West African NOC Forum: Africa’s Energy Development within the Context of a Just Transition

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Celedonio Placido Viera, Director General of PetroGuin; Yaya Barrow, Managing Director of the Gambia National Petroleum Company (GNPC); Dr. Kwame Baah-Nuakoh, General Manager of Sustainability and Stakeholder Relations at GNPC; Amadadou Doumbouya, Director General of the Société Nationale des Pétroles (SONAP); Foday Mansaray, Director General of the Petroleum Directorate for the Office of the President of the Republic of Sierra Leone; and Amina Benkhadra, General Director of the National Office of Hydrocarbons and Mines (ONHYM) were also part of the panel discussion.

“We have many examples of regional integration and each of them demonstrates its potential. Still, there are many other collaborations across the region that we would like to explore,” stated Thierno Seydou Ly, Director of Petrosen, who added that, “Petrosen has some 40 years of experience, and we can share that, with MoUs signed with The Gambia and Guinea-Conakry for instance.”

Under the theme, A new vision in accelerating production and investment in an energy transitioning world, the West African NOC Forum focused on current reforms and mechanisms that African NOCs are undertaking to drive Africa’s energy development within the context of a just transition.

“This collaboration and interconnectedness is very key, and I think that it’s very important for NOCs within the Basin to actually sign agreements,” stated Yaya Barrow, Managing Director of the GNPC, adding that, “I think one challenge at the moment is actually attracting and retaining investors, because, due to the energy transition, it’s very clear that the West is no longer keen to invest in oil and gas in Africa.”

The panelists of this esteemed forum discussed the current challenges and opportunities in scaling and reinforcing regional integration, touching on the best practices within public-private partnerships and how the ever-evolving landscape may serve as a high-growth area.

“I think that there are many countries in the same situation who could collaborate: Senegal, Mauritania, Morocco, amongst many others. We need lots of money to pursue these offshore megadevelopments and Senegal has shown the way,” exclaimed Amadadou Doumbouya, Director General of SONAP. “For Conakry, we recognize that as Senegal starts producing millions of tons per annum of LNG, it is going to become an attractive, cheaper energy source for us and its other neighbors and we’re moving forward to share in the boons.”

Adding to the point of regional collaboration, Tourad Abdel Badhi, Managing Director of SMHPM, stated, “We all have to work to achieve regional integration in Africa and we will not cease in our fight to achieve cooperation in energy.”

Extant strategies towards an Africa-centric energy market, featuring the participation and collaboration of these keystone agencies, as well as their respective governments, closed out the discussions, with the delegates noting and recognizing the energy transition as an imperative requisite for the African continent to take advantage of the available resources while serving to eradicate energy poverty.

“The objective for the Government of The Gambia, as always, is to make sure that affordable power is available, and that good manufacturing practices (GMPs) are targeted. Even though our target is through oil and gas exploration and production, we use part of the resources to facilitate midstream and downstream activities. In order for us to utilize our gas, we need to provide infrastructure, so it is in our own interest to ensure that there is a domestic market for our gas,” stressed Dr. Kwame Baah-Nuakoh, General Manager of Sustainability and Stakeholder Relations at GNPC.

Additionally, driving the Conference’s theme of The Future of Natural Gas: Growth Using Strategic Investment and Policy Making, Amina Benkhadra, General Director of ONHYM, stated that, “We need to create integrated regional energy markets amongst us. To do so, we must garner regional experience and expertise, learning from early producers like Senegal and Mauritania. Recently, ECOWAS has taken a lead in bridging production and demand centers, so with this new vision of production and regional distribution, we are finally taking major steps towards true integration ahead of COP27.”

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Onur Yilmaz

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