Tag Archive | Energy

MPs attack DPE on energy communications

DPE has a tough time on energy issues…

business-communicationsPoor communications with the public on the energy crisis and the limited ability of the ministries involved to communicate with state owned companies (SOCs) were issues raised during a report on SOCs falling under control of the department of public enterprises (DPE) during a meeting of the relevant portfolio committee.

The meeting was called to respond to the AG’s report on the performance targets of the DPE.

One opposition member complained that all bonuses paid to Eskom executives should be keyed to whether the lights stayed on or not. Despite there being six state utilities being reported on, it was questions on Eskom that occupied most of question time.

AG report about targets only

AGSA logoWaleed Omar, audit manager, auditor general’s office (AGSA), indicated to Parliament that no significant findings representing failings on issue targets were identified in their review of the DPE annual performance plan for the 2015/16 financial year.

It was explained by Sybrand Struwig, manager of AGSA, that any annual audit of actual performance period was prepared against pre-determined objectives, coupled with indicators and targets as contained in the annual performance report of a department.  Such confirmed compliance with laws and regulations.

The usefulness of this performance information against targets and the reliability of performance reporting enabled AGSA to compile an audit of a department or SOC to reflect an opinion or conclusion on performance against predetermined objectives and how risk had been managed.

DPE met standards set

Ms Matsietsi Mokholo, DPE acting DG, expanded on this by saying what in fact AGSA was saying to parliamentarians was that the exercise had been to assess DPE’s compliance according to AGSA’s matrix; how it aligned with the National Development Plan (NDP); and how issues were dealt with in terms of the medium strategic frameworks report (MTFs) made regularly to Parliament over the given period 2014 -2019.

She said the auditor general had confirmed that DPE was on track with regards to this alignment.  Indeed, she said, DPE had identified its key challenges and the risks which “could materialize” if measures within state owned entities under their control were not taken.

Eskom the only real SOE problem

In answer to MPs questions on Eskom, Ms Mokholo said that DPE has identified that the tense situation of load shedding needed to be carefully managed and monitored in order to avoid a blackout.   Currently the country has moved towards stage three of load shedding in order to avoid a blackout.

The issue was the only matter in the DPE portfolio of state owned companies (SOCs) that had major problems; otherwise DPE had a good record. However, she said, there were questions still being asked about how Eskom would prevent stage four which would apply in the case of a total blackout. This issue was now being addressed in its strategy plan and, consequently, the AG was satisfied that issues had been addressed not ignored. That was what the report was all about.

Medupi on or off

Other issues addressed were the unrest at the partly constructed Medupi power plant, which was difficult because the workers involved were not public servants, but the matter had been addressed and a resolution hoped for.   Another issue covered was a strategy to how further avert any downgrading of Eskom from a shareholder perspective, again most difficult because much was outside of DPE’s control.

DPE’s control over SOEs limited

Other matters being discussed were the whole issue of the reliance of SOCs on government guarantees and the reliance SOCs on road transportation.   It emerged during the discussion how little DPE could intervene in SOC management and parliamentarians said that thought should be given to this as the success of an SOC was imbedded in a minister’s performance agreement.

Ms Mokholo concluded that DPE currently was responsible for six SOCs. She said, “The challenges currently faced by Eskom should not be seen as a reflection on the performance of the entire portfolio. Eskom was the only SOC which was facing serious challenges”.

She repeated the fact that the others were doing well. AGSA confirmed that the corporate plan of any SOC was audited consistently throughout the portfolio of DPE’s SOCs and, as was reported in October 2014, the current portfolio at that time, with the exclusion of SA Express, did not have any material findings that worried AGSA.

Financials to come at end of year

Waleed Omar, audit manager, explained that AGSA did not wait until the end of a financial year to audit a department or entity’s financial plans. Financial audits were a completely separate issue. AGSA would provide input before the end of the financial year.

In this case, internal auditors of each SOC looked at the reliability of the information reported and whether the quarterly results were supported by the matching documents. AGSA would then rely on the work of internal audits. He said there have not been any instances at this stage within DPE at this stage showed any material differences between the findings of internal audits and those of AGSA.

Mr Omar explained that AGSA has considered the work of internal audits for the first two quarters of the financial year for 2014/15. AGSA followed a process according to international standards but this particular meeting showed that DPE’s operational plans were compliant.

DPE admits private sectors skills needed

When the committee started to discuss the gradual development of DPE into commercial sectors, Mr Ratha Ramatlhape, DPE director, added that many of the new strategies being triggered in the core entities of energy, manufacturing and transport would require bringing in technical experts from the outside to deal with the challenges being faced within the DPE portfolio.

Ms N Mazonne (DA) raised the fact that Eskom had paid bonuses to executives, none of which had achieved 100% of their key performance indicators (KPIs) which were therefore far too easy to reach.  DPE needed to tell Eskom, she demanded, that executive KPIs had to be aligned to whether the lights were kept on or not.

This indicated, the DA said, what the minister of public enterprises had been telling Parliament for some time to the effect that the level to which the DPE could intervene with SOCs was far too limited.   DPE could only play an advisory role it seemed, Mazonne said, and there needed to be legislation in place urgently to resolve this.

Legislation expected on minister’s powers

Ms Mokholo responded that DPE has already started working on giving ministers the power to intervene based on the Companies Act.  For example, she said, the DPE had a meeting with the Eskom board to deal with interventions which were not necessarily based on legal prescripts, an example being the co-generation contracts. She confirmed legislation was being looked at.

Opposition members were of one voice that although it was unfair to blame DPE for the electricity crisis, nevertheless, with the country at stage three of load shedding, there was no way DPE could deny that the economy and people’s lives were being badly affected. Current communication with Eskom was very poor, they said, and a national broadcast was needed to allay the air of panic that existed in some quarters of the economy.

The DPE responded that it had advised the Minister and the war room to release such a statement or the President to make a statement in his budget vote speech.

Other articles in this category or as background

Public enterprises reports on controversial year – ParlyReport

South Africa remains without rail plan – ParlyReport

SA Energy gets war room status – ParlyReportSA

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Shedding light on Eskom

Editorial……  week ending 30 April 2015

Breaking up old empires……

Lynne BrownOne parliamentary meeting we did attend with anticipation in the last few days but have not reported to our clients , despite the media attention, was the appearance of minister of public enterprise Lynne Brown with her public enterprises team for the scheduled presentation of the department’s strategic 5-year and annual performance plan to the public enterprises portfolio committee.  A non-event if ever there was one.

Minister Brown is a hard working lady and managed to fit this in out of respect for Parliament.

Unfortunately, she had absolutely nothing to add to what has been said in the media, adding yet once again that depressing qualification made in every government statement that  “loading shedding will continue for the next two years in order to avoid a total blackout”.

Doors need opening

One comment she did make was worth noting, however,  She said on the Eskom issue, “I have a eskom logoresponsibility as shareholder representative but cannot interfere from a political level in the management and operations of the SOCs.   However, if matters go wrong, I have oversight responsibility.” 

In our humble view, oversight responsibility is not enough if action is called for, especially if every minister has to sign a performance agreement to deliver on his or her appointment.  She also bemoaned the fact that, as we write, that no definitive “war room” statement has been made to tell the country what is going on.

Going some…

The minister commented during the meeting, almost as an aside, that Eskom is and always had been the same animal for some 50 years now, employing at the moment some 42,000 people. Change had to come, she said.

