Tag Archive | joemat-pettersson

Hide and seek over R14.5bn Ikhwezi loss

Facts on Ikhwezi loss held back

…sent to clients 12 Dec… In the first of several meetings of the Portfolio Committee on Energy regarding Central Energy Fund’s Ikhwezi Project, chairperson Fikile Majola has agreed with ANC MPs and Opposition members to reject the Department of Energy (DOE) report on the PetroSA impairment or write-off amounting to R14.5bn.  Continue Reading

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Anti Corruption Unit overwhelmed

Focus on top down elements of patronage 

….editorial….As Parliament went into short recess, the Anti-Corruptionhawks-2
Unit, the combined team made up of SARS, Hawks, the National Prosecuting Authority and Justice Department, divulged that some 400 cases of public service corruption have been “successfully prosecuted since 2014”.

Out of hand

To have that number of public service thieves arrested is no small number but there is a worrying afterthought.   One wonders how many Anti Corruption Unit cases have been dropped or unsuccessfully prosecuted, given the fact such icebergcases are difficult to prove and there is often poor performance of by investigation teams. Like an iceberg, probably only one seventh of corruption in the public service is apparent.

sars logoCases currently under investigation in both the public and private sectors were given as 77, now 78 since Tom Moyane, head of SARS and member of the Anti Corruption Unit itself, at the time admitted to the Committee that he had not spoken to the Hawks about his second in command, Jonas Makwakwa.

Laundry list

The question by MPs was about the mysterious R1,2m deposited into Makwakwa’s private banking account.  According to reports it appears Moyane has subsequently rectified the situation and reported the event.  So yet another enquiry must start, which will only exacerbate the relationship problem between Moyane and the Minister of Finance, Gordhan Pravin.

Added to these national events in Parliament is the fact that corruption investigation remains particularly problematic at provincial and local government levels where it can go on undetected. The story emerging from the Tshwane Municipality is a case in point. The National Council of Provinces has no part to play in such matters.

Top down problem

Over the last few weeks, events in the parliamentary precinct have dominated the domestic media and consequently there is no need to repeat what is patently obvious.  South Africa clearly faces a leadership problem as far as financial governance and policy initiatives are concerned.

hawks logo
Doubt has placed, in the media in main, on the leadership integrity of the Hawks, NPA and, to some extent, with the Anti Corruption Unit inasmuch as their relationship with the President is concerned. A weary public waits for the next story of public service patronage.

Public service heads appear at times uncomfortable when they are reporting to Parliament and seem to be looking over their shoulder at times to see if what they have done or said is politically correct. Troubling is the fact that regulatory bodies are at odds with the ministries that founded them.

Bottomless pits

Although progress has been made on the national level in developing legalmoyane frameworks with provisions and regulations to address theft of public funds, such as the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act and the Public Finance Management Act (PMFA), the good guys are still behind in the race to catch the bad guys.   A sad conviction rate of 28% on cases brought before the court by the Assets Forfeiture Unit overall was quoted to the Standing Committee.

Poor leadership

On the same subject, the surprising failure by the President to sign into law the Financial Intelligence Centre Bill to fight money laundering in terms of international prudential agreements has represented a further setback. Hopefully this is only temporary since the country needs to join up the dots to encircle organised corrupt financial activity.

Worse, some government SOEs appear to conducting their own affairs without approval by Treasury. Cabinet members are involved. Witness the extraordinary offer made by the Central Energy Fund, reported in the media, to Chevron for its refinery in Cape Town and downstream activities in the form of 850 fuel outlets, presumably backed by the funds emanating from the sale of the Strategic Fuel Fund (SFF) reserves unauthorised by Treasury.

Upstream mayhem

Tesliso MaqubelaDDG Tseliso Maqubela of Department of Energy has now told the media that SFF sold the 10 million barrels of crude in storage in December at rock bottom price of $28 a barrel to a unit of Glencore, Vitol and a company called Taleveras. The condition of the sale was apparently, Maqubela said, “that the oil (will) not be exported and so the government considered it remaining as part of its strategic reserve stockpile.”

