AOP 2017: The Gas Game Highlights

Africa has become a hotspot for mega gas discoveries, and the continent holds an abundant supply of gas. The cheap yet environmentally-friendly fuel can both boost Africa’s power sector growth, and further downstream diversification. But, as our panelists addressed during The Gas Game Panel at Africa Oil & Power 2017, there are a plethora of challenges to getting this gas out of the ground and into the market, from pricing and policies to a severe lack of necessary infrastructure.

The expert panel was made up of Rodney MacAlister, CEO and Co-Founder, Monetizing Gas Africa; Ezekiel Adesina, Executive Secretary, Africa Energy Study Group; Simphiwe Mehlomakulu, Executive Chairman of Reatile Group; Eric Williams, President of Royal Triangle Energy; Moses Asaga, Former CEO of the National Petroleum Authority of Ghana and Alfonso Sanchez, General Manager of GE Oil & Gas Equatorial Guinea, as well as moderator Robert Perkins, EMEA Editor for Oilgram News, Platts.

“In terms of the conference theme, Catalysts for Change, gas is probably the biggest energy source as a catalyst for change amongst all of them,” said MacAlister. “It is the cleanest form of fossil fuels, it is more available and cheaper than nuclear and it is the friend of renewables because it balances the intermittency problems. So why wouldn’t you want to maximize gas.”

The pricing of gas is and will continue to be a key challenge to the proper development of this resource, in order to encourage the upstream to monetize gas as opposed to flaring it. Additionally, an estimated $721 billion is needed to develop Africa’s gas infrastructure between 2013-2035, resulting in a real challenge in getting gas to out of the ground and into the market, panelists agreed. Because of this, as the gas industry moves forward, midstream investors are likely to determine which gas projects are viable. Throughout the continent, LNG has become a solution to lack of infrastructure.

However, the panelists also emphasized the need to develop the entire gas value chain, not just focusing on LNG, in order to maximize the benefits for a country, from gas-to-power solutions to petrochemicals.