With over 125 billion barrels of proven crude oil reserves and 600 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of natural gas, Africa’s exploration and production landscape has seen an uptick in investor interest, as stakeholders move to unlock the full potential of the continent’s hydrocarbons.
The continued growth in greenfield and brownfield investment across the continent, coupled with the increase in oil and gas demand at global scale, is set to significantly increase the demand for rigs across Africa’s hydrocarbon sector between 2022-2025, according to the African Energy Chamber’s ‘State of African Energy: 2023 Outlook’.
The AEC’s outlook states that the demand for rigs will increase from 28 rig years in 2021 and 34 rig years in 2022 to 45 rig years in 2023. As such, a number of major producing countries are set to drive the rig demand in 2023.
Egypt is set to be the most active country in terms of rig demand between 2022 and 2025, with approximately 42 rig years expected. This demand is largely driven by the country’s accelerated exploration and production drive, with large-scale campaigns underway including Eni and the Egyptian Natural Gas Holding Company’s cooperation to optimize upstream activities in the Meleiha concessions and in blocks in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea, the Gulf of Suez and the Western Desert.
Angola – with an estimated rig demand of approximately 29 rig years – is expected to drive the market between 2022 and 2025 as major players in the country, including Somoil, Chevron, TotalEnergies, Sonangol and ExxonMobil, prioritize boosting oil and gas reserves and output in the blocks they currently operate. Chevron has already closed a deal with Shelf Drilling Tenacious for the provision of its jack-up rigs for drilling in blocks 0 and 14 as from January 2023 through November 2023 while Sonadrill has secured a $327 million deal to drill 12 more wells over a 25-month period in Angola.
Standing at approximately 24 rig years, the demand for rigs in Nigeria will mainly be driven by the country’s efforts to increase declining oil exploration and production. On the back of the Petroleum Industry Act and Nigeria’s Just Energy Transition Plan, efforts by the West African country to increase its proven gas reserves from 200 tcf to 600 tcf, with the aim of improving energy access while boosting exports, will play a crucial role in boosting rig demand in 2023 and beyond.
Republic of the Congo
At 11 rig years, Congo-Brazzaville’s demand for oil and gas drilling rigs in 2023 through 2025 will mainly be driven by the country’s efforts to increase reserves and production in existing fields including Djeno, N’Kossa, and Yombo. The results of the 2019 Cuvette License Round as well as improved cooperation between the government and European majors such as Eni and TotalEnergies on gas exploration and exports to Europe will also play a crucial role in boosting the demand for rigs in the country.
Efforts by Libya to increase oil reserves and production – following declines in output due to political instability and natural declines in legacy projects – including a deal signed between the Libyan and Turkish governments to conduct exploration and production activities, is set to revive upstream activities and increase the demand for rigs in 2023. In addition, global majors will be launching massive exploration and field redevelopment campaigns, with the most notable including Equinor’s NC-186 (MURZUQ) and NC-17 (MABRUK) in 2023 and Repsol’s new exploration programs.