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TOTAL Will Operate Cote D’Ivoire’s LNG Re-gasification Terminal

A consortium led by French major TOTAL has been awarded the rights to build and operate a liquefied natural gas (LNG) re-gasification terminal in Ivory Coast with a capacity of three million tons per year (3MMTPA).

The decision announced by the Government of the Ivory Coast on October 4, 2016 was followed by the signature of the shareholders’ agreement in Abidjan between TOTAL, which will operate the project with a 34% interest, national companies PetroCI (11%) and CI Energies (5%) as well as SOCAR (26%), Shell (13%), Golar (6%) and Endeavor Energy (5%).

TOTAL will use the terminal to supply LNG volumes from its global portfolio in proportion to its participating interest in the project. The re-gasification terminal project is expected to become operational by mid 2018.

“This project illustrates TOTAL’s strategy to develop new gas markets by unlocking access to LNG for fast-growing economies. Working closely with our partners enabled us to put together an integrated proposal combining LNG supply and import infrastructure through a floating storage and re-gasification unit,” said Philippe Sauquet, the company’s President Gas, Renewables and Power. “We are very pleased to have been selected by the Ivorian authorities to manage this project, which will meet growing domestic and regional needs for gas and power.”

The project involves the construction of a terminal with a floating storage and re-gasification unit (FSRU) in Vridi, Abidjan area, and a pipeline connecting the FSRU to existing and planned power plants in Abidjan, as well as to regional markets connected to the Ivorian network. This will enable Ivory Coast to become the first regional LNG import Hub in West Africa, and to meet both regional and domestic demand.

Oando To Soon Announce Sale of Gas Division to Helios

Oando is in the final stages of selling 75% of what remains in its Gas & Power subsidiary to Helios. This has been the most predicted outcome; of the three bidders for the assets: Helios, Quantum Power and the American equity fund KKR, Helios is the only one already in partnership with Oando in any of its other subsidiaries.

Quantum Power pulled out early in the bid, citing a clause in the bid document that it disagreed with. Not much is heard of KKR’s interest.

Helios will be putting down at least $120Million cash and there are other payments to be made, based on certain conditions precedent, according to sources close to the transaction.

The assets include (1) Central Horizon Gas Company (CHGC), the special purpose vehicle (SPV) set up to rehabilitate and expand the distribution of natural gas in the Greater Port Harcourt Area, in Rivers State; (2) Gaslink Nigeria Limited, the franchise under which Oando distributes natural gas in the greater Lagos area.

Gaslink operates a 20 year Gas Sale and Purchase Agreement (GSPA) with the Nigeria Gas Company and is the pioneering indigenous Nigerian firm in the piping and distribution of natural gas to industrial, residential and commercial consumers.

With this transaction, Helios is involved with Oando, both in the downstream and mid-stream/gas business. In June 2015, Oando Plc agreed to sell 49% of the voting rights and 60% of the economic rights in its downstream businesses to HV Investments II B.V., a joint venture owned by a fund advised by Helios Investment Partners and The Vitol Group, for circa $276Million.

Marathon Pumps Up Eq. Guinea’s Gas Production

By Jonathan Sanussi, in Malabo
American independent Marathon Oil has achieved first gas production through its new Alba B3 offshore compression platform off Equatorial Guinea.

Production from the B3 platform allows Marathon Oil to convert approximately 780Billion cubic feet (or130 million barrels of oil equivalent),of proved undeveloped reserves, more than doubling the Company’s remaining proved developed reserve base in the Central African island nation.

“The Alba B3 compression project will allow us to maintain plateau production for the next two years, mitigating base decline, while extending the Alba Field’s life by up to eight years,” said Mitch Little, Marathon Oil’s Vice President of Conventional resources.

Execution of the Alba B3 compression project involved engineering and construction in four countries with Heerema Fabrication Group (HFG) serving as the general contractor. An unnamed Equatoguinean construction firm fabricated both the platform flare and bridge structures as part of Marathon Oil’s commitment to building local capacity within the country.

Marathon Oil’s wholly owned subsidiary Marathon E.G. Production Limited holds an approximately 65% working interest in the Alba Field and is the operator, while Noble Energy, Inc. another American independent, owns approximately 35%

Benin’s Appetite for Natural Gas on the Rise

By Toyin Akinosho, in Cotonou

Demand surges to around 25MMscf/d
Benin and Togo, two of the smallest economies in West Africa, signed contractual agreements to receive the 5Million standard cubic feet per day of gas from the West African Gas pipeline.
But Benin Republic sees power demand growing so quickly that it would require at least 25MMscf/d to fuel power plants.
The West African Gas Pipeline (WAGP) pumps Nigerian gas to Ghana, Togo and Benin.
The contracted 10MMscf/d from WAGP to Togo and Benin is targeted at fuellingtwo power plants of 25MW each in the two countries.
But Togo and Benin do not even receive the contractual volume. The WAGP delivered 18MMscf/d to all the three receiving countries; Ghana, Togo, and Benin, in March 2016, the lowest output in 12 months. Challenges of pipeline vandalism and the surging gas demand in Nigeria itself, has kept the export volume low.

