African gas, an alternative to Russian imports for Europeans?

Threatened in its wheat imports and in its future cereal harvests by a war in Ukraine in which it largely refuses to be associated, will Africa benefit from the strategic reorientation of the Europeans, in a hurry to free themselves from their dependence Russian gas? The European Commission’s REPowerEU plan, presented barely twelve days after the outbreak of the Russian invasion and adopted on May 19, draws clear opportunities for a continent that has so far provided Europe with just over 10% of its gas consumption – compared to nearly 40% for Russia. And whose production capacities should double by 2030, according to a study by Rystad Energy. “Existing pipeline infrastructure between North Africa and Europe and historic liquefied natural gas (LNG) supply relationships make Africa a strong alternative for European markets after the import ban Russians »estimates Siva Prasad, principal analyst within this Norwegian consulting firm.

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Indeed, since the first salvoes fired at Ukraine, followed by the European Union’s decision to do without two-thirds of its Russian gas imports by the end of the year, and to stop ‘By 2027, the countries most dependent on deliveries from Moscow have ostensibly turned to African exporters, current or future.

Italy, 45% of whose gas imports left from Russia before the start of the conflict, was the first to seek diversification of its sources of supply. Four days after the start of the Russian offensive, its head of diplomacy, Luigi Di Maio, was in Algeria, “who has always been a reliable supplier”, according to his words. On April 11, the Prime Minister, Mario Draghi, and the CEO of ENI, Claudio Descalzi, followed in his footsteps, to sign with Abdelmadjid Tebboune, the country’s president, an agreement to increase imports of Algerian gas. In the process, Rome did the same in Angola and the Republic of Congo.

Senegalese ambition

First European customer of Russian gas, Germany has gone to make sweet eyes in Senegal, whose fields shared with Mauritania in the Atlantic should produce 2.5 million tonnes of LNG per year from the last quarter. 2023, then 10 million from 2030. “We are ready, we Senegal in any case, to work with a view to supplying the European market with LNG”, assured President Macky Sall to Chancellor Olaf Scholz, in Dakar, on May 22. “The first deliveries are reserved for the Asian market, but nothing prevents renegotiating the destinations with the operator due to the shift in the geopolitics of energy”, explains Mamadou Fall Kane, energy adviser to the Senegalese head of state.

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