Africa needs significant investments across the downstream sector

Africa is streamlining investment towards its downstream industry as countries move to make energy poverty history by 2030

Africa is advancing its downstream infrastructure under efforts to scale-up energy security continent-wide.

And, African Refiners and Distributors Association (ARDA), the sole pan-African organisation representing the African downstream sector, is at the forefront of this expansion, advocating for increased investment in infrastructure development and modernisation and promoting greater participation by local companies.

With African petroleum demand set to increase from current estimates of 4.1 million barrels per day (bpd) to over 5.3 million bpd by 2040, strengthening refining capacity and distribution is critical.

Across the continent, efforts to bolster refining capacity to meet rising demand for petroleum are leading to new developments taking off across the downstream sector.

In Nigeria, the Dangote Refinery – Africa’s largest refining facility – started producing diesel and aviation fuel in January 2024.

The 650,000-bpd facility will cater to Nigeria’s domestic energy requirements while positioning the country as a key exporter upon full operational capacity – likely expected in mid-2025.

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, an ARDA member, is also advancing the upgrading of the Port Harcourt refinery, with operations slated to commence in 2024 following the receipt of crude oil shipments from Shell in February.

Meanwhile, the first phase of Sentuo Oil Refinery Limited’s 120,000-bpd refinery in Ghana started operations in January 2024.

The facility will process two million tonnes per annum of crude oil in the first phase and five million tonnes in the second phase, supporting the country’s industrialisation efforts.

While in Gabon, plans are underway to expand the processing capacity of the Port Gentil refinery to meet the rising demand for diesel and butane.

In Angola, national oil company (NOC) Sonangol – an ARDA member – awarded a project management contract for the 200,000 bpd Lobito Refinery to engineering firm KBR in April 2024.

The contract advances the construction of the $6 billion facility.

Once operational, the facility will be Angola’s largest refinery, increasing the country’s oil processing capacity by 200 per cent.

Angola is also developing several other refinery projects, including the 60,000 bpd Cabinda and 100,000 bpd Soyo facilities – all of which aim to bolster regional energy security by leveraging Angolan oil and gas resources.

Progress is underway to modernise the existing Luanda Refinery which is responsible for 20 per cent of the country’s demand.

In addition to refining, African countries are investing heavily in oil and gas storage capacity. Notably, Botswana Oil, a member of ARDA and the country’s NOC, is seeking proposals for the Tshele Hills Oil Storage Development project, furthering Botswana’s fuel storage infrastructure for enhanced energy security.

A tender was issued in November 2023, offering a strategic opportunity for downstream investors.

The Kenya Pipeline Company is also committed to increasing storage capacity in the country, acquiring the now-defunct Kenya Petroleum Refineries’ assets in 2023.

With the acquisition, the company has assumed management of 45 storage tanks with a capacity of 484 million liters, as well as the new Kipevu Oil Terminal 2 – which will double the country’s handling capacity from 35,000 tonnes.

"Meeting the growing demand for petroleum across Africa requires significant investments across the downstream sector. ARDA is spearheading both the rollout of new facilities as well as the modernisation of existing downstream infrastructure to meet the continent’s needs. The association will continue to be instrumental in ensuring Africa meets its goal of making energy poverty history by 2030," stated NJ Ayuk, the Executive Chairman of the African Energy Chamber.

Boasting a membership of 74 African oil refiners, importers, terminal operators, energy marketers, distributors and regulators, ARDA facilitates the exchange of technical and commercial best practices, advancing the growth of Africa’s downstream industry.