Shadow Minister of Energy, Pieter Van Dalen MP, citing Business Day, said the sale has been connected with Thebe Investment Corporation – “the ANC linked investment arm”, he added.   Vitol is the company that has allegedly bought the fuel stock and which owns Burgan Cape Terminals next to Chevron, the deal being linked by Van Dalen with Thebe for the building of its new storage tanks. Burger had just been awarded a 20-year lease by Transnet for land needed.

cape-town-harbourChevron brought to Parliament its case against Burger saying it was improper to build a new tank terminal next to its refinery for Burger to store oil for trading whilst they had no Transnet pipeline to Gauteng as did others from Durban but the chair of the portfolio committee accused Chevron of monopolistic behaviour. Subsequently the complaint was rejected. It was shortly after that Chevron announced its intention to sell its refinery.

Twisting path

Whether the Minister of Energy, Tina Joemat-Pettersson knew all of this when she appeared before the Portfolio Committee of Committee on Energy,tina-joematt her attendance covered in this report, is a moot point.   If she did know something, she is culpable in that she withheld the information, both from Parliament and possibly Treasury.

Alternatively, if she didn’t know that an offer was made to buy Chevron and that SFF had sold the state’s oil fund’s reserves to Swiss giant Vitol, possibly involving Thebe Investments, she should resign immediately as an incompetent.  Where the R4.4bn odd involved in the sale by SFF has landed up is not clear and when the oil will leave SFF’s Saldanha terminal and move to Burger in Cape Town is also not clear.

Clearly, in our view, this has been a major transaction known about at Cabinet level and the DA has called for an urgent enquiry. This will presumably bring the Asset Forfeitures Unit’s number of cases under investigation up to 79.   And so it goes on.  Tegeta and Eskom included.

Nothing but the truth

One senses a continuing cover up by government departments in reporting to Parliament for fear of upsetting any Minister’s apple cart, whereas Parliament should be a refuge of openness, accountability and public oversight on state activities and act as an arbiter to represent the people of South Africa.

vincent-smithIn the darkness, we saw a flash of light and a refreshing change when ANC MP, Vincent Smith, in grilling the Hawks as part of the Anti Corruption Unit interview, reminded them fiercely “This Is Parliament. If you cannot speak the truth, then do not speak at all.”  Whilst that remark may encapsulate the current problem, it may be also the cause of some Ministers and government officials choosing not to speak at all.

Legal jungles

Concurrent with the number of judicial enquiries into strange contracts, bad senior appointments, misuse of privileges and a litany of unaccountable expenditure without proper approval, what also has increased is the statement used by many when speaking to Parliament, including ministers, that the full facts cannot be given “because the matter is sub-judice”.

The number of matters that are sub-judice would not be so great if powers were given back the Treasury to re-assume its proper place in the parliamentary process.  Expenditure, if not approved by Treasury, would never see the light of day.

In conclusion

parliament 6Bad governance and corruption is the fodder that feeds the right wing anger sweeping the world and creates the spectacle that we see almost daily in our National Assembly, the creation of which institution is supposed to be one of the three pillars supporting the Constitution.

Previous articles on category subject

 Parliament, ConCourt and Business – ParlyReportSA

Parliament and the investment climate – ParlyReportSA

Anti-corruption law is watered down, say critics – ParlyReportSA

Nkandla vs NDP: the argument rages – ParlyReportSA

Parliament closes on sour note – ParlyReportSA

 

 

 

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Central Energy Fund hatches fuel plan

A lot going on at Central Energy Fund…..

Central Energy Fund (CEF), the state utility which controls the Strategic Fuel Fund (SFF) and fosters PetroSA, cef logohas again been outside of a plan that has Parliamentary approval or, it appears, Treasury knowledge.    CEF falls under the aegis of the Department of Energy (DOE) and is therefore responsible to Minister of Energy, Tina Joemat-Pettersson.  Clearly there is much going on of which Parliament knows nothing – in recess as it is.

The history of CEF’s  problems go way back before the period during which  previous Minister of Energy, Ben Martins, held office and even before Ben Martins, as an MP was chairperson of the Parliament Portfolio on Energy. Most of CEF’s troubles appear to involve the fuel storage facilities  at Saldanha Bay on the West coast and PetroSA’s operation on the East coast, causing considerable negative comment from the portfolio committee and Ben Martins himself at the time. Sadly, Minister Martins was not chosen to remain by President Zuma.

tina-joemattQuite clearly a plan has been hatched to meet Cabinet ambitions.

Glaring omission

It was only after  Minister Joemat-Pettersson’s current budget vote speech did the investigative journalism of the newspaper media discover the sale of almost completely the entire SA reserve oil stock of the Strategic Fuel Fund (SFF) held at Saldanha Bay.

