Gulf of Guinea is the African continent's current Oil Dorado

Sep 23, 2005 02:00 AM

Africa is attracting increasing attention among oil producers, amid rising oil prices, instability in the Arab world and production slowdowns in the hurricane-hit Gulf of Mexico.
In addition to such drawbacks in other oil regions, modern technology allows ever-deeper drilling for the black gold, mostly off Africa's coast. Countries such as Sudan, Angola, Chad and Libya have re-emerged after long years of war or political isolation and are offering access to extensive reserves.

Besides the Mediterranean countries, Africa's "Oil Dorado" is the Gulf of Guinea, with reserves estimated at up to 60 bn barrels of crude oil. Africa's main oil producing countries lie in this strategically important zone, including Nigeria, Angola, Gabon and Equatorial Guinea.
The Gulf of Guinea is already the largest growth area for French oil firm Total. Its head, Thierry Desmarest, predicts its increase in production in the region to exceed 1 mm bpd by 2010. Shell, ExxonMobil and ChevronTexaco also plan to invest billions in the region.

The Oil and Gas Journal predicts an overall increase in production from 3 mm to 5 mm bpd for the four key countries on the Gulf of Guinea and for Chad over the next 10 to 15 years. This is expected to be accompanied by an increase in the exploitation of gas reserves, most of which were previously burnt off.
After two decades of isolation, Libya is the new darling of the oil companies, with proven reserves of 39 bn barrels. By the end of the decade, it intends to increase production from 1.5 mm to 2 mm bpd. Algeria's 11.8 bn barrels of reserves almost seem modest by comparison.

And Nigeria, sub-Saharan Africa's largest oil-producer, is ahead of the pack with proven reserves of 40 bn barrels. The country wants to increase its production from 2.7 mm to 4 mm bpd by 2010. Since such an increase could contravene OPEC restrictions, observers do not rule out that Nigeria could leave the exporters' cartel.
Angola is now the second-largest oil producer in the region, with reserves estimated at up to 9 bn barrels. It is not bound by OPEC quotas and intends to increase production from 1.07 mm to 2 mm bpd by 2008.

Angola and Nigeria are among the 10 biggest oil exporters for the US market, which now draws just over 20 % of its oil from Africa. They offer the US relatively secure and unproblematic oil transport facilities across the Atlantic, in contrast to the politically unstable Near East.
As a new player, China has secured long-term supply contracts with both countries as well as Sudan, which include billions in loans for Angola and generous development aid.

Source: Sapa-DPA
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