The chief government of one among Europe’s greatest oil and fuel corporations has stated the EU ought to look to Africa fairly than the US because it seeks to interchange Russian vitality imports.
Claudio Descalzi, who has run Italy’s Eni since 2014, stated nearer collaboration with nations in Africa on vitality issues provided the potential for a brand new “south-north axis” connecting the continent’s ample renewable and fossil gas assets with the energy-hungry markets of Europe.
“We don’t have vitality, they’ve vitality. We have now a giant trade, they must develop it . . . There’s a robust complementarity,” Descalzi instructed the Monetary Occasions.
Eni has operated in Africa since 1954, has operations in 14 nations and has continued to speculate whereas a number of of its US and European rivals have diminished their presence on the continent in favour of different components of the world.
That footprint meant Africa was the primary port of name for Descalzi final 12 months as he sought to interchange the 20bn cubic metres of fuel that Italy beforehand imported yearly from Russia.
In April, Descalzi secured approval from Algeria to extend the fuel it exports by way of pipeline to Italy from 9bn to 15bn cubic metres a 12 months in 2023 and 18bn in 2024. Two days later, Eni signed a deal to export 3bn cubic metres of liquefied pure fuel from Egypt to Europe in 2022.
In the identical month, it reached an settlement with the Republic of Congo to speed up the event of a deliberate LNG mission to offer 1bn cubic metres for export in 2023 and 4bn cubic metres by 2025.
Eni was capable of entry these alternatives because it had “invested quite a bit [in Africa] in a interval the place nobody invested”, stated Descalzi, including that some rivals had chosen to put money into US shale fuel as an alternative, whereas Europe had allowed itself to grow to be too depending on Russian provide.
In November, Eni shipped the primary cargo of LNG from Mozambique. The $7bn mission — a partnership with ExxonMobil, CNPC, Galp and Korea Gasoline Company — is the primary of a number of large Mozambique fuel initiatives deliberate since discoveries had been made greater than a decade in the past.
Europe has exploited Africa’s assets for hundreds of years, usually paying royalties to export commodities whereas doing little to foster the event of native economies.
An efficient south-north vitality alliance would require a distinct angle and strategy, stated Descalzi. For instance, in 2021 about 85 per cent of the fuel Eni produced in Africa was used to produce native markets, in contrast with 78 per cent worldwide.
“If you do one thing like that you simply take extra threat . . . as a result of it’s a lot simpler to export all the fuel you produce,” he stated. “[But] we should make sure that we’re creating worth for them.”
Whether or not or not European corporations and lenders ought to present funds to develop new fossil gas initiatives in growing areas corresponding to Africa has grow to be an more and more fraught debate since world leaders signed the Paris local weather settlement in 2015.
Whereas environmental teams have lobbied corporations, together with Eni and France’s TotalEnergies, to halt new hydrocarbon initiatives in Africa, many African leaders argue they’ve a proper to develop their nationwide assets to drive financial development and enhance entry to vitality.
Even when Africa had been to make use of all its identified reserves of pure fuel, the continent’s share of worldwide emissions would solely rise from 3 per cent to three.5 per cent, Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari wrote forward of the COP27 local weather assembly in Egypt in November.
Descalzi stated that new oil and fuel initiatives, if they are often developed shortly, may present governments with a income stream that could possibly be reinvested in clear vitality initiatives.
Eni found oil off Ivory Coast in September 2021 and has fast-tracked improvement to begin pumping within the first half of 2023.
The corporate stated the emissions from the oilfield and the vitality it makes use of — often known as scope 1 and scope 2 emissions — can be offset with forestry and clean-cooking initiatives that may make it the primary “web zero” hydrocarbons improvement in Africa. The entire related fuel within the discipline will probably be used domestically for energy technology.
“There needs to be good money stream for the nation to develop a distinct vitality combine through the transition,” stated Descalzi.
In Kenya, the place Eni can also be exploring for oil and fuel offshore, it opened a plant in July to course of vegetable oil as a feedstock for its European biorefineries and despatched the primary cargo from the port of Mombasa in October.
Eni has two refineries in Italy producing biofuels and proposals for a 3rd by 2025, by which era it plans to get 35 per cent of its biorefinery feedstock from agricultural hubs in Africa.
The manufacturing of feedstock crops corresponding to castor, croton and brassica on “marginal land” that didn’t intrude with meals crop manufacturing may grow to be “the brand new upstream”, stated Descalzi.
Eni isn’t the one European energy main diversifying its actions in Africa. BP has signed memorandums of understanding to discover the event of inexperienced hydrogen for export in Mauritania and Egypt.
TotalEnergies, which has one of many greatest portfolios of African oil and fuel property, can also be operating solar energy initiatives in Egypt, Burkina Faso, Uganda and South Africa.
Nearly half of Africa’s 1.4bn individuals lack entry to electrical energy. The continent produces solely 6 per cent of worldwide fossil fuels from 4 per cent of worldwide reserves, however has entry to 39 per cent of worldwide renewable vitality potential, in accordance with vitality think-tank RMI.
The suitable investments, primarily based on mutual “respect”, may assist handle vitality safety in Europe and vitality entry in Africa on the identical time, stated Descalzi. “Respect, what it means for me is that you need to take a threat with them collectively.”