As the continent’s largest trading partner, China has played an active role in harnessing Africa’s energy resources and developing critical infrastructure to date. As the country seeks to secure future energy supplies – as well as foster regional diplomacy in the Global South – China has expanded its stakes in strategic, integrated oil & gas developments across the continent.

Together, China’s state-owned oil firms – China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC), China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) and China Petroleum & Chemical Corporation (Sinopec) – represent the fourth-largest energy investors in Africa, following European international oil companies bp, Shell and Eni. These companies are leading and financing some of Africa’s most transformative energy initiatives: from deepwater exploration to enhanced oil recovery to regional pipelines that connect new resources to underserved markets.

In Tanzania, CNOOC is partnering with the Tanzania Petroleum Development Corporation to explore deep-sea Blocks 4/1B and 4/1C – located in close proximity to existing gas discoveries – for offshore oil and gas. The company launched wildcat drilling in Gabon’s Blocks BC-9 and BCD-10 at the start of 2023, with its Tigre prospect holding up to 1.4 billion barrels of potential recoverable resources. Last May, CNOOC renewed its production-sharing contract with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation and TotalEnergies for OML 130 – home to the producing Akpo and Egina fields and Preowei discovery – which could enable a future FID to be made on the new discovery.

In terms of production, South Sudan has been in talks with CNPC to boost output from Blocks 3 and 7 in the Paloch fields in Upper Nile, which the Chinese firm operates in partnership with Malaysia’s Petronas and Sinopec.

In addition to upstream investments, Chinese players are leading the construction of critical midstream infrastructure across the continent.

In Mozambique, CNPC holds a 20% stake in the Coral Sul LNG project (pictured), which has transformed Mozambique into a global liquefied natural gas exporter after delivering first cargo in November 2022.

In East Africa, CNOOC holds an 8% stake in the planned East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP), while CNPC subsidiary China Petroleum Pipeline Engineering is responsible for the construction and supply of the project’s line pipes. Transporting Uganda’s crude oil to the Port of Tanga in Tanzania, EACOP will facilitate crude exports to global markets, as well as stimulate economic activity, new infrastructure and improved logistics in the central trade corridor between the two countries.

In Niger, CNPC is leading the development of the Niger–Benin Export Pipeline, set to increase the country’s oil output from 20 000 barrels per day (bpd) to 130 000 bpd upon completion. Operated by CNPC, the 1 900km pipeline will connect Niger’s Agadem oil fields to the Port of Sèmè in Benin and represents the largest cross-border pipeline invested by CNPC in Africa.

China’s recent investments in African oil and gas speaks to the trade and investment opportunities yet to be unlocked across the continent. New projects – focused on integrated developments that not only extract but connect Africa’s hydrocarbon resources to market – will be showcased at the Invest in African Energy forum, which invites Chinese companies to attend and participate in upcoming developments.

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