Top 10: Africa’s Leading Oil Producers in 2021

Angola. Oil. Bigstock

With global oil demand dropping 11% in the first half of 2020 – and OPEC+ removing 9.7 million barrels per day (bpd) from the market in a landmark decision last April – it has been a volatile year for Africa’s leading oil producers. In short, top producers on the continent have remained on top, but by narrower margins, with countries like Nigeria and Angola producing between 25%-30% less in 2021 than in 2019. Now, as OPEC gradually eases production cuts, African producers are seeking to ramp up production to pre-COVID-19 levels, amid a rebound in oil prices and heightened exploration drive.

Nigeria

Crude Oil Production: 1.36 million bpd

Leading the pack, Nigeria is set to grow its hydrocarbon sector with the launch of more than 100 oil and gas projects over the next five years, including 25 upstream projects. The Nigerian Petroleum Development Corporation has pledged to boost production by 250,000 bpd over the next two years; meanwhile, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation recently signed a deal with Shell, ExxonMobil, Total and Eni to develop an offshore oil block that includes the deep-water Bonga Field, unlocking up to $10 billion in new investment and adding 150,000 bpd to domestic output.

Libya

Crude Oil Production: 1.17 million bpd

Following a blockade against the country’s oil export terminals that sank production to under 200,000 bpd, Libya resumed its pre-blockade output levels at the close of 2020 and is set to stabilize production in 2021. The Libyan Government recently approved a $1.6-billion budget to the National Oil Corporation (NOC) for oilfield development and infrastructure maintenance, which will enable the NOC to reach its target of 1.6 million bpd within two years.

Angola

Crude Oil Production: 1.14 million bpd

Prior to the onset of COVID-19 and OPEC-led production cuts, Angola was set to see a rise in oil output. The country has been revitalizing its sector through a six-year licensing round, reformed contracts and awards management process that incentivizes exploration, and streamlined national oil company that concentrates exclusively on E&P activities. Successful short-cycle tie-backs at Total’s Block 17 – coupled with exploration license extensions at Chevron’s Block 14 and ExxonMobil’s Block 15 – promise to yield new discoveries while maximizing existing assets.

Algeria

Crude Oil Production: 874,000 bpd

With the second-largest oil reserves on the continent, Algeria enjoys a relatively stable rate of production of around 1.1 million bpd pre-COVID-19, although output has faced decline in recent years. As a result, the Government has pledged to boost oil and gas exploration activity, in partnership with international operators, by reforming state-owned Sonatrach and implementing a new hydrocarbon law designed to reverse declining foreign upstream investment.

Egypt

Crude Oil Production: 560,000 bpd

Egypt has its sights set on boosting daily crude output, rolling out one billion dollars for new oil and gas exploration in the Western Desert between now and 2022. Furthermore, between July 2014 and June 2020, 84 petroleum agreements were signed by the Government of Egypt and international operators for oil and gas exploration, with investments totaling $14.8 billion, in addition to grants of about $1.1 billion to drill 351 wells.

Republic of the Congo

Crude Oil Production: 271,000 bpd

Offshore oil and gas dominate the extractive sector in the Republic of the Congo, and the country has been able to mitigate its production decline by bringing several projects online over the past decade, including its first deep-water field Moho-Bilondo. In a bid to boost exploration activities, a multi-client airborne gravity gradient survey is currently being conducted in the Cuvette Basin area; meanwhile, Zenith Energy secured a new 25-year license at the start of the year to continue to operate the Tilapia oilfield.

Ghana

Crude Oil Production: 189,000 bpd

Strong output from the prolific Jubilee and Ten oilfields, in conjunction with rising foreign investment in offshore basin development, has granted Ghana a favorable long-term production outlook. Thanks to new fields coming on stream – in particular, the Aker-operated Deepwater Tano Cape Three Points – oil production is expected to more than double to 420,000 bpd by 2023. The Norwegian operator is also currently working on its $4.4-billion Pecan field, which is estimated to contain between 600,000 and one million barrels of oil.

Gabon

Crude Oil Production: 160,000 bpd

Gabonese oil production has been declining due to the maturity of several fields and insufficient investments to renew production bases, compounded by OPEC-led production cuts that have reduced output by over 100,000 bpd. As a result, the country is seeking to attract new investment into offshore exploration. Furthermore, following revisions to the Hydrocarbons Code and its promulgation in early 2019, hopes are high that a revised and more flexible regulatory framework will translate into new capital and technology injections into the sector.

Equatorial Guinea

Crude Oil Production: 153,000 bpd

Equatorial Guinea’s Ministry of Mines and Hydrocarbons is targeting heightened E&P activities and $1.1 billion in foreign direct investment into the oil and gas sector in 2021. Trident Energy is currently conducting a three-well drilling campaign in Block G to offset declining production at the Ceiba and Okume Complex. Meanwhile, maintenance works will be conducted on the Zafiro, Jade and Serpentina infrastructures, along with the optimization of production and management of inactive wells. Serving as the country’s most prolific asset, the ExxonMobil-operated Zafiro field was producing 90,000 barrels per day (pre-COVID-19) via the Jade fixed production and drilling platform and Serpentina FPSO.

Chad

Crude Oil Production: 109,000 bpd

Estimated to hold one billion barrels of oil reserves, Chad derives the majority of its crude from the Doba Basin in the southern part of the country. Major operators include ExxonMobil and Shell, the former of which operates the Chad/Cameroon development project that transports crude from oilfields in southern Chad via pipeline to a marine terminal in Cameroon for export.

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Grace Goodrich

Grace Goodrich

Grace Goodrich is a Publications Editor at Energy Capital & Power, where she writes about the intersection of energy, policy and global finance in sub-Saharan Africa's fastest-growing economies. Grace produces our Africa Energy Series investment reports in Angola and Equatorial Guinea (2019), as well as co-authored African Energy Chamber: Road to Recovery (2021).

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