Saudi state-oil giant Aramco is in advanced talks to acquire a roughly 20 percent stake in Reliance Industries Ltd’s oil refining and chemicals business for about $20 billion to $25 billion in Aramco’s shares, Bloomberg News reported on Monday.
Reliance Industries Limited is an Indian multinational conglomerate company, headquartered in Mumbai, India.
The Saudi Arabian firm is discussing the purchase of a roughly 20 percent stake in the Reliance unit for about $20 billion to $25 billion worth of Aramco shares, the people said, asking not to be identified because the information is private. Reliance, which is backed by Indian billionaire Mukesh Ambani, could reach an agreement with Aramco as soon as the coming weeks, the people said.
Reliance announced a sale of a 20 percent stake in its oil-to-chemicals business to Aramco for $15 billion in 2019, but the deal stalled after oil prices and demand crashed last year due to the pandemic.
During Aramco’s earnings briefing earlier in August, Chief Executive Officer Amin Nasser said the company was still doing due diligence on the deal.
In late June, Reliance’s billionaire chairman Mukesh Ambani said it hopes to formalise its partnership with Aramco this year and its Chairman Yasir Al-Rumayyan will join the Indian conglomerate’s board as an independent director.
Shares in Reliance extended gains to as much as 2.6 percent in Mumbai after the Bloomberg News report.
A deal would forge closer ties between the world’s biggest oil exporter and one of the fastest-growing energy consumers.
It would seal more than two years of negotiations and mark Aramco’s first all-stock deal since its initial public offering in 2019. Ambani confirmed talks about a deal with an implied stake valuation of $15 billion that same year. Discussions were delayed by the onset of the coronavirus pandemic and slump in oil prices.
Energy markets have since recovered, with crude prices jumping around 35 percent this year to almost $70 a barrel. Aramco said last week due diligence on a deal with Reliance was underway.
A transaction would boost Aramco’s sales of crude to India. For Reliance, it would help to lock in a steady supply of oil for its giant refineries and make the Indian company a shareholder in Aramco. Based on Aramco’s market valuation of about $1.9 trillion, a transaction would give Reliance a stake of around 1 percent.
Details of the potential transaction are still being negotiated, and talks could drag on longer or fall apart, the people said. A representative for Aramco declined to comment. The Saudi government’s Center for International Communication didn’t immediately respond to an email requesting a comment.
A representative for Reliance said the company does not have anything to add beyond Ambani’s comments at the shareholders’ meeting in June when the conglomerate appointed Aramco Chairman Yasir Al-Rumayyan to the board. Ambani had said Reliance could finalize an investment deal with the oil producer this year.
The Saudi government sold 2 percent of Aramco in the IPO, raising almost $30 billion. It’s still the largest first-time share sale on record.
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the de facto ruler, said in April that the kingdom was in talks to sell a 1 percent stake in Aramco to a “leading global energy company.” He didn’t disclose which one.
“This deal could be very important in strengthening Aramco’s sales in the country where this company resides,” the prince had said.
Saudi Arabia shipped 613,000 barrels a day of crude to India in July, around 10 percent of its total exports.
The transaction would help Aramco reach its goal of more than doubling refining capacity to between 8 million and 10 million barrels of crude a day. The Saudi firm had 3.6 million barrels a day of capacity at the end of last year, including stakes in joint ventures.
Aramco took full ownership of Motiva and its Port Arthur refinery in 2017 from its joint-venture partner Royal Dutch Shell PLC.
The $6.6 billion expansion would build two new petrochemical plants in addition to its existing 630,000-barrels-a-day Port Arthur refinery.
Nigeria’s state oil firm, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) is currently making move to acquire a 20 percent stake in the yet-to-be-completed Dangote Refinery, the world’s largest single-train petroleum refiner.
The federal cabinet approved the proposal by the state oil firm to invest $2.5 billion in a 20 percent share of Dangote’s oil refinery.
Minister of State for Petroleum, Timipre Sylva said in a statement that NNPC will pay $2.76 billion for the 20 percent share of the 650,000 barrel capacity petroleum refinery slated for commission next year.
