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Trust the South Africans to Throw Away the Opportunity

By Toyin Akinosho

In 2015, PricewaterhouseCoopers PwC, the global advisory firm, declared that a large pool of respondents to its annual survey were concerned that South Africa’s policy makers did not understand the hydrocarbon industry.

I read the report with alarm. I responded with a sense of outrage.

Governments sometimes make the wrong calls, I argued in a column, in a monthly edition of Africa Oil+Gas Report, with the example of the UK Government’s tax regimes that led to massive disinvestment in the North Sea. “But you can’t dismiss an entire government as having no clue about an industry”, I declared.

At the time, I was impressed by Pretoria’s roll out of its Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement (REIPPP) programme which had, between 2012 and 2015, attracted billions of dollars of investment in over 5,000MW of renewables without a single cent coming from the treasury. The government was considering the same strategy for getting natural gas into the energy mix. If that worked, I enthused, it could alter the downward trajectory of Africa’s most industrialised economy.

But I’d spoken too soon. By mid-2016, the country’s widely applauded renewable energy programme had been thrown out the window. Just one statement by Brian Molefe, then the CEO of Eskom, South Africa’s be-all and end-all of energy issues, and the entire REIPPP had collapsed like a park of cards. He said that the projects were too expensive, and when Eskom factored what it would pay the producers into its cost of delivering power from the sun and wind into homes, electricity tariffs would balloon.  It turned out that Mr. Molefe’s statement wasn’t true in every material particular, but his remarks had shut down an entire industry. It would take the country a full four years to return to the renewables track, but significant opportunity had been lost.

Today, with the country gripped by excitement around significant discoveries of natural gas and condensates off its western coast by TOTAL, the French oil major, there’s a frenzied debate about whether government would speedily push, for passage, the draft Upstream Petroleum Resources Development Bill (Upstream Bill), released in December 2019.

It had always been assumed that, as an industrialised economy, South Africa has the absorptive capacity to monetise large discoveries of hydrocarbon at terribly short notice. In reality, South Africa is closer to what Mozambique was in 2010; a jurisdiction without a clue about how large sized, deepwater gas would be developed, than it is to Egypt in 2015; which took the discovery of 30Trillion cubic feet of gas in 2,000 metre water depth, to market by 2017. “One of the obstacles to open the economic potential of South Africa’s offshore operations is a lack of legislative certainty”, lawyers would tell you, “which has also been acknowledged as an investor deterrence:”

My experience, as an energy reporter watching the country’s attitude to procurement and utilization of hydrocarbon resources and allied energy industry, is that there’s no sense of urgency to create a coherent framework.

As I have written severally in Africa Oil+Gas Report, the absence of a framework for gas intake and utilisation is a core reason for the looming shutdown of the 200Million standard cubic feet of gas per day (200MMscf/d) state-run Gas to Liquid (GTL) plant which, at inception, was the largest such plant in the world. For 14 years now, as far as I know, government officials have expressed concern about the decline of gas feedstock for the Gas to Liquid plant, but all they do is flail their arms; no one has lifted a finger to do anything about alternative feedstock.

The absence of a coherent guidance on gas to industry is why Sasol’s importation of (currently about) 400Million standard cubic feet of gas a day does not come across as a leverage factor for what the country can do with gas.

In mid-2015, the government announced it was working on a Gas Utilisation Master Plan, GUMP, which analyses the potential and opportunity for the development of South Africa’s gas economy and sets out a plan of how this could be achieved. Key objectives were 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’s been 68 months since the first announcement and the details of plan remains resolutely unfinalized.

The Upstream Petroleum Resources Development Bill (Upstream Bill), is the most current edition of a draft legislation that has stayed in parliament for over 10 years. Let’s remember how we got here:

Between the moment of the faceoff between Shell and the antifracking activists of the Karoo Basin in 2011 and the announcement of the GUMP in 2015, the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act (MPRDA) returned to parliament for amendment. It stayed in debate mode, unpassed, for seven years, challenged, in part by Exploration and Production companies for harbouring certain clauses, one of 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. In the event, the executive arm of government decided to disaggregate oil and gas from mineral resources and present a different law in parliament that focuses strictly on hydrocarbons. That is how it became the Upstream Petroleum Resources Development Bill (Upstream Bill). Still, it has been talk talk talk.

There’s a bit of good news now, of course. The S.A. Government has enunciated a tactic, not a strategy for getting natural gas into the electricity fuel mix. In March 2021, energy minister Gwede Mantashe announced preferred bidders to provide emergency power to the country, which continues to face power outages. Of the eight bidders that  are allowed provide a total of 1,845 megawatts from various technologies to be connected to the grid by August 2022, three bidders will provide 1,220MW of power from LNG. This will be the first formal introduction of natural gas into the country’s energy mix and it is not coming from any broad-based strategy to bring in gas to “energise the economy”. Let me provide a quick context.

In October 2016, a preliminary information memorandum, outlining the scope of a LNG Gas-to-Power programme was released by the Independent Power Programme office IPPO for prospective and interested bidders. The programme planned up to 3,000MW of Capacity from the gas-fired power generation facilities. Its first phase, targeting 2,000MW, aimed to identify and select successful bidders and enable them to develop, finance, construct and operate a gas-fired power generation plant at each of the two ports: Nqurra and Richards Bay in the Eastern Cape and Kwazulu Natal provinces respectively. The successful bidder would be required to put in place the gas supply chain to fuel the plant with gas from imported LNG and would provide the anchor gas demand on which LNG import and regasification facilities can be established at the Ports, providing the basis for LNG import, storage and regasification facilities, available also for use by other parties for LNG import and gas utilisation. This project has been on the back burner in the last four years and it has stalled. This IPP plan is not to be confused with the emergency power announcement of March 2021.

Nor can we tie the emergency power announcement to the Integrated Resource Plan, or IRP, published in October 2019, which seeks to chart the means by which the country will manage and meet its electricity needs leading up to the year 2040. The plan provides insight into the state’s 20-year approach to SA’s energy mix IRP 2019 envisages, among other energy types, some 1000 MW of Gas To Power capacity being introduced into the South African grid by 2024, with a further 2 000 MW to be added by 2027.

If we consider all of these halting steps and indecisions, we get a sense that there is no blueprint in the horizon, to ensure: Gas to Industry (GTI) through new gas infrastructure to such industrial zones as Mossel Bay, Coega (South) West Coast to Saldanha/Cape Town, which can reduce energy costs for SA manufacturing; enhance expansion/modernisation of existing state owned GTL plant; roll-out of Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) fuelled transport; natural filling station network and repowering of truck and bus fleets, leading to balance of payments savings (reduced oil imports); gas to communities (GTC) which can allow huge benefits for rural/poor communities (e.g. reduced wood consumption, increased safety).

Policy paralysis around hydrocarbon resources, whether mined in country or imported, is at the heart of why a natural gas market hasn’t taken off properly in South Africa.

The political elite says all the right things all the time about what natural gas can do for the slumbering economic giant of Africa. But nothing actually gets done.

 This piece was originally published in the December 2020 edition of Africa Oil+Gas Report. The March 2021 announcement that include LNGs for emergency South African power, is the only addition in this version.


Despite the Climate, Nigerian Oil Industry Delivered on a Few Things in 2020

By Adeniyi Adeoloye







The petroleum industry is in a bust cycle at the moment. The valley, this time, is deeper than any low the industry has been for decades.

But in the face of the hydrocarbon demand destruction brought on by the pandemic and the ensuing deferments of project FIDs, massive scale back of operations, and significant cash losses, the Nigerian Oil Industry delivered on some key issues.

NLNG Awarded EPC for Her Train 7

Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) Ltd, in May 2020, in the thick of a global lockdown,  awarded the Engineering, Procurement and Construction EPC contract for its Train 7 project to three companies. Saipem, Chiyoda, and Daewoo.

