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Equatorial Guinea to grant extensions to Exploration companies and flexibility to producing companies on work programs and capital expenditures
April 28, 2020 | 0 Comments
Minister of Mines and Hydrocarbons Gabriel Mbaga Obiang Lima
Minister of Mines and Hydrocarbons Gabriel Mbaga Obiang Lima
Equatorial Guinea will launch new petroleum regulations to support its hydrocarbons industry with emphasis on improving local content

H.E. Gabriel Mbaga Obiang Lima shares Equatorial Guinea’s plans in working through the current state of global oil markets in a webinar hosted by Africa Oil & Power in partnership with the African Energy Chamber (www.EnergyChamber.org) on 27 April 2020; Equatorial Guinea will launch new petroleum regulations to support its hydrocarbons industry with emphasis on improving local content; The Ministry of Mines and Hydrocarbons is pushing forward with its Year of investment initiative and plans to make project announcements in Q4 2020.

During a webinar hosted by Africa Oil & Power in partnership with the African Energy Chamber and the Ministry of Mines and Hydrocarbons of Equatorial Guinea, H.E. Gabriel Mbaga Obiang Lima, the country’s Minister of Mines and Hydrocarbons (MMH) provided key insight on the country’s plans in working through the current state of global oil markets and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Considering 2020 and 2021 ‘the lost years’ amid the low oil price and COVID-19, H.E. Gabriel Mbaga Obiang Lima, stressed the importance of flexibility and taking a realistic approach in order for oil producers all over the world and, especially in Africa to recover from the downturn – a message well in line with the African Energy Chamber’s Commonsense Agenda for the Oil & Gas Industry, released today.

Maintaining his optimism, the minister said to the attendees of the webinar that: “I believe this pandemic presents new opportunities for the African continent. It is a new opportunity because some of the historical services operators are leaving countries with the resources and they are having to realize that they have to do the work themselves.”

“This is a chance for African entrepreneurs to enter the market and operate their installations themselves rather than waiting for the pandemic to end. It is a great opportunity but, with this great opportunity, we still need to be realistic,” he added.

In taking a realistic approach, H.E. Gabriel Mbaga Obiang Lima said with the second half of the year rapidly approaching, small African oil producing countries needed to focus on research and development, give license extensions and look at 2021 as the year of rethinking. In doing this, the minister provided that Equatorial Guinea would see new legislation announcements which would include the limitations of expatriates which will be for three years and, encouraging the national service industry to take responsibility and prepare for the rebound.

“The other regulation that we are planning to launch this week is mineral and petroleum regulation,” the minister announced. The launch of this regulation will allow the MMH to develop on its mining industry and see that there is a good deal of local participation in the sector.

Next month, the MMH will also release a new petroleum regulation that will focus on its downstream sector. “This is really what we believe will be the future for our oil and gas industry. The refining and downstream is key because it can create a lot of jobs and it is about time that we processed our resources in-country,” said the minister.

On how local content policy will change under new legislation for IOCs and NOCs , he said there will be contracts and projects that will have to be 100 percent Equatoguinean. This will be implemented in the upstream, downstream and petrochemicals sector.

Moving ahead, the MMH will push three key messages to national oil companies (NOCs) and international oil companies (IOCs):
The need to maintain shareholder value which will benefit the people of Equatorial Guinea and ensure that revenue generation is maintained.
Ensuring the safety of operations for the workers who have continued amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The importance of maintaining and supporting the relationships between NOCs and IOCs, certifying that both sides work through the challenges together.
With a central focus on now being the time for local industries to enter the business of oil and gas, H.E. Gabriel Mbaga Obiang Lima said for Africa to be competitive in the global oil and gas industry, it needed to get in control of its resources.

“We could take this opportunity and not just be involved in the extraction of our resources but in the processing and the marketing sectors because, very few Africans are involved in this aspect of the oil and gas business,” explained the minister.

With 2020 having been declared as Equatorial Guinea’s Year of Investment (YoI), the MMH had maintains that the initiative is still important for the country’s development and it will continue and lead into 2021 focusing on its petrochemical advancement.

“By the fourth quarter of this year, I should be able to announce the different projects that we will be doing. For example, the [gas] backfilling, we will have the first production of [gas] backfilling in November and we expect to have the ground breaking on some of our refinery projects,” he revealed.

“The African Energy Chamber congratulates H.E. Gabriel Mbaga Obiang Lima for the measures he has taken to assist exploration companies with extensions and production companies with delaying work programs,” said NJ Ayuk, Executive Chairman of the African Energy Chamber. “This is in line with our African Energy Commonsense agenda for the oil and gas industry released today that aims to support the continuity of business operations and future sector growth,” he added.

The African Energy Chamber’s African Energy Commonsense Agenda is now available for free download on the homepage of www.EnergyChamber.org

The African Energy Chamber (AEC) (www.EnergyChamber.org) is the voice of Africa’s energy sector

The leading chamber of successful networks, transactions and partnerships at the helm of Africa’s growing energy industries. The AEC actively promotes the interests of the African continent, its companies and its people.

Partners of the African Energy Chamber have the power to shape Africa’s energy future by promoting growth, fostering collaboration, shaping policy, and providing leadership and guidance in the fast-growing energy sector.
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A Brand of Scintillating Quality and Pure Luxury in Champagne De Watère
April 24, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L

A previously ‘exclusive to Europe’ award-winning luxury champagne brand – Champagne De Watère, has recently launched in USA, a reason for champagne lovers to raise a glass in celebration of a brand that is likely to see rapid expansion across the globe.

This unique brand with numerous ‘Great Gold’ medals under its belt including  from the prestigious International Wine Guide Awards 2016, is produced since 2011 in the champagne region of France using traditional viticulture methods – (by hand wherever possible) and given up to 85 months to develop its full unique flavor, which is six times longer than usual.

 Martin A. Konorza, Owner and President of Champagne De Watère, believes that this champagne is at the height of great quality and pure luxury. In an interview with Pan African Visions, Konorza, a man of ancient French Lineage thinks that the champagne is an exceptional brand for people who love class. He also sheds light about his family’s champagne tradition and information about the champagne varieties .

Could we start with a background or historical context into  Champagne De Watère  that you own?

