With the oil and gas sector coming off a particularly challenging year, 2021 could see a number of key upstream developments progress across Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA). A strong start to 2021 has resulted in a number of final investment decisions already being made in the regions so far. Of particular note is the giant US$30 billion North Field East LNG development in Qatar, which could well be the largest project sanctioned globally this year. With delays and COVID-19 restrictions hampering project timelines in 2020, 2021 is forecast to see a bump in both field starts and final investment decisions across EMEA.

Field Starts by Region from 2015 to 2021

2021 for Europe hopes to see a number of key projects achieve first production; projects such as Martin Linge, Tolmount and the YME Redevelopment were originally due to start producing in 2020 but are now targeting 2021 start dates. Key activities ongoing in Europe include major gas expansion projects in Norway such as Troll Phase 3 and Askeladd, which will help boost the countries gas output over the coming years. However, ongoing maintenance work at the Hammerfest LNG facility will impact 2021 gas volumes. Elsewhere, Romania hopes to boost its indigenous gas production in 2021 via the Midia Gas Development which is set to supply 10% of Romania’s gas demand. Of the major European investment decisions in the pipeline for 2021, the majority are UK based projects. Royal Dutch Shell has a stake in two major greenfield developments due for sanction, Cambo and Jackdaw, which could see the company sanction over US$1 billion in the UK. Furthermore, attractive tax incentives passed in Norway last year could push through some smaller developments which may have been previously considered marginal.

Across Sub-Saharan Africa there is a limited number of greenfield developments due to start in 2021. Despite this, the Assa North-Ohaji South project in Nigeria is one of the largest gas/condensate developments to be undertaken in the country to date and is anticipated to achieve first gas in 2021. The project marks an important step in the expansion of the country’s gas infrastructure. In Angola, a number of expansion projects are under construction which hope to alleviate pressure on domestic oil production declines. In addition, a flurry of investment decisions are being targeted across Africa, the most significant being the Mamba Complex development, the first phase of the Rovuma LNG project, which will bring gas from large offshore gas discoveries to position Mozambique as a major African LNG player. Elsewhere, a significant but controversial development is progressing in Uganda, the Tilenga oil project. The 200,000 bd project has a number of hurdles to overcome but the partners expect it to be sanctioned this year.

Gas developments will dominate new projects starts across MENA in 2021 with two significant greenfield conventional gas developments, Karish in Israel and Barzan in Qatar, due to see first gas this year. Despite originally being planned to come online in 2014, final installations are being carried out at the US$10 billion Barzan development and gas production is expected to be around 1.4 billion cubic feet per day (bcfd). Major expansion projects under construction and due to start this year include the Haradh Increment project in Saudi Arabia which will increase gas processing capacity of Hawiyah gas plant to 3.6 bcfd. Oil production increases through Bu Hasa and Bab projects in the UAE and the Majnoon expansion and Missan Rehabilitation projects in Iraq are expected to unlock further barrels in the region. Final investment decisions have recently been taken at the giant North Field East project, Karish North tie back and North El Amriya/North Idku near field developments, marking a strong start to the year for the region. An uptick in investment decisions and field starts can be expected in 2021 as lockdown measures ease, oil prices return to pre COVID-19 levels and economies recover.