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African Energy - Issue 380 - 08/11/2018

Ethiopia turns to PPPs for ambitious power expansion

Ethiopia’s plans to attract more foreign capital into its power industry took a step forward in late October as the government announced 14 projects that it wants to build and run as public-private partnerships (PPPs). The plan to attract private finance for the planned hydropower and solar schemes is a departure for a government that has borrowed heavily over the last decade from Chinese banks and elsewhere to construct large-scale dams such as Gibe III and the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (Gerd), as well as for major transmission projects.

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Gulf States News - Issue 1068 - 01/11/2018

Qaboos is still capable of surprise as Israelis are drawn to ‘facilitation’ in Oman

Observers have become accustomed in recent years to using Sultan Qaboos Bin Said Al-Said’s public appearances at National Day festivities to assess the Omani leader’s health. This year, 18 November is likely to lead to a reassessment of his condition, four years after Qaboos began treatment for colon cancer in Germany; he only finally returned to Muscat in 2016, after a long period of recuperation. GSN has spoken to a number of senior officials who have had recent contact with the sultan: the consensus seems to be that Qaboos’ health has improved significantly since 2016. He has put on weight, his face is noticeably less gaunt and “the spark has returned to his eyes”, as one observer put it.

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African Energy - Issue 379 - 25/10/2018

Ghana seeks to boost pace of exploration with first bid round

Ghana launched its first upstream oil licensing round on 15 October, offering six offshore blocks with the aim of bringing fresh exploration and development impetus to West Africa’s newest oil exporter. At a time of rising crude prices and ongoing uncertainty over the direction of new petroleum policy in regional oil superpower Nigeria, the round’s timing could not have been better, but rather than the usual upbeat bid round launch message stressing Ghana’s upstream potential and generous fiscal terms, President Nana Akufo-Addo used the launch event to warn existing licenceholders that they needed to step up the pace of exploration.

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Gulf States News - Issue 1067 - 18/10/2018

Autocratic tendencies test international opinion as Khashoggi affair explodes

Riyadh is still in crisis recovery mode as the regime triesto find a way to explain the disappearance and apparent murder of prominent critic Jamal Khashoggi, after his visit to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey on 2 October. While Riyadh initially claimed Khashoggi – who in the past year had been a periodic columnist for the Washington Post – had left the building, it was unable to provide any evidence of that; Saudi spokesmen were unable to counter speculation that Khashoggi was brutally murdered by a team of Saudi agents that flew into Istanbul that day.

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African Energy - Issue 378 - 11/10/2018

BP sells half-share of Libyan assets to Eni, raising prospect of exploration revival

On 8 October in London, BP group chief executive Bob Dudley, Eni chief executive Claudio Descalzi and National Oil Corporation (NOC) chairman Mustafa Sanalla signed a letter of intent paving the way for Eni’s purchase of a 42.5% interest in BP’s exploration and production-sharing agreement (EPSA).

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African Energy - Issue 377 - 27/09/2018

Eskom faces coal supply crunch as Gupta empire winds down

One unexpected impact of moves in South Africa to dismantle the business empire of the powerful Gupta brothers has been a sharp decline in coal stocks previously supplied by Tegeta Exploration and Resources. Supplies to power stations have reached critical levels in some cases, raising fears of renewed load-shedding.

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Gulf States News - Issue 1066 - 20/09/2018

Gulf rivals grapple with US defence plans amid differing approaches to Iran

Ameeting of regional defence chiefs in Kuwait on 12-13 September was a rare occasion when senior Qatari officials found themselves around a table with their erstwhile allies from Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, along with the more neutral Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) members, Kuwait and Oman. The event highlighted the aim of the Trump administration and hawkish GCC leaders to articulate a common front, most notably against Iran at a time when US sanctions are posing a major threat to its centrist President Hassan Rouhani. But that desire for unity is proving hard to achieve.

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African Energy - Issue 376 - 13/09/2018

Equatorial Guinea lining up strategic partner for Gas Megahub

Equatorial Guinea’s Ministry of Mines and Hydrocarbons plans to announce the appointment of a strategic partner for its Gas Megahub project by October. Mines and hydrocarbons minister Gabriel Mbaga Obiang Lima told African Energy that the strategic partner would start work on the project by year-end or early in 2019. He said the ministry had been working with Marathon Oil Corporation and Noble Energy on arrangements to backfill gas for the EGLNG liquefied natural gas plant as the first phase of the project to replace declining production from the Alba field (AE 369/1).

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Gulf States News - Issue 1065 - 06/09/2018

Support for Palestinians becomes another theatre for GCC rivalries, Trump caprices

The United States’ decision to withdraw its funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) was intended by President Donald Trump to add to pressure on the Palestinian National Authority (PA) to buy into his administration’s ‘ultimate deal’ to reach a very Israel-friendly accommodation on decades of conflict in the region. Trump’s 31 August decision may also have been intended to add to pressure on other donors to pay more – Germany and Japan are already among those to commit new funds to UNRWA. These developments represent an opportunity for Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states to project their power, while also threating to further exacerbate their differences.

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African Energy - Issue 375 - 30/08/2018

Ethiopia’s Grand Renaissance Dam: from national treasure to political football

In his first news conference on 25 August, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed confirmed significant problems with the 6.45GW Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (Gerd) on the Blue Nile River. But rather than address the lengthy ongoing spat with Cairo over the $4bn project, or chief engineer Semegnew Bekele’s death in central Addis Ababa in a mysterious 26 July shooting, Abiy’s comments shed more light on a distinctly domestic dispute.

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African Energy Gulf States Newsletter