Africa’s biggest LNG producer expects over $12Billion to be invested in the project with anticipated 12,000 jobs during the peak of construction.

The Train 7 when completed will see Nigeria’s LNG output increase from the current 22Million Metric Tons Per Annum (MMTPA) to 30MMTPA, a whopping 35% increase. The project also set ambitious local content targets (total in-country engineering hours set at 55%, while the procurement for execution of the project is also pegged at 55%) which will spur economic activity as well as enhancing technical capacity of indigenous companies and people.

Waltersmith Petroma Commissions a 5,000Barrels of Oi Per Day Refinery

Waltersmith Petroman, a Nigerian independent, on November 24, 2020, commissioned her 5000 barrel per day refinery, the first phase in a planned 50,000BPD refinery project. The ground-breaking of the second phase (a 25,000BPD Condensate Refinery Project) was also carried out on the same day.

The first phase is expected to bring 271Million litres of refined petroleum products (Heavy Fuel Oil, Dual Purpose Kerosene, and Automotive Gas Oil) to the national and regional market. The delivery of the project is sure a step in the right direction, as it will help bridge some demand gap, conserve scarce foreign exchange deployed in importation of refined products, and provide jobs for the teeming youth population.

The Return of the Petroleum Industry Bill

The Petroleum Industry Bill is back on the floor of the National Assembly, Nigeria’s bicameral house of legislature.

It was forwarded to the Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari, in September 2020, for consideration and passage. The Bill has had a long life of going to the Assembly and ending up not becoming law. The first time it was introduced at the National Assembly was in 2008. It has returned, in several variations, thrice after that.

The purpose, however, is the same: to reform the country’s hydrocarbon industry. The bill seeks to provide a legal, governance, regulatory and fiscal framework for the Nigerian Petroleum Industry and Development of Host Communities.

The Senate, the Upper Chambers of the House, introduced the Bill for First Reading, at its plenary session of Wednesday, 30 September 2020.

The National Assembly leadership, which includes The Senate [resident Ahmed Lawan and the Speaker of the House of Representatives Femi Gbajabiamila, has repeated assurances that the Bill will become law this time. The PIB proposes reforms which many industry stakeholders believe will bring clarity to the fiscal regime and spur investment. Amongst many other items, the bill seeks to spinoff stake in the State hydrocarbon company NNPC to a commercially driven and profit focused enterprise to be called NNPC Limited; to be incorporated within 6 months of the passage of the bill. In addition, the new bill also provide for two regulators – one for “Upstream operations and the other for Midstream and Downstream”. These entities will succeed Department of Petroleum Resources – DPR, the current industry regulator. Furthermore, the new bill makes provision for “Host Community Trust Fund” which is set out to develop key infrastructural and human capital development in areas of operations. Although the passage of the bill has been postponed to mid 2021, there is a sense that the jinx about the PIB will be broken with this administration and this edition of the Bill will actually become an act of parliament.

DPR’S Call for Marginal Field Bid Round

Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), Nigeria industry regulator called for a bid round for a total of 57 fields in land, swamp, and shallow offshore terrains in the outgoing year 2020. This round came to many observers as a surprise given the peculiarity of the time (low oil price regime as caused by the twin knock of a pandemic and Russia – Saudi’s crave for market dominance) the bid was announced. Nigeria’s last licencing round took place in 2007. The first and last Marginal Field bid round was conducted in 2003.

The data room and other processes were done virtually given the reality of the pandemic. The completion of this bid campaign should help increase Nigeria’s oil production, create jobs and put money into government coffer in earned signature bonus, taxes and royalties.


This piece is contributed by Adeniyi Adeoloye, a Petroleum Geoscientist who lives and works in Dublin, Ireland. He holds a Master of Science Degree in Petroleum Geoscience from the University College, Dublin Belfield, Ireland. He is passionate about the transformation of the study of geosciences and market intelligence in the Africa Oil and Gas landscape. He will contribute from time to time to Africa Oil+Gas Report.



Be Bold, Cut Out Entitlement: No One Owes Us Anything

By NJ Ayuk
In 2021 most opportunities in the energy sector and in business in general will go to those who show up and negotiate better deals and get involved in making African resources work for us. Forget handouts, foreign aid and government handouts.

As I wrote in the second edition of Billions at Play: The Future of African Energy and Doing Deals, in 2021, young African dealmakers, negotiators and lawyers will have to embrace a new mindset to win. They will have to mobilize their resources and advocate for important principles of personal responsibility, smaller government, lower taxes, free markets, personal liberty, and the rule of law.

In 2021, African gas projects are going to be in the news. Companies will push to get them going, from Mozambique to Nigeria and from Equatorial Guinea to Tanzania.

If some extremists have their way, none of these projects should happen and our people should be left in the dark. Question we must also ask is how Africans are going to participate when it comes to jobs and contracts. In 2021, we cannot be bystanders. We all can’t afford to.

Africa’s economic recovery from Covid-19 and our global significance in the era of energy transition and attacks on our energy sector must be driven by the talent and entrepreneurship of its people.

Our continent is still struggling when it comes to establishing democratic and trade institutions, we must push for more democracy. Democracy isn’t perfect but it is the best of all political practices and we must embrace it.

I have a few words of advice for this generation, for Africa’s young attorneys, entrepreneurs, rising stars and dealmakers:

Never lose sight of the significance of your work.

By negotiating effectively for African businesses and governments, you can play a huge role in transforming the lives of hundreds of thousands of Africans. Few things in life are more satisfying.

I am proud of the law group I have built, but I consider the work I have done to get justice for and empower African individuals, businesses, and communities among my greatest successes.

I am the first to advise many young people to avoid feeling entitled to anything. No one owes you or us anything. We have to earn it. Our approach and success in oil and gas negotiations stem from our deep preparation and mindset. More of that is needed in 2021.

I have stated many times: you succeed when you look for mentors and let them mentor you. It’s important to have someone who is promoting you when you are not in the room. Next, be stubbornly loyal. Don’t try to pull a fast one because you know more than others! Further, embrace your trials and shortcomings for they teach you to be a better person and lawyer.

I have seen too many young lawyers or rising stars who get a chance to be on a podium, and then tend to spend more time being celebrities than being around colleagues or supervisors.

Many so-called celebrities have not earned a deal and completed one, so avoid having a big head. For me if you have not closed a deal and are not making money, you need to keep your philosophies to yourself. It is crucial to have a strong focus on building your skills because clients and business partners really want you to be good at what you do. Your writing, critical thinking, commercial mindset and in-depth industry skills cannot hurt you. Most clients want to know who is working on their deals, and they do not care about your race or nationality. They want to know you are qualified and can get the job done.

When you finally get a deal done and you get your first bonus or check, do not fall in the trap of buying that fancy car or getting into fast life. You will get broke so quickly. Spend wisely even when you think you have arrived where you need to be. Always think there is more and stay hungry. Look at the Texas oil boys, they are always hungry. They wear their cowboy boots and continue searching for the next big discovery.

Hashtags do not pay the bills. Get off your phone.

Get offline, social media is nice but it isn’t everything, we have seen people who prefer to seat on their phone even during business meetings rather than engage on real business. How do want a deal when you are busy on your whatsapp group chats? Why have a meeting with someone when you will be on your phone while they are talking? Get out of the room and take the call or send a message. If you decide to work on your Instagram while talking to me, I walk you out of my office or end the meeting. When you don’t get the job or the contract, don’t be so quick on blaming the “White Man” or Racism.

I know this will get the young generation annoyed, but its real. We need to start having a post covid mindset and know we will have to engage again. I am not crazy about Zoom meetings, but we have to do it. Business is not about who had the best tweet two hours ago or who does the best hooting and hollering. Get down on the ground and make money. Do not believe those who tell you money is bad. We know it is bad being broke and we hate being broke. You should never apologise for working hard and making money. To do that, you must be focused and yes, get off your phone.

Commit to work. Pay your dues. Your time to shine will come.

