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Five Assets That Drain the Economy

By Austin Avuru

There’s too much profuse discussion on burning issues in Nigeria where the large proportion of discussants do not have the facts, or do not understand the details of the issues and are just guided by sentiments.

In the end the general public may be goaded by the one shouting the loudest than those with the most detailed analysis.

So what are the critical issues in the discourse about asset sales?
It is generally accepted by everyone today that the sharp drop in foreign exchange earnings occasioned by drop in oil price and reduction in production volume have led to a very strong supply/demand imbalance for foreign exchange. The result has been that over the past six months our naira exchange rate has gone into a tail spin. The real problem is not so much exchange rate but the volatility: the instability over a terribly short period of time. If the US dollar to Naira exchange were 500 and remains within a five percent band over a long period of time, it is better for business and economic planning than to have a 200 Naira to a dollar exchange rate today which plunges to 350 to a dollar in the next week owing to demand pressure.

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Change the Direction of Nigerian Crude

By Layi Fatona

Nigeria will be better off without the current model, adopted by all the oil companies, of “Near or Almost Total Export” of its entire daily Oil and a substantial quantity of gas production.

There remains no better way to develop a people, than domestic-oriented policies. Even China, in its new five year plan, is calculating on higher contribution of domestic consumption to its GDP

The Department of Petroleum Resources,the country’s regulatory agency, puts Nigeria’s total export of crude oil between 2010 and 2013 at 3.266 Billion barrels and gas exports by NLNG (during the same period) at 4.203 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) compared to only 1.393 Tcf of total volume internally used in-country.

In my simple calculation or deduction, that is enough crude to keep 10 Refineries, each with an installed capacity of 250,000 Barrels of oil per day (all working at full capacity) all-together refining some 875Million barrels per year for some four to five years – Non Stop!

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How NAPE Got Its Groove On

By Moses Akin Aremu

Prefects of the Patch: How a group of earth scientists became the key policy think-tank for the Nigerian oil industry

From the podium in the banquet hall of L’Hotel Eko Meridien, on the edge of the Atlantic in the east of Lagos, a passionate appeal went out to the Nigerian government a quarter century ago.

Laide Adegbola (then) president of the Nigerian Association of Petroleum Explorationists (NAPE), an organisation of geoscientists working napein the petroleum industry, requested Jibril Aminu, the (then) Petroleum Minister to administer “policies that would unleash the entrepreneurial energy of Nigerians and mobilise domestic venture capital for active Exploration and Exploitation of our Petroleum Resources.”

Exactly 10 months after Adegbola’s exhortation, the Nigerian Government delivered 12 new concessions in the Niger Delta to 11 indigenous exploration and production (E&P) companies. The event was sometime in mid-1990.

It was the first time in the country’s 107 years of oil search that Nigerians themselves would gain so many footholds as leaseholders in the upstream sector of the oil industry. The awards immediately increased the number of domestic lease operators from 2 to 13.

By 2000, four such companies were collectively producing 135,000 barrels of oil per day, a 7000% jump from the volume on the day of Adegbola’s speech. The share of Nigerian independents in the national production was 7%. But this was gross production, which meant that the equity share could be as low as 4%.

In August 2015, that share of production, on equity terms, was 12%, or roughly 260,000BOPD.

Many more Nigerian companies are battering at the door, with mixed successes. But everywhere from Escravos swamp to the Calabar flank, there is pressure from the Nigerian professional to get more than a toehold in the oil industry.

No organisation has fought that battle, and won more handsomely, if slowly, than NAPE.

It is easy to assume that Adegbola’s plea, as NAPE President, influenced the minister to grant those licences to Nigerian operators.

The reality is that the idea had lingered in the air for a long while before Adegbola came calling.

What is more, the minister himself had a personal agenda.

“When I first arrived at the Petroleum Ministry”, Aminu told a press conference in 1990, at the launch of the Indigenous Push, codename for encouraging Nigerian private sector participation in the oil industry, “I found that only one Nigerian-owned company was producing anything near I ,000BOPD. Even then it was a Government owned company.” Such a situation, he argued “was unacceptable.” Aminu decided to invite Nigerian businessmen, who had proved successful in other spheres of endeavour, to come into the oil industry by operating leases. He gave such businessmen discretionary awards and thereafter held a bidding round at which he specially looked out for Nigerian companies interested in lease holding.

