Republic of the Congo: Energy Resources
|Name||Republic of the Congo|
|Energy Consumption||Quadrillion Btu|
|2-letter ISO code||CG|
|3-letter ISO code||COG|
|Numeric ISO code||178|
|UN Region||Middle Africa|
|Energy Maps||0 view|
|Energy Organizations||0 view|
|Research Institutions||0 view|
|CIA World Factbook, Appendix D|
|Wind Potential||Unavailable||Area(km²) Class 3-7 Wind at 50m||N/A||1990||NREL|
|Coal Reserves||Unavailable||Million Short Tons||N/A||2008||EIA|
|Natural Gas Reserves||Unavailable||Cubic Meters (cu m)||N/A||2010||CIA World Factbook|
|Oil Reserves||Unavailable||Barrels (bbl)||N/A||2010||CIA World Factbook|
Energy Maps featuring Republic of the Congo
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Policy and Regulatory Overview 
Population Access to Electricity (2008): 34.9%Rural: 16.4%Urban: 51.3%Overall electrification had increased to 37.1% in 2009. Electricity consumption in Congo is low as the country has a large rural population for whom the primary source of fuel is traditional biomass. Electricity transmission links are poor in many parts of the country, and these, coupled with the effects of the civil war in recent years, have contributed to a disrupted power supply service. Only about 6% of the population have access to the power grid. Overall, the transmission network of the country extends over 1,588km, and transmission occurs at both 220 kV and 110 kV.
Congo’s dependence on electricity imports is set to change, with a number of proposals for expansion of current facilities and the construction of new plants. The Congolese government and a Czech company, Geo-Industria, signed a US$11.2 million agreement to complete feasibility studies for four small hydroelectric plants in northern Congo. In 2003, construction began on the Imboulou hydroelectric dam on the Lefini River. Two Chinese companies, CMEC and CIEMCO, cooperated with the Congolese government on the $280 million project. The 120-MW is expected to be fully complete by the end of 2011. As part of the Imboulou project, scheduled for completion in 2012, the power transmission and transformation project includes the construction of 780 km of 220 kV transmission lines, 91 km of 110 kV transmission lines and 350 km of 30 kV and 20 kV transmission lines, as well as 5 x 220 kV substations, 3 x 110 kV substations, 17 x 30 kV substations and one national electric power dispatching centre.Development of the US$925 million, 1-gigawatt (GW) Sounda Gorge hydroelectric project has been postponed. Sounda Gorge, at the confluence of the Niari and Kouilou Rivers, is located approximately 85 miles north of Pointe Noire. Before independence, the French built access roads, a cement-processing factory and a deviation tunnel at Sounda Gorge. Following independence, Electricité de France (EDF) unsuccessfully tried to complete the generating facilities. In February 2005, Associated Press announced that a South African-led consortium were planning a Congo River project that will nearly double Africa's current electricity output without harming the environment. The project will generate about 40,000 MW of electricity, and will be activated in phases over a yet-to-be determined period of time. In the first phase, Eskom, the South African electricity company, together with the power utilities of Angola, Botswana, Congo and Namibia, will rehabilitate and upgrade two dams along the Inga rapids on the Congo River within four to six years, and generate about 9,500 megawatts of electricity for 12 southern African countries. At least half of the project's electricity will be produced through a process that diverts river water through electricity-generating turbines before funnelling it back into the Congo river. The project, which is estimated to cost US$50 billion (€37.9 billion), will be funded in part by the respective governments under the New Partnership for African Development, a program adopted by the African Union for the economic development of Africa. Further development of the proposed Inga project is ongoing, with a new memorandum of understanding signed between South Africa and the DRC in 2011, in an effort to open the way to a formal treaty, and execution of the long-proposed project.
