Major projects are on the horizon for the Republic of the Congo. The country is developing large-scale projects aimed at strengthening and diversifying its economy and energy mix, while fostering long-term sustainable socio-economic growth.
Atlantic Petrochemical Refinery
A new $600-million oil refinery with a nominal processing capacity of 2.5 million tons per annum (mtpa) – the Atlantic Petrochemical Refinery – is being constructed close to the Congo’s oil hub, Pointe-Noire, through a joint-venture between the government and China’s Beijing Fortune Dingheng Investment. Construction of Phase 1 was launched in February 2021, and includes the engineering, commissioning and start-up of the main refining units, which will have a minimum capacity of 65,000 bpd. The second phase will start in late 2022 and will see the construction of additional units, increasing total capacity to 110,000 barrels per day (bpd). The refinery will produce gasoline and diesel, as well as liquefied petroleum gases, light fuel oils and kerosene.
TotalEnergies 40,000-Hectare Forest Planting Project
Through its subsidiary Total Nature Based Solutions, TotalEnergies will plant a 40,000-hectare forest in the Batéké plateau. The company signed in March of this year a partnership agreement with the Congolese government to create a carbon sink capable of absorbing 10 million tons of CO2 over twenty years. The project will be developed in collaboration with Forêt Ressources Management for a total cost of €250 million and is expected to create 1,000 jobs. Moreover, a development fund will be dedicated to projects for local communities. The project also comprises agroforestry crops for sustainable agricultural and fuelwood production.
Nené Marine Field Development
In 2019, Eni launched phase 2A of the offshore Nené field development, with the addition of 12 new wells commencing production, bringing the total number of wells to 15. Situated on the Marine XII block, the Nené field has seen multiple phases of development, starting production in 2014. Phase 2B began in 2019 and was completed in 2020, starting production by linking the production to an existing production platform. The completion of the field development is expected to start in 2022. Eni is the sole operator of the field with 65% of participating interests; Lukoil acquired 25% in 2019, and the remaining 10% belongs to the SNCP, Congo’s state national oil company. Phase 2B increased gross production by 26,000 bpd, bringing the total to 54,000 boed. In August of this year, Eni confirmed that it will carry out exploration activities in December 2021 and that it will construct a new platform and dig seven new wells.
Eni – Congo-Brazzaville MoU for Biofuel Production
The Congo is set increase biofuel production capacity in the coming years. The government and Italian IOC, Eni, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on October 4 2021 to commence large scale castor oil production that will provide feedstock for Eni’s bio-refinery system. The pilot phase is due to start in October this year – with approximately 200 hectares allocated for castor sowing activities. By 2030, the industrial development phase will extend cultivation land to 150,000 hectares and benefit some 90,000 people. This project supports the Congolese National Development Plan for Agriculture 2018-2022, which aims to develop the country’s agricultural sector and contributes to the decarbonization of the Congo’s energy mix.
Chollet Hydroelectric Power Station
The Congo and Cameroon signed a concession agreement on April 12, 2021, with China Gezhouba Group Company (CGGC) to build a 108m high dam, named Chollet, on the Dja River, which serves as a natural border between the two central African nations. The project is estimated to cost $700 million and will be capable of producing 600 MW of electricity. CCGC will carry environmental and social assessment and then launch the construction of the dam in addition to the hydroelectric plant, access roads, and substations. Two evacuation lines for the electricity produced at Chollet will power the Congo and Cameroon, with the possibility of delivering electricity to other neighboring countries. The Chollet project is expected to be complete in 2025.
New Congo Rail Link
Thelo DB, a joint venture between Thelo Ventures and Deutsche Bahn Engineering Consulting, has signed a deal with iron ore mining company, Sapro Group, for the construction of a 412km rail line that will link Mayoko to Pointe-Noire’s future mineral port. With this new project, Sapro group aims to export about 12 million tons of iron ore a year from the Mayoko deposit, which is said to have 580 million tons of mineral reserves. The $1.08 billion deal will also rehabilitate 182km of the Mbinda – Mont Mbelo line. Completion of the project is expected to take five years.
Energy Capital & Power will launch Congo-Brazzaville’s first ever energy sector specific report, Africa Energy Series: Congo-Brazzaville 2022, in the second quarter of 2022, which will outline the country’s COVID-19 recovery strategy and unpack its ambitious plans for the development of its hydrocarbons industry including natural gas development; environmental and social governance; and the energy transition.