OPEC chief and African ministers defend oil and gas investments

OPEC Secretary General Mohammad Barkindo attends a session during the 5th Egyptian oil show ‘EGYPS 2022’ in the capital of Cairo, Egypt February 14, 2022. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

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ABUJA, Feb 28 (Reuters) – The OPEC chief and ministers from major African oil-producing nations on Monday defended fossil fuel investments, saying Africa’s development needs were being overlooked in global dynamics of decarbonization.

Africa accounts for less than 3% of global carbon emissions while some 600 million Africans lack access to electricity, they said, arguing that investments in the continent’s natural resources should go from l ‘before.

“It would be a tragedy of unimaginable proportions if, despite the billions of dollars invested in these resources, they flowed west as stranded assets,” OPEC Secretary General Mohammad Barkindo said during the meeting. of an energy conference in Nigeria.

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His comments came as the latest report from the UN’s Climate Science Panel warned that half of the world’s population was vulnerable to dangerous climate impacts and that drastic action was needed. Read more

But resource-rich developing countries have often pushed back on calls for a rapid shift away from fossil fuels, arguing that they have not had time to benefit economically from the fuels and are not responsible for the bulk of the emissions.

Timipre Sylva, oil minister of Nigeria, the continent’s biggest oil producer, said the whole world should support a campaign to expand the production of natural gas in Africa, which he described as green energy and the only way to increase electricity production.

“Africa is not denying the need to transition to renewable fuels, to cleaner energy, but we are only saying at this point, just as we are mobilizing, please allow us to enjoy a few of our resources,” he said.

While drillers and some governments say gas burns much cleaner than oil or coal, climate scientists disagree, citing growing research that the gas industry is responsible for significant emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas.

The Equatoguinean counterpart of Sylva, a major oil exporter, suggested that if oil majors pull out of a hydrocarbon project, they should hand it over to local authorities.

“If an asset is no longer profitable for an operator, just hand it over to us, it’s not nationalization,” said Gabriel Mbaga Obiang Lima during the conference.

OPEC’s Barkindo described the oil and gas industry as “under siege”, saying there were more than 700 lawsuits against oil companies worldwide.

“Climate activists have seized the momentum and are dictating the terms and pace of the energy transition,” he said, saying global energy demand was steadily rising to levels that could not be satisfied only if hydrocarbons were part of the mix of energy sources.

“Any discussion of the oil and gas industries being relegated to the past and the need to stop further investment in oil and gas is misguided,” he said.

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Reporting by MacDonald Dzirutwe and Estelle Shirbon; Editing by Peter Graff, Jan Harvey and Bernadette Baum

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