Recent developments include the construction of the new 25 MW Djeno oil terminal power station in 2009, contributing to the generation of electricity from gas for over 80% of the country's requirements, while reducing gas flaring. The station, which will be owned by a new joint-stock company, 20% owned by Eni Congo and 80% by the Republic of Congo, will be fuelled by the natural gas associated with the M'Boundi oilfields, and later, by the offshore discoveries of Marine Permit XII.On 28 October 2010, the governments of the Republic of Congo and Cameroon signed a memorandum of agreement for the joint construction of a 600 MW hydropower plant on the river Tcha, in Cameroon. The project is intended to allow the two countries to expand their power grids, although eventual benefits for the entire sub-region are expected. Eni, the Italian-based energy company, has launched a new model of cooperation in Congo. The Eni model combines the traditional activities of hydrocarbon exploration and production, with sustainability, and important initiatives with unconventional and renewable sources.Throughout the shared program with Eni, the Republic of Congo will maximise its own potential as a major energy producing country, and become a benchmark in Africa in the tar sands and biofuels field, as a further benefit to food farming development. Eni, in the four-year period from 2008-2011, will invest US$3 billion in Congo, generating an expected equity production of 150 million boe. Eni has developed its operations in the country thanks to close collaboration with the Congolese authorities. This close relationship has resulted in the new agreements signed on 19 May 2008.New developments in the hydropower sector of the country include the up-rating of the Imboulou dam to 120 MW, and in the second phase of the project, the 300 MW Ponte-Noire gas-fired plant will be expanded to 450 MW, developed as a joint venture between the government and Eni, with the Italian firm holding a 20% stake in the project.
Total installed electricity capacity (2010): 361 MWNatural Gas: 50.4%Hydroelectric: 49.6%Total primary energy supply (2009): 1,402 ktoeCombustible Renewables and Waste: 51.1%Crude Oil: 50.1%Natural Gas: 3.3%Electricity Imports: 2.7%Hydroelectric: 1.99%Oil Product Exports: -9.3% The Republic of the Congo (Brazzaville) mainly relies on fossil fuels to provide energy, although there is a high proportion of unexploited hydroelectric energy. The energy sector remains dominated by oil activity. Oil production in 2010 was, on average, 291.9 thousand barrels per day. As estimated by the Oil and Gas Journal (OGJ), Congo contained 3.2 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) of proven natural gas reserves as of January 2006. These reserve deposits constitute the fourth largest found in sub-Saharan Africa, behind Nigeria, Mozambique and Cameroon. The only source of renewable energy that Congo uses is hydroelectric power. Congo produces 0.35 billion kWh of hydroelectric energy per year. Total electricity generation in 2009 was 516.0 GWh, 64% of which was produced from hydroelectric sources. Electricity use per capita in the same year was 157 kWh. Generation facilities in the country include the hydroelectric plants at Moukoukoulou (74 MW), Imboulou (90 MW) and Djoué (15 MW), and gas-fired thermal plants at Brazzaville (32 MW) and Ponte-Noire (150 MW).
The SNPC develops production sharing agreements (PSAs) with each foreign company that operates in Congo to ensure a constant minimum flow of revenue to the government. Under the PSA contracts, foreign companies carry out exploration and development during an agreed upon period of time, while financing all investment costs which are recovered when production begins. The PSAs also offer tax breaks and a royalty system to operating companies. Because all major operators in Congo have signed PSAs for their respective field developments, approximately one-third of the oil produced goes directly to the government and is sold by SNPC on behalf of the state. Primary foreign operators in Congo include Total (France), Agip (Italy), Perenco (UK), and Maurel and Prom (France).
The SNE is a state-owned, vertically-integrated company, with the monopoly on power generation, transmission, distribution and sale in the country. The SNPC is currently owned by the state, and is integrated in its upstream operations.
The Republic of the Congo has many important energy resources which are far from being completely exploited. Only 3.6% of the potential hydroelectric energy is currently being used as fossil fuels are still the most utilised, although new hydroelectric capacity has redressed the balance to near-equality. There is a huge surplus of biomass/wood energy resources.Primary energy use per capita in 2009 stood at 0.38 toe. The vast majority of energy consumption in the country can be attributed to the transport and residential sectors, which contributed 44.6% and 51.2% to the country's total final energy consumption in 2009. This indicates the need for more efficient energy practices in households in the country, as well as the promotion of sustainable transport use. Supply-side inefficiencies are of particular concern, given the high rate of losses in the power network, the recent permissive policy taken with regard to illegal connections by the national utility, and the lack of ability to address issues due to poor financial performance, particularly with regard to cost recovery.
