Africa Energy Chamber Applauds EU Position On Gas As Green Energy Source

Richard Ginika Izuora

The Africa Energy Chamber has applauded a European Union (EU) proposal to label natural gas as a green energy source, as well as the EU’s support for an inclusive energy transition.

The chamber noted that Africa had to industrialise to develop sustainably, and natural gas served as a transitional energy source.

“It has taken a crisis in energy availability to bring about policies that could increase Africa’s energy supply. The current pressure from The West to acclimatise to cleaner energy systems has, so far, been exclusive in recognising that the transition may differ in form and timing from one region to another.

“By restricting investment into energy sources, such as gas, Africa stands the chance of being left behind during the energy transition, which is counterproductive and regressive,” the organisation said.

Despite disagreements, there has always been constructive dialogue with European policy-makers, who let the chamber make the case for Africa’s low-carbon liquefied natural gas (LNG). These discussions have been critical and a lot of work still needed to be done to make this a reality, said African Energy Chamber executive chairperson NJ Ayuk.

“The demonisation of Africa’s gas industry needs to stop, and investments need to come into the sector. While we continue this engagement, it is important that the oil and gas industry focuses its investment on further reducing carbon emissions within the gas value chain.

“Sustainable development and making energy poverty history will require Africa to increase gas within its energy mix, which will give us a fighting chance to reduce the continent’s carbon footprint, even when we are still under 4% of global emissions,” he added.

“Africa faces unique challenges and must be allowed to time its own energy transition according to its own needs. The proposal to label natural gas as green energy is what a just energy transition looks like, and now, we need to finance it. To capitalise on this, the African Green Energy Summit, to be held alongside the African Energy Week this year, will clearly outline initiatives and positions ahead of this year’s Conference of the Parties COP27,” the African Energy Chamber said.

The EU proposal will pave the way for new European investments in natural gas in Africa and allow Europe to unlock billions of euros in finance and sustainable energy funds to support gas as a transitional energy source. The EU will want to import whatever natural gas Africa develops, which is constructive for project funding and will open doors to have candid discussions about furthering energy availability across the continent, Ayuk said.

“Some countries, including Senegal, Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania, Nigeria, Angola, Ghana, Mauritania, Libya, Cameroon, Algeria and Equatorial Guinea, have taken steps to monetise their natural resources to develop and industrialise independently. Thus, we need to give them time to realise the benefits of their strategic efforts and facilitate their own sovereignty when adhering to the energy transition,” he said.

By using natural gas as a feedstock to create other value-added products, such as petrochemicals, fertilisers and ammonia, revenue can be used to build infrastructure, from pipelines to ports and roadways.

Should most EU members back the proposal, it will become law from 2023, which the chamber hopes will help the US recognise natural gas as a clean fuel, which it does not under the Biden Administration’s current clean power plans, Ayuk said.

“Despite predictions that demand for African LNG is expected to grow for the foreseeable future, investments in gas exploration have been hit hard by a short-sighted bias against our low-carbon natural gas resources. This has led to a reluctance towards investing in supply projects because of the fractured global outlook towards natural gas,” Ayuk stated.

African nations must be pragmatic. If exploration and production companies are forced to wait one or two years before their proposed projects are sanctioned, then the prospects for a sustainable African energy future will diminish rapidly. This bias against investments in carbon resources, which help protect the interests of oil-producing nations, made sense when crude sold for $100/bl and before the energy transition took centre stage, but they do not make sense now, he said.

“Now is the time for African oil and gas producers to do everything in their power to encourage as much exploration and production activity as possible, particularly through international oil companies, national oil companies and African independents.

“In the long term, African producers of oil and gas will continue to rely on the industry’s revenue to sustain economic growth and guarantee a just and inclusive energy transition, and should lobby for knowledge transfers, training, gas monetisation programmes, and other strategic opportunities so that oil and gas operations can create pathways towards sustainable development and diversification,” he said.

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