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Google News Initiative Opens Projects’ Application For Innovation Challenge Across Middle East, Turkey, Africa

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Google News - Investors King

Google News Initiative, GNI has called for applications for its 2022 Innovation Challenge edition for the Middle East, Turkey and Africa.

GNI made the call on its official website whereby applicants would register through.

Investors King reports that the GNI Innovation Challenge is a global programme that empowers news organizations from around the world to demonstrate new thinking in digital journalism.

Innovative projects are to be submitted by applicants and incorporated news organisations based in eligible countries of the Middle East, Turkey and Africa. 

Meanwhile, interested unincorporated organisations must be registered in the aforementioned regions or, if unregistered, have their principal place of business there.

Investors King gathered that the application window which opened on 22 February 22, 2022 will close on Tuesday, April 5, 2022 at 23:59 GMT. 

Google News Initiative noted that only online applications in English or French languages will be considered.

Further application requirements for the GNI innovation challenge include: provision of descriptions, budget information by applicants and a slidedeck via GNI online application form. 

“All ideas are welcome but we require all projects to have clear indicators showing the potential impact of the project from a user perspective and/or from a business perspective. Selected projects will also need to be delivered within one year.

“We encourage innovative projects focused on, but not limited to these areas: Ways to increase reader engagement and/or reader revenue; Developing and diversifying business models; New methods of distribution; Combating misinformation; Increasing trust in journalism; Reaching new audiences; Improving the efficiency of workflows and Exploring new technologies.

“We encourage applicants to clearly underline the potential opportunities of the project by providing clear indicators (eg: audience metrics, subscriptions growth or financial expected impact etc),” the application guidelines read.

However, innovation, impact on the news ecosystem, feasibility, diversity and inspiration were listed as the five main criterias to be used for the evaluation of the submitted projects.

Details on the project funding states that, “Google will fund up to $150,000 for the selected projects. Out of the total project budget, Google will finance up to 70% while the remaining at least 30% must be provided by the applicant. The self-funded portion may include operational costs. 

“Eligible expenses include personnel costs, engineering costs and the purchase or licensing of any equipment, tools, hardware, software and other assets or materials needed for the project. Marketing expenses should not exceed 20% of the total amount of Google funding requested. Editorial expenses are not part of the eligible costs and will not be covered. Funding may not be spent on general and overhead costs.”

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Dangote Refinery Buys 11 Million Barrels of American Crude Due to Domestic Shortages

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Dangote refinery

The Dangote Refinery has announced plans to acquire an additional 11 million barrels of crude oil from the United States.

In a tender viewed by Bloomberg, Dangote Refinery purchased five million barrels of West Texas Intermediate (WTI) Midland crude for delivery next month and in September.

The company has also initiated a tender process to buy another six million barrels of American crude for September.

Despite its reliance on local crude supplies, the refinery near Lagos has been forced to seek imports to sustain its operations.

With the ability to source crude from offshore terminals in just a few days, the refinery took in over 41 million barrels of feedstock in the first half of the year.

Notably, about a quarter of this amount was sourced from the United States.

Aliko Dangote, Chairman of Dangote Group, explained the necessity of importing crude oil as the refinery scales up production and explores alternative supply contracts.

“It makes economic sense for us to tender for crude. If we could source 100 percent Nigerian crude, then fine, but we can’t wait,” Dangote stated at the Africa CEO Forum 2024.

He further said it is important for a mix of different crude types to optimize operations, given the current limitations in domestic production.

The refinery’s recent acquisition contrasts with its earlier deliveries, which included 11 WTI cargoes, or nine million barrels, between February and May, alongside approximately 18 million barrels of Nigerian crude.

This move to secure a longer-term offtake agreement indicates a commitment to diversifying crude sources, particularly during a period of weak demand for Nigerian supply.

The Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC), which holds a 20 percent equity stake in the refinery, has faced difficulties meeting its 300,000 barrels per day (bpd) crude oil obligation.

In June, Nigeria’s crude output was around 1.28 million barrels per day, significantly below its estimated production capacity of 2.6 million barrels per day.

Factors such as crude theft, aging oil pipelines, low investment, and divestments by major oil companies have all contributed to declining production.

Despite various assurances from the federal government and the NNPC about meeting the country’s OPEC quota, Nigeria recorded an estimated 30 million barrels of underproduction in the first four months of 2024.

