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Shell mulls integrating renewables into its sub-Saharan Africa operations

Oil super major Shell mulls integrating renewables into its operations across sub-Saharan Africa, a senior company official said.

Shell’s new business development manager for the region, Tayo Ariyo, asked the wider oil and gas industry to invest in renewables “as a way of enabling access to energy in far-flung sites”.

“As an industry we must concentrate on developing lower carbon solutions, and we must swiftly invest in renewables, like solar, hydro and wind,” said Ariyo. “This will necessitate the development of pioneering new partnerships and business models that flawlessly incorporate renewables into the energy mix.

“The sort of project we should be doing more of in Africa is what Shell presently has in Oman – a hybrid gas-solar project that Shell employed in the Amal oilfield,” she said during a speech at International Petroleum Week in London.

In 2012, Shell invested in GlassPoint Solar, a US company that utilizes solar-thermal technology to help recovery of hard-to-extract oil deposits.

GlassPoint’s thermal enhanced oil recovery (EOR) system is designed to generate the steam required to help get at heavy oil that is too thick to be pumped to the surface using usual methods.

A 7MW pilot of the system was first installed by Petroleum Development Oman (PDO) at a site in the Middle Eastern sultanate. PDO later revealed plans for the giant 1.02GW Miraah solar-thermal plant that was intended to help oil extraction at the Amal field from 2017.

“Gas use was cut by 80% in the oilfield activity, which means we could utilize what we saved somewhere else,” said Ariyo.

Now Shell is eyeing related projects to power up its African oil projects, though Ariyo gave no information about where and when this technology could be executed.

She said: “Gas and renewables is the ultimate joint venture to tackle the challenge brought on by amplified energy demand.

In order to have triumph, we need new trusted affiliations between governments and industry in order to guarantee access to energy is a certainty for Africans in Africa.”

“Thus, as an industry, we have to keep on making substantial investments across all sectors, as well as oil and gas, and renewables. But we will need to do all this while extenuating climate change issues,” she said.


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