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Isreali Expelled For Zim Blood Diamonds

Israel’s Diamond Exchange says it has expelled a long-time member for attempting to smuggle illegal Zimbabwe blood diamonds into the country.

Spokesman Assaf Levin said Tuesday that the bourse expelled David Vardi after he was arrested at Israel’s airport last week with about $200,000 worth of illegal Zimbabwe stones. Levin said his organization “will not tolerate dealing in blood diamonds.”

Zimbabwe is banned from exporting diamonds under the Kimberley Process, the 75-nation regulatory group that seeks to end the trade of so-called blood diamonds which fund violence in Africa.

The Israeli Tax Authority said customs officials randomly selected Vardi for inspection at the airport and found his pockets full of diamonds.

Israel currently chairs the Kimberley Process.

Frank Timis Threatens To Drill


Will he or won’t he? That is the question, as Frank Timis, chairman of African Petroleum Corp., says his company plans to start drilling for oil off the coast of Liberia in March 2011.

APC has completed a seismic survey of its two exploration blocks, but Mr Timis looks like the kind of operative who would rather get other companies to operate and fund the E&P programme of an asset he has acquired.

Timis told the press that APC plans to bring a floating rig to drill two wells in the area, 48km off the coast and that drilling will cost $100 million.

This magazine’s guess is that March 2011 will come and APC still will not drill, unless one enthusiastic E&P company comes around to buy significant equity in those assets and goes ahead to drill. Since that had not happened by January 15, 2011, there’s no likelihood of APC being on the drill site off Liberia until late in the second quarter of 2011.

But announcements about plans to drill, such as the one that Mr Timis made in October 2010, only lead to pressure by the government of the country in which such assets are held. Right now, Mr Timis would be under pressure to proceed with his “drilling plans”. Liberia, for one, desperately wants “action” on exploitation of its resources. The West African nation is rebuilding its economy and infrastructure after a civil war that ended in 2003. Liberia is giving away its petroleum property to any company who can show sufficient enthusiasm to operate the property. That’s why the parliament approved an oil-exploration deal with California-based Chevron Corp. and Nigeria’s Oranto Petroleum Ltd(which has never spent money to drill a well anywhere).

Malaysians Drill More


Petronas, the Malaysian state hydrocarbon company, was drilling ahead the Gharabi-1 exploration well off Mauritania with the rig Maersk Deliverer. Gharabi1 is located in Block C6,  approximately 22 kilometres southwest of the Cormoran-1 discovery. The planned total depth of the well is around 4,880 metres and the located in a water depth of 1,791 metres. Participating Interests in Block C6 are: Petronas (Operator) 72.58%, Tullow 22 42%; Roc Oil 5.00%

Mali Hopes For Surge In Gold Production

West Africa’s third largest producer of Gold has gotten more ambitious. Mali, the brown desert country, expects its production to rise from 50 tonnes in 2010 to 60 tonnes in 2011. Gold became Mali’s leading export in 1999 and helped the country mitigate some of the impact of the cotton crises.

Multilinks Implicated In Telkom Graft Report

A whistle-blowing report on alleged breaches of corporate governance at Telkom, the South African telecoms company, include a list of contraventions of the company’s processes and the country’s Public Finance Management Act, along with nepotism, bribery and corruption.

A key highlight was wasteful spending at Multi-Links, Telkom’s loss-making Nigerian subsidiary, such as the use of a third party to buy a SAP licence despite Telkom holding a universal contract with SAP, which entitled it to a discount. International tax, assurance, transaction and advisory services firm Ernst & Young is also mentioned in the report.

Among the other allegations are that several large contracts, which include those of Blue Label Telecoms and Altech West Africa, were not reviewed and approved by Telkom’s legal services in line with its governing structures, delegation of authority and procurement processes.

Most of the contracts were allegedly initiated and concluded under former chief executive Reuben September without the knowledge of the management at Multi-Links, except for its chief executive at the time, Thami Msimang, and its chief financial officer, Hasnain Motlekar. They allegedly allowed the payments to go through knowingly. The South government holds  a 39.7 percent stake in Telkom.

RWE Dea Scoops More Gas


German operator RWE Dea has flowed up to 14 MMscf/d with drill stem test(DST) in the NEA 3x discovery well in the North El Amriya concession, offshore Egypt.

“The successful test of the reservoir opens chances of further future discoveries in the licence”, the company said in a statement. The well was drilled to a total depth of 3,055 meters and encountered gas in a lower Pliocene sand in the Kafr El Sheik formation. It was sidetracked to a total depth of 2,642 meters where a conventional gas filled sand channel was encountered with an additional unconventional reservoir above.

