African countries are among those hoping to increase their exports of gas to the European Union after the EU committed to reduce its reliance on Russian supplies following the invasion of Ukraine.

Russia’s suspension of deliveries to Poland and Bulgaria over their refusal to pay in roubles, the Russian currency, was a stark reminder of the threat facing the Eurozone. Russia has the largest natural gas reserves in the world and is the largest exporter, accounting for around 40% of Europe’s imports.

The EU wants to cut supplies by two-thirds by the end of the year and become independent of all its fossil fuels by 2030.

However, energy economist Carole Nakhle says that with the combined exports of Africa’s big players in the industry – Algeria, Egypt and Nigeria – amounting to less than half of what Russia supplies to Europe, they are “unlikely at the moment to compensate for any losses in Russian supplies”.

“The good news is there will be greater interest in countries that already have the resources to replace Russian gas and Africa is in a very good position. We’re going to see more investment,” she says.

 

However, this will take time because if various logistical issues in the continent’s major exporters.

At present, Spain, Portugal and France are the three key destination markets for Nigeria LNG’s product and the company is only able to honour its existing contracts with buyers, according to a source who wishes to remain anonymous.

“There is an opportunity to increase production. Today Nigeria LNG is just 72% plant-mobilised, which means there’s still capacity of 28% to utilise, provided they’re able to get the gas, and that’s where the biggest challenge is right now,” the source says.

 

He cites myriad issues obstructing the company’s ability to step up production, including declining gas wells and a lack of funding for upstream activities.

“They’re things that can be fixed in the short term – between six to 18 months.”

According to Andy Odeh, Nigeria LNG’s General Manager of External Relations and Sustainable Development, discussions are ongoing with natural gas suppliers to resolves these issues and he hopes to increase LNG production levels “from the end of this year onwards,” he says.

A new Nigeria LNG gas project, Train 7, will increase production capacity by 35% from the current 22 million tonnes per annum by 2025.

However, contracts with buyers, largely in Europe, are already in place. Nigeria LNG is also conducting feasibility studies for an additional project, Train 8, to boost supplies further.

The West African state is also a key player in the stalled Trans Saharan Pipeline project – a 4,400km (2,735 mile) natural gas pipeline that would run from Nigeria, through Niger to Algeria.

It would connect to existing pipeline infrastructure in Algeria, linking West African countries to Europe.

The project was mooted in the 1970s, but has been bedevilled by security threats, environmental concerns and a lack of funding.

At a meeting in February, regional officials promised to finally get it going.

However, Kayode Thomas, the head of Bell Oil & Gas, says that another project – the Nigeria-Morocco gas pipeline, which will connect infrastructure in West Africa to Morocco in order to reach Europe – is gaining traction.

“We’re still not sure whether this will cannibalise the Trans Saharan pipeline or run alongside it,” he says.

The project, estimated to cost $25bn ($20bn) and connecting 13 West and North African countries, will be completed in stages over 25 years.

Ms Nakhle says the shift to sourcing gas from Africa could also benefit countries such as Tanzania and Mozambique, although a huge project there run by French giant Total is currently on hold following a major attack by Islamist militants based in the area.

“There is great potential in Africa, but I would say that it’s got to be very limited in the short-term because gas projects take time to materialize,” she says.

But in the medium- and long-term, “you will see greater investment to increase the capacity to bring more gas out of the ground and bring them to Europe”.

Written By Ijeoma Ndukwe
BBC Business

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EJIRO ERIVONA

Position: Assistant General Manager

Ejiro Erivona has over 20 years of international experience in the upstream sector of the oil and gas industry. His expertise spans Business Operations Management , Business Development, Contracts and process management in the oil service industry as well as the Exploration and production segment of the Oil and Gas Business. 

He has managed key business divisions for various multinationals like Falcon, General Electric and Baker Hughes, working in various countries in Africa and North America, leading multidisciplinary and multicultural teams to achieve stellar business outcomes. Most recently, he held the position of Senior Manager, Operations at Nigeria’s Major E&P Independent- Conoil Producing Nigeria. 

Experienced in business startups, as well as new business generation, Ejiro has a track record of closing major deals in the IOCs, NOCs and marginal field operators in the sub-continent. 

He holds a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from the university of wales and a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from the University of Benin. He is also an alumnus of the Administrative College of India ( ASCI) 

Ejiro has a “Black Belt” in people and change management and has pursued the same with great flair. 

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