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Industry scepticism about the project’s economics notwithstanding, on 23 January, President Uhuru Kenyatta shook hands with Total executive committee member Momar Nguer to confirm the French major’s commitment to investing in the Lokichar-Lamu oil pipeline. These things matter in East African oil and geostrategic manoeuvring; Uganda’s export pipeline was planned to pass through Lokichar until Total backed a rival route to Tanzania, but having since bought Maersk Oil, it needs an export route in Kenya too.


The rapid advance of the Tigrayan Defence Force (TDF) and its United Front of Ethiopian Federalist and Confederalist Forces (UFEFC) allies has led many to speculate that the Tirgayans’ promise to take Addis Ababa may be realised.


Tanzania’s Auditor General has criticised the procurement of a major contractor at the Rusumo Falls, blaming the World Bank Group for the deviation.

Rwanda | Tanzania | Burundi
Issue 405 - 05 December 2019

Tunisia: New boss for Steg ER


In a continuing reshuffle of parastatal heads and other senior posts by the outgoing prime minister, Youssef Chahed, his Tahya Tounès party ally Leila Ouled Ali Bahri is to become head of Steg Energies Renouvelables (ER), the renewables affiliate of state utility Société Tunisienne de l’Electricité et du Gaz. Created in 2010 to promote solar projects, Steg ER has public and a few private sector shareholders, not all of whom are said to be happy with Chahed’s last-minute ‘political’ appointment.


The UK’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has begun investigations into Rolls-Royce’s operations in Nigeria, following accusations that the London Stock Exchange-listed engineering group filtered payments through intermediaries such as Unaoil to win deals in Indonesia, China, India and Brazil. As with previous investigations, the deals under scrutiny were transacted by Rolls-Royce’s previous management, headed by Sir John Rose. The Times newspaper reported on 20 May that the Nigerian deals involved Rolls-Royce’s alleged use of an intermediary company, PSL Engineering and Control, to influence the sale of gas turbines.

Issue 265 - 11 November 2013

Weatherford: $250m settlement


Oil services company Weatherford International said on 4 November that it hoped to finalise a settlement for some $250m with the US government for violations of the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and the Iraq oil-for-food programme, and trading with sanctioned countries. The sanction settlement alone is expected to cost $100m, and Weatherford is awaiting approval from the US Securities and Exchange Commission. Weatherford first disclosed an overseas bribery investigation in 2007. The investigation later expanded to include potential violations of the Iraq oil-for-food programme and possible illegal trade with Cuba, Iran, Sudan and Syria.

Issue 309 - 09 October 2015

Algeria: Saipem case advances


An Italian court will try six defendants in December on charges related to Saipem’s payment of €198m in bribes to secure approximately €8bn worth of contacts in Algeria. The most significant among the accused is the alleged go-between in the affair, Farid Bedjaoui, for whom Interpol has issued a red notice saying that he is wanted for “criminal associations leading to corruption”. He will be tried in absentia with two other Algerians. Three Italian senior Saipem executives will be in the dock, but the company’s country manager at the time will not, as he has struck a deal with prosecutors.

Issue 357 - 09 November 2017

US withdraws from implementing EITI


The United States has opted to withdraw from implementing the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) but will continue to support its implementation by other states. In a letter to EITI board chairman Fredrik Reinfeldt on 2 November, US Office of Natural Resources Revenue (ONRR) director Gregory J Gould, said the US was withdrawing as an EITI implementing country with immediate effect.


Pancontinental Oil & Gas has agreed to pay a disputed cash call to Tullow Oil to avoid a default, but continues to contest the payment. The company said in December that it had received a cash call for $552,897 for administration and other “non-exploration” costs in Walvis Basin PEL 37 for 2014 to 2016 (AE 337/15). Pancontinental said it believed the sums were covered under the free carry agreed when Tullow farmed into the licence, but the joint operating agreement stipulated payment to avoid a possible default situation, and then resolution of any disputes later.

Issue 397 - 26 July 2019

South Africa IPP Office head ousted


News that respected Independent Power Producers Office head Karen Breytenbach has been asked to leave has been greeted with surprise in the South African power industry. The Joint Implementation Committee, made up of the Department of Energy (DoE), National Treasury and the Development Bank of Southern Africa said on 23 July it had asked Breytenbach to leave, citing “issues that were creating operational instability at the IPP Office”.

South Africa

Copperbelt Energy Corporation (CEC) says energy minister Matthew Nkhuwa acted beyond his authority by declaring its transmission network common carrier to allow government-controlled Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) to continue receiving power supply despite a year of failing to pay its bills. CEC is seeking to overturn the statutory instrument (SI) issued by Nkhuwa on 29 May declaring CEC’s network common carrier.

Issue 411 - 12 March 2020

Troubled Tullow cuts costs


Tullow Oil has slashed 2020 spending and announced plans to cut its workforce by a third as it reported a 2019 loss of $1.69bn, compared to an $85m profit in 2018. Already under pressure due to lower than anticipated production in Ghana and delays in farming down part of its stake in Uganda, the company has been hard hit by the sharp drop in the oil price in recent days.


Italy’s Saipem has said it could lose up to €500m ($653m) in payments due from Algeria because of an investigation into allegations that it paid bribes to win contracts. Chief executive Umberto Vergine said on 23 April, “we are having some difficulties to get recent payments and the worst-case scenario is we won’t get these payments.” Saipem said it had been informed that an Algerian court had extended its investigation, but added it had no details on the state of the case or the people involved.

Issue 382 - 06 December 2018

Zambia: Zesco restructuring


Zesco has set up a team headed by cabinet secretary Roland Msiska to implement proposed reforms to the utility, though concrete action is unlikely until after the 2021 presidential and general elections. The cabinet commissioned a diagnostic study in 2017 which made a list of recommendations.A source at the Ministry of Energy said the study recommended that Zesco be split into separate generation, transmission and distribution units. The report also called on the government to rein in Zesco’s wage bill, which absorbs 65% of revenues.


A London court on 15 December turned down a request by Nigeria’s Malabu Oil & Gas to release $85m frozen last year at the request of the Italian authorities amid an investigation into corruption at Eni relating to the licensing of OPL 245. The sale of OPL 245 to Shell and Eni in 2011 is under investigation by the Public Prosecutor of Milan, the UK’s National Crime Agency and the Nigerian Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.