The Republic of the Congo has assumed the rotating presidency of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) for 2022, ushering in a new era of international cooperation and industry growth for the nation. Succeeding H.E. Dr Diamantino Pedro Azevedo, Minister of Mineral Resources and Petroleum, Angola – who held the position in 2021 – H.E. Bruno Jean-Richard Itoua, Minister of Hydrocarbons, will chair all OPEC sessions during his year-long tenure, further solidifying the country’s position as an international energy contender as he takes on a more influential role in global dialogue.
As an intergovernmental organization of 13 countries, OPEC holds significant influence over the global oil market. The organization and its member states account for nearly 40% of global oil supply and thus, have a critical role to play regarding market stabilization – particularly in the context of a post-COVID-19 landscape.
In 2022, global oil and gas markets continue to grapple with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and reduced funding for fossil fuel projects. Africa, in particular, has been hit hard, leading to OPEC making a strong case for the acceleration of exploration and production so as to ensure long-term economic growth and the alleviation of energy poverty. Plans to revitalize the energy sector across the continent through regulatory reforms and attractive fiscal terms are underway, with African states calling for enhanced investment in key resource-rich basins.
Having assumed the presidency, the Congo will not only hold a more prominent position in the global energy arena, but will be able to voice an African perspective within the organization itself. As Africa’s third-largest oil producer and home to the African Petroleum Producers Organization (APPO) headquarters, the Congo is already a significant oil and gas market player and is, therefore, well suited to represent Africa in this respect.
Despite being the most recent member to join OPEC, in recent years, the country has been proactive in strengthening ties with both OPEC and non-OPEC country members, reaffirming its position as an important regional and international energy partner. Now, holding the OPEC Presidency, the central African state will be able to actively influence decision-making in both the region’s, and wider continent’s favor, while promoting the challenges faced and opportunities present within Africa’s energy industry.
Backed by a wealth of experience within Africa’s oil and gas sector, H.E. Minister Itoua will offer support to the organization, while facilitating meaningful dialogue in 2022 and beyond. By voicing concerns, offering solutions, and promoting the role of African oil and gas, H.E. Minister Itoua is well positioned to expand the continent’s petroleum influence globally.
The role the Congo plays in OPEC as well as the global energy sector will be deliberated at the upcoming Congo International Energy Summit (CIES), taking place on the 15th – 17th of June 2022 in Brazzaville. Representing the first international energy event to take place in the country in over three years, the CIES will be instrumental in enhancing the discussion on African oil and gas.