West African oil and gas markets not to be ignored – analyst

Delegates at a business breakfast in the Granite City yesterday were told how offshore west Africa was leading the way in oil and gas capital and operating expenditure.

The market prospects and trends event, organised by Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce, reflected on increasing west Africa offshore activity, notably in deepwater fields off Nigeria and Angola.

John Westwood, chairman of energy analyst Douglas-Westwood, said that although this was a market often considered to be one of the most difficult to enter and operate in, its scale and opportunity could not be ignored.

He said that with global offshore annual capital expenditure forecast to reach £60billion by 2010 the prize was great for oil and gas operators and contractors alike, but the investment risk was greater now and it was crucially important that investments were made in regions with the best long-term prospects.

Factors such as the powerful developing economies of China and India competing to secure energy reserves have propelled the world into an era of high oil prices and an accelerating pace of exploration and development.

The event was run in association with the UK West Africa Action Group (UK WAAG), an industry-led organisation run under the auspices of the chamber of commerce.

UK WAAG was established more than a decade ago and since its inception has heightened awareness of opportunities in west Africa’s growing oil and gas sector, promoted the UK’s expertise and capabilities, and assisted members in entering these difficult markets.

With more than 80 corporate members, UK WAAG is the largest organisation of its kind specialising in oil and gas trade with west Africa.

UK WAAG organises a minimum of two trade missions each to Nigeria and Angola every year.

Other west African countries are visited as demand requires.

The most recent mission took one of the largest UK groups to Angola, with 20 delegates visiting the country from April 22 to 30.