We spot legislation in the making, in the same way that minister Gordhan Pravin must push his way into local government and make changes.  Management talent for a three tier government and six massive state owned utilities is running short.

Other articles in this category or as background
Energy gets war room status – ParlyReportSA
Eskom goes to the brink with energy – ParlyReportSA

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Grand Inga hydro power possible

DRC clean energy destined for SA….

drc flagOpposition members of the parliamentary energy committee expressed a certain level of cynicism regarding the Grand Inga project treaty signed recently between South Africa and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the subject of which is a multi-phased hydro power station to be built on the Congo River.

They noted that the DRC is ranked second only to Somalia as the worst country on a worldwide index of failed states    However, despite this reservation, MPs in general noted that on the whole the project had “exciting possibilities”, albeit long term ones.

These points were made during a presentation by the department of energy (DoE) on the Inga treaty recently signed by President Zuma.   Inga 1 and Inga 2 dams are already in operation, supplying low output power. The issue of a hydro power link with the DRC has been “on the table” for some fifteen years.

Congo River cusec power

The new third Inga dam, which will be by far the largest and hence the title “grand” for the whole project. The project will be approximately 250 kms from the capital Kinshasa and 50kms from Africa’s West coast, the Congo River having the second largest and strongest flow after the Amazon, mainly as a result of the dams being sited after one of the largest waterfalls in the world. However, the Congo has by no means the longest and largest drainage area.

DoE said in response to the statement that the DRC was a failed state that whilst it recognised that the DRC had been unstable for years, especially in the North Eastern Region, most of the trouble was more than 200km from the Inga site and even when the civil war at its height, there had never been any interruption of power services.

The Grand Inga project, said DOE in quoting the developers, would be able to supply some 40,000MW in clean energy when all seven phases were completed for development in Central, East and Southern Africa.

SA power line to local grid

It is foreseen that new transmission line to South Africa necessary will be associated with the first phase of the project and which would probably traverse Zambia, Zimbabwe and Botswana.   It is estimated that the first phase will cost some R140bn at current prices.

The meeting in question was attended by the deputy minister of energy, Thembisile Majola, and DoE represented by Ompi Aphane, DDG: policy, planning and clean energy, DoE, who indicated that the treaty provided for the establishment of an Inga Development Authority (ADEPI). There would also be a joint ministerial committee drawn from the two signatory countries and a joint and permanent technical committee to facilitate the project.

Earlier failures

The deputy minister said that the new treaty had at last put behind the failed Westcor project, involving Billiton and essentially a SADC body involving SA, Angola, Botswana, the Congo and Namibia with the DRC as lead.

In 2010, the DRC announced it was pulling out of the arrangement and would develop the Inga dam complex on its own, which move collapsed the Westcor consortium. However, despite much wasted time and effort, Aphane said a good deal of the feasibility work had been completed.

Minister Majola said that what had been learnt from Westcor was that any future proposition had to be on a win/win basis for each participant in order to avoid such a collapse.    It was now recognised that the DRC had to meet its own requirements first as a basis for any project to succeed as a consortium, the minister added.

Getting in first

An MOU with the DRC was subsequently signed on this basis in 2011 and the current treaty provides not only a potential to generate the stated 40 000 MW after its seven phases but to provide relatively cheap, clean energy at any point, of which RSA has secured rights to import 12 000MW.

Ompi Aphane explained that in return DRC have agreed to grant SA the right of first refusal (ROFR) for both equity and off-take in respect of any and all future phases of the project or any related hydro-electric development of the Congo River in and around the Inga complex.

Once RSA is “locked in” to phase one and proceeds with implementation, it is committed to take 2500 MW as an off take.

SA gets lowest terms

US$ 10m is payable by SA in terms of the treaty into an escrow account as commitment fee in terms of the ROFR.    Aphane said that SA will be charged the lowest possible tariff and no other off-taker will be able to receive better terms than SA.

He continued, “DRC are to ensure that for each phase of the project, the developer company will reserve at least 15 per cent of the available equity to SA and South African entities, public or private, and SA shall be the first to be offered such share capital.”

Aphane said the “designated delivery point” will be at Kolwezi, about 150 km from the DRC/Zambia border and SA will be responsible for the 150 km line needed.   The DRC will either provide a concession to enable SA to construct and operate that portion of the line to the Zambian border, or commit to develop it themselves.   One of the DRC’s most obvious priorities was the supply of power to Kinshasa and Zambia’s “copperbelt”.

Parliament to approve

DoE concluded their presentation by telling MPs that the treaty would be introduced to Parliament for ratification in due course and negotiations on the outstanding protocols on tariff setting also needed to be finalised.    On a critical path plan were also negotiations with transit countries and a final feasibility study on the direction that the transmission line would take.

Ompi Aphane, in responding to a number of MPs questions, said that on environmental issues, which were in article 14 of the treaty, carbon credit matters has been taken into consideration and more would be heard on this.

SA not involved in dam

On the critical issue of finance, Ompi Aphane said that MPs should realize that other than the possibility of transmission lines, SA was not involved in dam construction and the country would be paying for power on connection, plus in all probability building a transmission line to connect to the SA grid.   Consequently there were no major debt issues arising at present.

Ntsiki Mashimbye, SA’s ambassador to the DRC, was present at the meeting and commented that the Grand Inga project “was not a project in isolation, not even just about electricity, but about industrializing Africa as a whole.”

The minister concluded by commenting that the integration of the African continent was the target as well as providing clean energy sustainability for South Africa and all the benefits that would ensue, including resale to other nations.
Other articles in this category or as background
http://parlyreportsa.co.za/uncategorized/grand-inga-hydroelectric-power-getting-under-way-at-last/
http://parlyreportsa.co.za/energy/integrated-energy-plan-iep-around-corner/
http://parlyreportsa.co.za/energy/doe-talks-biofuels-and-biomass/

Posted in Electricity, Energy, Enviro,Water, Facebook and Twitter, Finance, economic, Fuel,oil,renewables, Land,Agriculture, LinkedIn, Trade & Industry0 Comments

Energy gets war room status

Cabinet creates energy crisis committee…..

Editorial…….

eskom logoIn retrospect, for the cabinet having had to resort to establishing an energy war room is probably a good thing inasmuch that a meeting of minds appears to have taken place at all levels of the ANC Alliance on energy matters. The situation is indeed serious.

The message from business and industry that the “energy crunch” is not only immensely threatening to the economy appears to have got through, accompanied probably by the realisation that so many regular failures, power or otherwise, are threatening to the ability of the ANC to stay in power.

Foggy outlook

Perceived at first as an issue mainly affecting the rural poor, the failure of Eskom to deliver on most of its promises; the bumbling of the department of energy on independent power producer parameters and the to-ing and fro-ing of cabinet on the adoption of nuclear energy into the energy mix, has been somewhat of a pantomime.

For months we have been reporting from Parliament on the ambivalence of Eskom and the reluctance of the department of energy and public enterprises to chart a course on energy.

The whole truth…

NA with carsHowever, what is a matter of concern is the fact that in all those lengthy power point presentations and detailed reports to parliamentary committees that we have witnessed or read, the ball has been completely dropped on the energy issue and badly so.   At the very least Parliament were not given the full facts, particularly in the case of Eskom, thus threatening the parliamentary oversight process.

Deputy President Ramaphosa has now been designated to oversee the turnaround of SAA, SAPO and Eskom. The cabinet statement says regarding this, “Working with the relevant ministries, SAA will be transferred from the department of public enterprises to national treasury. The presidency will closely monitor the implementation of the turnaround plans of these three critical SOCs that are drivers of the economy.”