The DST was carried out successfully on the unconventional reservoir with the objective to prove the productivity in this kind of reservoir. “The successful testing of the unconventional reservoir gives RWE Dea the opportunity to expand its activities in this concession on a new play with chances for future discoveries:’ said Ralfto Baben, Chief Operating Officer of RWE Dea AG. The North El Amriya concession is operated by RWE Dea with a 100% working interest.

Shell Evaluates Sirte Find

Shell was evaluating a shallow water gas discovery in the Libyan Gulf of Sirte, as of the time of our going to press. The unnamed well is located inshore of Hess’ March 2010 discovery as well as BP’s proposed well, which is in further deepwater in the Mediterranean Sea. Shell said that it will appraise the discovery to determine if the reserves found are of commercial quantity. “We found some gas but we are still drilling,” Nureddin Wafati, an official with Shell E&P Libya, declared. The company began exploratory drilling in the concession very late in 2010, said Wafati. He did not give any details on the gas reserves found so far. If the discovery results in commercial quantities of gas, Shell has the option of shipping it to Marsa AlBrega for export as LNG, or supplying it for power generation inside Libya.

Tunisian Turnaround

By Toyin Akinosho

Why an uprising in Tunis, of all places?

Tunisia, under the ousted president, Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, was the most competitive economy on the African continent. In the World Economic Forum 200812009 Global Cornpetitiveness -Report, the country ranked first in Africa and 36th globally for economic competitiveness, well ahead of Portugal (43), Italy (49) and Greece (67).

Ben Ali’s country had been one of the three which had jostled for that Number 1 position for the past 10 years, The others are Botswana and Mauritius.

The irony is that Africa’s high achieving states are some of its least populated. Which means that however prosperous the country is, the wealth doesn’t translate into huge economic engines as noticeable as South Africa, Egypt or Nigeria. Botswana hosts two million people. Mauritians are fewer; they are 1.2Million. Tunisia’s population is much larger than these two, combined, but even with 10 million people, it is still les populated than many countries in Africa.

It is however, the one country where significant value is added to raw materials and turned to competitive exports.

By 2000, Tunisia had averaged 6% growth rate for eight years and become, perhaps, the most rapidly industrializing nation in Africa. As the 21st century arrived, Tunisia was boasting of mechanical and electrical industries expanding at 7% per annum, textiles at 6%. “There is one scientific technician per 2,000 inhabitants of the country”, declared one government report, released in 2000, “a rate comparable more with an Asian tiger like Malaysia than any African country, with per capita income leapfrogging from $30 in 1956 to $3000 in 1998”. The report claimed that poverty levels had been crunched from 33% in 1967 to 6.2% in 1997. Life expectancy had risen from 50years in 1956 to 73years at the end of 2000. Infant mortality dropped from 60 to 30 per thousand in the same space of time, the report claimed.

The former president, who escaped to exile after angry crowds took over the capital, was working, in his own words, ‘to move Tunisia up from “emerging economy” status to “developed nation” status by 2008’.

It didn’t happen. The global economic crisis, among others, slammed the brakes on his ambition. At the end of 2009, GDP growth had slowed down to 3%. Tunisia had 13% of the work- force unemployed. Yet, in comparison with the rest of the continent, this percentage of people out of work wasn’t a dramatically high rate. Afterall, South Africa, the continent’s  engine room, has 25% of its workforce unemployed.

Tunisia’s inflation was also a modest 3.5% in 2009 and the population below poverty line by 2005, the latest that the World Bank could come up with, was 3.8%, a good figure, by African standards.  Despite the 3% GDP growth in 2009, Tunisia’s growth rate for the ten years between 1999 to 2009  averaged 5% per annum and its GNP/capita level was the third highest in Africa.

 “Tunisia is the best organized country in the Mahgreb’ the Swedish export trade council proclaimed in 2009, using data from the IMF and the CIA fact book. “It had the region’s highest development index”.

The biggest export industry is the mechanical sector, especially automotive components, which maintained a strong and steady growth averaging 20 % between 2004 and 2009. The textile and clothing industry sector is the largest employer of the manufacturing industries employing more than 200,000 persons. Tunisia is the 5th supplier of clothing of Europe, exporting trousers, jeans, business trousers, women lingerie, and work clothing, The food industry’s share of value added remained constant over the period between 2004 and 2009, representing 27% of the production. Exports of agro-food sector increased from 1 227 million dinars in 2004 to 1, 592 million dinars in 2008. Still, it was a tidal wave of angry youths, protesting rising food prices,  that forced Ali to resign and flee.

The overall media analysis of the crisis, which had left a hundred people dead, had expectedly focused, not on the economy, but on the politics, with the perception of corruption of Ben Ali’s immediate family being shown as one of the triggers of the mass riot that forced the president out of the palace.