When I was growing up, I first tasted Champagne as a sip on special occasions. Later, in my teenage years, I tasted more and always came back to the same issue: The taste profile was not as elaborate as I expected from the alleged “king of wines”. So, I set out to find the true soul of Champagne, eventually creating my own, to show to the world what champagne can be if nature is respected as the partner, not something that needs to be pushed in a certain direction but just guided.

The same attitude of respect goes into the branding which is clean and self-confidently understated. After all, the customer decides where and when to enjoy our champagnes and we support them with a sense of joy and lightness.

For my brand I chose my old family name “De Watère” as well as our ancient family crest, the azure blue Gryphon. Since our motto is “honor and piety” I think it fitting to creating a brand that devotes itself to a higher goal: finding the true soul of the world’s greatest wine.

The Gryphon serves as the proud, self-confident guardian of our quest.

How long has Champagne De Watère  been in the market and can you share its ingredients and production process for us?

We’ve been in the market since 2011 when we launched our Champagnes. De Watère Champagnes are produced using the most natural methods of production to bring out the true soul of the grapes. So, we use horses instead of tractors and no chemicals. Even our steel tanks for the first fermentation are enamelled on the inside to ensure that absolutely nothing tints the grapes’ flavour.We use two grapes from the Premier Cru vineyard: Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

The Brut Blanc contains 80% Pinot Noir and 20% Chardonnay where the Pinot Noir gives the underlying fruity body while the Chardonnay conveys more subtle aromas of cinnamon and exotic (citrus) fruit.

Our Rosé de Saignée is composed exclusively of Pinot Noir grapes which give it a rich fruitiness and an array of warm yet fresh aromas. For this champagne we employ the rarely used „ Saignée Method“ which translates into „bled out“. To achieve the rosé colour and a more fruity palette, we leave the grape juice and the skins, which are solely responsible for the colour, together in the press to let the skins „bleed out“ into the clear juice. This contact can last up to 72 hours and needs to be under constant attention by the Cellar Master. he needs to separate the grapes and the skins at exactly the right moment to ensure enough flavour has transferred while the bitter tannins stay in the skins.

Both of our champagnes are available in 20cl format which we call Petites“. They are aimed at those people and moments only wishing for one glass to support their special occasions. And since every moment can be special, a Petite    can easily be carried with you wherever you go.

In what parts of the world is Champagne De Watère in distribution?

Our champagnes are available in Europe (which is mainly the European Union, plus     Switzerland) as well as in the USA. Our accessories are available for worldwide delivery from our website.

It is our understanding that Champagne De Watère was recently introduced into the US, how has the reception been like?

The reception has been good so far, better than anticipated. That’s why we are now in talks with distributors as well as retailers to make it even more convenient for our customers.

There are so many Champagne brands out there, what is unique about Champagne De Watère ,and why should people go for it?

Since its inception it has been my goal to find the true soul of champagne to make sure that people’s special occasions are complimented with a worthy companion. To do this, we have gone back in time to find the methods used when champagne first ascended to its mythical standing as the king of wines: before the Industrial Revolution with its mass production. So, if someone wants to know what champagnes could have tasted like before this industrial age, they go for ours.

Champagne De Watère has earned global recognition with a number of international awards, could you shed light on some of these awards?

Oh yes, we have received quite a few great medals which I see as a compliment and as proof that even in our modern mass-product focused world, people continue to appreciate the individual, original styles of our champagnes. We do not participate often but only at select wine competitions.

Recently, we won Great Gold at the Catavinum World Wine and Spirits Competition for both of our champagnes which makes us the only brand to have won this for both champagnes. We won the same medal in 2016 for both champagnes, too. (They changed their name from “International Wine Guide Awards”)

Apart from this, the French wine authority Gilbert & Gaillard awarded our Rosé de Saignée a Silver medal, and awarded Gold to our Brut Blanc. This repeated our success there from 2016 when we entered before.

A big compliment are the two medals we won at Berlin Wine Trophy which is the biggest wine competition in the world under the patronage of the OIV and the UIOE. There, we won Gold for the Rosé de Saignée and even Grand Gold for the    Brut Blanc.

Martin A. Konorza, Owner and President of Champagne De Watère

What other   winery products  or related products does your company have in the market?

Since De Watère is its own brand in its own right and we are not a champagne dealer, we do not carry other champagne brands.

We do however see De Watère and our values as a lifestyle brand, changing the champagne world. In tune with this we offer clothing items as well as travel luggage.

Our clothing line is complimenting the younger, more informal person. We offer zip hooded jackets, to simply throw on when a summer evening hits you with this refreshing gust, while sitting outside enjoying time with your friends and loved ones. More is to come.

The hand made luggage comes in two variants and two materials; leather or vinyl with antibacterial lining.

The Traveller is a hand luggage sized, ultra light bag to accompany the customer on any journey they take, hopefully meeting new people, places and making great memories.

The Messenger, that fits perfectly up to 15 inch laptops, is the everyday companion, giving you that assurance that you will achieve what you set out to do.

All our accessories proudly bear the azure Gryphon as the guardian every step of   the way.

In terms of price, how affordable are De Watère products?

When I started De Watère and when we went through all the steps of production that are done manually, I quickly found that we will arrive at a premium price point for our Champagnes. So, our premium price is rather a consequence of the steps we take to be as natural and as close to the original, authentic champagne as possible. Yet, we are still at a very competitive price compared to our premium champagne peers. In Europe, our Premier Cru Brut Blanc retails at 125€, while the Premier Cru Rosé de Saignée retails at 145€.

Our Petites start at 21€ for the Premier Cru Brut Blanc and 23€ for the Premier Cru Brut Rosé de Saignée. They are also available as “Petites Collection” which is a gift set containing one Petite of each and two champagne flutes; ideal as a present or to gain a taste of De Watère. The set is priced at 49€.

For people who live in parts of the world like Africa, and others where they cannot get it from shops, how can they get De Watère products if they are so interested or get curious?

We have been able to accommodate basically every order. For people wishing delivery to countries outside of our distributed markets, please contact us and we will organize shipment.

What should we expect from Martin A. Konorza and De Watère in the course of the year?

Well, we have lots of plans and dreams. For starters, we plan to grow our    distribution in the US as well as Europe. We are for the first time actively opening up to distributors and retailers in Europe, for example.

