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African Energy - Issue 365 - 15/03/2018

Nigerian gencos in crisis as World Bank adds to support for industry

Approval by the World Bank Group (WBG) of a $486m International Development Association (IDA) credit package for the Nigeria Electricity Transmission Access Project (Netap) signalled a continuation of the multi-billion dollar support structure put in place to reanimate the dysfunctional industry. But while the government can point to some advances, the outlook for the Nigerian electricity supply industry seems as precarious as it did eight years ago, when its elegantly structured privatisation was rolled out.

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Gulf States News - Issue 1055 - 08/03/2018

MBS roadshow gets under way, seeking to persuade sceptics abroad and at home

Before setting off on his first foreign excursion since being appointed king-in-waiting (only) last June, Crown Prince and defence minister Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS) took few chances. A wide-ranging reshuffle of the military top brass was enacted by King Salman Bin Abdelaziz on 26 February based on MBS’s recommendations (see article below). In parallel were a string of changes in the civilian hierarchy, including the appointment of new junior ministers

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African Energy - Issue 364 - 01/03/2018

Total back in favour in South Sudan

The government of South Sudan has decided to allocate shares in two oil blocks to Total, Tullow Oil and Kuwait Foreign Petroleum Exploration Company (Kufpec), petroleum minister Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth told African Energy on 22 February. The government is also in talks with Spain’s Holdcorp over a contract for a third block, he said. The petroleum ministry is targeting an increase in crude production to 200,000 b/d by end-2018 and 300,000 b/d a year later, said Lol Gatkuoth, up from estimated Q1 2018 output of 120,000 b/d. The economy also stands to benefit from the planned conclusion in May of payments to Sudan for transit fee arrears.

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Gulf States News - Issue 1054 - 22/02/2018

With declaration of ‘economic war’ Abadi rallies support ahead of Iraq’s election

Under pressure from a faltering coalition, ruthless political rivals, financial shortfalls and other unresolved problems – including how to accommodate the Kurds and their disappointed ambitions for independence – Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi is looking to court voters with an offer that blends stability and the potential for a better future for the longsuffering population. Ahead of the 12 May general election (it is unclear whether long-delayed provincial elections can be held at the same time), Abadi is offering a peace dividend based on large-scale reconstruction of housing, energy and other infrastructure, a reinvigorated anti-corruption drive and encouragement for foreign and local private investors who might be able to create jobs and transform the economy.

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African Energy - Issue 363 - 15/02/2018

Ankara intervenes to block Egypt-Cyprus gas cooperation

Turkey has embarked on a ‘beggar thy neighbour’ policy in the eastern Mediterranean involving diplomatic and military pressure, as its long-term political and economic interests are threatened by quicker-than-expected advances towards the establishment of a regional gas hub centred on Egypt and involving Cyprus, Israel and possibly even Lebanon. Italy’s Eni, the leading exploration company in the region, is in the firing line.

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Gulf States News - Issue 1053 - 08/02/2018

Gulf allies’ united front under pressure in Yemen as proxies battle over Aden

South Yemen continues to be the focus of tensions within the Saudi-led coalition, as the power vacuum created by war has enlivened historical animosities and provided both opportunity and incentive for local politicians to pursue greater self-rule. This has been highlighted by fighting between groups backed by different coalition members – notably the Southern Transition Council (STC) backed by the UAE and forces allied to the internationally recognised President Abed Rabbou Mansour Hadi, supported by Saudi Arabia.

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African Energy - Issue 362 - 01/02/2018

Political change rekindles optimism in South Africa’s energy sector

As demonstrated by its delayed financial results for H1 2017, Eskom has a long way to go before it is out of trouble. Liquid assets had fallen to R9bn ($757m) by the end of September, from R30bn the previous year, while the utility’s total debt was R360bn. Newly appointed chairman Jabu Mabuza said the debt-to-equity ratio of 72% was “unsustainable” and that Eskom needed to aim for closer to 50%.

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Gulf States News - Issue 1052 - 25/01/2018

Oil price rise postpones Omani budget crisis, but may also discourage reforms

After another rocky year, Oman’s budget was rescued by the global rise in crude prices towards end-2017, which helped to bail out an economy where 70% of total revenues still come from oil and gas, during a period when debt has started to mount up (GSN 1,043/8, 1,040/8). Omani crude achieved an average $56.21/bbl on the Dubai Mercantile Exchange in December, compared to a 2017 budget assumption of $45/bbl oil; the H2 17 crude price hike means the annual average will have been about $50/bbl.

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African Energy - Issue 361 - 18/01/2018

Angola’s new president clears out dos Santos clan, but how deep will change go?

Angola’s new president João Lourenço has sacked José Filomeno dos Santos as head of Angola’s sovereign wealth fund and set up a committee to manage the body. The sacking of José Filomeno, known as Zenú, the son of former president José Eduardo dos Santos, follows Lourenço’s removal on 15 November of Isabel dos Santos as head of the all-powerful national oil company Sonangol. Isabel’s sacking startled commentators who had thought Lourenço would keep everything much as president dos Santos had left it.

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Gulf States News - Issue 1051 - 11/01/2018

Iranian protesters provide wake-up call for authorities

Whether localised protests over rising social pressures, a cry for regime change or the work of external enemies – or all of the above – the latest upsurge in popular discontent has pointed to complex dynamics across the Islamic Republic which will not easily go way. Dissident group Human Rights Activists in Iran said that between 28 December and 3 January all 31 provinces saw protests, spread throughout 69 counties and 71 cities; from three locations on 28 December, protests grew to 11 and then 28 cities on the next day and continued to spread thereafter.

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