“Sonangol’s strategy is not static” – Angola’s energy minister

Angola’s Minister of Natural Resources and Petroleum, H.E Diamantino Pedro Azevedo, has reiterated the importance of transformation and resilience in the country’s oil and gas sector.

Speaking as part of a panel on the first day of the Angola Oil & Gas 2019 Conference and Exhibition, currently underway in Luanda, Angola, the Minister said that “the oil industry in the country is crucial” in economic advancement and diversification, but it can only be instrumental in the Angolan economy if the ministry and the national oil company, Sonangol, are proactive and focused.

The panel, which was comprised of comprised of H.E Gabriel Mbaga Obiang Lima, Minister of Mines and Hydrocarbons, Republic of Equatorial Guinea; Dr. Sun Xiansheng, General Secretary of the International Energy Forum and moderated by Africa Oil & Power CEO, Guillaume Doane, highlighted Angola’s energy sector transformations, which have become visible in recent years.

“One thing I like is focus (…) I like to give solutions where there is a problem,” the minister said, insisting that practical action is the only way the country can advance its agenda to use its sector to boost economic growth and empower more young people to participate in the sector.

“We have qualified workers, but we need more qualified Angolan technicians,” he added.

Congratulating Angola on the commencement of the Angola Oil & Gas (AOG) Conference and Exhibition, Minister Obiang Lima said “this event is proving that Angola is about to reboot, and this is very important for all African countries.”

In the energy sector transformation process, Minister Obiang Lima noted three key elements that are crucial in seeing through effective transformation. “One is investment, the second one is pretty critical and that is, national oil companies and the last one is licensing rounds,” he said.

Expanding on the latter he noted his “drill or drop” policy has been key in Equatorial Guinea’s energy sector. “If you have a block, you need to drill. If you are not going to drill, move aside and give it to somebody who is willing to drill. Because if you do not drill, you do not make a discovery, and if you do not make a discovery, you are not developing,” citing Senegal, Mozambique and South Africa as examples of this proactivity.

Challenging national oil companies and their role in transformation being hindered by lack of activity, Minister Obiang Lima said “National oil companies, why don’t we just jump to the neighboring countries and talk with them and maybe you can do a joint venture?” in an effort to show that national oil companies are important to have the ability to help other companies.

Providing his insight on Angola’s strategy, Dr. Sun Xiansheng, General Secretary of the International Energy Forum said: “I feel that this meeting is very important because it is happening at a very important time.”

“We know that Angola is very important, being the second largest oil producing country in Africa and also, is very rich in resources. The oil is eight billion barrels and gas is four trillion barrels, so it is very important,” said the General Secretary.

In closing, Minister Azevedo said the country has to keep looking and “keep prospecting for oil” noting the ministry and the national oil company “cannot have power and do nothing…we are on the right path”

The Angola Oil & Gas conference and exhibition continues until Thursday, 6 June.