Germany eyes potential gas opportunities in Africa despite environmental concerns
As concern over dwindling Russian gas supplies rises, Germany is looking increasingly towards Africa for new sources of energy. Skyrocketing gas prices around the world are creating potentially lucrative opportunities for fossil fuel producers in African countries, but also raise fears regarding the environmental impact new gas projects could have in the region, Süddeutsche Zeitung reports. Germany has expressed interest in a UK and U.S.-led project off the coast of Senegal and Mauritania as well as elsewhere in Africa. Companies and governments are examining other potentially profitable gas and oil projects, including terminals for liquefied natural gas (LNG) that are set to be expanded in Nigeria and Angola, while Mozambique, Tanzania, Djibouti and the Republic of Congo are also looking to enter the business or expand operations. Test drilling for oil and gas fields is currently underway in Namibia’s Okavango Basin. German companies are primarily interested in supplying technology for power plants, the article notes.
Jochen Flasbarth, state secretary in the German development ministry (BMZ) told the newspaper it was an "absolutely right option" for Senegal to supply Germany if deliveries from Russia are halted. Local activists in Senegal are criticising the plans, however, noting that gas extraction off the coast could affect thousands of people who depend on the sea for their livelihood. They also warn of creating greater dependence on fossil fuels while business interests eye lucrative profits.
Another problem is Germany’s commitment to no longer fund fossil fuel projects abroad from 2023 onwards, which it made along with other countries in November at the UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow. Pressure from the UK and France and the ongoing war in Ukraine appear to have weakened Germany’s stance, particularly if such projects are compatible with the UN’s 1.5°C target and if new infrastructure can later be used to transport green hydrogen.