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Gulf States News - Issue 1088 - 19/09/2019

Abqaiq attack raises more awkward questions about regional alliances and balance of power

The massive attack launched on the critical Saudi Aramco oil processing facilities at Khurais and Abqaiq early on 14 September was not just another drone strike by the Houthis – as the Yemeni movement claimed – but in all likelihood was launched from Iran, reflecting the extent that the Islamic Republic has emerged as a significant military power. As well as placing unexpected new pressures on the global oil market, it pitched Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS) and the Saudi leadership into yet another crisis – of how to respond against an enemy that has shown it has the commitment and wherewithal to do great damage – and US President Donald Trump, who newly shorn of his hawkish national security advisor (NSA) John Bolton must articulate a credible response.

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African Energy - Issue 399 - 12/09/2019

Currency shifts begin to affect business in Côte d’Ivoire and beyond

The postponement of an infill drilling programme to expand production from the offshore Espoir field on Block CI-26 raised concerns in the industry when Canadian Natural Resources (CNR) announced the move in early August. In its Q2 2019 results statement, the Calgary-based operator said the postponement was “due to ongoing discussions with the government” and that the drilling programme would be “cancelled until such time as foreign exchange practices can be clarified”.

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Gulf States News - Issue 1087 - 05/09/2019

Health scare for Kuwait’s Emir Sheikh Sabah focuses minds on the future

Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah’s health was the subject of renewed concern and speculation following an unscripted mid-August revelation about the 90-year-old emir’s apparently poor health by Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. However, as GSN went to press, the indefatigable nonogenarian emir was expected to visit the United States for talks with President Donald Trump and on 2 September was pictured laughing with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi at the Bayan Palace in Kuwait.

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African Energy - Issue 398 - 29/08/2019

Electricity supply boost will light up power struggle in Guinea

As generators hum into action and power cuts intensify during the dry season, it seems hard to believe that providing electricity to the population in Conakry and other urban centres will be a major selling point when, as is widely expected, President Alpha Condé launches his campaign to win a third term in 2020. But the pace of recent generation and transmission projects supports the view of many Conakry residents that ‘power is coming’. This is reflected in an upturn in business for the local agent of Turkish company Arçelik’s Beko brand and other white goods suppliers, offering fridges and other goods to consumers who do not yet have stable electricity supply but expect it to come very soon.

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Gulf States News - Issue 1086 - 01/08/2019

Shipping threats provide rough introduction to Johnson administration

The drama affecting shipping in the Strait of Hormuz is not quite yet a full-blown crisis – characterised as it is by plausible deniability for Iran on attacks on tankers in the Gulf of Oman and dubious claims on the legality of other vessels seized by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp (IRGC). It does though represent a serious foreign policy dilemma for the newly-installed government of UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, at a time when the British authorities already have an over-full agenda trying to avoid a chaotic exit from the European Union (EU) on 31 October.

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African Energy - Issue 397 - 25/07/2019

Cautious optimism as Angola brings in wide-ranging energy reforms

There has been material progress reforming Angola’s opaque and nepotistic energy sector over the past year. Considerable work has gone into crafting new power sector regulations, and there have been notable changes to upstream licensing and the role of state oil and gas giant Sonangol, as well as important reforms to the downstream hydrocarbons sector. Investors and analysts canvassed by African Energy were impressed by the extent of the changes, although plenty of problems remain to be resolved.

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Gulf States News - Issue 1085 - 23/07/2019

UAE drawdown from Yemen creates vacuum for warring parties to fill

UAE officials have confirmed the accuracy of reports that the Emirates are reducing their military commitment in Yemen, in the process signalling a new phase in the war which has now been raging for more than four years (GSN 1,084/5). Whether this is due to war fatigue or a desire to find an exit from a conflict which is undermining the UAE’s reputation on the world stage remains unclear, but Abu Dhabi has insisted the strategic shift – which has taken most observers by surprise – has been planned for more than a year.

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African Energy - Issue 396 - 11/07/2019

Pace of generation expansion slows in Q1

Th e first quarter of 2019 saw a net addition of 1,097MW of on-grid capacity in Africa, the lowest increase – calculated on an annualised basis – since 2011, the first set of quarterly figures to be produced by African Energy Live Data show. If the captive plants and mini-grids that Live Data is aware of are included, the net addition of 1,123MW was the lowest since 2008. Quarterly averages were used for comparison due to uncertainty about the exact commercial operations dates of some historic power plants.

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Gulf States News - Issue 1084 - 04/07/2019

‘Rivalry and posturing’ by Gulf powers add to risks in Horn of Africa

The intense competition for influence among Gulf states and other regional players continues apace in the Horn of Africa, with potentially billions of dollars in financial support and investment flowing from the UAE and Saudi Arabia into Sudan, Ethiopia and their neighbours. But as the network of military bases and ports along the coast of the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden gets ever more substantial, criticism of Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) states’ impact on the region is also growing (GSN 1,082/5, 1,055/6).

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African Energy - Issue 395 - 27/06/2019

Instability in Ethiopia could undermine power sector reform

Ef forts to encourage private investment in power were under way in Ethiopia before Abiy Ahmed became prime minister in April 2018, but it is only since he assumed office and launched wide-ranging political and economic reform that a credible programme has emerged.

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