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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 - Issue 331 - 29/09/2016

Symbion dispute threatens further arbitration for Tanesco

US developer Symbion Power has sharply criticised Tanzania Electricity Supply Company (Tanesco) for what it says is its continued failure to pay for power supplied by the Ubungo plant. Despite losing a separate arbitration case brought by Standard Chartered Bank, the utility remains intransigent in its dealings with Symbion. But Ubungo has been shut down for several months and another big arbitration case could be on the cards, with all the accompanying bad press for President John Magufuli’s clean-up campaign.

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African Energy - Issue 330 - 15/09/2016

General Haftar seizes control of Libya’s oil terminals, UN flounders

The lightning takeover of export terminals by Libyan National Army (LNA) forces under the command of General Khalifa Haftar has thrown Libya’s struggling political process into a state of confusion from which it is unlikely to recover. Intended as a move to destabilise the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) and its Presidency Council (PC), it may well lead to their collapse. If so, this would also fatally undermine the policy pursued for the past 18 months by western European governments and the United States via the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (Unsmil).

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African Energy - Issue 329 - 04/08/2016

Eskom muscles into SA policy void

A letter from Eskom to energy minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson requesting a dialogue before power purchase agreements (PPAs) are signed beyond the current renewable energy rounds has provoked a furious back-and-forth between Eskom and industry stakeholders in the media. On 21 July, an article in Business Day headlined ‘Eskom cuts off private power’ reported that Eskom chairman Ben Ngubane had written to Joemat-Pettersson stating that the utility would no longer sign PPAs with independent power producers (IPPs) for renewable energy schemes other than those already committed up to the expedited round ‘4.5’. The article led to many commentators renewing their call for an independent systems and market operator to ensure equitable access to the grid, a call echoed by many within the industry.

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African Energy - Issue 328 - 22/07/2016

Chinese set for key role in Inga 3 scheme

Officials in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are making bullish noises about the much-anticipated Inga 3 hydroelectric power project, with the bidding whittled down to two consortia, which officials say are expected to present their final offers by 31 July, for contracts to be signed by year-end.

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African Energy Gulf States Newsletter