Always ask yourself, “Am I adding value to the firm or the company?” Don’t think you are in the firm to be the labour union representative or the head of diversity.

Do not walk around the firm or even a negotiation with arrogance or give off a sense that you are entitled, or that your opinion matters on every subject. You are not owed anything. It is important not to cry over discrimination on every issue, whether it is sexism, racism, or xenophobia.

You beat them with excellence and success. We see it every day and you will be surprised it comes from the same liberals who claim to love all humans and want to save the world. They will love to patronize you and put you in your place. I have experienced it myself. I just work harder, and success follows.

You must understand that building a successful practice or business calls for something not taught in law school or business school or any school: the ability to hustle and deliver on deals. I have always had run-ins with young lawyers because I can be a tough, goal-oriented taskmaster. I have a fierce sense of urgency that many others don’t share.  

Working for Centurion is not for the naïve or the fainthearted—we don’t tolerate young lawyers viewing Centurion as merely a job. Everyone has to give their maximum effort all the time.

The truth is, I am harder on myself. I am never satisfied, and I just believe I can win bigger and do the deal better. The most important outcome for me is to have people around me achieve more than they ever thought they could.

Lean in and take the heat for your client or causes you believe in, and for Africa

In 2021, you will have to visible, be vocal in defending the African energy sector from those that want to end it and you must capitalize on the opportunities that you see. One of the key things you must do in 2021, is take the heat for your clients. I have never had a problem being called an ambulance-chaser in the past. Today I am that ambulance that is being chased and many know i will always stand with them and I built a strategy of taking the heat for them. Don’t let them push on your client or kill your issue. Develop a thick skin and let them hit you. If I can’t take the heat, I have no business being in the kitchen.

I have been pushed, been kicked, sometimes been spat on, lied on, demonized, talked about and even derided in the media. Its does not bother me one bit, I always know I am going to outlast my distractors or competition. In 2020, we made more money than any other year with Centurion Plus, our latest on-demand service. I have also been invited to meet with Presidents, Ministers, CEO’s and even Royals. But I never lost my way.

Never take your eyes off the prize. Be patient, play chess, keep smiling, be ready to take a punch and definitely hit back and do it harder. Maybe a combination of Jabs, Uppercuts and Hooks. That’s going to be you in 2021. Its going to be a fight to stay alive, stay employed, stay in business, stay relevant and stay sane when everything and everyone around you is going crazy.

You are going to be tested. They are going to come after you. sometimes even your own friends and those who laugh with you then stab you in the back. You will be called a traitor to most of your liberal elitist friends who feel entitled, drink latte with soy or almond milk. They sometimes cannot believe that this kid who was their darling and their best boo does not buy into their tree hugging, cry me a river ideology. You and I will have to believe and fight for Africa first, against energy poverty, and for personal responsibility, free markets, limited government and yes we must not be ashamed of being people of faith.

The wisdom and advice my law school mentor and professor John Radsan, who used to serve as the CIA’s assistant general counsel and Ron Walters shared with me hold true for you today: each one of us has a mandate to use our education and skills to impact communities and to promote economic growth and empowerment.

So, yes, seek career success and prosperity in 2021. But, in the end, choose to do good: use your skills to make sure that everyday Africans receive their fair share of the benefits the continent’s natural resources can provide.

NJ Ayuk is Executive Chairman of the African Energy Chamber, CEO of Centurion Law Group, and the author of several books about the oil and gas industry in Africa, including ‘Billions at Play: The Future of African Energy and Doing Deals.’


Is Nigeria Finally Within Reach of a New Oil Law?

By NJ Ayuk, Executive Chairman, African Energy Chamber  

This week, the African Energy Chamber will publish a report outlining its short-term predictions for the continent. That report, Africa Energy Outlook 2021, identifies Nigeria as the country with the most potential for increasing hydrocarbon production. But it also points out that Nigeria faced certain challenges with respect to realizing this potential.

Of course, some of the challenges have their roots in the events of 2020 — the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the dramatic fall in global energy demand, and the oil price war between Russia and Saudi Arabia that briefly sent crude prices into negative territory. However, the country is also facing a number of ongoing challenges.

One of these is the need for a new oil and gas regulatory regime.

‘Africa Energy Outlook 2021’ notes that Nigeria’s government has been working for years to meet this need. So far, all of its attempts have failed. In 2018, for example, members of the Senate voted to approve legislation known as the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB), only to have President Muhammadu Buhari veto its version of the bill and send it back to the floor.

Buhari’s administration has not given up, though. Earlier this year, the president declared that his administration was determined to draft a new version of the oil and gas law and secure its passage through both houses of the National Assembly before the end of 2020.

Signs of Progress … But How Much?

The AEC’s report expresses some doubt about Buhari’s ability to get that far with the new Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB). I see this skepticism as understandable, given that Nigeria has been trying — and failing — for nearly two decades to effect change on this front. But I also want to point out that Abuja has made some genuine progress this year.

First, the government completed the draft version of the PIB and submitted it to the National Assembly in August.

Second, the government secured pledges from both houses of the legislature to expedite discussions on the PIB so that it can be passed before the end of the year.

Third, the bill passed its first reading in the House of Representatives and the Senate on Sept. 30.

Fourth, the bill passed its second reading in the House of Representatives and the Senate on Oct. 20.

Fifth … well, is it reasonable to list a fifth sign of progress? Perhaps not. Almost immediately after the PIB passed its second reading, Nigeria’s Senate suspended plenary sessions until Nov. 24 so that it could focus exclusively on drawing up the federal budget for next year. Additionally, it gave the relevant Senate committees eight weeks to make the required legislative inputs into the bill.

Short on Time

Because of these developments, the timeline for securing passage for the bill has shifted.

As I mentioned previously, President Buhari has said he wants to sign the PIB into law before the end of this year. But if the Senate continues to focus exclusively on the budget until Nov. 24, it will have just over a month to meet that deadline — or even less, if the committees take the full eight weeks allotted to them for making legislative inputs. Either way, it will have a great deal to do in a short time. It will have to wrap up committee discussions, pass the new oil and gas law in its third reading, secure the assent of both the House of Representatives and the Senate to the final version of the legislation, and then send it to the president for signature within just a few weeks.

In theory, the PIB could lose momentum during any of these stages. If the committee discussions run for the full eight weeks, they will end on Dec. 15, leaving very little time before the end of the year. If legislators propose amendments during the third reading, they may need extra time to debate and vote on their proposals. If the House of Representatives and the Senate turn out different versions of the PIB and are unable to come to terms quickly, the initiative could stall. If President Buhari takes exception to any changes made during earlier steps in the legislative process, he could veto the bill.

If any of these things happen, the government may find itself ending 2020 without a new oil and gas law in place.

But would that really be such a bad thing?

More than Money

Yes, I think it would.

For years now, uncertainty about the legal regime has been discouraging companies from making commitments to the West African state’s oil and gas industry. According to Nigeria’s Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), the repeated failure of attempts to adopt a new oil and gas law costs the country about $15Billion each year in lost investments. It’s therefore reasonable for Buhari and his government to seek passage for the PIB as soon as possible. After all, Nigeria can ill afford to keep losing so much money — especially at a time when its oil and gas industry is under extra strain because of the extraordinary events of 2020.

But it’s not just about the money. I believe there is an objective need for reform — and that the PIB can meet that need.

Nigeria’s oil and gas sector has earned the reputation of being corrupt, non-transparent, and inefficient. This reputation drives potential investors away, thereby depriving the country of money — and, what’s more, depriving it of jobs (in both the industry itself and in related sectors such as construction and transportation) and also of opportunities for partnerships, training, technology transfer, and other things that help support and amplify economic growth.

In other words, without the PIB, Nigeria can’t use its vast oil and gas reserves to optimal effect!

Needed Reforms

The PIB does try to address the deficiencies of the current system.