Maybe next year

It is comforting therefore to some extent to know that such a “war office” has been established and that cabinet has adopted a five-point plan to address the electricity challenges facing the country but it just seems incorrect that a relatively empty, tired statement such as “more cross cutting meetings to meet the challenges facing  the country will be adopted” was all that could be added in the form of action before ministers disappeared for the Christmas recess, including, we understand, the contractor’s staff at Medupi.

elec gridIt seems that nobody is in charge over the same period nor interested enough to be there and nobody is really looking much beyond January 15, when South Africa starts switching on again.

 

Perhaps in 2015, some reality will return to South African politics and amongst the governing party. They may learn that there is a direct relationship between being in power and keeping the power on and we foresee many more direct confrontations on this issue and others in Parliament during the coming year.

 

 

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Eskom crosses its fingers

Medupi:  Eskom on final run ….

eskomCollin Matjila, interim CEO of Eskom, told a joint parliamentary portfolio committee on energy and public enterprises that Eskom had learned a number of lessons in the building of coal-based power stations, probably the most important being the need for a suitably qualified and capacitated contractor oversight team to handle the complexity and extent of any project such as the construction of Medupi.

Although power from the new plant was to be introduced to the grid this Christmas Eve from Medupi, and incrementally more onwards, full power would only be happening at stable levels by winter 2015.

With both the boiler contractor and control and instrumentation contractor problems causing delays and a strike affecting between 40% -70% of the workforce, the 6-month delay had been recognised by both treasury and cabinet in financial re-calculations.

Minister notes….

Also addressing the committee, public enterprises minister, Lynne Brown, stressed that in her view “the corner had been turned at Medupi”.  She said that cabinet had approved a package to “support a strong and sustainable Eskom to ensure energy security”.   The inter-ministerial committee, which was comprised of finance, public enterprises and cooperative governance and traditional affairs, had now reviewed all options before them both on electricity and energy generally.

Eskom then stated that the second unit, Kusile would be added to the grid in a start-up process in the first half of 2015 and Ingula, the third and smaller hydro unit, in the second half of 2015.

No rest with summer

Matjila cautioned MPs that additional capacity would be needed during summer this year, despite any reduced seasonal demand.   This was because of the need to accommodate “planned” outages, which were set to take up 10% of full capacity being supplied.

By referring to full capacity, this was a theoretical maximum availability, Matjila said, subject to the reality of unplanned outages.  Eskom warned of a possible inability to meet demand throughout the remainder of the financial year, as distinct from seasonal timing, if it should be financially restrained in its use of it expensive-to-run standby open-cycle gas-turbines.

More price increases

Recovery of unbudgeted costs in this area for the year under review were part of the problem facing Eskom, Matjila said, and the recent announcement by the national electricity regulator, Nersa, of a rise of just short of 13% in electricity prices in April 2015 was no doubt motivated by this factor amongst others.

However, he said, Eskom may also have to deal with a higher maintenance in December, including half station shutdowns for three stations. He qualified this in a later Engineering News report which stated that 32 of Eskom’s 87 coal-fired generating units required “major surgery”, whilst four were in a “critical condition”.   November was also critical, he said, if all did not go as planned.

Despite continued questioning by parliamentarians on the state of progress at the second “New Build” power station, Kusile, no specific answers were provided by either Eskom or the minister other than the fact that Kusile had experienced “protected” and “unprotected” strikes in contractor workforces during the year.

Strikes

Matjila stressed that the workforce was back on site at both locations. “Additional resources had been mobilised to mitigate delays, he said, and additional shifts have been introduced 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to accelerate progress on site.  Eskom was liaising with contractors to deal with any issues which had the potential of causing further delays, he said.

In his overall concluding remarks, Matjila said a five-point recovery plan had been introduced to improve the performance of the Eskom coal-fired fleet, with the utility having reaffirmed its objective of “returning to an 80-10-10 operating model, which implied 80% plant availability, 10% planned outages and 10% unplanned events across a period of a year.”

Outside inputs

On the situation with regard to the independent power producers (IPP) programme, Matjila said he was aware that the department of energy (DoE) had processed  over one thousand applications during the three IPP 3-stage bidding process and this had stretched DoE resources considerably.

He said it had been a complicated process to secure sustainable competitive prices in respect of the particular technologies involved. What had to be also factored in was the burden of hidden costs of storage and back-up which had to be borne by Eskom, not the IPPs.

Also the proximity and availability of energy supplies on the supply in providing the “appropriate infrastructure” was being dealt with and overcome.

It was important, Matjila said in conclusion, for Eskom to ensure that potential and online suppliers met grid code requirements and he was aware that some IPPs were struggling with this process.
Other articles in this category or as background
http://parlyreportsa.co.za/energy/medupi-key-short-term-energy-crisis/
http://parlyreportsa.co.za/cabinetpresidential/eskom-says-medupi-and-kusile-will-have-great-local-benefits/
http://parlyreportsa.co.za/energy/eskom-warns-on-costs-of-new-air-quality-rules/
http://parlyreportsa.co.za/energy/dpe-reports-on-eskom-and-it-utilities-to-parliament/

Posted in Electricity, Energy, Enviro,Water, Facebook and Twitter, Finance, economic, Fuel,oil,renewables, Land,Agriculture, LinkedIn, Public utilities, Trade & Industry0 Comments

Houses_of_Parliament_(Cape_Town)

Parliament : some clarity on policy emerging

Departments brief new Parliament..

Editorial….

Again and again the words ‘certainty’ and ‘uncertainty’ have arisen in parliamentary working committees,  not only in terms of the foreign investment climate but also in terms of borrowing, building and direction of strategies to achieve growth and the creation of jobs.

More than anything else, uncertainty seems to be South Africa’s greatest economic stumbling block. Even public utilities, let alone investors, bankers and private sector industrialists, have made submissions asking for clarity on government policy and decision making.

Cabinet indecision could be the problem. Leadership could be the problem. Let the political commentators decide but from a parliamentary viewpoint this week one sensed the first elements of certainty and clarity.

IRP being finalised

No doubt the news that the integrated resources plan is finally happening will bring more certainty to the energy sector and the recent nuclear and hydro decisions have let everybody know where that sector is going.

Whether recent decisions are considered right or wrong in the health sector, Minister Dr Motsoaledi seems to have a firmer hand on the tiller.  Similarly in the transport sector, and more than just hopefully but certainly, the first Brazilian train is due to arrive and new coaches will shortly be going through some new stations that are being built.

Minister Pravin Gordhan has brought his experience with SARS to bear on local government and his unsmiling manner will no doubt rattle many a cage down the line and produce the necessary repayment plans.   He appears, from reports coming to Parliament, to be getting around the constitutional problem of local affairs being out of bounds to national affairs and will bring a number of errant provincial and local employees to court.

Saving the day

Although Parliament still cannot amend a money Bill but only debate same,  national treasury seem to have come to the party to plug the gap in certain instances, thus getting rid of expressions like “currently in negotiation on possible funding” in departmental and state utility reporting. But a what cost and will this be enough?  Be that as it may, the gap has been plugged.

Whether recent events are good or bad news according to the governing or opposition parties, confirmation of direction in government policy takes the crystal ball out of planning and strategy.   Decisions can be made.