What’s more, we plan to introduce more accessories such as polo shirts as well as a second iteration of our zip hooded jackets.

Since the current crisis has put our planned events on hold, we will have to see when it is absolutely safe for our customers to reschedule them.

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FAR Limited Suspends Drill and Exploration of Offshore wells in The Gambia due to Covid-19
April 24, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Bakary Ceesay

FAR Limited officials with Fafa Sanyang, Gambia’s Minister of Petroleum

Australian oil and gas company FAR Limited has suspended its plans to drill an exploration well offshore The Gambia as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and the government has closed its borders.

FAR Limited is the operator of the A2 and A5 blocks located offshore the Gambia and has been preparing to drill an exploration well in the second half of 2020, but these plans now need to be adjusted as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

To remove the risk to FAR personnel and contractors, and in recognition that the international supply of services is currently uncertain, FAR said it will be suspending the drilling plans.

The project is currently at an early stage and a good hold-point for reactivation after the suspension. Other work in the block will be optimized to suit the business requirements and all license obligations will continue.

This program adjustment will be done in consultation with partner Petronas and the Government of The Gambia. FAR and its partners will continue to assess the situation on the ground to reactivate the drilling project when it is safe and sensible to do so.

Under the license, the well is not obliged to be drilled until 3Q 2021. FAR and other partners in the Sangomar project, operated by Woodside, are exploring how the costs for the project can be reduced and expenditure delayed due to the current coronavirus pandemic and the sudden fall of the oil price.

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With Volatility In Oil Prices, Cooperation Between Sudan And South Sudan Becomes Even More Important For Economic Stability.
April 23, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Amb. Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth*

Amb. Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth is Former Minister of Petroleum of the Republic of South Sudan

It is not a secret that South Sudan relies on oil to fuel most of its economy and state coffers, and that the revenue of such oil is dependent upon its export via pipeline to Port Sudan.

As a result, oil cooperation between both countries is at the centre of key economic activity: Sudan’s economy benefits from transit fees paid by South Sudan, and South Sudan’s economy benefits from Sudan’s oil export infrastructure. While one doesn’t go without the other, oil prices instability disturbs a tricky balance put in place between both countries.

In December 2016, as oil prices had fallen drastically below $40 dollars a barrel, the Agreement on Oil and Related Economic Matters (AOREM) between Sudan and South Sudan, known popularly as Cooperation Agreement, was due to expire, and Transitional Financial Arrangements (TFA) fees of $3.02bn due to Sudan were not yet fully paid, the two sisterly countries, mindful of their mutual interest and of the pursuit of sustainable development, then reaffirmed their commitment to promoting future stability and economic viability by extending their Cooperation Agreement for another three years, and to complete the payment of the remaining balance of TFA. They further agreed that in the event that oil prices would fall, the payment of the TFA shall be readjusted as follows to adapt to changing economic realities and ensure the continued flow of crude oil to Port Sudan, and from there on to the international markets:

If the actual sale price of Nile Blend, or Dar Blend Crude Oil FOB Port Sudan, falls in the range of $20 to $30 per a barrel, then the Government of South Sudan shall pay $6 per a barrel. When the actual sale price of the same oil is between $30 and $40 per a barrel, then the fee increases to $9 per a barrel. When the Nile Blend, or Dar Blend Crude Oil FOB Port Sudan, is in the range of $40 to $50 per a barrel, the fees have been set at $10.50 per a barrel and finally, when the actual sale price of that oil index is over $50 per a barrel, then the Government of South Sudan shall pay a fee of $15 per a barrel.

Apart from the TFA, additional fees are also to be paid by the Republic of South Sudan to the Republic of Sudan, as part of the Cooperation Agreement. These include a processing fee of $1.6, a transportation fee of $8.40 and a transit fee of $1 for the Nile Blend; and a processing fee of $1.6, a transportation fee of $6.50 and a transit fee of $1 for the Dar Blend. 

With these low oil prices, whereby US West Texas Crude (WTI) has dropped to Zero dollars or negative territory and Brent is trading $25/ a barrel , it is high time for the Republic of South Sudan and the Government of Sudan to start implementing these measures and have their respective charges reflect current market conditions, for the benefit of both economies. For sure, when the COVID-19 is over and markets reopen, oil prices will improve and the two sisterly countries will continue to adjust the TFA payment as prices rise gradually.

* Former Minister of Petroleum of the Republic of South Sudan.

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Oil Industry, Finance and Petroleum Ministers debate Coronavirus and Oil Industry Relief and Rebound in Equatorial Guinea
April 17, 2020 | 0 Comments

Panelists agree economic diversification is the best solution in Equatorial Guinea ensuring stability
MALABO, Equatorial Guinea, April 17, 2020/ — Equatorial Guinea hosts Open for Business webinar; the African Energy Chamber’s (https://EnergyChamber.org) Executive Chairman, NJ Ayuk and Leoncio Amada Nze, President for the CEMAC region joined Equatorial Guinea’s Minister of Mines and Hydrocarbons, H.E. Gabriel Mbaga Obiang Lima and H.E. Cesar A. Mba Abogo, Minister of Finance, Economy and Planning discuss the COVID-19 pandemic and oil price impacts; Panelists agree economic diversification is the best solution in Equatorial Guinea ensuring stability; the Ministry of Mines and Hydrocarbons will revise Petroleum regulations with incentives in order to attract further foreign investment; Equatorial Guinea to develop indexes to share information on the developments in the country.

On Thursday, the African Energy Chamber joined H.E. Gabriel Mbaga Obiang Lima, Equatorial Guinea’s Minister of Mines and Hydrocarbons (MMH) and H.E. Cesar A. Mba Abogo, Minister of Finance, Economy and Planning for the Equatorial Guinea Open for Business webinar.

Focused on the topic ‘Analysis on Equatorial Guinea’s Oil and Gas Spectrum and COVID-19 Effects’ the panel discussed subjects including: the future of Equatorial Guinea’s (EG) oil and gas industry, the advancement of the country’s economy, development of its midstream and downstream sectors, local content policies and job creation, economic diversification, fiscal regulations, tax incentives and the creation of information indexes.

H.E. Gabriel Mbaga Obiang Lima shared the MMH’s objectives to increase exploration and advance EG’s refining and processing sector as a means to commercialize the value chain, encourage local participation and boost entrepreneurship.

