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Sub-Saharan Africa will outstrip Russia as a global gas supplier by 2040, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA), spurring European Union efforts to wean itself off its Russian gas addiction by investing in the region’s development.
Policymakers and senior officials are acutely aware that liquefied natural gas (LNG) imports from a booming Africa would significantly diversify the EU’s energy mix.
Dominique Ristori, the European Commission’s senior civil servant in charge of energy policy, said on Wednesday (29 October) that the situation in Ukraine had given a push to a new level of cooperation between the EU and Africa.
The Ukraine crisis highlighted the EU’s dependence on Russia for gas. Diplomatic efforts to punish Russia for the annexation of Crimea were hampered by fears Moscow would turn off the taps. On 16 October, the Commission published a first-ever analysis of the consequences of a disruption of Russian gas supplies, or even a complete halt of such imports to the Union.
Driven principally by Mozambique, Nigeria, Angola and Tanzania, Sub-Saharan Africa will produce about 175 billion cubic metres per year (bcm/y) of natural gas by 2040.
The United States, powered by the shale gas boom, will produce more, with 240 bcm. Russia will produce about 130 bcm, according to research by the International Energy Agency (IEA).
Sub-Saharan gas production increased from just 7 bcm in 1990 to 58 bcm in 2012, according to the IEA’s Africa Energy Outlook, presented yesterday (29 October) in Brussels.
Global gas player
International Energy Agency chief economist Dr Fatih Birol said there would be a “substantial” amount of new liquefied natural gas (LNG) potential in Sub-Saharan Africa.
“Investment in liquefied natural gas (LNG) projects could significantly enhance the diversification of gas imports to Europe,” he said.
Half of the overall increase in gas output would go to domestic power generation and industry, but that would still leave plenty to export to Europe.
“Sub-Saharan Africa will remain a cornerstone of global oil markets while emerging as a major new player in the natural gas markets,” Birol said.
Ristori told EurActiv any policy, activities or investment to ensure diversification of supply would support the EU’s energy security strategy.
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