One of the major trends in sub-Saharan African oil production over the past three years has been the differing trajectories of the region's two biggest producers. Nigeria's ambitious targets for 4m barrels a day (b/d) production capacity have been undermined by militant activity in the Niger Delta, so that output stands at roughly half that level at present, according to figures from the International Energy Agency. At the same time, Angolan output has almost doubled from about 1m b/d in 2007 to 1.9m b/d this year.
Nevertheless, investment is being made in new projects in Nigeria. Shell is currently developing its Gbaran-Ubie Integrated Oil and Gas Project in Bayelsa State, which should yield more than 70,000 b/d of crude oil and 1bn cubic feet of gas a day by the end of 2011.
Project manager Okee Elechi commented: "The Gbaran project is a world-class development that will boost Nigeria's oil and gas resources significantly. It will help meet government targets to reduce flaring, provide more energy for Nigerians and increase exports of liquefied natural gas."
Several militant spokesmen have also welcomed Jonathan's elevation to the Presidency. An ethnic Ijaw from the Niger Delta, he is viewed as better placed to represent the views of the Delta peoples than either of his predecessors. One prominent militant leader, Victor Ebokawe, who is more commonly known as General Boyloaf, said that Jonathan understood the problems of the Delta.
While armed conflict remains a problem in the West African giant, Angola continues to benefit from the end of its civil war. Oil production during the first two months of this year stood at 1.85m b/d, up 7.58% on the same figure last year and at a time of much higher oil prices.
The country's oil ministry has predicted that output will reach 2.2m b/d next year as the result of new discoveries. The government hopes to attract investment of $5o.6bn in the industry between 2009 and 2013, although much of this will be targeted at LNG production and refining rather than upstream exploration and production.
Given its current output, Angola has requested an increase in its 1.65m b/d Opec quota. The country has been a member of the oil producers' organisation since 2007 but ministers insist that they need to maximise production in order to continue financing national reconstruction.
Despite Luanda's decision to slow down the pace of upstream licensing, new discoveries are still being made. Most...