The Role of the Congolese Hydrocarbons Sector in the Carbon-Neutral Age
At African Energy Week 2021, which is taking place this week in Cape Town, South Africa, the country spotlight session for the Republic of the Congo titled ‘The Role of the Congolese Hydrocarbons Sector and the Development of a Competitive African Hydrocarbons Market in the Carbon-Neutral Age’ gathered key participants, including H.E Bruno Jean-Richard Itoua, Minister of Hydrocarbons of the Republic of the Congo; Karl Rogatien NGAKALA, Director of Oil Downstream Activities, SNPC; and Ingvil Smines Tybring-Gjedde, Former Minister of Public Security (and cyber security) in the Ministry of Justice and Public Security of Norway, and CEO of Earth, Wind & Power.
The participants engaged in critical discussions on the Congo’s energy industry and shared thought-provoking insights with the public on the constitutive elements of policies and initiatives that make the Congo a preferred destination for long-term investments.
“The only issue we experienced, in the beginning, was to get back most of the revenue we could from the industry. Things have changed for the country in a drastic way with oil becoming the first and biggest revenue generator for the country. In the beginning, it was mainly on a concessional basis, this represented the first relationship between the country and companies. After changing the rules and laws, we established the production sharing agreement, leading to us getting more revenues in the country,” stated H.E. Jean-Richard Itoua.
“We align with the Congo in many ways. We are both 5 million inhabitants and are very dependent on the oil and gas industry. Now that gas is really high due to the current situation of higher demand. I do think that countries such as Congo should make use of all the resources they have in the country, do it sustainably. The resources of the country belong to the country itself. We need to look at value creation with gas. It should be kept in the country where you use power because then you will have more jobs, more opportunities for exports,” stated Tybring-Giedde.
The SNPC, the country’s national oil company, has largely been responsible for spearheading efforts to overhaul the country’s energy sector by delineating strategies aimed at tackling identified organizational and performance inadequacies, establishing regulatory frameworks to develop its human capital, CSR, and QHSE, and investing heavily in infrastructure projects aimed at enhancing the company’s exploration and production capabilities. Through its subsidiary SONAREP (Société Nationale de Recherche et de Production), the SNPC aims to increase the Congo’s yearly output, conducting exploration activities and drilling five appraisal wells last year, which are currently going through a testing phase, and is in collaboration with the Ministry of Hydrocarbons to find new partners for a joint venture to start operations on a “dormant” field.
If the Republic of the Congo has gained significant attention in the last few years for the proactive measures put in place to boost its energy industry and its major oil discoveries, the country is set to attract more of it in the coming years. Indeed, the Congo is expected to unveil the country’s first Gas Master Plan (GMP) done in collaboration with UK-based company, Wood Mackenzie, in a bid to monetize the land’s great gas reserves estimated at 284 billion cubic feet. If properly implemented, the Congo is poised to become a dominant regional gas producer and exporter, thus obtaining energy independence and security while boosting the country’s GDP and fostering rapid and sustained socioeconomic growth.