Senegal and Egypt Emerge as Potential LNG Exporters to Europe

African LNG exports for Europe
Rendering of the LNG export facility under development in Senegal (BP)

Published Aug 17, 2022 10:10 AM by The Maritime Executive

As Europe struggles to gain a greater degree of energy independence and replace energy historically imported from Russia it is looking to new parts of the world to become suppliers. In a rather unique turn of events, some African countries are promoting their rich hydrocarbon deposits as a solution. It could become a win-win situation for Europe desperate for new sources and for the African nations that are hungry for foreign currency to support their sagging economies.

African nations that historically would not have been thought of as potential suppliers to meet Europe’s energy needs are emerging as leading candidates. Senegal in West Africa is moving rapidly to develop its liquefied natural gas operation to become an exporting nation. Similarly, European companies have projects under development in Mozambique while Egypt is working to boost its operations after the discovery of the Mediterranean’s largest deposits of LNG. 

Since May, Senegal and Germany have been working together to fast-track the completion of the BP-led Greater Tortue Ahmeyim (GTA) LNG project. The offshore field straddles the border between Senegal and Mauritania and is set to produce 2.5 million tons of LNG in the first phase. Plans call for output to double to 5 million tons in the second phase. 

Earlier this month, Kosmos Energy, which is developing the GTA field with BP, said phase one is 80 percent complete. Senegal is now reporting that it will be ready to export its first LNG cargo to Europe in 2024 when production at Tortue Gas project is scheduled to start.

“Senegal will be able to sell its quota to Europe, especially Germany already, in the second half of 2024,” Mamadou Fall Kane, deputy permanent secretary of COZ-Petrogas, the government committee that monitors and develops oil and gas projects, told Bloomberg.

Senegal through its offshore hydrocarbons fields is positioned to become a major gas producer. As Europe scrambles to find new resources, EU officials traveled to Dakar to meet Mamadou Kane in February seeking to build the relationship and receive guarantees on the LNG exports. A month later, the EU launched the REPowerEU plan, highlighting a path to reduce Europe’s dependence on Russian oils and gas through the “diversification of supplies.”

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz also visited Senegal in May to pursue gas and renewable energy projects.

While Senegal works to develop its operations, Egypt is moving to aggressively expand its exports. From being a net importer, Egypt at the end of 2018 became an exporter of LNG for the first time. Refinitiv reports since the beginning of 2022, Egyptian natural gas exports have increased by 44 percent. 

Last week, Egypt also announced it would be cutting the amount of gas supplied for domestic power generation by 15 percent in order to increase its exports. As first reported by Reuters, businesses are being told that they will have to conserve energy so that Egypt can address its acute shortage of foreign currency by growing its LNG exports.

Elsewhere in Africa, European countries also continue to look for future projects to expand LNG exports from the continent. Reports are emerging that the EU plans to increase its financial support to Mozambique to deal with the long-running insurgency in the north of the country near its gas fields. Both France’s Total and Italy’s ENI are working on projects that are expected to begin shipping LNG from Mozambique by next year.

As the trade grows, Africa is also expected to take a role in the shipping of its gas resources. Earlier this year, South Korean shipbuilder Hyundai HD reported that it received an order for a gas carrier that would be operating upon completion from Africa. According to Rystad Energy, Africa is forecast to reach peak gas production of 470 billion cubic meters (Bcm) by the late 2030s, slightly above half of the gas produced by Russia in 2021.