In tune with this, Minister Mba Abogo noted that because EG is heavily reliant on oil, it has been placed in a compromising position as a result of the price war and the COVID- 19. He explained that, in order to ensure stability and avoid lasting impacts on economic growth, the country needed to diversify its economy and look into industries such as tourism, agriculture and mining – a sentiment that was shared by Leoncio Amada Nze, President for the CEMAC region at the African Energy Chamber who said: “Oil presents an economic advantage and stands to unlock opportunities for economic diversification.”

Advancing Equatorial Guinea’s economy in the next 20 years

In an effort to position itself as a regional and international investment hub, Equatorial Guinea launched the Year of Investment (YoI) 2020 campaign. The YoI initiative is targeting $1 billion in foreign direct investment to be directed towards diversifying the country’s energy sector, boost entrepreneurship, generate profit for investors and create jobs.

Encouraging EG to continue on this aspirational route towards growth and development despite the current economic environment, Executive Chairman of the African Energy Chamber, NJ Ayuk stressed the importance of local participation in achieving long lasting greater growth.

“We need to get back to basics, we need to invest in education. By developing these skills, we are more likely to not only get investors to enter our markets but also, we are able to get companies to stay,” said Ayuk.  Agreeing with this, Minister Mba Abogo said, “Opportunities presented by our aspirations do not make sense if our people are not benefitting from them.”

Price War impacts on Africa

With many African oil producing countries having budgeted for and oil price of no less than $50, the continents oil economies are set to take a hard hit. When asked of the impacts of the low oil price and the COVID-19 pandemic, Minister Obiang Lima said the MMH was actively working to ensure that it continues on with its projects and initiatives, stating that,  “the impact [of the low oil price and the COVID-19 pandemic] will be harder on the new producers, especially because many of them had projects in the pipeline.” Referring to EG’s long history in the oil industry as a source of comfort in managing through the crisis.

Continuing business

In attracting further business into the Equatoguinean market, Minister Mba Abogo said ease of doing business is essential. And, in adapting to the current state of the global economy and pushing business operations to continue, he said EG needed to be creative with its approaches to its finances and take lessons from other African countries.


“Oil has been our blessing in Equatorial Guinea’s diversity and we should use it to build a thriving future,” he said.

Providing incentives

In providing tax and regulatory incentives for new and continued business, Minister Obiang Lima said EG would modify its petroleum regulations, release a ministerial decree to enhance the effectiveness of its industry and a new mining operating regulation in a few weeks.

Beyond the regulations, Minister Mba Abogo noted that EG has an issue of a negative perceived narrative which stood in the way of it attracting new business. In addressing this, the minister revealed that the Ministry of Finance, Economy and Planning would be compiling a business index and an ease of doing business report which will track the country’s growth and development.

The African Energy Chamber is pleased to have participated in the webinar and welcomes the plans of the Ministry of Mines and Hydrocarbons and the Ministry of Finance, Economy and Planning as a constructive way forward in ensuring that the country does not experience setbacks, especially at a time where it is poised for lasting growth.

*Africa Energy Chamber
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Stellar (XLM)-based Akoin will be sole-currency of a multi-billion dollar city in Kenya
April 17, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Priyeshu Garg*

Akon who celebrated his 47th birthday today, said that the Akoin payment system will be able to compete with the already hugely popular mPesa.Photo Credit Akon's World
Akon who celebrated his 47th birthday today, said that the Akoin payment system will be able to compete with the already hugely popular mPesa.Photo Credit Akon’s World

Akoin, the cryptocurrency project created by global music star Akon, has secured a deal to become the main currency of the $2 billion technology city in Western Kenya. The Mwale Medical and Technology City (MMTC) is home to over 35,000 people and thousands of businesses, all of which will be using Akon’s Stellar-based cryptocurrency, the company said in a press release shared with CryptoSlate.

Major Kenyan tech hub to use Akoin as the main currency

The grammy-award winning artist and producer Akon has secured a major deal for his cryptocurrency project Akoin which will make it the official currency of a burgeoning tech hub in Kenya.

According to a press release shared with CryptoSlate, the company said the Stellar-based coin will become the main currency of the $2 billion Mwale Medical and Technology City (MMTC) in Western Kenya. This will be the first time Akoin will be used both by the public and on such a large scale.

The revolutionary sustainable city where Akoin is to be deployed was created by Kenyan investor Julius Mwale. While its economy is currently 100 percent digital, Akoin would be the first digital currency universally adopted by both its businesses and its residents.

Akoin positioning itself as a leader in Kenya’s blockchain sector

The city’s 5,000-bed hospital complex will be the first one to adopt Akoin, facilitating approximately 50 million transactions per year in order to service its 12,000 patients per day and 9,000 employees. The Mwal-Mart chain of supermarkets would be the second major entity to adopt the currency, which will be followed by the region’s burgeoning hospitality sector.

During a speech at the BlockDown 2020 conference, Akon, who celebrated his 47th birthday today, said that the Akoin payment system will be able to compete with the already hugely popular mPesa. Unlike the Vodafone-owned mobile payment provider, there will be no transaction fees on the Akoin network in order to incentivize mass use. The only time when fees will be charged, though, will be when users withdraw their funds from the Akoin network.

Kenya is extremely well-positioned to adopt a payment system such as Akoin—the country has banned cash transactions to prevent the spread of the coronavirus and has a history of quickly adopting new technologies, especially those mobile-based.

While only 85 percent of the Mwale Medical and Technology City has been completed to date, the entire development should be completed until the end of the year. Implementing Akoin to Mwale’s ambitious urban development is just the first step in the network’s overall strategy.

According to Akon and other company representatives, Akoin plans on capturing the market in the rest of Eastern Central Africa in phase 1 of its development. Phase 2, which is expected to be completed by 2025, will focus on capturing the Western African market.

*Source Cryptoslate

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Oil Crisis, Covid-19 is ‘Toxic Cocktail’ to Security
April 16, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Caty Hirst*

Africa Oil & Power interviewed C. Derek Campbell, CEO of Energy & Natural Resource Security, Inc., about the possible impacts to security as a result of COVID-19 and the low oil prices in the market.