Not only was the sale concluded without any mention but the quantity of fuel involved appears to have been a major financial  decision  undisclosed in any cabinet statement.    It appeared that CEF had allowed SSF to sell 10 million barrels of crude — close to the entire stockpile — in a closed tender at the point that the oil price had bottomed at somewhere around R34 Brent.

It also appears that this was without the agreement of Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and Treasury whosepravingordhan concurrence is needed under the Central Energy Fund Act.  How this will play with Treasury and the Auditor General is not clear, nor whether when and how CEF intends to replace this. The Democratic Alliance will no doubt be asking for answers in parliamentary question papers.

What the Minister said

It is interesting to note exactly what the Minister had to say to Parliament about SFF in holding back, it appears, on such major financial move. She told MPs that in line with the Presidential Review Commission on State Owned Entities (SOEs) that her Ministry had been working towards “a review of the composition of the CEF Group of companies.”

She went on to say, “Our work in this area includes the strengthening of the entities in the oil and gas sector and the stated policy objective of the creation of a stand-alone national oil company, using PetroSA as a nucleus.”
SFF had a good revenue base, she said.

saldanah bay 2“We shall finalise this work by October 2016”, Minister Joemat-Pettersson said and she would revert to Parliament on Cabinet views and strategies for a revised energy sector framework. “Accordingly, in 2015, the Ministry of Energy issued a ministerial directive for the rotation of strategic stocks in the SFF and this has resulted in an increased revenue base for SFF whilst at the same time maintaining stocks within our storage tanks for security of supply.”

Long term view

“This as a result, the Minister continued, “of a long term lease and contractual agreements with the buyers. The estimated revenue to accrue from this process is around R 170 million per annum, significantly boosting the balance sheet of the SFF.”

The Minister concluded that through the rotation of strategic stocks and trading initiatives the SFF had further consolidated its ability to be self-sustainable. “This has also allowed us to replace the unsuitable stock that we have been storing in our tanks which has been both uneconomical and did not contribute to security of supply.”

“The SFF will continue to ensure that it is able to respond to any shock in the market, whilst optimally making use of the opportunities presented in an evolving oil sector”, she concluded regarding West coast activities.No figures were given nor a clear indication mentioned that a sale had been concluded.

  SASAL LOGOHowever she was particular in supplying numbers regarding the joint venture between Sasol and Total when she said, ” Effective from 1 July 2006, Sasol Oil sold 25% of its shares to Tshwarisano LFB (Pty) Ltd, a broad based black economic empowerment consortium comprising of 150,000 direct shareholders and 2,8 million beneficiaries. The value of this transaction amounted to nearly R1.5 Billion, making it a significant BEE transaction in the liquid fuels industry.”

Trading nightmare

Therefore, the sale of nearly the entire reserve held by SFF, whether it is kept in the same tanks at Saldanha or not, at an oil price when at it’s very lowest, “suitable” or not, and being obliged by the Act to eventually replace it some later point should get an explanation.   However, it seems that there was an incentive to sell.

Also, to have to buy back at an oil price which is currently already well over double would appear to be completely against the tenets of the Public Finance Management Act; what the Auditor General is bound to call “fruitless and wasteful expenditure”; and contradictory terms of the Minister’s statement to Parliament that the SFF “has the jacob zumaability to be self-sustainable”. Unless, of course it is bolstered by external funds. 

Gas nightmare.

Parliament is of course closed for the election recess but no doubt there will be a parliamentary uproar on the subject – if not an investigation, which will come on top of the further current investigation of CEF’s activities as far as PetroSA is concerned.Once again the question will arise on how it was possible for PetroSA to continue with Project Ikhwezi when drilling for gas for two years in an area already defined by experts as impractical in lieu of fault lines in the projected gas field.

Central Energy Fund seen as politically driven

R11.7bn was the total “impairment” of PetroSA, the result of underperformance of Project Ikhwezi in its efforts to supply gas onshore to Mossgas. The total PetroSA loss for 2014/5 was in reality R14.6bn after tax. Currently a team comprising of industry experts is now defining a new strategy to save the PetroSA in its offshore struggle on the East coast, according to DOE reports to Parliament.

Roughnecks wrestle pipe on a True Company oil drilling rig outside WatfordThe experts were not named but the exercise is entitled Project Apollo and reports were also given to Parliament that the team has progressed well so far, said controlling body Central Energy Fund during 2015.

