Arab Today, arab today massive gas discoveries add to east africa\s allure
Last Updated : GMT 20:46:17
Arab Today, arab today
Arab Today, arab today

Massive gas discoveries add to East Africa\'s allure

Arab Today, arab today

Arab Today, arab today Massive gas discoveries add to East Africa\'s allure

London - Arabstoday

To East Africa\'s assets of spectacular wildlife, abundant land and shimmering beaches you can now add gas so much gas it could transform global energy flows along with some of the world\'s poorest countries. Finds announced just last week off Tanzania and Mozambique are estimated to hold enough gas to supply France, Germany, Britain and Italy for at least a year — possibly much more. These and other discoveries in eastern Africa in the past year have sent shares in small explorers soaring, prompted takeover battles and rattled gas producers in other regions. They are already starting debate about how the resource wealth can bring better living standards rather than exacerbating corruption and distorting eastern Africa\'s relatively diverse economies just as they are taking off. East Africa has been emerging as an oil-producing region in recent years, although discoveries in Uganda and most recently Kenya have so far been smaller than in West Africa\'s giants.The excitement over oil has been overtaken by the largely offshore gas discoveries stretching along eastern Africa\'s Indian Ocean coast from Kenya to Mozambique. \"It\'s a thrill a minute. The news is coming hard and fast,\" said Nick Cooper, CEO of explorer Ophir Energy, whose share price has more than doubled in four months. Ophir\'s partner, British gas producer BG Group, announced a major discovery off Tanzania this week. US explorer Anadarko Petroleum and Italian oil group Eni announced even bigger finds off Mozambique. Anadarko estimates its reserves off northern Mozambique at 50 trillion cubic feet (1.4 trillion cubic metres) — almost as much as Libya\'s proven gas reserves. It is planning production from 2018. Eni says its neighbouring exploration block may have 52 trillion cubic feet of gas. Across the border, BG, Ophir, Exxon Mobil and Statoil say they may have 20 trillion cubic feet. The 253 trillion cubic feet that the US Geological Survey now estimates may lie off Kenya, Tanzania and Mozambique compares to 186 trillion cubic feet for Nigeria, Africa\'s biggest energy producer. Tropical freezers Demand is low from eastern Africa\'s small, if fast-growing, economies so the vast majority of the gas would be available for freezing into liquefied natural gas (LNG) to supply an expanding global market for a fuel that burns more cleanly than coal. \"We can help vault Mozambique into being one of the world\'s three largest LNG exporters,\" Anadarko Chief Executive Jim Hackett told an Eni company magazine. According to Reuters calculations, Mozambique could be vying with Algeria as the world\'s sixth largest exporter of gas by any means by the middle of next decade. \"There could be 12 trains and still gas left over for GTL,\" Philip Wolfe, head of oil and gas at investment bank UBS, said. GTL, or gas-to-liquids, technology converts gas to motor fuels. Twelve trains — the term for the facilities that turn natural gas into freezing liquid — could pump 60 million tonnes a year. Japan, the world\'s biggest importer of the fuel, used about 78 million tonnes last year. In eastern Africa\'s favour are the lower costs of building the multi-billion dollar plants needed than in countries such as Australia. Eastern Africa is seen as politically stable compared to much of the Middle East and many other parts of Africa — although the Somali pirates haunting the Indian Ocean could be a worry for large shipments of explosive fuel. At today\'s prices, the 30-40 million tonnes a year of LNG which Mozambique may produce would mean revenues of around $30 billion dollars — more than three times the country\'s current gross domestic product. While Mozambique is already one of the fastest growing countries in one of the world\'s fastest growing regions, average income is still little over $400 a year. The question is how much this will really benefit the region.

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