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Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) Upstream Market Grows Amid Angolan Collaboration

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is undertaking an ambitious upstream drive in the hopes of attracting new players to the market, increasing production and ushering in a new era of energy security for the central African nation.



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The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is undertaking an ambitious upstream drive in the hopes of attracting new players to the market, increasing production and ushering in a new era of energy security for the central African nation.

While a 30-block licensing round currently underway is set to open the market up for frontier exploration, a new deal signed with Angola is expected to kickstart a wave of oil and gas developments on the back of cross-border knowledge sharing.

The Ministry of Hydrocarbons of the DRC and the Ministry of Mineral Resources, Petroleum and Gas of Angola are set to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the co-ownership and development of the Chevron-operated Block 14, which is located on the maritime border of the two countries. The signing will formalize the countries shares in the Block, with both the DRC and Angola retaining 30% ownership each while Chevron holds the remaining 40%. Set to be signed on July 13, 2023 in Kinshasa, the MoU will unlock a new era of cooperation regarding offshore energy development between the two hydrocarbon-producing countries.

The African Energy Chamber (AEC), as the voice of the African energy sector, strongly commends and supports the DRC and Angola for reaching the agreement as it will pave the way for a new chapter of cooperation between the two countries in addressing oil and gas industry challenges in the energy transition era. Notwithstanding the opportunities for Angola, the deal will bolster DRC exploration at a time when global stakeholders are calling for an end to fossil fuel investments.

Representing a relatively untapped hydrocarbon market, the DRC is inviting E&P players to capitalize on the country’s promising on- and offshore acreage. To date, licenses have been awarded for only three Lake Kivu gas blocks, and with 27 blocks still up for grabs, the country offers lucrative opportunities for frontier E&P players. Stepping into this picture, the DRC-Angola deal is set to trigger a wave of interest in the central African market as the major oil producer leverages its expertise to grow the DRC offshore market. The deal is not only a testament to both countries’ stability but to their focus on strengthening bilateral cooperation in pursuit of energy security. For other regional nations, the deal serves as a benchmark, while for foreign players, a demonstration of political will and support for offshore exploration.

With Angola’s National Oil Company (NOC) Sonangol in the process of privatizing, the country is positioning the NOC as a competitive operator. This spells new opportunities for collaboration between the respective NOCs of Angola and DRC, with Sonahydroc – the DRC’s NOC – standing to learn a great deal from its regional counterpart. Under the terms of the Block 14 deal, Sonangol will be writing off a $200 million debt for Sonahydroc, enabling the NOC to prioritize funding towards the development of Block 14. This is a testament to not only the potential of the Block but to Angola’s commitment to furthering regional collaboration.

“The AEC strongly supports the DRC and Angola for reaching an agreement on the co-development and monetization of resources on Block 14. We are confident that the deal will not only benefit the two countries but will unlock regional energy market growth. We see the DRC’s target of increasing production from 23,000 barrels of oil per day to between 500,000 and one million barrels turning into a reality from such a cooperation. For Africa to make energy poverty history on the back of its oil and gas resources, cooperation amongst countries is key. Senegal and Mauritania have set an example on the Greater Tortue Ahmeyim development and now the DRC and Angola are following suit on Block 14,” stated NJ Ayuk, the Executive Chairman of the AEC.

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Oil Prices Slide on China Demand Concerns, Brent Falls to $83.73



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Oil prices declined on Tuesday for the third consecutive day on growing concerns over a slowing Chinese economy and its impact on global oil demand.

Brent crude oil, against which Nigerian oil is priced, dipped by $1.12, or 1.3% at $83.73 a barrel, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude dropped $1.15, or 1.4%, to close at $80.76.

The dip in oil prices is largely attributed to disappointing economic data from China, the world’s second-largest economy.

Official figures revealed a 4.7% growth in China’s GDP for the April-June period, the slowest since the first quarter of 2023, and below the forecasted 5.1% growth expected in a Reuters poll.

This slowdown was compounded by a protracted property downturn and widespread job insecurity, which have dampened fuel demand and led many Chinese refineries to cut back on production.

“Weaker economic data continues to flow from China as continued government support programs have been disappointing,” said Dennis Kissler, Senior Vice President of Trading at BOK Financial. “Many of China’s refineries are cutting back on weaker fuel demand.”

Despite the bearish sentiment from China, there is a growing consensus among market participants that the U.S. Federal Reserve could begin cutting its key interest rates as soon as September.

This speculation has helped stem the decline in oil prices, as lower interest rates reduce the cost of borrowing, potentially boosting economic activity and oil demand.

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell noted on Monday that the three U.S. inflation readings over the second quarter “add somewhat to confidence” that the pace of price increases is returning to the central bank’s target in a sustainable fashion.

This has led market participants to believe that a turn to interest rate cuts may be imminent.

Also, U.S. crude oil inventories provided a silver lining for the oil market. According to market sources citing American Petroleum Institute figures, U.S. crude oil inventories fell by 4.4 million barrels last week.