C. Derek Campbell, CEO of Energy & Natural Resource Security, Inc

What are the security risks facing the energy industry in today’s environment?

Right now, the African energy market is suffering from multiple ‘black swan’ events – depressed oil prices, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the locust swarms in East Africa – that are causing a lack of cashflow and a lack of personnel availability to the continued operations of their energy assets. This is a toxic cocktail for oil and gas and power and utility companies on the continent, causing negative impacts on the resiliency of energy and natural resource asset operations. When you don’t have the money to maintain security protocols and when you don’t have the people to monitor and manage operations, your assets become hyper-exposed to physical and cyber threats.

The issue that leadership must address is that security is not a cost, but an investment. From a prioritization standpoint, they need to include security as a key performance indicator for the health of the energy/natural resource operation. Already, you see in Mozambique that attacks have ramped up, as security is looked at as a second-tier cost. You now have vandals looking at your asset as a target of opportunity. On the cyber side, we are also seeing an acceleration of attacks in both Africa and the Middle East.

Why have attacks — both physical and cyber — ramped up during the crisis?

The leaders in many of these corporations aren’t focused on security right now. Their focus is on how to maintain continuity of operations and their ability to continue to sell their products to meet market demand. This dynamic has caused security to become an afterthought and that creates an opportunity for bad actors to disrupt their operations.

What type of attacks are most likely and what regions are most at-risk?

We have already seen an increase in the number of attacks, but the real take away is the indications and warnings of threat actions that we are picking up – the indications that future attacks are going to happen. Physical attacks, cyber-attacks, piracy and theft are all likely to increase in the coming weeks.

Regions that are most at risk, both onshore and offshore, include Mozambique, Nigeria and the Gulf of Guinea, particularly the Bight of Bonny (offshore Nigeria).

How can companies mitigate risk?

They need to do an immediate assessment to understand where they are – what are the current threats at the operational and tactical level that will impact their ability to maintain their operations?

Additionally, when companies talk about mitigating their financial risk as they endure multiple ‘black swan’ events, there needs to be a prevention and mitigation internal corporate discussion on how companies deal with threats to their vulnerabilities – and they need to budget for that. I’m not going to dismiss that it is hard to do during this time of crisis, but they need to prioritize their maintaining vigilant security operations. If this is not done, the cost of having a major operational disruption to their operations will cause owners, operators, investors and insurers of these critical energy and natural resource assets further financial peril.

* Energy & Natural Resource Security, Inc. (ENRS) specializes in providing full-spectrum protection solutions for Critical Energy Infrastructure and Natural Resource assets. ENRS ensures Energy & Natural Resource asset owners/operators achieve Resiliency and maintain Continuity of Ops by mitigating Risk throughout their asset’s operational life cycle.

*Courtesy of Africa Oil & Power

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The African Energy Chamber interviews Leoncio Amada NZE, its new Executive President for the CEMAC region
April 14, 2020 | 0 Comments
Executive President for the CEMAC region, Mr. Leoncio Amada NZE
He addresses key topics including the inclusion of women in the energy industry, the importance of local content policies

MALABO, Equatorial Guinea, April 14, 2020/ — The African Energy chamber’s new Executive President for the CEMAC region, Mr. Leoncio Amada NZE examines the current state of the Equatoguinean energy industry amid the COVID-19 pandemic and the oil price war. He addresses key topics including the inclusion of women in the energy industry, the importance of local content policies and the creation of enabling environments that are attractive to foreign investors.

Under the leadership of H.E. President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, Equatorial Guinea has grown and still has a bright future for its oil and gas industry. As the Ministry of Mines and Hydrocarbons of Equatorial Guinea pushes forward with its Year of Investment campaign, what can we look forward to?

The Year of Energy initiative launched in 2019 by the Government of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea through the Ministry of Mines and Hydrocarbons was a great success for the country. This initiative made Equatorial Guinea the hub of the oil and gas industry at an African level, through the organization and hosting of conferences with international reach, including the APPO CAPE VII Conference, The Oil and Gas Meeting Day and the 5th GECF Summit.

These international events showed the world the great potential of the country as a destination for foreign investment and put into perspective the opportunities and benefits that Equatorial Guinea offers to foreign investors.

With the efforts deployed by the Ministry of Mines and Hydrocarbons during the Year of Energy, EG-Ronda (the bidding round) carried out in 2019 was successful. It notably resulted in the concession of 9 oil blocks to internationally-renowned companies and, for the first time the country’s history, 15 mining blocks were granted.

The Year of Investments 2020 is build-up on the Year of Energy, through which the government intends to diversify and strengthen the national oil sector through the implementation of downstream and infrastructure projects such as the construction of two modular refineries, of a methanol-to-gasoline plant, of strategic storage tanks for refined products, etc.  All these projects are aimed at creating jobs for the locals, promoting energy security in the country, and achieving the transfer of technology in favor of local companies that would work in collaboration with large multinationals in the execution of these projects.

All these initiatives allow us to affirm that the hydrocarbon sector will continue to be the locomotive of the Equatoguinean economy for many years to come.

For many years, Equatorial Guinea has been exploiting its resources and exporting them. What is the importance of the country focusing on developing its midstream in order to add value to its industry?

Oil has been and remains a blessing for Equatorial Guinea. Revenues from oil exploitation have allowed the country to build basic economic infrastructures such as airports, ports, highways, power plants, drinking water systems, social housing, etc. However, upstream activities are capital intensive. Although they generate a lot of money for the companies involved and the host governments, they do not generate many jobs as most of the operations are automated.

Hence the importance of promoting and developing the midstream segment in order to locally process and transform part of the crude oil and gas that the country produces. In doing so, related sectors and industries are created, generating more local jobs and encouraging the creation and entry of local companies in the value chain.

Last year, the Department of Local Content launched its first ever CSIR book in order to highlight the socio-economic contributions of the oil and gas industry over the last 25 years. How can Equatorial Guinea build on the contributions of projects such as the Bioko Island Malaria Elimination Project, the Bioko Biodiversity Protection Program and the Baney District Hospital Project which covered malaria reduction, healthcare, access to clean water and infant mortality rates?

