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We Won’t Cave in to Pressure to Sell Assets, NNPC Insists

Nigeria’s state hydrocarbon company Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, says it won’t be pressured to hastily sell its non-performing assets, including refineries, storage depots and dilapidated pipelines, just because a vocal, influential section of the public persistently calls for it.

The company is talking to Afreximbank, it says, and it has won the interest of (Russian giant) Lukoil and some Nigerian banks, to raise billions of dollars to revamp the refineries, after which it will settle into partnership with interested parties, to run the plants.

Last week, the NNPC opened bids by interested private investors to repair the pipelines and depots that are serving the refineries. The winning bidders for the extensive repairs of these pipelines would have to finance them independently and operate for a defined period in order to recover their investment costs with throughput tariffs.

“While we are open to creative ways to run the business”, says Meyiwa Eyesan, the corporation’s Group General Manager for Corporate Planning and Strategy, “what is more pertinent to us is that we run it efficiently and guarantee appropriate returns to our stakeholders who are not only our partners but also the 180 Million Nigerians”.

Speaking at a webinar on Long Term Funding of E & P Business in Nigeria- Strategies For Sustainability, organIsed by the Nigerian Association of Petroleum Explorationists (NAPE) over the weekend, Eyesan recalled the clamour, several years ago, for NNPC to sell its equity in its Joint Ventures with producing companies, in order to pay debts and fund the national treasury. It so happened that the world was going through a low crude oil price cycle at the time, she explained and the NNPC decided it was not a good time to sell. The corporation, instead, sat with its partners and agreed on a strategy to settle over $5Billion cash call arrears which it owed them. “The partners agreed to backstop incremental production to settle the arrears and today, we are over $3Billion settled in the arrears”, Eyesan, an economist by training, told the webinar. “This shows that the financial strategy is working. So, today, I am asking myself now is that questions still relevant,  that NNPC needs to sell down, given the fact that the last clamour for sell down came at a time the corporation was not in a good place (oil prices were crashing) and yet the company found a way out of the debt”.

Eyesan said that NNPC had found a way around the hindrance to the revamp of the refineries. ‘We are now making progress, talking to reputable EPC contractors”.

Tripartite Meeting Resumes on Ethiopia’s Giant Hydroelectric Project

Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan have resumed negotiations on Ethiopia’s Renaissance Dam, in Khartoum, capital of Sudan.
A meeting between the three countries’ irrigation ministers, an AU representative, and AU chair South Africa’s foreign minister took place Sunday, August 16, 2020.
Although the giant dam is largely for Ethiopia’s electricity supply, the meeting brings together the irrigation and foreign ministers from the three countries.
The ministers will sit again on Tuesday, August 18, with Nalendi Pandor, South Africa’s foreign minister, who is representing Africa Union chair South African President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Ethiopia has been building the Renaissance Dam on the Blue Nile since 2011, a project that has become a source of intense tension between Addis Ababa on the one hand, and Cairo and Khartoum on the other hand. This dam is expected to become the largest water-powered generation facility in Africa.
The 6,000 MW dam is to have a power generation of 16,153 GWh per annum through 16 generating units with 375 MW nameplate capacity each.

The initial filling of the reservoir has been a sticky point in the conversations. Ethiopia has insisted it will not accept negotiations that will lead to “legally binding” on the initial filling arrangements as they limit the country’s fair and equitable access to the Nile.

High Rainfalls Crimp Natural Gas Demand in Tanzania

Natural gas demand by power plants in Tanzania were impacted by sustained and significant rainfalls that enabled the Tanzania Electricity Supply Company (TANESCO) to operate its hydro facilities at high utilization rates, Orca Petroleum has reported.

The country is now entering the dry season and gas demand is expected to increase for the remainder of the year.

But the state energy firm has remained a diligent customer to its gas suppliers.

“Despite the lower demand for gas from the power sector, TANESCO has continued to pay back its arrears during the first six months of the year”, Orca Petroleum says in a release.

Orca Petroleum produces natural gas from the Songo Songo gas field on Songo Songo Island onshore Tanzania. It is the biggest single supplier to the Tanzanian domestic gas market.

The company says it has carefully managed an operational team that has enabled it to maintain production on Songo Songo Island has enabled throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

In seond quarter 2020, Orca’s production averaged around 85MMscf/d, comprising additional gas sales, which is what the company is entitled to earn revenue from and protected gas, which is what the Tanzanian Petroleum Development Company (TPDC) is assigned in the contract.

