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The takeover talk gets louder, the new frontiers are becoming ever more arcane and new players ever more diverse, as $90/bbl oil makes almost anything possible, writes Thalia Grifths in Cape Town.

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With power cuts causing riots in Kampala, and the start-up of a long-awaited hydro-electric power project delayed for the fourth time this year, Uganda is in for a difficult dry season, writes Adrian J Browne

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Japan’s Hitachi Ltd on 28 September agreed to pay $19m to settle charges by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that it violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) by inaccurately recording improper payments to South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) in relation to the award of the combined $5.6bn boiler contracts for the 4,764MW Medupi and 4,800MW Kusile coal power plants.

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There are signs of progress in the power sector, with a tender due for Bumbuna Phase II, Copperbelt Energy coming in to build up distribution capacity and a biofuels project under way, write Jon Marks and William Macpherson

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The postponement of an infill drilling programme to expand production from the offshore Espoir field on Block CI-26 raised concerns in the industry when Canadian Natural Resources (CNR) announced the move in early August. In its Q2 2019 results statement, the Calgary-based operator said the postponement was “due to ongoing discussions with the government” and that the drilling programme would be “cancelled until such time as foreign exchange practices can be clarified”.

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The highly prospective Block 1 has been awarded, but the Nigeria/STP licensing round hardly proved the smooth affirmation of the Gulf of Guinea’s attractions its boosters had hoped. President Olusegun Obasanjo has stepped in to take the awarding of blocks out of the hands of the Joint Development Authority, questions are being asked about participants and more senior personnel changes are expected.

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The World Energy Council is the latest player to take on the task of bringing stakeholders together to get the Inga projects off the ground. Support from big potential clients like BHP Billiton, innovative financing proposals and a big political push may mean the Grand Inga dream becomes reality, despite all the problems associated with working in DRC, writes Thalia Grifths.

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South Africa’s government is forging ahead with amendments to the country’s minerals law despite vocal opposition from international oil companies. Concerns include the loss of the regulatory Petroleum Agency and the size of the state’s planned shareholding, writes William Macpherson

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Nigeria’s power sector had a year to forget in 2015 as the momentum that had started to build in the private sector was checked first by the political situation and then by the fall in oil prices, the currency crisis and the reorganisation of government finances. However, progress at the $900m, 450MW Azura-Edo power project – the first independent power producer (IPP) to be project financed in the post-privatisation regime – coupled with a renewed focus on gas supply by power, works and housing minister Babatunde Fashola and an accompanying $2 increase in the domestic gas price to $3.30/mBtu have brightened the prospects for the sector.

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Ophir Energy signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on 6 November with Excelerate Energy, GEPetrol and the Ministry of Mines, Industry and Energy for a planned floating liquefied natural gas (FLNG) project on Block R. Excelerate will be appointed as the lead in a consortium of floating liquefaction and storage technology providers expected to include Samsung Heavy Industries and Black & Veatch.

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One unexpected impact of moves in South Africa to dismantle the business empire of the powerful Gupta brothers has been a sharp decline in coal stocks previously supplied by Tegeta Exploration and Resources. Supplies to power stations have reached critical levels in some cases, raising fears of renewed load-shedding.

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On the night of 30-31 March, President Jacob Zuma announced the momentous decision that he was firing respected finance minister Pravin Gordhan, along with nine others from the 35-member cabinet, among them energy minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson. Gordhan was replaced by Malusi Gigaba, an experienced politician considered to be a Zuma supporter.

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Cenpower Generation Company Limited announced the financial close of $900m of project finance for the Kpone independent power plant (IPP) at Tema on 3 October. The 350MW combined cycle gas turbine plant is due on stream in 2017 and will be energy-hungry Ghana’s largest private power scheme, accounting for some 10% of total installed capacity and 20% of available thermal generation capacity.

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NOC head Shukri Ghanems authority has been enhanced by his adroit steering of the Libyan parastatal through some very choppy waters following Muammar Qadhafis decision to radically overhaul government in his Jamahiriya. IOCs are still signing contracts while other foreign partners wait for Libyas internal politics to work themselves out, writes John Hamilton, recently in Tripoli and Tunis.

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A survey of recent oil and gas financings opens this special issue of African Energy, dedicated to tracking trends that are changing the face of business across the continent. Buoyed up by high oi...