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African Energy - Issue 345 - 04/05/2017

South Africa’s High Court rules key nuclear decisions unconstitutional

The South African government suffered a major setback in its efforts to procure nuclear power when the High Court in Cape Town ruled on 26 April that three intergovernmental agreements, two ministerial determinations and all subsequent procurement activity was unlawful and unconstitutional. The decision means that two ministerial determinations – announcements by the energy minister that a certain amount of capacity will be procured from a particular technology – from 2013 and 2016 underpinning the government’s ambitious, and controversial, efforts to procure 9,600MW of nuclear power have been set aside. As a consequence, the request for information which was scheduled to close at the end of April was also ruled unlawful (AE 338/8, 305/6). The role assumed by the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa) was again challenged, striking, for the second time since early 2016, at the uncomfortable balancing act the regulator has attempted since it was established in 2004 between political considerations and quasi-independence.

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African Energy - Issue 344 - 20/04/2017

On the night of 30-31 March, President Jacob Zuma announced the momentous decision that he was firing respected finance minister Pravin Gordhan, along with nine others from the 35-member cabinet, among them energy minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson. Gordhan was replaced by Malusi Gigaba, an experienced politician considered to be a Zuma supporter.

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African Energy - Issue 343 - 30/03/2017

Controversial outsider brought in to galvanise Algeria’s Sonatrach

On 20 March, Noureddine Bouterfa announced that he had dismissed Sonatrach chairman and chief executive (PDG) Amine Mazouzi following a meeting of the company’s board. In his place he appointed Abdelmoumen Ould Kaddour, the former PDG of Brown & Root Condor (BRC) who almost exactly a decade ago was being held under court supervision pending further inquiries into a major corruption scandal at BRC, then a joint venture between Sonatrach and Halliburton. Sonatrach squashed the controversy by buying out its US partner as part of a damage limitation exercise. It appears that Kaddour was never tried for any crime.

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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African Energy Gulf States Newsletter