Updated: March 5, 2021
Equatorial Guinea made yet another step closer to becoming a gas hub for Africa on Tuesday as it inaugurated the first LNG storage and regasification plant to be built on the West African coast.
While West Africa is a major global exporter of gas from Nigeria and Equatorial Guinea, no import infrastructure had been installed until now to encourage the import and use of African gas within Africa itself.
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The new plant is being built at the Port of Akonikien, on Equatorial Guinea’s mainland, by local contractor Elite Construcciones. With a storage capacity of 14,000 cubic metres in 12 bullet tanks, it is the first of its kind and allows LNG to be distributed on the mainland. Along with the storage and regasification infrastructure, Elite is also installing a truck loading station and 12km of gas and diesel pipelines.
Making the announcement during a visit in Kogo, at the border with Gabon, H.E. Gabriel Mbaga Obiang Lima, Minister of Mines and Hydrocarbons, said the terminal is the first of many upcoming projects under the LNG2AFRICA initiative.
“LNG2AFRICA has a clear objective of developing small-scale LNG projects to supply gas to countries and regions with limited infrastructure,” declared Minister Obiang Lima.
“At a time when Africa’s large-scale LNG projects are making headlines, let’s remind ourselves that smaller-scale projects addressing the needs of energy-deficient regions provide opportunities to monetise our gas for our economies, and to mobilise our local companies around key infrastructure projects for the region.”
The Akonikien project is an example of a cost-efficient and clean energy solution to the energy needs of mainland Equatorial Guinea. Once stored and regasified, gas will be transported by trucks and pipelines to various industries such as power and cement. The project demonstrates the expertise that Equatorial Guinea has gained over decades in LNG and natural gas, which can now be used to not only benefit its mainland but also neighbouring West and Central African countries seeking to increase their use of natural gas for electricity and industries.
“We congratulate the Ministry of Mines and Hydrocarbons and Elite Construcciones on this remarkable achievement,” declared Nj Ayuk, Executive Chairman of the African Energy Chamber and CEO of Centurion Law Group, who advised on the project. “This is a beautiful example of local content development and world-class cooperation between a local company and international technical and technology partners.”
The project’s infrastructure notably includes the world’s largest factory-built cryogenic bullet tanks, built by US company Corban Energy Group. “Each tank alone will take about 12h to move the thousand metres from the port to the new plant,” explained Marisol Ovono Nchama, CEO of Elite Construcciones, main contractor on the project.
“Elite Construcciones has worked closely with German companies Noordtec and ESC on the design and construction of the plant, and we are all very proud to be part of this achievement and look forward to more LNG2AFRICA projects,” she added.
In April of this year, Equatorial Guinea had also signed the Definitive Agreements for the monetization of gas from its Alen Unit. Under the agreements, Atlas Oranto Petroleum, Noble Energy, Marathon Oil, Glencore and Guvnor, are investing close to $350 million on pooling supply from stranded gas fields in Equatorial Guinea and the Gulf of Guinea and replace declining output from the Alba field.
The development of the Alen offshore gas hub was then the first step towards Equatorial Guinea’s vision to become a gas mega-hub for the sub-region by developing several offshore gas hubs to monetize neighboring gas reserves and develop downstream gas industries spurring industrial development and economic growth.