Africa Oil and Power holds September

Africa Oil & Power 2018 has been scheduled to take place from Sept. 5, 2018 to Sept. 7, 2018.
Mr. Guillaume Doane, CEO of Africa Oil
& Power talks about the importance of Energy Coalitions and the
upcoming Africa Oil & Power 2018 conference.
The theme of the Africa Oil &
Power 2018 conference is Energy Coalitions. Why did you choose to bring
together major energy institutions and promoting cooperation?
When we began piecing together the
program almost a year ago, it was becoming evident that global oil and
gas markets were finally outlasting the commodity price constraints that
had crippled the industry since late 2014. The
oil market downturn was particularly harsh on petroleum-dependent
African economies. As the industry in 2018 enjoys a year of positive
growth, we believe it is important for Africa Oil & Power to not
only be an enabler of investment, but to also promote increased
cooperation between the world’s energy institutions to support Africa’s
energy agenda.
We cannot understate the important
leadership role that OPEC has fulfilled in guiding the industry through
dark times and providing new African members like Gabon, Equatorial
Guinea and the Republic of Congo with a global outlet
to vocalize their interests. Moreover, with several new African oil and
gas producers emerging (Senegal, Uganda, Kenya and others), there is a
great opportunity for legacy producers like Angola, Equatorial Guinea
and Nigeria to support the newcomers. We are
proud that Africa Oil & Power is a venue to facilitate this
cooperation with the participation of important institutions like the
International Energy Forum, the Gas Exporting Countries Forum and the
African Petroleum Producers Organization. It is our sincere
hope that cooperation through dialogue will eventuate in cooperation
through trade and new infrastructure like cross-border pipelines, LNG
terminals, refineries, petrochemical facilities and power plants that
are critical to Africa’s development.
This year’s conference honors the
Secretary General of OPEC, H.E. Mohammed Barkindo, as Oil Man of the
Year just as Africa’s participation in OPEC increases.
With now 7 African countries as members, what is the extent of the continent’s influence in OPEC?
Nearly half of OPEC’s membership is now
African countries but put together African members constitute 17 percent
of OPEC’s total production. So the biggest producers like Saudi Arabia
(and to a large extent major non-OPEC producers
like Russia) are still leading the discussion on OPEC policy.
Nevertheless, membership in OPEC is undeniably attractive for African
producers, giving access to data and information and a seat at the
decision-making table of one of the world’s most influential
energy organizations. It is better for African producers to join a
venue that represents their interests than to be on the outside looking
How do you see new African oil and gas producers contributing to the continent’s energy profile?
The Atlantic Margin and other prolific
basins in West Africa have played a prominent role in making the African
continent one of the leading regions for world-class oil and gas
discoveries. Senegal, Côte D’Ivoire, Mauritania,
The Gambia and other countries in the region have all emerged as
exploration hotspots. They will all eventually join the ranks of oil and
gas producers and contribute to Africa’s rising share of global oil
reserves. These are very encouraging developments.
Africa remains one of the most exciting places in the world to explore
for oil and gas. Something which we pay attention to at Africa Oil &
Power is how many of these discoveries actually make it to production
and how fast. We try to be an effective forum
for discussing whether African countries have the right legal and
regulatory frameworks and local content policies in place, as well as
sufficient access to investment capital, international know-how and
technology to bring these discoveries online.
What place does local content have on the Africa Oil & Power program? What are the challenges and opportunities?
Part of Africa Oil & Power’s mission
statement is that we are dedicated to empowering Africa’s indigenous
companies and giving them a platform to promote leadership, local
content and entrepreneurship. Every conference program
includes at least one panel on local content or public-private
partnerships and we host multiple Country Spotlight sessions that
feature indigenous companies with a prominent role in the energy
industry across the value chain. Africa has a wealth of homegrown
companies with incredible success stories. We could name so many but I
think of impactful companies like Deltatek Group, Centurion Law Group,
Nile Petroleum Service Company and countless Nigerian organizations from
Oando and Sahara Petroleum to Seplat and
Atlas and Oranto that have been pioneers for other local brands to
emerge. Sometimes we see the discussion over local content get lost on
questions of policy and enforcement and we forget that so many
indigenous companies became successful without the support
of local content regulations.
Does Africa Oil & Power work with other African countries that are interested in joining OPEC, like South Sudan and Uganda?
Since Equatorial Guinea became a member
last December and the Republic of Congo joined earlier this year, no
other African countries have expressed formal interest in joining OPEC.
But we can expect African engagement with OPEC
to intensify. Many African non-OPEC producers, including Chad, Sudan
and South Sudan, joined OPEC’s oil production cuts. Even non-producers
like Uganda and South Africa have participated in OPEC technical
discussions. This is an unprecedented level of cooperation.
Africa Oil & Power 2018 is putting a
spotlight on South Africa this year. What do you think about the new
administration’s energy policies?
Overall, the new administration has been
effective in clarifying its energy agenda and providing the investment
community with greater regulatory certainty. By distancing itself from a
confounding nuclear energy narrative and
putting stronger emphasis on IPP-led gas-to-power and renewable
projects, the South Africa Department of Energy is presenting a more
dependable and more encouraging investment framework. Inevitably, coal
will continue to be a dominant source of South Africa’s
electricity needs, but the increasing energy balance is a positive
step. The Renewable Energy IPP Procurement programme is strong evidence
of that.
On the oil side, there is no doubt that
the industry has languished in the absence of a new Minerals and
Petroleum Resources Development Act amendment bill. Despite real
resource prospectivity in South Africa’s offshore, current
regulations are deterring drilling activity and interest in acquiring
exploration permits. At the beginning of the year, President Ramaphosa
was committed to accelerating the passage of a new law. If he is
successful, this could really empower the industry
with the same clarity that has emboldened the power sector.
Do you think the NOPEC legislation being proposed in the US has potential to pass?

Believe it or not, NOPEC dates back to
2000. Since then Congress has made more than a dozen failed attempts to
pass the bill. Each time it was met with veto threats from Presidents
Bush and Obama. President Trump has been scathing
in his criticism of OPEC but that is not necessarily a sign that NOPEC
will pass this time. Trump’s tirades on Twitter seldom translate into
radical changes of policy. And we should also remember that NOPEC is a
recurring symptom of American consumer anger
over rising gasoline prices, an important issue as the US prepares for
midterm elections this November. Michael D. Ehrenstein wrote a terrific
article unpacking this issue on our website.