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South Africa Finance Minister Says He Will Fight Efforts to Discredit Him

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Pravin Gordhan

South Africa’s finance minister said on Friday he would take legal action to protect himself from what he called attempts to discredit him and the integrity of the Treasury.

The rand fell after Pravin Gordhan’s statement and another from President Jacob Zuma expressing his confidence in Gordhan, whom he appointed in December after a previous change of finance minister triggered a plunge in the South African currency.

Gordhan’s statement followed a newspaper report which quoted sources as saying he had threatened to resign after receiving a letter from the elite Hawks police unit questioning his knowledge of a suspected rogue unit at the revenue service.

Confirming he had received a letter with those contents, Gordhan said in a statement it was “an attempt by some individuals who have no interest in South Africa, its future, its economic prospects and the welfare of its people”.

“I can categorically state that the Hawks have no reason to ‘investigate’ me,” said Gordhan, a former head of the South African Revenue Service (SARS), who won widespread respect during an earlier term as finance minister from 2009 to 2014.

In a separate statement, Zuma said he had full confidence in Gordhan and dismissed “rumors and gossip which insinuate some conspiracy against minister Gordhan”.

The Business Day newspaper said on Friday that Gordhan had threatened to resign from the cabinet last weekend, ahead of his budget speech on Wednesday, unless current SARS commissioner Tom Moyane was removed from his role.

Quoting sources, it said the ultimatum to Zuma reflected a serious deterioration in Gordhan’s relationship with Moyane, who remains in the job. The two men have clashed amid a probe into a unit which allegedly operated unlawfully in the department under Gordhan’s watch during his previous stint as finance minister.

At a function on Friday, Gordhan criticized Moyane for defying instructions to halt a restructuring exercise at SARS, underlining rising tensions between the finance ministry and the tax collection agency.

“I think it is absolutely unacceptable for the head of a government entity to be defiant of the executive authority that is responsible for that entity,” Gordhan said at the event.

“WHAT IS THERE TO HIDE?”

“And if there is such defiance, one must ask the question, what is there to hide?”

Moyane was not immediately available to comment.

The tensions surrounding the finance ministry come at a time when Africa’s most industrialized economy is stalling, with growth now seen at 0.9 percent in 2016, down from the 1.7 percent predicted in October.

South African business leaders urged Zuma to urgently deal with the public spat between Gordhan and Moyane.

“The president must resolve this issue,” Cas Coovadia, spokesman for a group of chief executives who have been interacting recently with Zuma and Gordhan on ways to improve economic growth, told Reuters.

“It would be an absolute tragedy for our country if this results in any uncertainty around minister Gordhan’s ongoing position as minister of finance.”

Zuma appointed Gordhan in December to calm markets after the rand plunged nearly 10 percent following his replacement of finance minister Nhlanhla Nene with a junior politician.

The rand extended losses against the dollar after the statements by Zuma and Gordhan, falling nearly 4 percent to 16.1950 per dollar in volatile trade that set it on track for the biggest daily loss since 2011. The rand was the worst performer among emerging market currencies. Bond yields soared.

“Another change in finance minister would be a disaster for investor confidence and could underpin the prospect of ratings downgrade to junk status,” said Rajiev Rajkumar, EMEA analyst at London-based research house 4Cast.

On Wednesday, Gordhan presented an austerity budget aimed at preserving South Africa’s credit rating and which included spending cuts, civil service job freezes and moderate tax hikes on property sales, fuel, alcohol and capital gains.

Ratings agencies have said they might cut South African debt to “junk” after Zuma’s two changes of finance minister in less than a week in December raised questions about Pretoria’s commitment to prudent fiscal policy.

“I understand that it’s creating a little bit of angst and people are little concerned and worried, but if the markets are concerned about Gordhan stepping down I think that’s completely overplayed,” said George Glynos, managing director at ETM Analytics.

Reuter

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

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NNPC Plans Divestment Pathway For Joint Ventures Partnership

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NNPC Nigeria

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has said it would outline policies to guide its joint venture partners (JVC) that wish to divest from joint ventures or the Nigerian oil and gas industry.

NNPC Group Managing Director, Mele Kyari on Monday said that Nigeria, as a key player in global energy security, was addressing its challenges, mainly fiscal, security and cost competitiveness, to stimulate investments in the oil and gas industry.

Kyari, who spoke in Lagos while delivering an address at the opening ceremony of the Nigeria Annual International Conference and Exhibition said, “NNPC, as a national oil company, is leading multiple initiatives to address this and other issues.

“As we celebrate the passage of the PIB, we have moved our focus to improve security architecture through collaboration with major stakeholders.”

