Connect with us


Court truncates Shell’s oil exploration move in South Africa



South African High Court has ordered Shell to immediately put in abeyance its seismic survey along the Wild Coast in the Eastern Cape until it has undertaken a full environmental impact assessment and adequate public consultation.

The Grahamstown High Court in Makhanda ordered the oil giant and its project partner, Impact Africa, to immediately cease their seismic survey under exploration right 12/3/252 until they have obtained environmental authorisation under the National Environmental Management Act.

The ruling marks a major win for environmental activists and coastal communities, as well as small-scale fishing and tourism industries along South Africa’s eastern coast. It is the second application for an urgent interdict to stop Shell’s seismic survey in less than a month.

Judge Gerald Bloem found that Shell’s exploration right was “unlawful and invalid” because the company had failed to meaningfully consult with the communities and individuals who would be impacted by the seismic survey.

The applicants provided a “massive body of expert evidence” on the threat of harm to marine life against which Shell’s denial that its activities will have an adverse impact cannot be sustained, the judge said.

“This evidence establishes that, without intervention by the court, there is a real threat that the marine life would be irreparably harmed by the seismic survey,” the judge found.

In addition, the applicants also established that the seismic survey would negatively impact the livelihood of small-scale fishers and harm communities’ cultural and spiritual beliefs.

The application was brought on behalf of non-profit Sustaining the Wild Coast as well as the Amadiba, Dwesa-Cwebe, Port Saint Johns and Kei Mouth fishing communities by the Legal Resources Centre and Richard Spoor Attorneys.

Because minister of mineral resources and energy Gwede Mantashe also opposed the application the judge ordered both the minister and Shell to pay the applicants’ costs.

The nearly five months-long survey was to be undertaken in a 6,000km² area in the Transkei exploration block. It consists of a research vessel firing air guns every 10 seconds, creating shock waves that penetrate through 3km of water and 40km into the earth’s crust.

The survey started on 8 December after an earlier court application for an urgent interdict was denied on the basis that “irreparable harm” to marine species was not proved. This first application was brought by Cullinan and Associates for Greenpeace Africa, Natural Justice, the Border Deep Sea Angling Association and the Kei Mouth Ski Boat Club. Last week these applicants filed for leave to appeal the judgement.

The seismic survey triggered widespread public opposition and nationwide protests due to concerns that the powerful, deep water blasting could irreparably harm marine life, as well as small-scale fishing and the tourism industry.

The Wild Coast is one of South Africa’s biodiversity hotspots that houses many endangered marine species as well as four marine protected areas. To date, a petition has attracted over 440,000 signatures and 18,500 written objections.

An environmental impact assessment in 2013 resulted in the approval of an Environmental Management Programme (EMPr) in 2014. An independent audit was also carried out in 2020 to test the efficacy of the EMPr’s mitigation measures.

But marine experts say research on the effects of seismic testing on marine ecosystems has progressed significantly since 2013 and so the EMPr is outdated. They also say that Shell’s proposed mitigation measures will be ineffective as they are not based on current science or acoustic modelling.

Shell entered the South African offshore exploration sector in November 2020 when it acquired a 50 per cent operating stake in the Transkei and Algoa blocks, off the east coast. UK-based independent Impact Oil and Gas holds the remaining 50pc interest.

The Transkei block is northeast of Algoa in the Natal Trough Basin, where Impact has identified what it calls “highly material prospectivity.”

The Algoa block is in the South Outeniqua Basin, a short distance east from Block 11B/12B that contains the Brulpadda and Luiperd exploration wells, where Total has made significant gas condensate discoveries.



FG budgets N40bn to settle MDAS’ electricity bill debts in 2024



The Federal Government has budgeted N40 billion to settle the electricity bill debts of ministries, departments, and agencies (MDAs) in 2024.

The item listed as ‘Settlement of MDAs’ electricity debts,’ was in the sectoral allocation details released by the Chairman, Senate Committee on Appropriations, Solomon Adeola and seen by newsmen.

The amount is the same as what was budgeted for 2023 but higher than what was budgeted in 2022 (N27 billion).

There are about 11 power distribution companies in Nigeria. The companies were formed when the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) was broken up into successor generation, transmission, and distribution companies in November 2013.

The Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) transfers electricity created by power generation companies to the 11 Discos, who then sell the electricity to end users to generate income for the power value chain.

However, over time, the DisCos have been complaining that some end users, especially MDAs of the Federal Government, have not paid their energy bills.

