Guinea’s Mining Sector Powered by New LNG Port Infrastructure

By Elliot Connor

[From Energy Capital & Power] The west African nation of Guinea-Conakry has announced the construction of a $300 million phased Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) provision and distribution network which includes a full-service LNG receiving terminal, a liquefaction plant and an export terminal. The mega-project, dubbed the Guinea LNG Project, will be located at the Port of Kamsar on the country’s northern coast and is being rolled-out by the West Africa LNG Group – a purpose-built corporate entity by development firm, AfricaGlobal Schaffer (AfGS).

The move comes in response to fresh government-led incentives to nationalize mineral-processing value chains so that the fiscus is able to capitalize on domestic mineral commodities, before export.

The theme of the upcoming MSGBC Oil, Gas & Power Conference in Dakar this September is, “The Future of Natural Gas: Growth Using Strategic Investment and Policymaking,” and with good reason– the MSGBC basin is in the early stages of a gas rush that has potential to revolutionize the region’s energy sector and positively re-define the regional economy.

This is especially true with frontrunner Senegal forecasting 2.5 million tons of LNG production next year, scaling up to 10 million tons within the decade. Neighboring Mauritania isn’t far behind with megadevelopments such as the BirAllah, Banda and transnational Greater Tortue Ahmeyim projects mirroring Senegal’s Yakaar-Teranga and KARMOL gas-to-power projects with over 20 trillion cubic feet of natural gas on either side of the border. And other new developments are flooding in with major investment activity; in this regard, Senegal has put a dozen offshore blocks up for lease, Mauritania follows with 19, The Gambia has added six, and Guinea-Bissau recently completed the licensing of 11 blocks.

For Guinea-Conakry, although yet to enter the hydrocarbons exploration and production area, the west African country is set to reap the rewards of the gas rush at the other end of the supply chain, importing regionally produced LNG as the first major trade development between MSGBC countries. The Guinea LNG Project was initiated in September 2019 following a grant from the US Trade and Development Agency for feasibility studies on the LNG receiving terminal and other phases. With commercially viable results, the study found that power from imported LNG is up to 25% cheaper than diesel or heavy fuel oils for the country, with far less adverse environmental impacts. With this green light, development is underway, slated to be operational by mid-2023, importing and extracting power from LNG and scalable to meet demand.

This is crucial since total power demand in and around the Port of Kamsar is expected to rapidly increase in the next decade. This is due to increases in mining activity – Guinea-Conakry is home to an estimated one third of the world’s known bauxite reserves. Historically, it has harvested and exported the mineral in raw form, however under recent reforms, mining companies are now required to refine a portion of their mined bauxite domestically as a condition of being granted mining concessions, directly benefiting the country’s fiscus.

With the reform measures, Guinea-Conakry is officially the last nation in the world to have permitted unprocessed bauxite to be exported without any value addition. Since the legislation’s passing, more than a half-dozen mining megafirms have now outlined plans for new alumina refineries set to come online in the next seven years. These new establishments are energy-intensive, but all within reach of the Port of Kamsar via pipeline, barge and power transmission lines thanks to strategic location at the heart of Guinea’s bauxite mining region. Hence from next year, the LNG megadevelopment benefits of the MSGBC basin will not only reach domestic and European markets but also enrich neighboring states, in particular, Guinea-Conakry.

It is in this spirit of mutually symbiotic collaboration that the MSGBC Oil, Gas & Power Summit & Exhibition convenes this September in Dakar’s renowned CICAD venue. As Mauritania and Senegal lead the region toward the low-carbon transition fuel of LNG, so too can Guinea-Conakry contribute with a unique outlook and by holding one of the highest per capita renewable energy production ratios in the region. This year’s event will gather over 1000 senior delegates to exchange strategic insights, drive investment strategies and advance the green future of west African energy, with gas as the centerpiece.