When Russia first invaded Ukraine, many people wondered about the impact on the global economy, in particular on the energy sector. Analysts anticipate higher food prices, such as wheat, as well as a possible gas shortage for several European countries. For this reason, Western countries are trying to diversify their dependence on Russian gas and are even looking to African gas-producing countries as a viable alternative.
On 12 May, analyst Marisa Lourenço of Control Riskswhich monitors Portuguese-speaking economies, told Lusa that Angola was the African country with the greatest potential to meet Europe's energy needs:
Angola has the greatest potential to meet the EU's energy needs in the short term; it is one of the few countries in the region that already exports gas to international markets, including Brazil, Japan, China and South Korea.
The ability to increase gas production, as well as the well-established supply chain, makes Angola the immediate winner from the geopolitical shift caused by the war in Ukraine, with Equatorial Guinea, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mauritania and Senegal well placed to benefit in the next two to three years.
Not only does Angola have an export infrastructure that gives it an advantage over its regional peers, allowing the EU access to supply chains, but the major oil companies do not have to invest much capital to access reserves and are able to increase production.
One of the selling points is that Angola has its own resource management company, Sonangol. For the analyst, it is this infrastructure that can attract highly skilled foreign workers, and many European countries are already considering Angola as a partner.
It should also be noted that opportunities for Angola may arise from its historical links with Portugal. Angola has also strengthened its relations with Germany and France since João Lourenço came to power in 2017. The Angolan president has visited several European countries in recent months.
In April this year, it was reported that Italy wanted more Angolan gas in order to reduce its dependence on Russia. To this end, Italy and Angola signed an energy cooperation agreement aimed, among other things, at increasing Angolan gas exports and reducing the European country's dependence on Russian supplies.
On 18 May 2022, Africa's leading oil producers and exporters met in the Angolan capital Luanda. They were looking for ways to increase investment in the oil sector and the energy transition.
Equatorial Guinea and Mozambique, two other Portuguese-speaking African countries, are expected to be among the world's largest gas producers by the end of the decade. However, some officials note that the tumultuous political situation in Mozambique could impede its progress.
Mozambique, like Nigeria, will not be able to seize this opportunity, the former because of the volatile security situation and the latter because of limited gas sector development and a confusing regulatory framework.
The armed insurgency in Mozambique's Cabo Delgado province is slowing the country's progress from a small producer selling most of its output to South Africa to a global exporter. Exports are expected to begin in 2026, "but this date remains subject to the instability of the security environment."
In March this year, Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio visited Mozambique and confirmed Eni's continued investment in natural gas exploration in Cabo Delgado, which he said would be good for the economies of Mozambique and Italy. It is understood that Eni plans to start gas exploration this year in Area 4 of the Rovuma Basin, in a project that consists of subsea wells and a floating platform with a production of 3.4 million tonnes per year.
In the case of Equatorial Guinea, the analysis indicates that the country should benefit from its links with Spain, which is its main trading partner:
This means that the country will have the opportunity to revive dormant gas fields to serve other EU markets in the next two to three years.
Equatorial Guinea, like Angola, has a ready export infrastructure, with shipments not only to Spain but also to Chile and the US, but inefficient bureaucracy hinders the attractiveness of the market, although increasing demand and the opportunity for major oil companies to move away from Russia could lead to improvements in the business environment.
Beyond the Portuguese-speaking countries of Africa, there are other potential gas sources. For example, in April this year, the EU's third largest economy, Italy, reached an agreement with Algeria to increase its natural gas imports. The North African country already supplies gas to Europe via three pipelines, one of which runs to Italy. The other two pipelines are connected to Spain.