Putting fixed date for energy transition an imperialism—APPO Secretary-General


Secretary General of African Petroleum Producers’ Organisation (APPO), Dr. Omar Farouk Ibrahim, has criticised the advanced countries for demonizing the fossil fuels after using it to develop their economies.  

He said pegging a fixed date for the end of the production and use of fossil fuels by European and developed countries has imperialistic tendencies  because it is another form of keeping Africa under perpetual economic slavery.

 Recall that for many years, crude oil has been a major revenue driver for most African countries. Across the continent, crude deposits are abundant. A report by Statistic said that the continent’s proven crude oil reserves stood at 125.3 billion barrels in 2021 alone. The following countries have the most reserves: Libya, Nigeria, Algeria, Angola, Sudan, Egypt, Congo-Brazzaville, Uganda, Gabon, Chad.

Ibrahim, who spoke at the African Local Content Investment Forum (ALCIF) Eko Hotel, Lagos, Nigeria, on Monday, therefore called on African nations to urgently form a united front to resist global pressure to rapidly abandon fossil fuels.

This forum with the theme ‘‘Evolving A Pan-African Strategy Towards Sustainable Funding of Africa Oil and Gas Projects’’ could not have come at a better time.

He said this has become necessary  because Africa has just come to the full realization that the world, or more precisely, that part of the world that Africa has depended on for over three quarters of a century for hydrocarbons technology, expertise, markets and funding, has now resolved to abandon hydrocarbons and by implication, the mainstay of many of the economies of Africa’s oil and gas producing countries.

“It is important not to de-link the global paradigm shift away from fossil fuels to renewables from the failure of the doctrine of Project Independence, initiated by President Richard Nixon of the United States in 1973 aimed at ending US oil imports in response to the oil embargo placed on the US and some European countries by some Arab oil producing countries, in the aftermath of the Arab-Israeli war of the same year. 

“The bitter experience of the United States from the oil embargo made it to resolve to wean itself from foreign, particularly Arab oil. Government introduced policies aimed at achieving this objective, among which was support for the development of shale oil. For a number of reasons, these policies did not achieve the desired results. It was the failure to achieve that objective that led to a change in strategy.

“Having realized that shale cannot compete with conventional oil on the market, a deliberate strategy to demonize oil was hatched. First, funds were provided to research institutions to conduct studies on the impact of burning fossil fuels on the atmosphere, and by implication on the health of the people living on earth.

“ These studies “unearthed’’ the dangers of Green House Gas Emissions on the atmosphere. These findings were then given wide publicity and lots of funds were devoted to the establishment of many NGOs whose mandate is to demonize hydrocarbons.

“It is interesting to note that these findings were not new, and that as far back as 1859, John Tyndall, an Irish physicist, had made similar findings. Svante Arrhenius, a Swiss scientist had also published his findings on the same subject.” 

 But because it was not in the interest of the industrializing powers of Europe and America to stop the use of fossil fuels at that time, said APPO Secretary General , the findings of those studies were never publicized. And for nearly 200 years, but especially in the last century, they continued to use fossil fuels to consolidate their economies.

“Now that their economies have graduated from reliance on intensive energy for production, and Africa is on the verge of its industrialization, these countries have suddenly remembered that fossil fuels are harmful to humankind. It is obvious therefore that the energy transition agenda had been on the agenda of the advanced countries since the last quarter of the last century, but for whatever reason, we failed to see them. We went on behaving as if the end of oil shall never come.

“Ladies and gentlemen, if in the first half of the 20th century Africa could say that it had no expertise, no markets, no technology and no funds to take effective control of its God-endowed natural resources because oil was sold at an average of about one US Dollar per barrel and the Seven Sisters dictated what the owners of the resource received, can we say the same thing after the Arab oil embargo of 1973, when the price of the barrel doubled, tripled and even quadrupled? Can we say the same for the period between 2003 and 2008 when oil prices rose from about 20+ US Dollars per barrel to nearly 150 US Dollars per barrel?

“When the price of oil began a steep rise, not due to market fundamentals but to extraneous forces, including geo-politics and market manipulation, did it occur to us that the sudden windfall could also trigger a reaction from the powerful countries on whom we have always depended for the exploitation of our resources?

“Yet, we continued to spend the windfall, without making the necessary investments in the golden goose that lays the golden eggs. We did not make the required investments in the industry’s Research and Development, not in technology, we did a bit in human capacity development, but not in financing the sector.

“ Rather, we saw the windfall as a largesse to be shared for consumption. Today, African oil and gas producing countries have gotten used to big expenditures and since what they get is not enough to sustain that expenditure pattern, many of them now resort to borrowing.”

APPO (formerly African Petroleum Producers’ Association APPA) was created on January 27, 1987 to serve as a platform for cooperation and harmonization of efforts, collaboration, sharing of knowledge and skills among African oil producing countries.

 APPO is a vehicle for mitigating the continent’s overdependence on external technology and markets for their crude oil. The Headquarters of the organization is in Brazzaville, the Republic of Congo. The Organization changed its name from African Petroleum Producers Association (APPA) to African Petroleum Producers Organization (APPO) in 2017.

Ibrahim, said the cartel had gone beyond engaging ministers of petroleum of member nations but has extended invitations to all the NOCs in the continent for strong stakeholders meeting called ‘Forum of NOCs’, as part of the strategies to achieve its target.

At a recent presentation at the Sub Saharan Africa Petroleum Exhibition and Conference (SAIPEC) held in Lagos, Ibrahim further said APPO had floated the Africa Energy Investment Corporation (AEICOP) as a major step to provide alternative funding for oil and gas investments in the continent.

Now at the stage of hunting for seed capital for the AEICOP, he said he and the Acting Managing Director of AEICOP were recently in Cairo and had a meeting with the management of AfreximBank to seek the bank’s support for the sector.