The Buzz: This Week in Africa

At the beginning of this week Brent Crude is trading at $67.97 per barrel, WTI at $64.95 and natural gas at $2.86 per million BTU (at 16:11, 5 February 2018 in South Africa). Here are AOP’s top five stories from the last seven days.

Tanker with 22 Crew Members Missing off Benin

A tanker with a crew of 22 Indian nationals has been reported missing off the coast of Benin. Hong-Kong based shipping company Anglo-Eastern and India’s foreign ministry made the statement on February 4. Contact was lost with the ship on Friday afternoon.

The tanker Marine Express was at anchorage offshore Cotonou, Benin, and was carrying 13,500 tons of gasoline. Authorities in Benin and Nigeria are coordinating with the Indian government to search the Gulf of Guinea waters. The incident comes less than a month after the MT Barret, also anchored off Cotonou, was hijacked and the crew and ship ultimately released in Lagos.

Brent Crude Price Nears One Month Low

Despite a wider market sell off and a stronger dollar, the price of Brent crude continued to fall last week to fall, reaching its lowest point in nearly a month. At the beginning of last week, Brent crude oil was down 0.8 percent and reached 1.5 percent by Friday (2 February), putting it at a total drop of 2.7 percent.

Last week also saw a domino effect on the market with Asian shares down to their lowest in over a year; Wall Street dropped from record highs and three major U.S indexes had their worst weekly losses in over two years, despite seeing record highs the previous week.

Congo-B Approves Plan to Dissolve Utilities

Following the failure to reach sufficient profit, the government of the Republic of Congo has approved plans with three public limited companies to replace the inefficient power company, Société Nationale d’Electricité (SNE) and water utility company, Société Nationale de Distribution d’Eau (SNDE).

The three new public limited companies will include two that manage the power and water sectors respectively, while the third will over see electricity transmission. The plan is awaiting parliamentary approval.

Angola: Sonangol to Build Refineries to End Fuel Imports

In an effort to end the country’s dependence on fuel imports, Angola’s state oil company Sonangol has received more than 60 proposals to help build refineries. Despite being Africa’s second largest crude producer, Angola imports 80 percent of its fuel products. Sonangol has given companies until February 10 to submit proposals.

Sonangol stated it plans to build a 200,000 barrels per day oil refinery in the city of Lobito by 2020 and another in the northern enclave of Cabinda. The call for proposals comes after a contract was signed at the end of 2017 for Eni to optimize and increase capacity at the Luanda refinery over 24 months.

Qatar Petroleum Farms Into Total South Africa Block

Total has sold a 25-percent stake in its exploration block 11B/12B in South Africa to Qatar Petroleum, the companies announced today.

According to Reuters, Total’s new partnership with Qatar Petroleum in South Africa could help the French supermajor to grow its LNG business in Qatar. The Gulf state presently produces 77 million tons per year of LNG and intends to grow production to 100 million tpa.

Block 11B/12B is in the Outeniqua Basin covering an area of 19,000 square kilometers with water as deep as 1,800 meters. Following the new farm in agreement, the partners in the block are Total with 45 percent, Qatar Petroleum with 25 percent, CNR International with 20 percent and Main Street with 10 percent.