28 August 2012 – The US Gulf of Mexico, offshore Brazil and offshore West Africa represent a golden triangle for deep water oil exploration and production, and Nigeria and Angola are building the African region a formidable reputation as an oil and gas exploration and production hub, says a new report by natural resources expert GlobalData. The report states that since the first explorations in the Congo Basin in 1994, deep water oil exploration in off-shore West Africa has boomed, and the region has become one of the most important areas in the world for the exploration and production of oil and natural gas, due to a spate of discoveries in the past few years.
Deep water oil and gas activity in West Africa extends from Mauritania to Angola, and the region has witnessed offshore production holding an increasing share in total oil and gas production, growing from 58.9% in 2001 to 78.3% by 2011. Nigeria and Angola are the largest producers of oil and gas in West Africa, accounting for around 77.7% of the region’s total offshore oil and gas production during 2001 – 2011. Nigeria has been an Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) member since 1971, and is a major producer of oil in Africa, holding the second highest oil reserves in the continent. The country recorded the highest offshore production of oil and gas in West Africa for 2011, producing 699.4 million barrels of oil equivalent (MMboe), and is well known for the abundant presence of fossil fuels.
Nigeria’s oil reserves were estimated to be approximately 37.2 billion barrels as of 2010, thanks to the country’s Niger River Delta, while proven natural gas reserves reached 185.3 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) during the same year.
In contrast, Angola has been an OPEC member only from 2007, and is at the forefront of West African offshore oil and gas exploration and production, recording the highest number of discoveries in the region during recent years. During January 2009 to June 2012, Angola accounted for 17 of a total 47 deep offshore oil and gas discoveries made in West Africa, emerging as a future force to be reckoned with.
West African countries such as Ghana are also gaining fame. After Angola, Ghana recorded the second-largest number of discoveries during the January 2009 to June 2012 period, with 11, and the country is poised to increase its production considerably in the future.
Offshore oil and gas production in the West African region increased from 843.7 MMboe in 2001 to 1,564.2 MMboe in 2011, at an annual average growth rate (AAGR) of 6.2%, and is expected to increase further to 2,201.6 MMboe in 2020 at an AAGR of 3.8%, as a result of anticipated projects.