For example, it calls for dismantling state-run Nigerian National Petroleum Corp. (NNPC) and dividing its functions up among three separate entities. It provides for NNPC’s regulatory and administrative functions to be transferred to two new government agencies: one to supervise upstream operations and another to supervise midstream and downstream operations, including domestic gasification programs. At the same time, it assigns the company’s commercial functions to a new entity that will be known as NNPC Corp.

This one change has the potential to make a big difference. With respect to transparency and efficiency, the bill draws a clear line between Nigeria’s need to monitor and regulate the companies that work in the oil and gas sector and its need to have the capacity to develop its own resources. It also calls for NNPC Corp. to be audited annually by an independent company — rather unlike the current version of NNPC, which has come under fire in the past for its less-than-transparent accounting practices. And with respect to corruption, it establishes NNPC Corp. as a purely commercial entity with no access to the federal budget — and, therefore, fewer opportunities to function either as an instrument of state policy or as a shady space in which government officials can move money around for their own purposes.

Of course, these aren’t the only good things the PIB could do. For example, the bill also contains provisions that might settle investors’ questions about the Deep Offshore and Inland Basin Production Sharing Contract Act, a controversial piece of legislation that some energy companies have described as little more than a revenue grab. Additionally, it eliminates two state bodies that haven’t been doing the best job at monitoring the downstream fuel sector: the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA), which oversees fuel pricing, supplies, and distribution, and the Petroleum Equalisation Fund (PEF), which distributes cash with the aim of making motor fuel prices uniform throughout the country. Moreover, it puts a single agency — the new midstream and downstream agency mentioned above — in charge of domestic gasification initiatives. This makes sense, given that gasification depends on the construction and expansion of transportation and distribution networks. It could also help coordinate the process by putting all activities under a single umbrella.

Don’t Stop Pushing

There are other attractive features to the PIB, but I don’t have the time or space to list them all here.

I do want to emphasize, though, that I think Nigeria needs this new law, both in general and with the particular details included in the government’s draft version. Buhari is therefore right to push the National Assembly to pass it as quickly as possible — and he should keep pushing, even if legislators miss his Dec. 31 deadline.

In other words, the president should hold members of the National Assembly to the commitment they made earlier this year to accelerate this process! If he does, he should see the PIB pass soon — and once it takes effect, it can lay the foundation for a more efficient, less corrupt, and more transparent oil and gas sector in Nigeria. And, equally important, Nigeria can start capitalizing fully on its oil and gas resources.



Insecurity and No Diversity of Supply

By Gerard Kreeft

Security and Diversity of Supply: Two golden rules of the energy sector, have been dashed.

The new credo is ‘Insecurity and No Diversity of Supply’.

What started as an oil war between Saudi Arabia and Russia to gain or maintain market share has produced uncertainty and destabilization across the entire energy sector. Add the corona virus to the mix and you have the perfect storm.

How long will traders and end users tolerate such a situation? Yes, traders on the spot market can gain a few windfall moments but in the long term this disruption could herald an established entry for renewables. End users want stability and more now than ever are willing to pay a small premium to ensure stability of their fuel supply.

How will this volatility affect Africa? Here’s a place where the oil majors have key assets and control major portions of the value chain; where little attention has been given to renewable energy.

Here’s a continent which the World Energy Outlook 2019 forecasts to have unprecedented growth in the next 20 years.

In its “Stated Policies ScenarioThe World Energy Outlook 2019 declares that energy demands woud rise by 1% per year to 2040. Low-carbon sources led by solar photovoltaics (PV) supply more than half of the growth, and natural gas, boosted by rising trade in LNG accounts for another third. Oil demands flatten by the 2030s and coal use edges lower. The key is “the momentum behind clean energy technologies is not enough to offset the effects of an expanding global economy and growing population. The rise in emissions slows but with no peak before 2040, the world falls short of shared sustainable goals.”

A second scenario entitled “Sustainable Development Scenario” maps out a way to meet sustainable energy goals in full, requiring rapid and widespread changes across all part of the energy system. These scenarios are fully aligned with the Paris Agreement by holding the rise in global temperatures to well below 2 0C and pursuing efforts to limit it to 1.5 0C.

Back to the Future

Prior to the ensuing energy dispute, the “Sustainable Development Scenario” might have sounded like a birthday wish. Something to give you a feeling that your good intentions will indeed save the planet. And then get on with the business on hand. Now the future has arrived and in harsh terms. Do we really think that the oil majors will act as a white knight and come to the rescue? Pursuing projects with the hope of adding on some symbolic renewable energy projects? The real fear is not changing from fossil-based fuels to renewables. Rather it is the fear of not being to see or totally fathom how a renewable future will look. We should have no illusion about the state of paralysis of the oil and gas sector.

According to a recent study by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis the largest oil and gas companies for years have lived beyond their means and paid more money to investors than they can reasonably afford. Analysis found that the five largest Big Oil majors — Exxon Mobil, Chevron, Royal Dutch Shell, BP and TOTAL— spent $536Billion on shareholder dividends and stock buybacks since 2010 while bringing in just $329Billion in free cash flow.

“The oil majors are consistently under-performing the market and may believe that shareholders won’t notice, as long as they receive generous dividends,” said Tom Sanzillo, co-author of the report and director of finance for the institute, a think tank that supports renewable energy. “As these companies continue to sell off assets and acquire more debt, they reveal a sector in disarray.”

This study covers the period of the last oil bust from 2014 to 2017, when a lot of companies limited their reductions in dividends in buybacks — as revenues fell more sharply — to stop investors from abandoning their firms. BP also was a shrinking company during most of the last decade, selling off many assets after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon tragedy in the Gulf of Mexico.

Rystad is predicting that if the price of oil remains at the $30 level this could lead to cuts of $100Billion production and exploration budgets. In 2021 there could possibly be cuts of another $150Billion, leading to bankruptcies in the oilfield sector.

Africa’s Requirements

The World Energy Outlook 2019 notes that under “the Stated Policies Scenario”, the rise in Africa’s oil consumption to 2040 is larger than that of China, while the continent also sees a major expansion in natural gas use.

WEO-2019 continues:” The big open question for Africa remains the speed at which solar PV will grow. To date, a continent with the richest solar resources in the world has installed only around 5 gigawatts (GW) of solar PV, less than 1% of the global total. Solar PV would provide the cheapest source of electricity for many of the 600Million people across Africa without electricity access today.”

By 2040 Africa’s urban population is slated to grow by more than half a Billion, much higher than the growth seen in China’s urban population between 1990 and 2010. China’s production of steel and cement sky rocketed. Africa’s infrastructure will probably not follow this course but the energy implications for the urban growth will be profound. For example, air conditioning or other cooling services.

Total external debt for sub-Saharan Africa jumped nearly 150% to $583Billion in 2018 from $238Billion ten years earlier, according to the World Bank. This could become unsustainable as the average public debt increased from 2010-2018 to 59% GDP up from 40%.

The World Bank has operations of some $20Billion on the continent, while the African Development Bank has commitments of some $10Billion. Both banks have a wide variety of financing tools at their disposal for a variety of projects: be that wind, solar, or geo-thermal. Yet the problem is not one of financial engineering nor technical competence. Both banks have these resources available.

Rather what is required is the vision and strategy to create an African Energy Transition Roadmap coordinated by the World Bank, African Development, IMF and Africa’s national governments. Such a roadmap should also include public-private partnerships in order to leverage project economics, Instead of a Joseph’s coat of many colours in which only regional, national or project interests are featured. Such a roadmap should meet the criteria of the “Sustainable Development Scenario” set out by WEO 19. Certainly when the energy value chain is being totally re-invented its time to make the quantum jump to bring Africa to the frontline where economic innovation and technical breakthroughs are being done.

