1) The African continent is believed to contain about 10% of the world’s oil reserves
2) The largest oil producers in Africa are Angola, Nigeria, Libya and Algeria
3) Technological advances in deepwater drilling has made it possible to continue oil production despite threats of war/civil war onshore – with the added bonus that the oil can be transported by freight ships directly from the rigs to ports in Europe and the US
4) The Niger Delta, the most disputed and volatile oil region in the whole of Africa, comprises nine states and 185 local government areas. It is home to 27 million people, made up of 40 ethnic groups speaking 250 dialects. Here, the oil industry has drilled for decades, spending billions of dollars, while the vast majority of the population continues to live in squalor. Moreover, it has been estimated that 1,5 million tons of oil has been spilled into the Niger Delta over the last 50 years – that’s one Exxon Valdez disaster every twelve months!
5) The oil found offshore Africa is in industry terms called ‘light’ or ‘sweet’ (meaning viscous and low in sulfur) and is much easier to refine than crude oil from the Middle East. American and European refineries, obliged by strict environmental regulations, particularly prefer this kind of oil as it costs less to refine.
6) Between 1990 and 2010, the oil industry invested an estimated US$ 70 billion in exploration and production activity in Africa. American oil giant Chevron spends about 35% of its global exploration and production budget in Africa. However, only 5% of these billions are spent in Africa – investments are directed towards developing hardware and technology needed for (mostly) offshore drilling.
7) Until recently, no African country was member of the OPEC, meaning that they were not restricted by OPEC rules to keep oil prices high. Thus, more oil found in, say, Ghana equals cheaper oil for everyone.
Source: Ghazvinian, John. Untapped: The Scramble for Africa’s Oil, 2007