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AssessmentsNov 18, 2019 | 10:00 GMT
Color satellite image of the Niger Delta region in Nigeria. The city of Lagos, the second-most populous city in Africa, can be seen west of the river on the Atlantic coast.
Nigeria's Risky New Oil Revenue Plan
Life just got harder for major oil companies operating off the coast of Nigeria. On Nov. 4, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari signed a law updating the terms of the country’s production-sharing contracts that, among other changes, increase royalties on international oil firms. As Africa's top crude producer, Nigeria is almost entirely financially dependent on its petroleum operations, which account for 90 percent of government revenue. The current oil glut has thus hurt Nigeria's pocketbooks particularly hard, forcing it to consider drastic measures to squeeze out more money from its growing offshore operations. But by placing international companies in its crosshairs, Nigeria instead risks driving away the crucial deep-water investments in needs to keep its lights on.
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SnapshotsMay 9, 2019 | 21:23 GMT
Libya: The Government of National Accord Takes Aim at French and Other European Firms
The Libyan civil war had already greatly complicated business operations for foreign companies, which have long had to deal with risks stemming from fighting among the country's powerful militias and from jihadist attacks. Now, firms must also worry about which of the country's two governments their home country backs. On May 9, the economy minister of the U.N.-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA), based in Tripoli, announced that his ministry is suspending the operations of 40 companies including Total, Thales, Siemens, Petrofac and Alcatel-Lucent (now owned by Nokia), because their business licenses had expired and not been renewed. The concentration of French companies on the list, which also included some Egyptian and other regional companies and firms from other European countries, and the fact that Total was the only company on the list with significant operations in the country, suggest that the directive targeted France, specifically, for political reasons.
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SnapshotsMay 7, 2019 | 15:46 GMT
Turkey, Cyprus: The Eastern Mediterranean Heats Up Over Drilling
A number of geopolitical interests intersect in the Eastern Mediterranean, where Turkey, Greece, Cyprus, Israel, Egypt and the United States are all striving to increase their influence. The discovery of oil and natural gas reserves in the region has added yet another layer of complexity to their ongoing competition. On May 6, Turkey said its ships would continue to explore for oil and gas in an area of the sea that Cyprus considers to be part of its exclusive economic zone.
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AssessmentsApr 17, 2019 | 10:30 GMT
A citizen shows his support for Venezuela's current president, Nicolas Maduro, (pictured in the poster on the left), as well as former President Hugo Chavez.
In Venezuela, the Tide Is Turning on the Opposition
For the first time since opposition leader Juan Guaido announced his bid to unseat President Nicolas Maduro in January, efforts at regime change in Venezuela face the real risk of failure. Though Guaido is free to move about the country and rally crowds against Maduro, there are still no signs he has the support of the key military commanders needed to initiate a prompt and relatively peaceful political transition, despite the United States and the opposition's best efforts. But as long as his military remains loyal, Maduro's government will remain in Caracas -- leaving Guaido, as well as other prominent opposition figures in Venezuela, vulnerable to a crackdown that could end his bid for power altogether.
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SITUATION REPORTApr 12, 2019 | 21:56 GMT
Venezuela: Washington Discusses Heavier Sanctions
U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has met with finance ministers of the Lima Group -- a multilateral body of 14 American countries that seeks a peaceful exit to the Venezuelan crisis -- and representatives of other nations including Spain, Italy, Portugal and the United Kingdom to discuss potentially imposing heavier sanctions on Venezuela, according to an April 11 announcement by the U.S. Treasury Department.
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SnapshotsMar 14, 2019 | 21:31 GMT
Israel: ExxonMobil Mulls an Offshore Bid, Signaling a Shift in the Middle East Business Climate
ExxonMobil is reportedly exploring whether to bid on blocks in Israel's ongoing second offshore bidding round. The firm, which has held discussions with Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz regarding a possible bid, has until March 28 to submit a letter of interest and documentation to prequalify as an operator for a block. ExxonMobil would then have until June 17 to submit a bid on any of the 19 available blocks. Should it win in July, the company would become the first oil and gas supermajor to enter Israel's oil and gas sector. But given that ExxonMobil has significant interests in Arab Gulf states, its discussions with Israel suggest that it is confident – perhaps due to outright Arab assurances – that entering the Israeli market will not spark retaliation against its operations in the Arab world.
