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OPEC woos Namibia as it prepares to produce oil from 2030

The OPEC+ oil producers group is eyeing Namibia for possible membership as it sets up what could be Africa’s fourth-largest output by the next decade.

• April 16, 2024
Oil rig
Oil rig

The OPEC+ oil producers group is eyeing Namibia for possible membership as it sets up what could be Africa’s fourth-largest output by the next decade.

An African industry official and sources told Reuters on Tuesday.

In recent years, TotalEnergies and Shell have made discoveries estimated at 2.6 billion barrels, setting the stage for the southern African country to plan production from about 2030.

The sources said the initial focus for OPEC+ would be for Namibia to join its Charter of Cooperation, a grouping that engages in longer-term dialogue about energy markets.

Brazil had joined the charter in January.

Eventually, OPEC, the core oil exporters group that, along with Russia and others, forms OPEC+, would like to see Namibia become a full member, said NJ Ayuk, executive chairman of the African Energy Chamber.

This Mr Ayuk said had been involved in facilitating talks between the two sides.

He said OPEC had begun its “charm offensive,” adding that the outcome of the talks was unclear at this stage.

OPEC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In February, OPEC secretary-general Haitham Al Ghais was reported to have said OPEC was holding talks with several nations on joining the charter without naming them.

OPEC, in a tweet at the time, said Mr Al Ghais met Namibian Minister of Mines and Energy Tom Alweendo at a conference in Nigeria where the prospect of OPEC and Namibia working together “under the umbrella of the charter of cooperation” was raised.

In 2023, Namibian Petroleum Commissioner Maggy Shino expressed interest in joining the OPEC “family,” according to a report by S&P Commodity Insights, known as Platts.

Yet in March, minister Alweendo told Reuters that OPEC membership was not on the cards and did not want to be drawn into the question of whether Namibia was considering joining the charter.

“We haven’t been approached by anyone to join OPEC. OPEC members are petroleum exporting countries, and we are not there yet,” he said. “That is a consideration only after we have started to produce,” Mr Alweendo added.

Talks between OPEC and the Namibian government will likely continue in late April, however, when OPEC’s Mr Al Ghais is scheduled to deliver an address to a Namibian energy conference, said Mr Ayuk, who is also a speaker at the event.

Pranav Joshi of energy consultancy Rystad Energy told Reuters that about 2.6 billion barrels of oil have been discovered in Namibia this decade.

(Reuters/NAN)

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