Still, there is no doubt that Aminu’s indigenisation policies was in sync with NAPE’s sustained campaign for the integration of the petroleum industry into the mainstream Nigerian economy. It is a brave and odd battle, given the background of the organisation. To understand the oddity and the sense of bravura, we must go back to the beginning.

The body called NAPE came into being as the Lagos Society of Geologists and Geophysicists 40 years ago. It was the idea of a gentleman named Akomeno Oteri, who felt it was desirable to have such a professional society for furthering both social and technical interaction among professional colleagues. The idea was developed after he attended one of the monthly meetings of the Society of Exploration Geophysicists in Dallas, United States.

The first meeting of the Lagos Society of Geologists and Geophysicists attracted 10 individuals, some of whom were not even interested in the whole idea.

“We were looking to have a body which specialised in discussing current ideas in soft rock geology.” recalls Chamberlain Oyibo, who succeeded Oteri as president of the body. Oyibo went on to become the Group Managing Director of the largest oil company in the country, the state owned NNPC. He is the only former NAPE president to have held that position.  “Most of the founding members were already members of the Nigerian Mining and Geoscientists, which was then made up mostly of mining engineers and professors of hard rock geology. We felt there was need for periodic meetings to discuss the most current thinking on sedimentology, petroleum geology, litho- and biostratigraphy, and the like.”

Although part of the mandate for the Lagos Society of Geologists and Geophysicists was to improve the quality of professional education for its members, the meetings then were held after work, in the private residences of members as they, being mostly low to middle ranking earth scientists, could not request their companies to grant them the time to meet during work hours.

Some of the most memorable meetings were held over fresh fish pepper soup (a choice Nigerian delicacy) served by Mrs Oyibo, who unofficially became the first “associate member” and “matron” of this burgeoning petroleum club.

Oteri, who then was working for Mobil (now ExxonMobil), recalls wondering, how that American company could even have allowed him the few hours, to run the society’s functions. Oyibo was working for Texaco. In those days, Shell would not allow any of their geoscientists to participate, at least openly.

Today, some of the distinguishing feature of NAPE is that it has had seven Shell (or former Shell) employees as president.

Ebi Omatsola, Laide Adegbola, Precious Omuku, Yomi Fisher, Promise Egele and Emmanuel Enu were all serving Shell staff when they were presidents of NAPE. Layi Fatona is the only former Shell employee who wasn’t at Shell when he became NAPE President.

NAPE has grown in leaps and bounds, buoyed by funds from oil companies — who are invariably multinational — and had been careful from birth, not to espouse views in public that would be seen as sharply at variance with the policies of its sponsors. But then over time, the membership composition has become mixed: the low –to- middle ranked earth scientists of the early days became management cadres and then became industry icons of their own. A good number of them have left the mainstream oil companies. Geoscientists running companies outside the exclusive league of multinationals have come on board. NAPE is composed of 7,000 individual geoscientists and 100 supporting corporate members, the largest professional association in Africa’s largest oil industry. The association organises a technical school every summer, at which petroleum geoscientists learn new tools of oil search. NAPE has become an affiliate of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG). Its annual conference has become a huge event, attracting the cream of the industry, other professions and the country’s leadership. The conference entails four days of technical sessions and four days of exhibition involving scores of companies, spread out over several square metres of space. There is a lot of networking: with lawyers, engineers, bankers and investor types, attending the conference for no more profound reason than that it helps them gain a foothold in Nigeria’s premium industry. Now NAPE is so self assured that it takes its own logo very seriously: “Our ideas find oil.”

NAPE’s quest for an oil industry that would benefit the larger economy is the result of many strands of ideas, but the one event that put this issue firmly on the organisation’s agenda was the 10th anniversary of the association and the 3rd annual conference held in 1985.

There, in his keynote address to the conference, Duimo Itsuelli, then Managing Director of Phillips Oil, worried about the dearth of indigenous entrepreneurship in the industry and wondered why there could not be seismic exploration companies, seismic processing companies, drilling companies, biostratigraphy interpretation companies, even marginal field producing companies owned and operated by Nigerians. Itsueli looked around the Banquet Hall of the (same) Eko Hotel and remarked: “There are Nigerians now, who have been working for multinationals for 20 to 30 years; and some of them have worked in different corners and terrains, nay geological conditions of this earth. They have the appropriate experience, they have the knowledge. In these men and women, we already have technology transfer.”

