The visit of US Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy, Steven Winberg, to this year’s Africa Oil Week event in Cape Town highlights the importance that the US places in fostering relationships with the continent. The event takes place on 04 – 08 November 2019 at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC).

The Africa Oil Week event takes place at the CTICC from 04 – 08 November 2019. Image credit: Twitter

The Africa Oil Week event takes place at the CTICC from 04 – 08 November 2019. Image credit: Twitter

With the emergence of shale gas earlier this decade the United States shot to the top of the global oil and gas rankings. In 2018 it averaged 17.87 million b/d, which accounts for 18 per cent of the world’s production. This is up from the 15.6 million b/d in 2017.

Last December the US administration launched its Prosper Africa initiative with the vision to open markets for American businesses, grow Africa’s middle class, promote youth employment opportunities, improve the business climate, and enable the United States to compete with China and other nations who have business interests in Africa.

The USD50-million programme will offer technical help to companies looking to enter or grow in Africa, which is urbanising more rapidly than anywhere else on Earth. The region is projected to have 1.52 billion consumers by 2025 — nearly five times the size of the US population.

A continued priority for the US Department of Energy is now looking towards Africa to develop opportunities in the exploration, production and monetisation of LNG. In the words of Energy Secretary Rick Perry, “Increased amounts of US LNG on the world market benefit the American economy, American workers, and consumers and help make the air cleaner around the globe.”

Under this new strategy the US government, including the Department of Energy, is looking to assist Africa advance economic prosperity and energy development across the continent without saddling them with unsustainable debt, or imperil their long-term economic development or their sovereignty.

When it comes to the oil and gas sector American corporations are already very active on the continent. Earlier this year Texas energy company Anadarko Petroleum gave the green light to start building a USD20-billion gas liquefaction and export terminal in Mozambique — the biggest such project ever approved in Africa.

To further this policy Winberg, will join 25+ Pan-African ministers at the Africa Oil Week summit in Cape Town this November. He will use the event to share US energy policy points with the continent and outline a vision for deeper US commitment to Africa in the oil, gas and power sectors. This vision looks set to encompass increased two-way trade and investment between the US and Africa, with the US making potential capital available on joint-ventures and to part-finance LNG infrastructure for energy-lacking African countries.

“I am excited to represent the US at the upcoming Africa Oil Week Conference in Cape Town, South Africa,” Assistant Secretary Winberg said.  “We want our friends and partners in Africa to thrive, prosper, and control their own destinies. And we welcome the opportunity to share with them not only our abundant energy resources, but also the knowledge and technologies that can help them develop their own resources.”

Winberg will be delivering a keynote on Tuesday after at 1pm on the main stage explaining the US department of energy strategy for engagement in Africa. Prior to that he will be taking part in a high profile ‘Live CNBC Africa Broadcast: The Africa Oil Week Leaders Debate’. Later on, Tuesday afternoon he appears at 4.40pm in the South Africa Showcase discussing how the US is helping drive growth in South Africa’s unconventional sector. His final appearance comes on Thursday in the National Showcase Theatre where at 12 noon he talks about what the US is doing to strengthen bi-lateral trade and investment between the US and Africa, alongside Richard Nelson, Power Africa Deputy Coordinator. During his visit to Africa Oil Week, Winberg will be visiting the Fossil Energy Exhibit in the exhibit hall.