We sense at the moment some direction in parliamentary affairs and in the coming weeks, whilst there will be surprises for some such as the Areva nuclear build award, disappointments for some such as no reversal of the decision to proceed with carbon tax and the worry of the decision to increase electricity tariffs despite the multi-year fixing, at least we are beginning to know for certain where we are.

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Karoo Fracking

Fracking, shale gas gets nearer

Mineral resources gives update on fracking, shale gas

In what appeared to be justification for cabinet’s support of the furtherance of shale gas exploration, director general of the department of mineral resources (DMR), Thibedi Ramontja, told Parliament recently that the discovery of gas deposits in the Karoo “was an exciting opportunity to create jobs and that this was going to make a difference to people’s lives in terms of the NDP”.

He was briefing the select committee on land and mineral resources on the department’s budget vote, his audience representing a different cluster and a more inclusive one than when DMR briefed the National Assembly’s portfolio committee the week before.

Whilst a gazette had been published in February 2014 imposing certain restrictions on the granting of new applications for shale gas “reconnaissance”, DMR said that current approvals did not yet authorise hydraulic fracturing itself.     If this was allowed, “certain amendments” would be made to the appropriate Act.

EIA to come

An environmental impact assessment would be completed in conjunction with the department of water affairs “within the second quarter of 2014/5” to determine “responsible practices” for hydraulic fracturing and to “provide a platform of engagement with stakeholders”.   DMR said that this process would be “streamlined”.

It was noted by DMR in their presentation to parliamentarians that both shale gas exploration and production, together with coal bed methane, will be authorised under environmental impact regulations.

Warning on BEE

The briefing on the DMR strategic plan for five years and this year’s budget vote for the department was preceded by a statement by the deputy minister of mineral resources. Again the warning was conveyed to the mining and petroleum industry that it was generally in default of the mining charter.

With the tenth anniversary of the charter now present, DG Ramontja said, findings by DMR indicated that whilst some targets had been partially achieved in terms of BEE and the charter, others were very much lagging. “Action will be taken”, she said.

Other articles in this category or as background
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//energy/shale-gas-exploration-gets-underway/
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//energy/move-by-minister-to-qualify-shale-gas-exploration
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//energy/fracking-regulations-enhance-safety/

Posted in BEE, Electricity, Energy, Enviro,Water, Facebook and Twitter, Fuel,oil,renewables, LinkedIn, Public utilities, Trade & Industry0 Comments

Medupi is key to short term energy crisis

Eskom bogged down with Medupi …

medupiActing director general of the department of energy (DoE), Tseliso Maqubela, told Parliament before it went into short recess that once Eskom’s new Medupi power station starts supplying the grid the country would have “turned the corner”.

“It is well known we are challenged on electricity”, he said, adding that the fresh view is being taken on the independent system marketer’s operators (ISMO) system which would contribute to recovery in the medium term through the addition of independent power producers (IPPs).

DG of energy policy, planning and clean energy, Ompi Aphane, in his presentation told parliamentarians that, as per the State of Nation Address (SONA), “vigorous attention is now being given to the establishment of the operator’s office to implement independent power supplies.

Financial  certainty, they say

On the subject of infrastructure build generally in the electricity sector, financial certainty was now being restored in the energy industry, Maqubela said, with the result that R120m in energy investment is now planned, “some of which has already come in and projects started.”

The overall plan was to divide power supply between Eskom and IPPs on a 70-30 basis through the national grid by 2020, decisions on refining and gas replacing diesel also being necessary in the short term in terms of a revised energy mix to meet future demand.

Other immediate focus areas for DoE were to increase access to electricity; increase “the momentum” of the installation of solar units; finalise the integrated energy plan; address maintenance and refurbishment programmes; “strengthen” the liquid fuels industry and facilitate decision taken on the nuclear programme.

Interface problems

A major issue being tackled was the in the area of household connections, according to the DoE presentation. Dr Wolsey Barnard, in charge of energy projects and programmes, explained that whilst Eskom was often bringing power to an area, the municipal backbone installations were either not ready or municipal skills were lacking.  DoE had recognised the problem and was busy trying to bridge this gap, he said, with skills training or by working on temporary permissions from municipalities with Eskom assistance.

However, Dr Barnard said it was encouraging that whereas the position ten years ago could have been described as hopeless, the situation was now specific and targeted to small areas, in most cases the most difficult remaining.

At the moment, 1,5m additional households will be connected by 2019 but as this is still insufficient to meet the target of universal electrification by 2025, additional funds are now being allocated by the state and plans made.

Barnard calls for co-operation

In order to achieve this, it was essential, Dr Barnard said, that the modalities regarding national, provincial and local government powers be revised on the ability for Eskom to assist in view of the lack of skills and the handling of appropriation funding.

He called for urgent attention to the fact that power installation funding by DoE to municipalities should be “ring fenced” and accounted for. This area had to be focused upon urgently, he noted.

He said that too many times Eskom had supplied power to an area only to be told by a municipality that there were no funds for distribution boxes or no skilled persons available to connect lines.  Dr Barnard said he was aware that the economic planning department were “in the picture” and legislation was planned despite the constitutional barriers but again he wanted to emphasise that this issue had to be resolved urgently.

EFF members asked if there were plans to specifically assist the unemployed with electricity connections and wanted a list of all power cuts to the different areas and the reasons for these.

Priorities from both sides

ANC member Ms Makwbele-Mashele asked the DG that with all the emphasis on “greening”, the high cost of gearing industry to meet new emissions and pollutants standards and the recently introduced air quality regulations, whether in his opinion these issues were hindering the country’ energy and industrial development.  The ANC also asked, as the fuel price seemed to be “out of our hands”, whether Sasol could increase production locally.

The DA wanted more detail on the exact steps at present underway to increase co-generation of energy to solve the immediate energy crisis.   This was in the light of the fact that the ISMO process had initially failed simply because DoE could not foresee the end state of independent power production, they said.    They also felt that a paper was needed to get clarity on how the integrated energy plan and the integrated resources plan locked into the NDP.

The DoE promised to respond to MPs questions in writing through the chair as the minister of energy had taken up most of the debating time available.

Other articles in this category or as background

  • http://parlyreportsa.co.za//bee/electricity-connections-target-far-short/
  • http://parlyreportsa.co.za//energy/electricity-tariffs-billiton-tells-its-side/
  • http://parlyreportsa.co.za//uncategorized/major-metros-open-up-on-electricity-tariffs/
  • http://parlyreportsa.co.za//energy/eskom-issues-alerts/

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Competition Commission turns to LP gas market

Focus may be on LP gas allocations….

LP gasThe Competition Commission has announced that it will conduct a market inquiry into the state of competition in the LP gas sector.    Public comment is invited from those in the liquified gas petroleum (LPG) sector and the Commission has said that such an inquiry is being initiated because it has reason to believe that there may be features of the sector that prevent, distort or restrict competition.

In its announcement the Commission specifically draws attention to the fact there are six refineries in the country, namely – Sapref, Sasol Synfuels, PetroSA Synfuels, Natref, Enref and Chevref.

Of these, the Commission says, “Only two allocate a certain proportion of their total LPG supply to wholesalers, which may have an impact on competitive dynamics in the downstream wholesale market.”

Value chain additions

The Commission’s inquiries will also extend, they say, to these LPG wholesalers who act as middlemen, or brokers as referred to by the petroleum and gas industry, who “play” the market with allocations from manufacturers.

“Due to the shortages in LPG supply, these firms may have an impact on competitive dynamics at the wholesale level of the market. This impact will be explored during the market inquiry,” the announcement said.

