$30bn investment in Africa’s downstream excites region

AFRICA’S demand for energy, which is far higher than that of other regions in the world, is expected to be very positive for the African downstream oil industry, which has seen a $30billion investment push in logistics, distribution, storage terminals, import facilities and retail marketing in recent years.

These developments were mentioned during the 14th annual conference of the African Refiners and Distributors Association (ARA) held in Cape Town, South Africa.

Speakers pointed out that Africa’s demand for gasoline and diesel is expected to increase by about 4 per cent a year. This is far above the projected overall global demand. According to BP’s Global Energy Outlook, global demand for energy is projected to increase at 1.3 per cent a year – more slowly than before as a result of increases in energy efficiency.

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Gas production in Africa is expected to increase by 2 per cent a year, with liquefied natural gas (LNG) production projected to increase by 1 per cent a year.

“Our expectation is that the onset of LNG production will drive downstream growth,” said Standard Bank head of oil and gas, Paul Eardly-Taylor, who was also bullish about retail developments in Africa.

Meanwhile, the refining sector has faced many challenges over the past few years, but there are green shoots of investment, particularly the huge Dangote refinery, in Nigeria, which is progressing fast, with refining units soon to be installed.

In Egypt, Africa’s largest refiner, Egyptian Petroleum Company (EGPC) outlined a massive investment programme for its eight refineries in addition to the imminent start-up of the privately financed $4.5-billion project at the Egyptian Refining Company. Algeria has also been investing heavily in upgrading its refining system, while the Uganda refinery is fast progressing.

African Development Bank Chief Natural Resources Officer, Rose Mwebaza, highlighted the importance of developing skills in the new oil sector developing in Uganda. She said some 150 000 new jobs are set to be created in Uganda, where 77 per cent of the population are under the age of 30.

She said a lot of training was required locally in Uganda. Mwebaza also called for mutual transferability of skills from countries like Nigeria, South Africa and Ghana.

During the conference, Côte d’Ivoire Energy Minister Abdourahmane Cissé presented the €600-million new finance package for the SIR refinery in Abidjan and announced the planning for upgrades to meet the ARA’s AFRI-4 specifications.

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