Gerard Kreeft,  BA ( Calvin University, Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA ) and  MA (Carleton University, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada), Energy Transition Adviser, was founder and owner of EnergyWise.  He has managed and implemented energy conferences, seminars and master classes in Alaska, Angola, Brazil, Canada, India, Libya, Kazakhstan, Russia and throughout Europe. He writes on a regular basis for Africa Oil+Gas Report.

The Future of Oil Companies: A Clearer Outline

By Gerard Kreeft

Dogger Banks is in a large sandbank in a shallow area of the North Sea.

It is sited about 100km off the east coast of England.

During the last ice age the bank was part of a large landmass connecting Europe and the British Isles. It has long been known by fishermen to be a productive fishing bank.  It was named after the doggers, the  medieval  Dutch  fishing boats especially used for catching cod.

In the next 25 years Dogger Banks will undergo a remarkable face over, becoming a key infrastructural hub for northern Europe’s Energy Transition.

The Norwegian player Equinor, has announced that the world’s biggest offshore wind farm off Dogger Bank, could be just the start of a renewable mega-hub with potential for more than 20GW of power production in the North Sea – enough to supply one third of UK electricity demand.

The Equinor announcement is a follow-up of the North Sea Wind Power Hub (NSWPH) study outlining the possibility and conditions required to build one or several wind power hubs in the North Sea. The consortium comprising a nucleus of Danish, Dutch and German companies has conducted a wide range of studies, investigated a number of different scenarios and conducted intense engagements with policy makers, leading offshore wind farm developers and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs).

By 2045, the consortium is confident that 180GW or the equivalent of 1.2Million barrels of oil equivalent per day (1.2MMBOEPD) of fuel can be produced. Such production figures should gain the attention of the major oil companies in their quest for energy transition and projects having economies of scale.

Certainly, a candidate of merit is BP, strategically located in the heartland of the North Sea. BP’s new CEO Bernard Looney announced that it will be a “net zero company” by 2050 or sooner, opening the door to participation in new renewable mega- energy projects. Currently BP produces 3.7MMBOEPD. Adding a possible 1MMBOEPD of renewable energy to the company’s reserve count can only bring a smile to the face of a BP shareholder ensuring that the 6+% annual  dividend is  safe. How to arrive there is not his problem. This can be delegated to BP’s Management!

Looney’s management team is  faced with a classic Catch-22: To safeguard the shareholder’s dividend the company must know with some certainty that any decision it takes must be given the green light by its shareholders. If not shares will be dumped. When is it a good time for management to introduce a new and  forward looking policy? BP has chosen now. Will the shareholders back this? Will they decide that moving into a new strategic direction-taking renewables on board in a massive way- will guarantee in the long term their golden dividend ? Possibly avoiding that BP’s oil and gas assets be viewed as  stranded assets.

Following the renewable route is not a guarantee  for BP that it can maintain its golden dividend policy. Among Europe’s energy companies dividend results show a mixed bag : Orsted 1.5%, RWE 3.7% and Enel and Iberdrola both with 5%. Oil companies must still test what their future will be! Yet what is certain is that their oil and gas assets, formerly the mainstay of the dividend, is now in freefall and in need of life support.

For these reasons and more, the reserve count must be strengthened.

The reserve count is an important tool to ensure that oil and gas assets have a longer life span. The Reserve Replacement Ratio(RRR) is currently at an all time 20 year low. Currently the RRR count is based on only fossil-based fuels. Why? Because the SEC has deemed this on the advice of the oil and gas industry. Is it not time that the Oil and Gas Sector begins  to understand that if they now include renewables as part of their reserve count their oil and gas assets could have their life cycles extended? Extending the life cycle of these assets should surely be used  as a currency to invest in renewables!

Crossing the Rubicon

Perhaps it is too early to discuss the demise of the oil and gas sector. But that its footprint is dwindling is obvious. According to BloombergNEF investments in renewable energy in the period 2010-2019 was $2.6Trillion. Through 2025 $322Billion per annum will be spent, almost triple the $116Billion invested in fossil fuels.

While the oil and gas sector may find a protective umbrella in the shade of the Renewable Revolution there may come a time, very soon, that oil and gas assets will be dumped. This may create much like what happened in the financial sector: Good Bank vs Bad Bank scenario. The Bad Bank scenario will see sector-wide mergers and acquisitions to ensure a last-minute reprieve before the assets are written off as liabilities. The timeframe? Perhaps 10 -15 years but certainly by 2050.

Possibly the countdown has already begun. Repsol was the first oil company to commit itself to become a net zero emissions company by 2050. The company also adjusted it’s 2019 net income to reflect the new reality. In 2019 it suffered a net loss of $4.10Billion primarily because of impairment charges on its assets in North America due to its climate targets. Can Repsol, given its pole position, utilize its oil and gas reserves to help strengthen its renewables? For example the company has Windfloat, the world’s first semi-submersible floating windfarm with the capacity to provide enough power for 60 000 people in Portugal. Repsol also has hydropower plants which provide 700MW of installed capacity, enough to supply power to every household in Madrid for a year.  Finally it also has two photovoltaic parks in Spain for generating solar power.

Equinor has pledged ‘that by 2050 each unit of energy produced will, on average, have less than half of the emissions compared to today. The ambition is expected to be met primarily through significant growth in renewables and changes in the scale and composition of the oil and gas portfolio’.

Oil and gas subcontractors also face a grim future. Dayrates for the drilling contractors, even for the deepwater floaters, are at cutthroat levels: varying between $175 000 – $250 000. This range is less than half the US$500 000 needed to meet 15% unlevered internal rate of return.

The grim reaper is also knocking on the doors of Halliburton and Schlumberger. Share prices  in both companies have since 2018  more than halved : Halliburton’s share price in January 2018 had a high of $55.61 and in February was down to US$21.95; Schlumberger share price in January 2018 had a high of $76.42 and in February 2020 was down to $34.29.


  1. The oil and gas carbon footprint will shrink in the coming decade and probably include mergers and acquisitions to ensure specialization and economies of scale.
  2. Shrinking the oil and gas sector will also have a drastic effect on the sector’s sub-contractors such as the drilling contractors and service providers.
  3. Oil and gas assets should be used as a currency to invest in the energy transition.
  4. Translating renewable energy units from GW (Gigawatts) to Barrels of Oil Equivalent is a strategic tool to buttress up a company’s oil and gas assets and it’s RRR .
  5. Becoming a player in the renewable sector-be that wind or solar- requires special skills not necessarily found in the toolbox of the oil majors.

6    Orsted now a windfarm  powerhouse company and Equinor with its diverse portfolio of windfarms and gas pipelines have a wide variety of tools and policy options to plan and implement their energy transition strategies.

The shrinking of the oil and gas sector and emergence of renewable energy is a global happening, and Africa will not be excluded in these developments.

Gerard Kreeft,  BA ( Calvin University, Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA ) and  MA (Carleton University, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada), Energy Transition Adviser, was founder and owner of EnergyWise.  He has managed and implemented energy conferences, seminars and master classes in Alaska, Angola, Brazil, Canada, India, Libya, Kazakhstan, Russia and throughout Europe. He writes on a regular basis for Africa Oil +Gas Report.


Africa’s Life after OPEC+



By NJ Ayuk

Underneath the panic caused by Coronavirus and the fall out of OPEC+ lies opportunity for African oil producers

Sometimes it is easy to forget how interconnected human lives across the globe have become. Perhaps we no longer talk as much about globalization as we used to in the 1990s because it is no longer an issue to be discussed or protested against, it is simply the reality that surrounds us. And there is no cruder evidence of that than the Coronavirus.

Despite the fact that the virus hasn’t yet affected African nations in anyway as seriously as other regions of the world, a fact the World Health Organization is still unable to explain, forecasts already indicated that just through reduced demand for African exports, the virus was expected to wipe at least USD$4 billion in revenue from the continent’s economy. Most of that was simply because China in particular, and Asia and Europe in general, were reducing oil and gas consumption dramatically as transport and economic activities came to a standstill in light of the epidemic that already forced several dozens of millions of people to be put under quarantine.

