Africa urged to use gas for fuel rather than rely on imports

Sep 27, 2005 02:00 AM

Africa should convert its own gas into fuel rather than depend on imported petroleum products, delegates at an oil conference heard.
Speaking at the opening plenary session of the 18th World Petroleum Congress in Johannesburg, PetroSA president and CEO Sipho Mkhize said the development of natural gas was feasible and should be considered as an alternative to crude oil refining, considering the high global oil price.

It was also a way for Africa, which exports crude oil, to lessen its reliance on refined petroleum imports, he said.
"We have all the technical skills and the capability in South Africa to facilitate the development of this infrastructure with our African partners." Mkhize said that 200,000 barrels of fuel were produced every day through gas-to-liquid technology in South Africa. Of these, 45,000 barrels were produced by PetroSA. South Africa had 18-tcm of proven gas reserves and oil produced from gas provided 8 % of South Africa's fuel.

Deep-water exploration off South Africa's coastline is searching for more oil and gas reserves. BHP Billiton is exploring for oil 200 km northwest of Cape Town in water depths ranging from 300 m to 2,500 m. Basins off the west and south coasts have produced discoveries and the Durban and Zululand basins are thought to have potential for massive developments.
Scott Sheffield, the chairman of Pioneer Natural Resources, said that the Texas-based company had invested $ 500 mm since 1998 to drill 19 wells with PetroSA in the Sable oilfield off Mossel Bay.

Elsewhere in Africa, Nigeria has discovered 7-bn barrels of oil in deep-water explorations since 1996 and Angola is conducting ultra- deep water exploration for oil and gas at depths of 2,000 mm.
Sasol CEO Pat Davies said although Africa had only 9 % of the world's oil and gas reserves, this disguised the importance of the continent in terms of new reserves that had been found. A third of all new oil discoveries in the past five years had been in Africa, Davies said. There had been a tremendous increase in petroleum exploration off the South African coast recently, with $ 134 mm set to be spent off the country's coast in the 2005-06 year, he said.

Mthozami Xiphu, CEO of Petroleum Agency, said that over the past three years, the number of companies drilling for oil off South Africa's coast had increased from two or three to 11 international oil companies.
"Africa has vast deep water potential which is unexplored," Xiphu said.

Source: Business Day
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