Public participation

The Commission concluded that it would hold public hearings and hoped that “business enterprises along the LPG value chain, other related business enterprises, end-users, government departments, public entities, regulatory authorities, industry associations and any other stakeholders” would assist with their inquiry.

Other articles in this category or as background

  • http://parlyreportsa.co.za//communications/gas-act-changes-closer-to-implementation/
  • http://parlyreportsa.co.za//energy/doe-talks-biofuels-and-biomass/
  • http://parlyreportsa.co.za//uncategorized/competition-commission-promises-health-care-inquiry/

Posted in Energy, Facebook and Twitter, Fuel,oil,renewables, LinkedIn, Special Recent Posts, Trade & Industry0 Comments

Liquid fuels industry short on BEE charter

Fuel industry attacked on BEE …

On the subject of black economic empowerment  (BEE), acting director of the department of energy (DoE), Tseliso Maqubela, told Parliament, before it went into short recess, that the major target for his department was to ensure a more immediate transformation of the liquid fuels industry.   Economic transformation in the energy sector was a top priority, he said, and he told the portfolio committee on energy that much more was needed to be done by this sector to improve the situation.

This was reminiscent of similar complaints made of the mining industry under the same BEE charter by the director general of the department of mineral resources.

Victor Sibiya said, as DoE’s  deputy director of petroleum products, also acting, that one of the three pillars of his department’s programme was compliance, monitoring and enforcement and whilst 30% of petroleum licensing permits showed around a 50% compliance factor this was not enough and new legislation was on its way to “toughen up” on B-BBEE regulations.

New code called for

The challenge at present, he said, was that the process of penalisation was far too cumbersome and did not deal sufficiently with repeated offenders.   A revised code was urgently required, he added.

On a separate subject, Sibaya said that as far as the basic fuel price (BFP) was concerned all calculations were based as if the final product had been produced in South Africa.  DoE was at work, he said, on a paper studying the various elements that contributed to the BFP, particularly with regard to smoothing out fluctuations to the consumer and attempting to align municipalities to the magisterial zones which governed the distribution.

Retail margins were also being studied in a second round of estimations working with operations carried out by what was referred to as the “DoE model service station”. Other factors included the shortly to be published biofuels price schedule which would govern the mix with petroleum products.

Reaching out

Further to economic transformation programmes, Sibaya spoke of a programme to establish fuel stations in deeper rural areas supplying other forms of energy needed by households such as LPG and extending services to include food, household retail goods and community services to improve quality of household life amongst the poor, another NDP priority.

In broad terms the acceleration of LPG supplies to rural areas, in fact to all areas in general, would contribute greatly, he said, to this objective.

Acting DG Tseliso Maqubela said he would respond to the parliamentary enquiry on the volatility of fuel prices in a prepared paper shortly, as this issue was also in the process of being studied at present. When asked about the levy on purchase of vehicles and where the funds went, Maqubela said this was in national treasury’s domain and was “probably an attempt by treasury officials to mitigate on carbon emissions”.

Refinery decisions

Touching on petroleum issues, DG of energy policy, planning and clean energy, Ompi Aphane, told the committee that a decision would be taken during 2016 on expanding oil refining capacity in South Africa based on the conclusions of the liquid fuels infrastructure plan.

Contributing to the basic costs of energy at the moment in South Africa, he said, were current world tensions particularly in the Middle East.   Self-dependency, however, was unfortunately only a long-term goal, he said.

A similar plan to increase refining was an increase in gas supplies based on the current gas usage master plan that had been started and this programme would be concurrent with an urgent expansion of gas storage facilities in the country.

Minister weighs in

Most of parliamentary question time was occupied by the new minister of energy, Tina Joemat-Pettersson, who spoke broadly on energy issues; the fact that she recognised the need for urgent decisions by her ministry; and the necessity for her recently launched ministerial advisory committee on energy to receive input “in order that the opinions of all stakeholders can be considered.”

Such a ‘brains trust’, she said, should also include representation from the portfolio committee on energy itself.

Other articles in this category or as background

http://parlyreportsa.co.za//?s=bee+liquid+fuels

http://parlyreportsa.co.za//bee/eskom-black-owned-coal-mining/

 

 

Posted in BEE, Energy, Facebook and Twitter, Finance, economic, Fuel,oil,renewables, LinkedIn, Mining, beneficiation, Special Recent Posts, Trade & Industry, Transport0 Comments

New biotechnology strategy on the way

Biotechnology and aspects of economy….

A new South African biotechnology strategy, with a focus on the economy and how biotechnology could be used to create a positive socio-economic impact would soon be launched, department of science and technology (DST) has said.

This has now been cleared by cabinet but very little is known on the actual document being prepared by DST other than it will focus on co-ordination between the various government departments dealing with biomass, bio technology, energy and the environment.

Creating jobs

On the subject of creating biofuels and biomass, the department of energy has told parliamentarians that the main objective of any such exercise, if it was undertaken in the agriculture industry, would be to create jobs.       However, such a move towards the use of biomass would not take place if national food or water security was jeapordised in any way.

This answer was given to the portfolio committee on energy by Muzi Mkhize, chief director hydrocarbons, department of energy (DOE), when briefing parliamentarians on DOE’s current strategy towards biofuels.  He said that in the South African context, a specific requirement of the biofuels strategy was to create a link between first and second economies and the focus was not only on jobs but specifically on creating employment in under-developed areas.

No document on the subject at this stage has reached Parliament.

Earlier articles on this subject:
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//energy/doe-talks-biofuels-and-biomass/
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//cabinetpresidential/biofuels-development-stays-in-limbo/
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//cabinetpresidential/energy-resources-doing-it-better-and-quickly/
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//energy/doe-talks-biofuels-and-biomass/

Posted in Enviro,Water, Facebook and Twitter, Fuel,oil,renewables, Land,Agriculture, LinkedIn, Special Recent Posts, Trade & Industry0 Comments

Oil/sea gas debate re-started by Parliament

Parliament calls for public input on gas debate….

Roughnecks wrestle pipe on a True Company oil drilling rig outside WatfordOn the prospects of transforming the gas industry through partnerships, the parliamentary portfolio committee on energy has invited comments.  Recent presentations to the portfolio committee have led to a renewed belief that gas, whether found and transformed, offshore or onshore, needs more focus.

The background to the invitation for comment, which will have no doubt come from chair Sisi Njikelana, says, “Current development of regional gas-fields will lead to natural gas becoming a more important fuel source in South Africa. With the availability of natural gas in neighbouring countries, such as Mozambique, Namibia and Tanzania, and the additional discovery of offshore gas reserves in South Africa, the gas industry in South Africa is poised to undergo expansion.”

The notice continues, “ Natural and coal gas play separate roles in the energy system, with natural gas being used solely as a feedstock for the production of synthetic fuels, and coal gas as an industrial and domestic fuel.”

“The gas industry in South Africa is regulated by the Gas Act 48 of 2001, which is currently being revised. As part of the build up to discussing amendments to this Act, Parliament wishes to engage the public on the topic of “Prospects of transforming the gas industry through partnerships”.

“Sub topics (as part of the main theme) can include (but not limited to) finance, pricing, infrastructure development, procurement, technology research and development, key success factors, skills development and transfer, community involvement and expansion of the gas industry in South Africa.”

Public hearings are scheduled for 30 January 2014. Interested individuals, organisations and institutions wishing to comment were requested in the notice to forward written submissions to the Portfolio Committee have been asked to declare an interest in making an oral presentation to the portfolio committee itself if they so wish.