Last week, news reports indicated that oil traders in Africa were unable to find buyers for fifty-five Nigerian oil cargoes as global demand crashed. By last Friday morning, the virus had wiped the equivalent of USD$5 trillion in value from the global stock markets. That’s two and a half times the GDP of the whole African continent.

And all that was before OPEC+’s Friday meeting in Vienna. Wasn’t that one surprising?

I believe it is safe to say that few people could have expected this outcome. After all, for the last three and a half years, the world, and the oil industry in particular, had learned to trust the alliance of OPEC countries with Russia and other oil producers to work together to stabilize the markets and guarantee a sustainable price for the barrel of crude.

Through their decision to cut down oil production to address reduced demand and balance out the effect of the US shale play, all together, they were keeping 1.7 million barrels of oil per day away from the market, a landmark decision of cooperation like we had never seen in history. Perhaps also because of its novelty, of its width and because it was dependent on the will and cooperation of so many, it also fell victim to the infestation this virus has brought.

The Saudi-led consortium of nations was proposing a combined further cut of 1.5 million barrels per day to continue to match the decline in global demand. The Russia-led group was not going to go further than 600 thousand. The conclusion… no new cuts at all and no renewal of the previous cuts. The OPEC+ alliance that saved the industry from collapse in 2016 has, at least for the moment, come to an end. All bets are off. At the end of April, when the current agreement ends, all restrictions will be lifted and the world is bracing for an oil flood.

The markets have already factored that in, with the Brent and the WTI registering its biggest daily crash since the beginning of the first Gulf War. While oil seems to have rebounded slightly today, it will take time to make up for Monday’s 25% crash. That is, if the recovery is anywhere in sight, since Saudi Arabia announced it was ramping up production and selling its oil discounted by as much as USD$8 per barrel, on a barrel priced at little more than USD$30.

In all honesty, the situation looks bleak. If Saudi Arabia and Russia do go on having a price war, a USD$20 barrel is possible, if not probable.

But what does this mean for Africa?

Several African petroleum and energy ministers were in Vienna last Friday, both as members of OPEC and as members of APPO. Shortly before the announcement on the fall of the agreement, they had decided to strengthen cooperation between African oil producers, promote synergies, intra-african trading, and knowledge exchange. Surely, we need that more than ever.

For the moment, however, there is no reason to panic. Surely, things might get worse before they get better, as the world battles this rapidly spreading virus. And surely, some oil dependent African nations will suffer with reduced revenue. Angola’s state budget, for instance, was designed for an oil price of USD$55 not USD$35. But we have survived the oil price crisis of 2014, and we will survive this one two. Further, most African producers have learned from the past experience and have adjusted themselves to respond to price crashes. The progressive economic diversification the continent has witnessed in recent years will also contribute to minimize the impact of this situation. Yes, final investment decisions might be slightly delayed until the situation stabilizes, but they will come in due time.

So what’s next?

If 2020 is showing itself challenging for African energy, 2021 will be a year of opportunity, but for that to happen, we have to start adapting now, laying down the policies that will allow us to take advantage of the future opportunities. It is in moments of crisis that true leaders have the opportunity to shine.

While it is difficult to predict the future, there are a few deductions and inductions we can try to make with some certainty.

One, is that neither Russia nor Saudi Arabia want a low oil price and there is a limit to how long they are willing to sustain it. No one gains from it and if anyone has the capacity and funds to sustain it for a longer period of time is Saudi Arabia. So, it is not really a price war, since it can’t really be a war if you already know the winner at the head start. Already, Russia has suggested it might be open to negotiate coordinated cuts within OPEC+ during the group’s next meeting in May/June.

What seems likely that will happen, is that the first to suffer from this will be American shale producers. This sector was already finding it hard to finance itself in recent years but continued to unbalance the market with its rapid response times to price fluctuations. These producers are highly leveraged, and it is likely that most will go bust in the present situation. This is something Russia and Saudi Arabia tried to do back in 2015/2016. While it did not succeed at the time, it might have better chances now.

Further, in three months time, at the time of the next OPEC+ meeting, the virus situation might also be very different. This week, president Xi Jinping visited Wuhan, the epicenter of the epidemic, for the first time since the beginning of the outbreak, in a clear demonstration of a strong response to a rapidly evolving situation that seems to be stabilizing. China itself is an extremely leveraged economy and can not afford to slow down for much longer. It can be expected that demand in the country will start rising again in the foreseeable future. If that happens in a scenario when the US shale sector is no longer able to respond, it might just be that the price will climb higher than it was before the virus, and with Saudi Arabia securing for itself a much larger slice of the global marketplace. Again, things will get worse before they get better, but they will certainly get better.

So, for African nations, this is the time to position ourselves correctly, and that will require close attention to international developments and close cooperation, to be able to take advantage of new opportunities. The African Energy Chamber will be instrumental in that, but so will be the African members of OPEC. The time to show statesmanship and stay close to Saudi Arabia and the decision-making table is now. To grow Africa’s relevance in the international oil stage by showing level-headedness and cooperation in face of a global crisis. If we take that route, we will come out of this stronger than ever.

NJ Ayuk is Executive Chairman of the African Energy Chamber, CEO of pan-African corporate law conglomerate Centurion Law Group, and the author of several books about the oil and gas industry in Africa, including Billions at Play: The Future of African Energy and Doing Deals.


Power Outage

By Adedamola A. Adegun
Nigeria’s electricity mix still ranks as most imbalanced amongst the MINTs.

The electricity supply situation in Nigeria has evolved considerably in the last decade, so much that an observer has aptly named it the ‘decade of power’.By 2002, the incessant power shortages, inefficiencies of a government monopoly, a rapidly growing economy and a dearth of investments in the sector had brought the electricity supply industry to its knees. Infact, from 1990 – 2001(a whole decade), not a single mega watt of generating capacity was added to the electricity grid while the available capacity dwindled rapidly.

However, after a return to democracy, a splurge of investments bygovernment and a comprehensive reform programme was established, installed generation capacity1has been scaled up from about6000 MW (4 Gas Fuelled & 3 Hydro Powered)2in year 2002to about 13,700MW(25 Gas Fuelled & 3 Hydro Powered) in 2013 – a very significant growth in gas fired generating capacity.

Given the circumstances as at then, government’s focus on developing gas fired generation capacity was a no-brainer. An average gas plant can be constructed and commissioned relatively quickly – within three (3) years, construction costs compared to other fuel sources are quite competitive, gas flaring would be considerably reduced and the long term availability of gas were guaranteed. But these advantages have now created a different challenge for the country. We have built an electricity mix that is mono-fuel dependent and a fragile energy infrastructure system which Nigeria considering its security and political peculiarities cannot afford.


Hardly would any day pass since the conclusion of the Phase I privatization without the problem of gas supply being recanted by government and its agents. There seems to be a real challenge with getting the power plants around the country to run due to gas supply issues. About 20% of gas fired generating capacity is ‘left on the table’ due to gas availability. Gas pipelines and infrastructure are being continually sabotaged.Several power plants are down because of gas supply constraints and other technical faults.There are uncertainties and increasing regulation around gas prices. The whole eastern part of the country gets a dismal 300MW of electricity because of gas supply constraints.  The consequence of all of these is a significant drop in power supply far worse than the PHCN days.

By now in other climes, a ‘state of emergency’ would have been declared on the issue of gas supply security because it has morphed into a serious danger to the nation’s economy. Moreover, it would be naïve to ignore the core underlying challenges which include the lack of a robust energy policy, an unreliable/inflexible gas infrastructure (pipelines, underground gas storage) and a disproportionate dependence on gas for electricity generation. Infact,if the major arterial gas pipeline, the Escravos – Lagos Pipeline is sabotaged today, at least seven (7) major power plants (mostly located in the high demand centers of the south west) with installed capacity of about 3500MW would be knocked out of the grid completely. Nigeria’s electricity supplyis too exposed to gas.