Electricity transmission links are non-existent in many parts of the country, and fighting during the civil war destroyed much of the remaining infrastructure. It is estimated that the demand in energy will increase by 508.2MW by 2015 in the major cities (Brazzaville, Pointe Noire, while it is now 132 MW). This crisis will be all the more pertinent, as the power capacity of the dams (Djoué and Moukoukoulou) fluctuate from one month to another. This is the result of the irregularity of waterway flows in the country. Transmission and distribution losses are also high in the country, standing at 47% in 2010. The performance of the national utility is also harmed by the high level of losses, with financial losses from lost generation equivalent to 37% of total revenue in 2010. The unreliability of power supply in recent years has also dramatically increased the stock of self-generation capacity in the country. By 2010, private users had accumulated 207 MW of self-generation capacity, equivalent to 60% of the national system capacity. As biomass/wood energy is currently used and is rising swiftly, the rate of deforestation is growing in an unsustainable fashion, and soon the forests of Congo will not be able to support the demand. The variation in the seasons and climate change could also have consequences on the production of electric energy.
No dedicated agencies exist within the government to promote the sustainable use of energy, or renewable energy technologies. The Ministry of Sustainable Development of the Forest Economy and Environment is involved in the conservation and sustainable use of the country's biomass resource.
Electricity marketThe Société National d'Electricité, known as SNE, is the state owned organisation responsible for electricity generation and supply. The company reports to the Ministry of Mines, Energy and Hydrocarbons. In mid-2001 the government invited international tenders for the privatisation of the SNE. Prior to the 1997 civil war, the SNE was one of the government entities considered for privatisation. This is now not likely to occur in the immediate future, due to the damage inflicted upon the SNE's infrastructure during the war.Gas marketElf and Agip each hold one-third stakes in Gaz-Congo, which was formed in the early 1980s with the original hope of building a liquefied natural gas (LNG) export plant. However, this prospect is now virtually impossible in light of the government's already high foreign debt, the marginal level of proven gas reserves needed to justify such an endeavour, and the large number of grass-roots LNG plants already under development in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. Eni has recently begun developing gas-fired generation infrastructure in the country, including a 300 MW gas-fired power station, Centrale Electrique du Congo (CEC). Capacity for the station is expected to increase to 450 MW by 2012. The power station is fuelled by associated gas from the M’Boundi deposit. Liquid fuels marketCongo's national oil company, the Société Nationale des Pétroles du Congo (SNPC), regulates all oil production and exploration activities in the country. SNPC shares a percentage of operating interest alongside private international oil companies operating in Congo. The country has several active companies, such as Perenco, Murphy Oil, Africa O&G, Prestoil, Chevron, and SOCO Internationals; however, the upstream oil sector is mainly dominated by Total and Eni. In February 1996, Congo began the bidding process for the Pointe Noire refinery's privatisation. The sale was completed in August 1996. In October 1995, Elf and Shell signed a protocol agreement offering those companies a share in refinery operations after Congolaise de Raffinage (CORAF), the state-owned refining company, was privatised. The Société Commune de Logistique Petroliere (SCLOG), a consortium of Hydro-Congo (the former state monopoly operator), Chevron, Total and Tacoma/Puma-Energy (UK), is currently responsible for the sale and distribution of refined petroleum products in the country.
Degree of independence
The lack of an energy regulator means that regulatory functions must rest with the government or the energy companies themselves, the majority of which are state-owned, and are directly subsidiary to their controlling Ministry.
Congo wants to recover the gases released from oil activity to use in electricity production. They estimate that around 50% more of this gas could be utilised. There is currently a study for such a project at Pointe Noire, although the cost of this project is estimated at US$200 million.The Republic of Congo is also represented by the SNE in the Central African Power Pool, which was initially created in 2003 to organise and manage an integrated Central African power network. Projects that the CAPP have been involved in recently include the proposed Inga (DRC) – Cabinda (Angola) – Ponte-Noire interconnection, and on a more regional basis, the proposed connection between Inga and Calabar in Nigeria, passing through Congo, as well as Gabon, Equatorial Guinea and Cameroon.