Posted in Energy, Enviro,Water, Facebook and Twitter, Finance, economic, Fuel,oil,renewables, LinkedIn, Mining, beneficiation0 Comments

Integrated energy plan (IEP) around the corner

IEP a few months off

Benedict MartinsAn integrated energy plan (IEP) for South Africa covering the full energy spectrum will definitely be published before the year end, according to the director general, department of energy (DOE), a fact also confirmed by minister Ben Martins when addressing an energy conference in Johannesburg recently.

Ms Nellie Magubane, when addressing the relevant portfolio committee under chair, Sisi Njikelana who had called for an update on the energy plan, was accompanied by minister Ben Martins at the time and present for his first meeting in Parliament. The minister acknowledged and highlighted the importance of unfolding the plan as part of the country’s investment credentials as soon as possible.

Continuing energy story

Whilst re-confirming that the strategy was still at public participation stage, DG Magubane said there was “no end-state tomorrow” with the plan but rather a reflection of a “phased approach as the country’s appetite for energy as it  develops”.

The process began, she said, with the 1998 White Paper, the development of independent powers system operators (ISMO) and the accompanying ISMO Bill also awaiting the production of the IEP, the National Energy Act in 2008 and regulations on resources that have followed. The IEP this year would start the energy initiative rolling to be followed by gas development plans.

Not just supply factors

In the years since apartheid, said Magubane, when energy had different directives which were focused primarily on just maintaining supply, what had changed significantly were economic, environmental and social imperatives which now were being drawn in and superimposed. “The fixation with supply capacity is not now the only criteria to be considered in the energy paradigm”, she said.

The liquid fuels shortages of 2005 and subsequent electricity disruptions in the years up to 2008, Magubane said, had shown the need for coordinated planning to avoid disparate plans and contradictory initiatives in the sectors of electricity, liquid fuels and gas.

A twenty-year road map for the liquid fuels industry was in progress by the department, she said, and a gas planning infrastructure plan was to be developed once the extent of resources were better understood.

International view

Through time, and above all because of energy security, Magubane said, scenario planning has changed in South Africa to take in security, environmental and climate response factors. In conjunction to long-term climate change policy and agreements, lessons had been learnt from the IEA, Austria, Belgium, Canada, the Czech Republic, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway and Spain, she said.

When asked what had been learnt from a study tour of the USA, DG Magubane said that the primary aspect learnt there was the success of establishing localised energy resources, focusing on what mattered most to the USA and reducing dependence on imports. We learnt, for example, that we must not try a change the impossible or employ unrealistic factors but move according to what was a fact locally. “For example, South Africa has a lot of coal but little water and these factors have to be built in, not ignored.”

She said that the overseas studies where different economies and different state policies were involved, due note that the position had changed radically in South Africa had to be acknowledged, as had been the case in many of those countries.

Control of resources

“For example, government has come from a position where in SA we were determining the appropriate level of involvement with the liquid fuel levels industry during transition to a rapidly globalising picture, to now having to maintain a strategic role in shaping all key sectors of the economy.”

In response to queries from parliamentarians, she acknowledged that the IEP to be produced would not incorporate any powers to the minister, who “would rather be able to exercise any powers affecting energy matters through normal regulatory enforcement contained in the many pieces of legislation that applied to the energy sector, such as the Energy and Gas Acts.”

Pricing restructuring

On pricing issues as far as the IEP was concerned, Ms. Magubane responded to questions that national treasury figures had so far been the base of determinations but in the light that submissions and input from stakeholders which were to emerge from the process now in progress, the issue of price factors could in all probability be reshaped.

In answer to complaints that that there was still no indication from her, or DOE, where the country was going in hydrocarbons, electricity or renewables and what pricing factors were involved for urgent investment needs, the chair asked that DOE be given time to develop the final report or “everything would go in different directions”.

DG Magubane assured parliamentarians that the final plan would enable everybody to weigh up infrastructure plans with government policy, even bearing in mind that the position is constantly changing given such issues as hydro input from neighbours, gas exploration in various forms and global tensions.

previous articles on this subject
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//uncategorized/mineral-and-petroleum-development-bill-grabs-resources/
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//cabinetpresidential/president-obama-and-power-africa/
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//cabinetpresidential/nuclear-goes-ahead-maybe-strategic-partner/
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//energy/petrosa-has-high-hopes-with-the-chinese/

Posted in Electricity, Energy, Facebook and Twitter, Finance, economic, Fuel,oil,renewables, LinkedIn, Mining, beneficiation, Public utilities, Trade & Industry0 Comments

Fracking moves in November, says Minister Davies

Fracking equals jobs…….

frackingFracking for shale gas is under serious consideration by the minister involved and the department of energy, Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe told Parliament recently, giving his reasons to parliamentarians for this statement as resulting from a cabinet discussion on economic imperatives, the need to create jobs and advance growth.

Minister of trade and industry, Rob Davies, also weighed in on the subject with a comment a few days later.  He also said that the cabinet had discussed the issue recently and they had concluded that the country could not rely just on a tentative upturn in the United States and Europe to help local growth and job creation but must commence its own initiatives.

Lobby for and against

Minister Davies acknowledged that there was indeed a strong environmental lobby against hydraulic fracturing but said government now needed to consider proposals for and against starting exploration in the light of the “cabinet lekgotla that had discussed global economic developments and which had decided to advance the work on taking a decision on the matter.”

Davies said Cabinet believed shale gas could be a vital component in South Africa’s quest for energy security, but at this stage the potential extent of local reserves remained unknown. “It is our intention to move before the end of this administration”, meaning before mid-November when Parliament closes.

Gas nearby

He said that also Mossgas has a resource of about one trillion cubic metres of gas, Mozambique having about an estimated hundred trillion cubic metres with some estimates that the shale gas deposits in South Africa are far bigger.

“If this was the case, this whole question could be a very, very significant game changer in terms of the energy situation in South Africa”, he said.

Handle with care

On the subject of opposition from the Karoo anti-fracking lobbies, he said that government would not proceed in an irresponsible way.  “We obviously have to bear in mind all the environmental implications including, of course, the nature of the relationships with any company that gets any kind of permit – what is going to be the delivery in terms of a positive impact on the economy.”

He mentioned that in an overall picture, the main constraint to growth that requires immediate attention was the energy situation. He said that discussions now were at senior government level.

previous articles on this subject
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//energy/chemical-industries-plan-for-training-skills-in-fracking/
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//cabinetpresidential/to-ignore-fracking-would-be-an-opportunity-lost/
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//energy/move-by-minister-to-qualify-shale-gas-exploration/
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//cabinetpresidential/water-affairs-looking-at-nine-months-to-answer-on-fracking/

Posted in Enviro,Water, Facebook and Twitter, Fuel,oil,renewables, Labour, LinkedIn0 Comments

MPRDA Bill brings changes in BEE and exploration rights

BEE consolidated

coal miningMoses Mabuza, when briefing Parliament on the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Amendment (MPRDA) Bill, told parliamentarians that amongst the many issues proposed by the new Bill an important issue was the setting up of penalties for non-BEE compliance across both the mining and liquid fuel sectors.

However, he said that he was confident that all stakeholders in the both industries would look back on a their association with black empowerment with understanding and pleasure, despite the opposition to the Bill on various differing and wide-ranging issues at present.

