As sub-Saharan Africa undertakes a robust post-pandemic recovery on the back of energy development, over 70 crude oil and natural gas projects are expected to come online by 2025, which could add up to 2.3 million barrels per day (bpd) to global crude and condensate production, according to GlobalData.
Yet viable project economics, growing clean energy concerns and above-ground risk remain critical factors in determining which projects will come online – and which will remain stalled indefinitely.
Below are the top sub-Saharan upstream oil projects to watch in 2023, which carry high stakes, but could yield the highest returns for their respective markets.
Angola’s Begonia Field Development
Last July, TotalEnergies announced its final investment decision (FID) for the Begonia field – the first development in offshore Block 17/06 – and awarded the EPSCI contract to McDermott International two months later. Comprising five wells tied back to the existing Pazflor FPSO, the Begonia oilfield development aligns with the company’s strategy to tap into its existing infrastructure and is expected to add 30,000 bpd to current production.
Start-up is planned for late-2024 and will carry an investment of $850 million and 1.3 million man-hours of work, of which 70% will be carried out in Angola. The Begonia field represents a key step forward in Angola’s upstream revival and affirmation that its leading IOCs are committed to developing their in-country assets.
Nigeria’s Bonga North Deepwater Project
Despite dealing with a decade of delays, Shell’s Bonga North Project in OML 118 in Nigeria is expected to reach FID in the second quarter of 2023. Last May, the British multinational entered the final stages of tendering for the project, which involves tying back 120,000 bpd of production to the Bongo Main FPSO at an investment cost of two billion dollars. Notably, the project will be followed by the mammoth, $10-billion Bonga South West Aparo Project, expected to reach FID in 2024.
Bonga North, for its part, is estimated to hold up to 525 million barrels of crude oil and its start-up would be critical in reversing Nigeria’s declining production and enabling the country to regain its position as Africa’s largest oil producer.
Uganda’s Lake Albert Development
The TotalEnergies-operated Lake Albert Development is another oil megaproject that has encountered significant delays, but offers a high pay off. The French major reached FID on the project last February – which marks a $10-billion investment – paving the way for the development of Tilenga and Kingfisher upstream oil projects, along with the construction of the planned 1,500-km East African Crude Oil Pipeline.
Successful development of Lake Albert oil could result in the production of 230,000 bpd and transform Uganda into a verified commercial oil producer, ushering in a new era of East African energy development.
Senegal’s Sangomar Field Development
Senegal is expected to produce first oil in 2023 from the successful start-up of its Sangomar oil project – comprising Rufisque, Sangomar and Sangomar Deep Blocks – which was reported as 60% complete as of last September. Led by Woodside Energy, in partnership with Senegal’s national oil firm Petrosen, the $4.6-billion project is expected to yield approximately 231 million barrels of oil in its first phase of development, with total recoverable oil resources estimated at around 500 million barrels over its lifetime.
For Senegal, first oil will mean a new stream of exports and associated revenues, along with strong prospects for industrialization and rapid economic growth.
Ghana’s Deepwater Tano Cape Three Points
Domestic production in Ghana is expected to more than double by 2023, as a result of new fields coming online, including recent discoveries in the prolific Deepwater Tano Cape Three Points (DWT/CTP) Block.Operated by Aker Energy, the ultra-deepwater block comprises seven fields including Pecan, Pecan North, Almond, Beech and Cob oil fields, along with Hickory North and Paradise gas/condensate fields.
The Norwegian operator is currently conducting extensive development work on the Pecan Field and its satellites, which could see domestic production rise from less than 200,000 bpd to 420,000 bpd by 2023.