the oil and gas sector, that can bring real change through creating jobs; and to invest in projects with a high, quick turnover in value and revenue.