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Issue 352 - 11 August 2017

Libya: Exports hit 1.1m barrels

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National Oil Corporation (NOC) lifted a blockade of the pipelines leading to and from the Az-Zawiya refinery west of Tripoli in a matter of hours in early August, demonstrating that it still has the leverage to guarantee security at its facilities. Thanks to a combination of dogged technical effort and the rapid defusing of security issues, the corporation has lifted oil production to 1.1m b/d, achieving the short-term target set by chairman Mustafa Sanalla at the start of the year.

Libya
Free

Is anyone listening to National Oil Corporation (NOC) chairman Mustafa Sanalla? He has issued repeated appeals to the international community to change its approach to the crisis in Libya to help his institution to better carry out its functions and to protect the interests of the Libyan people.At Chatham House in January, he described NOC as “the best guarantee that Libya will remain as a unitary state” and called for the international community to support its independence.

Libya
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State oil company Petroci will hold a roadshow in Paris on 13 June showcasing open acreage available for direct negotiation. The roadshow, to be held during the Oil & Gas Council Africa Assembly, comes as Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire await a ruling from the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea on their maritime boundary. This will clarify the situation for Total, which licensed Block CI-605 last year in deeper water south of its Block CI-100, which contains the 2013 Ivoire-1X discovery.

Côte d'Ivoire
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Regular diversions of South Sudanese crude to Sudan in compensation for use of its neighbour’s export infrastructure mean that revenues to the war-torn country continue to plunge. The only cargo scheduled to be marketed by the Government of South Sudan (GoSS) in August will instead be passed on to Petrodar Operating Company in Sudan. This will strip South Sudan’s treasury of any proceeds from the 600,000-barrel cargo, leaving it with no more than a 170,000-barrel package on a 600,000-barrel cargo being marketed by the government’s international joint venture partners. The cargo will be lifted from Port Sudan on 12-13 August.

South Sudan
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National Oil Corporation (NOC) chairman Mustafa Sanalla has intensified his conflict with Presidency Council head Fayez Al-Sarraj, alleging that German oil company Wintershall has formed an alliance with the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) and succeeded in influencing the drafting of legislation for its commercial benefit. In a statement published on NOC’s website on 10 May, Sanalla said that, following the breakdown of negotiations over the renewal of its concessions, Wintershall had “shut in over 160,000 b/d of production, at a cost to the Libyan state of almost a quarter of a billion dollars per month”.

Libya
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National Oil Corporation (NOC) chairman Mustafa Sanalla and Rosneft chairman Igor Sechin met in London on 20 February. An NOC statement said the agreement they signed “envisages the establishment of a joint working committee… to evaluate opportunities in a variety of sectors, including exploration and production”. The companies also signed a crude oil offtake agreement. This is the first concrete response from an international oil company (IOC) to Sanalla’s plan to bring foreign investment back into the sector, and it was welcomed by NOC as a “step forwards” in its plans.

Issue 339 - 03 February 2017

Equatorial Guinea: Opec application

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Sub-Saharan Africa’s third biggest producer, Equatorial Guinea, has applied to join the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) price cartel. Minister of mines and hydrocarbons Gabriel Mbaga Obiang travelled to Vienna on 20 January to meet Opec officials.Obiang, the son of President Teodoro Obiang Nguema who became minister in May 2012, has been seeking to modernise the oil sector and boost Equatorial Guinea’s international image with projects such as a crude and products storage tank farm and a petrochemicals complex.

Equatorial Guinea
Issue 337 - 22 December 2016

Rosneft farms into Zohr

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The purchase of a 30% stake in Eni’s Shorouk concession by Russia’s Rosneft marks a significant increase in Moscow’s influence in North Africa, where the failure of United States and Western European policies over the past five years has left a geopolitical vacuum. The deal fits with Rosneft’s focus on international expansion under its chairman Igor Sechin – who is also an influential acolyte of President Vladimir Putin and worked as a military translator in Angola and Mozambique in the 1980s, and who is understood to have a good working relationship with US President-elect Donald Trump’s nomination for secretary of state, the former ExxonMobil chief Rex Tillerson.

Egypt
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After more than a year, the UK’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has dropped an investigation into allegations that explorer Soma Oil & Gas bribed officials in Somalia. Prompted by a court challenge, the SFO took the exceptional step of informing Soma that there was insufficient evidence of criminality to make a prosecution possible. However, it is continuing with a ten-month investigation into a further set of so-far-secret allegations also linked to the company’s Somali operations. On 12 October, one of the UK’s most senior judges refused Soma’s judicial review application to force the SFO to take a final decision on whether to prosecute or to disclose the nature of its new enquiry.

Somalia
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Ghana has sought arbitration from the United Nations under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos) over the two countries’ maritime border. The border has never been formally demarcated and the discovery of oil has significantly raised the stakes. Bilateral negotiations have so far failed to resolve the issue and, in November 2011, Ivorian state oil company Petroci redrew its licensing blocks map, delineating five new blocks on the eastern border, straying into what had previously been considered Ghanaian territory.

Ghana
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The focus of upstream activity in the Mediterranean has shifted from the established hydrocarbons-rich zones of North Africa to the coast of the Levant and now increasingly to parts of the Adriatic, impelled both by violence and instability in Libya and also the opening up of opportunities in these new areas. Driven by the pressures of economic austerity in the aftermath of the Euro crisis, Greece and Italy have turned back to oil and gas licensing. Greece recently launched an ‘open door’ licensing programme, and Italy has also licensed new areas after many years during which progress was effectively frozen.

Egypt | Libya | Algeria | Morocco | Tunisia
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Democratic Republic of Congo’s latest national conference has heard a call for a new push to settle the maritime border with Angola and enable the country to take a potential share of the region’s offshore oil. The ‘concertations nationales’ held from 7 September to 5 October in Kinshasa, gathered MPs, senators and civil society organisations to discuss the country’s political and economic future. Kinshasa University geologist Professor Ezequiel Kasongo Numbi Kashemukunda, a former MP of President Joseph Kabila’s Alliance de la Majorité Présidentielle and former diplomat, called on the government to stop wasting time and energy in trying to secure the recognition of its claims over the continental shelf beyond the 200-mile limit.

DR Congo | Angola
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Upstream players have so far remained unfazed by the violent political changes of the summer. They were likewise relatively untroubled by the 14-month-long Muslim Brotherhood administration of President Mohammed Morsi, in spite of its various missteps and failures. However, it now looks likely that the new administration will move quickly to create new financial incentives for international oil companies (IOCs) and to reduce the pressure on them caused by the growing value of arrears owed by Egyptian General Petroleum Corporation (EGPC) and its subsidiaries.

Egypt
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The beheading of local guards and the kidnapping of foreigners at the Ghani field by units allegedly part of Islamic State (IS), and their destruction of facilities at this and other fields, has obliged National Oil Corporation (NOC) to shut down and abandon most of the south-west Sirte Basin. Local oil workers are now reluctant to work at locations in the desert unless more Petroleum Facilities Guards (PFGs) with better equipment are deployed. If the attacks continue, there are two main ways that the situation could deteriorate.

Libya
Issue 250 - 14 March 2013

Gabon: Oil workers strike

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Oil workers’ union Organisation Nationale des Employés du Pétrole (Onep) has launched fresh strike action over demands that the government bring in tough local content terms. The union voted on 9 March for an unlimited general strike after the failure of talks with the government. Onep is also demanding the reinstatement of 17 local Schlumberger employees sacked over strike action.

Gabon