Angolan lawmakers have approved the revision of current legislation, allowing for oil and gas pre-exploration studies to be carried out in some areas previously designated as natural reserves.
The government however stressed, that this law was by no means a relaxation of the stringent environmental provisions required for oil exploration in Angola that already exist.
According to H.E Diamantino Pedro Azevedo, Minister of Mineral Resources and Petroleum, less than 3% of the zones previously designated as protected are likely to be affected by this provision.
Angola’s constitution and applicable presidential decrees all mandate that oil and gas exploration only be carried out in a manner that is environmentally friendly. The proposed new law secured a majority of over 70% in Angola’s parliament.
The adoption of the new law by such a strong majority, despite earlier concerns, is an acknowledgement of the role oil has played in bringing prosperity to Angola.
It is also an endorsement of the sectors’ regulator, the Agência Nacional de Petróleo, Gás e Biocombustíveis (ANPG), which is charged with ensuring that the highest environmental standards are adhered to during oil and gas exploration and production.
Following the achievement of independence from Portugal in 1975, and a protracted civil war that went on for decades, Angola has been able to rebuilt its infrastructure, improve institutional capacity, governance, public financial management systems, human development indicators and living conditions of its 31.8 million population in record time.
Coupled with a pragmatic and business friendly approach to governance under the administration of President João Lourenço, private sector-led oil growth is expected to continue playing a powerful role in fuelling long-term national development.
From first oil production at the Benfica-2 well in 1956 to the deep-water discovery of the Girassol field in Block 17 in 1996, Angola has risen to become sub-Saharan Africa’s second-largest crude producer, after Nigeria. Producing 1.4 million barrels per day pre-COVID-19, with a peak production of over two million barrels per day in 2010, oil accounts for close to 90% of domestic exports.
Around one-third of Angola’s GDP is rooted in the oil industry, while crude oil, natural gas and refined oil account for almost all national exports, with the value of crude oil exports totalling USD 35.5 billion in 2018.
As a result, crude oil production has had a sizeable impact on GDP and per capita wealth.
In fact, Angola is home to one of the fastest-growing economies in sub-Saharan Africa and has witnessed a meteoric rise in socioeconomic development aligned with the expansion of its energy industry. In the 20-year period between 1999 and 2019, Angola’s GDP grew by 1,344%, reaching a peak of $145 billion in 2014, in line with the global crude oil bull market.
Per capita wealth has seen a similar trajectory over the same period, growing by 619% and reaching $2,791 in 2019 pre-COVID-19, as well as peaking at $5,408 in 2014.