Earlier in January 2022, the Executive Director of the Association of Nigerian Electricity Distributors, Sunday Oduntan, disclosed that all the Federal Government MDAs and the military owed the electricity distribution companies over N90 billion.

He noted that despite ongoing discussions on settlement, the debt had continued to pile up over the years since the power sector was privatised in November 2013.

He said, “All MDAs’ debt is more than N90 billion and the military is part of that. We came on board in 2013 and since then, how much has been paid by the MDAs?

“There was a time when a former Minister of Power said they (the government) had concluded arrangements on how to settle the debt, but as I speak with you, the bills are still unpaid. Since privatisation, there have been issues around the MDAs’ debt.”

Also, in January 2023, the Managing Director of Eko Electricity Distribution Company (EKEDC), Miss Tinuade Sanda, disclosed that MDAs owed the DisCo N40 billion as of December 2022.

In October 2023, the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) warned the Federal Government that failure to settle its electricity bills totalling N25 billion may result in the disconnection of its facility, Ajaokuta Steel Co. Ltd, from the national grid.

The debt occurred despite the provision of electricity subsidy by the Federal Government.

The Federal Government in Q2 2023, paid about N135.23 billion for electricity subsidy, a 275 percent Q/Q increase from N36.02 billion paid in Q1 2023, according to information obtained from NERC.

Also, the World Bank, in its Nigeria Public Finance Review/ report, noted that the failure of many federal, state, and local government MDAs to pay their electricity bills is one of the reasons the government pays electricity subsidies.

It added that the Federal Government has been financing electricity costs through public subsidy since the privatisation of the sector, and the subsidy is one of the reasons for the underperformance of the power sector.

Continue Reading


Nigeria’s crude oil export hits N8.5trn in Q3’23 — NBS



Nigeria’s crude oil exports rose to N8.5trillion in the third quarter of 2023 according to a recent report by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

According to the report, the increase in export of crude oil contributed to an increase in Nigeria’s trade surplus. The trade surplus rose by 47 percent, quarter on quarter, QoQ, to N1.88 trillion from N1.28 trillion in Q2’23.

The NBS in its Foreign Trade Goods report for Q3’23 noted that the improvement in trade surplus followed a 54.62 percent QoQ increase in total trade to N18.8 trillion in Q3’23 from N12.74 trillion in Q2’23.

According to the NBS, “Nigeria’s total merchandise trade stood at N18.8 trillion in Q3, 2023. The value indicates an increase of 54.62 percent over the amount recorded in Q2, 2023 as well as by 53.16 percent when compared to the value recorded in Q3 2022.”

“Total exports accounted for 55.02 percent of total trade in the reviewed quarter with a value of N10.345 trillion showing an increase of 60.78 percent and 74.36 percent over the value recorded in the preceding and corresponding quarters respectively.

“Exports trade in the third quarter of 2023 was dominated by crude oil exports valued at N8.535 trillion representing 82.50 percent of total exports while the value of non-crude oil exports stood at N1.810 trillion;accounting for 17.50 percent of total exports; of which non-oil products contributed N677.57 billion or 6.55 percent of total exports.”

The Bureau however motes that, “the share of total imports accounted for 44.98 percent of total trade in the third quarter of 2023 with the value of imports amounting to N8.457 trillion in Q3, 2023.”

“This value indicates an increase of 47.70 percent and 33.33 percent respectively over the value (N5.726 trillion) and (N6.343 trillion) recorded in the preceding and the corresponding quarters of 2022.

“The significant rise in exports and imports in the third quarter of 2023 compared to the preceding and corresponding quarters was largely driven by a considerable increase in trade activities within the period.

“The value of re-export stood at N35.95 billion representing 0.35 percent of total exports in Q3, 2023. The top ranked re-exported commodity was ‘Parts suitable for use solely or princip Other with N10.19 billion, followed by ‘Vessels and other floating structures for breaking up’ valued at N10.04 billion, ‘Lightvessels, fire floats, floating cranes, and other vessels not specified in 8905’ amounting to N5.77 billion, Aluminium waste and scrap valued at N1.50 billion, and ‘Parts of other gas turbines not specified’ valued at N1.12 billion. Ivory Coast, Gabon, Ghana, Cameroon, and South Korea were the top five re-export destinations respectively.

