By Ousman A. Marong
The Minister of Petroleum and Energy, Honourable Fafa Sanyang, said the novel coronavirus known as COVID-19 pandemic has severely impacted the Petroleum sector in The Gambia on various way.
“COVID-19 pandemic has severely impacted the petroleum sector in The Gambia in various ways. Based on health precautions, the government has given directives for all taxis and other transporters to reduce the number of passengers to 50 percent. As a result, the restrictions on the movement of vehicles during our lockdown, the demand for fuel has been significantly reduced,” Hon. Fafa Sanyang said.
According to Minister Sanyang, this has dampened economic loss to the transporters.
He has made these deliberations today, during an African Ministerial Roundtable Virtual Meeting which was jointly hosted with the International Energy Agency (IEA) and the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy of Senegal. A total of 116 countries have participated in the virtual conference today.
The meeting was focus on the impact of COVID-19 on Africa’s Energy Sector on the theme: “Sustainable Energy For All. How COVID-19 crisis affected the electricity demand and supply and it affects the reliability and security and security of Africa’s power system.”
Minister Sanyang revealed that The Government of The Gambia has reduced the prices of petroleum due to the global petroleum price downturn.
“The Government of The Gambia had to reduce the pump price of PMS (petrol) by 25 percent, AGO (diesel) 23 percent and kerosene by 44 percent. In the Gambia, the levied on petroleum products contribute significantly to the government’s revenue base. Consequently, the slump in demand and the reduction on pump price have directly affected the revenue base of the government in 2020,” he stated.
The Petroleum Minister said the Gambia is not a petroleum producing country.
He added: “For the upstream petroleum business, even though The Gambia is not a petroleum producing country, but we are very much advanced and optimistic in the exploration projects. The COVID-19 pandemic has created uncertainty and delayed in our petroleum exploration activities.”
Minister Sanyang gave classical example of the FAR-petronas joint venture COVID-19 impact on the energy sector. He further revealed that the FAR-petronas has been yielding offshore exploration in two of the offshore blocks which are A2 and A5 and has postpone the drilling component in their work programme till 2021.
“Similarly, British Petroleum (BP) a major oil company, which signed a concession agreement to start exploratory drilling in offshore Block A1, before the end of 2020 also had to postpone this major activity in its work till 2021,” said Minister Sanyang.
Hon. Sanyang outlined that the outcome of the COVID-19 pandemic looks gloomy and the future is uncertain for all sectors, including petroleum and Energy. He said this is an opportunity for the African countries, both oil producers and non-producers to think of diversifying their economies so as to reduce the dependence level on oil. He added that this would help when it comes to upscaling investment in renewable energy resources.
“This moment of low oil and gas price could also be used for the ECOWAS countries to promote the use of cooking gas to reduce or eradicate the use of fuel wood. In the Gambia about 80 percent of domestic energy demand is met by fuel wood and charcoal, which severely affect our forest cover,” he remarked.
He said low oil price can also lead to falling upstream service fees due to low demand for these services.
“Therefore, we in the Gambia are working with our partners including FAR/PERTONAS, TGS and GEOPARTNERS to conduct extended geophysical data collection (3D seismic surveys) in the offshore area,” he concluded.