E. Guinea May Decide on $2.2 Billion LNG Plant in 2012

Equatorial Guinea may decide to build a $2.2 billion liquefied natural gas plant in 2012, according to Gabriel Obiang Lima, a vice minister of mines, industry and energy.

The unit would be the second in the African country, which has more than 8.5 trillion cubic feet of natural-gas reserves. The investment estimate includes spending on pipeline infrastructure and hubs, Lima said in an interview in Cape Town.

State-owned Sociedad Nacional de Gas, or Sonagas, together with Germany’s E.ON AG, Portugal’s Galp Energia SGPS SA and Spain’s Union Fenosa SA, has been designing a plan to develop the local gas industry. The African nation needs to ensure fuel supply to domestic industry and to stop flaring, or the burning of gas associated with oil, most of which comes from the Exxon Mobil Corp.-operated Zafiro field, Lima said last year.

“Priority number one is the gas master plan,” Serapio Sima Ntutumu, a deputy general director at Sonagas, said today at an Africa Energy Week conference in Cape Town. The second priority is a gas distribution plan and third is expansion and diversification, he said.

Equatorial Guinea LNG Holdings Ltd. can expand by adding a second production unit and load its first cargo in 2016 or 2017, according to Marathon Oil Corp. estimates made last year. Gas supplies from Nigeria and Cameroon may be required to make the unit commercially viable.

Alen Resources

Noble Energy Inc., the U.S. oil and natural-gas producer with prospects from the Rocky Mountains to West Africa, plans to pump 40,000 barrels a day from the Alen field in Equatorial Guinea in 2014, Lima told conference delegates today. Alen holds 247 million barrels of gross oil and gas resources, according to Houston-based Noble’s estimates.

Noble will also start oil production from Equatorial Guinea’s Aseng field in mid-2012 and produce about 50,000 barrels a day, Lima said, adding that, over the life of the project, the company expects to recover gross hydrocarbon liquids of about 100 million to 120 million barrels.

Aseng also holds an estimated 450 billion to 550 billion cubic feet of gas resources that will be produced as part of the country’s gas plan once the pressure maintenance phase is completed, according to Lima’s presentation.

Bids

The West African nation, which produces about 415,000 barrels a day of liquid oil equivalent, in August invited 12 companies to build its 20,000 barrel-per-day Mbini refinery, the deputy energy minister said in his speech. The government will consider proposals from companies including KBR Inc., Ventech Technology Inc. and China Petroleum and Chemical Corp. by January, he said.

Equatorial Guinea is a “significant oil exporter” according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s website, which says the majority of the country’s oil exports are destined for European, North American and Asian markets.

The West African country has had $35 billion of direct investment in its petroleum industry so far, Lima said.

In the power industry, the country expects to complete its Malabo electricity network project on Bioko island in June 2011 at a cost of about $370 million, Lima said. It also expects to complete the Djibolo power plant near Rio Muni at the same time, at a cost of $250 million, he said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Carli Lourens in Cape Town at clourens@bloomberg.net Eduard Gismatullin in London at egismatullin@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Will Kennedy at wkennedy3@bloomberg.net

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