Following the discovery of sizeable oil and gas deposits across the continent, both mature and emerging hydrocarbon economies in Africa are ramping up exploration through the introduction of a number of licensing rounds, leading to energy knowledge house Rystad Energy forecasting a 55% increase in exploration spending in 2022.
According to the organization’s regional trends report, a positive year can be predicted for Africa’s upstream industry, driven predominantly by ongoing, opening and planned licensing rounds.
Bids Under Evaluation
In 2021, Egypt launched its first ever online licensing round, and in January 2022, awarded eight blocks out of 24 across the offshore Mediterranean Sea and Gulf of Suez, and onshore Western Desert.
In 2020, the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources of Uganda launched the country’s second bid licensing round, with five blocks on offer. While the winners have yet to be announced, in June 2021 four firms were shortlisted including TotalEnergies E&P, DGR Global, PetrolAfrik Energy Resources and the Ugandan National Oil Company.
In February 2022, The Gambia’s Ministry of Petroleum announced the launch of its 2022 licensing round for Block A1, with the country approaching its second major licensing round – six of the blocks are already active with five offshore and two onshore soon to follow.
Rather than continue with its 2020 licensing round, in June 2021, Liberia launched a direct negotiation process. Expected to run until November 30, 2022, the process has seen 33 offshore blocks open up across the Harper and Liberia basins.
Open for Bidding
In May 2020, the Somalia Petroleum Authority launched the country’s first ever offshore licensing round, with seven blocks on offer. While the initial deadline was set for March 2021, an extension was announced, with the final deadline awaiting confirmation but expected this year.
In April 2022, the Petroleum Institute of Mozambique announced the pre-qualifying results of the country’s sixth licensing round – launched on November 25, 2021. With 16 offshore blocks open for bidding in August this year, 12 international companies have been selected to bid, with the results expected in November 2022.
The Republic of the Congo
The Ministry of Hydrocarbons of the Republic of the Congo launched the Congo Cuvette licensing round in 2019. With five blocks on offer within the interior basin of the Congolese basin, the round aims to build on the success of other exploration campaigns across the Great Basin of the Congo. In 2022, the round expects to be closed with blocks awarded the same year.
The Petroleum Directorate of Sierra Leone announced the opening of the country’s fifth licensing round in May 2022, with 63,643 km² of acreage up for grabs across 56 blocks. The round will remain open until September 30 of this year, with significant interest already demonstrated by regional and international companies.
In April 2022, the National Agency for Oil, Gas and Biofuels opened the bidding for eight blocks in the Lower Congo and Kwanza Basins, following the invitation to bid sent out to 13 pre-selected companies. The round comprises a limited public tender.
The Ministry of Energy, Industry and Natural Resources of Guinea-Bissau has opened up five blocks for bidding under a special deepwater tender round.
In 2020, the Ministry of Energy and Mining of Sudan announced the planning of a 27-block licensing round, including 24 onshore. Details regarding the round are still to be announced.
The Ministry of Energy, Mines and Energy Transition of Tunisia is planning to launch a licensing round with four exploration blocks on offer. The opening and closing of the round is estimated sometime during 2022 with awarding expected in 2023.
In 2021, South Sudan announced the launch of a 14-block licensing round with the opening planned for this year and closing expected in 2023. In addition to providing licenses, the country has built its own data facility in Juba and has purchased its own aircraft to conduct aerogravity surveys.
Out of the 63 blocks in Kenya, 26 are held by international oil companies, one by the National Oil Corporation of Kenya and the remaining 35 are open for bidding. The government is yet to announce plans to hold an official licensing round for the remaining blocks, but expectations are high that a round could open in 2023.
The Democratic Republic of Congo
The Democratic Republic of Congo is planning to hold an auction for 16 exploration blocks – three offshore and 13 onshore – from July 28-29, 2022.
Following the launch of Senegal’s first major licensing round in 2020, with 12 blocks on offer, the Ministry of Petroleum and Energies is planning a second, potentially larger round, expected to be announced in 2022.
Guinea-Conakry is in the process of tendering 22 unexplored blocks, with bidding terms currently being finalized.