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Promoted from the ranks to lead the company he originally joined in 1984, Sonatrach chairman and chief executive Rachid Hachichi is struggling to convince Algerians their state energy giant can overcome corruption and win investment without compromising national interests. With politics still in ferment, a weak interim government hopes to pass a revised hydrocarbons law as soon as 15 November – before controversial presidential elections are held on 12 December.

Algeria
Issue 380 - 08 November 2018

Moroccan budget woes drive asset sale

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Recently appointed finance minister Mohammed Benchaâboun is tackling Morocco’s burgeoning budget deficit with reforms that some local observers are calling Thatcherite. The former banker expects to raise funds by divesting the state’s remaining saleable assets, with major privatisations for the first time in a decade.

Morocco
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The Ministry of Power, Housing and Works, one of the so-called super ministries established in President Muhammadu Buhari’s first term, has been broken into two and a new power minister appointed. Although former minister Babatunde Fashola was not disliked, some in the industry are hopeful the change could result in renewed focus on fundamental issues and end personality clashes at the top of the ministry. The ministry was put under Fashola’s control at the height of his popularity in 2015 following an eight-year stint as governor of Lagos State.

Nigeria
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There is now hope for economic and military stability in both countries, but ongoing disputes over border issues and the status of Sudapet could still thwart co-operation, writes Hugh Boylan.

South Sudan | Sudan
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The National Oil, Gas and Biofuels Agency (ANPG) has announced the postponement of an information session for Angolan oil companies on the 2020 licensing round that was scheduled to take place on 25 March. The postponement is in line with government measures to control the spread of Covid-19, which discourage public gatherings of more than 200 people.

Angola
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Adding a further layer of complexity to Eskom’s finances is a ruling by High Court judge Cynthia Pretorius on 16 August in a judicial review of the decision by the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa) on 1 March 2016 to let the utility recoup a regulatory clearing account (RCA) balance of R11.2bn ($781m) through a tariff increase of 9.4% for standard customers in 2016-17. The RCA is a mechanism to reduce the risk of Eskom generating either excessive or inadequate returns as a result of unexpected costs or changes in the macroeconomic environment.

South Africa
Issue 265 - 11 November 2013

Weatherford: $250m settlement

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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.

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Relations between Angola and Democratic Republic of Congo have deteriorated following the tit-for-tat expulsion of Angolan and Congolese nationals who have, until recent crackdowns, generally been allowed to live in border regions. President José Eduardo dos Santos failed to attend the Southern African Development Community’s Kinshasa summit

DR Congo | Angola
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Royal Dutch Shell has agreed to pay $15.5m to the Ogoni people to settle a long-running court case brought in the United States under the Alien Tort Claims Act.

Nigeria
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Jon Marks reports from Kinshasa that major new power projects and an oil and gas licensing round are planned, but investors will need watertight guarantees to persuade them Congo really is open for business

DR Congo
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Violent protests have again broken out in Conakry over power cuts as the government struggles to fund badly needed repairs to generation and transmission infrastructure. State utility Electricité de Guinée (EDG) said the latest problems were caused by damage to one of Conakry’s main transformer substations, which had led to power cuts in 13, mainly outlying, districts of the capital. “This transformer is a transformer substation. It’s different from the little distribution transformers situated in the districts whose capacity is no greater than 160kVA,” an EDG official explained.

Guinea
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A major challenges to the status of Somalia’s autonomous Somaliland and Puntland territories is the dispute over the Sool and eastern Sanaag regions, which are believed to be oil-rich.

Somalia
Issue 329 - 01 September 2016

Ghana parliament approves Early Power deal

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Parliamentary approval for a deal to install up to 400MW at Tema opens the way for a power purchase agreement to be signed by the Early Power Ltd consortium of Endeavor Energy, the local Sage Petroleum and GE. Local advocacy groups have raised concerns about pricing, but the Bridge Power project is the only new scheme currently working its way through the system, where other independent power projects have been stalled by World Bank and other donors’ concerns over financing.

Ghana
Free

There is a curious disconnection between Egypt’s dire political and financial straits and the relatively upbeat assessments from the international oil companies (IOCs) developing assets there. In spite of the continued closure of Eni and Union Fenosa’s Damietta LNG export terminal and the substantial debt owed by Egyptian General Petroleum Corporation (EGPC) to domestic gas producers, long-term prospects still appear to justify investments.

Egypt
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The National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa) officially launched a public consultation process on 18 March for new procurement via the Section 34 Ministerial Determination. If Nersa gives its approval, the ministerial determination will allow procurement of new capacity set out in the country’s Integrated Resource Plan (IRP). However, disruption caused by the coronavirus – a three-week lockdown has been ordered from 26 March – is likely to delay the process, which was already expected to last three months for the emergency procurement and six months for the rest. Nersa has asked its staff to work from home.

South Africa