US Agency Awards Grant for Solar, Hydro Power in Northern Nigeria

The US Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) has awarded a grant to Konexa Energy for studies into solar power supply in parts of Northern Nigeria.

The support will enable technical and financial studies to be carried out. The studies will also address the regulatory and legal requirements of the mini-grids project. The American agency, which has shown keen interest in energy supplies in Nigeria, did not specify the amount of its subsidy.

Konexa, a new, renewable energy company with offices in London and Abuja, plans to generate 2.5 MW of electricity from several solar photovoltaic systems in Kaduna, in Nigeria’s northwest. “This project will support the development of critical energy infrastructure and an innovative business model to improve the generation, transmission and distribution of electricity in Nigeria, as well as to improve the supply of electricity to off-grid customers,” says Thomas R. Hardy, acting director of the USTDA.

The small solar power plants will be installed to supply mini power grids serving residential (household), commercial and industrial customers in Kaduna State in northern Nigeria.

Hardy says that the grant will also to support the acquisition of 30 MW of hydropower capacity from an existing but decommissioned plant. The electricity will be distributed through the Konexa grid. The USTDA grant is part of Prosper Africa, a U.S. government initiative to increase two-way trade and investment between the United States and Africa.

The company selected for the studies will carry out the environmental and social impact studies, assist in the selection of the meters and thus provide an analysis of the expected impacts of the development of the mini-grids.

Kenya Hops on the Subsidy Highway for Petroleum Products

Kenya, a non-hydrocarbon producing country, is tinkering with the subsidy initiative, to cushion effects on motorists whenever there is a high spike in the cost of petroleum products.

A subsidiary legislation, currently under review in the country’s parliament, grants powers to the Petroleum Cabinet secretary to pump in money from a subsidy fund to product suppliers to cut fuel prices and cushion motorists from sharp spikes

The subsidy will be supported by money that will be raised from fuel consumers through the Petroleum Development Levy, which was increased in mid July 2020 to $0.05 (or Sh5.40) a litre of fuel from $0.0036 (Sh0.40), a 1,250% rise.

“The Cabinet Secretary may by writing to the administrator, request for a draw down from the Petroleum Development Levy Fund to stabilise local petroleum prices where he deems necessary,” the Legislation says.

So, in a way, the subsidy is not coming from the treasury, rather, from funds that motorists themselves have contributed. This is the difference with the fuel subsidies in Egypt and Nigeria.

Fuel prices I Kenya ratcheted up to a 13 year high as the surge in Petroleum Development Levy, coalesced with increase in crude oil prices.

From mid-July, Motorists in Nairobi started paying  $0.85 (Sh91.87) per litre of diesel from $0.69 (Sh74.57, representing a $0.16 (Sh17.30) increase, and $0.105 (Sh11.38) more for a litre of super petrol at $0.92 (Sh100.48)..

The Cabinet Secretary (Kenya’s title for minister) will determine the amount of subsidy fuel consumers will be offered when prices rise by large margins.


Mozambique: Shared Value, Local Partnerships and The Future of Work

By Mario Fernades, Deloitte

Two LNG projects are currently under construction in Mozambique.

Several others are imminent.

The proposed ‘LNG System’ in the country will effectively be rolled out in four stages.

The Coral FLNG, operated by ENI, sanctioned in 2017, will produce about 3.4Million tonnes per annum by 2024.

The TOTAL operated Mozambique LNG in Area 1, sanctioned mid-2019, will be producing 12.8MMTPA  by 2026.

Final Investment Decisions FID has been delayed for the ExxonMobil led Area 4, but the project is aiming to produce about 15.2Million tonnes per annum.

The projects for Phase 2 trains have not yet been decided, but the operators are starting to think about them and they could potentially add another 30Million tonnes per annum, with FID probably around about 2024. So, of what is potentially on the cards and being planned is about 31Million tonnes per annum. This is enormous. This could make Mozambique the fourth largest in the world. Qatar which is the largest, is producing about 77Million tonnes per annum and it took them 14 years and it brought tremendous economic benefits for the country. The EPC contractors for Area 1 are largely led by Saipem, Chiyoda and McDermott.  Area 4 EPCs include TechniqFMC, JGC and Fluor.