According to him, the Nigerian Upstream Cost Optimisation Programme is working with operators and service contractors to challenge the cost of operations and increase profitability and growth in the industry.

“On the other hand, we are seeing a wave of divestment by oil majors operating in Nigeria. NNPC as a national oil company cannot stop partners from divesting their interest, even though it creates challenges for us in ensuring that we get the right and competent investors to take a position and add value to the assets.

“The NNPC will ensure that Nigeria’s national strategic interest is safeguarded by developing a comprehensive divestment policy that will provide clear guidelines and criteria for divestment of partners’ interest,” Kyari said.

He said the corporation would make clear distinctions between divestment of shares and operatorship agreements under various joint operating agreements while leveraging its rights of pre-emption and evaluating the operational competence and tract records of new partners.

Kyari said in order to sustain a prosperous business environment, particular attention would be paid to abandonment and relinquishment costs, severance of operator staff, third party contract liabilities, competency of the buyer, and post purchased technical, operational and financial capabilities.

He said the NNPC would declare its first dividend to Nigerians as it prepares to release its 2020 financial statements in the third quarter of this year.

The local unit of the Royal Dutch Shell had in May said that its onshore oil portfolio in Nigeria was ‘no longer compatible with its strategic ambitions.

“We have reduced the total number of licenses in onshore Nigeria by half. But unfortunately, our remaining onshore operations continue to be subject to sabotage and theft,” Chief Executive Officer, Ben van Beurden, told investors at the company’s AGM.

Early this year, Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited, Total E&P Nigeria Limited and Nigerian Agip Oil Company Limited concluded the sale of their combined 45 percent interest in Oil Mining Lease 17 and related assets in the Eastern Niger Delta to TNOG Oil and Gas Limited.

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Petrol Subsidy Likely to Gulp N2T This Year –Rainoil GMD

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petrol scarcity Nigeria

Nigeria may end up spending N2 trillion on petrol subsidy this year if the current situation persists, the Group Managing Director, Rainoil Limited, Dr Gabriel Ogbechie, has said.

Ogbechie said this on Sunday at the Nigeria History Series of the Centre for Values in Leadership, themed ‘Indigenous participation in the downstream oil and gas sector’ moderated by Prof. Pat Utomi.

While lamenting the lack of deregulation in the downstream sector, he said the government was spending about N8m daily on petrol subsidy.

He described the sector as highly regulated, saying, “I wonder if there is any other sector of the economy that is as regulated as the downstream.”

He said, “The biggest elephant in the room today as far as the downstream is concerned is the failure, so to speak, of the government to deregulate the downstream – fixing the price at which petroleum products are sold, I believe, is very seriously harmful to this economy.”

According to him, the landing cost of the petrol imported into the country is about N300 per litre, based on the current naira-dollar exchange rate.

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Sirius Petroleum and Baker Hughes Collaborate on OML 65 Drilling in Nigeria

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sirius petroleum- Investors King

Sirius Petroleum, the Africa-focused oil and gas production and development company, has signed a memorandum of understanding with Baker Hughes. The MoU names Baker Hughes as the approved service provider for Phase 1 of the Approved Work Program (AWP) of the OML 65 permit, a large onshore block in the western Niger Delta, Nigeria. Baker Hughes will provide a range of drilling and related services at a mutually agreed upon pricing structure to deliver the initial nine-well program.

Sirius has signed various legal agreements with COPDC, a Nigerian joint venture, to implement this program. COPDC has signed a Financial and Technical Services Agreement (FTSA) with the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC) for the development and production of petroleum reserves and resources on OML 65. The FTSA includes an AWP which provides for development in three phases of the block. and Sirius has entered into an agreement with the joint venture to provide financing and technical services for the execution of the PTA.

The joint venture will initially focus on the redevelopment of the Abura field, involving the drilling and completion of up to nine development wells, intended to produce the remaining 2P reserves of 16.2 Mbbl, as certified by Gaffney Cline and Associates (GCA) in a CPR dated June 2021.

Commenting, Toks Azeez, Sales & Commercial Executive of Baker Hughes, said: “We are extremely happy to have been selected for this project with Sirius and their JV partners. This project represents an important step towards providing our world-class integrated well-service solutions in one of the most prolific fields in the Niger Delta. Baker Hughes’ technological efficiency and execution excellence will help Sirius improve its profitability and competitiveness in the energy market.”

Bobo Kuti, CEO of Sirius, commented: “We are delighted to have secured the services of one of the world’s leading energy technology companies to work with our joint venture team to deliver the approved work program on the block. OML 65. We look forward to building a long and mutually beneficial partnership with Baker Hughes.”

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