Ben Ali came to power in 1987 after ousting Bourguiba, then president- for- life, in a coup. He installed himself as prime minister. He was elected president with 99% of the vote in the elections he conducted in 1989, two years after coming to power. Six opposition parties participate on this occasion. His party, the RCD, wins all 141 seats in the national assembly In 1994, Ben Ali again called for elections. He polled 99.9% of the vote in an election in which he was the only presidential candidate, drawing international condemnation. Five years later, in 1999, he again received 99.44% of the votes in the general election to win a third spell as the country’s most powerful person.

Three years later Ali amended Tunisia’s constitution to allow a president to stay in power until the age of 75 and be re-elected unlimited times. Two years after that he was re-elected once more, again receiving an unlikely 94.5% of the votes. Opposition party the Democratic Progressives withdrew two days before the vote) branding Tunisia’s political system “a masquerade of democracy”.

Mr Ben Ali has delivered one of Africa’s most robust economies in his twenty three year rule, but has been less than sensitive in handling the politics of his country. Tunisia has not been immune from the hardline Islamist influence threatening to sweep the Maghreb. Attacks from groups allied with Al Queda have grazed the security infrastructure in the last four years. In 2006 a dozen hardline lslamists were killed in shoot-outs with security forces in the capital, Tunis.

Yet the anger on the streets in the Tunis, with everything about the ousted president, including his economic achievements considered trash-able, allows the possibility of the emergence of a far right Islamic group which may not necessarily continue the progressive economic development.

Western Europe has been keen on trading with Tunisia, Europe’s northernmost neighbour, because of its openness to investors and, more crucially, its ability to rein in terrorist groups. As Tunisia expands the space for democracy, will its economic fortunes turn around?

Turks Flow A Trickle In The Murzuk

Turkish Petroleum Overseas Company (TOPCO), has flowed 850 Barrels of  Oil Per Day (BOPD), in a new field wildcat 11-147/03, located in Area 147 in Libya’s Murzuq Basin. The well, touted as the sixth discovery by the operator in the area, drilled to a total depth of 2807metres(9,209 feet). The test was carried out in the interval between 2730metres(8,958ft) and 2744metres(9,004ft) in the Memouniat Formation.

West Africa Leads Global Deepwater Activity

By Moses Aremu

West Africa remains the top deepwater exploration and production destination on the planet. In the sixteen years since the contest for deepwater spoils was established, this corner of the south Atlantic has led the two other contestants: Brazil and the US Gulf Of Mexico, in attracting investment dollars.

In spite of the recent boost in activity of the US Gulf of Mexico and the discoveries of huge reservoirs below the salt cover in deepwater Brazil, the early lead that West Africa had taken in the mid nineties has turned its waters into a vast, busy parking yard for FPSOs, with such decade old fields as Zafiro, Girassol and Dalia each doing in excess of 150KBOPD on average, even as reservoir maintenance work sets in; relatively newer fields are gushing oil at world class rates and a queue of field development projects are lined up from Equatorial Guinea to Angola.

  1. Take a look at fields that coming on stream in the next two to four years:


Pazflor.  TOTAL’s Pazlor project in Block 17, will develop production from the Perpetua, Acacia, Zinia and Hortensia discoveries.  First oil is expected in 2011 at the initial rate of 220,000 BOPD. The four fields are scattered over an area of 600 square kilometers, six times the size of Paris, at a water depth of about 1,200metres. Acacia contains light oil, whereas the other three are Miocene characterized by heavy, viscous oil. TOTAL plans to use subsea oil-water separators for the Heavy Oil reservoir. The separated oil and water will be pumped to the FPSO using Electrical Submersible Pumps(ESPs). TOTAL has built an FPSO capable of processing 220,000 BPD of oil and with storage capacity of 1.9 million barrels, The produced water will be re-injected into the reservoirs. The two subsea production systems encompass 49 wells (25 producers, 22 water injectors and two gas injectors) and three subsea separation units connected to six ESPs. The topsides control system is designed to accommodate 21 additional wells and a fourth Subsea separation unit.

CLOV, also in Block 17, will involve gathering hydrocarbon fluids from tour fields: Cravo, Lirio, Orchidea and Violet (CLOV). TOTAL has received approval from its partners to begin drilling in 2012 so as to achieve first oil in 2014. The subsea development will consist of 34 wells tied back to an FPSO with a processing capacity of 160,000 BPD at plateau and storage capacity of 1.78 million Bbls. The FPSO will be able to process two types of crude oil, light oil from Oligocene reservoirs and heavier oil from Miocene reservoirs. Both oil streams would be combined aboard the FPSO in a single train prior to storage.


