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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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Despite governance shortfalls and a number of crises, President Filipe Nyusi’s government has reassured investors with its support for transformational LNG schemes, leading towards final investment decisions and financial close in the months to come. This is a major success for an African gas industry where smaller projects seem to be making more impact than the majority of big-ticket schemes. Mozambique’s progress reassured CbI Meetings’ 2-3 May Africa Investment Exchange: Gas event in London that the African industry can deliver world-scale projects.

Tanzania
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The global LNG market has been undermined just when ExxonMobil was expected to reach a final investment decision on its 15.2m t/yr Rovuma LNG scheme – the biggest of three projects aiming to channel at least $50bn of foreign investment (and possibly much more) into Mozambique over the next decade.The gas boom was expected to drive spectacular levels of economic growth, but while Mozambican economic planners and their allies contemplate the LNG project’s start-up being delayed possibly until 2030, the government is confronted with a burgeoning Islamist insurgency and huge economic pressures.

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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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

The number of big multilateral financing facilities being put in place for electricity transmission and distribution (T&D) projects across Africa points to a recognition that, after decades when installing generation capacity was the central preoccupation of governments and donors, the infrastructure for delivering power to the people has often been ignored. Historically, large-scale T&D infrastructure has, of course, been put in place. But the momentum to modernise and expand grids has, in most jurisdictions, lagged in recent decades.

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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
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Production cuts by a majority of Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) producers, working in coordination with non-Opec exporters led by Russia, have helped to raise oil prices from their 2014-16 lows; the strategy seems likely to maintain crude benchmarks at around $50 for some time. While second-guessing the oil price is a hazardous business, African Energy’s soundings of major international oil companies (IOCs) suggest this represents a ‘new normal’ for the industry, as factored into corporations’ base case scenario-planning.

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Egypt could have a future as a Mediterranean gas exporter. Rising debts owed by Egyptian General Petroleum Corporation (EGPC) and other post-revolution problems weigh on international oil companies, but IOCs and industry analysts are optimistic about the prospects for further hydrocarbons discoveries in the Nile Delta, Western Desert and other regions, reflected in the latest EGPC licensing round bidding.

Egypt
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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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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 most abundant element on earth, hydrogen, already has industrial uses, but it could do much more to transform the global energy mix as industrialised economies and the global south decarbonise. Judged by the welter of governmental and corporate statements, hydrogen is featuring large in the thoughts of planners and project promoters. These range from Chinese hydrocarbons giant Sinopec’s plans to reallocate some of its Rmb87bn ($13bn) cash pile to projects “all along the hydrogen chain” to Australian junior miner AVZ Minerals’ green lithium mine project at Manono in Democratic Republic of Congo.

DR Congo | South Africa
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Amid the feelgood talk about cleaner, more efficient fuels during the mid-January Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week, the presence of criminality and dirty money in energy industries worldwide was highlighted by the launch of a report from US think tank the Atlantic Council. In Downstream Oil Theft: Global Modalities, Trends, and Remedies, consultant Ian Ralby argues that, despite its undoubted impact, “the global scourge of illicit downstream hydrocarbons activity remains relatively invisible” – and much more is needed to tackle this particular oil curse.

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
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The purchase of BG Group by Royal Dutch Shell confirmed predictionsthat the falling oil price would trigger a spate of mergers and acquisitions (M&A) activity in the upstream industry. It points to a need for even the biggest players to build scale in developing their natural gas trade; for Shell, BG’s assets in Australia and the Atlantic Basin (Brazil) will help to secure a dominant position in Asian and other key markets for liquefied natural gas (LNG).