Opportunities for Local Investors and Their Partners-, TOTAL for Area 1 is targeting to spend about $2.5Billion for Mozambican registered or owned companies. It allows for foreign investors who want to come into the country and invest with local players or establish operations in the country. Area 1 project has already spent about $850Million over the last five years. What’s important are the priority industries that investors could look forward to considering.

Some of the lower values but highly mature markets where you’ll see some of the local players in Mozambique get involved because it doesn’t have a lot of technical complexities are areas like food and water supply, accounting services and general consulting. Where we believe this need to evolve to and it’s the opportunities for foreign direct investments, is higher value and more mature investments including Civil construction services, transport and logistics, mechanical and electrical instrumentation, IT Systems, Pipes, Vessels, Metallurgy and welding activities. This is where the real value is going to be developed over the next few years and represents significant investment opportunities. Given the low maturity of some of the industries in the country, you’d probably see in the future, a lot of collaboration between the government, operators in EPCs, local companies, the business associations in Mozambique, as well as any foreign investors who are interested in investing in some of these value chains. Key value chains and opportunities like civil construction, are not well understood and there will be a need to identify the gaps and opportunities for business out there, both local and foreign. Another thing is what is being done currently by these big operators and the EPC’s to close the gap on the skills and the local business in Mozambique. There are plans to establish the Enterprise Development Centres (EDCs) where the objective is to build capabilities, expose these local companies to international OEMs and expertise promote collaboration and certification which is a big requirement from a lot of these big capital projects, that these companies have the right levels of certification in order to provide services. Critical to sustaining the value and the expectation that everyone has of these projects, is to drive the concept of shared value. This is building on lessons from the past in the country. The concept of “Shared value” is how can both shareholders who looking for a financial return on their investments, government stakeholders are looking for a return in the country and citizens who live in the remote areas of where this gas was found or in the country itself, achieve the kind of benefits that they’re looking for. It is complex to match and balance these expectations. Very often we tend to see that companies tend to do the “pickbox compliance” approach but we believe you have to go beyond some of these. It’s important that these companies, governments and so forth create a platform in which collaboration can happen. The government creates the right policy around employment and procurement to ensure that companies are incentivized to invest in local procurement and so forth.

From the operators’ perspectives and the companies building the infrastructure, it’s important to be top of mind to be relevant to these communities and to really develop processes to effectively measure the social returns that these stakeholders are looking for. It is easy to measure the financial return, but quite another thing to measure the social economic return in a holistic manner.

The Future of Work -Challenges like COVID-19 are really disrupting the way projects are executed, and are forcing companies to plan on how they would operate in this new normal. Companies need to rethink how work would change in this new normal. For example, how do you enable effective remote supervision? It’s one thing to work in a desktop type job, it’s quite another to build the infrastructure of the magnitude that we’re talking. The same restrictions that we’re all facing in challenges like COVID-19 are also being felt in large projects like this. How do you define new roles and responsibilities for the workforce that is there? Probably you don’t need to have as many people on site and you have to adopt concepts of social distancing, how do you redefine these roles? What tools and technologies will you need to enable this kind of new reality of the future of work? Companies will have to decide what tools and policies, what labour policies will be put in place in order to enable these future work teams? Lastly, I want to talk with you about innovation. We think that digital is going to be a key enabler here. Concepts that we all thought were very futuristic are now a reality and being thought through as real tools to ensure that the project continues to be delivered on budget and as scheduled. Another thing we’re trying to see as well is a lot of these safety analytics and how persons are wearing safety gear, helmets and video imaging which detects if a person is wearing protective gear or not, and then take corrective action. Another big innovation area that we’re starting to see is around “Sentiment Analysis”, which is all about how to use technology to collect and measure the pulse of your workforce of your communities that are impacted by the project and quickly identify and innovate with them to understand what their needs are so that you can quickly adapt your actions to that. Sentiment Analysis is all about measuring the pulse of your stakeholders.

