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E’Guinea close to becoming Africa’s gas hub—Report

Equatorial Guinea Tuesday, made yet another step closer to becoming a gas hub for Africa today as it inaugurated the first LNG storage and regasification plant to be built on the West African coast.

While West Africa is a major global exporter of gas from Nigeria and Equatorial Guinea, no import infrastructure had been installed until now to encourage the import and use of African gas within Africa itself.

German companies ESC Engineers and Noordtec worked closely with Equatoguinean contractor Elite Construcciones on the design, development and construction of the Akonikien LNG project in Equatorial Guinea. The 14,000 cubic metres storage and regasification plant was inaugurated this week by H.E. Gabriel Mbaga Obiang Lima, Minister of Mines and Hydrocarbons, and is the first such facility in West Africa.

Coming with a storage capacity of 14,000 cubic metres in 12 bullet tanks, it is the first of its kind and allows LNG to be distributed on the mainland. Along with the storage and regasification infrastructure, Elite is also installing a truck loading station and 12km of gas and diesel pipelines.

In his remarks during a visit to Kogo, at the border with Gabon, Obiang Lima, said the terminal is the first of many upcoming projects under the LNG2AFRICA initiative.

According to him, “LNG2AFRICA has a clear objective of developing small-scale LNG projects to supply gas to countries and regions with limited infrastructure.”

“At a time when Africa’s large-scale LNG projects are making headlines, let’s remind ourselves that smaller-scale projects addressing the needs of energy-deficient regions provide opportunities to monetise our gas for our economies, and to mobilise our local companies around key infrastructure projects for the region.”

Analysts say the Akonikien project is an example of a cost-efficient and clean energy solution to the energy needs of mainland Equatorial Guinea as once stored and regasified, gas will be transported by trucks and pipelines to various industries such as power and cement.

The project demonstrates the expertise that Equatorial Guinea has gained over decades in LNG and natural gas, which can now be used to not only benefit its mainland but also neighbouring West and Central African countries seeking to increase their use of natural gas for electricity and industries.

Already, the Executive Chairman of the African Energy Chamber (AEC) and CEO of Centurion Law Group, who advised on the project congratulated Equatorial Guinea and averred that “This is a beautiful example of local content development and world-class cooperation between a local company and international technical and technology partners.”

It would be recalled that in April this year, Equatorial Guinea had signed the Definitive Agreements for the monetization of gas from its Alen Unit.

Under the agreements, Atlas Oranto Petroleum, Noble Energy, Marathon Oil, Glencore and Guvnor, are investing close to $350 million on pooling supply from stranded gas fields in Equatorial Guinea and the Gulf of Guinea and replace declining output from the Alba field.

The development of the Alen offshore gas hub was then the first step towards Equatorial Guinea’s vision to become a gas mega-hub for the sub-region by developing several offshore gas hubs to monetize neighbouring gas reserves and develop downstream gas industries spurring industrial development and economic growth.