The Republic of the Congo is sub-Saharan Africa’s third-largest crude oil producer with 2.9 billion barrels of proven reserves, and now seeks to increase its output, estimated at 336,000 barrels per day (bpd).
Like many oil-producing nations, the Congo’s energy sector went through major upheavals in recent years due to the 2014-2016 collapse in oil prices and the 2020 global standstill. However, the Congolese government has taken steps to mitigate issues related to its most important industry, most notably by revising the Hydrocarbons Code in 2016 as well as devising a plan to monetize gas reserves with the Gas Master Plan (GMP) done in collaboration with Wood Mackenzie, which has provided International Oil Companies incentive to continue investing. TotalEnergies, Perenco, the Société Nationale des Pétrolers du Congo (SNPC), Chevron, and Lukoil are among the most active companies in the country’s oil and gas industry.
TotalEnergies E&P Congo
Established in the Congo since 1968, TotalEnergies, through its subsidiary TotalEnergies E&P Congo, is the largest oil producer in the Congo with an estimated 200,000 bpd. It has large participating interests in four offshore fields: Moho-Bilondo (53,5%), Nkossa/Nsoko (53,5%), Sendji (55,25%), and Yanga (55,25%). The Moho-Bilondo field includes the fields of Moho Phase 1B and Moho Nord, the first deepwater offshore project of the Congo with depths estimated between 650m and 1,100m. Situated 75km off the coast of Pointe-Noire, the Moho-Bilondo permit area is also owned by Chevron and the SNPC at 31.5% and 15% respectively. Combined total production for Moho Nord and Moho Phase 1B is estimated at 140,000 bpd or 60% of the country’s daily oil production.
Operating since 2001, Perenco is one of the newest IOCs to operate in the country. It operates the fields of Yombo, Masseko, Likoula, Emeraude, PGNF South fields, producing a total of 75,000 bpd. The company has been at forefront in re-dynamizing the oil and gas sector in recent years. Benoît de la Fouchardière, CEO of Perenco, recently stated that he aims to strengthen the company’s position in the country, joining forces with the Ministry of Hydrocarbons to increase annual oil production. Perenco and local authorities are purportedly delineated supporting policies, which would either include bringing changes in investment policies, increase production, or develop a specific number of oil fields. The company has so far confirmed plans to install eight new platforms, drill 40 wells, and build a 10km long pipeline to monetize gas flaring.
Created in 1998, the SNPC is the Congo’s public national oil company tasked to oversee oil exploration and production permit distributions. It’s mandated to have a 15% share of permits distributed, thus allowing it to remain integral to the development of the country’s oil and gas industry. In line with government objectives, the SNPC has doubled in efforts to attract foreign direct investment and to increase its own performance in order to increase state revenues. Moreover, taking advantage of its estimated 284 billion cubic feet of gas reserves and the global increase in demand, the SNPC has produced a GMP in collaboration with Wood Mackenzie, which is said to boost future gas monetization projects and attract foreign investments.
The SNPC is the main operator of two oil fields: Mengo-Kundji-Bindi II (MKB II), which is estimated to have reserves of over 300 million barrels, and Mayombe, for which the SNPC is looking to place a joint venture. Currently, SNPC’s oil production is at 52,000 bpd and hopes to increase it by an additional 30,000 by developing MKB II.
Chevron Overseas Congo Ltd
Operating in the Republic of the Congo through its subsidiary Chevron Overseas Congo Ltd since 1982, Chevron produced an average of 49,000 barrels of liquids per day in 2020. The company operates and has 31.3% interest of the Lianzi Unitization Zone, an area located in both Angola and the Congo at 105 km from the coastline – central Africa’s first offshore cross-border oil development. Moreover, Chevron holds a 31.5% interest in the offshore fields of Nkossa, Nsoko, and Moho Bilondo, which are operated by Total E&P Congo.
Chevron’s net daily oil-equivalent production from its upstream operations in Africa is estimated at 387,000 barrels, or 13% of the company’s total.
Lukoil Upstream Congo
Eager to expand its oil exploration and production activities in Africa, Russian energy corporation, Lukoil, entered the Congolese energy market in 2019 after acquiring 25% of participating interests of the Marine XII oil block, which includes the fields of Nene and Litchendjili from New Age for 800 million USD. The site is operated by Eni, which has 65% of participating interests and the SNPC 10%.
During a visit to the country in May 2021, Lukoil Vice President for the Americas, West Africa and Europe, Ivan Romanovsky, reiterated to the H.E. Bruno Jean-Richard Itoua, Minister of Hydrocarbons, the company’s interest in increasing its activities in the small oil-producing nation. In 2020, Lukoil’s activities in the Congo generated an estimated 4 million boe.
Energy Capital & Power will launch Congo-Brazzaville’s first ever energy sector specific report, Africa Energy Series: Congo-Brazzaville 2022, in the second quarter of 2022, which will outline the country’s COVID-19 recovery strategy and unpack its ambitious plans for the development of its hydrocarbons industry including natural gas development; environmental and social governance; and the energy transition.