Bill will create right environment

Mabuza, who is deputy director general, mineral and policy promotion,department of mineral resources (DMR), said industry will be surprised see how much this legislation in the years to come will have contributed  to the country’s development, both in the mining, liquid fuels industry and business in general.    He told told the portfolio committee on mining resources, when briefing MPs on the Bill page by page, that it was important to understand government’s viewpoint as far as the oil and gas industry is concerned.

“We want to see that no partnerships created by the Bill are mutually exclusive or self interested”, he said. “We wish to create an environment where the state participates together with mining and gas industry with nation’s developmental objectives in mind.”

Blank cheque

“We give you the assurance”, Mabuza said, “that any regulations which are to follow will provide the kind of certainty sought in both the mining and petroleum industry”.

Opposition members still called to see the basis of the regulations first before further debate, since they claimed that at present, and as things stood, the wording of the Bill amounted to giving the state “a blank cheque” by not knowing what regulations were to be imposed.

The minister objected to this, saying that trust was called for and DMR would sit down with other departments and stakeholders and agree upon regulations within the framework  of the Act. “This is the only way things can work”, Mabuza said. “That is why the Act is a framework, with us all working from this plan.”

Working with stakeholders

In tracing the history of the MPRDA, deputy Mabuza and his co-presenter for policy development in DMR, Adrian Arendse, continually referred to stakeholder meetings throughout the process over the years, including stakeholder workshops where the various parties consulted were broken down into sectors such as environmental, petroleum industry, mining industry, finance and bankers and legal interests.

“We received commendable inputs from these workshops and in an overall sense, particularly where mining and petroleum was concerned and we have received both consensus and support for the proposals now before Parliament.”

Not conducive

Opposition parliamentarians denied this saying from what they had heard that there had not been overall consensus on many issues and the complete lack of uncertainty.   Lack of clarity on state motives was a total disincentive to investors, commented one MP.    Said another opposition MP, “Mining industry representatives have said in the media that this Bill will not grow the industry, so tell us why you think it will.”

Deputy director Mabuza, in response, again gave assurances from government that the proposed Bill represents no fundamental shift in government policy. He said clarity and certainty would follow in the course of time as regulations became evident.

Different horses on courses

Further on BEE matters, questions were asked on how government intended putting into force a parallel BEE charter that incorporated the liquid fuels charter, which called for less than 10% ownership as a target, and the mining charter which was at 27%, plus other anomalies.   One MP said that in gas exploration there were enormous developmental costs and the charter made no sense on these issues.

Mabuza said he was aware of the “vast differences” between the two documents and this would have to be discussed in rounds of talks to come and considered carefully. Some of those talks had already started, not referring with whom and on what particular subject.

However, he said there were also big differences in the industries themselves, in both matters of beneficiation and style of operations. DMR wanted to land up in a situation where nobody was disadvantaged, either the poor or the investor.

Exploration rights change

On exploration rights, Mabuza said where the Bill really differed from previous regimes was that the “first come first served” principle in exploration and rights licensing was to be abolished totally. “This system leads to mediocrity”, he said. “We have learnt much over the 15 years with such licensing regulations, during which time South Africa has lost it share in global resource exploration, going from 3% to a current 1%. We do not wish to go down this road any longer”, he said on licensing.

“The first person served often meets the absolute minimum requirements and in so many cases, South Africa has had years of brownfields investments and never the greenfields operations that number 5 or 20 in the queue might have offered for a license on the same project. Mediocrity resulted and South Africa has suffered consequently”, he said.

Mining and energy split

In answer to questions on the liaison between DMR and the department of energy (DOE), Mabuza described the sphere of control under the MPRD Act as being simply a question of “downstream” energy resources being for DOE and “upstream” matters on exploration mining licences and industry regulations being for DMR.  Obviously, he said, environmental issues were handled by those competent to do so.

Mabuza said that in coming up with the proposed Bill, DMR had consulted with, or observed, the practices of Canada, Angola, Ivory Coast, Russia and Gabon but opposition members complained that the process of consultation or observation meant absolutely nothing.   They want to know who DWEA had listened to in coming up with the current proposals.  Those before Parliament said they had made their own decisions and stakeholders had been involved along the road in discussions, particularly in the mining industry.

Planned for the future

Mabuza said that South Africa “remained the wealthiest mining and exploration production country in the world and with Africa reaching never-before, unprecedented levels of geo-political stability, the future was bright.   “We have designed legislation that takes both the state and our developmental economy into that future”, he said.

On the subject of penalties in the area of BEE non-compliance, opposition members complained that such contributed further to red tape, political uncertainty and investor complications.    Mabuza denied this and told parliamentarians that any penalties written into the Bill were a maximum sum only “and in any case”, he said, the 10% maximum still represented ‘just petty cash’ for most mining companies”.

“We had to bring in some form of penalty where shareholders were alerted to non-compliance otherwise management just carried on regardless of regulations or compliance issues”, Mabuza said.

Refer previous articles in this category
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//uncategorized/mineral-and-petroleum-development-bill-grabs-resources/
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//energy/draft-mprda-bill-for-comment/

Posted in BEE, Energy, Enviro,Water, Facebook and Twitter, Fuel,oil,renewables, LinkedIn, Mining, beneficiation, Trade & Industry0 Comments

President Obama and Power Africa

Power Africa and a $7bn involvement

In an excellent speech to a young audience at the University of Cape Town but seen the world around, the words “Power Africa” were heard by many for the first time from none other than the President of the US and although by no means did the financial implications have any comparison to the US Marshall Aid plan to Europe in 1945, this is without doubt a much played down mini-version in energy terms.

It comes with an initiative already started; US business plans in energy to Africa already in motion to an estimated tune of $9bn….. and thats just a start, said President Obama.    Energy, he said, is the key to Africa and electricity to all homes is the hope for all Africans. Without electricity there is no possibility that education can take root and therefore no way out of the poverty cycle, he said.

Electricity for all

If anything of value therefore from a business viewpoint came out President Obama’s trip other than some very warm-hearted gestures of friendship, it was certainly the extraordinary news that he personally, and that presumably means in fact the US Administration, has plans for a state $7bn initiative to enhance access to every household with electricity across Africa by tapping the continent’s vast energy resources and plenty of money by attracting international US investment.

By reading up on Forbes Magazine, which presumably has one of the best lines on what the US Administration is up to financially, their story on Power Africa appears to be already a well established initiative in the US.    For the most part, it is most detailed.   The story ends, however where perhaps it should have started.

In the last paragraph, after a giving a picture of the structure of the Power Africa programme and the names of the many partners US partners contributing to the initiative with finance and skills, the Forbes article ends with the observation……

“The recent discoveries of oil and gas in sub-Saharan Africa will play a critical role in defining the region’s prospects for economic growth and stability, as well as contributing to broader near-term global energy security.  Yet existing infrastructure in the region is inadequate to ensure that both on- and off-shore resources provide on-shore benefits and can be accessed to meet the region’s electricity generation needs.”

And there, possibly, we have it.   A sort of Mozambique Channel gold rush.   Yet we are assured by no less than President Obama himself that the USA has enough shale gas not to be importers but shortly exporters.

The Chinese robotic approach

However, to assume the US is looking for new oil fields for its own use or not would be to miss the point.   Trading in Africa with Africans was the point in Obama’s speech and hopefully, as the US President says, the USA can add value to what is made in South Africa before it is exported and not just exploit the resources in Africa, as does he says China and others of their ilk. The general feeling remains that China will put in power plants just to get out the resources. Either way, we get power – but the US way seems more sustainable and of use to economic and social needs of Africa in the long run.

