Demonstrating the significant role natural gas continues to play in electrifying Africa, Anglo-Swiss oil and gas heavyweight Perenco together with representatives of the Gabonese government signed a groundbreaking memorandum of understanding (MoU) for the construction of a gas-fired power plant aimed at electrifying the country’s remote southern provinces.
The development comes amidst broader plans to harness the country’s unmet potential as a natural gas producer and confirms Perenco’s central role in the region’s ambitions.
In the presence of Vincent de Paul Massassa, Gabon’s Minister of Oil and Gas, the MoU was signed by Perenco’s Gabon Director General, Adrien Broche, and Joseph Diboma, Director of Development at Gabon Power Company (GPC) in the capital Libreville.
Under the terms of the MoU, the two companies will co-develop a state-of-the-art power plant in Mayumba on the south coast to supply the southern provinces of Nyanga and Ngounié with electricity generated using gas, which will be extracted from Perenco’s nearby offshore oil and associated gas fields.
The initial phase of the project will see an investment of 24 billion CFA from Perenco to build the infrastructure for gas compression and transport via sub-sea pipeline to the site, where GPC has committed to invest a further 50 billion CFA in the power plant itself. This should provide approximately 20 MW of installed capacity, amounting to 180 GWh per year. This will go a long way towards meeting the 150 MW that the government’s Acceleration and Transformation Plan estimates is required to meet the energy needs of the southern country. To help meet this potential, GPC will build a 90 kV high-voltage line, a 20 KV low-voltage line, and a lifting station to supply the main cities of Tchibanga in Nyanga, and Mouila in Ngounié. The second phase of the project will see a 50 MW extension to supply the town of Lambaréné in Moyen Ogooué province. Phase one is expected to electrify 80,000 households and generate some 450 jobs.
The model for this development is similar to projects further north, in which gas from Perenco’s offshore Mbia field is being harnessed to power the country’s two main cities, the capital Libreville, and Gabon’s main offshore oil and gas hub Port Gentil. In addition to unlocking significant economic benefits, the project demonstrates the role natural gas and independent oi and gas companies will play in electrifying, industrializing and growing both Gabon and Africa’s broader economy. The project itself is but the latest demonstration of Perenco’s long-standing commitment to the Gabonese energy sector, where the company’s forte for revitalizing mature fields is particularly relevant in the local environment, where oil production has been steadily declining since its peak in 1996.
The company entered Gabon in 1992 with the acquisition of offshore oil fields off Port-Gentil and has since acquired more assets both on and offshore. Exploitation of these assets has been accompanied by Perenco’s further investment in pipelines and Floating Storage and Offloading vessels. The company’s contribution to infrastructure reached a climax in February of this year when Perenco announced a final investment decision for the creation of the $1-billion Cap de Lopez liquified natural gas (LNG) facility, which will have a capacity of 700,000 tons of LNG, with production expected to come online in 2026.
These developments showcase a much broader ambition laid out in the government’s Gas Master Plan, aimed at diversifying Gabon’s energy mix by tapping into the country’s previously unexploited natural gas potential. Gabon has an estimated 1.2 trillion cubic feet of natural gas reserves, largely located offshore in the form of associated gas in the country’s oil fields. Gas production peaked in 2021 at 70 billion cubic feet, however this figure is set to rise as the government aims to eliminate flaring and instead harness its gas assets to electrify local homes, address climate change, and boost export revenues by meeting growing demand for LNG in wealthy European markets.
As Gabon ushers in a new era of economic growth on the back of natural gas, the country is set to sign new deals and kickstart further development during the continent’s premier event for the oil and gas sector, African Energy Week (AEW) 2023 – taking place from October 16-20 in Cape Town. During AEW 2022, the country made a strong play for investment, with a Gabonese delegation led by H.E. Minister Massassa engaging with investors, driving discussions and connecting E&P players with Gabonese opportunities. This year, this trend will only continue as opportunities presented by the Gas Master Plan entice new financiers and players to the emerging gas market.