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Issue 274 - 01 April 2014

Ethiopia: EITI approval draws anger

Subscriber

The Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) approved Ethiopia’s application for EITI candidature at a board meeting on 19 March, much to the anger of several parties, including Human Rights Watch (HRW). The country now has three years to achieve compliance with the EITI Standard, which was upgraded last year. “Some opposed this decision, but it should be remembered that becoming a candidate does not mean that any country has met the EITI Standard. In the case of Ethiopia, the decision shows that the Board was convinced by the government’s commitment to the EITI’s principles,” EITI chair Clare Short said in a statement.

Ethiopia
Issue 335 - 24 November 2016

Standard Chartered wins IPTL case

Subscriber

The High Court in London on 16 November issued a summary judgement that a $168.8m debt owed by Independent Power Tanzania Ltd (IPTL) to Standard Chartered Bank (Hong Kong) Ltd (SCBHK) is payable in full. The case was brought by SCBHK and Standard Chartered Bank Malaysia as facility agent and security agent respectively against IPTL, VIP Engineering and Marketing Ltd, which is one of IPTL’s founding sponsors, and Pan African Power Solutions (PAP), whose chairman is controversial businessman Harbinder Singh Sethi and whose current ownership of IPTL is strongly contested.

Tanzania
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Swiss-based trader Trafigura has announced its support for the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), as part of a new policy on disclosure of payments to governments. The 18 November announcement makes Trafigura the first commodity trader to join the 90 oil, gas and mining companies already supporting the EITI. In a further step, it has published a policy on payments to governments, drawn up in consultation with the EITI International Secretariat. The policy commits the company to disclosing Trafigura’s payments to governments in EITI compliant and candidate countries beginning in 2015.

Subscriber

Amid rising social tensions and opposition to President Blaise Compaoré’s plans to stand for another term as president, public accounts court senior judge Noumoutié Herbert Traoré has promised that judgements on three long-running cases will soon be issued. The three cases include allegations of false accounting by state energy company Société Nationale Burkinabé d’Hydrocarbures (Sonabhy). The case against Sonabhy includes false accounting to gain tax breaks and contracts awarded by direct negotiation without prior board approval. Traoré formally delivered the 2012 report on management of public finances from the Cour des Comptes to Compaoré in December 2013.

Burkina Faso
Issue 260 - 09 August 2013

Sasol in BEE partner scandal

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Petrochemical giant Sasol, whose shares are listed on the Johannesburg and New York stock exchanges, has dropped its black economic empowerment (BEE) coal-handling partner Khotso Batho Mining Services after a long-running scandal covered in South Africa’s The Times/Sunday Times newspaper. On 4 August, the paper reported that Sasol had “pulled the plug on a shady empowerment deal with union boss Simon Mofokeng and wife Maureen after Business Times exposed how they used fake documents to clinch contracts worth over R300m [£19.8m]”.

South Africa
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UN-sponsored Radio Okapi reported on 5 February that the International Court of Arbitration of the Paris-based International Chamber of Commerce had declared that the government’s cancellation of an exploration agreement with the local Générale Pétrolière du Congo (Gepeco) was “faulty, ineffective and unfounded”. Gepeco signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on 12 October 2011 for oil exploration in the Tanganyika Graben. The government cancelled the MoU without warning in April 2012, and Gepeco took the case to the court in November 2013.

DR Congo
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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

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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
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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

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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
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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
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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