PetroSA was originally flagged by Cabinet some twelve years ago as “South Africa’s new state oil company”.     Last year, CEF described at the time PetroSA’s performance in their annual report to Parliament as “disappointing”, resulting in harsh criticism last year from the Portfolio Committee on Energy. The subject was not raised this year by the Minister in her Budget vote speech.

Failed deal

What, however, was raised in opposition questioning in the National Assembly by Pieter van Dalen, DA Shadow Deputy Minister of Energy, was Central Enegy Funds venture into the proposed purchase of Engen’s downstream activities from Malaysian company Petronas, known as “Project Irene”. This was understood to be the Cabinets secret plan to own the promised state oil company.

fuel tanker engenThe purchase from Petronas, who own 80% of Engen, was an attempt through Central Energy Fund to gain a foothold in the fuel retail and forecourt space by acquiring a stake in Engen, South Africa’s largest fuel retailer. The remaining stake is held by the Pembani Group.

First try

The board of PetroSA was repeatedly advised by both transaction advisers and the Treasury, according to Deputy Shadow Minister van Dalen, “that the proposal to buy the Engen stake did not make good business sense.”
“However,” van Dalen said to MPs, “the project was strongly championed by Minister Joemat-Pettersson and President Jacob Zuma. In the end, the deal fell through due to lack of financing.’These sort of things cannot go on”, he said.

The last word

This particular meeting in the National Assembly was completed by Shadow Minister of Energy, Gordon Mackay,gordon mackay DA attacking the Minister for “misleading the country on nuclear energy deals.”

He concluded after a long speech on the subject of the proposed nuclear build programme and what he referred to as “anomalies”, with the remark “We must ask ourselves Chair – why is our government doggedly pursuing this nuclear deal. It is clearly not a deal in the interests of the poor. It is clearly not a deal in the interests of business. It is clearly not a deal in the interest of the nation.”

Gordon Mackay did not know about the Chevron approach, or at least he did not indicate that he did.

Previous articles on category subject
Central Energy Fund slowly gets its house in order – ParlyReport
PetroSA on the rocks for R14.5bn – ParlyReportSA
Chevron loses with Nersa on oil storage – ParlyReportSA

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PetroSA on the rocks for R14.5bn

Project Apollo plan to save PetroSA…

Sent to clients 6 Oct.…..A team comprising of industry experts is now defining a new strategy to save the PetroSA struggling offshorePetroSA logo gas project on the East Coast.   The experts were not named but the exercise is entitled Project Apollo and reports were given to Parliament that the team has progressed well so far, said controlling body Central Energy Fund.

Despite producing a balance sheet that shows a technical cash profit of R2.5bn in simplistic terms made up of revenue less operating costs, in reality PetroSA is clearly beyond business rescue in proper commercial terms unless it manages to get a bail-out from Treasury to save the troubled entity from written off “impairments” of R14,5bn. But business rescue is on the way it would appear.

R11.7bn of the “impairment” was as a result under performance of its Project Ikhwezi to supply gas onshore to Mossgas.

Reality sets in

The total loss for 2014/5 was in reality R14.6bn after tax.      Project Apollo will now tackle the main cause of the loss at Ikwhezi, options stated as including “the maximisation of a number of upstream initiatives; the utilisation of tail gas; and how the gas-to-liquid refinery itself can be optimised with the new, revised and “limited under-supply of feedstock.”

cef logoThe Central Energy Fund (CFE), acting as the parent body for PetroSA, told Parliament that it is applying for such assistance, PetroSA being flagged by Cabinet some twelve years ago as “South Africa’s new state oil company”. CEF described PetroSA’s performance as merely “disappointing”, which raised the ire of most parliamentarians.

Those present

To add pain to the proceedings for Deputy Minister of Energy, Thembisile Majola, and senior heads of the Department of Energy (DOE) also in attendance together with the full board of CFE represented by new acting Chairman Wilfred Ngubane, the auditor general’s (AG) highly critical findings were read out one by one to MPs of the Portfolio Committee on Energy.

All this resulted in the remark from Opposition member, Gordon Mackay, that PetroSA “instead of becoming afikile majola national oil company had become a national disaster”. Criticism was levelled at both CEF and PetroSA across party lines, Chairman Fikile Majola demanding that Parliament conducts its own forensic audit and investigation into the facts that had led PetroSA to achieve such spectacular losses.

