APPO Cape VII commences, ministers, heads of state and dignitaries unite

The first day of the African Petroleum Producers’ Organization (APPO) Cape VII Congress and Exhibition saw opening addresses from key Heads of State and government leaders, championing African unity, cooperation and the potential of the African continent, with Equatorial Guinea at its center.

The opening ceremony included key addresses delivered by H.E. Maria Coloma Edjang Mbengono, Mayor of Malabo; H.E. Mahaman Laouan Gaya, Secretary General of APPO; H.E. Mohammed Sanusi Barkindo, Secretary General of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries; H.E. Gabriel Mbaga Obiang Lima, Minister of Mines and Hydrocarbons of Equatorial Guinea; and H.E. Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, President of Equatorial Guinea.

A central theme of the opening addresses was the unity of African countries and the need to foster cooperation throughout continent through participation in organizations such as APPO and the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).

“In two years, Equatorial Guinea has become a key advocate for OPEC and a key influencer for our organization. It has found a welcomed home in our family. It is clear that the country’s leadership recognizes the value of working through organizations, such as OPEC, which can empower African countries with a voice on the global stage. The country’s oil and gas sector is continuing to evolve and expand and help further energize this great country. This includes attracting new investment, plans to launch a new licensing round with new oil and gas companies and overseas operators interested in new blocks, as well as continuing work improving the regulatory environment,” said H.E. Barkindo.

He added that, while marked improvement in market conditions have been since the beginning of the year, compared to the volatility of the fourth quarter of 2018, the market was still moving toward a more balanced state.

“Additionally, we need to see further the pick-up of industry investment, particularly for long cycle projects. We need to harness what we have in terms of resources and people, to ensure that everyone benefits and no one is left behind. This always requires collaboration and the promotion of intra-African cooperation and pan-African alliance building, which is inevitably being championed by Equatorial Guinea.”

The first panel saw the gathering of the private sector focus on maximizing Africa’s upstream potential. Panelists included Guy Maurice, Senior Vice President of Africa for Total, Jean-Michel Jacoulot, CEO of Trident Energy, Tim O’Hanlon, Vice President of Tullow Oil, Mitch Little, Executive Vice President of Operations of Marathon and Keith Elliot, Senior Vice President of Global Offshore for Noble Energy.

Panelists emphasized the stability of Equatorial Guinea in its business and regulatory environment and characterized the country as a favorable climate for oil and gas operations and investment.

“Although we have pivoted out of many international locations, the one place that remains for us is Equatorial Guinea,” said Little. “Our board rooms are very comfortable with below ground uncertainty. Above ground uncertainty is something that makes our board rooms very uncomfortable. The stability that has existed in Equatorial Guinea since 2002, and has existed long before that, is the simple answer. When the rules are defined, we all know how to manage our business within those rules.”

Another key theme was the exploration of the factors needed to drive investment in a volatile industry, and the role of the government in facilitating that investment.

“It’s all about the stability and the confidence needed to provide a return on investment, and stability in the rule of law so that when we make investments, they are made with confidence. Across the industry right now, the single biggest issue with investors is confidence, and whether this industry is something they should be investing in. Having the ability to build that confidence and demonstrate performance is key,” said Elliot.

“Private sector is the key to Africa’s acceleration. Countries should write the laws and police the laws and let us do what we do best and stand back. Countries should organize their data and make it easy for exploration companies to evaluate their opportunities and recognize the risk explorers are taking,” said O’Hanlon.

The first day was rounded out by presentations by H.E. Gaya, H.E. Minister Lima together with the Minister of Petroleum and Mining of South Sudan, Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth, and reiterated the importance of African presence in international organizations.

“If Africa were to be considered a single producer, we could defy all the other producers, and that’s what we need to provide through our organizations,” said H.E. Gaya.

“Oil and gas have been very good for Equatorial Guinea, and we have forward development thanks to oil. It was not cocoa. It was not the international aid. It’s very important that the African countries that have the resources wake up. We are the only continent who is having discoveries after discoveries month after month. Senegal, Mozambique, Gabon, Nigeria, Equatorial Guinea. The biggest resource in the world is in Africa,” said H.E. Lima.

The APPO Cape VII Congress and Exhibition continues until April 5.