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Gulf States Newsletter - Issue 1108 - 30/07/2020

The region braces for possible leadership changes in Kuwait and Riyadh

Changes in the leadership of either Kuwait or Saudi Arabia could have important ramifications for the region. Kuwait’s Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah has had surgery, which has led to reflection on his highly-valued position as a peacemaker, while King Salman Bin Abdelaziz’s recent health issues have led to new speculation about succession in Saudi Arabia, where Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman has been moving to ensure he takes over from his father sooner or later (see GSN view).

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African Energy - Issue 420 - 23/07/2020

Dilemma for Ouattara as CdI shaken by PM’s death and regional turbulence

The sudden death of Prime Minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly has undermined President Alassane Dramane Ouattara’s strategy for ensuring a seamless political succession and maintaining high levels of economic growth. Not the most charismatic of politicians – although close observers told African Energy he was nevertheless driven by considerable personal ambition – Gon Coulibaly’s career was marked by intense personal loyalty to Ouattara and an understanding of complex economic issues, which the president sees as essential for Côte d’Ivoire’s next leader to maintain his legacy of prudent management (AE 409/18).

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Gulf States Newsletter - Issue 1107 - 16/07/2020

Allies rally to support MBN amid rumours of pending corruption charges

Speculation persists that Prince Mohammed Bin Nayef (MBN) is being set up to face corruption charges, as his successor as crown prince, Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS), consolidates his personal power – by cracking down on potential rivals – and economic influence, via instruments including the now pervasive Public Investment Fund (PIF).

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African Energy - Issue 419 - 09/07/2020

Nigeria pushes gas agenda

President Mohammadu Buhari officially flagged off the Ajaokuta-Kaduna-Kano (AKK) gas pipeline project on30 June, marking the start of construction for Nigeria's largest gas pipeline development. The $2.8bn, 614km pipeline scheme will allow the injection of 2.2bcf/d of gas into the domestic power sector once two years of construction works are completed. Pointing to shifting global alignments, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) aims to finalise Chinese state-backed loans for the AKK project in August.

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Gulf States Newsletter - Issue 1106 - 02/07/2020

Bin Salman clan clamps down further on royal rivals and other Saudi dissidents

Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS) appears to be well aware of his pariah status on the world stage in the aftermath of Jamal Khashoggi’s murder in October 2018 (see Diplomatic brief). Wishing to avoid any embarrassment at being cold-shouldered by some senior western leaders, he had severely curbed his global travelling even before the Covid-19 pandemic began and the Bin Salman clan locked down in their island palaces and yachts. MBS is believed to have stayed in the kingdom (and not to have recently visited his French summer home at Louveciennes, near Versailles, acquired in 2015 for an estimated $300m).

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African Energy - Issue 418 - 25/06/2020

Last chance for compromise as Gerd deadline approaches

The breakdown of talks on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (Gerd) on 18 June – after nine days of discussions held remotely over video because of Covid-19 restrictions – left both Ethiopia and Egypt holding on firmly to mutually incompatible maximalist positions. On 19 June, Ethiopian foreign minister Gedu Andargachew told Associated Press that filling the dam would advance whatever happened. “For us it is not mandatory to reach an agreement before starting filling the dam, hence we will commence the filling process in the coming rainy season,” he said. “We are working hard to reach a deal, but still we will go ahead with our schedule whatever the outcome is. If we have to wait for others’ blessing, then the dam may remain idle for years, which we won’t allow to happen.”

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Gulf States Newsletter - Issue 1105 - 18/06/2020

Coronavirus cases start to rise again as lockdown measures ease

With many Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) countries now starting to ease restrictions imposed to counter the spread of coronavirus, GSN has carried out an analysis of the number of new Covid-19 cases and deaths attributable to the disease across the region. While some governments appear to be getting the virus under control, at least to some degree, an analysis of data collated by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control suggests other countries remain firmly in the grip of a healthcare crisis.

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African Energy - Issue 417 - 11/06/2020

Zambia government’s power grab signals further trouble ahead

Energy minister Matthew Nkhuwa on 1 June declared transmission and distribution assets owned by the publicly listed Copperbelt Energy Corporation (CEC) as common carrier. This is intended to allow Zesco to use CEC lines to supply power to the government-controlled Konkola Copper Mines (KCM), with which it has signed a term sheet for power supply. The regulator imposed a hastily approved wheeling fee, which CEC says is equivalent to only 30% of its current network tariff.

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Gulf States Newsletter - Issue 1104 - 04/06/2020

UAE embroiled in North Africa conflicts and challenged by Libyan war’s next phase

The UAE has projected its influence and increasing military muscle in an ever wider arc under Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and UAE Armed Forces deputy supreme commander Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan (MBZ)’s leadership. Its commitments now run as far west as Libya, where the UAE is a key backer of Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar and his Libyan Arab Armed Forces (LAAF – formerly known as the Libyan National Army), whose march on Tripoli has stalled amid a striking Turkish intervention.

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African Energy - Issue 416 - 28/05/2020

Upstream success traps Egypt in commercial dilemma

While Egypt has laboured successfully over several years to re-establish export capabilities, the global crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic has destroyed the international LNG market for the time being. With the budget under severe strain, the authorities can ill afford to continue paying premium prices to IOCs for offshore gas and are pushing these partners to rein in production as much as they can. The incomplete deregulation of the domestic market is likely to remain frozen while the government leans on international multilateral support to ride out the crisis.

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