After the Italian major ENI, the Algerian Sonatrach will invest in oil and gas production in Congo. A series of meetings is currently taking place between the Algerian government and a Congolese delegation chaired by the Minister of Hydrocarbons and President of the OPEC Conference, Bruno Itoua.
After more than a month of tripartite discussions between Congo-Brazzaville, Italy and Algeria, it seems that in addition to the Italian-Congolese gas agreement of April 21, Algeria will also develop a partnership with the Congo.
Indeed, at the beginning of 2023, the Italian major ENI will increase production from the gas fields it operates in Congo. A production which should quadruple – 4,5 billion cubic meters annually, against 1,35 billion in 2020. Another agreement with ENI, signed on May 12, also provides for the increase in crude production in Congo.
Visiting Algeria since Saturday, accompanied by a large delegation, the Congolese Minister of Hydrocarbons, Bruno Itoua, is seeking to finalize a partnership between Sonatrach and the National Petroleum Company of Congo (SNPC). A framework agreement on the training of human capital, the supply of equipment and the transfer of technology for the exploration and exploitation of hydrocarbons was signed on Wednesday.
Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune received Bruno Itoua on Monday. The Congolese delegation then visited the gas installations of Sonatrach in Oran, the Algerian Petroleum Institute (IAP), as well as the research center of the Algerian oil and gas company. Then, a working day brought together the representatives of the SNPC, those of Sonatrach, as well as Bruno Itoua and his Algerian counterpart Mohamed Arkab, this Wednesday.
Does the Congo want to nationalize its hydrocarbons?
Unlike Sonatrach in Algeria, in Congo SNPC does not control the majority of oil and gas production. For more than 50 years now, ENI and Total have respectively dominated gas and oil production in Congo, with some offshore blocks operated by Britain's Perenco and China's Wing Wah. SNPC has shares ranging from 10% to 35% in the country's oil blocks and gas fields. This guarantees Brazzaville the supervision, at most, of the country's hydrocarbons.
After the discovery of the Cuvette Delta deposits in 2019, the Congolese government announced a potential quadrupling of oil production. The contract was won by Petroleum Exploration & Production Africa (PEPA) and the African Petroleum Research and Distribution Company (SARPD) owned by Congolese businessman, established in Morocco, Willy Etoka.
— Alban Bita (@bitaalban) August 20
SNPC would like to benefit from the Algerian experience
However, the Delta de la Cuvette project is not moving forward, after three years of exploration. Today, the energy crisis of 2016 is not only over, but oil and gas are sold at record prices due to the Russian-Ukrainian conflict. And it seems that Congo wants to avoid a new public-private partnership to increase its oil and gas production, preferring instead to train the personnel of the SNPC and improve the capacities of exploitation of hydrocarbons by the State.
The director of Sonatrach, Toufik Hakkar, spoke this Wednesday of " the willingness of the group to support the Congolese partner through training and the transfer of experience in the field of hydrocarbons”. In a statement from Sonatrach, the same day, the company said it aspired to "consolidate economic relations between the two countries and to implement the investment strategy beyond borders, particularly in the oil and gas industry , transformation and transport of hydrocarbons”.
- Algerian Radio (@radioalgerie) May 25, 2022