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Senate Scraps NNPC, Others in New Petroleum Industry Governance Bill

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  • Senate Scraps NNPC, others in New Petroleum Industry Governance Bill

The ding-dong over a legal regime that would reform and make the petroleum industry more transparent and efficient began a homeward stretch Thursday as the Senate passed the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB).

The bill, when concurred to by the House of Representatives and assented to by the president, would institute a new governance structure in the management of the nation’s oil industry assets and its manager, the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC).

The Senate gave the bill its nod on a day crude oil prices dropped $1.24 a barrel to $52.72 before regaining ground at $53.76 as the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and non-OPEC members decided to extend cuts in oil output by nine months to March 2018.

The PIGB, which is the first leg of the 17-year-old Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), which has been broken into five separate bills by the 8th Senate, scraps the NNPC, the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), the Petroleum Products and Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) and several government agencies in the oil sector and now creates three new entities to oversee activities in the sector.

The three new entities are the National Petroleum Company (NPC), the National Petroleum Assets Management Commission (NPAMC) and the Nigeria Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NPRC).

Under the new governance structure, the NPC would be an integrated oil and gas company, operating as a fully commercial entity that will run like a private company, while the NPAMC would be a single petroleum regulatory commission, which would focus mainly on regulating the industry.

The bill also saddles the commission with the responsibility for health and safety regulations in the industry, and would collaborate with the Ministry of Environment on environmental issues.

The regulatory commission would be funded through a retention of 10 per cent of the revenue it generates for the government of the federation. The expenditure is however subject to appropriation by the National Assembly.

The NPRC would replace and take over the functions of PPPRA and DPR.

The rite of final passage began when the bill was read the third time and the Committee of the Whole considered the Report of the Committee on Petroleum Upstream, Petroleum Downstream and Gas presented by Senator Donald Alasoadura. It then went through the clause-by-clause ritual with minor amendments before it was passed.

“We made a commitment and it’s being fulfilled,” an elated Senate President Bukola Saraki said, adding: “This bill is not only for Nigerians but for our investors. We are proud of what has been done.”

Saraki’s excitement is understandable given the fact that the PIB had been with the National Assembly since 2000 but had suffered passage delays because of objections and concerns raised by International Oil Companies (IOCs) who felt threatened by the fiscal regimes proposed by the bill.

The 8th Senate, therefore, decided to split the bill into five, isolating the contentious fiscal issues in separate bills, for easier passage.

However, the PIGB still has another hurdle to overcome as the House of Representatives has a different version before it.

The House of Representatives said Thursday that it did not yet have a specific timeline for the passage of the bill. The deputy spokesman of the House of Representatives, Hon. Gaza Gbefwi, told reporters that the lower chamber was still carefully considering inputs made by local and international stakeholders during a seminar on the bill last year.

The passage got positive reviews from industry stakeholders Thursday describing it as a welcome development that would create a vibrant industry.

The Chief Executive Officer of Seplat Petroleum Development Company (SPDC), Mr. Austin Avuru, said the passage of the bill would set the tone on how the oil and gas industry should operate.

“It is a welcome development. That is the governance bill and it sets the tone on how the industry should operate,” said Avuru, whose company is listed on both the London and Nigerian Stock Exchanges. He expressed the hope that the lawmakers would also pass the second aspect of the bill that governs the fiscal regime before the end of this year.

Avuru urged the Senate and the House of Representatives to harmonise the different versions of the bill before them.

The Chief Executive Officer of the International Energy Services, Dr. Diran Fawibe, commended the upper chamber for passing the bill.

He said the passage by the Senate would put pressure on the House of Representatives to pass their own version for both chambers to harmonise the bill for the benefit of Nigeria.

“We have to commend the Senate for taking the right step in the right direction. That is what is expected of the upper chamber because the bill has been languishing in the National Assembly for over 10 years,” he said.

The All Progressives Congress (APC) commended the Senate on the passage of the bill.

“We are very excited that the bill was passed today after about 12 years delay. We specially commend the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, for his focused leadership of the 8th Senate, which has produced several legislative actions that have positively affected the lives of Nigerians, promoted good governance and advanced on-going efforts by the APC-led administration to rebuild the country,” the party said in a statement Thursday by its National Publicity Secretary, Malam Bolaji Abdullahi.