The NNPC had said earlier that it’s working toward safeguarding the country’s energy security while its plans to buy a 20 percent stake in privately owned refineries would not affect efforts to rehabilitate the country’s four refineries.
However, the move by NNPC to invest in Dangote Refinery has generated some controversy within the system as Nigerians were unhappy that the state-owned oil firm that could not manage its own refineries is showing interest to buy into privately owned refiner.
UAE Commits $4.5 Billion for African Clean Energy Initiatives at UN Climate Summit
The United Arab Emirates, as the host of this year’s United Nations climate summit, has made a significant pledge of $4.5 billion to support clean-energy projects in African nations.
This substantial commitment is a collaborative effort involving key entities such as Abu Dhabi’s clean-energy producer Masdar, Abu Dhabi Fund for Development, Etihad Credit Insurance, the nation’s export credit agency, and AMEA Power, a Dubai-based renewable-energy company.
The announcement was made by the COP28 Presidency in an official statement.
Africa faces a critical need for nearly a tenfold increase in climate adaptation funding, amounting to $100 billion annually, as emphasized by the Global Center on Adaptation. This financial boost is essential for enhancing infrastructure and protecting agriculture from the adverse impacts of climate change.
Although the continent contributes only about 4% of global greenhouse gas emissions, its nations are disproportionately affected by climate change.
“The initiative will prioritize investments in countries across Africa with clear transition strategies, enhanced regulatory frameworks, and a master plan for developing grid infrastructure,” stated COP28 President-Designate Sultan Al Jaber at the inaugural Africa Climate Summit on Tuesday.
Al Jaber’s commitment to invest in the African continent precedes the UN climate summit that he is overseeing. As the chief executive officer of Abu Dhabi National Oil Co., one of the world’s largest oil and gas producers, his involvement has sparked criticism from climate activists.
Over 400 environmental groups have voiced concerns in a letter to the UN secretary-general, expressing reservations about how Al Jaber’s work may affect the legitimacy and effectiveness of the summit.
The African Development Bank’s Africa50 investment platform will serve as a strategic partner in identifying initial projects, according to the statement.
Here are the funding details:
- The Abu Dhabi Fund for Development will provide $1 billion in financial assistance.
- Etihad Credit Insurance will offer $500 million in credit insurance to mitigate risk and attract private capital.
- Masdar commits $2 billion in equity and will facilitate an additional $8 billion in project finance, aimed at delivering 10 gigawatts of clean energy capacity in Africa by 2030.
- AMEA Power will contribute to funding 5 gigawatts of renewable energy capacity in the continent by 2030, mobilizing $5 billion, with $1 billion in equity investments and $4 billion from project finance.
This generous funding initiative reflects the United Arab Emirates’ dedication to addressing climate change and supporting sustainable development in Africa, marking a significant step toward a greener and more resilient future for the continent.
MAN Raises Alarm Over Potential Displacement of Local Meter Manufacturers in Power Sector
The association explained that the stiff financial requirements and technical specifications listed in the advertised material of the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) are heavily biased against domestic manufacturers
Following the implementation of the NMMP Phase IIT, a World Bank-funded initiative launched to supply 1.2 million smart meters, the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) has cautioned the government on excluding local meter manufacturers and assemblers within the downstream power sector from the initiative.
This was disclosed in a statement made available to the media by MAN on Sunday.
The association explained that the stiff financial requirements and technical specifications listed in the advertised material of the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) are heavily biased against domestic manufacturers as local manufacturers would struggle to meet those stated requirements.
This, MAN said is against contradicted the Central Bank of Nigeria’s guidelines for the National Mass Metering Programme.
MAN emphasizes that local manufacturers have made substantial investments in expanding their manufacturing capacities, as per the Federal Government’s backward integration policy and the introduction of the NMMP intervention.
They have also made efforts to train and nurture a highly skilled workforce capable of meeting the power sector’s demands, as envisioned in the Nigeria Electricity Supply Industry.
