* Eni says Africa needs to change energy mix
* Sees huge potentials in renewables in Africa
* On track to start Zohr gas production end-2017 (Adds details, CEO comments, background)
PARIS, April 15 (Reuters) - Italy’s Eni plans to invest about 20 billion euros ($22.5 billion) in Africa over the next fours, mostly in oil and gas, the company’s Chief Executive Officer Claudio Descalzi said on Friday.
“That represents about 60 percent of our investments” (over that period) he said in a presentation at the International Energy Agency in Paris.
Descalzi said Eni, which is involved in projects in 15 African countries, will also help boost and diversify the continent’s energy mix through investments in renewables.
“In the long-term we are going to invest much more to develop the giant gas fields that we have found,” he said.
Eni has made major gas discoveries especially in Mozambique and recently in Egypt that have increased its reserves, with more than 12 billion barrels of discoveries in the last 7 years, mostly in Africa.
Descalzi said despite these discoveries, abundant energy potential and Africa’s steady economic growth, access to energy on the continent remained poor.
Africa’s energy mix has remained unchanged over the past 10 years and is unsustainable, with biomass for cooking still the main source, Descalzi said.
“Africa has booming energy demand, but an unsustainable energy mix,” he said, adding that countries on the continent needed to change it in favour of cleaner energies and renewables.
“The top priority should be to build an energy model that can support demographic growth. These are the main points we are discussing with different governments,” Descalzi said.
Currently hydro power produces only 1 percent of electricity and renewables contribute just about 0.3 percent although there is a huge renewables potentials that is unexploited.
Descalzi said Africa’s solar power potential was about 300,000 gigawatts (GW), wind about 7,000 GW, hydro about 283 GW and geothermal about 15 GW. He added that the continent held about 7 percent of worldwide gas reserves.
Eni has said it was ready to spend “hundreds of millions” of euros in developing solar power projects in Africa.
Descalzi also said on Friday that the company was focused on starting production at its giant offshore Zohr gas field in Egypt by end-2017, which once started, will give Egypt 100 percent energy security.
$1 = 0.8879 euros Reporting by Bate Felix and Stephen Jewkes; Editing by Geert De Clercq and Keith Weir