Equatorial Guinea To Grant Extensions To Exploration Companies
By Emmanuel Oluebube
During a webinar hosted by Africa Oil & Power in partnership with the African Energy Chamber and the Ministry of Mines and Hydrocarbons of Equatorial Guinea, the country’s Minister of Mines and Hydrocarbons (MMH) Gabriel Mbaga Obiang Lima provided key insight on the country’s plans in working through the current state of global oil markets and the COVID-19 pandemic.
Considering 2020 and 2021 ‘the lost years’ amid the low oil price and COVID-19, Obiang Lima, stressed the importance of flexibility and taking a realistic approach in order for oil producers all over the world and, especially in Africa to recover from the downturn – a message well in line with the African Energy Chamber’s Commonsense Agenda for the Oil & Gas Industry, April 27.
Maintaining his optimism, the minister said to the attendees of the webinar that: “I believe this pandemic presents new opportunities for the African continent. It is a new opportunity because some of the historical services operators are leaving countries with the resources and they are having to realize that they have to do the work themselves.”
“This is a chance for African entrepreneurs to enter the market and operate their installations themselves rather than waiting for the pandemic to end. It is a great opportunity but, with this great opportunity, we still need to be realistic,” he added.
In taking a realistic approach, Obiang Lima said with the second half of the year rapidly approaching, small African oil producing countries needed to focus on research and development, give license extensions and look at 2021 as the year of rethinking. In doing this, the minister provided that Equatorial Guinea would see new legislation announcements which would include the limitations of expatriates which will be for three years and, encouraging the national service industry to take responsibility and prepare for the rebound.
“The other regulation that we are planning to launch this week is mineral and petroleum regulation,” the minister announced. The launch of this regulation will allow the MMH to develop on its mining industry and see that there is a good deal of local participation in the sector.
Next month, the MMH will also release a new petroleum regulation that will focus on its downstream sector. “This is really what we believe will be the future for our oil and gas industry. The refining and downstream is key because it can create a lot of jobs and it is about time that we processed our resources in-country,” said the minister.
On how local content policy will change under new legislation for IOCs and NOCs , he said there will be contracts and projects that will have to be 100 percent Equatoguinean. This will be implemented in the upstream, downstream and petrochemicals sector.
Moving ahead, the MMH will push three key messages to national oil companies (NOCs) and international oil companies (IOCs):
The need to maintain shareholder value which will benefit the people of Equatorial Guinea and ensure that revenue generation is maintained.
Ensuring the safety of operations for the workers who have continued amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The importance of maintaining and supporting the relationships between NOCs and IOCs, certifying that both sides work through the challenges together.
With a central focus on now being the time for local industries to enter the business of oil and gas, Obiang Lima said for Africa to be competitive in the global oil and gas industry, it needed to get in control of its resources.
“We could take this opportunity and not just be involved in the extraction of our resources but in the processing and the marketing sectors because, very few Africans are involved in this aspect of the oil and gas business,” explained the minister.
With 2020 having been declared as Equatorial Guinea’s Year of Investment (YoI), the MMH had maintains that the initiative is still important for the country’s development and it will continue and lead into 2021 focusing on its petrochemical advancement.
“By the fourth quarter of this year, I should be able to announce the different projects that we will be doing. For example, the [gas] backfilling, we will have the first production of [gas] backfilling in November and we expect to have the ground breaking on some of our refinery projects,” he revealed.
“The African Energy Chamber congratulates H.E. Gabriel Mbaga Obiang Lima for the measures he has taken to assist exploration companies with extensions and production companies with delaying work programmes,” said Executive Chairman of the African Energy Chamber, NJ Ayuk. “This is in line with our African Energy Commonsense agenda for the oil and gas industry released today that aims to support the continuity of business operations and future sector growth,” he added.