Equatorial Guinea Year of Investment Advances, Despite Challenges


The Minister of Mines and Hydrocarbons promotes downstream projects and continues to sign contracts, as oil and gas industry adapts to COVID-19, writes CATY HIRST.

COVID-19 has slowed global trade, but Equatorial Guinea is not relenting in its drive for investment and downstream diversification, said the country’s Minister of Mines and Hydrocarbons, H.E. Gabriel Mbaga Obiang Lima. Equatorial Guinea’s Year of Investment 2020 campaign continues to move ahead.

“Definitely the Year of Investment is still very important,” said the Minister during a webinar hosted by Africa Oil & Power on Monday. “2019 was the Year of Energy, and the Year of Energy was to show to the world Equatorial Guinea … 2020 is the Year of Investment. It is the year that we put our money where our mouth is. And we are definitely going to continue.”

Projects already moving ahead include the backfill of gas supply to gas processing facilities as part of the Gas Megahub project, which is in the works with partners Noble Energy and Marathon Oil, as well as preliminary work on a modular refinery. These projects will move forward, despite the low oil price environment caused by COVID-19, largely because they were already in progress.

The pipelines for the backfill project are already complete, and gas feed from the Alen field to backfill the EG LNG plant at Punta Europa should come on stream by November 2020.

The Year of Investment, planned to last throughout 2020 and include several in-country conferences and a global investment roadshow, is adapting to the new restrictions under COVID-19. Webinars and video conferencing are just one way technology is keeping the country connected with investors.

“By this time, everyone was supposed to be here in Equatorial Guinea. We were supposed to be having a conference. We were supposed to be signing a lot of contracts. But I am still signing contracts,” Lima said on Wednesday.

Webinars and virtual roadshows will continue throughout the year, and will culminate in a Malabo conference on November 25-26, 2020. The Africa Oil & Investment Forum will attract regional and international investors to Malabo, as the country continues to engage at the regional and international level.

The Year of Investment is laying the groundwork for 2021, which will be the country’s year to focus on petrochemicals, the Minister said. Equatorial Guinea has been addressing downstream diversification efforts in recent years, with a focus on gas monetization and building refining capacity. 2020 and 2021 will be “lost years” for upstream oil and gas, he said, as projects are put on hold and cancelled in the short term.

“Downstream is the future of our industry. It is king. It will create jobs and enable us to use the entirety of our entire resources to be processed in-country,” Lima said. “Clearly, one of our solutions [to COVID-19] is going to be diversification within oil and gas.”

New projects and investments are expected to be announced in the fourth quarter of this year, including the groundbreaking of Equatorial Guinea’s first refinery.

In addition, the country is developing liquified natural gas for LNG-to-power scenarios, for domestic and international use. Equatorial Guinea is on track to complete the country’s first LNG regasification plant by the end of 2020.

  • Hirst is Director of Programming at Africa Oil & Power.

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