An international oil and gas conference on exploring Africa – the world’s largest unexplored energy frontier – takes place in Washington November 29 – December 1, sponsored by the Corporate Council on Africa (CCA) and the U.S. Department of Energy.

An international oil and gas conference on exploring Africa – the world’s largest unexplored energy frontier – takes place in Washington November 29 – December 1, sponsored by the Corporate Council on Africa (CCA) and the U.S. Department of Energy.

CCA President Stephen Hayes told the Washington File in a recent interview that his organization is ‘excited’ that oil ministers from throughout Africa will be attending the 2005 Africa Oil and Gas Forum.

Moving the annual event from Houston (America’s energy capital) to Washington (America’s political capital) ‘gives us the opportunity to work more closely with the U.S. government, particularly the U.S. Department of Energy,’ he said.

Although the Energy Department is not providing financial support for the conference, Hayes said, the agency is providing ‘in-kind’ support. ‘They are working with us to get the oil ministers from Africa here, as well as the national oil companies,’ he said. U.S. Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman is expected to address the conference, and a broad array of Energy Department officials will be in attendance, he added.

‘The importance of the event, especially in the wake of the hurricanes [that recently struck the southern United States, where many oil and gas refineries are located], is that it is a very good way to highlight the importance of African energy’ to the United States, Hayes said. ‘It is going to be one of the few times that the oil ministers from Africa, collectively, are here. So it gives us the chance, it gives our government a chance,’ to further explore the ever-growing U.S.-Africa energy partnership.

Currently, Hayes said, African countries supply about 12 percent of all the oil consumed in the United States. ‘By 2020,’ he said, ‘it is anticipated that about 25 percent of our oil will be coming from Africa. That is a tremendous jump.’

Such an increase in oil and gas trade with the United States inevitably will spark an increase in a broad array of trade and business opportunities as well, he said. ‘I think there are going to be a lot of companies that are not oil companies coming into this. LNG [liquefied natural gas] is going to be huge as well. Africa has a lot of LNG. … But to develop that,’ he warned, ‘more and more countries are insisting on local content, so there is going to be a whole training opportunity for indigenous people of different countries.’

Additionally, he said, there will be increased opportunities for U.S. nonoil businesses to supply items such as food services, laundry services, housing, infrastructure and piping supplies, ‘so there is going to be a lot of opportunity.’

U.S. Department of Commerce statistics show that petroleum products continue to account for the largest portion of total U.S. imports from sub-Saharan Africa under the African Growth and Opportunity Act [AGOA], making up an 87 percent share of U.S.-Africa trade.

Plenary and workshop sessions at the conference will focus on transparency and stability, effectiveness of public-private partnerships, local content issues and emerging opportunities in African oil and gas development, LNG and the outlook for energy in general.

The conference will also address the following topics:

  1. Asia’s growing presence in the African oil and gas sectors;
  2. Emerging opportunities in the Libyan oil and gas market; and
  3. How Hurricane Katrina affected energy supplies.

The Corporate Council on Africa, headquartered in Washington and established in 1993, stands at the forefront of strengthening and facilitating the commercial relationship between the United States and Africa.

Made up of more than 150 American companies doing business in Africa, CCA works closely with governments, multilateral groups and business to improve the African continent’s trade and investment climate and to raise the profile of Africa in the U.S. business community.

Source : usinfo.state.gov