The onshore and offshore sedimentary thickness in the African continent ranges from 0.5km to the depth of 14km, with optimal conditions for oil and gas exploration appearing in the Niger Delta Basin, Nile Delta Basin, northwest coast and part of East Africa. With a production level of 8 MMbbl/d, there’s a huge potential in large developmental projects.
East Africa, the new African jewel, with a potential to surpass Australia in gas production within the next decade, is gaining immense recognition in all spheres of the oil and gas industry value chain. One starts to wonder if further potential remains in the mature regions of West and North Africa. Indeed, potential abounds in the West still - if all above ground risks are mitigated.
The continental shelf is extensively developed in Nigeria and Angola; however, the potential of discoveries and undiscovered assets could surpass that of currently producing fields. Senegal, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Cote d’Ivoire, Gabon, Guinea Bissau, Cameroon, Mali, Niger, Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Sao Tome and Principe JDZ, Ghana, Angola and Nigeria all have undiscovered assets from <200mmboe to >2,000mmboe both in their on- and offshore zones.
Nigeria leads the mid-term crude oil and gas production forecast (2013-18) with an estimated 6,231 mmboe, closely followed by Angola, Equatorial Guinea, Congo and Ghana respectively. These production estimates are based on resource estimates seen in Fig 1. The top 7 producing fields in West Africa are as shown in Table 1 (with the Angola LNG still under development at the time of writing).
Top producing fields in Nigeria are Agbami-Ekoli, Bonga, Erha, Akpo, and Usan. Resource potential is led by Nnwa-Doro, Bonga Southwest, Bosi and Egina.
As the Erha North field operated by ExxonMobil is currently undergoing field development, others are sure to follow.
With ongoing drilling test on the Cameia discovery operated by Cobalt International, production is set to commence with early development phase in 2018 on the predominantly crude oil field.
An estimated 100mmboe of discovered and undiscovered undeveloped assets are currently exists in West Africa. Figure 2, showing the West African production forecast to 2020, split by on/offshore and then by crude oil and gas, demonstrates the opportunities are there for the taking. Note the forecast includes potential contributions from yet to be awarded acreage. Farm-in opportunities and market opportunities for oilfield service segments are to be considered in developing these and other discoveries to upgrade the production potential in the West Africa region.
The Future ?
The conventional onshore oil and gas production is in decline. The growth opportunities lie in deepwater.
With these new discoveries, the oilfield service market has begun and will continue to witness significant growth in this already mature region. Favourable above ground matters such as fiscal regimes and regulatory terms, proximity to markets and off-takers, are some of the factors West Africa needs to remain the giant of Africa.
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