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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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Gulf States News - Issue 1029 - 12/01/2017

Saudi government muddles ahead with austerity-lite masquerading as largesse

Mohammed Al-Jaadan’s first budget as finance minister provided an interesting exercise in expectation management and spin. The government tried to present the budget as an expansionary one, allowing the kingdom to catch its breath after several years of tough austerity which have strained the social contract between the Al-Saud and their citizenry. However, analysis of the detail suggests the reality is rather different.

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African Energy - Issue 337 - 22/12/2016

New Ghana government faces critical questions about energy future

Ghana’s 7 December election came at a critical juncture for the country. Outgoing president John Dramani Mahama and his National Democratic Congress government have left a mixed legacy, with numerous energy projects of varying quality and national utilities in dire need of reform. His successor, Nana Akufo-Addo, of the more business-oriented New Patriotic Party (NPP) inherits a sector in which key decisions over future gas supply, the generation mix and the reform of state utilities will need to be made.

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Gulf States News - Issue 1028 - 15/12/2016

Iran remodels its armed forces to enhance its regional power projection

The overhaul of the upper ranks of Iran’s defence and security apparatus has continued this month, with Rahbar (Supreme Leader) Ayatollah Ali Khamenei appointing Brigadier General Gholam Hossein Gheibparvar as commander of the Basij volunteer forces, in a decree issued on 7 December. It is the latest in a string of senior appointments within Iran’s military establishment this year. Among others, in June Major General Mohammad Bagheri was appointed as Chief of the Armed Forces General Staff, Iran’s highest military policy body, replacing the long-serving Major General Hassan Firouzabadi who had held the job since 1989.

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African Energy - Issue 336 - 08/12/2016

Koko takes reins at South Africa’s Eskom

With chief executive Brian Molefe resigning under a cloud and in the wake of another credit downgrade by Standard and Poor’s (S&P), Eskom’s board has plumped for the continuity candidate by appointing head of generation Matshela Koko as interim boss. Always the most likely successor to Molefe, at least in the short term, Koko is an outspoken critic of renewable energy and a vocal supporter of nuclear power. He also played a role in the public protector report that resulted in Molefe’s resignation and was suspended along with three other executives in 2015.

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Gulf States News - Issue 1027 - 01/12/2016

Kuwait’s cunning plan backfires, a selection returns opposition to driving seat

Kuwait is preparing for another period of confrontation and policy deadlock between the National Assembly and government, after the authorities’ gamble with an early election failed to return yet another lenient parliament. The calling of an early election – nine months before it was needed – was seen as an attempt by government to take the opposition by surprise at a time when a number of their leaders were unable to run (GSN 1,024/1). However, the election results clearly showed that the key groups were able to mobilise in time and could draw on wide support from the population.

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African Energy - Issue 335 - 25/11/2016

South Africa government promotes gas and renewables in energy future

The Department of Energy’s release on 22 November of the long-awaited draft Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) and Integrated Energy Plan opens the way for further debate about South Africa’s energy future. The plans give prominence to renewables and gas, and may further build confidence by pushing back timetables for a nuclear new-build, rather than committing huge and controversial spending in the coming two decades.

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Gulf States News - Issue 1026 - 17/11/2016

Citizen Trump’s victory a recipe for uncertainty and instability

The election of Donald Trump adds considerable strain to the fraying fabric of the global order established after World War II. His soothing tones in the immediate aftermath of victory – when the president-elect spoke of governing for “all Americans” – have not assuaged concerns that a volatile narcissist has taken over the Oval Office. Middle East leaders who might otherwise favour a deal-making conservative in the White House – including Gulf rulers disillusioned after eight years of Barack Obama’s presidency and Israeli prime minister (and long-time Republican ally) Benyamin Netanyahu – are concerned about Trump’s potential impact.

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African Energy - Issue 334 - 10/11/2016

Nigeria discovery helps counter gloomy 2017 exploration outlook

ExxonMobil provided some grounds for optimism for an upstream industry under pressure when it announced the Owowo discovery offshore Nigeria, as international oil companies (IOCs) gathered in Cape Town for the 23rd annual Africa Oil Week. The US supermajor rarely announces exploration results but needs some positive news to offset an expected reserves restatement. Announcing its Q3 earnings on 28 October, ExxonMobil said that, if the low crude prices persisted until year-end, it would have to “de-book” about 4.6bn boe from its proven reserves, which were 24.8bn boe at end-2015.

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