Tag Archive | Engen Petroleum

CEF hurt by Mossel Bay losses

CEF R3.4bn write down was “irregular” …..

PetroSA logoLosses incurred at the Central Energy Fund (CEF) gas to liquid facility at Mossel Bay operated by PetroSA have resulted in a revaluation of assets based on the expected life of the refinery but the impairment that resulted, to the tune of R3.4bn, was found to be “irregular” by the office of the auditor general (AG) when reviewing the CEF 2013/4 results.

CEO of CEF, Siswe Mncwango, appeared before the portfolio committee on energy together with the chief executives of subsidiaries PetroSA, iGas, the Strategic Fuel Fund (SFF), African Exploration and Mining (AE) and the licensing and regulatory petroleum body, PASA, to brief the committee on their annual report and to justify their financial performance in terms of the AG findings for the group.

PetroSA struggling

The key issue central to the impairment of R3.4bn, Mncwango said, was the necessity for subsidiary PetroSA, in terms of its mandate, to maintain its levels of gas feedstock at a sufficient level to meet strategic stock policy in the national interest.  It was necessary, he said, to undertake this accounting process in view of delays experienced in exploiting undersea gas fields.

He said, the plant started operating at Mossel Bay in 1992, the life of plant being estimated at 15 years, and then known as Mossgas. With the project not having the necessary funding for exploration at sea during its early years, the plant consequently became threatened far too early in its planned operating life.

Limited choices

CEF faced two financially driven options, Mncwango explained to parliamentarians.  There was a choice between running the plant at 50% capacity or to close it down, he said.  As the strategic need for gas feedstock was an imperative facing both CEF and PetroSA, it was decided to further explore the existing and nearby gas field area.

Project Ikhwezi was thus born but at this stage expensive drilling to greater depths and lateral drives have been encountered and with newly pioneered methods, this has resulted in major additional costs. However, PetroSA, in a briefing from their engineering head on the subject drilling expectations, indicated that they are confident that plentiful gas supplies are on the cards.

Long time drilling

The project involves tapping into gas reserves in Petro SA’s F-O field which is located 40km south-east of the production platform off the south coast of South Africa.  The first well drilled was finalised in 2013 and the final link between all wells is to be completed during 2014/2015, parliamentarians were told.

The delays that have been experienced have also negatively affected the finances of PetroSA, CEF said, and this had necessitated permission for a temporary impairment from national treasury. However, this was not certificated correctly according to the AG’s report and consequently the R3.4bn impairment became “irregular”.

Difficult waters

According to Andrew Dippenaar, PetroSA’s upstream acting vice-president, Project Ikhwezi may, and probably will, be producing in some eighteen months. The riskiness and speed necessary in trying to find gas in difficult waters has added to the problems, he said, on top of which the gas field is geologically problematic.

This has led to operating losses at refinery level with a result that some sort of accounting write off was necessary in the short term, despite this hurting PetroSA’s current cash reserves of R5.5bn. This amount will not be recoverable, CEF’s financial officer said but he was adamant that this was not a cash loss affecting the taxpayer, more a book entry. CEO Mncwango added that inherited delays in finding gas at sea in the immediate area close to the landing facilities had resulted in the current situation. These were many risks in oil and gas exploration, he said.

Chief financial officer of PetroSA, Lindiwe Bakoro, was insistent that as a result of long delays in exploration any hope of immediate profits might be delayed but long term viability had been planned for and this was expected.  Consequently, new valuations on assets were undertaken to re-gear the project with treasury permission.  However, Bakoro confirmed that PetroSA would await the final results of drilling and connection before any final write down-decision on the impairment took place.

Purchasing procedures

On other irregular expenditure items, totalling some R30m, that appeared in the CEF results noted by the AG, these again were for PetroSA.   Such were mainly as a result of the correct procedures not having been followed in terms of procurement procedure. 

The correct procedures were now followed throughout the CEF group, Mncwango said, and the AG had been satisfied on this subject, since the annual report had not been qualified. A specific “irregular” figure of R1.6bn was also reported for PetroSA in respect of its Ghana operations.

Again it was explained that this was a procedural and the necessary documentation on transfer of monies had been incorrectly processed.   It would appear that treasury permission had been applied for and granted in 2013 but the actual transfer of R1.6bn had taken place in 2014, a different financial year for the record. CEF reported that PetroSA, nevertheless, had shown a particularly good return for the first time on its Ghanaian liquid fuels investment, returning a profit for 2013/4 of some R560m

On or off. Who knows?

Asked if any discussions with Engen on downstream development in the name of PetroSA had progressed, CEF’s Mncwango said that any such discussions were confidential and he would not be drawn into further explanations since these were commercially sensitive, whether with Engen or any other body in the liquid fuels sector.

Ms. Nosizwe Nokwe-Macamo, CEO of PetroSA, concluded that steps were taken to effectively manage fruitless, wasteful and irregular expenditure and that the focus for the national fuels group in the period ahead included delivery on Project Ikhwezi and finalising funding arrangements for “downstream entry”.

Gas plan on the way

The meeting was attended by the deputy minister of energy, who said she was confident that steps taken by both CEF and PetroSA were in the interests of the national strategy on gas supplies and that cabinet were shortly to debate the gas utilization master plan (GUMP). This was in response to opposition members who had complained to the minister that South Africa’s liquid fuels and energy plans could not be finalised until the state’s future gas supply scenario was properly clarified.

Other articles in this category or as background

http://parlyreportsa.co.za/energy/petrosa-has-high-hopes-with-the-chinese/ http://parlyreportsa.co.za/energy/cef-still-has-its-troubles/ http://parlyreportsa.co.za/uncategorized/central-energy-fund-slowly-gets-its-house-in-order/

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