African nations must be allowed to develop fossil fuel resources to help lift their people out of poverty, governments said at the COP27 climate talks in Egypt, which welcomed leaders of oil and gas companies sidelined at previous talks.
Pressure to leave hydrocarbons in the ground has been weakened this year by the disruption following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine that led to a surge in energy prices and pushed inflation to multi-decade highs. [emphasis, links added]
Even countries with binding commitments to switch to low-carbon energy have found their priorities have shifted, at least in the short term and African nations see the potential for new export markets, as well as a chance to end domestic fuel poverty.
“There [are] a lot of oil and gas companies present at COP because Africa wants to send a message that we are going to develop all of our energy resources for the benefit of our people because our issue is energy poverty,” said Namibia’s petroleum commissioner, Maggy Shino, who works within the country’s Ministry of Mines and Energy.
Echoing comments from other African nations, Shino said wealthy countries had failed to deliver promised funding that would help them to expand clean energy instead of exploiting their fossil fuel resources.
“If you are going to tell us to leave our resources in the ground, then you must be prepared to offer sufficient compensation, but I don’t think anyone has yet come out to make such an offer,” she said.
BIG OIL AND GAS DISCOVERIES
Early this year, Shell and TotalEnergies had major oil discoveries off the coast of Namibia.
Both companies, as well as BP and Equinor, were represented by top executives at the Sharm El-Sheikh event.
Apart from Namibia, countries including Mauritania, Tanzania, and Senegal are working with Western energy companies to develop oil and gas fields for export and to generate electricity for local communities.
Ahmed Vall, a communications adviser at Mauritania’s ministry of petroleum, mines, and energy, said the country held a signing ceremony with BP on the sidelines of COP27 earlier in the week for a hydrogen project.
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