Mario Fernades- Partner at Deloitte Consulting, based in Mozambique, heading up the practice there. Deloitte offers Consulting, Risk Advisory, Taxation, Audit & Assurance and Green Dot(Future of Energy and Goods). Fernades spoke at an Africa Oil Week produced webinar panel including Paul Eardley-Taylor, head of Oil and Gas Southern Africa, Standard Bank,and Trey (Lyman) Armstrong, MD, Project and Structured Finance, US EXIM Bank. It was moderated by Dexter Wang, Asia Market Engagement Partner at S&P Global Platts. This is an abridged version of the conversation, monitored in Lagos, Nigeria and transcribed by Foluso Ogunsan and Akpelu Paul Kelechi.


Ugandan Refinery Timeline Postponed Again

Construction of Uganda’s 60,000Barrels Per Stream Day cannot start until 2025.

The delay comes about as a result of the push of Final Investment Decision on the basin wide upstream oil development project, to 2021 at the earliest.

The refinery project had always been contingent on the certainty of the upstream project.

Even before the announcement that the inability to resolve Tax issues would delay investment decision on Uganda’s large oilfield project, the refinery facility to take advantage of the produced crude had been moved forward.

The upstream project itself involves production of 230,000Barrels of Oil per Day (BOPD) at peak, pumped into a 1,445 kilometre pipeline running from Hoima in Uganda’s west to the Tanzanian port town of Tanga on the coast of the Indian Ocean.

The Joint Venture Partners, TOTAL and CNOOC, had been pressuring the Government of Uganda to commit to channelling all the available crude, once project reaches first oil, to the export pipeline for the first three years, before allocating the refinery share of the crude.

They wanted delay of construction of the government-preferred refinery to 2024.

But now that a global pandemic had imposed its timeline on the main project and pushed it forward by two years, refinery construction cannot start until 2025, at the earliest.

Historically, the Ugandan authorities had preferred to beneficiate as much of the crude as it could take in the country, via a refinery.

This article was initially published in the REFINERY GAS ANNUAL, run in the May, 2020 edition of the monthly Africa Oi+Gas Report.


NDDC: Why President Buhari Must Urgently Intervene

By Ogaga Ifowodo

In quite belated response to the unconscionable exploitation of the oil wealth of the Niger Delta, the attendant destruction of its environment and traditional means of livelihood, as well as the rise in militant agitation for redress, the Federal (military) Government established, via Decree No. 23 of 1992, the Oil Mineral Producing Areas Development Commission (OMPADEC).

Its goal, broadly stated, was to rehabilitate and develop the oil mineral producing areas of the Niger Delta, tackle ecological problems associated with the exploration of oil minerals, liaise with the various oil companies on matters of pollution control and to carry out other duties necessary to those ends.

A mere eight years after, the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) was established by Act No. 6 of the National Assembly. Its goals, needless to say, are similar to those specified in the OMPADEC decree, even if more widely enunciated and with a different organisational structure.

As with its predecessor, NDDC is a special category agency under the presidency and its mandate the “rapid and sustainable development” of the region to “one that is economically prosperous, socially stable, ecologically regenerative and politically peaceful.” This goal is not only beneficial to the Niger Delta but also to Nigeria as a whole, given that the Niger Delta is the economic heartbeat of the nation.

As elaborated under Section 7 of its enabling act, the mandate turns NDDC into a virtual regional government, with just one sub-section giving an idea of its magnitude:  “[To] conceive, plan and implement, in accordance with set rules and regulations, projects and programmes for the sustainable development of the Niger-Delta area in the field of transportation including roads, jetties and waterways, health, education, employment, industrialization, agriculture and fisheries, housing and urban development, water supply, electricity and telecommunications.” There are nine other functions specified, including the omnibus duty to “execute such other works and perform such other functions which in the opinion of the Commission, are required for the sustainable development of the Niger-Delta area and its peoples.”

My general activist commitment to human rights and development aside, it was the prospect of being in a position to make some direct contribution towards the realisation of this great goal that had me excited when the Minister of Transport, Hon Rotimi Amaechi, called mid-June 2016 to inform me that President Buhari had approved my nomination as the representative of Delta State on NDDC’s governing board. Two days before, I had booked a flight to London for the final interview to be country director of the world’s foremost international human rights organisation, Amnesty International. I was given the job on the spot, leaving me with the rather nice problem of occupying my thoughts with the job to take on my return flight. I had spent a full decade of my life working as a rights activist with the Civil Liberties Organisation, Nigeria’s premier non-governmental organisation, before proceeding to Cornell University for postgraduate studies in 2001. And after all the years of advocacy for rights, democracy and social justice dating to my undergraduate days as a student leader, I thought it was time to be more directly involved in bringing about the change I pined for. After all, we can’t always whine about poor governance due to a dearth of people genuinely committed to the public good while spurning every chance to serve. It was why, fresh on my return in 2014 from my teaching position at Texas State University, I dared to join a “bourgeois” political party for the first time and sought the ticket of the All Progressives Congress for the House of Representatives, my ambition thwarted at the primaries by a sore lack of you-know-what: money.