It appears that in the total accounting of the loss of R14.6bn for the year under review, R1.8m was also incurred in the form of non-performance penalties; stolen items of R110,000; over payments in retrenchment packages of some R3m; and R55,000 stock losses. Irregular transactions in contravention of company policy amounted to some R17m, the AG noted.

Lack of industry skills

Although the AG’s report was “unqualified” in terms of correct reporting, lack of management controls and bad investments were identified by the AG as the problem. In fact, acting CEO of PetroSA, Mapula Modipa, clearly inferred that lack of skills generally in the particular industry, lack of background knowledge in the international oil investment world and lack of experience in upstream strategic planning had led PetroSA year after year into its loss situation.

Particularly referring to troublesome investments in Ghana, Equatorial Guinea and continued exploration and production at Ikhwezi resulting in the “impairment”, a sort of write down of assets totalling R11.7bn, reports have been submitted before to the Portfolio Committee on Energy over the last two years. Warnings were given.

However in this meeting the AG’s views on the subject were under discussion and the terminology used by the AG could only be interpreted, as put by MPs, as poor management decision-making, lack of knowledge of the oil industry and the appropriate management skills in that area.

Roughnecks wrestle pipe on a True Company oil drilling rig outside WatfordHowever, over the years going back over previous annual reports for the last five years with forwards by Ministers and Cabinet statements issued over the period, it becomes self-evident that the “drive” to establish PetroSA as a state entity in the fuel and gas industry was politically driven, coupled with (as acting CEO Mapula Modipa had inferred) inexperience in the top echelons.

Still the Mossgas problem onshore

However, self- evident this year were the declining revenues from the wells at sea supplying Mossgas, where it was stated that now one wells had been abandoned, three were in operation and two had yet to be drilled. Project Inkwezi, against a target of 242bn barrels per cubic feet (bcf) only delivered 25 bcf from three wells. A “joint turnaround steering committee” had been formed to help on governance issues, technical performance and the speeding up of decision making. But the bcf is unlikely to change

Part of the new plan has involved of a “head count reduction” and employees had been notified. It was admitted that PetroSA had an obligation to rehabilitate or abandon its offshore and onshore operations costed at R9.3m in terms of the National Environmental Management Act and a funding gap of R9.3m now had to be bridged in the immediate future to pay this further outstanding in terms of the Act.

Further forensic audit

The cross-party call for an independent parliamentary forensic investigation that was made (which included thegordon mackay DA chairperson Fikile Majola as the driver behind the motion) “will hopefully not just result in a blame game”, said Opposition MP Mackay “but get to the bottom of how such an irresponsible number of management decisions with public money took place over so long a period.”

Chairperson Majola (ANC) concluded “This amount of money (R14, 5bn) cannot just be written off without someone being responsible.” He added, “There has appeared much difference between the abilities of technical staff and the technical knowledge of the leaders and decision makers on the board of PetroSA.”

Minister of Energy, Ms Joemat-Pettersson, was again absent from the meeting. However, earlier, in the meeting, the Deputy Minister standing in for her, said “when all is said and done we intend staying in this business”.

Nil from Necsa

necsaA meeting following in the same day, following the CEF presentation, was a report from the Nuclear Energy Corporation (Necsa) which failed to happen because Necsa were unable to produce an annual report or any report, Minister Joemat-Pettersson having obtained an extension of one month to the end of October for the annual report to be ready. Chairperson Majola said that the meeting could not take place without a financial report since oversight of such report was their mandate.

Opposition members complained that not only had Parliament’s time been wasted but that the whole instruction for Necsa to be present “appeared to be a media exercise to show that the governing party was on the ball”.

A litany of problems
The extension for the Annual Report conclusion had been granted to the Minister in terms of the Public Finance Management Act (PMFA), a fact well known, but the media were present in strength in the morning not only for the CEF’s explanation for the PetroSA loss but in the afternoon for Necsa explanation of its loss as a regulatory body, in the light of current media reports on irregularities, staff resignations and dismissals.

Other articles in this category or as background
PetroSA has high hopes with the Chinese – ParlyReportSA
CEF hurt by Mossel Bay losses – ParlyReportSA
Better year for PetroSA with offshore gas potential – ParlyReport

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Gas undoubtedly on energy back burner

Energy mix on gas unresolved…..