“The passage of the bill is an indication that our federal legislators are diligent and reform-minded, and are committed to fulfilling the promises our party made to Nigerians,” he said, calling on the House of Representatives to follow the example of the Senate by also promptly passing the bill.

Crude Oil Price Stabilises at $53

Meanwhile, crude oil price Thursday dropped $1.24 a barrel to $52.72 before peaking at $53.76 as OPEC and non-OPEC member countries decided to extend cuts in oil output by nine months until March 2018.

While the global benchmark, Brent crude oil traded at $53.76, the US light crude traded at $51.16 per barrel.

Non-OPEC oil producers led by Russia agreed Thursday to join OPEC in extending production cuts for nine months until March 2018, Reuters quoted OPEC delegates as saying.

The combined cap on oil output for the OPEC and non-members was agreed at around 1.8 million barrels per day.

The next OPEC and non-OPEC meeting is scheduled for November 30, 2017, delegates said.

Reuters reported that the cuts are likely to be shared again by a dozen non-members led by top oil producer Russia, which reduced output in tandem with the oil cartel from January.

OPEC’s cuts have helped to push oil back above $50 a barrel this year, giving a fiscal boost to producers, many of which rely heavily on energy revenues and have had to burn through foreign-currency reserves to plug holes in their budgets.

Crude oil’s earlier price decline, which started in 2014, forced Russia and Saudi Arabia to tighten their belts and led to unrest in some producing countries including Venezuela and Nigeria.

The price rise this year has spurred growth in the U.S. shale industry, which is not participating in the output deal, thus slowing the market’s rebalancing with global crude stocks still near record highs.

OPEC oil ministers were continuing their discussions in Vienna as at press time Thursday after three hours of talks.
Non-OPEC producers were scheduled to meet OPEC later in the day.

In December, OPEC agreed its first production cuts in a decade and the first joint cuts with non-OPEC members, led by Russia in 15 years. The two sides decided to remove about 1.8 million barrels per day from the market in the first half of 2017, equal to 2 per cent of global production.

Despite the output cut, OPEC kept exports fairly stable in the first half of 2017 as its members sold oil from stocks.

The move kept global oil stockpiles near record highs, forcing OPEC first to suggest extending cuts by six months, but later proposing to prolong them by nine months and Russia offering an unusually long duration of 12 months.

“There have been suggestions (of deeper cuts), many member countries have indicated flexibility but … that won’t be necessary,” Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said before the meeting.

Falih also said Saudi oil exports were set to decline steeply from June, thus helping to speed up market rebalancing.

OPEC sources have said meeting would highlight a need for long-term cooperation with non-OPEC producers.

The group could also send a message to the market that it will seek to curtail its oil exports.

“Russia has an upcoming election and Saudis have the Aramco share listing next year so they will indeed do whatever it takes to support oil prices,” said Gary Ross, head of global oil at PIRA Energy, a unit of S&P Global Platts.

OPEC has a self-imposed goal of bringing stocks down from a record high of 3 billion barrels to their five-year average of 2.7 billion.

“We have seen a substantial drawdown in inventories that will be accelerated,” Falih said. “Then, the fourth quarter will get us to where we want.”

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.

Energy

African Energy Developments Demand Sustained Investment With New Projects in Mozambique, Tanzania, Uganda, and Senegal

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In the past twelve months, the African energy sector has seen several encouraging developments – in the form of both Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and strategic partnerships – that have advanced the sustainable development of its natural resources. In fact, despite a global downturn in investment in 2020, FDI flows to developing economies accounted for 72% of global FDI, the highest share to date. Given the magnitude of Africa’s oil and gas reserves – not to mention its abundant renewable resource wealth – the continent remains a highly attractive market for inbound investment, which is vital for its growth.

Take Uganda, for instance, which is home to one of the largest onshore discoveries in sub-Saharan Africa. Following multiple petroleum discoveries in Uganda’s Albertine Graben – estimated to contain 6.5 billion barrels of oil, of which 1.4 billion are considered recoverable – foreign investments into the country are expected to reach nearly $20 billion. Last April, Total E&P Uganda B.V. signed a Sale and Purchase Agreement with Tullow Oil PC, through which Total will acquire Tullow’s entire 33.34% interests in Uganda’s Lake Albert development project and the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP). Five months later, the Ugandan Government and Total signed a host government agreement for EACOP, representing a significant step toward reaching a final investment decision. The deal pushes along an extended development process – slowed by infrastructure issues, tax complications, then COVID-19 – that not only promises to bring first oil by 2022, but also provides a pathway to monetization via associated transport infrastructure.

