Long queues in front of service stations, planes grounded due to lack of kerosene, power cuts in the city: since the beginning of 2022, these scenes have been part of the daily life of millions of Africans, whether they live in Dakar, Douala or Nairobi. The continent imports almost half of the fuels it consumes and, consequently, bears the full brunt of the surge and volatility of prices and the supply difficulties caused by the war. in Ukraine. On March 7, the price of a barrel of crude oil came close to 140 dollars… Almost the record of 147.50 dollars reached in 2008.
Oil: in Africa, is the risk of a fuel shortage real?
A situation of cyclical crisis which, beyond the recent price fluctuations on the international hydrocarbon markets, sheds harsh light on a much deeper and more structural problem: Africa refines far too little of the oil it produces. Although the continent extracts nearly 7 billion barrels of black gold per day, it does not have sufficient infrastructure, and up to standard, to transform it into fuel. In 2020, refineries in sub-Saharan Africa would thus have been used at only 30% of their capacity, according to the consulting firm CITAC.
Nigeria, which is the continent’s largest crude oil producer, is one of the most striking examples. Barrels mined in the Niger Delta are almost systematically shipped to the United States, Europe or India, the majority of the country’s refineries being shut down. As for the fuel flowing from the pumps in Abuja, more than 80% of it comes from imports from the Netherlands or Belgium.
Aliko Dangote future oil king?
Refineries, these factories where oil is stored, distilled before being marketed, are eminently strategic, both in terms of energy sovereignty and production capacity with higher added value. But they are technically very complex, expensive and dangerous. Thus, in Ghana as in Cameroon, refineries are shut down following accidental explosions. In South Africa and Nigeria, heavy work to bring refineries up to standard is underway. However, the horizon is not completely blocked. Many projects are springing up all over the continent, like the Aliko Dangote mega-refinery located in the Lagos free zone.
How dependent is Africa on fuel imports? Where are the too rare refineries of the continent? Which are actually operational? Where are the main projects located? When will they be put into operation? All answers in infographics.