The issues addressed by Itsueli’s paper featured largely in the NAPE President’s opening address the following year, 1986. There, in the same hall where Itsueli spoke, Bayo Akinpelu, then President, called for incentives for “Nigerian entrepreneurs to participate meaningfully in petroleum exploration” and offered that “NAPE would be most willing to participate in the formulating a blue print in that regard.”

Between 1986 and 1988, Presidents Dan Ndefo and Steve Okolo fashioned out a framework for a NAPE Foundation, floated to fund NAPE programmes, ranging from educational assistance to Universities, through sponsorships of NAPE summer schools, to scholarships for outstanding geology students. But the core issue of the development of local (E&P) business for the Nigerian petroleum industry remained staunchly on the front burner.

Then the dam broke.

In 1989, the Department of Petroleum Resources, the industry regulator, invited a paper from NAPE for a seminar on Statutory Control of the Oil industry in Nigeria.

In that paper, NAPE outlined a roadmap for the country to maximally benefit from the industry. Such a route, NAPE urged, would benefit multinationals that provide much of the investment funds and the technical know how as well the Nigerian people, whose resources are being exploited; it would challenge and squeeze the most value out of Nigeria’s own petroleum professionals and reward all stakeholders.

The Paper called for:

• Reduction in license renewal cycles and rationalisation of license fees

• Initiation and enforcement of unitisation as a precondition for field development where there are straddle structures.

• Gradual and phased withdrawal of government participation

• Removal of control and administrative overlap between the Department of petroleum resources and JVs (NAPIMS)

• Centralisation of Data archives to international standards and commercialisation of distribution.

• Participation of indigenous companies in the upstream end of the industry

These issues seem mainstream today, but they were revolutionary at the time, 27 years ago. In fact, to hear NAPE enthusiasts tell it: “it was our groundbreaking paper.” And it upped NAPE’s status from just another professional both to an influential advisor of government on policy issues.

“By then we had become an engine room,” says Lai Fatona, Managing Director of Niger Delta Resources and a former president of NAPE, “not just for Government Policies, but also for the industry.” It was Fatona who, then, as a member of NAPE’s executive committee, delivered that paper, in the year of Adegbola’s presidency.

What has helped NAPE thus far,” argued Tayo Ogunjemilusi, a former Vice President of the association,” is that the key administrators in the Ministry of Petroleum Resources are NAPE people anyway.”

In 1991, NAPE instituted a Pre-Conference workshop during which ideas that could help improve Government’s policies in the upstream sector of the oil industry would be canvassed.

Communiqués at this workshop were, until recently, routinely adopted by Government.

NAPE continuously adapts its style of organising the workshops to the changing dynamics of the country’s governance. In 1999, the year the country became a democracy, the discussion segment of the Pre-conference workshop was peopled by the relevant members of the National Assembly, Nigeria’s bicameral house of legislature. The session was chaired by the chairman of the Senate committee on Petroleum Resources. Among the panelists were the chair of the House of Representatives Committee on Petroleum Resources. When, at the formal opening of the conference on the following day, the communique was handed over to Jackson Gaius Obaseki, the Group Managing Director of the NNPC, who was representing President Olusegun Obasanjo, he simply lifted it up in the air and declared “This communique will be implemented, if we all agree to keep faith with it.”

Such a disclosure helps NAPE admirers to confirm their own feeling of achievement. Asks Fatona: “Has there been anything we have talked about as a Pre Conference theme, that has not remained a prominent issue for Government and Industry?”

The Challenges Ahead

NAPE’s influence with Government does not automatically translate to a cure-all for the challenges facing the oil industry. As Nigeria lacks an industrial base, the integration of the oil industry with the mainstream economy becomes impossible after a point. Nor has the association gotten anywhere close to sensitising industry operators into having a comprehensive scheme for producing high quality geoscience graduates from the Universities. 80% of geoscientists who graduated between 1995 and 2015 didn’t make it to the oil industry, according to a random survey by the Committee for the Development of Geoscientists. Although the study and practice of geology and geophysics transcend oil and gas and solid mineral exploration, the reality is that these sectors are the ones that are regularly overwhelmed by applicants. As such, even while they have no control over the matter, umbrella organisations like NAPE and NMGS find themselves challenged to do something about the escalating unemployment.

“There is need for more Nigerian involvement in the petroleum sector,” says Oyibo. “But the industry cannot exactly be Nigerianised. Nothing is being made here. We don’t have a technological base. We don’t have the industrial background. When they were building Aladja Steel complex, we said make line pipes so that at least we can use that to build pipelines..”

