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There is a curious disconnection between Egypt’s dire political and financial straits and the relatively upbeat assessments from the international oil companies (IOCs) developing assets there. In spite of the continued closure of Eni and Union Fenosa’s Damietta LNG export terminal and the substantial debt owed by Egyptian General Petroleum Corporation (EGPC) to domestic gas producers, long-term prospects still appear to justify investments.

Egypt
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With further progress in its electricity privatisation, increased food production due to investment in agriculture, and capital markets responding favourably to banks and bonds, it is easy to be drawn into the bubble of optimism that has built up around the Nigerian economy and its prospects. Away from the conflict zones of the north and Niger Delta, real progress has been made, but for every bit of positive newsflow there is a reality check, such as a new report from the Royal Institute of International Affairs (Chatham House) which examines illegal oil exports – a still little understood cog in the machine of money and power-broking that defines public life in Nigeria.

Nigeria
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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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Announcing job losses and investment cutbacks, Big Oil’s flagship companies are emitting signals that should be heeded by those African oil-producing governments that are less inclined to believe the world is changing to their disadvantage. Dramatic announcements of changes of strategic direction by BP, Eni, Royal Dutch Shell and Total suggest most majors see their futures as diversified energy companies, rather than old-style IOCs.

Free

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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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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Local content provision has long been a hot topic in the oil and gas industry, but many delegates at the 3-4 October Africa Investment Exchange: Nairobi event were surprised at how far the issue could generate controversy and block support for electricity projects. Several African delegates spoke of building local content into projects to drive industrialisation that, in turn, will improve living standards and stimulate demand for power. But one major funder insisted their institution could not support projects that created “market distortions” contravening the European Union’s standard procurement procedures.

Free

Now West Africa’s second biggest economy after Nigeria, Ghana is in a strong position to benefit from the region’s new oil boom. So far, Ghana has the advantage over its neighbours in terms of discoveries, with production from the Jubilee field, further finds in development, and more exploration under way. While the oil has been flowing for more than a year, gas development is lagging badly behind, but with elections due in December, opposition presidential candidate Nana Akufo-Addo has a clear vision for the kind of economic development he wants from Ghana’s oil revenue. He sees potential to turn Ghana into a regional manufacturing hub.

Ghana
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A commercial agreement on the joint exploitation of hydrocarbons between Angolan national oil company Sonangol and its Congolese equivalent, Cohydro, has sparked controversy in Kinshasa. Key provisions within the agreement remain unclear, and there are fears the deal will reduce Democratic Republic of Congo’s access to potential offshore reserves. The Angolan and Congolese authorities first agreed to look for ways to jointly explore for oil and gas in the Zone d’Intérêt Commun, a 10km offshore corridor covering Angolan blocks 1, 14, 15 and 31, in 2007. But given DRC’s limited access to the sea, and Angola’s determination to maximise its own access to potential oil fields, the stakes have been high and progress has been commensurately slow.

DR Congo | Angola
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While there is still much more exploration work to be done, Kenya’s discovery of oil is important for more than just national pride. The find, announced in April by Block 10BB operator Tullow Oil, is a significant stabilising factor for regional development as it enables the East African Community (EAC)’s main economic and political power to take a seat at the table alongside its hitherto luckier neighbours.

Kenya | Uganda | Tanzania
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The problems of Nigeria’s southeast are rarely far from being a political and oil company preoccupation. Issues of governance and reputational damage weigh heavy on majors’ perceptions about operating in a lucrative but troubled region as lawyers busy themselves acting for local communities against Royal Dutch Shell and potentially other IOCs in a series of class actions. The new military top team appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari is challenged with reducing insecurity, including from rising levels of piracy in the Gulf of Guinea.

Nigeria
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As hydrocarbons prices have pushed upwards after their slump, a degree of future planning has returned to the global gas market. New liquefied natural gas (LNG) export projects are in prospect, led by Australia and the United States, but with a few schemes in Africa. In Mozambique’s Rovuma Basin, a final investment decision (FID) on Coral LNG, led by Eni and ExxonMobil, is expected by end-2017, for exports to Asia from the early/mid-2020s. As the industry builds up, Mozambique expects a big domestic dividend, with the Rovuma Basin also supplying domestic gas-to-power (GTP) projects.

Mozambique
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With North Africa in turmoil, the attention of many international oil companies (IOCs) has swung towards the Eastern Mediterranean – an area not unknown for intractable political conflict and instability.

Libya | Algeria
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The issues that African Energy covers have risen much higher up the global agenda than seemed likely when the first issue was published in April 1998, when global concern about sub-Saharan Africa’s struggle to provide electricity to hard-pressed populations and industrial users, and the continent’s potential to provide energy to a fast-changing global economy driven by growth in emerging markets, seemed considerably less than now.

Free

The Government of Southern Sudan will not compromise in negotiations with the north over the status of Abyei, and is prepared to take up arms again if the impasse continues

South Sudan | Sudan