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SnapshotsFeb 28, 2019 | 23:13 GMT
Cyprus: Another Offshore Discovery Will Intensify a Regional Struggle Over Energy
ExxonMobil ended weeks of speculation with its announcement on Feb. 28 that it had struck a significant gas deposit at its Glaucus prospect, southwest of Cyprus in the eastern Mediterranean Sea. Initial assessments suggest the reservoir could have between 142 billion and 227 billion cubic meters (5 trillion and 8 trillion cubic feet) of gas in place. Though just how much of this is recoverable remains unclear, the discovery adds to the growing amount of natural gas found in Cypriot waters. When coupled with Noble Energy's Aphrodite gas field, discovered in 2011, and Eni's Calypso, discovered in 2018, Cyprus could well possess 500 billion cubic meters of gas even without taking future possible discoveries into account. Though this quantity of natural gas would justify the construction of an undersea pipeline or a gas liquefaction plant for shipping via tanker, the geopolitical complications of the eastern Mediterranean must be taken into account.
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AssessmentsSep 5, 2018 | 09:30 GMT
Members of the Libyan Special Forces, who are loyal to Khalifa Hifter, ride in a pickup truck past a billboard bearing the strongman's image in Benghazi during September 2017.
France and Italy Each Go Their Own Way on Libya
There's much that France and Italy agree on when it comes to Libya: Both want to stabilize the country so that it doesn't become a haven for terrorism or a staging ground for African migrants, and both wish to prevent its two squabbling governments from fighting one another. But try as they might, the two countries just can't get onto the same page. Paris and Rome back opposite sides of the conflict, and they have two very different views on what should happen next. After bringing together Libya's main players for a conference in May, Paris convinced the various factions to hold elections on Dec. 10. Rome, in contrast, has no wish for any elections this year and is instead planning to hold its own conference on the future of Libya in October. The divergence stems in part from the countries' different imperatives and areas of interest in the North
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On SecurityJun 19, 2018 | 09:45 GMT
A picture shows internally displaced people and residents unload a truck with goods of first necessity, food and blankets in Naunde, northern Mozambique on June 13, after fleeing the recent attacks.
Gauging an Emerging Jihadist Threat in Mozambique
They've been around for some time, but it was only late last month that they started to grab more of the world's attention. On May 27, the Islamist militant group Ahlu Sunnah Wa-Hamo attacked Monjane, a town in northern Mozambique's Cabo Delgado province, beheading 10 people. But the group has been active for months, attacking police stations, silencing opponents, robbing banks, looting weapons and burning villages. And given that Cabo Delgado just happens to hold vast reserves of natural gas, the emergence of Ahlu Sunnah Wa-Hamo doesn't just affect Mozambique but the global energy industry. One week after I wrote about the factors to consider when gauging the success of counterinsurgency and counterterrorism operations against a militant group, now is the perfect opportunity to assess how Ahlu Sunnah Wa-Hamo stacks up against the measurement criteria.
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SnapshotsMar 21, 2018 | 19:32 GMT
UAE: How a New Oil Deal Diversifies Emirati Energy Ties
The United Arab Emirates' state-owned oil company is continuing to sign a string of major oil deals. Abu Dhabi's National Oil Company (ADNOC) has signed yet another deal to split up its offshore concessions. On March 21 ADNOC signed a deal with China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) granting the company a 10 percent stake in the Umm Shaif, Nasr and Lower Zakum concessions for the next 40 years in exchange for $1.175 billion. Through this and other deals, Abu Dhabi continues to shake up the landscape of its upstream energy sector as it strategically re-prioritizes long-term deals that are geared toward Asian consumers.
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AssessmentsFeb 22, 2018 | 09:30 GMT
Liquefied natural gas flows through an underwater pipeline to Israeli power plants.
The Eastern Mediterranean's New Great Game Over Natural Gas
For the energy industry today, few other places present such a complicated chessboard. The eastern Mediterranean has elicited more and more interest from major international oil companies, particularly in the wake of a series of discoveries crowned by the giant Zohr natural gas field off Egypt in 2015. Thanks to the sea's myriad riches, BP, Eni, ExxonMobil and Total have all descended upon the area, yet it has been less than plain sailing. In the past month, Italian oil and gas company Eni has found itself embroiled in two major political disputes -- one between Israel and Lebanon and another between Cyprus and Turkey -- over its activities in the region. With every country intent on using their resources for their own ends, the political challenges facing energy companies are part of the region's underlying complexity and challenges, all of which will likely stymie the development of much of the
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SnapshotsFeb 15, 2018 | 19:29 GMT
Europe: Turkey Pokes and Prods Over Cyprus
The waters of the Eastern Mediterranean have been heating up in the wake of disputes among the many countries active in the region. On Feb. 11, Cyprus announced that the Turkish military was holding exercises that blocked a ship operated by Italian oil and gas company Eni. Cyprus had hired the company to drill in its waters, which Turkey claims as its own. Then on Feb. 12, a Turkish patrol boat ran into a Greek coast guard ship that was anchored off the islands of Imia/Kardak, claimed by both Greece and Turkey. In response to both events, the European Union issued a statement asking Turkey to "refrain from any actions that might damage good neighborly" ties.
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