Power Africa, Obama says, will, in, addition also “leverage private sector investments” beginning with an additional $9 billion in initial commitments from private sector partners in sub-Saharan Africa.   Most of the talk is about land-based electricity grid support, off grid projects, renewable energy projects and supplies to marginalised communities and there was a clear inference in the article that nobody in the US was going out of their way to invest in more coal mines.

The article says most importantly, “Although many countries have legal and regulatory structures in place governing the use of natural resources, these are often inadequate.  They fail to comply with international standards of good governance, or do not provide for the transparent and responsible financial management of these resources.”

“Power Africa”, Forbes continues, “will work in collaboration with partner countries to ensure the path forward on oil and gas development maximizes the benefits to the people of Africa, while also ensuring that development proceeds in a timely, financially sound, inclusive, transparent and environmentally sustainable manner”

In other words there has to be certainty.

ParlyReport this week focuses on the introduction to the South African  public of the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Amendment Bill on that very subject. One would hope that the intentions of government to have a stake in oil and gas exploration success stories do not frighten investors off and that the amendments to the Act stay fixed when agreed, give certainty and are properly regulated and the MPRDA changes are not the precursors of the mess that such regulations are to our North.

Posted in Cabinet,Presidential, Electricity, Energy, Enviro,Water, Finance, economic, Fuel,oil,renewables, Mining, beneficiation, Public utilities, Trade & Industry, Transport0 Comments

Future clearer as Gas Amendment Bill comes forward

Nersa will organise licensing…..

The Gas Amendment Bill was about to be tabled in Parliament as part of the overhaul of the Gas Act, energy minister, Dipuo Peters, confirmed  in her budget vote speech, the draft of the Bill having been approved by cabinet in April of this year and published for comment in June. According to a media statement by department of energy (DoE) on the draft Bill, certain omissions in the Gas Act of 2001 are addressed such as inadequate powers conferred on NERSA, the need for speedier licensing and clarity on pricing and tariffs. Stakeholders from industry have been involved.

Much of the new Bill according to DoE in the energy presentations to Parliament  will reduce the risk of South Africa having an “underdeveloped natural gas sector” with consequent implications to the security of energy supply.

Transportation addressed

gastruckAttention in the draft Bill is paid to unconventional gases not included in the original Act, along with technologies for transporting natural gas in liquid and compressed form. The new draft Bill also clarifies NERSA’s functions in the many processes and stages that involve gas between exploration to sale in containers, including storage.

During the ministers recent briefing, the attention of the media for assistance in promoting LP gas as a safe alternative to electricity.

The many re-definitions included in the draft reflect the changing nature of gas exploration in South African waters; the possibility of gas reticulation; the changing nature of gas storage and complexities of LP gas consumer issues.

Sasol big player

In piped gas, Phindile Nzimande, CEO of NERSA recently told parliamentarians that the maximum prices for such were dealt with in regard to Sasol, this being the last year of the “maximum price” arrangement. In petroleum pipelines, the Transnet annual increase was set at 8.53%, again with much controversy, and decisions were made on 60 storage and loading facilities.

There was still a major lack of credible gas anchor clients in piped gas, Nzimande said, nor was there an established and regular supply chain and serious competition, resulting in high prices for the poor. NERSA had much work to do in this area, she said, as far as compliance monitoring and enforcement was concerned.

 

The following articles are archived on this subject:
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//uncategorized/more-hints-that-gas-act-amendments-on-the-way/
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//energy/south-africa-at-energy-crossroadsdoe-speaks-out/

Posted in Energy, Enviro,Water, Fuel,oil,renewables, Land,Agriculture, Trade & Industry0 Comments

Nuclear goes ahead: maybe “strategic partner”

Eskom in poll position…

nuclear logoClarification of South Africa’s intentions towards the inclusion of nuclear energy as an integral part of the national energy mix have now been made quite clear, South Africa’s nuclear team possibly working with a “strategic partner” but with Eskom in poll position.

Strong messages that this was the case have been emerging from parliamentary presentations by both the department of energy and public enterprises over the last few weeks but now the die is set.

Minister spells it out

It needed the confirmation of the minister of energy, Ms Dipuo Peters, to tie the knot as she did in a media briefing following her budget vote speech in Parliament. She confirmed that the nuclear build programme will add 9 600 megawatts to the national grid by 2023 and a form of consortium would be reached whereby Eskom would have the designation as owner and operator, the national nuclear energy executive (NNEECC) to ensure oversight and be responsible for key decisions.

The final investment decisions towards procurement of plant would now be made, she said, Neliswe Magubane responding to media questions that having Eskom on board might deter potential partners to the effect that this could not be the case. She could not see how suppliers were interested in operating factors, although NNEECC could well draw in a “strategic partner” to bring further expertise to the table.

Eskom looking a massive loans

With Eskom now facing capital expansion projects separately detailed by them in the recent NEMA-Air Quality emissions hearings and also as a result of a “New Build” nuclear development programme that involves it seems at least six nuclear plants, NERSA in a separate parliamentary meeting in recent days, admitted that it was difficult to see how eventually all of this could fail to translate down into yet further electricity price hikes.

Air quality a deciding factor

Both minister Gigaba of public enterprises and minister Peters of energy have both brought the added fact of reduced emissions of CO2 as a major factor in the decision making in what appears to be a co-ordinated approach. The main issue remaining is therefore the time delay in bringing the nuclear contribution online to the grid.

From questioning it became evident that Eskom may have to reconsider bringing forward one its coal fired plants as far as completion dates are concerned.
The following articles are archived on this subject:

http://parlyreportsa.co.za//cabinetpresidential/energy-resources-doing-it-better-and-quickly/
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//cabinetpresidential/energy-plan-assumptions-on-nuclear-build-out-in-new-year/

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If you want your publications as they come from Parliament please contact ParlyReportSA directly. All information on this site is posted two weeks after client alert reports sent out.

Upcoming Articles

  1. MPRDA : Shale gas developers not satisfied
  2. Environmental Bill changes EIAs
  3. Parliament thrashes out debt relief Bill
  4. Border Mangement Bill grinds through Parliament
  5. BUSA, farmers, COSATU give no support to sugar tax

Earlier Editorials

Earlier Stories

  • Anti Corruption Unit overwhelmed

    Focus on top down elements of patronage  ….editorial….As Parliament went into short recess, the Anti-Corruption Unit, the combined team made up of SARS, Hawks, the National Prosecuting Authority and Justice Department, divulged […]

  • PIC comes under pressure to disclose

    Unlisted investments of PIC queried…. When asked for information on how the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) had invested its funds, Dr  Daniel Matjila, Chief Executive Officer, told parliamentarians that the most […]

  • International Arbitration Bill to replace BITs

    Arbitration Bill gets SA in line with UNCTRAL ….. The tabling of the International Arbitration Bill in Parliament will see ‘normalisation’ on a number of issues regarding arbitration between foreign companies […]

  • Parliament rattled by Sizani departure

    Closed ranks on Sizani resignation….. As South Africa struggles with the backlash of having had three finance ministers rotated in four days and news echoes around the parliamentary precinct that […]

  • Protected Disclosures Bill: employer to be involved

    New Protected Disclosures Bill ups protection…. sent to clients 21 January……The Portfolio Committee on Justice and Constitutional Affairs will shortly be debating the recently tabled Protected Disclosures Amendment Bill which proposes a duty […]