The challenge of finding a balanced energy mix is universal and very germane for every country’s economic prosperity. Various governments try to enact laws and establish policies around the natural resources available, the variety of energy needs and the economic, social, environmental and geopolitical situation. The overarching aim is to achieve a useful balance and control over energy security and also limit exposure to a mono-fuel and its attendant risks. Most developed/emerging countries have succeeded and continue to evolve and Nigeria must follow suit. The current narrow focus on gas fired generation even with the abundance of natural gas must be carefully balanced.

It’s noteworthy that other nations with bigger gas resources than Nigeria have pursued a balanced electricity mix. The chart below shows the current electricity mix of Nigeria and other very populous member nations of the Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF), the ‘OPEC’ of gas exporters.

Source: Wikipedia (List of Power Plants) & Enipedia

Note that Russia is the most developed of the quartet and also has the biggest gas reserves in the world but it has the most balanced electricity mix – gas, hydro, coal and nuclear contributing adequately. Iran, also arguably the more developed of the remaining trio has managed to achieve a better balance of its electricity but Egypt just like Nigeria has a disproportionate dependence on gas for its power supply. Egypt is suffering badly from this imbalance.Power cuts and rationing is now the order of the day due to gas supply/production constraints just like Nigeria. The government has resorted to draconian diversions of gas meant for export by International Oil Companies (IOCs)3.Qatar, a smaller country and ally  is sending ‘LNG bailouts’ to Egypt4. It’s a crisis. Infact, the government of Mohamed Morsilost the people’s confidence and was easily overthrown by the military because of the acute power shortages that hit the nation especially during the hot summer months5.If Egypt had managed to diversify its electricity base earlier, the impact of gas shortages would have been minimized. The lessons for Nigeria is, no matter how abundant your resources are; don’t depend on it solely for your electricity. Establishing a balanced energy mix is a matter of national security.

Let’s take a further look at our economic ‘peers’, the MINT countries’ (Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria & Turkey) energy mix.

Source: Wikipedia – List of Power plants.

Nigeria’s electricity mix still ranks as most imbalanced amongst the MINTs, underscoring the humongous work ahead for the nation’s energy policy makers. It is very critical.

Many other developed nations have very susceptible electricity generation mix but the protection the energy sources get from government is usually enormous. France is a good example as the country is just one nuclear accident away from possible electricity emergency. The country has about 60 nuclear power plantsgenerating about 80% of its electricity needs. Protecting the nuclear industry means that France will continue to invest and risk lives in Uranium rich countries like Niger and fight wars to protect its supply lines (Mali).Little wonder some government officials are campaigning vigorously for ‘clean fracking’6 despite adverse public opinion. South Africa also generates about 95% of its power through coal. But there is a possibility that baring very extensive investments in infrastructure, the cheap coal resources left would only be enough for just about half a decade7. In reaction, government is planning to amend the country’s mineral and petroleum law to constrain the export of certain ‘strategic’ resources’ like coal. Truly, many are the challenges of a mono-fuel dependent country.


If diversification of the electricity mix is imperative and essential for economic growth and prosperity, then what are the options?


Hydro power currently supplies about 16%8of worldwide electricity needs and is the most popular of all ‘renewable’ energy sources. Hydro power is well understood, is clean energy, has longer economic lives and less susceptible to sabotage. Nigeria used to be keen on hydro power and was a key element in the old days of ‘National Plans’ but over time we seem to have abandoned this very important resource. It is time to return.

By world standards, the existing hydro power stations in Nigeria are just medium sized. The total installed capacity of all the three operational hydro stations (Kainji, Jebba & Shiroro) is less than 2,000MW (with far less available capacity) while the biggest dam in the world, the Three Gorges dam located in China is 22,500 MW. Its high time Nigeria re-energized its hydro power strategy to deliver on the much needed megawatts and also diversify the electricity mix. The Zungeru & Mambilla hydro power stations are huge projects that have been in the pipeline for almost three (3) decades. Infact, both projects were an integral part of the 1982-2002 national plan. The world has changed a lot since then but these projects have now become more critical than ever.

Funding models and environmental expectations could have changed over the years but China with over 2,000 dams is still very much in the business.To ramp up hydro capacity, urgent and decisive measures must be taken to remove the usual policy, commercial and technical encumbrances that frustrate projects in Nigeria. It won’t be out of place if we generate about 25 – 30% of our electricity from hydro in the near future.


  • There are 2300 coal fired power plants worldwide. About 600 are in the US, 620 in China. – World Coal Association.
  • China & India builds four coal fired power plant every week.9
  • In 1973, about 38% of worldwide electricity was generated from coal but it has increased to 41% in 2011 – International Energy Agency.
  • South Africa, the biggest economy in Africa generates about 95% of its power from coal.

It’s inconceivable that Nigeria would ever fulfill its economic potentials without adopting coal as part of its electricity generation mix. The only coal fired power plant in Nigeria today is a derelict 10MW power plant in Oji River, Enugu State. Coal has a ‘brand deficit’ and is usually discouraged by the many supranationals and aid agencies that swarm the developing world but it is still one of the most important energy resources in the world. It is cheap, abundant and very reliable for base load electricity. Without much delay, Nigeria urgently needs to establish a sound commercial and environmental framework to support the growth of coal energy.I am aware that NERC has licensed some coal power plants but the body language of the commission’s CEO in recent times does not imply that coal will be taken seriously.

To address the environmental issues, it’s important to note that we have a ‘late mover’ advantage because building our coal plants in this generation gives us the opportunity to accept only cleaner and more environmentally friendly coal plants. Its also noteworthy that at the peak of indiscriminate gas flaring in year early 2000s, we were not even among the top 40 countries emitting CO2 in the world. Nigeria emits less carbon per capita than countries like Germany, Pakistan, Venezuela, Canada, France, even the United States. Infact, the UK (Population –63 Million) emits CO2 six (6) times ofNigeria. If Nigeria targets a 10 – 15% range for coal power, it definitely would hardly increase our carbon footprints.

The inclusion in the 2014 budget proposal of a proposed feasibility studies in various parts of Nigeria is thus a welcome development.Coal resources are abundant in Nigeria, construction of a typical plant can be done in reasonable time and the operating costs are relatively cheap. What are waiting for?


There is no universal standard for a country’s electricity mix but diversification and balance considering the availability and cost of energy resources is key.Proper planning and the awareness that achieving the most appropriate electricity mix takes time is key for Nigeria’s energy policy makers. Furthermore, the commercial, legal and technical framework must be continually attuned to stimulate and sustain investment in diverse energy resources. Without such, our hopes of becoming a great and prosperous nation might never be realized.

1This article will focus on installed capacity because of data reliability. Data for available capacity is too dynamic and unreliable.

2 Source: Presidential Task Force Presentation at Investors Forum, Wikipedia.





7 Forbes AfricaMagazine – November 2013 Edition,31287,en.html

NDDC: The Necessity of a Rebirth

By Adedayo Ojo

Adedayo Ojo“Akwa Ibom state has some of the best and brightest Nigerian professionals in the oil & gas industry today. Why can’t one of them be seconded to run NDDC? The upstream sector of the Nigerian oil industry is arguably the most efficiently run business sub sector in Nigeria, yet a significant percentage of the management cadre is made up of  Nigerians. Can’t we get one of them to run NDDC? Governor Akpabio pleasantly surprised many when he recently named a technocrat from the banking sector as Secretary to the state government. Why can’t we get him to do the same thing with NDDC?”

