Out-Law News 1 min. read

UK firms urged to target new business in Africa’s oil and gas industry

The UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) agency is encouraging UK firms to take advantage of export opportunities to win new business emerging from Africa’s developing oil and gas industry.

UKTI said it is targeting “major investment projects and smaller and shallow water fields”, with a focus on providing support to firms that have recently acquired major independent oil company assets.

According to UKTI, many UK companies are already active in Nigeria’s market, “which is by far Africa’s largest oil producer”. However, the agency said there are also opportunities for UK oil and gas companies in Ghana, Kenya, Uganda, Mozambique and Tanzania.

UK business secretary Vince Cable told a recent UKTI oil and gas seminar in Glasgow: “UK oil and gas is organised, ambitious and working well with government to maintain long term competiveness via the industrial strategy... to maximise production of UK oil and gas resources and sustain and promote the UK supply chain here and overseas.”

British technologies, capabilities and experience that could benefit firms in Africa include major deep water development, floating production, storage and offloading and component supplies, UKTI said.

UKTI’s ‘high value opportunities’ programme, which focuses on “complex, large-scale commercial opportunities that can benefit from government-to-government engagement”, can pave the way for UK supply-chain firms to gain access to local markets, the agency said.

The oil and gas sector in east Africa remains “underdeveloped”, UKTI said. “New opportunities are arising in Tanzania, Mozambique, Kenya and Uganda. In these countries untapped basins and reserves are becoming more accessible as infrastructure improves. Opportunities exist for UK companies to get involved at a very early stage and develop these openings. Local supply chains in many areas can’t provide all the assets, equipment or services needed to fully realise the potential of the region.”

According to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), Europe is the largest regional importer of Nigerian oil. In 2012, Europe imported 889,000 barrels per day of crude oil and condensate from Nigeria, accounting for 44% of total Nigerian exports. The EIA also lists Nigeria as the largest holder of natural gas proven reserves in Africa and the ninth largest holder in the world.

A report released this year from consultancy Ernst & Young (80-page / 2.4MB PDF) said Nigeria had been the largest recipient of foreign direct investment in Africa over the last decade, 80% of which had been invested in the oil and gas sector.

In Kenya, the World Bank Group is working with Kenya’s government to develop the country’s petroleum resources to support growth in public and private sectors and encourage investment.

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