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Gulf States Newsletter - Issue 1090 - 17/10/2019

Abu Dhabi-Dubai ties under pressure from regional instability and economic doldrums

The relationship between Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and UAE Armed Forces deputy supreme commander Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan (MBZ) and Dubai Ruler, federal Vice President and prime minister Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum (MBR) is inevitably complex, with many of its working parts hidden from public view and shielded by a cloak of lèse-majesté. Ties that have bonded the two leaders in creating in the emirates a global pole of commercial achievement and influence have long played a positive role in the region.

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African Energy - Issue 401 - 10/10/2019

Ke nya has long been one of the most open markets in subSaharan Africa, but private investors in the country’s power sector are not having an easy ride. Power tariffs are being pushed downwards, with the most recent solar power purchase agreements (PPAs), signed earlier this year, reaching $0.075/kWh, despite government support for payments from the utilities it controls being steadily diluted. Companies frequently find policymaking opaque and must contend with unexpected rule changes and the endless renegotiation of documentation. Owners of thermal peaking plants have been threatened with tariff renegotiations, while the government has asked the Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority to ensure the plants are not used unless absolutely necessary.

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Gulf States Newsletter - Issue 1089 - 03/10/2019

US President Donald Trump’s lack of enthusiasm for backing up his heated anti-Iranian rhetoric with meaningful military resources, even in the wake of last month’s attack on the Abqaiq oil facilities in Saudi Arabia, appears to be a key underlying factor in renewed efforts from within the region to de-escalate tensions. Trump has taken heed of trusted media voices that a Middle East war now would torpedo his re-election chances, while the two main regional protagonists, Iran and Saudi Arabia, are both in positions of relative weakness.

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African Energy - Issue 400 - 27/09/2019

Angola launches Namibe Basin bid round as new agency pursues sector reform

Angola has announced details of a forthcoming licensing round offering blocks in the Namibe and Benguela basins. The round is the first outing for the new Agência Nacional de Petróleo, Gás e Biocombustíveis (ANPG), created from splitting Sonangol’s roles as concessionaire and equity holder, and a first test for whether last year’s reforms to the country’s oil and gas laws can attract new licensing interest.

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Gulf States Newsletter - 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 Newsletter - 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 Newsletter - 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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African Energy Gulf States Newsletter