→   Read the rest of this entry

Nigeria’s unending Gas Dilemma, By Adedayo Ojo

Nigeria has enormous gas resources. The official estimates of the country’sojo natural gas reserves is in the region of 187 trillion cubic feet (TCF). Despite a history of more than 50 years of oil production, Nigeria is predominantly a gas province.
Almost every successive Nigerian government aspired at one time or the other to legislate a regulation that will optimize the use of the country’s vast gas resources. Quite a good number gas projects have been conceptualized but unfortunately few have been actualized. The bottom line is that decades after the discovery of gas in commercial quantity, Nigeria’s gas sector and gas system remains underdeveloped.
Today’s reality in the international oil and gas market requires Nigeria to wake up and make something of the gas resources or be left behind countries that are more committed to utilizing their gas resources. Ghana’s gas company is expected to begin production this year. If the tension in the Middle East abates (as it may), oil & gas prices will drop!
Gas Aspiration
Several Nigerian government policies have highlighted plans to monetise gas resources. In 2008, the Federal Government developed the Gas Master Plan (GMP) in order to lay a framework for gas infrastructure development and expansion within the domestic market. According to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), the GMP is a guide for the commercial exploitation and management of Nigeria’s gas sector which seeks to grow the Nigerian economy with gas. The GMP has three key strategies, namely to stimulate the multiplier effect of gas in the domestic economy, position Nigeria competitively in high value export markets and guarantee the long term energy security of Nigeria.
In response to government policy, a number of ambitious gas projects were initiated by both government and the private sector. Some of the most popular gas projects and initiatives include;
a) Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) Projects

b) Trans –Sahara Gas Pipeline Project

c) The West Africa Gas Pipeline Project (WAGP)

d) Gas To Power Projects Around The Country

Liquefied Natural Gas
Despite initial momentum on LNG projects, Nigeria remains far behind. Production started from trains 1 and 2 at the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas Limited in 1999. By 2007, NLNG added four more trains. Although the seventh train has been planned, six years later, it hasn’t been sanctioned.
Apart from NLNG, other planned LNG projects include Brass LNG and Olokola LNG (OKLNG). Final investment Decision (FID) on Brass LNG was planned for 2006; it was later rescheduled for 2008; then 2010. The FID was never realised on any of those dates; nor has it been now. The same applies to OKLNG. The shareholders of OKLNG signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) in 2006; FID was billed for 2007 while production was scheduled to begin in 2009.
The originally proposed dates for streaming these projects have long expired; yet final investment decision (FID) has not been taken on any of the projects. In all these years, not much has been accomplished on Brass LNG and OKLNG.

Other countries have shown more commitment with LNG projects. Consider Australia. In 2011 alone, four LNG projects in Australia reach FID. These projects include: Australian Pacific LNG T1, GLNG T1-2, Wheatstone LNG T1-2 and Prelude LNG. Another Australian project, the two train, Ichthys LNG T1reached FID in January 2012.

According to the international Gas Union, Qatar, the world’s largest LNG exporter produced 77 metric tonnes per annum in 2011, about 31 per cent of global supply. Meanwhile new LNG frontiers have emerged in Eastern Africa such the Anadarko’s LNG project in Mozambique and the onshore LNG project by BG in Tanzania.

The United States, a former net importer of LNG is now turning away cargoes while increasingly relying on unconventional domestic gas, such as shale gas, to meet its energy need. In addition, the United States plans to become a net exporter of gas in less than a decade, effectively shrinking the global gas market.

The chokehold in the world LNG market and the emergence of new supplier nations will ultimately make Nigeria’s position increasingly vulnerable if the country’s LNG projects are allowed to continue to suffer. If FIDs on existing LNG projects in Nigeria are not taken now, the global LNG market will become increasing tougher for the country and more so in the coming years.

Trans-Saharan Gas Pipeline

In January 2002, the Nigerian and Algerian governments, through their respective national oil companies signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to build a Trans-Saharan gas pipeline running from Nigeria to Algeria to make Nigerian gas available to European market.

Since the signing of the MoU eleven years ago, not much has happened on the project except the feasibility study and intergovernmental agreement between the governments. As a result of the decade-long inactivity, it does appear that the project may have been abandoned.

Dr Ghaji Bello, Acting Director of Nigeria’s Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) said in Abuja in January that the Federal Government of Nigeria has earmarked $400 million for the project in the 2013 budget. Industry analysts received the news with scepticism in view of apparent non-commitment to the project.

West African Pipeline Project
The West African Gas Pipeline is a 680-kilometre gas transport project jointly-owned by Shell, Chevron and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) forming the African Gas Pipeline Company (WAGPCo). The project takes Nigerian gas from Itoki in Ogun State through Agido near Badagry in Lagos, passing through 33 Nigerian communities to Togo, Benin Republic and Ghana. West African Gas Pipeline Company (WAGPCo) and the participating countries signed an International Project Agreement (IPA) in May 2003 to pipe 200million standard cubic per day of gas (200mmscf).

Over the years, this project has failed to deliver the anticipated volume of gas due to a plethora of reasons – policy, politics, infrastructure, funding, security, etc.

Central to the operation of WAGPCo is the availability of gas. With vandalism and associated shut-ins, gas supply is never guaranteed.
As a result unavailability of gas, an average of 134mmscf is often piped in the 475mmscf capacity pipeline, thus making the $1billion facility to be sub-optimally utilised.

Other Gas Projects

Ironically, it is in the smaller gas projects operated by small Nigeria independents that real success has been observed. Consider the Ovade-Ogharefe gas processing facility, the largest carbon emission reduction project in sub Saharan Africa. The first phase of Pan Ocean’s gas utilization project which was streamed in 2010 has capacity to process 130 million standard cubic feet of gas per day. Pan Ocean is expected to stream the second phase of its Ovade-Ogharefe gas project before the end of 2013.

Uquo gas project: Seven Energy and Frontier Oil have made commendable progress on Uquo gas project. The gas central processing facility (CPF) of the Uquo gas project is owned by Frontier and Seven Energy while Seven Energy through its subsidiary, Accugas, runs the pipeline. The gas is delivered to Ibom Power plant owned exclusively by Akwa Ibom State Government. Power generation at the Ibom Power Plant is tied to gas generated at Uquo. The project has the capacity to boost power generation in Nigeria by 1000 megawatts of electricity.

East Horizon Gas Company (EHGC), a subsidiary of Oando Plc, is a special purpose vehicle set up to Develop, Finance, Construct and Operate a gas transmission pipeline linking the Calabar Cluster of Industries to the Nigerian Gas Company (NGC) grid in Akwa Ibom state. The company is embarking on a $125m project which involves the construction of an 18inch by128 kilometre (km) gas pipeline through forest, swamps and built up areas. The project has a total capacity of 100million standard cubic feet of gas per day (mmscfd).
Oando Gas and Power Limited has developed a robust natural gas distribution network. The company has built extensive pipeline network to distribute natural gas to industrial and commercial consumers and has successfully revived private sector participation in the gas distribution business in Nigeria. Oando has over 100km of pipes already laid in Lagos State and another 128 km in progress in Akwa Ibom and Cross River States.

If more players will be as committed as these not-so-big players, the collective contribution will add to big gains in the drive to grow the gas sector and optimize Nigeria’s gas resources.

Wake up call

The time left for Nigeria to make something tangible from her gas resources is running out. As we end the first quarter of 2013, policy makers and oil and gas industry operators have another opportunity to think long and hard and make the committed decision of making the Nigerian gas a key contributor to national economic life.

The largest obligation rests with the government. A robust and thriving gas sector would require good legal framework that will clearly specify the rules of engagement. The law will necessarily provide good fiscal terms that will encourage investment in the gas sector. The gas sector will only thrive under an effective regulatory structure. These are the necessary conditions that can ensure private sector commitment in the gas sector. It is the government that can provide them.

Adedayo Ojo is Lead Consultant/CEO of Caritas Communications Limited, a specialist reputation strategy and corporate communication consultancy in Lagos/Accra.
Caritas is the West Africa affiliate of Regester Larkin, the pioneer reputation strategy and management consultancy with offices in London, Washington, Houston, Singapore and United Arab Emirates.

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