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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 - 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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African Energy - Issue 333 - 27/10/2016

Tensions raised in Senegal as president’s opponents allege nepotism over oil

An uneasy calm has returned to Dakar after an opposition demonstration against the presidential family’s alleged oil industry dealings ended in violent clashes with police on 14 October. Organised by the Front for the Defence of Senegal (Mankoo Wattu Sénégal) coalition, demonstrators carrying “No to nepotism over natural resources” placards sought to denounce what they called “the seizure of oil resources by the family of President Macky Sall”. The president has come under increasing pressure over the local dealings of controversial Romanian/Australian entrepreneur Frank Timis, who employs presidential brother Aliou Sall.

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African Energy - Issue 332 - 20/10/2016

South Africa’s political crisis offset by coal and gas IPP announcements

Buffeted by political crosswinds throughout 2016 – the fallout of charges against finance minister Pravin Gordhan was becoming clear as African Energy went to press – the selection of preferred bidders in the coal independent power producer (IPP) procurement programme and the publication of the framework for the gas IPP programme show that there is still momentum behind private investment in South Africa’s power sector. How well the programmes will withstand the latest political crisis, already manifesting itself in a fall of more than 4% in the rand against the dollar and ten-year government bond yields soaring to 8.94%, with a sovereign downgrade to junk likely to follow, remains to be seen.

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African Energy Gulf States Newsletter