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Headlines in mid-October suggested renewed vibrancy in the Nigerian hydrocarbons industry under President Muhammadu Buhari, talking of mega-deals involving ExxonMobil and Indian investment, and plans for exploration in the north-east (see Upstream) and to raise domestic refining capacity to 650,000 b/d (from 445,000 b/d). But the divestment to the local Nipco Investments of ExxonMobil’s 60% stake in Mobil Oil Nigeria leaves Total as the sole major still operating in the downstream; the Indian deal, if it can be delivered, seems a desperate effort to raise cash. International oil companies (IOCs) continue to downsize, amid a damaging escalation of Niger Delta violence.

Nigeria
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The conflict over the former Spanish Sahara is all too often forgotten. But there is a growing feeling in policy circles – shared by companies eager to exploit the territory’s hydrocarbons and mineral potential – that the Western Sahara standoff is overdue a promotion up the international policy agenda. Crisis in the Sahel, where French and African Union forces have confronted jihadist radicals in Mali, has added to pressures to revisit the intractable conflict, more than 40 years since the Polisario Front liberation movement was formed, 38 years since Morocco’s late King Hassan II organised his ‘Green March’ into the territory, and 22 years since a United Nations-sponsored ceasefire was declared.

Morocco
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African leaders, backed by key donors, earlier this year approved another initiative to increase electricity generation and access across the continent; and multilateral and government officials have since been working to put flesh on the bones of the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA). Jointly developed by the African Union (AU), New Partnership for Africa’s Development (Nepad) and African Development Bank to map out an energy infrastructure development programme in the period to 2040, PIDA promises much – and its ambitious goals are to be welcomed. “The programme aims for achieving energy accessibility of all the African population of not less than 60% by 2040. This requires annual growth of the energy sector by 6.2% and an annual investment of $40.5bn,” a recent PIDA document says.

Nigeria
Free

The rules governing a new mechanism for the international trading of carbon emission reduction credits is due to be agreed at the Bonn Climate Change Conference, which runs from 6-16 June in Germany. The Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) – which has so far proved of limited value to Africa – is set to be replaced by Article 6 of the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference’s Paris Agreement, which is intended to offer governments and project owners the potential to tap into a  new source of finance.

Free

Judging by the headlines, 2014 has been a significant year for improving electricity supply in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), where only 290m of the 915m population has access and the total number without grid connections is still rising, according to the International Energy Agency. Several independent power projects (IPPs) have reached financial close, including Ghana’s long-awaited Cenpower deal; others are almost there – most notably Nigeria’s template-setting Azura-Edo IPP, whose impending completion was a focus for participants at the 24-25 November Africa Investment Exchange: Energy (AIX) meeting in London. Multilaterals and governments report progress in efforts to develop ‘transformational’ schemes including Grand Inga and strategic transmission projects.

Mozambique | South Africa
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The global energy transition is having profound impacts on natural resource producers, from the oil majors who are morphing into energy providers, to mining companies whose priorities are shifting as electric vehicles (EVs), battery storage and other new technologies take hold, and African governments and non-state actors who might profit from these changes but could also find themselves embroiled in new resource wars.

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Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dabaiba may just have won another round in the unedifying slugfest for control over Libya’s government and resources. It seemed like a mistake when Dabaiba replaced National Oil Corporation (NOC) chairman Mustafa Sanalla with former Qadhafi-era Central Bank of Libya governor Farhat Ben Gdara in late July, but the move seems to have bought the PM more time.

Libya
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Germany’s offer of support for a first hydrogen (GH2) plant in Morocco makes the North African country a potential early mover in the race to build a hydrogen economy on the continent.

Morocco
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There has been some respite for oil producers with crude rising above $60/bbl and Opec and its allies agreeing on 4 March to further stabilise the market by rolling over their quota regime (except for Russia and Kazakhstan, which Opec kingpin Saudi Arabia agreed could have increases while it maintained its extra 1m b/d cut). This will please price hawks who fear another slump later this year will further undermine oil producers’ economies; they are opposed by output hawks, who want to produce more oil to maximise their revenues now.

Angola | Nigeria | Algeria
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The latest development in the campaign to get Ghana and its oil industry partners to disclose details of their contracts illustrates just how haphazard the process can be. As a part of the Initial Public Offering (IPO) filing by Kosmos Energy with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), all of the petroleum agreements related to the Jubilee field are now available at the SEC website

Ghana
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The 22 January announcement that Globeleq and its partner IPS had reached financial close for the 253MW expansion of their 460MW Azito gas-fired plant at Yopougon, near Abidjan, was timed to coincide with a visit to London by an Ivorian delegation led by President Alassane Dramane Ouattara for the UK-Africa Summit. General Electric will provide gas turbine technology and services for the Phase IV project. The new and enlarged 20-year Azito concession agreement underscores Côte d’Ivoire’s ability to finance major private sector infrastructure projects.

Côte d'Ivoire
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Chinese giants, sanctioned Russians, established operators and veterans from Cove Energy, the Irish independent which originated Mozambique's  historic gas play are amongst those competing for the highly prospective Rovuma basin blocks in the current licensing round. The range of players is a strong indicator of the high expectations for the next phase of upstream development. 

Mozambique
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Veteran Resistência Nacional Moçambicana (Renamo) leader Afonso Dhlakama’s surprise return to the bush in October 2012 was an unsettling reminder of the fragility of post-conflict Mozambique, as guerrilla roadblocks returned and coal exports were halted in the central region. Renamo’s rebellion was triggered by demands for a greater share of state jobs and resources. A peace agreement signed on 24 August 2014 promised jobs, above all in the army and police, and set a platform for campaigning to start for general elections on 15 October.

Mozambique
Issue 240 - 05 October 2012

Backers line up for Lamu Corridor scheme

Free

Of all the assorted regional infrastructure projects jostling for supremacy in East Africa, the growing credibility of the Lamu Corridor project raises the possibility of a new East African power axis of Kenya and an emergent Ethiopia.

Kenya | South Sudan | Uganda | Ethiopia
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Thanks to a combination of high solar radiation and superlative wind resources, the massive, largely desert zone along north-west Africa’s Atlantic coast has become a focus for huge projects in what is starting to look like a new scramble for Africa. Recent developments include Chariot and Total Eren positioning themselves to take advantage of the emerging business opportunity in the production of green hydrogen in Morocco and Mauritania. This follows close on the footsteps of CWP Global and Xlinks. Others such as Harmattan Energy are looking at the disputed Western Sahara (under a UN mandate). As the number of prospective schemes grows, so too will the pressure to secure land rights and authorisations – a familiar issue for businesses with long track records in securing upstream and mineral rights across the continent.

Mauritania | Morocco | Western Sahara (under UN mandate)