Equatorial Guinea’s oil and gas industry has been very instrumental in supporting the national government in the realization of projects with a social impact throughout the national sphere. This includes the construction of educational centers, hospitals, playgrounds, drilling of water wells and more. The Malaria elimination project in Equatorial Guinea, financed by the Ministry of Mines and Hydrocarbons together with the oil companies and implemented by the Ministry of Health, is also of great importance to the country.

Furthermore, with the support of the government, the laboratory in the city of Baney (also financed by the oil sector) has become the spearhead in the strategy for the fight against COVID-19. The center has been certified by the WHO and has the capacity to carry out more than 150 COVID-19 tests per day.

These type of social policies and projects must be equally supported, financed and accompanied by national companies in the oil sector. To do this, it is necessary to look further into local content policies and encourage the creation of dynamic, efficient, and profitable local companies that are capable of competing at the international standards levels required by the sector in which we operate.

Through its Gas Mega Hub project, Equatorial Guinea plans to deliver on expectations of successful cross-border gas cooperation. How do you foresee the COVID-19 pandemic impacting these plans?

The Mega Hub Gas Project is an ambitious and innovative project within the policy of zero gas flaring promoted by the Ministry of Mines and Hydrocarbons.

Its conception, planning, and execution are being carried out within the framework of the expectations that the parties involved agreed upon. The destruction of global oil demand caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, combined with the oil price war between Russia and Saudi Arabia, have brought oil prices to very low levels in the international markets. This dynamic can jeopardize certain investment projects that many companies have in their portfolio. The current situation will force many companies to cut investment projects to try to navigate the crisis that is plaguing us if the host governments do not activate supportive mechanisms in favor of the oil sector. We trust that this is not the case of the Gas Mega Hub project, since it is of great significance for Equatorial Guinea and the subregion.

The Ministry of Mines and Hydrocarbons announced that it was waiving fees for oil and gas services companies operating in the country amid the oil price war and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. How does this move encourage further investment and continued relationships with major companies?

We are facing an unprecedented crisis with disastrous and unpredictable consequences to the oil industry, in combination with the historical fall in crude oil prices in the international markets to levels only seen during the Gulf War.

The measures adopted by the Ministry of Mines and Hydrocarbons come at a time when both the service companies and the oil industry in general are going through very difficult times. 

The Ministry of Mines and Hydrocarbons has been very proactive. However, we believe that other institutions and departments of the public administration should adopt similar reactions and initiatives to support the oil and gas sector as a whole. This could occur through production and service companies safeguarding the operations and stability of the oil sector, on which the country’s GDP depends at 91%. This is a task that appeals and requires the sense of responsibility of all the actors involved.

Governments play a key role in seeing through the growth and development of the sector. What can African governments do more to support oil and gas companies in order to increase the pace of exploration and production?

In any sector or economic activity, foreign and local investment are directed to those areas and places where the returns on investment are acceptable for people who decide to risk their capital. The same is true in the oil sector. African governments need to be much more flexible when it comes to fiscal terms of oil contracts, especially in the exploration and development phases to attract investment. To maintain the production plateau over time, investment in exploration is required. For this to be possible, the fiscal terms of oil contracts must be even more flexible in these times of crisis.

In encouraging investors to enter African markets for the development of the oil and gas industries, what is the role of policy certainty in creating enabling environments and boosting investor confidence?

Foreign investment is directed to places where there is a perception that the invested capital is protected, and the rules of the game are transparent, respected, and applicable to everyone. It is in this sense that African countries must insist and work on the consolidation of the rule of law, transparent, stable and predictable fiscal frameworks, and finally, respect for the sanctity of contracts. All these factors contribute to the creation of a stable business environment that attracts foreign investment and generates confidence.

Where does change need to begin in order for us to see more women in senior-level positions in Africa’s energy industry?

A society that marginalizes half of its population cannot reach its full potential.

We can extrapolate the same analysis to the oil and gas industry. We believe and know that women have a lot to offer to our industry. There are talented women on the African continent, capable of holding positions of leadership and direction in the African oil industry. We have started to see few women in management positions, but we believe that is not enough. We might need to have a local content policy based on women empowerment in the oil and gas sector. More can and should be done.

We men in the African oil industry are fathers of women, sons of women, and husbands of women. We would like our daughters and spouses to access leadership positions in any sector as long as they have the necessary skills and experience for such a position. Men have a responsibility to model this change.

Africa still lags behind the rest of the world in education and skills development, how can the continent utilize its hydrocarbons industry to foster wider economic growth?

The African oil sector can and has the necessary capacity and resources to improve and promote quality education, the use of new technologies, and the promotion and incentivization of private initiative. All of this is possible through the implementation of a rigorous and coordinated local content policy to ensure technology transfer. 

As the climate change debate continues, what does global pressure to move towards a renewable energy focused energy mix mean for countries across Africa that are still plagued with energy poverty?

The debate on climate change is very important and with far-reaching socio-economic implications for all countries and continents.

From my point of view as an African businessman in the hydrocarbon sector, I would say that climate change is undoubtedly real and affects us all. Arguably, we all have a moral obligation to do something to reverse the situation.

We also have to be aware of our socioeconomic reality. Africa is the continent that pollutes the least. Yet, it is the least industrially and technologically-developed continent. It is also the continent with the least financial resources to invest considerably in renewable energy in such a way that they have a real impact on our energy basket. Oil and gas continue to be the main source of income and engine of development for African countries. We can be asked to contribute to the fight against climate change, but we do not believe that it is reasonable to ask our governments and people to compromise or risk economic development under the pretext of fighting against climate change.

We have to strike a pragmatic balance between the efforts we have to make in the fight against climate change and the real needs of our people.
*Africa Energy Chamber
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COVID 19 AND PRICE WAR: WHY NOW COULD BE A GOOD TIME FOR U.S. INDEPENDENT OIL AND GAS PRODUCERS TO CONSIDER OPPORTUNITIES IN AFRICA
April 14, 2020 | 0 Comments

By NJ Ayuk*

NJ Ayuk is Executive Chairman of the African Energy Chamber, CEO of pan-African corporate law conglomerate Centurion Law Group,

It isn’t breaking news that the world is currently in “lock-down mode.” Around the globe, the COVID-19 pandemic has made conditions dire and triggered global economic shutdowns.

For the oil and gas market, it has been an especially trying time. As our global society battles the virus, demand for oil and gas has plummeted. In fact, April 2020 could see a drop in oil demand by more than 30 million barrels a day. To put that into perspective, that represents a third of the world’s daily use. 

