Africa is a continent of 54 countries with an estimated mid-2000 population of 805 million people. The upstream oil industry is key to the continent of Africa, with proved reserves of 75.4 billion barrels (7% of the world’s total) and in 1998 it produced 7.8 million barrels per day (381 million tons/year) of over 40 types of crude oil. Five countries dominate Africa’s upstream oil production. Together they account for 85% of the continent’s oil production and are, in order of decreasing output, Nigeria, Libya, Algeria, Egypt and Angola. Other oil producing countries are Gabon, Congo, Cameroon, Tunisia, Equatorial Guinea, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Cote d’Ivoire. Exploration is taking place in a number of other countries that aim to increase their output or become first time producers. Included in this list are Chad, Sudan, Namibia, South Africa and Madagascar while Mozambique and Tanzania are potential gas producers.


The downstream oil industry comprises 44 refineries in 25 countries with a total distillation capacity of 3,000 thousand barrels per day which represents 4% of the world total. The major refining centres are in Egypt (19.2%), Algeria (16.7%), South Africa (15.6%), Nigeria (14.6%), Libya (11.6%), Morocco (5.2%) and Kenya (3.0%) in decreasing magnitude of refining capacity (1/1/99) as a percentage of total African capacity. South Africa also has synfuels production. All countries have marketing and distributing facilities. In addition to fuels, Africa has an active lubricants industry which encompasses base oil refining, lubricant blend, distribution and marketing.

Major Players

All the major international oil companies have a presence in Africa, but there are also local African oil companies. Most of the companies issue regular press releases which are a supplement to the news available about their activities and to the investment reports of investment analysts.

The World Bank and other bodies have undertaken studies and produced reports on the African oil industry. In recent years, there have been several conferences devoted to the African oil industry in both the upstream and downstream sectors.

Shaun Bakamoso

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