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African Energy - Issue 346 - 18/05/2017

NOC alleges Wintershall interference in Libyan politics

National Oil Corporation (NOC) chairman Mustafa Sanalla has intensified his conflict with Presidency Council head Fayez Al-Sarraj, alleging that German oil company Wintershall has formed an alliance with the UNbacked Government of National Accord (GNA) and succeeded in influencing the drafting of legislation for its commercial benefit.

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Gulf States News - Issue 1036 - 11/05/2017

Monarchies struggle with the complexities of their near abroad

The efforts by Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) states to manage their ‘near abroad’ continue to cause difficulties and political trouble. GSN has been talking to senior players and well-placed analysts in a number of the region’s neighbours to gauge how the Gulf states – particularly Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Qatar – are perceived, where their policies are working and where they are failing.

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African Energy - Issue 345 - 04/05/2017

South Africa’s High Court rules key nuclear decisions unconstitutional

The South African government suffered a major setback in its efforts to procure nuclear power when the High Court in Cape Town ruled on 26 April that three intergovernmental agreements, two ministerial determinations and all subsequent procurement activity was unlawful and unconstitutional. The decision means that two ministerial determinations – announcements by the energy minister that a certain amount of capacity will be procured from a particular technology – from 2013 and 2016 underpinning the government’s ambitious, and controversial, efforts to procure 9,600MW of nuclear power have been set aside. As a consequence, the request for information which was scheduled to close at the end of April was also ruled unlawful (AE 338/8, 305/6). The role assumed by the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa) was again challenged, striking, for the second time since early 2016, at the uncomfortable balancing act the regulator has attempted since it was established in 2004 between political considerations and quasi-independence.

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Gulf States News - Issue 1035 - 27/04/2017

King Salman reshuffles the pack and wards off unrest with austerity reversal

In a flurry of several dozen royal orders on 22 April, King Salman Bin Abdelaziz turned back the clock on some key austerity measures while keeping an eye to the future with promotions for the younger generations of royals. A string of perks and payments removed under the austerity regime promoted by Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS) just a few months ago have been reinstated (GSN 1,023/5). King Salman also shook up the ranks of government and provincial administrations, setting the scene for the grandsons and great-grandsons of the country’s founder Ibn Saud to have a greater role.

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African Energy - Issue 344 - 20/04/2017

On the night of 30-31 March, President Jacob Zuma announced the momentous decision that he was firing respected finance minister Pravin Gordhan, along with nine others from the 35-member cabinet, among them energy minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson. Gordhan was replaced by Malusi Gigaba, an experienced politician considered to be a Zuma supporter.

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African Energy - Issue 343 - 30/03/2017

Controversial outsider brought in to galvanise Algeria’s Sonatrach

On 20 March, Noureddine Bouterfa announced that he had dismissed Sonatrach chairman and chief executive (PDG) Amine Mazouzi following a meeting of the company’s board. In his place he appointed Abdelmoumen Ould Kaddour, the former PDG of Brown & Root Condor (BRC) who almost exactly a decade ago was being held under court supervision pending further inquiries into a major corruption scandal at BRC, then a joint venture between Sonatrach and Halliburton. Sonatrach squashed the controversy by buying out its US partner as part of a damage limitation exercise. It appears that Kaddour was never tried for any crime.

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Gulf States News - Issue 1034 - 23/03/2017

Saudi Arabia remains under cyber attack

Four months after the start of a major new co-ordinated cyber attack and some five years since the Shamoon virus shook Saudi Arabian Oil Company – and the wider global oil industry, which was awakened to the potential for systemic chaos from cyber attackers by the assault on Saudi Aramco – Saudi government agencies and commercial organisations are struggling to return to normal operations,. The impact of the latest attacks are being felt by those directly affected and by others who recognise they too are vulnerable to online assaults.

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African Energy - Issue 342 - 16/03/2017

Power Africa architects confident despite US policy uncertainty

Both Putting America First and Making America Great again were mentioned by US speakers at the Powering Africa Summit in Washington on 9-10 March. Congressman Ed Royce, who is chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and a central force behind the Electrify Africa Act alongside former Republican staffer Nilmini Rubin, now vice-president for investment at engineering services company Tetra Tech, said that Africa had “great potential” to be a trade partner and to create jobs in Africa and the United States. Power Africa head Andrew Herscowitz said Power Africa was “the model of development” because it was market-led and had a very limited cost to the taxpayer.

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Gulf States News - Issue 1033 - 09/03/2017

UAE beefs up counter-radicalisation cred amid broader crackdown on dissent

The UAE leadership naturally prefers to emphasise classroom- and mosque-based counter-radicalisation approaches to signal its zero-tolerance approach to hardline Islamism – rather than the extent of surveillance and police activity that, so far, has largely kept the UAE free of major public terrorism attacks. Abu Dhabi is making all the right noises to convince allies it is rooting out extremism in all its forms. It has taken a lead in moves to eradicate Al-Ikhwan AlMuslimeen (the Muslim Brotherhood – see GSN view), as well as Islamic State (IS or Daesh), Al-Qaeda and other Salafist Jihadist groups – even though some Western governments still see the MB as part of the solution to stabilising the wider Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region, rather than the problem as perceived by key power-broker, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and UAE Armed Forces deputy supreme commander Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan (MBZ).

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African Energy - Issue 341 - 02/03/2017

Commercial risks overshadow Rosneft’s new North Africa gambit

National Oil Corporation (NOC) chairman Mustafa Sanalla and Rosneft chairman Igor Sechin met in London on 20 February. An NOC statement said the agreement they signed “envisages the establishment of a joint working committee… to evaluate opportunities in a variety of sectors, including exploration and production”. The companies also signed a crude oil offtake agreement.

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