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Subscriber

Algeria can be a difficult jurisdiction, but Sonatrach’s termination of the Isarène E&P contract may not just be driven by aggressive resource nationalism, writes John Hamilton.

Algeria
Subscriber

The drive to discover and exploit resources in high-risk jurisdictions such as those in most African countries has obliged international oil and oil services companies to adopt ever more sophisticated compliance systems. The cost to a company of responding to a US Department of Justice (DOJ) investigation into an alleged breach of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) has recently been estimated at £275,000 per day over two to three years. Yet in spite of the harsh penalties for companies that get it wrong, the appetite for such risks remains undiminished. Meanwhile, the DOJ is responding to the increasingly globalised nature of its role by building relationships with its counterparts around the world.

Subscriber

The Supreme Court of Justice has ruled in favour of Kivu Lake Energy Corporation (KLEC) in its case against the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the prime minister and the Ministry of Hydrocarbons. On 27 July, it ordered the suspension of the ministry’s provisional award of a concession for exploitation of Lake Kivu’s methane resources to a consortium of Tunisia’s Engineering Procurement & Project Management (EPPM), Swede Energy DRC and Kenya’s TransCentury. A final decision on KLEC’s application for the definitive annulment of the award is still pending.

DR Congo
Issue 341 - 02 March 2017

Rosneft in Algeria

Subscriber

The Russians may be coming, but what will they do when they arrive? While Rosneft is advancing in Libya and Egypt, it is retreating in Algeria, demonstrating that the use of geopolitical leverage to advance commercial deals – or vice versa – is not guaranteed to succeed. On 9 January, the Moscow-based daily Kommersant cited a source who claimed that the company was attempting to sell its 50% stake in the Gara Tesselit (245 South) perimeter to Sonatrach.

Algeria
Subscriber

The Petroleum Exploration and Production Bill has received cabinet approval and will shortly be presented to parliament, four years after it was first drafted. The new law, which will update the previous 1984 legislation, contains provisions for blocks to be awarded through open licensing rather than direct negotiation. There has been criticism of recent licence awards approved by parliament under a certificate of urgency before the bill becomes law (AE 274/15), but this has been dwarfed by a bizarre series of developments involving the Offshore Cape Three Points South licence.

Ghana
Issue 413 - 17 April 2020

Power Africa: New acting coordinator

Free

Mark Carrato has been named as Power Africa acting coordinator, replacing Andrew Herscowitz, who moved in February to become chief development officer at the new US International Development Finance Corporation. Herscowitz had headed up Power Africa since its launch in 2013. Carrato most recently led the US Agency for International Development (USAID) Office for Central American and Mexican Affairs and had previously worked with USAID in Kenya and Ethiopia.

Issue 352 - 11 August 2017

Resource curse reassessed

Subscriber

Professor Leif Wenar, who holds the chair of philosophy and law at King’s College London, has written an ambitious book seeking to address how to stop dictators profiting from the international oil trade. “It’s difficult to imagine being a Fair Trade consumer of oil,” he observes, before embarking on a highly readable analysis of how the rules that underpin the oil trade came to be, and how they can be changed.

Subscriber

President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s 11 June government reshuffle appointed Algeria’s fifth energy minister in six years, highlighting instability at the top of a vital but often poorly performing industry. By promoting Noureddine Bouterfa, president director-general (PDG) of state utility Sonelgaz since 2004, the presidency has placed one of the industry’s most seasoned campaigners in the hot seat.

Algeria
Subscriber

Barely 100 days into his presidency, President Hage Geingob has ordered new mines and energy minister Obeth Kandjoze to pull the plug on a costly 250MW emergency power station in the Erongo region that was to provide back-up for the uranium mining industry during peak demand periods. The official reason given was a sharp escalation in projected costs after Xaris Energy, which won the hotly contested tender last year amid accusations of corruption, announced in early May that the cost would double from N$3.5bn (about $270m at the time of the bid) to an eye-watering N$7bn.

Namibia
Subscriber

An uneasy calm has returned to Dakar after an opposition demonstration against the presidential family’s alleged oil industry dealings ended in violent clashes with police on 14 October. Organised by the Front for the Defence of Senegal (Mankoo Wattu Sénégal) coalition, demonstrators carrying “No to nepotism over natural resources” placards sought to denounce what they called “the seizure of oil resources by the family of President Macky Sall”. The president has come under increasing pressure over the local dealings of controversial Romanian/Australian entrepreneur Frank Timis, who employs presidential brother Aliou Sall.

Senegal
Issue 275 - 15 April 2014

SBM: Internal investigation findings

Subscriber

Netherlands-based oil services company SBM Offshore on 2 April released the findings of an internal investigation of the company’s use of agents. The investigation, carried out by independent external counsel and forensic accountants (Paul Hastings LLP, De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP) starting in Q1 2012, found that SBM paid some $200m in commission to agents during the period 2007 to 2011: $18.8m to Equatorial Guinea, $22.7m to Angola and $139.1m to Brazil. “In respect of Angola and Equatorial Guinea there is some evidence that payments may have been made directly or indirectly to government officials,” the company said.

Subscriber

Bowleven has urged its shareholders to oppose efforts by Monaco-based investor Crown Ocean Capital (COC) to take control of the company. COC, which has increased its stake to 15.56%, wants to replace the board and turn Bowleven into a holding company focused on returning cash to shareholders (AE 339/15).“COC’s intent is to take control of Bowleven without paying fair value, and it has no credible strategy to maximise the value from the company’s key assets, Etinde and Bomono,” Bowleven said on 8 February.

Cameroon
Subscriber

José Eduardo dos Santos has retired from the presidency – if not from heading the ruling Movimento Popular de Libertação de Angola (MPLA) – but his family and allies retain a dominant hold over the Angolan economy, in a web of relationships that anti-corruption activists believe will persist despite João Manuel Gonçalves Lourenço’s election. Portuguese Socialist member of the European Parliament Ana Maria Gomes on 7 September hosted prominent Angolan activist Rafael Marques in Brussels, where he made waves with his detailed criticism of contracts awarded for the 2,172MW Caculo Cabaça dam to companies linked to the former president’s daughter Isabel dos Santos.

Angola
Issue 254 - 17 May 2013

Namibia: Teckla Lameck trial

Subscriber

The High Court trial of former public service commissioner Teckla Lameck, her business partner Kongo Mokaxwa and Chinese national Yang Fan is under way in Windhoek. Lameck, sometimes with her husband Festus, was a co-investor with middleman Knowledge Katti in local oil companies such as Kunene Petroleum, Kunene Energy, Namibia Industrial Development Group and Beehive Investments. Lameck, Mokaxwa and Fan are accused of defrauding the Ministry of Finance through the supply of Chinese X-ray equipment to local customs authorities.

Namibia
Subscriber

The government has agreed to rebundle all Zesa group companies into one company as part of its public sector enterprise reform programme. A cabinet meeting on 5 February resolved to merge the units into a single integrated company. Information minister Monica Mutsvangwa said the Electricity Act would be amended to take account of the new structure, while a consultant is being sought to advise the government on the best structure for the rebundled utility.

Zimbabwe