This was a much steeper drop than the 33,000 barrels decline that was anticipated, indicating strong domestic demand.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) also weighed in, suggesting that while the global economy is set for modest growth over the next two years, risks remain.

The IMF noted cooling activity in the U.S., a bottoming-out in Europe, and stronger consumption and exports for China as key factors in the global economic landscape.

In summary, while oil prices are currently pressured by concerns over China’s economic slowdown, the potential for U.S. interest rate cuts and stronger domestic demand for crude are providing some support.

Market watchers will continue to monitor economic indicators and inventory levels closely as they gauge the future direction of oil prices.

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OPEC+ Production Cuts Set to Balance Global Oil Market, Says Russian Deputy PM




In a statement on Monday, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak expressed confidence that the global oil market will achieve balance in the second half of 2024, thanks to the production cut strategies implemented by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies, collectively known as OPEC+.

OPEC+, which includes major oil-producing countries such as Saudi Arabia and Russia, has been actively managing oil output to stabilize the market since late 2022.

In their most recent meeting on June 2, the group agreed to extend their latest production cut of 2.2 million barrels per day (bpd) until the end of September. This cut is scheduled to be gradually phased out starting in October.

“The market will always be balanced thanks to our actions,” Novak stated, emphasizing the importance of the coordinated efforts by OPEC+ in maintaining market equilibrium.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) recently projected that global oil demand will surpass supply by approximately 750,000 bpd in the latter half of 2024 due to the continued reduction in OPEC+ output.

This outlook was echoed in a report by OPEC last week, which highlighted an anticipated oil supply deficit in the coming months and into 2025.

Novak’s remarks come at a crucial time for the global oil market, which has experienced significant volatility over the past year.

The OPEC+ alliance has been pivotal in mitigating some of this instability by adjusting production levels in response to fluctuating demand and other market dynamics.

Analysts suggest that the measures taken by OPEC+ will play a vital role in ensuring that the oil market remains stable as the world continues to navigate economic uncertainties and fluctuating energy demands.

The production cuts are expected to support oil prices by limiting supply, thereby helping to balance the market.

The impact of these production cuts is already being felt, with oil prices showing signs of stabilization.

However, the market remains sensitive to geopolitical developments and economic trends, which could influence future supply and demand dynamics.

As OPEC+ prepares to unwind some of its production cuts in the coming months, industry observers will be closely monitoring the market’s response.

The gradual phasing out of the cuts is designed to prevent any sudden shocks to the market, allowing for a smoother transition and sustained balance.

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Oil Prices Steady Amid U.S. Political Uncertainty and Middle East Tensions




Oil prices held firm on Monday as the political uncertainty in the United States and ongoing tensions in the Middle East persist.

Brent crude oil, against which Nigerian oil is priced,  fell slightly by 13 cents, or 0.2%, to $84.90 a barrel after a 37-cent drop on Friday.

Similarly, U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude stood at $82.15 a barrel, down 6 cents, or 0.1%.

The dollar’s strength, which followed a failed assassination attempt on U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump, exerted some pressure on oil prices.

A stronger dollar typically makes oil more expensive for buyers using other currencies, leading to reduced demand.

“I don’t think you can ignore the uncertainty that the weekend’s assassination attempt will cast across a deeply divided country in the lead-up to the election,” said Tony Sycamore, market analyst at IG.

In the Middle East, efforts to end the Gaza conflict between Israel and Hamas stalled over the weekend.

Talks were halted after three days, although a Hamas official indicated that the group had not withdrawn from discussions.

The situation escalated further when an Israeli attack targeting a Hamas military leader killed 90 people on Saturday, maintaining the geopolitical premium on oil.

Despite these geopolitical tensions, oil markets remain supported by supply cuts from OPEC+. Iraq’s oil ministry has pledged to compensate for any overproduction since the beginning of the year, reinforcing the market’s stability.

Last week, Brent fell more than 1.7% after four weeks of gains, while WTI futures slid 1.1%. The decline was largely attributed to a fall in China’s crude imports, which countered robust summer consumption in the United States.

“While fundamentals are still supportive, there are growing demand concerns, largely emanating from China,” noted ING analysts led by Warren Patterson.

China’s crude oil imports fell 2.3% in the first half of this year to 11.05 million barrels a day, with disappointing fuel demand and reduced output by independent refiners due to weak profit margins.

Also, crude throughput at Chinese refineries dropped 3.7% in June from a year earlier to 14.19 million barrels per day, marking the lowest level this year, according to customs data.

China’s economy has slowed in the second quarter, weighed down by a protracted property downturn and job insecurity, keeping alive expectations that Beijing will need to implement more stimulus measures.

In the United States, the active oil rig count, an early indicator of future output, fell by one to 478 last week, marking the lowest level since December 2021, according to energy services firm Baker Hughes.

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