African Oil Supply – Taking Stock
CGES | SOURCE: Quarterly Oil Supply
Oil production from the non-OPEC countries of the continent of Africa was much lower than expected in 2008.
Output fell by around 40,000 bpd instead of rising by 120-140,000 bpd, as predicted by the CGES and most other forecasters, including the IEA and OPEC. This year, however, the CGES expects oil production in non-OPEC Africa to rise by 85,000 bpd.
The biggest disappointment was Congo (Brazzaville), where output was expected to rise sharply as Total’s 65,000-bpd N’Kossa field came back on stream after a fire in May 2007 and Total’s 90,000-bpd Moho Bilondo deepwater offshore oil field started up.
However, detailed monthly data for Congolese oil production, published by the Energy Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), show that output of oil liquids (crude, LPG & NGLs) averaged only 237,000 bpd in 2008 — significantly lower than most analysts had assumed but up 13,000 bpd on the 2007 figure.
Although Moho Bilondo came on stream in April 2008, a month ahead of schedule, output only reached 34,000 bpd by the end of last year, limiting its contribution to the annual average.
Production wells are still being drilled and the field is not expected to reach capacity until 2010. Output from Congo (Brazzaville) is expected to increase again this year as output continues to rise from Moho Bilondo, but the gains will be limited by lower output from existing mature fields, which are declining at around 10% according to the EITI data.
Oil production in the Sudan was also lower than predicted, averaging only 462,000 bpd in 2008 — down 22,000 bpd on the previous year. The Sudan had hoped to maintain its output close to 500,000 bpd last year following the completion of the Dar Blend export terminal, but rising production of Dar Blend from Blocks 3 & 7 was more than offset by a sharp fall in the supply of Nile Blend, which averaged 205,000 bpd in 2008, down 40,000 bpd (17%) on the year before. Yet despite this setback, the Sudan’s oil production is expected to recover in 2009.
The 50,000-bpd Gumri field started up in January, lifting the supply of Dar Blend and another 50,000-bpd field, Qamari, is also expected to start up this year. The Sudan hopes to raise Dar Blend output to 300,000 bpd by the end of 2009, but this may be optimistic, since last year’s 275,000-bpd target was not achieved: output of Dar Blend averaged 199,000 bpd in 2009, up 24,000 bpd on the previous year.
The CGES expects the Sudan’s oil production to average 500,000 bpd in 2009 — significantly lower than the official target of 600,000 bpd — as falling output of Nile Blend continues to offset the gains from Dar Blend.
The picture is mixed across the rest of non-OPEC Africa. Output is rising in Egypt, where new small fields are more than compensating for declining output at mature fields. Egyptian crude oil and condensate production averaged 673,000 bpd in 2008 — up 30,000 bpd (5%) on the previous year— and had exceeded 700,000 bpd by the middle of this year.
Oil output is also thought to be rising slowly in Gabon, where new fields developed by smaller independent oil companies are at least compensating for the declines at Rabi and Mandji. However, accurate and up-to-date information is hard to obtain. Although Gabon is participating in the EITI process, the latest report, published in March 2008, covers 2006 when output was just below 240,000 bpd. This year, Vaalco plans to expand output from its Ebouri and Etame fields by around 5,000 bpd.
Elsewhere in Africa output is falling slowly in Cameroon, Chad, Equatorial Guinea, the Ivory Coast, Mauritania and Tunisia, although higher output is expected from the Ivory Coast in 2009 following the start-up of CNRL’s 20,000-bpd offshore Olowi field in May and new wells at the Baobab and Espoir fields.
For a full insight into African oil, take a look at the African Oil & Gas Sourcebook 2010