Despite the many structural, administrative and political interference problems noticeable at once, I threw myself at the job with gusto. I inspected minor and major projects but devoted most of my time to the latter. And discovered that many of the projects described as “ongoing” in the status report I got from the Delta office were virtually abandoned. Among them: Uzere-Patani Road with Bridges, awarded on 10 December 2004 at the cost of N3.03Billion; Gbaregolor-Gbekebor-Ogulaha Road (Phase 1) with Bridges (2009, N16.1Billion); Bomadi-Tuomo-Ojobo-Tamigbe Road with Bridges, Phase II (2009, N8.9Billion); Ugheye-Koko-Escravos Road, Phase II (2014, N14.8 Billion); Shore Protection at Koko (ca 2012, N3Billion); Ugborodo Shore Protection, Lots 1-9 (2014, N8.07Billion); Nigeria Army Jetty (Forward Operation Base) in Uvwie-Warri (2012, N4.7Billion); Ozoro Township Roads (2012, N2.4Billion); and 132 KV Transmission Line and 1 No. 30 MVA 132/33 KV Substation each at Ughelli and Ozoro (2011, N2.1 Billion). I focussed on this category of projects as those that truly seek to meet the Niger Delta’s crying infrastructural needs.

But midway into its tenure, our board was dissolved. The news awaited me on my return from commissioning Phase 1 of the last listed project, with rising hopes for Phase 2 in Ozoro which would ameliorate the power woes of my Isoko people. I chose to wear my disappointment as a badge of honour: “Well, sacked while on duty,” I said, vainly looking for a glimmer of light in the sudden gloom! Yet, until my stint on the board, no one could have persuaded me that NDDC was not a colossal waste. I had yet to see its impact in the lives of the harried citizens stuck in that sweltering swamp of anger from the utter despoliation of their land, air and water as the inhuman price of oil and gas extraction. The project inspection trips changed my mind. I could see now the immense potential of NDDC to transform the Niger Delta as envisaged. Why hadn’t the goal been achieved and, worse, why did it seem unachievable, twenty years after?

Of the many ills that bedevil NDDC, the frequent dissolution of its boards ranks among the most deleterious. All the powers of NDDC are vested in the board. Consequently, precipitate board dissolutions can only cause catastrophic lack of continuity in policy and internal oversight. In time, crippling bureaucracy replaced technocracy. A minor example: for over a year until our board was dissolved, and nearly twenty minutes after from one desk to another and yet another, the Delta office could not get approval for the replacement of broken-down furniture and equipment! The headquarters in Port Harcourt became the Abuja of the Delta: to get anything done, even as trifling as replenishing photocopying paper, you must trek to Port Harcourt. But perhaps even more devastating is political interference. The drama currently playing out before the eyes of the world, against the backdrop of the forensic audit ordered by President Buhari at the urging of the commission’s member state governors, gives an idea of the destabilising role of this problem.

During a pre-inauguration retreat, the last chairman, Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba, informed us that the only agenda President Buhari laid out for him was “to go and make friends in the Niger Delta.” On 7 February 2018, I had the honour and privilege of a private meeting with the president. I humbly suggested to him that he would need to do more to enable us make friends in the Delta. NDDC had to be restructured and refocussed on its mandate. He had to set clear timelines and benchmarks. And because the army of profiteers at the expense of the ordinary indigenes would be up in arms against a development-centred initiative, he would have to publicly give the board his backing and deflect their inevitable attacks. I didn’t elaborate further; the point was obvious. Any development agency worth the name must be insulated from partisan politics, the perils of electoral cycles and the attendant substitution and prioritisation of narrow interests. Lastly, there must be strict adherence to the enabling law in order to reduce the undue politicisation of appointments. Politics might never be completely avoided but that does not have to be the same thing as turning NDDC, any government agency, into a mere political patronage machine. After all, the benefits of development are not reserved for party members only.

