The Buzz: This Week in Africa

At the close of this week Brent Crude is trading at $46.35 per barrel, WTI at $44.66 per barrel and natural gas at $2.80 per million BTU (end of day, November 3, 2016). Here are AOP’s top five stories from the last seven days.

Ophir announces floating LNG project will go ahead

Ophir Energy’s milestone Fortuna FLNG project in Equatorial Guinea had hit some rough waters, with Schlumberger backing out of the project in June, but Oliver Quinn, Ophir’s director for Africa and new ventures, told Reuters on Tuesday that the company does not need equity partners to complete the work. With the cost of the project nearly half the initial estimates, sitting at around $450 million, the FLNG project in Equatorial Guinea’s offshore Block R can go ahead, even if new partners are not identified, Quinn said.

AfDB approves $600 million loan for Nigeria

In a move to boost Nigeria’s economy and its diversification efforts, the African Development Bank approved $600 million in loans, the first installment of a $1-billion support program. The remaining $400 million is to be approved in 2017, according to the development bank. The loan is in line with Nigeria’s aim to diversify its oil-dependent economy, in particular with infrastructure investments in power projects and transportation. Infrastructure projects in Nigeria accounted for 30 percent of the 2016 budget.

Shell commences drilling in Tanzania

Shell began its drilling program in the Mafia Deep basin offshore Tanzania on Thursday, with two wells planned in Blocks 1 and 4, the company announced in a press release. Shell, the operator, and its partners, Pavilion Energy and Ophir Energy, will invest a total of $80 million into the program, bringing in the Noble Globe Trotter 2 rig to drill in waters up to 2,300 meters deep. The wells will meet the partners’ remaining exploration requirements in their current licence. The development of the blocks is part of the Tanzania LNG project, “which is a critical part of Tanzania’s national energy policy under the umbrella of the Vision 2025,” according to the press release.

Nigeria militants attack oil pipeline

A Niger Delta pipeline operated by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, the state-owned oil company of Nigeria, has been attacked by militants, the government announced Wednesday. The attack came just after President President Muhammadu Buhari met with community leaders from the Niger Delta on Tuesday. The leaders asked him to pull out the army and spend more money on development in the region. Garba Deen Muhammad, spokesman for NNPC, said production had been impacted, but did not give specifics.

Oil and gas prices take a plunge

After climbing above $50 per barrel last week, oil prices took a plunge again this week as the markets reacted harshly to a report showing U.S. crude inventories went up by 14.4 million barrels in the week to October 28, coming to a total of 482.6 million barrels. The report by the Energy Information Agency highlights concerns that the US supply of hydrocarbons has continued to flood the market, dragging oil and gas prices lower. The report also came on the heels of increasing doubts that OPEC will be able to hash out an agreement to lower output.