In spite of the aggressive localization effort since the Local Content Act was passed by parliament five years ago, the oil industry is still generally like an offshore industry. The crude oil is almost entirely exported. Most Nigerian service companies have to have foreign partners. “Statoil came from a developing oil producing country. Norway makes ships. We are asking foreigners to come and invest and we want to dictate. Yes. But we know the industry is going to remain foreign,” Oyibo maintains.

NAPE’s dominance of the Nigerian Independent space

NAPE’s rank and file members have benefitted from the direction of localization that the oil industry has headed in, even if they worked hard for it. Five of the top twenty indigenous oil and gas producing companies in Nigeria-the so called league of Nigerian independents-are either being run, or were built from scratch, by geoscientists who themselves were at one time presidents of NAPE. The most symbolic is Conoil, the first midsized independent Nigerian owned oil company operating its own fields. The founding managing director was Ebi Omatsola, Africa’s leading exploration thinker who so happened to have been a president of NAPE. Conoil was the only one of the Nigerian companies granted leases in 1990/1991 to take its acreage to first oil. In spite of its challenges over the years, it still produces over 7,500BOPD.

Niger Delta Petroleum, headed by Layi Fatona, (NAPE President 1993/94) is the most integrated of all Nigerian E&P companies, and the only one running a privately owned crude oil refinery in the country. Officially, NDPR is the first indigenous marginal field holder and has produced the Ogbele field uninterrupted for 10 years.

Amni Petroleum, of which Tunde Afolabi (NAPE President 1998/1999) is both Managing Director and Chairman, was awarded the Oil Prospecting Lease (OPL) 237 in 1994 and has produced the Ima field since1996. In July 2015, the company’s net production from the combined Ima and Okoro fields was ~10,000BOPD.

The smallest asset run by a former President of NAPE is the Assaramatoru field, operated  by Prime Energy, of which Chambers Oyibo, one of the founders of NAPE is Chief Executive. It is producing around 2,000BOPD. The marginal field was awarded in 2003 and is one of the eight fields from that award that have reached first oil.

The Ebendo field onshore Western Niger Delta is  operated by Energia Limited, founded largely by George Osahon who, in 2013, held both the positions of Director of the Department of Petroleum Resources DPR, the industry regulator, and President of NAPE. Ebendo is the second largest producing marginal field of the class of 2003, delivering in excess of 5,500BOPD.

THE LARGEST INDEPENDENT, home grown oil and gas E&P company in Africa is headed by Austin Avuru (NAPE President 2005/2006) who, at 57, is the youngest former NAPE president to run a company of that size. Avuru led Platform Petroleum, a marginal field producer, to form an integrated joint venture with Shebah Petroleum, operator of the Oil Mining Lease (OML) 108 in 2009. The Special Purpose Vehicle, named Seplat, was later joined and funded by French explorer Maurel et Prom (M&P) to purchase the Shell operated OMLs 4, 38 and 41, which collectively produce in excess of 72,000Barrels of Oil today. Seplat has grown both organically and by acquisition of more acreages and equity; it purchased 40% of Pillar Oil (a marginal field producer doing about 3,000BOPD) and acquired the 40% owned by Chevron in OML 53 as well as significant holding in OML 55. (These two purchases are being challenged in court). Seplat is in final stages of consummating an agreement over OML 25 with NNPC. Its operated 280MMscf/d of gas from Oben and Sapele fields makes Seplat the largest, private indigenous player in the Nigerian domestic gas market.


Scrambling Out of the Hole

By Toyin Akinosho

Africa is still the sunrise region for most mid-sized, international independents, yet the continent is one of the earliest victims of the low price regime.

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Mr. President Sir, It’s Another Country

By Toyin Akinosho

Can Nigeria’s new C-IN-C Dismantle the Architecture He helped Create?

Muhammadu Buhari’s assumption of office as president of Nigeria on Friday, May 29, 2015, is a historic statement in the context of the hydrocarbon sector, the country’s economic mainstay.

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Shell’s Huge Cash Haul Out Of Nigeria

By Toyin Akinosho
Shell is minting money in Nigeria, in a manner of speaking. By the time the Anglo Dutch major is done selling its 30% stake in Oil Mining Leases(OML) 18, 24, 25 and 29, in the country’s eastern onshore, it would have, along with its partners, pocketed around eight billion dollars gross.

