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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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Gulf States News - Issue 1032 - 23/02/2017

Emiri Diwan sidelines Qatar’s old guard in Tamim’s quiet revolution

Since coming to power in June 2013, Emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani has seemed determined to lead a traditional rentier state into the 21st century amid a complex regional security environment and declining hydrocarbons revenue. He has done so by ditching the approach of ‘Father Emir’ Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani, purging many of the old guard and creating far stronger oversight mechanisms to control ministers and their spending. The emir’s approach is a case study for cutting government spending but also in consolidating control by centralising power.

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African Energy - Issue 340 - 16/02/2017

Norway’s BW Offshore takes on Namibia’s Kudu gas scheme

Norway’s BW Offshore has formalised an agreement to take a 56% stake in the Kudu licence and develop the project to a final investment decision (FID) expected in Q4 2017. Past operators, including Tullow Oil and Royal Dutch Shell, have failed to develop the gas field, but BW says falling development and contractor costs now make the project more feasible. However, questions remain over the size of the reserves, and the development’s ability to compete with low-cost US shale gas imports.

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Gulf States News - Issue 1031 - 09/02/2017

There is some method to the madness of Trump’s Middle East debut

Love him or loath him, Donald Trump is now formally the actor with the most control over US foreign policy. But one man cannot conceive and control every aspect of America’s overseas strategy, particularly not a novice to government with a packed domestic agenda and Twitter wars to fight. Trump’s debut on the international scene triggered mass consternation over his half-baked 27 January ‘Muslim ban’, which blocked entry into the US for citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries. Reports of tetchy exchanges with his counterparts from Mexico and Australia provoked further consternation about the volatile rookie president.

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African Energy - Issue 339 - 02/02/2017

Tunisia legislates to stimulate upstream investment and retain bigger players

As Tunisia’s new administration beds in, Entreprise Tunisienne d’Activités Pétrolières (Etap) is looking beyond its traditional status as an under-resourced department of government to take a more hands-on role in oil and gas development, underpinned by revisions to the hydrocarbons code that are calculated to stimulate an upsurge in foreign investment. The revised law is scheduled for National Assembly approval later this year, and officials are confident the amendments will pass following two years of work to overcome resistance from parliament and civil society activists. However, there is little certainty in Tunisia’s young democracy.

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Gulf States News - Issue 1030 - 26/01/2017

Iran scores diplomatic points in Astana, accused of ‘sectarian cleansing’ in Syria

Population transfers have become an integral part of Syria’s six-year conflict, emerging as a means for the regime and rebel factions to exploit the atomised country’s complex sectarian patchwork to their advantage. Fears over the extent that ethnic cleansing is happening have ramped up over the past year, as reports from Syria have raised fears of a Iranian-backed campaign to cement the Bashar Al-Assad regime’s territorial gains through a more aggressive form of ‘confessional cleansing’.

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African Energy - Issue 338 - 19/01/2017

Tullow reduces Uganda stake as McDade steps up for new era

Tullow Oil has farmed down most of its stake in the Uganda oil development to its partner Total, in a $900m deal that it says will significantly reduce development costs and give the project new impetus following a series of delays. “Farming down to Total was the ideal choice. They are a fantastic operator, and they will drive this project forward very, very quickly,” Tullow chief executive Aidan Heavey told a 11 January conference call to discuss the sale.

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