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A dedicated panel at the Angola Oil & Gas (AOG) 2022 conference on Wednesday explored the key drivers and potential contributions of natural gas in Angola, under the theme, ‘Natural Gas in Focus: Gas-to-power, Petrochemicals and LNG – Outstanding Opportunities for Future Capacity Building.’
Holding estimated recoverable natural gas reserves of 27 trillion cubic feet, Angola has been historically slow to monetize its gas resources, but recently launched a series of comprehensive gas monetization and utilization initiatives, with a view to emerging as a regional gas player.
Moderated by Eric A. Williams, President & Principal Consultant, Royal Triangle Energy Solutions Limited, panelists included Julius Rone, Managing Director, UTM Offshore; Camilo Gomes, Finance Manager, Certex Angola LDA; Ricardo Silva, President-Elect of the Association of International Energy Negotiators and Partner at Miranda & Associates; Rui Bastos, Global Risk, Energy Expert, EY; Ronald Groot, Managing Director, Angola, Siemens Energy; and Manuel Barros, Chairman of the Executive Committee, UNGER.
Williams kicked off the discussion by stating that, “Natural gas is the ideal resource that can assist in the development of the continent.”
As natural gas is increasingly positioned as a key component of the energy transition and means of generating power, easing fuel shortages and diversifying state revenue streams, Angola’s public and private sector have implemented an ambitious gas monetization campaign, with speakers exploring the country’s readiness to become a regional gas powerhouse.
“So far, we have all the ingredients to be a regional powerhouse. We have infrastructure with a train of LNG with capacity to expand and infrastructure linked to trade. We have neighboring countries with a need for gas. These are necessary ingredients to make Angola a regional powerhouse. The Angolan state has provided the legal framework in order to develop the resources,” stated Barros.
Panelists discussed how the expansion of natural gas in Angola – and across the continent – is in part being fueled by the global energy transition, with gas serving as a relatively clean burning fossil fuel that releases 50-60% fewer emissions from combustion than coal or petroleum products.
According to Rone, “Gas is cleaner energy. For Angola, the opportunities are huge. What is required to save costs by looking at technology that is proven, and that is FLNG. For us, there is an opportunity for Angola to catch up with the trend of the development of offshore natural gas and that is through FLNG.”
Natural gas also represents a critical solution to easing fuel shortages in Angola, with gas-to-power technology offering a cost-effective alternative for power generation. The country is seeking to raise its national electrification rate to 60% by 2025 on the back of new gas-fired and renewable power generation capacity.
“Natural gas is a fantastic complementary energy source. It can work well in conjunction with existing renewables in Angola. If we talk about power generation from gas turbines, it is great because it is so flexible – you can start and stop it within minutes unlike solar and other resources. This helps in providing more coverage. The existing infrastructure is not of the standards it needs to be, so until then, natural gas-based power generation is a great complementary power generation solution,” stated Groot.
While the country currently exports 95% of its natural gas production in the form of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) through its Angola LNG project, it is aiming to retain 25% of production in-country by 2030 via associated value-added industries, including petrochemicals, fertilizer production, agriculture and manufacturing. The Angola LNG plant in Soyo is currently the country’s only gas monetization facility, processing gas from seven offshore fields and representing one of the largest single investments in the Angolan oil and gas industry.
“We always talk about gas to power, but we forget that this is only one side of the coin. We need gas to power and all the infrastructure that comes with it. We have to think of this strategically, it is not only focusing on gas to power but actually the whole ecosystem to improve the lives of everyone,” stated Gomes.
Bastos expanded on the topic of the gas ecosystem, stating that, “The ecosystem as a whole needs to be looked at. When you look at global trends, you are looking at the long-term electrification of our society. With electrification, you start diversifying other industries. Looking at the use of gas through other forms of feedstock, there are vast opportunities for how you can transform gas molecules to other sources. The trick is to make the conditions available to develop those industries.”