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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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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
Free

The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) decision to drop its 17-month long investigation into Soma Oil and Gas has comprehensively cleared the company of the corruption allegations levelled against it by the United Nations Somalia and Eritrea Monitoring Group (SEMG) and leaves hanging the question of why these allegations were made in the first place. The company is now free to finalise negotiations over production sharing agreements for a number of offshore blocks as soon as a new federal government is in place in Mogadishu. Its management then hopes to raise finance by farming out part of its interest and to start drilling as quickly as possible.

Somalia
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Sonangol’s new board has said that a thorough investigation of the parastatal’s financial and management problems has revealed that the situation is worse than expected. With $1.6bn of debt payments due by year-end, the company has been in talks with international banks to secure financing. The company’s total debt is estimated at $9.85bn.A 1 December statement by the new board said Sonangol had failed to adjust its strategy to cope with the sharp reduction in revenue caused by the oil price crash.

Angola
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The UK’s Serious Fraud Office said on 31 July that it had opened an investigation into Soma Oil & Gas in relation to allegations of corruption in Somalia. The investigation follows a report by the United Nations Somalia and Eritrea Monitoring Group to the Security Council which said that Soma had been making regular payments to the Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources since mid-2014, some to senior civil servants who were instrumental in securing the company’s initial contract and negotiating subsequent agreements. Soma said it was confident that there was no basis to the allegations and it was co-operating fully with the SFO.

Somalia
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The US Department of Justice (DoJ) has closed its investigation into Hyperdynamics Corporation concerning possible violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. “Based upon the information known to the department at this time we have closed our inquiry into this matter. If we obtain additional information or evidence in the future regarding this matter, we may reopen our inquiry,” the DoJ said in a letter to the company’s lawyers. The DoJ issued a subpoena in September 2013 asking Hyperdynamics to produce documents relating to its activities in Guinea.

Guinea
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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
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Questions have been raised about Victoria Oil and Gas (VOG)'s  ability to continue after the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) made a substantial award against it in early April. VOG is a business whose importance extends beyond the narrow interests of its shareholders. Its subsidiary Gaz du Cameroun (GDC) is one of the continent’s rare onshore gas producers that sells to a local clientele.

Cameroon
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The Maputo government is trying to attract more majors to its offshore acreage, just as industry giants TotalEnergies and Eni ready themselves for further development of their rival liquified natural gas projects in the politically unstable north, writes James Gavin

Mozambique
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Colonel Mamady Doumbouya’s cabinet has been presented by his regime as bringing technocrats into key positions to improve the government’s performance, but critics say ministers are either too ‘apolitical’ to enact genuine change, or compromised by past business dealings. A strong signal comes with the presidency taking direct control of major state assets from other public sector bodies, write David Slater, Jon Marks and our Special Correspondent

Guinea
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Democratic Republic of Congo has the resources – if not yet the right governance framework – to help meet rising global demand for rare earth minerals. China has so far made much of the running with such resources, prompting economic and strategic concern in the US and Europe where DRC’s potential has not gone unnoticed, writes François Misser.

DR Congo
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Major trading houses are among those approaching potentially hugely lucrative cobalt and other energy transition plays in Democratic Republic of Congo with an eye to ESG concerns, as international scrutiny of mining practises – and especially the huge involvement of artisanal miners – intensifies as the world looks for inputs into its new electric vehicles and batteries, write Marc Howard and AE staff.

DR Congo
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Key partners in the giant Simandou iron ore project – potentially Africa’s biggest new minerals and infrastructure scheme – are thought to be close to finalising the terms of their joint development, although governance issues appear to have caused a last-minute delay.

Guinea
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The Hichilema government says it wants to resolve the long-running dispute between Zesco and CEC, but the duelling companies continue to operate in parallel universes of competing claims around tariffs and arrears, while state miners’ financial shortfalls add to problems, write Dan Marks and Chiwoyu Sinyangwe.

Zambia
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With less than six months to go before COP27 opens at Sharm El Sheikh, a power shift is under way as energy and momentum drain from the United Kingdom’s presidency and build in Egypt’s camp. The early signs are that the next event will have a very different tone and character from COP26 in Glasgow, with considerably less emphasis on making big policy claims that may be hard to keep and a focus on getting climate-related business deals signed.

Egypt