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Looking Beyond the Diezani Tenure

By Toyin Akinosho, Publisher

It would be inappropriate for President Goodluck Jonathan- if re-elected- to reappoint the current Nigerian minister of petroleum.
The Chief Justice of Nigeria’s Supreme Court will swear in a newly elected president of the country on May 29, 2015.

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All Our Production, Excluding Libya

Months before Khalifa Haftar launched attacks in Benghazi and Tripoli, claiming he meant to restore dignity to Libya, oil companies were issuing reports excluding the country from last year’s hydrocarbon output.

WintershallThe German independent Wintershall declared that its oil and gas production “remained at the previous year’s high level, despite the production stop in Libya”.

ConocoPhillips met its 2013 production target, “despite five months of curtailed production from Libya”. In 2014, it expects “to deliver 3 to 5% production growth from continuing operations, excluding Libya”.

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2013 Will Define The Frontier

Kenya will be “confirmed”,  the Horn will gain recognition, North Africa will look shabbier  and Liberia is on a roll.

By Toyin Akinosho

2013 is going to be one determining year for Kenya, says Mwendia Nyaga, the East African Energy consultant. His conclusion is derived from Tullow Oil’s proposed extensive drilling campaign: 11 exploration and appraisal wells including follow up projects on last year’s onshore discoveries, Ngamia and Twiga South; this year’s ongoing wildcat drilling in Anza Basin as well as proposals to drill a number of prospects.

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The Refining Boom Turns To A Bust

From the Eastern Cape to The Niger Delta, the continent struggles to attract investors for large sized refineries that are able to supply regional economies.

By Toyin Akinosho


Just five years ago, Africa seemed ready for a boom in construction of large scale refineries.

South Africa’s PetroSA, the state hydrocarbon company, had, in 2007, come up with Project Mthombo, planned to use 400,000Barrels of (mostly imported)crude oil every day to produce millions of litres of gasoline, diesel and a range of other products.

In Angola, the state hydrocarbon company Sonangol, announced it was up to speed with Sonaref, a 200,000BOPD refinery, to be located in the port town of Lobito in the country’s Benguela province.

Around the same time, there was talk about a group of  Egyptian and Saudi Arabian investors planning to build a 130,000BOPD refinery at al-Ain al-Sokhna on the Red Sea coast, east of Cairo. In the same country, Essar Global, the UAE company, proposed a $3.4Billion, 300,000BOPD refinery in Northern Egypt, to come on stream in 2010. The target market was Europe. Refineries in Egypt, as a rule, have state participation.

Nigeria didn’t have in mind a state sponsored refinery project at the time. But its plans were more elaborate; it hoped to open up its downstream and create a private sector led refinery construction effort. By December 2004, it had licenced 24 companies to come up with proposals. By mid-2007, eighteen (18) of these companies had been granted approvals to construct refineries, at least eight(8) of which would each process 100,000BOPD of crude. The country was about to have, in the minimum, 800,000BOPD refinery capacity, on top of the three state operated refineries with nameplate capacity 445,000BOPD.

Boomtown, everyone!

Down the road, the Ugandan government presented the case for a 180,000BOPD refinery, starting with 20,000BOPD plant, to Tullow Oil, the country’s main upstream operator. As the London listed company declared commerciality of Ugandan crude reserves, the government wanted it to choose refining over crude oil export.

Sour Grapes..

But none of these projects looks as if it will get to construction stage any time before 2014. The Chinese had walked out on Angola’s Sonangol on account of disagreement over equity participation, and no other investor has been reported to have come along. The state now says it wants to build the refinery with own money and contracts for building the 200,000BOPD refinery are now expected to be awarded late 2013 or early 2014.

Only in May 2012 did PetroSA sign a Joint Study Agreement with the Chinese company Sinopec, which will lead to a concept framework to be reviewed by the two parties before investment decisions can be made. Construction will not start before 2014.

South African authorities are clearly embarrassed that they have not managed to move the project beyond concept planning stage, five years after it came to the table. You could tell a hint of finger pointing with this statement, made in a September 2012 BusinessDay article by PetroSA’s CEO, Nosizwe Nokwe-Macamo. “South Africa cannot afford to postpone a positive decision on Mthombo lest we find ourselves in the terrible situation with regards to liquid fuels that we experienced in 2008 during the electricity crisis”. This is a way of saying: ‘we are doing our bit, but it’s not entirely in our hands’.

In a swift reaction, the country’s department of energy explained, in a statement reported by Johannesburg’s City Press: “The department has always maintained that a new oil refinery needs to be operational by 2020”, the newspaper quoted….. “the current pace of the project is squarely in the hands of PetroSA”.

