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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
Free

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
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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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 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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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 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

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

Plans by Kosmos Energy and partner Cairn Energy to drill a well next year in a Moroccan-licensed block in the Western Sahara continue to provoke intense interest among oil companies excited by the disputed territory’s offshore potential, as well as political debate among the traditional protagonists. The territory is Moroccan-controlled, but officially under United Nations mandate, and debate centres on a legal opinion issued by UN general counsel Hans Corell in 2002, which stated that exploration and extraction of mineral resources in Western Sahara would be illegal “only if conducted in disregard of the needs and interests of the people of that territory”. This has allowed Morocco’s Office Cherifien des Phosphates to maintain output from its Phosboucraa subsidiary, which is a major employer in the region. However, the Corell judgment – which one official told African Energy, “we’ve all been re-reading recently” – has been generally interpreted as excluding new E&P work.

Morocco
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With sky-high prices apparently a thing of the past, the outlook is gloomy for liquefied natural gas (LNG) exporters, even in the most lucrative markets, such as Japan. With a predicted supply glut running into the next decade and price pressures accentuated by the fast-emerging spot market (for more on this see African Energy’s sister publication Gulf States News http://www.gsn-online.com/amid-shifting-global-gas-supply-gulf-states-emerge-as-their-own-best-market) only a few major projects are still expected to go ahead worldwide. In Africa, these include Eni’s Zohr field in Egypt and developments in Mozambique’s Rovuma Basin (as well as its smaller, more southerly fields supplying South Africa).

Mozambique
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Following the remarkable string of results enjoyed by exploration companies down the East African coast (see Upstream oil and gas), and success in exploiting analogues between South America and West Africa, deep offshore specialists are attempting to open up a potentially lucrative ‘Falklands Islands-style’ play in South African waters

South Africa
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Supporters of a revamped Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) believe that, this time, the outcome for legislation to reform Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and the hydrocarbons sector will be different from past disappointments, when vested interests stalled efforts to overhaul an underperforming and opaque sector. Senate president Ahmad Lawan on 29 September committed the bicameral National Assembly to pass legislation to make the industry more effective and efficient. After years of delay,“we will break that jinx and see to the passage of the bill”, Lawan promised. The Senate on 30 September approved the a 239-page draft PIB’s first reading, opening the way for more hearings.

Nigeria
Free

Like so many governments, President Nana Akufo-Addo’s administration is struggling with the challenges and contradictions of energy transition in Ghana. Oil and gas (O&G) projects are under pressure, having been seen as a crucial way to boost revenues – which have fed into treasury coffers since the Jubilee field development – and drive power generation and industrial development, and create vital jobs.

Ghana