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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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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
Free

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 extent that markets have shifted since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February has been underlined by a surge of energy diplomacy in recent weeks. Complex security issues were integral to United States President Joe Biden’s mid-July fist bump with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman Al-Saud, but an effort to reduce oil prices was the real agenda-setter.

Free

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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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

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
Free

Under immense pressure from the global spread of Covid-19 and plunging oil demand, governments and IOCs must once again fine-tune their strategies to meet hostile market conditions. This may mean not only delaying upstream projects but cancelling them altogether as, in the longer term, global markets shift out of carbon dependency.In the short term, efforts to revive the so-called Opec+ cooperation between Opec and non-Opec crude exporters should help to reverse the price slump, but the deal seems unlikely to raise prices to levels envisaged in producer governments’ 2020 budget forecasts.

Free

President Félix Tshisekedi’s efforts to revive Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)’s attraction to international oil companies (IOCs) are admirable on paper, as are his efforts to revive – and bring improved governance to – the crucial energy and mining sectors. Having broken with his alliance of convenience with ex-president Joseph Kabila, Tshisekedi’s government is looking for takers for blocks 1 and 2 in the Albertine Graben, and there is talk of a new licensing round, with plans to tender for 16 oil and three gas blocks in the onshore Atlantic basin, Cuvette Centrale and the western Rift Valley.

DR Congo
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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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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
Free

For an industry in which the need for large-scale investments often means developments take years, if not decades, to come to fruition, things can move remarkably quickly in the world of natural gas exports.

Nigeria | Algeria
Free

Less than a year from elections, numerous candidates are eyeing up the prize of taking over from President Muhammadu Buhari. 

Nigeria
Free

President Muhammadu Buhari finally responded to popular concerns over security by replacing his military top team on 26 January. With the economy hobbled by low oil prices and coronavirus, he has allowed a little more economic flexibility, although it remains to be seen whether his costly defence of the naira’s inflated value will be replaced by the foreign exchange market unification favoured by the International Monetary Fund and World Bank.

Nigeria
Free

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