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African Energy: Making It Work For Everybody

By Luca Vignati Upstream Director at Eni

When new energy opportunities open up on the continent, the key to developing them successfully lies in a proven set of principles: sustainability, local partnerships and mutual benefit.

Africa is a continent with a growing economy demanding sustainable development for its millions of inhabitants. This is particularly true as it is such a “young continent” in terms of population age. At the same time, the continent is blessed with multiple energy opportunities to fuel this transition phase – from oil to gas to renewables, such as solar and wind, to agri-feedstock for biofuel. 

Africa is now in an exciting position to address all the elements of the energy trilemma (security, affordability, and sustainability) in the framework of a just transition.

For us at Eni, being an integrated energy company that has been committed to Africa since the late 1950s, we continue to see the continent as a fascinating energy-investment frontier because of the variety of energy vectors from traditional to renewables and so we continue to invest here. 

The year 2023 was very fruitful for us delivering two key projects in Sub-Saharan Africa, namely Baleine in Cote d’Ivoire and Congo LNG in the Republic of Congo, while also reaching the final investment decision (FID) on the Structures A&E project in Libya, the first major project in the country for decades. All these were possible as we continue to solidify our fast-track development project model, capitalising on our technical expertise, such as our “development while appraisal” strategy.

The continent is fertile ground for business expansion, from established producers in North Africa to emerging territories such as Mozambique and Cote d’Ivoire where we again confirmed our exploration success with Calao in early 2024. By adopting a neutral stance on energy vectors and technologies, we aim to foster socioeconomic development that prioritises both affordability and sustainability, leaving no one behind.

Collaborative process

African energy development requires collaboration, with exciting opportunities for stakeholders – businesses, governments, and communities – to work together for the best possible outcomes.

Effective dialogue and shared values remain pivotal for successful collaboration. This entails ensuring access to energy at the domestic level as well as to international markets, all while maintaining its affordability and minimising carbon emissions. For such reason, we retain that gas is emerging as the optimal vector to address these three crucial elements.

In pursuing the development of the energy industry, and its challenge in this energy transition scenario, we believe in an approach of inclusivity and mutual benefit that grows local economies –by integrating local content into development projects as well as collaborating on sustainability initiatives.

As  discoveries continue to be made in new African frontiers, from Cote d’ Ivoire to the Orange basin, it’s important to bear in mind that new frontiers and mature countries both require an approach rooted in sustainability and local content, intertwined within the trajectory of growth.

From the very inception of projects, it is vital to maximise benefits and deliver tangible results for host countries.  In line with our values of dual flag model, Eni looks to integrate local-content strategies throughout the project life cycle, from exploration to production, which includes not only developing local business capabilities and workforces, but also running training initiatives in-house, or with non-profit organisations and international agencies.

Recently in Mozambique and Cote d’Ivoire, we have seen the benefits of maximising the involvement of nationals in providing goods and services, promoting the transfer of skills and technologies, bolstering employment opportunities and fostering a dynamic business environment in both countries. We continue to be committed that our future projects such as Coral North and further Baleine phases will continue expanding local content and further strengthen these economies.

We continue uncovering business opportunities, leveraging phased and fast-tracked projects. For example, Baleine will further increase its production with its Phase 2 start up by Q4 2024 targeting a total field production of up to 60kbopd and 70MMscf/d of gas – confirming immense potential!

This success owes much to open engagement with local authorities and contractors that stems from a shared vision from the projects’ beginning, underpinned by common goals and a win-win approach of mutual trust.

The same principles opened the way for the Calao discovery in Block CI-205 in Cote d’Ivoire – a commercial success in a petroleum play where others had previously been unable to succeed.

Eni has been present on the continent for decades, creating a strong bond based on equal partnership and dialogue, embracing the cultural diversity and uniqueness of each country.

This similar approach is promoted in our first business combination in the continent, Azule Energy – a bp and Eni company – operating in Angola who could well become a regional player in the Orange basin. As the frontier develops, Azule could leverage on approaches that have been so successful in other geographies to continue to create real local value in Angola and regionally.

New partnership approaches

In recent years, our business model has undergone a transformative evolution, from technical and managerial competencies to deliver projects and operational results, to a deeper understanding of our industry. We have embraced the complexities, all while remaining committed to our hallmark: delivering the best time-to-market results (two-three years from exploration success).

Recognising the need for further innovation, we’ve unlocked new capabilities, fostering shared values between headquarters and our geographic units. Integrated, entrepreneurial local teams are better able to articulate and boost local approaches while relying on central technical competences. This allows us to efficiently develop solutions to fast-track projects, improve plant operations, and apply lessons learned.

This efficient shared use of resources is what attracts partners in the African energy sector, ultimately ensuring operational and business effectiveness, quick time to market, real value creation and true progress towards Net Zero.

  • The 30th edition of AOW: Investing in African Energy takes place from October 7-10, 2024, at the CTICC2, Cape Town. AOW is the meeting place for the global community of African energy stakeholders committed to enabling a prosperous energy outlook for Africa. AOW is the only event providing a complete and inclusive view of the African energy opportunities – from investment to access.