Oil in the Comoros: President Azali favors training before exploitation

Oil activities in the Comoros have been virtually put on hold for some time. Some operating licenses granted to companies have “moreover expired in 2022”, according to a source familiar with the matter. Exploration work has certainly made it possible to make “discoveries of gas and oil deposits”, according to the company Discover Exploration, which has been working for several years in the Comoros. But the authorities are likely to push them back even further because of the lack of qualified human resources in the oil sector in the Comoros.

Mastering the gas and oil exploitation chain

President Azali Assoumani does not wish to accelerate the exploitation of hydrocarbons before the mobilization of national skills in the matter. He said it during an interview granted to the newspaper “L’Opinion” dated September 24th. “We are still in the prospecting phase to discover oil and gas, in a region rich in hydrocarbons”, he first explained. For him, the Comoros should ensure that they have a sufficient pool of executives capable of leading, coordinating and controlling the gas and oil exploitation chain.

“We must not go too fast because we do not yet have the human resources with a high sense of patriotism”, underlined the Comorian president before adding: “my ambition is to strengthen the training of Comorian executives in the sector of hydrocarbons and to define a framework for good exploitation following the example of Norway”.

Azali Assoumani also says he wants to speed up the renewable energy promotion plan validated in 2017 at the end of the National Energy Conference. “Our ambition is to be independent while we currently depend on thermal energy. We are going to promote renewables such as photovoltaics and geothermal energy. The Japanese Toshiba is working on it with us”, he underlined.

Regarding national skills in the oil sector, the country is far from the mark. The Comoros today only have “8 geologists and 4 geophysicists specialized in the sector and who still need capacity building”, according to a source from the Geological Office of the Comoros (BCG).

According to the Director General of BCG, Mohamed Chaheire Mohamed Chamassi, the country needs skills that are both sharp and high, particularly “in petroleum geophysics for seismic processing and interpretation, petroleum geology for stratigraphic and structural analysis and ‘basin assessment’. The manager also speaks of a need for engineers and drilling specialists capable of ensuring the design, carrying out operations, evaluating the tests and ensuring completion.

The head of the Geological Bureau of the Comoros says he is working to also mobilize officers in “reservoir engineering responsible for modeling and characterization, well testing and flow, etc.”. He talks about the training of executives in oil negotiations but also of tax experts, lawyers, risk analysts and investment prospecting agents in the hydrocarbons sector.

The Geological Bureau of the Comoros plans “in a second stage”, targeted training on “production specialties, particularly in the fields of production engineering (wells, evaluation, production modeling and optimization), structure and metallurgy, pipeline engineering and collection network and pumping, material balance and metering”, among others.

The Geological Office of the Comoros does not have the means to match its missions

Drilling work is expected to start in 2022

The Comoros have legislation in the sector. The oil law was adopted in 2012 after the first oil exploration work in the Comoros carried out a year earlier, in May 2011, by the American giant GXT Technologies. The legal framework “offers attractive tax advantages”, according to the opinion of all the companies Discover Exploration & Bahari Resources, Western Energy & Safari Petroleum organized respectively into two distinct consortia.

Many blocks have been allocated to these consortia, which should in return pay large sums to the authority, part of which is intended for the training of executives in the sector. But the results of their work are still unknown. Nor the inventory of managers trained to date and the real nature of the activities financed in the Comoros since their installation. Official reports are rarely released.

To date, no drilling activity has been initiated. The former boss of BCG had informed the Al-watwan newspaper that the work to help determine the volume of hydrocarbons in certain blocks was supposed to start from this year 2022. “It is from 2022 to 2025 that the company will start exploratory drilling to confirm the existence and volume of hydrocarbons, before offshore installations,” he said, citing mainly the company Western Energy, which joined forces with Safari Petroleum under the contract to production and sharing (CPP) covering blocks 38, 39 and 40.

Another concern hinted at by President Azali Assoumani: the security of future infrastructure and internal stability. According to him, the exploitation and marketing of hydrocarbons can be sources of conflict and that all eventualities must be prepared for in a region of Mozambique exposed to all types of trafficking and the desire for instability. “Those who are fighting each other politically for power must not also come to quarrel over oil”, he said, multiplying meetings with Mozambique to reflect on a common alliance against potential acts of destabilization. in this strategic and sensitive area of ​​the Indian Ocean.

ASKemba, Moroni

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Oil in the Comoros: President Azali favors training before exploitation

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