With over 8.2 billion barrels of proven oil reserves and 13.5 trillion cubic of natural gas, Angola has the potential to be a self-sufficient energy giant.
However, downstream infrastructure deficits have led to the country predominantly exporting its oil – oil exports account for 95% of the country’s total exports – while importing the majority of its refined products – over $1.7 billion is spent on oil imports annually.
To address this imbalance, the Ministry of Mineral Resources, Oil and Gas, led by H.E. Minister Diamantino de Azevedo, is prioritizing refinery developments , with upgrades to the country’s only operating facility as well as three new projects currently in the pipeline.
To address this imbalance, the Ministry of Mineral Resources, Oil and Gas, led by H.E. Minister Diamantino de Azevedo, has placed refinery developments at the forefront of the ministry’s agenda, with upgrades to the country’s only operating facility as well as three new projects currently in the pipeline.
Modernizing Existing Infrastructure
Angola’s national oil company (NOC), Sonangol, aims to improve the country’s refining capacity through upgrades to the country’s only operating facility, the 65,000 barrel per day (bpd) Luanda Refinery. Operated by energy company, Fina Petroleos de Angola, the refinery has been supplying refined products to the domestic market, however, falling short of meeting full demand of the population. To improve capacity, Sonangol announced plans to upgrade the facility through the installation of two additional processing units as well as other utilities and offsites, with EPC contractor, KT-Kinetics Technology responsible for the engineering, procurement and construction services for the upgrade.
The upgrade – estimated to cost $235 million – will enable the refinery to increase gasoline production four-fold, from 280 tons per day to approximately 1,100 tons per day. Speaking at the 8th Congress of the African Petroleum Producers Organization in May 2022, Sonangol Head of Business Unit, Refining and Petrochemicals, Joaquim Kiteculo, shared that the refinery upgrade has reached its final stage of development.
Upcoming Projects Target Capacity Increase
Meanwhile, Sonangol is making progress with the construction of three new facilities that will see Angola’s refining capacity increase exponentially. The first, dubbed the Lobito refinery, is located in Lobito in the Benguela province in Angola. 70% owned by private investors and 30% by the NOC, the Lobito Refinery will have the capacity to produce 200,000 bpd and is scheduled to commence refining in 2025. Despite initial project proposals from as early as January 1998, development has been slow. However, last year, Sonangol issued a call for tenders for the refinery with a number of private and public sector players, including the Zambian government, relaying interest.
The second facility, the Cabinda refinery, comprises a $920 million plant located in Cabinda province. Developed by a joint venture comprising investment management firm, Gemcorp (90%), and Sonangol subsidiary, Sonaref (10%), the facility will have a refining capacity of 60,000 bpd. Phase one of the project is estimated to cost $220 million and will see the facility refining 30,000 bpd while phase two and three will bring on an additional 30,000 bpd capacity at a cost of $700 million. As of May 2022, testing was completed for core equipment for the project’s first phase at VFuels LLC’s fabrication site in Houston, Texas, showing that the modular equipment produced and packaged meets the functionality and intended objectives for the refinery. With testing complete and successful, the shipment and installation of equipment at the refinery site will be the next step.
Finally, Sonangol is also constructing a refinery in Soyo in the Zaire province of Angola. Dubbed the Soyo Refinery, the 100,000-bpd facility will represent the third largest in the country with a total investment of $3.5 billion. Developed by US-led Quanten consortium – comprising American companies TGT, Quanten, Aurum & Sharp and Angolan company, Atis-Nebest – the project includes a residential area for 1,000 employees, a drinking and residual water production and treatment plant, a sanitary landfill for waste and a power station. In May 2022, the first stone for the Soyo Refinery was laid with construction expected to commence either this year or early 2023. First production is planned for 2024 with the American developers stating that the project remains on track.