ENERGY SECURITYCan Africa Satisfy Europe's Energy Demand?

By Abu-Bakarr Jalloh

Published 21 April 2022

As the war in Ukraine rages on, the European Union is desperately searching for alternative energy sources. Africa has abundant reserves, but experts say the continent’s energy sector needs urgent reforms and help.

EU nations have considered cutting off import of Russia’s oil and gas following President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, which began on February 24.

To avoid self-inflicting punishments to its economies, the EU is deliberating medium- and long-term solutions to replace the average 380 million cubic meters per day of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) from Russia. This amounts to 140 billion cubic meters or 45% of almost the EU’s total gas consumption a year.

To fulfill the short-term needs, German Economic Affairs and Climate Action Minister Robert Habeck chose a different approach by leading German companies to sign energy deals with the United Arab Emirates on Monday.

The trade agreements come as the price of Brent crude oil, a major benchmark price for oil purchases worldwide, continues to soar sharply.

Africa Could Help
The African continent has abundant oil and gas reserves. In 2017, Africa reportedly had 148.6 trillion cubic meters of proven gas reserves — more than 7% of the global reserves.

In 2019, the European Union imported about 108 billion cubic meters of LNG from Africa, over 12 billion of which came from Nigeria.

[African producers] have more reserves than needed for their own market and are therefore predestined for export,” Khadi Camara, from the German-African Business Association, told DW

In 2019, Nigeria led crude oil exports in Africa, with more than 2 million barrels per day of oil sold on the international market. 

In the same year, Africa’s overall oil and gas production reached 327.3 million metric tons.

 As of 2020, Africa’s contribution to global oil exports reached nearly 9%.

For African countries to plug the gap, they will have to have spare capacity of at least 7.4 million barrels per day, according to a Nigerian energy broker who asked to be identified by the pseudonym Chinedu Olayinka because, he said, discussing such matters could make him a target. “They don’t have this capacity and are not even close to it,” he said.

Low Oil-Production Capacity
“Both Angola and Nigeria, the top two producers in Africa, are not even close to meeting their OPEC quotas, how much more spare capacity,” Olayinka posed.

He said Nigeria only managed to pump 94% of its 1.7 million-barrel-per day quota. Likewise, Angola pumped only 78% of its quota of 1.4 million barrels per day.