APPO chief urges shift in African oil and gas industry amid global energy shift


By Kizito CUDJOE

The Secretary General of the African Petroleum Producers’ Organization (APPO), Dr. Omar Farouk Ibrahim, has issued a call for a radical shift in Africa’s oil and gas industry citing the continent’s over-reliance on foreign technology, financing, and markets.

“For too long, our national oil and gas operators and regulators have been operating in silos,” Dr. Ibrahim said. “Our National Oil Companies (NOCs) have looked up to International Oil Companies (IOCs) and International Oilfield Service Companies (IOSCs) outside of Africa for leadership, partnership, and collaboration.”

Dr. Ibrahim pointed out that despite Africa having the largest proportion of its people living without access to energy, 75 percent of the oil and 45 percent of the gas produced by African countries is exported.

According to the APPO Secretary General, who was speaking at a meeting in Accra, this situation must change in light of the global shift away from fossil fuels to renewable energies, often referred to as the energy transition.

He pointed out that the continent’s heavy dependence on foreign entities for the operations of the industry is unsustainable, especially as these entities are moving away from what has been the mainstay of Africa’s national economies.

“If we are to continue to benefit from the huge resource endowments that God has given to our countries, then we also need to change the operating model of the industry as we have known it,” he added.

He asserted that “If Africa must get out of poverty, it must find a way to make energy accessible to a vast majority of its population.”

The APPO Secretary General said these on the back of a two-day Roundtable Meeting, organized by APPO and the Petroleum Commission of Ghana.

The event was held under the theme: “Towards Zero Routine Gas Flaring and Lower Methane Emissions in APPO Member Countries’ Oil and Gas Operations.”

The Minister of Energy, Dr. Matthew Opoku Prempeh, in an address read on his behalf said Ghana’s hosting of the meeting demonstrates its commitment to reducing emissions.

Furthermore, he said it indicates the country’s appreciation of how important climate impacts lives as well as the need to find productive uses for natural gas resources.

“The need to reduce emissions is dictated by the severe impact emissions are having on the climate and the collective desire by global leaders to hold average increase in global temperature to well below 20C above pre-industrial levels and pursue actions to limit global temperature increase to 1.50C for the next century.”

However, he recognized that the oil and gas sector that plays a major role in addressing energy poverty and also generates revenue for most producing developing countries falls within the high emitters of methane.

The Minister highlighted that the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) 2023 Global Methane Tracker reports the energy sector—covering oil, natural gas, coal, and bioenergy—was responsible for about 40 percent of methane emissions from human activities in 2023.

Consequently, he said oil and gas operations have faced intense scrutiny, with some advocating a full transition to “environmentally friendly” energy sources like wind and solar.

He, however, argued that such a stance is neither climate- nor economically sound and is unfair to emerging oil and gas producers, particularly in Africa, as it hinders their ability to utilize their hydrocarbon resources for energy and development needs.

The Roundtable brought oil and gas operators and regulators from APPO Member Countries together to share experiences in various methodologies, technologies and regulatory frameworks in dealing with the challenges of gas flaring and fugitive methane emissions with a view to enhancing our understanding of how to handle these challenges.

It was underscored that the commitment to pursuing programmes aimed at zero routine gas flaring and minimizing fugitive methane emissions in member countries’ oil and gas operations is targeted at; reducing emissions and thereby contributing to alleviating environmental challenges and by implication working towards achieving net-zero in emissions to the atmosphere.

Also, it to save energy that is currently being wasted in flares for the use of our teeming hundreds of millions who have no access to energy.

In his remarks, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Petroleum Commission, Mr. Egbert Faibille Jnr. said “Gas flaring and methane emissions are two important concerns that must be addressed by the petroleum industry in Africa, if the continent will meet its climate targets and continue to attract investments to its petroleum industry in a sustainable manner.”

The CEO of Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC), Joseph Abuabu Dadzie, also said the priority has been to recover all produced gas to secure the country’s energy needs in order to boost industrialization, hence the zero-gas flaring policy.

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