- Nigeria Seeks to Diversify From Oil With $41 Billion of Rail
Nigeria has started a $41 billion railway expansion to reduce dependence on oil and diversify its struggling economy by improving transport links to allow the movement of goods around the country and to ports.
“The plan we have now will go to every nook and corner,” Transport Minister Rotimi Amaechi, 52, said in an interview in the capital, Abuja.
Africa’s biggest oil producer is going through its worst economic slump in 25 years following a plunge in the price and output of oil, which accounts for more than 90 percent of foreign income and two-thirds of government revenue. President Muhammadu Buhari’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan, presented in March, seeks to boost agriculture and manufacturing by developing the country’s transport network and power infrastructure.
Key projects include building a second railway line connecting the nation’s two biggest cities, the commercial capital, Lagos, and Kano in the north. The 1,100-kilometer (680-mile) line will carry freight and passengers. The government also wants to construct a coastal railway that connects Lagos to the eastern city of Calabar.
The two new railways are expected to cost $20 billion, with most of the funding coming from the Export–Import Bank of China, which has so far released $5.9 billion. China’s Civil Engineering and Construction Co. is building the project and both railways should be ready by the end of 2019, Amaechi said in an interview last week.
General Electric Co. is leading a group that’s rehabilitating Nigeria’s 3,505 kilometers of century-old, narrow-gauge railways linking the coastal cities of Port Harcourt and Lagos with the north. The group, including SinoHydro of China, South Africa’s Transnet SOC Ltd. and the Netherlands’ APM Terminals BV will fund, revamp and operate the railways for a period to be decided in negotiations with the government, the minister said. They won the concession in May.
The group plans to invest $2.2 billion, Sabiu Zakari, permanent secretary in the Ministry of Transport, said at the time. Nigeria will then have two links between Lagos and Kano, with the new Chinese-built one allowing trains to travel twice as fast as they can on the existing link.
The West African nation is opening up its rail system to private investors following decades of government control. Years of neglect while the nation was in political flux during military rule cut freight-rail capacity to 15,000 metric tons a year in 2005, from 3 million tons four decades earlier, according to the Transport Ministry. Most goods are now transported on worn-out and congested roads. By comparison, Transnet has the capacity to move more than 70 million tons of coal to one South African port annually.
“The rail in Nigeria was neglected for too long,” said Oke Maduegbuna, managing partner at transportation and logistics consultancy Pete, Moss & Sam Ltd. “There’s a new awareness among government officials of the economic benefits of a good rail network,” the Abuja-based expert said by phone, adding that the new projects would succeed only if there is consistency in their planning and execution.
Another $16 billion will be invested in additional rail routes to link up all the country’s state capitals and extend across the northern border into neighboring Niger’s southern city of Maradi, according to the Transport Ministry. Amaechi said it was too early to share a timeline or funding details as the government is still talking to investors for this public-private project.
The government is also trying to complete a $3 billion line from Abuja to the southern oil hub of Warri by 2018, the minister said.
With rail links to the existing and planned deep-sea ports, Nigeria hopes to substantially reduce logistics costs and facilitate exports and imports.
“There’s no economic development or growth without logistics, and for logistics to be efficient, you have to deal with the issue of railways,” said Amaechi.
South Africa’s iGas, PetroSA and Strategic Fuel Fund Merge to Create South African National Petroleum Company
The South African Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) has announced the merger of Central Energy Fund (CEF) subsidiaries iGas, PetroSA and the Strategic Fuel Fund (SFF).
The merger will be effective from 1 April 2021 and the new company will be called the South African National Petroleum Company.
The merger, driven by the pursuit of implementing a new company that has a streamlined operating model via the development of a shared services system and a common information platform, comes a few months after cabinet approval and the confirmation that PetroSA had incurred losses of R20 billion since 2014.
Additional factors which prompted the move included the determination to strengthen PetroSA which had not had a permanent CEO in five years prior to the appointment of CEO Ishmael Poolo last and, had become majorly ungainful since its failure to secure gas for the gas-to-liquids refinery project in Mossel Bay.
While the merger deadline has been set, the portfolio committee expressed reservations to the department’s likelihood of meeting the deadline, considering the existing legislative regime, pending issues raised in the SFF and PetroSA forensic reports, as well as PetroSA’s current insolvency and liquidity challenges, the official press statement on the briefing revealed.
“South Africa’s energy sector is entering a new dawn,” said NJ Ayuk, Executive Chairman of the African Energy Chamber. “With gas discoveries off the coast and the announcement of the REIPPP programme bid window 5 and 6 on the horizon, now is the most opportune time for the merger of the CEF subsidiaries. Of course, it is not an easy task and delays may be anticipated but, this move signals a real change towards a meaningful strategy that will not only be beneficial to the DMRE but to potential investors and local development as well.”
The African Energy Chamber welcomes this move and acknowledges that this is yet another step supporting the country’s determination to restarting the engines of sustainable growth and the transformation of energy policy and infrastructure.
Crude Oil Hits $71.34 After Saudi Largest Oil Facilities Were Attacked
Brent Crude Oil Rises to $71.34 Following Missile Attack on Saudi Largest Oil Facilities
Brent crude, against which Nigerian oil is priced, jumped to $71.34 a barrel on Monday during the Asian trading session following a report that Saudi Arabia’s largest oil facilities were attacked by missiles and drones fired on Sunday by Houthi military in Yemen.
On Monday, the Saudi energy ministry said one of the world’s largest offshore oil loading facilities at Ras Tanura was attacked and a ballistic missile targeted Saudi Aramco facilities.
“One of the petroleum tank areas at the Ras Tanura Port in the Eastern Region, one of the largest oil ports in the world, was attacked this morning by a drone, coming from the sea,” the ministry said in a statement released by the official Saudi Press Agency.
It also stated that shrapnel from a ballistic missile dropped near Aramco’s residential compound in Eastern Dhahran.
“Such acts of sabotage do not only target the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, but also the security and stability of energy supplies to the world, and therefore, the global economy,” a ministry spokesman said in a statement on state media.
Oil price surged because the market interpreted the occurrence as supply sabotage given Saudi is the largest OPEC producer. A decline in supply is positive for the oil industry.
However, Brent crude oil pulled back to $69.49 per barrel at 12:34 pm Nigerian time because of the $1.9 trillion stimulus packed passed in the U.S.
Market experts are projecting that the stimulus will boost the United States economy and support U.S crude oil producers in the near-term, this they expect to boost crude oil production from share and disrupt OPEC strategy.
A Loud Blast Heard in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia’s Largest Crude Oil Production Site
Loud Blast Heard in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia’s Largest Crude Oil Production Site
Two residents from the eastern city of Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, on Sunday said they heard a loud blast, but they are yet to know the cause, according to a Reuters report.
Saudi’s Eastern province is home to the kingdom’s largest crude oil production and export facilities of Saudi Aramco.
A blast in any of the facilities in that region could hurt global oil supplies and bolster oil prices above $70 per barrel in the first half of the year.
One of the residents said the explosion took place around 8:30 pm Saudi time while the other resident claimed the time was around 8:00 pm.
However, Saudi authorities are yet to confirm or respond to the story.
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