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Issue 285 - 30 September 2014

New Eni CEO investigated over OPL 245

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Eni’s new chief executive, Claudio Descalzi, is under preliminary investigation by the Milan prosecutor’s office in relation to the acquisition of Nigerian block OPL 245 in 2011. Descalzi, who replaced Paolo Scaroni in May, was head of Eni’s exploration and production division at the time of the Nigerian transaction. “Eni continues to deny any illegal conduct,” the company said in a statement. “Eni is co-operating with the Milan prosecutor’s office, and is confident that the correctness of its actions will emerge during the course of the investigation.”

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The Western Sahara government in exile achieved a diplomatic success in early May when a cargo of phosphate rock destined for New Zealand was intercepted and detained in South Africa. Polisario claimed Moroccan parastatal Office Cherifien des Phosphates (OCP) had produced the phosphate from its mines in the disputed territory. OCP at first tried to suppress the news in Morocco, where the territory is viewed as part of the kingdom.

Morocco
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For the first time in many years, the hard pressed Algerian government is considering an increase in electric power tariffs – a policy certain to meet intense opposition at a politically sensitive time. At the same time, the national gas and power utility Sonelgaz intends to raise investment finance through a domestic bond and is also contemplating an internal restructuring programme. Speaking at Sonelgaz’s general meeting in Algiers on 28 September, the company’s long-standing president director-general Noureddine Bouterfa told the assembled directors, managers and employee representatives that they needed to work with the state to implement gradual prices rises that “will not bring social cohesion into question”.

Algeria
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National Oil Corporation (NOC) successfully used a temporary declaration of force majeure at the Marsa el-Hariga export terminal to secure payment of budget arrears from the Government of National Unity (GNU). The suspension of exports for just over a week was an indication of the scratchy relationship between NOC and the new Ministry of Oil and Gas, with each side yet to test the limits of its role in the new administration.

Libya
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In August, a 600,000-barrel oil cargo for September lifting was awarded to China International United Petroleum & Chemicals (Unipec). But, according to an oil industry source, Unipec was invoiced to pay not the government of South Sudan, but Chinese arms manufacturer China North Industries Group Corporation (Norinco). This arrangement has not been made before, but there is precedent for a direct contract award by the Ministry of Petroleum and Mines to Norinco: in August 2013, the government sold a 600,000-barrel oil contract to the company.

South Sudan
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Democratic Republic of Congo catches the imagination of those who see its potential to drive Africa’s future through its mineral wealth, resourceful population and the Inga Falls hydroelectric resource. But grandiose visions tend to founder on rocky realities in this vast, extravagantly diverse country, where power politics and the global commodities price crash – which in early May forced the government to cut 2016 spending by some 22% – have deeply unsettled much of what remains of international business. In May, major investor Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Cobalt announced it was selling up.

DR Congo
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As presidential and congressional elections approach in Brazil, observers say the potential for a change in leadership is raising the possibility of a return by Brazilian industrial giants to Africa after a difficult period of governance crises and restructuring.

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Seplat Energy’s $1.6bn acquisition of ExxonMobil’s Nigerian shallow-water assets faces the very real prospect of being blocked after Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) won a court decision temporarily blocking the US major from selling its Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited assets to the ambitious London- and NGX-listed independent

Nigeria
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President Jacob Zuma’s 9 February State of the Nation address helped distract the media from the release of a report put together by law firm Dentons in 2015 at the request of Eskom’s board as the utility teetered on the edge of bankruptcy. The scope of the investigation was cut following the submission of initial drafts to Eskom. The release followed pressure by several South African media groups and the opposition Democratic Alliance using the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA).

South Africa
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Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) acting managing director Joshua Chirikutsi has expressed concern over progress at a 100MW solar PV project near Gwanda. The utility made a controversial $5.6m early payment earlier this year for the project, which is being developed by Intratrek Zimbabwe and China’s Chint Electric. Local media report that Chirikutsi told the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Mines and Energy that, “so far from the works done [Intratrek managing director Wicknell Chivayo] cannot account for $1.8m. We are really worried”.

Zimbabwe
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Ministry of Energy and Petroleum principal secretary and former Kenya Power managing director Joseph Njoroge has suggested that the government may not be willing to pay for power from the 310MW Lake Turkana wind power project if the transmission line is not ready. The question of paying for power from the plant was always going to test the government’s resolve once it became clear that the line would not be finished in time because of issues securing land rights.

Kenya
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The High Court has dismissed with costs a case brought by Arandis Energy against Xaris Energy over a controversial tender for a 250MW gas power project. Acting judge Collins Parker ruled that there had been an unreasonable delay in making the application, which was submitted 16 months after NamPower selected Xaris as preferred bidder. Arandis had argued that the delay was justified because mines and energy minister Obeth Kandjoze had begun an investigation into the tendering process in April 2015 and the company was awaiting the result. But Parker ruled that accepting this argument “would be setting a very dangerous precedent”.

Namibia
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President Emmerson Mnangagwa on 14 May appointed lawyer Fortune Chasi as minister of energy and power development. Chasi replaces Joram Gumbo, who was fired shortly after the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (Zesa) announced a debilitating load-shedding schedule that leaves consumers without power for up to ten hours a day. Chasi’s appointment has been welcomed by many in the energy industry, who see him as young, hardworking and up to date with new energy technologies.

Zimbabwe
Issue 335 - 24 November 2016

Molefe resigns ahead of Eskom inquiry

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He argued that Madonsela’s determination to release the report herself, rather than leave it to her office to complete after she had left, meant she had not put “intended disclosures to me first – as she was by law required to do. She has effectively deferred my constitutional right to be heard to a future date, and to a further body, which she has ordered others to assemble”. He added: “I am confident that, when the time comes, I will be able to show that I have done nothing wrong and that my name will be cleared.”

South Africa
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Lekela Power’s takeover of the Taiba Ndiaye wind project and construction starts at two privately financed solar photovoltaic (PV) units point to a strong renewable energy element in Senegal’s ambitious plans to qualify as an emerging economy by 2035. Extra thermal capacity will also be added, while gas imports and/or offshore upstream development will be promoted as the government presses to get as many new generation projects going as possible. Several schemes are slated to start up in Q4 2017, coinciding with President Macky Sall’s quest for re-election, senior officials noted.

Senegal