In the statement MAN warns that this situation could potentially lead to a replication of the distressing scenario witnessed in 2012 when local manufacturers were sidelined during the meter supply, resulting in the delivery of substandard meters by foreign companies awarded the contract, which were subsequently removed from the network.
Speaking on employment opportunity, MAN said “The position of the TCN that installation will provide employment opportunities to Nigerians will completely pale into insignificance when compared with a ratio of 1 to 10 jobs that will be created if local manufacturers are included in the scheme.”
Similarly, MAN argues that the intentional denial of opportunities for local manufacturers fails to acknowledge their impressive performance in the sector, including the successful deployment and installation of a total of 611,231 energy meters across the country between January 2019 and January 31, 2021.
The potential displacement of local meter manufacturers and assemblers in Nigeria’s power sector raises serious concerns about the future of the industry.
MAN calls on the government to reconsider the advertised financial requirements and technical specifications, ensuring that they align with the Central Bank of Nigeria’s guidelines.
By including local manufacturers in the supply of smart energy meters, the power sector can benefit from high-quality products while stimulating economic growth and generating a substantial number of job opportunities for the Nigerian workforce.
Power Consumers Protest Export of Electricity Worth N23.13bn Amidst Widespread Darkness in Nigeria
Power Consumers Demand Prioritization of Domestic Needs as Nigeria Exports Electricity Worth N23.13bn to Neighboring Countries Despite Widespread Darkness.
Power consumers in Nigeria have voiced their strong opposition to the export of approximately N23.13 billion worth of electricity to neighboring countries in 2022.
This development comes at a time when many Nigerian communities are grappling with persistent power outages and widespread darkness.
According to data obtained from the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) in Abuja, Nigeria continued its export of electricity to the Republics of Benin and Niger as well as certain special categories of consumers.
The total value of electricity exported from Nigeria in 2022 amounted to $50.98 million (equivalent to N23.5 billion at the official exchange rate of N461/$). However, international customers only remitted $32.69 million, approximately N15.1 billion, indicating a shortfall of $18.29 million or N8.4 billion during the period.
Also, special customers failed to remit N792.6 million in the same period, as revealed by figures from the power sector regulator.
The export of electricity despite the dire situation of power supply within the country has drawn significant criticism from electricity consumers.
The Nigeria Electricity Consumer Advocacy Network’s National Secretary, Uket Obonga, expressed dismay at the decision, stating that Nigeria has one of the highest numbers of citizens without access to electricity in the world.
He compared Nigeria’s situation to that of China, highlighting that while China has approximately 68 million citizens without electricity out of a population of 1.4 to 1.5 billion, Nigeria has a staggering 90 million people without access to electricity.
Obonga questioned the economic rationale behind exporting such a scarce commodity that the Nigerian people desperately need. He criticized the decision-makers behind this move and their apparent disregard for the plight of their own citizens.
The export of electricity, in the face of widespread darkness and a lack of access to electricity, has left many perplexed and wondering about the reasoning behind such a decision.
The NERC provided updates on the remittances made by special/cross-border customers in the fourth quarter of 2022.
Obonga argued that the export of electricity was unjustified, particularly considering the ability of Nigerians to pay for the commodity.
He pointed out that the joint monthly revenues from two or three power distribution companies exceeded the N23 billion earned from international customers throughout the entire year. Obonga suggested that corruption might be at play and urged the incoming government of President Bola Tinubu to thoroughly investigate this issue.
While officials at the NERC defended the export of electricity, citing obligations and agreements, the discontent among Nigerian power consumers remains palpable.
Critics argue that the export of electricity should not take precedence over meeting the domestic energy needs of the Nigerian people, especially when millions still lack access to reliable power supply.
It is imperative for the government and relevant stakeholders to address the concerns raised by power consumers and find a balance between fulfilling international commitments and ensuring adequate and reliable power supply within Nigeria.
The future of the country’s energy sector hinges on striking the right equilibrium that prioritizes the needs and well-being of the Nigerian people while fulfilling international obligations in a responsible and sustainable manner.
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