Efforts to curb insecurity in the Niger Delta, where Nigeria’s oil is extracted, have included a multi-billion-naira contract with local security groups and substantial spending on official security agencies. Nonetheless, oil theft, asset vandalism, and sabotage remain rampant in the region.

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NNPC Seeks $2 Billion Crude-Backed Loan Amid Mounting Debts

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Mele Kyari - Investors King

The Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) is exploring the option of securing a $2 billion loan using crude oil pre-payments as collateral.

Mele Kyari, the group’s general manager, revealed that the company is seeking a loan against 30,000-35,000 barrels per day of crude production.

However, he did not disclose the exact amount of money NNPC aims to raise.

“We have no problem covering our gasoline payments. This is just money for normal business and not a desperate act,” Kyari told Reuters.

The funds raised from this loan are intended to support all of NNPC’s business activities, including boosting production growth.

Despite the assurance of financial stability, NNPC’s financial situation has raised eyebrows, with the company reportedly owing around $6 billion to international traders for imported petrol.

These traders have indicated that NNPC is taking longer to make payments, exceeding the typical 90-day window.

Further complicating matters, NNPC’s debt includes overdue payments ranging from $4 billion to $5 billion for January imports alone.

This has led several international petrol suppliers to withdraw from recent tenders.

Kyari remains optimistic, stating that the loan will be a syndication with regular partners who have longstanding business relationships with NNPC.

He anticipates concluding the deal within the next two months.

The identity of the lender remains uncertain, with sources indicating that the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) may be unable to extend its exposure to Nigeria to the desired level.

Efforts to get confirmation from Olufemi Soneye, NNPC’s chief corporate communications officer, regarding the new oil-backed loan proved unsuccessful.

This potential $2 billion loan follows NNPC’s recent $3.3 billion emergency crude repayment loan secured on August 16, 2023.

Arranged by Afreximbank, the loan was aimed at supporting the naira and stabilizing the foreign exchange market. It also intended to back the federal government’s monetary and fiscal reforms.

NNPC’s pursuit of the new loan underscores the challenges facing Nigeria’s oil sector, which has been grappling with fluctuating oil prices, operational inefficiencies, and financial mismanagement.

As the company seeks to bolster its finances, the outcome of this loan negotiation could have significant implications for the country’s economic stability and its energy sector’s future.

The oil-backed loan strategy reflects NNPC’s broader efforts to leverage its crude production capacity to secure necessary funding.

However, the increasing debt levels and delayed payments to international traders highlight the pressing need for comprehensive reforms and efficient management within Nigeria’s oil industry.

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Shell Plans to Drill in South African Block Near Namibian Discoveries

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Shell Plc has announced plans to explore an offshore oil block in South Africa, near the maritime border with Namibia where recent discoveries have sparked a surge in interest.

The oil giant aims to drill up to five wells in the Northern Cape Ultra Deep license block, a move confirmed by Shell through an email statement following an online notice by SLR Consulting.

The Northern Cape Ultra Deep block, situated approximately 300 kilometers off the west coast of South Africa, extends to depths of up to 3,200 meters.

Shell holds a 40.5% operating stake in the block, sharing it with partners Qatar Energy (40.5%), Umbono (10%), and OK Energy (9%).

This exploration venture comes on the heels of successful discoveries by Shell and TotalEnergies SE in Namibian waters north of the new block.

These findings, dating back to 2022, have prompted a scramble among energy companies for more exploration acreage in the region, highlighting its potential as a lucrative oil and gas frontier.

Shell’s decision to drill in this area underscores the company’s strategic focus on expanding its offshore portfolio in regions with proven hydrocarbon potential.

The proximity to Namibian discoveries suggests a promising outlook for the Northern Cape Ultra Deep block, potentially unlocking new resources that could bolster South Africa’s energy sector.

However, Shell’s offshore activities have not been without controversy. Environmental groups in South Africa have previously obstructed some oil and gas exploration projects, citing concerns over the potential impact on marine ecosystems and coastal communities.

The announcement of new drilling plans is likely to reignite debates over the environmental and economic trade-offs of offshore oil exploration.

Despite these challenges, Shell and its partners are pressing forward with their plans, emphasizing the importance of responsible and sustainable energy development.

The company has pledged to adhere to stringent environmental standards and to engage with local stakeholders to address concerns and ensure transparent operations.

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