“Analysis by trading partners in Q3, 2023, shows that Spain recorded the highest exports from Nigeria with a value of N1,274.07 billion or 12.31 percent of the country’s total exports, this was followed by India with N1,015.13 billion or 9.81 percent, the Netherlands with N988.66 billion or 9.56 percent, Indonesia with N758.59 billion or 7.33 percent, France with N720.45 billion or 6.96 percent of total exports. Altogether, exports to the top five countries amounted to 45.98 percent of the total value of exports.

“However, analysis by traded products shows that the largest export value in the third quarter of 2023 remained ‘Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals, crude’ with N8,535.61 billion representing 82.50 percent this was followed by ‘Natural gas, liquefied’ with N1,016.45 billion accounting for 9.82 percent, and ‘Urea, whether or not in aqueous solution’ with N109.68 billion or 1.06 percent of total exports.

“Data on Imports in the third quarter of 2023 reveals that the top five partner countries of origin for imports to Nigeria was China (N1,973.34 billion or 23.33 percent), this was followed by imports from Belgium with N996.65 billion or 11.78 percent, India with N802.07 billion or 9.48 percent, Malta with N561.37 billion or 6.64 percent and the United States of America with N502.92 billion or 5.95 percent of total imports.

“The values of imports from the top five countries amounted to N4,836.36 billion representing a share of 57.18 percent of total imports. The commodities with the largest values of imported products were ‘Motor Spirit Ordinary’ valued at N1,921.03 billion or 22.71%, ‘Gas oil’ with N736.66 billion or 8.71 percent and ‘Durum wheat (not in seeds)’ with value amounting to N331.76 billion or 3.92 percent of total imports,” the report stated.

Continue Reading


COP28: NUPRC unveils regulatory framework for energy transition, decarbonisation, others



The Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC) has unveiled the Regulatory Framework for Energy Transition, Decarbonisation and Carbon Monetisation  for upstream operations in Nigeria.
The unveiling was at the ongoing United Nations Climate Change Conference 2023 (COP28) in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
The commission’s Chief Executive (CCE), Mr Gbenga Komolafe, made the announcement in his keynote address at a roundtable discussion themed “Driving Sustainable Upstream Operations to Achieve Just and Equitable Energy Transition”.
Komolafe, in a statement on Monday said the commission was championing the decarbonisation of upstream operations.
This is to sustain investments for energy security and economic development in line with national aspirations and UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The CCE said that the framework was hinged on seven pillars including; Natural Gas Shift, zero routine gas flaring and methane abatement.
Others are carbon market development, technology and innovation, upstream operations efficiency, incentive mechanism, collaboration and risk management
“I urge all stakeholders, government agencies, operators, international development partners and multilateral agencies to join us as we progress the steady implementation of the Framework within the coming months, which will be underpinned by applicable Directives, Guidelines, and Regulations.
“Interestingly, the implementation of the Regulatory Framework has already commenced on the heels of the introduction of the Gas Flare, Venting and Methane, Prevention of Waste  and Pollution Regulations 2023.
“This provides the renewed legislative basis to take firm actions on gas flaring, venting and fugitive emissions,” he said.
Similarly, the implementation of the 2022 Guidelines for Management of Fugitive Methane and Greenhouse Gases Emissions in the Upstream Oil and Gas Operations in Nigeria, which was inaugurated at COP27, is achieving commendable outcomes.
Furthermore, Komolafe highlighted the success of the ongoing execution of the Nigeria Gas Flare Commercialisation Programme (NGFCP) as a major climate action initiative for Nigeria in the nation’s energy transition pathway.
He said the NGFCP projects, when fully executed, would mop up 50 per cent of Nigeria’s flares accounting for an equivalent of 6-7 Million tonnes of CO2 emission per year, in addition to significant socio-economic impacts.
While acknowledging the considerable support of international development partners on the NGFCP, the NUPRC boss called for enhanced assistance from climate action stakeholders in technical areas, project financing/funding, carbon credit earning framework and capacity building.
During the ensuing discussion, the participants exchanged ideas on how Nigeria can attain climate neutrality through energy transition and the implementation of decarbonisation measures.
In attendance were Claire Wang, Office of the U.S Special Presidential Envoy on Climate Change, Martina Otto, Head of Climate and Clean Air Coalition, UN Environment Programme, Jonathan Banks, Global Director, Clean Air Task Force, and Mrs Funmi Ogbue, Managing Director, ZIGMA Oil and Gas, among others.
Continue Reading