While the Angolan project is largely export oriented, the South Africans are mainly targeting their home market. Angola’s 12 million people, with a low industrial base, needs less than half the volume of petroleum products that Sonaref is expected to deliver. Coega, on the contrary will add more than 50% of products to South Africa’s 750,000BOPD refining capacity. Coega forms part of the country’s energy security master plan, which stipulates 30 percent of crude procurement occurs via state agencies.

The Nigerian plans had generally turned out to be pies in the sky, as putative investors claimed that an environment where subsidy reigned could not be favourable to free market. Even when the state announced an MoU between its hydrocarbon company NNPC and China State Engineering Construction Corporation(CSECC), murmurs of “I’d believe it when I see it” filled the air. . A government appointed task force on the investment environment for crude oil refining in the country, released its report in late November 2012 and declared that it had examined 35 greenfield private refinery licensees/applicants and “seven were found to have reasonable potential”.

The Nigerian government is currently spending about $1.5Billion to repair its three refineries(with name plate capacity of 445,000BOPD), to deliver as much as possible of the 52 Million litres per day of petroleum products they were designed to supply.

These three refineries have been able to deliver barely 20% of this volume in the last 15 years, according to the task force report. This supply gap has been bridged over the years from imports, to the extent that in 2011 as much as 76% of aggregate demand was imported. “Further analysis of the 2011 supply gap with respect to each of the products clearly shows that import dependence factors for AGO, DPK and PMS are 31%, 55% and 86% respectively”, says the report. “By implication Nigeria is almost totally dependent on imports for PMS”.

Algeria was completing its overhaul of the 350,000BOPD (nameplate) Skikda Refinery, the continent’s largest, as of the time of our going to press with this article. “The expansion will add capacity to produce four million tons per year of downstream products”, government officials say. “The project will produce gas, butane and condensate; it will reduce Algeria’s fuel imports by at least 20%”. The bill for the Samsung led upgrade was reportedly $3.5Billion.

Still, it is Egypt, where geography allows big refineries to meet the needs of their markets in Europe, that Africa is likely to commission its biggest new refining facility in the next three years. Here in North Africa’s largest economy, where government is always keen to build new hydrocarbon processing facilities, there have been reports by a flood of private investors as well as other governments, -willing to use the country as a hub to export refined products to Europe. But the only one project that can be reported here as being firmly on course is the “Citadel” Refinery, for which construction is firmed up to begin by mid- 2013. Funding for the project started coming to fruition in August 2010, when the Egyptian Refining Company (a Special Purpose Vehicle comprising state hydrocarbon company EGPC and project promoter Citadel Capital) signed a $ 2.35 billion senior financing package provided by Export Credit Agencies and Development Finance Institutions including the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC), Nippon Export and Investment Insurance (NEXI), the Export-Import Bank of Korea (KEXIM), the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the African Development Bank (AfDB). Plus:a total of $225 million of subordinated debt financing is being provided by Mitsui & Co. and AfDB.

Sited in the Mostorod Refinery Complex, the new refinery will be processing 100,000BOPD and will produce, along with other fuels, 2.5 million tons of diesel oil annually when the complex is completed. Regulatory and environmental approvals for the project have been obtained and ERC has signed a lump-sum turnkey contract with GS Engineering & Construction / Mitsui & Co.

Elsewhere on the continent, attempts to attract investment for refineries in excess of 50,000BOPD capacity have run into one brickwall after another.

Libya’s Ghadaffi-era plans for overall upgrade and new capacity were truncated by the war.

In Uganda, Tullow Oil, the flagship operator, told the government clearly that it wasn’t going to be part of the authorities’ scaling up of the proposed refinery from 20,000BOPD to 180,000BOPD. What Tullow Oil and Co would commit to is a 4,000BOPD early production system, capable of yielding diesel, paraffin, heavy oils, and aviation oil but would not produce petrol. Tullow is choosing to pursue the construction of a mini refinery because the cost of constructing a crude oil pipeline to the cost is huge.

The refinery sector has not been anywhere near the profitability of the upstream segment of the hydrocarbon industry and African refiners face the challenge of new refining capacity under construction in Asia and the non- African Middle East.

Lacking cash and ready investors, African energy projects often stay on the drawing board for long period and quietly roll off the chart.  It is in the hands of Africa’s homegrown businessmen to turn this around.

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