While the continent has about 125 billion crude oil reserves and 16 trillion standard cubic meters of natural gas, OPEC’s Secretary-General, Sanusi Barkindo, worried that the mounting pressure to abandon oil and gas could affect the production of the reserves.
Speaking at the Nigeria Energy Forum organised by Energy and Corporate Africa, alongside the CERA Week in Houston, Barkindo said discussions on climate change and energy transition were more of emotion than fact.
“This is wrong. Rational discussions need to be based on facts, hard data and science and include all stakeholders. Additionally, we are witnessing investors, environmental lobbyists and even some corporate boards pressuring oil and gas companies and governments to pursue increasingly radical policies and initiatives that could, in the end, be more disruptive, than productive, for the global energy industry,” Barkindo said.
While the need for net-zero remained critical according to him, the massive challenges for developing countries like Nigeria must be put in context, considering the energy poverty on the continent.
Barkindo said: “We need to continually keep in mind that access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy is a right for all, not a privileged few, and is enshrined in the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal 7.
“The unfortunate reality for developing countries is that a staggering 759 million people worldwide did not have access to electricity in 2019, with around 79 per cent of them located in Africa.”
Adding that about 2.6 billion people (34 per cent of the global population), who did not have access to clean cooking fuels and technologies, including a massive 70 per cent of Africans, Barkindo said in Nigeria alone in 2019, only 55 per cent of the population had access to electricity and only 13 per cent had access to clean cooking fuel.
According to the OPEC boss, the energy poverty numbers for Africa are stark, and Africa alone accounts for less than three per cent of global emissions.
“We also need to remember in the energy poverty debate that Africa is still relatively unexplored in terms of oil and gas, bestowed with approximately 125 billion barrels of proven oil reserves and 16 trillion standard cubic metres of natural gas.
“The capacities and national circumstances of developing countries must be taken into account in all actions,” he said.