The Aje field, a shallow offshore gas filled structure which is currently producing oil from its oil rim, is located under the sea near the boundary between Nigeria and Benin Republic. But no one is talking about sending gas to Benin Republic which, on the face of it, looks like a small market. Truth is, it might just be a key market for monetising the gas volumes in Aje field.

Benin Republic’s power demand is at least 240MW officially, but there is so much repressed demand because a lot of institutions are generating their own power, according to officials in the relevant ministries in Cotonou, the Benino is capital. Once the 240MW has been satisfied, it is likely that the repressed demand will show up, they say.

Tanzania’s Public Transport, Household Cooking Switch to Natural Gas

Tanzania has moved to implement the policy of conversion of diesel or gasoline powered vehicles to natural gas. The ministry of transport has made the engines of sixty buses of the country’s Bus Rapid Transit to be compatible to both gasoline (petrol) and natural gas.

The state hydrocarbon company, Tanzania Petroleum Development Corporation (TPDC) has announced plans to build 25 new gas stations, to address problems of inadequate infrastructure. A $65Million project, initiated by the government, aims to power 8,000 cars in Dar es Salaam, the capital city and commercial hub and supply 30,000 households with Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) for cooking.

Egypt Shines Through the Dark, Low Price Era

By Toyin Akinosho

Fast track developments of two large fields encouraged by favourable gas prices and a liberal investment climate

Egypt is the flavour of the month for investment in upstream hydrocarbon development.
With less volume of hydrocarbon in place than Nigeria, Angola or Algeria, it has, in the last two years, hosted decisions by two oil majors for fast track gas-field development. The world’s top service companies are queuing up for projects in the country.
ENI has awarded contracts to Aker Solutions for extraordinarily long umbilicals, and to OneSubsea to supply subsea production systems for the development of the giant Zohr, discovered in deepwater Mediterranean just 10 months ago.

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WAPCo Seeks Lasting Solution to Bankuman Waste Menace

Sprawling right behind the walls of the West African Gas Pipeline Company’s (WAPCo) Tema Regulating and Metering (R&M) Station, in the east of Accra, Ghana, is a settlement known as Bankuman.

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WAGP Output in March 2016 Was The Lowest

The volume of natural gas pumped into the West African Gas Pipeline in March 2016 was the lowest in the last one year. The 570Million standard cubic feet (or 18MMscf/d) produced in that month, followed a consistent pattern of a five month continuous drop, which started in November 2015, when production plunged from 2.01Billion standard cubic feet (or 65MMscf/d) in October 2015 to 1.27Bscf (42MMscf/d) in November 2015. Since then it had been a downward trajectory. WAGP supplies Nigerian gas to three West African countries, including Benin, Togo and Ghana.

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Apache’s Nedoko Field Ramps Up to 300MMscf/d in Egypt

Apache operated Nedoko field in Egypt’s Nile Delta has ramped up to 300Million standard cubic feet of natural gas and 3,000 Barrels of condensate per day since commissioning earlier in the year.

The production is coming from four wells.

Development work on the field began in mid 2015; Nedoko is one of Apache’s success stories, in Egypt.

The company averaged 10 rigs during the first quarter of 2016 and maintained gross production of 353,000 BOE per day(BOEPD), which was essentially flat with the fourth quarter of 2015. Excluding non controlling interest and tax barrels, net production was up slightly from the fourth quarter to 103,000 BOE per day. Apache placed 23 wells on production and achieved a drilling success rate of 88 percent during the quarter.

Slow, Unsteady, Push for Natural Gas in South Africa

By Toyin Akinosho

Every now and then, a siren call rings out, threatening that the proposed “Dash For Gas “ in South Africa is about to start.

The latest buzz is the cooperation agreement between four companies, including ENH, the Mozambican  state hydrocarbon firm, China Petroleum Pipeline Bureau a constructor, SacOil Holdings, a JSE listed E&P company and Profin, a private equity broker, for the construction of a second pipeline project to transport natural gas from Mozambique to South Africa.

This deal, for a 2,600km pipeline from the Rovuma Basin to Gauteng, was announced in early March 2016, around the same time that South Africa’s Petroleum regulatory agency, PASA, reported it would give the green light in the next 12 months to companies looking to explore for shale gas under the country’s semi-arid Karoo basin.

For optimists, it is about time. Africa’s largest electricity consumer is potentially the continent’s largest market for natural gas.

