East Africa's Energy Future Grows Brighter


There is so much gas buried underneath the ocean floor of East Africa that it's become increasingly difficult keeping track of it all. Companies continue to make discovery after discovery in the region, and the past two weeks are no exception.

Statoil (NYS: STO) and ExxonMobil (NYS: XOM) announced a major gas find offshore Tanzania. The Lavani discovery is good for an estimated 3 trillion cubic feet of gas and pairs nicely with its neighboring Zafarani discovery, which is now estimated to contain 6 trillion cubic feet of gas.

Both discoveries are in Block 2 off Tanzania. Statoil is the operator there with a 65% interest, while Exxon holds a 35% stake.

On Monday, Anadarko Petroleum (NYS: APC) announced another major discovery in the Rovuma basin offshore Mozambique. An exploration well hit on what the company believes is 10 trillion to 30 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Combine that with Anadarko's other giant natural gas discovery in the Rovuma, and you're looking at an estimated 30 trillion to 60 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

Anadarko plans to drill four wells in the area immediately, to properly appraise the find. The biggest winner here, however, may be Anadarko's junior partner Cove Energy.

Fortune favors the bold
For nearly three months, Cove Energy has been the most popular girl in school. The small company has an 8.5% stake in Anadarko's Rovuma field that it's looking to sell, and as reserve estimates continue to grow, so does Cove's popularity.

In February, Royal Dutch Shell (NYS: RDS.B) put in a bid for Cove that seemed likely to gain approval. It was not meant to be, however, as Thailand's PTT Exploration & Production put in a higher bid three weeks ago that was ultimately approved. Shell has since extended its deadline for increasing its bid until June 27.

Foolish takeaway
East Africa is in the nascent stages of transformation. These recent energy discoveries will serve as a catalyst for economic growth, and for savvy investors it makes sense to explore tangential opportunities in the region. In the meantime, stay up to date on the East African energy scene by adding the companies mentioned here to My Watchlist.

At the time thisarticle was published Fool contributor Aimee Duffy owns shares of Statoil A, but she holds no other position in any company mentioned. Check out herholdings and a short bio. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Statoil A. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

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