Now add an oil price war that has had Saudi Arabia and Russia increasing oil production and battling for market share since March 8, and you have a perfect storm. In March, the benchmark WTI and Brent each fell more than 50 percent. In the first quarter overall,  WTI fell 66 percent and Brent dropped 65 percent.

The once-prolific shale operations across the U.S. are now seeing abandoned projects that have little to do with social distancing. Generally speaking, the hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) process that has become the industry standard in shale production is expensive—meaning the ultralow oil prices make the process cost-prohibitive at the moment. Whiting Petroleum in North Dakota’s Bakken is today’s poster child for the current state of that segment: After topping $150 a share just a few years ago, the producer’s stocks took a nosedive to close at 67 cents on March 31. The following day, the former shale giant filed for bankruptcy.

I won’t deny that this situation is grim, but it is not a reason to panic. The oil and gas industry is cyclical by nature, and downturns come with the territory. While the situation we find ourselves in now is unusual, there certainly is precedent for recovery. 

Already, we’re seeing reasons to be hopeful: The oil price war appears to be drawing to a close. Russia and Saudi Arabia reached a tentative deal on production cuts during an April 9 OPEC meeting, and other producers may soon follow suit with cuts of their own. The situation is still fluid, but it looks promising. As for the lack of demand caused by COVID-19 lockdowns, no one can say how long it will last. But it won’t last forever.

For now, I have some advice for the U.S. drillers striving to get through this challenging period: This could be a good time to take a fresh look at Africa. When I wrote my book, Billions at Play: The Future of African Energy and Doing Deals, I explained how the American shale boom affected the presence of American oil and gas companies in Africa. By that time, 2019, many U.S. companies had exited or reduced their footprint in Africa to focus on U.S. shale production. It could be that the factors that made shale a more profitable option than production in Africa no longer exist.

I realize overseas operations may sound counter-intuitive to companies that are slashing their budgets, but there are sound business reasons behind my recommendation. In particular, the low cost of production should be considered: Deepwater wells have been drilled for less than $50 million in Angola. Plus, Africa’s rich resources still represent opportunity, including a wealth of natural gas waiting to be discovered. 

Lower Profit Price Point

Oil produced in the U.S. needs to sell for at least $30 to $50 to be profitable. In contrast, I believe that it’s possible to make a profit selling African oil for $25 to $30. Quite simply, it’s cheaper to obtain assets like oil and gas mineral rights and oil field licenses in Africa. What’s more, the revenue that can be obtained from the assets is higher. The cost of production is typically much cheaper. As I noted in my book, the past few years have seen significant drops in E&P costs in Africa: Rig rates have come down, and the efficiency of drilling has improved. Plus, drilling is being conducted in more favorable conditions: Drillers are avoiding high pressure, high temperature, and ultra-deepwater plays.

Less red tape

U.S. Independent producers doing exploration and production activities have fewer regulations in Africa, which potentially could make operations less costly. Plus, one positive “side effect” of our current economic challenges is a renewed dedication on the part of several African petroleum and energy ministers to strengthen cooperation, promoting synergies, intra-African trading, and knowledge exchange. This could spell significant ease for multinational efforts in Africa.

Africa is Still Underexplored

Possibly the best case for encouraging activity among African fields is all this untapped potential. The continent is truly one of the last promising regions for both offshore and onshore oil production. Four years ago, the U.S. Geological Survey estimated that were 41 bbo and 319 tcf of gas waiting to be discovered in sub-Saharan Africa. It’s still waiting! 

Even during times of economic difficulty, including the Great Recession, natural gas consumption has increased. Natural gas prices are down at the moment, but that could change. Social distancing and shutdowns won’t necessarily impact demand for natural gas long term, since it is widely used to generate electricity; for heating, cooling and cooking; waste treatment and incineration; and as feedstock for a wide range of chemicals and products from butane and propane to fertilizers and pharmaceutical products.

What’s more, the current low prices might actually foster its demand in a post-virus market where we see power generation switching increasingly from coal to natural gas or where natural gas is used as feedstock for hydrogen generation. 

These near-term fuel-switching opportunities are expected to be followed by robust LNG market growth in the medium-to-long term.

Consider a Closer Look

My book has in-depth, and very honest information, about the risks of operating in Africa and the opportunities for significant returns. Before dismissing my suggestions, I encourage drillers to utilize this resource.

In short, it would be a mistake for international oil companies to ignore Africa. Many of Africa’s oil and gas fields were discovered and/or established by U.S. companies, from Kosmos Energy’s discoveries in Ghana and offshore Senegal to VAALCO Energy’s success offshore Gabon. They took a chance in these frontier markets—and their investments have really paid off.

*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.

The Book Can Be Found Here: https://www.amazon.com/Billions-Play-Future-African-Energy/dp/1913136345

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The 9th OPEC/Non-OPEC Declaration of Cooperation Ministerial Meeting to curtail crude oil production up to ten million barrels
April 10, 2020 | 0 Comments

It is expected that this historic intervention when concluded will see crude oil prices rebound by at least $15 per barrel in the short term
ABUJA, Nigeria, April 10, 2020/ — Nigeria has joined other OPEC+ counterparts in a historic curtailment of crude oil production to rebalance and stabilize the global oil markets.

Nigeria is participating in the pursuit of our commitment to the framework of the Declaration of Cooperation entered on 10th December 2016 and further endorsed in subsequent meetings as well as the Charter of Cooperation signed in July 2019.

Nigeria joined OPEC+ to cut supply by up to Ten (10) Million Barrels per day between May and June 2020, Eight (8) Million Barrels per day between July and December 2020 and Six (6) Million barrels per day from January 2021 to April 2022, respectively. Based on reference production of Nigeria of October 2018 of 1.829 Million Barrels per day of dry crude oil, Nigeria will now be producing 1.412 Million Barrels per day, 1.495 Million Barrels per day and 1.579 Million Barrels per day respectively for the corresponding periods in the agreement. This is in addition to condensate production of between 360-460 KBOPD of which are exempt from OPEC curtailment. The agreement awaits close out of ongoing engagement with Mexico to agree on its full participation.