In addition to developments at Lake Albert, the Ugandan Government has proven its commitment to attracting FDI to its hydrocarbon sector through its second licensing round held last year, as well as its invitation to local and foreign entities to forge joint-venture partnerships with the Government. By prioritizing the establishment of mutually beneficial partnerships, the emerging East African producer aims to facilitate the successful transfer of skills, knowledge and technology, initiating an influx of technical expertise and working capital into the country.

“Those who have been locked out from access to opportunity want the same from the energy sector that the energy sectors want from governments.  We must not forget local content, local jobs, local opportunities especially for young people and women” Stated NJ Ayuk Executive Chairman of the African Energy Chamber.

Meanwhile, in West Africa, Senegal has been reaping the rewards of a long-standing partnership with Germany, which has resulted in more than one billion Euros in funding, including significant support for small-scale power plants and renewable energy projects. Holding sizeable potential for solar and wind energy development, Senegal serves as a regional leader in renewable deployment as a means of rural electrification. Indeed, energy is a central component of poverty alleviation across Africa, with electricity access enabling greater independence, clean cooking and potable water, as well as dramatically improving the well-being of individuals, businesses and communities alike.  Rural populations are cognizant of the challenges posed by a lack of stable electricity supply – increased urban migration, lack of access to basic services, low economic competitiveness, to name a few – and distributed renewables can represent the fastest and least expensive path to electrification.

European interest in Senegal has shed light on and served as a model for co-operation opportunities between renewable-rich African countries and developed partners, which offer cutting-edge technologies and technical expertise to transform raw resources into viable off-grid and mini-grid solutions.

Furthermore, while the cost of deploying renewable technology has never been lower, the availability of renewable-focused capital has never been higher. Investment in commercial and industrial solar has demonstrated resilience against the pandemic, continuing to be seen as a safe investment in light of rising utility costs and increasing distribution of both solar and financial technologies. Yet resource potential and low costs of equipment are not enough; Senegal and other resource-rich African nations require active investor interest and strong government support to unlock diversified energy mixes. In turn, a lack of investment represents a pointed threat to the achievement of long-term energy security.

“Young people and women have shown their great resilience, and it is our hope we close these deals in the renewable energy sector, Africans can have a sense of some hope that they will be included in the industry contracts and opportunities. It is no longer correct for the African to be the last hired and the first fired” Concluded Ayuk.

Moreover, without sustained levels of FDI continuing to move the needle on oil, gas and renewable developments, energy export revenues run the risk of being stranded and resources left undeveloped. For emerging producers like Uganda – as well as Tanzania, Kenya, Mozambique, among several others – this would mean foregoing critical government revenues that could aid in a much-needed, post-COVID-19 economic recovery. FDI is vital to Africa’s growth, and while it may be challenging to procure capital in a tepid global economy, it is even more difficult not to. Yes, COVID-19 has put emerging producers in a tough spot: new exploration is seen as risky, and new producers lack existing assets or low-cost development of marginal fields on which to fall back. However, it is not an option to slow or postpone time-sensitive developments that promise to harness natural resource wealth and make sustainable improvements in standards of living across the continent. Africa requires a sustained flow of investment and has proven time and again that it offers the scope of projects and magnitude of resources that are worthy of foreign capital.

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Energy

Saudi Aramco’s Profit Halved in Two Years, Market Cap $210B Below Apple’s

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Even before the pandemic, the oil and gas industry was faced with slumping prices. However, with a record collapse in oil demand amid the lockdowns, the COVID-19 crisis has further shaken the market, causing massive revenue and market cap drops for even the largest oil companies.

According to data presented by Finaria.it, the net income of the world’s biggest oil producer and one of the largest publicly listed companies, Saudi Aramco, dropped to $49bn in 2020, a 55% plunge in two years.

