Africa boasts with a long list of oil producing countries. According to data from the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) from 2010, 16 of the 54 countries in Africa are exporters of oil, namely Nigeria, Angola, Libya, Algeria, Sudan, South Sudan, Equatorial Guinea, Congo (Brazzaville), Gabon, Chad, Egypt, Tunisia, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and Mauritania.
Africa’s oil history stretches over a period of several decades, in some places it is even a century old. Presently, there are about 500 oil companies that participate in African hydrocarbon exploration. According to figures from the US EIA, Africa’s proven oil reserves have grown by nearly 120 percent in the past 30 years or so, from 57 billion barrels in 1980 to 124 billion barrels in 2012. In addition, it is estimated that at least another 100 billion barrels are offshore Africa, only waiting to be discovered. In turn, Africa’s proven reserves of natural gas have grown from 210 trillion cubic feet (tcf) in 1980 to 509 tcf in 2012, representing growth of over 140 percent. Furthermore, recent further discoveries of sizable natural gas reserves in Tanzania and Mozambique point to significant upward potential for these figures.
Much of Africa is still relatively unexplored or underexplored. Increasingly, China will become the destination for more of Africa’s oil, with the Asian powerhouse extending its influence on the continent via foreign direct investment, increasing trade ties, and resources for infrastructure deals.