On October 16, the Angolan-American Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with the Angolan Embassy in the United States and Angola’s representation in the World Bank Group, will host the first Angolan Economic Forum (AEF) just before the annual World Bank and the IMF. The African Chamber of Energy supports the event and encourages investors in the United States to take a fresh look at Angola in the light of recent improvements in its operating environment.
The theme, ” Unleashing Angola’s Growth Opportunities”, could not be more appropriate. After nearly two years of deep institutional reforms, legal and tax, the landscape of Angolan business is hard to recognize for anyone familiar with the business environment in the country during the last decade. The President of Angola, João Lourenço kept his promise to repair the system financing the country and aiming to reconstruct chronically eroded structures especially to reorganize the economic backbone of the country and its oil and gas industry.
The rise of President João Lourenço’s power, he sought to make changes to key institutions such as the national company Sonangol and the oil ministry, focusing on experienced professionals and political appointments.
At the same time, the government took the historic decision to remove Sonangol from its regulatory role, ending decades of conflicts of interest that stifled decision-making and investment in key oil and gas sectors. Sonangol is more responsible for granting oil exploration and production licenses to companies. It is now the responsibility of the newly formed National Agency for Oil, Gas, and Biofuels (ANPG), an independent institution that has been managing the country’s oil and gas licensing procedures since 2018.
The ANPG is guided by the new oil and gas framework set in place over the past two years. A new natural gas-specific legal framework, the first in the country’s history, has also been developed to clarify and give license holders the right to explore these resources for their benefit and that of the country. A new fiscal framework has also been developed and implemented to make the industry more competitive and attractive to foreign investors and, more specifically, a detailed master plan has been developed for the country’s extensive network of marginal fields, with which the government hopes to address declining production rates while waiting for renewed investment in exploration to pay off.
The energy sector is at the forefront of the Lourenço agenda. Minister Dimantino Azevedo gave priority to listening to the concerns of the industry to lay the creation of an environment conducive to the realization of Lourenço program. Investment opportunities ranging from exploration in new blocks about upstream expansion projects of capacity, national refining and industry of downstream distribution. Plans have been made to increase LNG production in the country. Large-scale work is set to create new refining capacity expected to free the country from fuel dependency and to allow Angola to become the refining center of the sub-region.
A plan to monetize Angola’s natural gas reserves and use them for energy production and industrial development has also been developed. Beyond the red tape, regulatory institutions have been refined, made more efficient, while licensing procedures have been streamlined and are now much easier and faster to navigate. Strong leadership and efficiency leads to the development of a favourable business environment. Now is the time to speak to investors and partners and to open doors to mutually beneficial relationships.
Perhaps no action speaks louder than the tender for marginal fields at the Petroleum Agency and the Ministry of Mineral Resources and Petroleum launch on October 3, 2019. Ten fields will be proposed in 2019, Block 10 of the Benguela Basin and blocks 11, 12, 13, 27, 28, 29, 41, 42 and 43 in the Namibe Basin. The presentation is being hosted by the ANPG, with stops in Houston, Dubai, and London, which drew a crowd of visitors, showing the interest that the Angolan oil and gas industry continues to raise with investors.
Fiscal and contractual incentives in the new fiscal and legal frameworks in these areas have turned the previously uneconomic outlook into highly attractive opportunities for skilled players in the oil and gas sector. This is a historic moment, as the last public call for tenders for oil licenses in Angola was launched in 2011. The ANPG plans to launch a new call for tenders annually by 2025. Fifty licenses were reserved for these calls for tender during this period, with reserves estimated in the billions of barrels.
The official announcement of the call for tenders was made at the beginning of September 2019, in Luanda. The second stage of the presentation prepared by the Ministry was held in Houston (Texas) on 10 September. It is no secret that the Angolan government has maintained a relationship that has lasted for several decades with many of the major US oil players. Today, Chevron, ExxonMobil, Baker Hughes or Halliburton are leading names in the market, alongside some of their European counterparts.
Oil companies, in particular, described by NJ Ayuk in “Billions at Play: The Future of African Energy”, currently available for order at Amazon, was a key partner of the Angolan government for sustainability and the development of the industry that endured a civil war.
Angola is now once again offering talented US players the opportunity to participate in mutually beneficial partnerships that will contribute to the sustainable development of the world-class oil field.
After the successful presentation in Houston, investors now have the opportunity to better understand the major opportunities available in the Angolan market by participating in the Angolan Economic Forum. This will be the first of a series of annual events designed to present the economic opportunities available in the Angolan market and to build bridges with competent partners. The one-day forum will focus on Angola’s economic prospects, financial systems and, in particular, recent reform efforts and the opportunities for private capital investment available today.
The market today is full of growth potential and coincides with opportunities that are based on the principles of transparency, profitability and long-term partnership. The most exciting oil game in Africa may be on the threshold of a new era and US players should keep their eyes and ears open not to miss out.