Reading the news, it sometimes seems as if China has bought up Africa's energy resources lock, stock and barrel.
But one nation is bucking the trend - Mozambique, who according to a recent report from the Agencia de Informacao de Mocambique, has seen its President Armando Emilio Guebuza essentially declare that the country's energy resources are open to all comers.
And what a frontier it seems to be, especially for Anadarko Petroleum Corp., the largest U.S. independent oil and natural gas company by market value.
On 5 October Anadarko Petroleum Corp. raised its estimates of reserves in its offshore Mozambican Indian Ocean fields after reappraising its Camarao Offshore Area 1 of the deepwater Rovuma Basin, stating its belief that the Windjammer, Barquentine, Lagosta and Camarao complex holds at least 10 trillion cubic feet of gas, more than the Britain's North Sea proven reserves, according to BP Plc data.
Anadarko Petroleum Corp. Vice President Bob Daniels exulted, "Our successful drilling program offshore Mozambique continues to expand the already world-class resource potential of this frontier basin. We are optimistic that our current resource estimates will increase, as we still have significant exploration and appraisal work ahead of us."
Putting its money where its reserves are, two months ago Anadarko Petroleum Corp. hired Technip SA and KBR Inc. to design a liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant in Mozambique after reappraising its reserves in the Rovuma Basin and its partners, including Mitsui and Co. and Cove Energy Plc, may build as many as six LNG production unit trains.
Is it any wonder then that President Guebuza is singing the praises of his country's potential? On 4 October Guebuza noted during a gala dinner to mark the 30th anniversary of the establishment of the publicly-owned Mozambican National Hydrocarbon Company (ENH) that the volume of investment in Mozambique's fledgling hydrocarbons industry soared from $68 million seven years ago to over $1 billion in 2011, adding in a massive understatement, "This has contributed considerably to the knowledge of Mozambique's potential."
Adding a note of caution about the fiscal windfall and the dangers of overdevelopment Guebuza continued, "On the other hand, we must continue to move towards a situation where, in a deliberate and structured manner, we encourage more Mozambican citizens to discover that they can also participate in the exploitation of the natural resources inherited from their ancestors. At the same time, we must identify other opportunities arising from the establishment of projects in this sector or emerging from public investment in other social and economic areas."
Given that Guebuza, a millionaire businessman, made his fortune in the energy, transport and port industries and was reelected President in November 2009 with a landslide 75 percent of the vote, his administration is committed at the highest levels to attract foreign investment.
The open pro-Western door will not necessarily last forever, however. Two months ago Guebuza met with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao in Beijing. Ever the gracious host, Wen said, "The Chinese government supports Mozambique's efforts to maintain national stability, develop its economy and eliminate poverty," added that the government will continue to increase assistance to Mozambique through bilateral channels as well as some international organizations such as the China-Africa Cooperation Forum and an economic and trade cooperation forum between China and Portuguese-speaking countries before coyly adding that China was interested in cooperation including, oh, energy and mining. The fact that China's Minister of Commerce Chen Deming, Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Zhijun, Chinese Ambassador to Mozambique Huang Songfu and other officials attended the meeting is hardly insignificant.
But unlike many other African nations, Mozambique's vast energy reserves are currently available, and Guebuza is doubtless sifting through a myriad of offers. Rather than complaining about Chinese dominance in Africa, wise Western companies interested in Mozambique should study China's development policies in its African energy deals, modify them accordingly, and... add ten percent.
After all, 10 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in a relatively stable African country is worth throwing in more than a few schools, roads and infrastructure projects, isn't it?
By. Dr. John C.K. Daly or Oilprice.com