New oil discoveries turn spotlight back to West Africa

Jun 25, 2007 02:00 AM

Western and emerging Asian powers so keen to diversify oil supply sources to feed growing needs have recast their attention to West Africa following the latest discovery of new potential reserves.
British oil and gas company Tullow Oil announced that it had discovered up to 600 mm barrels of oil on the West Cape Three Points block off Ghana’s coast.

But the figures fall below that of regional oil giant, Nigeria with its reserves of 36.24 bn barrels, or that of Angola which has proven reserves of more than 5.4 bn barrels of crude oil. Of the 2.7 mm bpd produced in West Africa, 2.6 mm come from Nigeria alone, according to the continental African Petroleum Producers Association (APPA).
But at the global level, West Africa remains a modest player in the oil sector. It represents less than a third of the total Africa production, which in itself is less than 12 % of world production, far behind the Middle East Russia and Brazil.

But with geo-political uncertainties and the emergence of Asian economies such as India and China, any oil reserves make the so-called "black gold" a rare and expensive commodity.
"It is becoming more and more difficult to work in the Middle East. The whole world as a result, is diversifying the supply sources, and the rush is general, in Africa as is everywhere," an expert in the oil sector said in Abidjan.

Between 2004 and 2007, African oil production climbed from 7 mm bpd to 9.5 mm bpd.
And Africa is now the top production area for the French oil giant and world’s number four Total.

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