Equatorial Guinea’s state oil company plans to help its counterpart in the Democratic Republic of Congo to create a domestic natural gas sector, potentially including liquefied natural gas.

This is one of a number of wide-ranging co-operation agreements signed this week in Luanda by the Bata-based government and the DR Congo authorities, including the proposed construction of a jointly owned oil refinery.

In a statement released at the Angola Oil & Gas conference, state-owned Gepetrol of Equatorial Guinea said it will assist DR Congo state oil company Sonahydroc to develop the Congolese natural gas sector and “specifically the promotion of LNG and the storage, distribution and export of liquefied petroleum gas”.

Equatorial Guinea hosts an LNG plant on Bioko Island and for years has been trying to develop this facility into a regional hub that could also handle gas supplies from Cameroon and Nigeria.

No further detail was revealed on gas development opportunities in the DR Congo, although French independent Perenco — the only oil company currently operating in the country — is eyeing gas commercialisation opportunities there as well as in Cameroon and Gabon.

A presentation given in May by a senior Perenco executive stated that the company currently produces 45 million cubic feet per day of associated gas — 31 MMcfd from its offshore assets and the remainder from its coastal fields.

In a complex plan, some of this gas and any additional volumes available, would be used to enhance oil production, with other volumes used to produce LPG, as feedstock gas-to-power feedstock and, if enough resource is available, LNG would be considered.

The memorandum of understanding signed by Equatorial Guinea’s Ministry of Mines & Hydrocarbons and the DR Congo Ministry of Hydrocarbons also calls for the financing and construction of an oil refinery in the DR Congo — to be jointly owned by both countries — to meet regional demand for refined petroleum products.

This proposal also includes the construction of storage facilities for refined products.

Equatorial Guinea’s Energy Minister Gabriel Mbaga Obiang Lima said: “Cross-border co-operation is one of the key tenets of Equatorial Guinea’s energy development strategy, as we aim to increase the availability of affordable and accessible energy in our country and across the region.”

His Congolese counterpart Didier Budimbu Ntubuanga added: “We are looking forward to renewing and cementing our partnership with Equatorial Guinea ... to fully leverage our hydrocarbon resources, stimulate production and bring energy security to the country.”

The MoU aims to facilitate the transfer of knowledge and technical expertise from Equatorial Guinea to the DR Congo, with a particular focus on Kinshasa’s ongoing — and controversial — oil and gas licensing round.

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