Aseng: First production from the Aseng field is estimated to commence by mid-year 2012 at 50,000 barrels of oil per day gross (16,500 barrels per day net). Equatorial Guinea’s authorities approved the field development plan for this Noble Energy operated field in July 2009. Located in Block I, it represents the first oil development in the country’s part of the Douala Basin. Initial development of the field will include five subsea wells flowing to a floating production, storage, and off loading vessel (FPSO) where the production stream will be separated. The oil will be stored on the vessel until sold, while the natural gas and water will be injected back into the reservoir to maintain pressure and maximize oil recoveries. The FPSO, to be located in approximately 945metres(3,100feet) of water, will be designed with capacity to handle 120,000 barrels of liquids per day, including 80,000 barrels of oil per day. In addition, the vessel will be capable of re-injecting 170 million cubic feet per day of natural gas. Storage on the vessel will be approximately 1.5 million barrels of oil and condensate. Total cost of development, excluding the cost of the FPSO, which will be leased, is estimated at $1.3 billion ($530 million net). The majority of this capital is to be invested in 2010 and 2011. Over the life of the project, the company expects to recover gross hydrocarbon liquids of approximately 100 to 120 million barrels, with initial reserve bookings beginning in 2009. In addition, there is an estimated 450 to 550 billion cubic feet of gas resources at Aseng that will be produced as part of an integrated gas monetization project once the pressure maintenance phase is completed.

AlenFirst production at Alen field, in deep- water Equatorial Guinea, is estimated to commence by the end of 2013 at 37,500 Bbl/d gross (18,750 barrels per day net). The country’s Ministry of Mines, Industry, and Energy approved the field development plan in December 2010. Initial field development will include three production wells and three subsea natural gas injection wells tied to a processing platform. Produced condensate will be separated and piped to the Aseng floating production, storage, and offloading vessel on Block “l’ 24km to the south, where it will be held until sold. Associated natural gas will be re-injected back into the reservoir to maintain pressure and maximize liquid recoveries. The Alen processing facility will be located in approximately 240 feet of water and is designed to handle 440 million cubic feet per day (Mmcf/d) of natural gas and 40,000 barrels per day (BCPD) of condensate. Natural gas reinjectiori is estimated to be 380 Mmcf/d during gas-recycling. The total cost of development is estimated at $1.6 billion ($735 million net).


Usan Production startup is projected for this TOTAL operated oilfield, in 2012. Maximum total production of 180,000 BOPD is expected by 2013. Located in 900metres of water, Usan Field was discovered in 2002 and began development in 2008. Development drilling commenced in June 2009. There will be 23 production wells as well as 19 water and gas injection wells. Hyundai Heavy Industries will deliver the FPSO in late 2011. Cameron was awarded the contract for the 44-well subsea development.

2. And those that may come on stream in the next four to seven years…


Egina: Front-end engineering design of TOTAL’s deepwater Engina development was nearing completion as of July 2010. The French major awarded the subsea FEED to Nigerian company Dover Engineering in July 2009, with Wood Group companies J P Kenny and MCS Kenny assigned to support the project’s delivery. Egina, discovered in 2003, is in 0ML130, in water depths up to 1,750 m. The Greater Egina development will take in the Egina Main, Egina South, and Preowei fields, although the current programme only covers the Egina Main field — the other two fields are probable future tiebacks. The subsea work scope of work included design studies and engineering assessments; development of specifications; and documentation and technology studies, all relating to the design of the umbilicals, flowlines, risers, and the subsea production systems.

Uge: Negotiations with government and partners for field development is moving slowly along for this 2006 discovery. Uge-1 encountered 100 meters net oil in 1,263 meters of water in OPL 214. The discovery well was drilled a total depth of 5,260metres.

Bosi: Sanction for ExxonMobil operated Bosi field development has been much slower than would have ordinarily been expected of this 1996 discovery. Since a Final Investment Decision(FID) hasn’t happened, all figures are mere estimates. One such is that production will be around 135,000 BOPD optimum, and the crude will be stored in a refurbished FPSO.

Aparo and Bonga SW.

These two fields share a common geologic structure and will be developed simultaneously. The structure is located in 1,344m water depth. The project was delayed in 2009 to secure agreement among the stakeholders on the scope and commercial terms of the project.

Nsiko: Chevron’s next Deepwater project is Nsiko Field, located 144km offshore the western Niger Delta at 1,812m water depth. Subsurface evaluations and field development planning were completed in 2008. Development activities and FEED will begin upon negotiation of the commercial terms.

3. And still in the smithy…

West Africa’s New deepwater discoveries:



This is what Tullow Oil, the UK listed independent, says: “In March 2009, the Tweneboa-1 exploration well discovered a highly pressured light hydrocarbon accumulation. This was followed up by the successful Tweneboa-2 well in January 2010, which encountered oil and gas-condensate 6km south of the original discovery. In July, the Owo-1 oil discovery continued the extraordinary success of Tullow’s West African Equatorial Atlantic campaign, intersecting 53 metres of net oil pay, establishing Owo as a major new oil field. Further appraisal of both fields will form a major part of the 2011 programme with additional prospects already identified.”

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