It is expected that this historic intervention when concluded will see crude oil prices rebound by at least $15 per barrel in the short term, thereby enhancing the prospect of exceeding Nigeria’s adjusted budget estimate that is currently rebased at $30 per barrel and crude oil production of 1.7 Million Barrels per day. The price rebound may translate to additional revenues of not less than $2.8 Billion Dollars for the Federation.


It is therefore pleasing to note that despite the production curtailments that this historic agreement will entail, all planned industry development projects will progress as they will be delivered after the termination of the 9th OPEC/Non-OPEC Ministerial Meeting Agreement on adjustments in April 2020.

Timipre Sylva, Honourable Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Abuja, Nigeria, 10th April 2020

*Centurion Law Group
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COVID-19 affirms urgency of trade facilitation reforms in Angola
April 10, 2020 | 0 Comments
Maintenance workers, Benguela railway

The nation’s oil-dependent economy has been hit by low demand due to the coronavirus pandemic. It’s banking on trade facilitation reforms to improve competitiveness in other sectors

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic’s blow to global oil prices has re-emphasized the need for Angola to wean its economy off volatile fuel exports.

As companies around the world shut down or slowed production, crude prices tumbled to an 18-year low in March, spelling more turmoil for the Angolan economy, in recession since the 2014-2016 oil crash halted more than a decade of exceptional growth.

UNCTAD is supporting, through a project funded by the European Union, the government’s efforts to diversify the economy.

The Train For Trade II programme for Angola helps authorities identify promising non-oil sectors, train entrepreneurs and business owners, weigh investment promotion policies and improve trade infrastructure. Tying all the work together is the project’s trade facilitation component.

“Diversifying Angola’s economic structure away from its heavy dependence on oil is key to boosting competitiveness and will help the country reduce its vulnerability to external shocks,” said Paul Akiwumi, director of UNCTAD’s division for Africa and least developed countries.

The current COVID-19 crisis draws this need into sharp focus, he said.

“Angola is rich in natural resources and has many other products to offer consumers across the world. But local businesses struggle to develop and export their products due to slow and costly import and export procedures,” Mr. Akiwumi said, noting that the country’s producers face challenges in moving goods both within the country and across borders.

A 98-hour wait

Angola is ranked 177 out 190 countries in the 2020 edition of the World Bank’s Doing Business report, according to which export procedures in the country cost US$240 and take 98 hours, compared to an average of $173 and 72 hours for sub-Saharan Africa.

Many of the reforms necessary to improve conditions for Angolan businesses, such as automating customs procedures or creating a single window, are addressed by the World Trade Organization’s Trade Facilitation Agreement, which Angola ratified in April 2019.

“Angola with its high potential in terms of natural resources, including agriculture, fisheries and energy, has some of the greatest possibilities to benefit from the reforms included in the agreement,” said the EU’s ambassador to Angola, Tomás Uličný.  

In June 2018, the government created a National Trade Facilitation Committee to steer the reform process and coordinate actions between the many parties involved – from public entities such as trade and agriculture ministries to private actors like transport logistics companies and port operators.

To help the committee succeed, UNCTAD has provided a training course since 2018 to help its members understand the agreement’s provisions and the institutional and practical challenges associated with trade facilitation reform.

“A lot of the measures contained in the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement are highly complex and require high technical skills and know-how,” said Angola’s secretary of state, Amadeu Leitão Nunes.

An empowerment programme

The course, UNCTAD’s Empowerment Programme for National Trade Facilitation Bodies, comprises four modules. Committee members completed the second segment in March, enhancing their understanding of international standards for trade facilitation, policy options to improve supply chains and the flow of goods across borders, and indicators to measure reform success.

The third module, scheduled for the second half of 2020, will help the committee develop a multi-year national trade facilitation roadmap. This will be followed by a training-of-trainers workshop to ensure all members benefit from the knowledge gained now and beyond the implementation of the programme.

A short online version of the training course in Portuguese is publicly available. Requests for access to the full online programme should be sent to unctad-tfs@un.org.

*Source UNCTAD

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Centurion Law Group Launches COVID-19 Legal Updates Series
April 9, 2020 | 0 Comments
Centurion Law Group has launched a series of legal updates where it will be providing the latest updates and insights on in-country changes in legislations and regulations
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, April 8, 2020/ — The series will provide an overview of the current state of affairs in Equatorial Guinea, South Africa, Mauritius, Ghana, Cameroon, Angola, Nigeria and Zambia; Centurion (https://CenturionLG.com) continues to push its on demand legal service, Centurion Plus during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Centurion Law Group has launched a series of legal updates where it will be providing the latest updates and insights on in-country changes in legislations and regulations.

Centurion will focus on categories including employment, tax, immigration, corporate and general matters in Equatorial Guinea, South Africa, Mauritius, Ghana, Cameroon, Angola, Nigeria and Zambia. The series which provides an overview of the current state of affairs in these countries can be accessed on the company’s website (www.CenturionLG.com) and is now available for free download in PDF format.



“While we continue to urge African governments to roll out measures that ensure that individuals and businesses are able to weather the Covic-19 pandemic with the least amount of distress, we have assumed the duty to progressively provide useful information on the potential impacts of this period, as well as the buffers that exist or are being deployed across the continent, said Zion Adeoye, Managing Director, Centurion Law Group. “We hope these updates will go some way in assisting businesses and individuals to prepare for the fallout of this pandemic and where necessary, our Centurion Plus lawyers are available to assist in real time,” he added

“In addressing the COVID-19 pandemic, a number of African countries have made changes to operations in their key economic pillars,” said Anselmo Eworo, Partner, Centurion Law Group Equatorial Guinea. “As a pan-African law firm, it is our responsibility to ensure that beyond our clients and peers, the people on the ground are also aware and have access to this information. We hope this series can effectively communicate the latest developments in each sector.” He added.

Centurion (https://CenturionLG.com) is a pan-African corporate law conglomerate. Operating at the cutting edge of business practices today, Centurion stands ready to provide outsourced legal representation and a full suite of legal services to new, expanding and established corporations.

Across Africa, Centurion provides a service tailored to your operating environment, the nature and structure of your business, your level of risk tolerance, and your overall objectives. Our alternative billing arrangements provide our clients with a greater degree of certainty about their legal costs.

*Centurion Law Firm

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