Given the magnitude of the problems currently besetting NDDC, such that the actual work of developing the Niger Delta has practically ceased, only the President can break the impasse. If he wishes to make friends in the creeks now and beyond 2023, I would suggest the following as urgent steps that he must take. First, he should ensure that the forensic audit he has ordered is done by a reputable international accounting firm. The patriot in me would like a local company, but it would be distracted and unnecessarily impugned by the irredeemably tainted environment of allegations and counter-allegations by those at the heart of the problem. To adapt a legal maxim, probity must not only be served but be seen to have been served. Second, he should order a halt to any new regional or major projects in the next five years and cap quick impact or emergency projects to no more than ten percent of NDDC’s annual budget. In that period, all abandoned projects are to be completed. The only exception would be the Niger Delta Regional Power Pool and Business Parks whose goal is to deliver 7GW (seven gigawatts) of affordable energy across the region by harvesting its copious gas supplies (still sadly flared) for embedded power plants that would feed business parks in raw material enclaves. Any other exception would have to be projects with funding from donors or private sector partners requiring no more than token commitment guarantee payments. Such as the Niger Delta Digital e-Learning Initiative, including the retraining of teachers and upgrading of curricula across primary, secondary and tertiary educational institutions. Third, the President should ensure a restructuring of NDDC’s bloated balance sheet, estimated at over N2Trillion. As a first step to this goal, our board cancelled a tranche of projects at zero percent completion, thereby reducing the balance sheet by N200Billion. Fourth, urgent reform of NDDC’s governance system. The current administrative framework is so heavily bureaucratic and bound to the analog mode as to be a mighty clog in the wheel of development. In the view of Dr Joe Abah, former Director-General of the Bureau of Public Service Reforms, everything that can possibly be wrong in an institution is to be found in NDDC, to the point of it being almost unreformable. Lastly, NDDC must be returned to its core mandate. The Regional Development Master Plan should be updated to align it with the dizzying realities of the Information Technology Age and the brave new world dawning on us of a green and sustainable energy future beyond fossil fuels.

This is not an exhaustive agenda of what must be done to salvage NDDC now. It is, I hope, a good starting point.

Ifowodo, a lawyer, writer, scholar and rights activist, was the Delta State representative on the board of NDDC from November 2016 to February 2019.

Somalia’s Bidding Round To Last till March 2021

Somalia’s First Offshore Bidding Round, launched on Tuesday, August 4, will run for seven months, wrapping up on March 12 2021.

The Somali Petroleum Authority (SPA), established July 31,  is overseeing the licencing round. The country’s new Petroleum Law, ratified  by the Upper and Lower Houses of the Federal Parliament on 8th February 2020, includes provisions that the country’s oil and gas will belong exclusively to the Somali people. It also embeds a groundbreaking revenue-sharing agreement that ensures revenues will be distributed among the Somali people through the Federal States, and for the benefit of future generations.

Future revenues will be invested in the continuing re-building of the country’s economic and social infrastructure, in particular in education, security and healthcare, to ensure the long-term prosperity of the Somali people.

This development now paves the way for the conclusion of Somalia’s 1st Offshore Somalia License Round. In preparation for the round, acquisition and processing of 20,185 km of 2D long-offset seismic data has been completed. This program complements 20,500 km of existing seismic data acquired in 2014.

The survey design, which covers water depths of 30 m to 4,000 m, has allowed for seismic coverage over the shelf, slope and basin floor with dip, strike and recording time intervals suitable for defining a range of leads and prospects. Modern processing algorithms were applied to the raw data to achieve optimal subsurface imaging.


Energy Chamber Campaigns for Chevron’s “Entry” into Eq Guinea’s Gas Project

Chevron’s ongoing take- over of the US independent Noble Energy offers it the opportunity to lead a significant gas project in the Equatorial Guinea and Cameroon.

These two countries, along with Israel, make up the international portfolio on the list of properties, up for Chevron’s grab, in the $13Billion take over. As Africa Oil+Gas argues in its July 2020 issue, the California based major has prioritized the unconventional basins in the US as the raison dêtre for seeking to buy Noble Energy. Eq Guinea and Cameroon are a little below the radar in its ranking.