1994 saw the introduction of a hydrocarbon code, with stricter rules on the use of hydrocarbons, and a more concentrated effort to benefit from water/ hydroelectric energy. More recently, an electricity regulation project is being explored.The Programme National de Développement des Energies Nouvelles et Renouvelables(ENR) aims to manage energy and energy efficiency by controlling a rational amount of energy consumption, by processes that are respectful to the environment. An agency of local expertise should be created to control energy and the environment. The Republic of Congo is also a signatory of the UNFCCC, with the First National Communication being available from www.bdix.net.
Most of Congo's crude oil exports are destined for Western Europe (mainly France) and the United States. In 2009, crude exports to the US averaged 65,000 bbl/d; an increase from the 2005 average of 31,000 bbl/d. Congo has also sought to increase its crude exports to Asian markets.Congo is a net electricity importer. According to recent government estimates, the country purchases approximately 37% of its requirements from the Democratic Republic of Congo's state-owned SNE. Congo has a large amount of hydroelectric potential (estimated at 2500MW), but the country remains under-equipped. Congo plans to reduce its reliance on electricity imports by expanding current facilities and constructing additional generation facilities. In 2009, the Republic imported 440 GWh of electricity, equivalent to 85% of national production. Indigenous production in 2009 was from hydroelectric sources (64%) and natural gas (36%).
Role of the government
The Ministry of Energy oversees all energy policy decisions in the country, with the Minister having final responsibility. The Ministry of Hydrocarbons is responsible for all operations relating to the combined hydrocarbon resources of the country, and oversees the activities of the state entity in the sector, the SNPC.
No specific framework for the regulation of sustainable energy use and utilisation exists. The regulatory framework for the electricity sector as a whole is also limited.
The total lack of a legislative framework for energy use and development in the country is a major barrier to improving the provision of energy services. The creation of policy and legislative measures to promote the use of sustainable energy resources, and to facilitate the expansion of energy service provision, would lead to enhanced energy development. The unbundling of the state utilities in the electricity and liquid fuels sectors, in conjunction with measures to promote private-sector participation in the energy sector, would also promote competition, leading to improved service quality for all.
No dedicated energy sector regulator exists in the country. The SNPC has the authority to regulate oil production and exploration activities.
Solar energyThe Programme National de Développement des Energies Nouvelles et Renouvelables (ENR), is currently exploring the use of photovoltaic/solar equipment in Djiri. Due to the heavily-forested nature of the country, the potential for power generation by solar photovoltaics is non-ideal, although a significant potential for solar thermal utilisation exists. Average insolation in the country ranges from 2.0-3.0 kWh/m2/day.Wind energyCurrent development of wind energy technologies is minimal and current installed capacity is at a similar level, although sites have been identified in both the North and South of the country as having sufficient potentials to generate electricity. Average wind speeds of ~5.5-6.0 m/s have been observed. Biomass energyThere is currently a great deal of forestry for wood, which is used to produce energy. Significant biomass energy potential exists in the country, particularly in the form of the production of palm oil for biodiesel. Some 12 million acres of land have been identified as having the potential to support some form of woody biomass for energy use. The African Fund for Biofuels and Renewable Energy is currently supporting the Congo-Carbon project, which will be implemented in two phases: the production of industrial carbon from forest residues, and reforestation in areas of depleted forest resources. Geothermal energyCurrently, no geothermal resources have been identified in the country, and no major studies into the potential resource have been conducted. Hydropower An exhaustive inventory carried out in 1981 identified a number of sites which can accommodate large hydroelectric power stations, and the hydroelectric potential of this (2,500MW) would certainly be a good substitute for wood energy. Two of these sites are around Pointe Noire and Brazzaville, which contain the majority of the Congolese population. The most significant project would be the Sounda Gorge dam, with an estimated capacity of 1,200 MW. Ministerial consultations have been held with South Africa’s Industrial Development Corporation to consider financing for the US$ 1 billion project. Recent developments have included the Imboulou hydroelectric project, expected to have expanded to 120 MW of capacity by the end of 2011.
- Republic of Congo-Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMAs) in the Congo Basin
- Forest Carbon Partnership Facility
- Central African Regional Program for the Environment (CARPE)
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