Gayle Meikle, Frontier's CEO interviews Nantenaina Rasolonirina, OMNIS Directeur Général ahead of the Africa E&P Summit

15th September 2021

Ahead of the Africa E&P Summit and to mark the 45th Anniversary of The Office des Mines et des Industries Stratégiques (OMNIS), Gayle Meikle, CEO of Frontier interviews Nantenaina Rasolonirina, Directeur Général on her vision for the energy future of the island nation of Madagascar. 


Nantenaina Rasolonirina will be speaking at the Africa E&P Summit taking place in London & Online on the 22nd and 23rd September in the Government & NOC Showcase to promote the rich subsurface opportunities in the country.

This is what she had to say;

OMNIS is marking its 45th anniversary this year. What would you say were its biggest achievements since its creation in 1976?

One of the major achievements since OMNIS’ creation remain the discovery of heavy oil deposit in Tsimiroro where researches and exploration started in the early 1900s. Production is expected to range from 6,000 to 10,000 barrels per day for local consumption. This success has led to a 25-year operating license in 2014 and represents Madagascar's entry into the rank of oil-producing countries in the region of Africa.

What would you like to see OMNIS achieve in the next 45 years?

Madagascar has an enormous potential in terms of resources. According to all data that OMNIS possesses, we are confident that Madagascar will become one of the greatest oil-producing countries in the next 45 years. To make that possible, we intend to boost the upstream oil sector and foster partnerships with IOC's by promoting all the free petroleum blocks that we have.

The hydrocarbons resources in Madagascar are always described as underexploited. What do you see as the maximum production potential of the country, based on the data known today?

Indeed, despite the fact that Madagascar has a huge Hydrocarbon potential, it remains underexploited. This fact has been confirmed by the USGS report. Actually, the island has 5 sedimentary basins that covers an area of 800.000km sq. For unconventional oil, estimations are about 1.7 mmbbls if we refer to the discovery of heavy crude oil in the block of Tsimiroro; and 2.85 mmbbl of sandstone. For conventional oil, Madagascar has 1587.5 mmbbl of light crude oil and 13.785 TCF of Gas.

What licensing rounds does OMNIS have in the pipeline?

We have the ambition to promote a selection of petroleum blocks. Our efforts will focus on high potential offshore basins for which the exploration data are available at OMNIS. Yet, we will continue to ensure the creation of incentives and a competitive environment for investments, and access to up-to-date exploration data to enable easy and reliable prospect evaluation.

With Western financial institutions and even some oil majors backing away from new hydrocarbons projects in light of mounting pressure to respond to climate change, how do you plan to attract investment to Madagascar from leading players?

Madagascar has been ranked one among other country as top destinations for investment in oil and gas industry. As a developing country, we are seeking for assistance to achieve our objective to make the sector a pillar to Madagascar’s economic growth. Doors are open and exploration data are available for serious investors that are willing to come. Until now, as we often say, our resources are underexploited even though the existence of a high potential is confirmed. Therefore, OMNIS has acquired enough experience since its creation. 45 years to make upstream oil a booming sector. In addition, we would like to reassure investors that even as a state-owned agency, we have never been involved in politics over the years. OMNIS and its partners operate in a stable way.

What is the latest on the long-standing plans to update the country’s Petroleum Code?

Work is actually in progress and would be sent to the National assembly awaiting their approval. However, every stakeholder made every term in the new code attractive for investors with the aim to have a win-win collaboration. Our main goal is to improve the business climate and make the country more attractive to IOCs. For further information, it would be better to get answers from the Ministry of Mining and Strategic Resources though.

There is a lot of concern about the environmental impact of oil exploration and production on Madagascar’s unique biodiversity. What reassurances can you give to those who oppose the industry, and why should the country develop its resources when domestic demand of energy is so low?

Every mining and petroleum activity follows the environment preservation and restoration guidelines as mentioned in the Environmental Charter. The details of the application of this law are defined by regulatory texts entitled "Mise en Compatibilité des Investissements avec l'Environnement" (M.E.C.I.E). In fact, for any petroleum operation, a company must have done an exploration and exploitation studies, an environmental impact assessments (EIA) and an environmental commitment programs (ECP) before acquiring a permit. Although the sector is not yet working as it should be, we are confident that developing the upstream oil sector is a key to make Madagascar a prosperous nation with strong economic growth in the years to come.

Thank you Nantenaina Rasolonirina, see you at Africa's Premier Global Oil, Gas & Energy Conference.