Driving Exploration in Guinea-Conakry

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With advancements in the establishment of a structured, transparent, and coherent, national energy policy, the Government of Guinea-Conakry is demonstrating its commitment to the development of upstream and downstream activities in the country’s petroleum industry.  

Guinea-Conakry’s National Petroleum Office (ONAP) was formed in 2015 by presidential decree following the Government’s implementation of a new Petroleum Code in late-2014, placing the office under executive authority. During the same year, the deepwater exploration and production company, Kosmos Energy, discovered hydrocarbon reserves in Block C-8 of the Greater Tortue complex, raising hopes for Guinea’s offshore potential. While the role ONAP plays in the petroleum industry is primarily regulatory, the office is due to receive commercial responsibilities once viable oil discoveries are made. The Natural Resource Charter framework, which defines a set of economic principles designed to assist in the governmental management of natural resources, stipulates in Percept 3 that geographical information must be gathered before the licensing phase. Thus, to increase the interest of international investors and attract bids for the country, ONAP, international organizations, and the Guinean Government are promoting the development and analysis of more on- and offshore geological information.  

While working to develop, implement, and monitor the Guinean Government’s upstream policies and promote the assessment of the country’s infrastructure for the storage and distribution of petroleum, ONAP is establishing the bidding terms to award exploration licenses for 22 of Guinea-Conakry’s unexplored offshore blocks. Accountability and transparency have been noted as an opportunity for the country to apply international standards and best practices in bidding and to monitor the management of petroleum-linked revenue. In 2017, the Ministry of Mines and Geology improved the investment climate in the sector by joining the global open data movement, noting the value of publishing reliable information. 

In the past, the collection and analysis of energy information and statistics in Guinea-Conakry has had its limitations. Information was often confined to separate administrations, which resulted in the unnecessary duplication of activities in the sector. Thus, the formation of the National Directorate of Energy (DNE) and the establishment of the Energy Information System (SIE) has enabled transparency concerning the state of resources and a streamlining of activities in the petroleum sector. The SIE provides the DNE a platform to publish and disseminate reliable and consensual data at a complete and centralized level in order to attract explorers, developers and investors.  

Guinea-Conakry’s Ministry of Energy and Hydraulics is responsible for the country’s energy sector, sharing ministerial management in petroleum exploration with the Ministry of Mines and Geology, and exercising its authority through the DNE to strengthen policies, strategies, and programs to promote the nation’s petroleum potential.  

According to the SIE website, “The development and implementation of an energy policy can only be anchored on a clear, detailed, and dynamic vision of the energy sector as a whole, access to reliable energy information is therefore a major challenge for establishing a structured and coherent national energy policy.” 

While the true extent of Guinea-Conakry’s oil and gas potential remains relatively unknown, the future prospect of the west African country’s petroleum sector is promising. In February 2012, the U.S.-based, independent oil and gas exploration company, HyperDynamics, conducted oil exploration studies offshore Guinea-Conakry and encountered non-commercial oil shows at its Sabu-1 exploration well. Five years later, in 2017, multinational petroleum refining company, TotalEnergies and ONAP signed a Technical Evaluation agreement to evaluate deep and ultra deep offshore areas over an area of approximately 55,000km2. The activities reportedly found no exploitable quantities of oil, however, there is still evidence that the offshore regions of the country do contain commercially viable oil, with trust that the increasingly productive role being played by ONAP will promote further oil exploration in Guinea-Conakry.  

TotalEnergies has been active in the country since 1992 and is the first distributor of petroleum to the country, owning a retail network of approximately 180 service stations and employing over 100 local Guineans. The oil and gas giant also owns a 47% stake in the west African country’s sole private petroleum importer, the National Petroleum Company (SGP). Currently, Guinea-Conakry has a limited storage capacity for petroleum products, with the SGP capable of storing a supply offering approximately three weeks of demand for mining companies, retail stations, and the country’s state-owned electric utility grid, the primary consumers of the country’s petroleum supply.  

In lieu of the country’s minimal oil reserves, the national structure responsible for the production, transport, and distribution of energy is the country’s national power utility, Electricité de Guinée (EDG), whose mission is to implement rural electrification and stimulate socio-economic growth. Currently, the EDG is working to build a 225kV high voltage line to link the Maneah substation in the Kindia Region of western Guinea-Conakry, to the Linsan substation in the Labé Region of the northern-central area of the country. Also under development is the $250,000 Guinea-Malo Electrical Interconnection Project that interconnects a 225kV line leading from the Sanankoroba substation in Mali to the N’Zérékoré substation in Guinea-Conakry. Financing for the projects were provided for by the African Development Bank and the Agence Française de Développement. 

In March 2021, one of the west African region’s largest hydropower development projects, Guinea-Conakry’s $2 billion, 550 MW Souapiti hydropower plant, began commercial operation. Electricity generated by the plant is fed to the Kaileta substation through a 225kV transmission line, capable of generating up to 2 billion kWh annually, with excess power supplying neighboring countries, such as Senegal, Mali, and Guinea-Bissau. 

In response to growing demand for renewable power, and increasing interest by international stakeholders to invest, develop, and succeed in Africa, Energy Capital & Power will hold the  MSGBC Oil, Gas, & Power 2021 conference and exhibition on the 2-3 December 2021. Focused on enhancing regional partnerships, spurring investment and development in the oil, gas and power sectors, the conference will unite regional international stakeholders with African opportunities, serving as a growth-oriented platform for Africa’s energy sector.

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Matthew Goosen

Matthew Goosen

Matthew Goosen is a Video Editor and Content Writer at Energy Capital & Power. He holds an Honours Degree in Film and Media Studies at the University of Cape Town and is currently undergoing his Masters Degree. Born in Pretoria and raised internationally, he has been living in Cape Town since 2013.

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