The Republic of Congo is a mature hydrocarbon market with proven resources, numbering 1.8 billion barrels of oil reserves and 284 billion cubic metres of natural gas reserves. Despite this, the country’s on- and offshore territory remains underexplored, and operators have been slow to add value to crude resources.

Yet, a new gas monetisation drive, coupled with several offshore exploration and development programmes, present investors with dynamic opportunities in gas processing and refining, liquefied natural gas (LNG) trade and infrastructure upgrades.

The upcoming Invest in African Energy (IAE) 2024 forum (organised by Energy Capital & Power), scheduled for 14 & 15 May in Paris, will spotlight promising investment prospects within the Congo’s energy supply chain. With the confirmed participation of Bruno Jean-Richard Itoua, Congolese Minister of Hydrocarbons, IAE 2024 provides a platform for global investors to access the Congo’s key policymakers and exclusive projects, along with Africa’s leading national oil companies and industry stakeholders.

Upstream exploration

International operators are ramping up their exploration and production activities in the Congo in 2024 and beyond. Oil & gas asset development company Trident OGX Congo is leading a seven-year development programme in the Mengo-Kundji-Bindi oilfields – backed by a $300-million financing package from the African Export-Import Bank and set to increase Congo’s crude oil production by 30%.

After completing an extensive 3D seismic data acquisition campaign last November, Perenco is expected to explore for new offshore oil fields on its Tchibouela II, Tchendo II, Marine XXVIII and Emeraude permits – depending on the results of the data – as the company continues to lead exploration in Central Africa.

Gas monetisation

In addition to doubling hydrocarbon output, Congo’s Ministry of Hydrocarbons has set the goal to become a leading LNG exporter and key supplier to Europe. With associated needs for gas processing and export infrastructure, this target presents service providers with the opportunity to establish a foothold in this promising arena. Agreements have already been inked for LNG project deployment and resource monetisation with international partners. Italian super major Eni is approaching the first cargo from its Tango floating LNG facility – part of the broader Congo LNG development – in Q1 2024. Congo LNG aims to monetise gas resources within the Marine XII permit and features a total installed capacity of 4.5 billion cubic meters per year by 2025.

Downstream

The Republic of Congo’s drive to increase its refining capacity offers investors the opportunity to finance, supply and service the construction of new downstream infrastructure, as well as upgrade existing facilities. The country’s sole refinery – Congolaise de Raffinage – only refines around 600 000 tonnes annually, while demand is upward of 1.2 million tonnes. With the aim of alleviating domestic fuel shortages, the Congo launched the construction of the Atlantic Petrochemical Refinery in Pointe-Noire in 2021, with a planned capacity of 2.5 million tonnes set to produce gasoline, liquefied petroleum gas, diesel, lubricants and kerosene, among other petroleum products. A 50 000-barrel-per-day Chinese-backed refinery is also on the horizon, with construction planned to begin this year.

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