But the African Chamber of Energy (ACE) sees the bright side for the African opportunity. It is encouraging the authorities to facilitate Chevron’s entry into Central Africa’s “most ambitious gas project” through this take over.

Noble Energy has interests in the Alba Field (33% non-operated WI and 32% revenue interest), Block O (Alen Field 51% operated WI and 45% revenue interest) and Block I (Aseng Field, 40% operated WI and 38% revenue interest).

“While the Alba Field has been feeding gas into the country’s Punta Europa complex for decades, including the EG LNG Plant, the AMPCO methanol plant and the Alba LPG plant, its declining reserves have led to the development of the Alen and Aseng fields as alternative sources of gas”, the Chamber recalls. “In 2019, Noble Energy was at the heart of a groundbreaking agreement to launch the Alen Monetization Project, expected to ensure continued and stable gas supply to Equatorial Guinea’s LNG and downstream revenue-generating infrastructure.

ACE appeals that “transaction and projects approvals should not be unnecessarily delayed ensuring a quick and efficient takeover in the region so ongoing gas projects are not delayed.”

NJ Ayuk, the Chamber’s Executive Chairman and Kickstarter, declares: “This acquisition gives the region a very experienced and credible gas player with tried, true and tested solutions to support our gas ambitions. ‘Fast tracking approvals and driving commonsense measures around this deal will make the industry work.”

Although ACE says that “these assets in Equatorial Guinea represent 94Million barrels of oil equivalent of proved developed reserves and 38Million barrels of oil equivalent of proved undeveloped reserves”, Noble Energy, on its website, talks of three trillion cubic feet of gross natural gas resources in the Douala Basin, “which positions us well for LNG sales exposure over the coming decade”.  Three Trillion Cubic Feet translates to 500Billion BOE. So, the chamber’s figures don’t add up. Not good enough for a supposedly optimistic release. ACE adds: ”In addition, Noble Energy was also the operator Block YoYo in Cameroon and of the deepwater Block Doujou Dak (60% WI) in Gabon, where it was in the process of evaluating recently acquired 3D seismic data.

“The project is still on track for delivery in 2021 and is the first step of the development of a much broader offshore gas mega-hub in the Gulf of Guinea. This regional gas hub would ultimately include the development of the Yolanda and YoYo discoveries located in Equatorial Guinea’s Block I and Cameroon’s YoYo Block, both operated by Noble”.

Noble Energy explains on its website: A 24-inch pipeline capable of handling 950 million cubic feet of natural gas equivalent per day (MMcfe/d) will be constructed to transport all natural gas processed through the Alen platform approximately 70 kilometers to the onshore facilities.

At start-up, natural gas sales from the Alen field are anticipated to be between 200 and 300 MMcfe/d, gross (~75 to 115 MMcfe/d net to Noble Energy)

The reserves figures may look impressive, from where ACE sits, but American companies, as a rule, and Chevron is a good example, have, in the last five years tilted to E&P developments at home than abroad.

Ayuk calls for “a pragmatic commonsense approach that welcomes credible investors and see gas taking the lead in economic development and industrialisation, therefore the entry of Chevron is extremely welcomed and should be accepted by all stakeholders.”

“From its Nigerian and Angolan presence, Chevron understands the issues and opportunities of developing African content. We expect its entry to be beneficial from a local content and capacity building perspective,” said Leoncio Amada NZE, President for the CEMAC region at the African Energy Chamber. “We hope that the authorities in Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea can do an efficient and fast track the due diligence process and ensure that Noble meets all its obligations to exit and create a seamless transition for Chevron. This is an opportunity for our public authorities to demonstrate their commitment to empowering investment and move away from an era of uncertainty to give confidence to future investors and stay competitive”.

ACE is full of praise for Chevron’s leadership in African natural gas development. “Chevron is indeed a true gas player in the African market. In Nigeria, Chevron has been leading natural gas commercialization efforts for decades through its Escravos projects targeted the monetization of 18Tcf of gas. These have resulted in the Escravos Gas-to-Liquids facility and the Escravos Gas Plant, both cornerstones of Nigeria’s gas development strategy. In Angola’s Block 0 and Block 14, Chevron has demonstrated a remarkable ability to invest in cutting flaring and monetization gas. In block 0, it still operates what is the world’s largest LPG FPSO vessel, turning previously flared gas into cleaner fuels for Africans and the for the world.”




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