The COVID-19 Crisis and Oil Price War Cut Profits by Almost $40B in a Year

In preparation for its IPO, which took place in December 2019, Saudi Aramco had published 2018 profits. With a net income of $111.1bn, Saudi Arabia’s state-run oil giant ranked as the most profitable publicly listed company in the world.

Global macroeconomic concerns like the US-China trade war and the oil overproduction set significant price drops even before the coronavirus outbreak. In 2019, the company reported a profit of $88.2bn, a 20% drop year-over-year.

However, a standoff between Russia and Saudi Arabia in the first months of 2020 sent prices even lower and caused a massive hit for Saudi Aramco’s profits.

After global oil demand plunged in March, Saudi Arabia proposed a cut in oil production, but Russia refused to cooperate. Saudi Arabia responded by increasing production and cutting prices. Shortly Russia followed by doing the same, causing an over 60% drop in crude oil prices at the beginning of 2020. Although OPEC and Russia agreed to cut oil production levels to stabilize prices a few weeks later, the COVID-19 crisis already hit.

In March, Saudi Aramco announced full-year figures for the second time since going public, and the results revealed huge financial losses. In 2020, Saudi Arabia’s state-run oil company reported a net income of $49bn, almost a $40bn drop in a year.

While Saudi Aramco was the most profitable publicly listed company globally in 2019, the current result puts the company behind Apple, which reported a net income of $57.4bn in 2020.

Saudi Aramco’s Market Cap $210B Below Apple’s

In December 2019, Saudi Arabia’s state-run oil giant completed its long-awaited IPO and hit a staggering $2 trillion valuation on the second day of trading, nearly one trillion higher than the world’s next-largest publicly listed companies Microsoft and Apple. The initial public offering was an essential part of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s Vision 2030 program to transform the Saudi economy.

However, Saudi Aramco’s stocks were outperformed by Apple in 2020. After plunging to $1.61trn in March last year, the market cap of the Dhahran-based company jumped to $2.15trn in September. By the end of the year, this figure slipped to $2.05trn. Statistics show that Saudi Aramco’s market cap floated around this value for the last three months and then dropped to $1.87trn in April after the company revealed the full-year results.

Although valued one trillion less than Saudi Aramco at the time of its IPO, the world’s largest tech company, Apple’s, has seen its market cap surge last year. In January 2020, the combined value of shares of the US tech giant stood close to $1.4trn. After plunging to $1.1trn in March, Apple’s market cap soared to over $2.3trn in December. Although this figure slipped to $2.08trn last week, it still represents almost a 90% increase in a year.

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Oil Inches Higher But Rangebound as COVID-19 Cases Soar

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Oil prices edged higher in rangebound trade on Monday on optimism about a rebound in the U.S. economy as vaccinations accelerate, but rising COVID-19 cases in other parts of the world kept a lid on prices.

Brent was up 22 cents, or 0.4%, at $63.17 a barrel by 0843 GMT. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) U.S. crude rose 12 cents, or 0.2%, to $59.44 a barrel.

The prices have remained rangebound in the last three weeks, with Brent between $60 and $65 per barrel and WTI at $57 to $62.

“Oil prices are entering a consolidation phase after swinging wildly last month,” Stephen Brennock of oil broker PVM.

“While there are still plenty of reasons to be bullish, market players have become more cautious as infections have surged in Europe, India and some emerging markets, while vaccine rollouts have proved slower than anticipated,” he added.

India now accounts for one in every six daily infections worldwide, and other parts of Asia are seeing infection rates rise.

Asian oil demand remained weak and some buyers asked for lower volumes in May partly because of refinery maintenance and higher prices.

The United States has fully vaccinated more than 70 million people but U.S. gasoline demand has not picked up as much as expected.

The U.S. economy is at an “inflection point” amid expectations that growth and hiring will accelerate in the months ahead, but faces the risk of reopening too quickly and sparking a resurgence in coronavirus cases, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said in an interview broadcast on Sunday.

“There really are risks out there. And the principal one just is that we will reopen too quickly, people will too quickly return to their old practices, and we’ll see another spike in cases,” Powell said in a CBS interview, recorded on Wednesday.

On the production side, no new oil drilling rigs were started in the United States in the most recent week, a report published by Baker Hughes showed.

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