But insinuations about an imminent natural gas market in the continent’s most industrialised economy have been around for at least a decade, without the market really taking off. Lack of elite consensus has aided Government inaction to feed the lethargy.

South Africa has witnessed a series of stops and starts on the road to the domestic natural gas market. In 2009, PASA awarded a Technical Cooperation Permit to Shell to determine the Shale Gas potential in parts of the country’s Karoo Basin.  A year after, Shell applied for three exploration licences. PASA asked Shell to prepare an Environmental Management Plan (EMP) to back the application.

And just as Shell embarked on a series of public consultations for the EMP in 2011, a host of activist, ‘Not in My Backyard’ (NIBY) groups intervened, citing lack of water in the Karoo region and toxicity of fracking chemicals, to call for a halt  in exploration in the Karoo. Government promptly announced a 12 month moratorium on the licencing process until a full study was carried out on these environmentalist concerns.

Meanwhile, talk of the publication of a Gas Utilisation Master Plan GUMP, has been just that: Talk.  Authored by the Department of Energy, GUMP is meant to analyse the potential and opportunity for the development of South Africa’s gas economy and set out a plan of how this could be achieved. A key objective is to enable the development of indigenous gas resources and to create the opportunity to stimulate the introduction of a portfolio of gas supply options.  It was widely advertised that GUMP would be presented for public debate in June 2014. That date came and passed and close to two years later, GUMP still hasn’t been published.

Some distinguished commentators have argued that promulgation of GUMP before extensive commercial discoveries of gas in South Africa would be premature. Several international oil and gas players have licences to acreages offshore South Africa. “Why don’t you allow them to drill a number of wells, book some reserves, before you start a debate about how the resources would be utilized?”, note some analysts, including Standard Bank experts Paul Eardley -Taylor and Nicholas Green.

While Karoo gas exploration remains far-fetched, International oil companies have given signals that they will not move rigs to the prospective deep-water sites if the passage of the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act (MPRDA), which has been in the parliament for ten years, is not concluded. One of the clauses in the bill that IOCs are challenging is one which entitles the state to a 20% free carry in exploration and production rights and an ‘uncapped’ further participation clause allowing the state up to 80% at an agreed price or under a production sharing agreement.

SOME OF US ARE CONVINCED THAT South Africa is industrialised enough to absorb billions of cubic feet of natural gas when they flow into the economy. The government, however, is not so sure.  “A challenge in developing the gas sector is to bring gas demand and supply on stream at the same time and spread geographically to stimulate broader localised demand through South Africa”, the Government says on its Independent Power Projects (IPP) website.

“Without such localised gas demand it is difficult to develop distributed gas supply and without such distributed gas supply it is difficult to develop localised gas demand”.  The IPP office thinks that “one way of breaking this impasse is to create significant “anchor” gas demand through the development of a Gas to Power Programme”.

And yet the Gas to Power Programme doesn’t come across as being driven with the urgency that government’s own statement insinuates. Requests for Information (RFI) to companies who’d want to invest in constructing power plants utilizing gas went out 15 months ago.  “Ministerial Determinations require that 3126MW of baseload and/or mid-merit energy generation capacity is needed from gas-fired power generation to contribute towards energy security”, the government says. “The gas required for such power generation will be from both imported and domestic gas resources”.  This process too has been slow.

The largest gas-fired power plant in South Africa today is the Sasol owned and operated 175MW plant, located in its own premises in Sasolburg, and used for its own electricity needs. What should have been a silver lining is the announcement that the Australian independent, Sunbird Energy has a termsheet agreement with Eskom, the state electricity utility, to supply Ankerlig Power plant, one of Eskom’s diesel guzzling gas cycle turbine facilities, with 30Billion cubic feet a year for 15 years, from the Ibhubesi Gas field, the country’s largest undeveloped proven gas field. But Sunbird is currently broke and too fragile to raise the $1Billion required to develop the field and deliver the gas to Ankerlig. Sunbird is in the process of selling off all its African projects including Ibhubesi, to a consortium of South African firms.  Equally cash strapped is Eskom who will struggle to convert Ankerlig from diesel to gas-fired and then pay for the gas.

While gas to power is the easiest route to market for natural gas, there is a long list of alternative options to monetize gas, especially in a country with such a manufacturing base as South Africa. In their seminal 2013 paper,  Standard Bank experts Eardley -Taylor and Green list Gas to Industry (GTI),  for manufacturing; Gas to Liquids (GTL), Gas for Transportation (CNG fueled transport for example)  and Gas To Communities as other routes

The problem, they argued, was that discussions around infrastructure to transport the gas in country weren’t even being had. “What is the central policy instrument through which the gas infrastructure will be developed and funded?, they asked. The answer, for all of the last three years, has been blowing in the wind off the Cape Agulhas.

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