LP gasNot one word on gas and gas exploration, gas pipelines or gas as a contributor to the integrated resources plan has passed through Parliament in nearly one year. The last word was in respect of gas, whether oceanic or land-based, was the knowledge that fracking regulations had been published, the dropping of the oil price seeming to cool off any comment and certainly statements by international investors and companies.
President Zuma has, however made passing reference to Operation Phakisa, the plan to develop South Africa’s oceanic resources but most parliamentary reference to this programme has been in reference to the recent press releases by government in the form of a long term wish to build up South Africa’s maritime ability; create an international ship register and regulate for a merchant shipping fleet.
Going back a bit
In a parliamentary question in the National Assembly last year, Mr. S J NJIKELANAa, previously chairperson of the Energy Portfolio Committee, asked for a written reply by the then Minister of Energy on how far gas exploration had progressed and what urgent state intervention was planned, particularly as far as containment of fuel prices was concerned.
The reply came from the Department of Energy (DOE) in a reply that was somewhat evasive in that it summed what everybody knows; that the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP); the Integrated Energy Plan (IEP;) and the Gas Utilisation Master Plan (GUMP) are amongst the measures which were developed to improve South Africa’s multi-source security of energy supply.
The reply at the time gave responses on the then stage of renewable energy aggregating to cumulative contribution of 17800 MW to the IRP’s final estimate of energy from all sources of 40 000 Megawatts (MW). All of this really helped nobody.

Sourcing of energy
The second contributor to the formula was nuclear power contributing a much quoted 9600MW (and now expected to be more) and hydropower at 2600 MW, with“75% of new generation capacity being derived from energy sources other than coal”, it was stated.

 DOE finally got round to GUMP, describing it as “the development of a gas pipeline infrastructure for South Africa’s needs and to connect South Africa with African countries endowed with vast natural gas resources” but at the time DOE was still recovering from the shock of splitting up from environmental affairs and could not separate gas exploration from mining exploration, in that the Department of Mineral Resources was deeply involved. A total figure for gas has not been formulated.

Another problem for DOE.

In reality, the Petroleum Agency of South Africa (PASA) is technically responsible for GUMP although gas exploration seaDOE’s hydrocarbons division seemed to have been lumped with the problem of what has been described by most authorities and energy specialists as an “exciting hope” for solving SA’s energy problems.
In the meanwhile, it has become the poor child of the energy mix, Minister Joemat-Pettersson recently explaining last week DOE’s poor performance and lack of response on the gas issue as being due to short staffing and “too many issues” on hand.

Last definition

GUMP in fact, (when Parliament was last told} would take a 30-year view of the gas industry from regulatory, economic and social perspectives and this was in the final stage of internal approval and was expected to be released for public comment during the second quarter of the 2015 financial year.
The request for IP proposals for gas-fired generation through a gas-to-power procurement programme for a combined 3 126 MW allocation was expected to be released to the market in September this year, with a bid submission phase planned for the first quarter of 2016.

It seems that South Africa’s DOE can only handle one problem at a time. First it was Eskom and electricity and then the nuclear tendering process, which is in fact a very long term solution to South Africa’s energy problem, as put by one member.

Behind closed doors

Gas exploration, as a subject in itself, benefited from a final decision (which in fact is still mostly rumour in Parliament and unreported) that the Minister Rob Davies’s solution not to acquire 20% -25% “free carry” in gas exploration “finds” seems to be the last definitive action to be taken by government on the whole question of gas exploitation and development.

Meanwhile, Minister Joemat-Pettersson, Minister of Energy, was quoted in the media (and we quote tina-joemattEngineering News specifically) as saying that nuclear power was staying at 9600MW and hydropower at 2600 MW.
The Minister added, “We have paid little attention to gas . . . We have been preoccupied with nuclear [energy].  The South Africa we [are] dealing with now is not the same [as the one we dealt with] in 2013 [when many energy-generation plans were put into play]; the scenarios have changed,” she said to the Creamer organisation.

Not on the agenda

In the remaining few weeks of the third parliamentary calendar sessions, no meetings of the parliamentary committee on energy are scheduled for this vital component of the energy mix, although the anti-fracking lobby was particularly evident at a recent energy committee meeting on the five nuclear vendor agreements.

karoo2They were particularly agitated to hear that the South Korean nuclear vendor offers included development of uranium deposits as part of their deal, such deposits known to be in the Karoo. The only movement recently therefore on gas development would seem to be in the area of Sasol development in infrastructure development locally, presumably in pipelines, and a rather “cool” statement from Shell Oil on fracking possibilities in the Karoo related the world price of oil.
The shortage of liquid petroleum gas (LPG) to meet market demand appears to be the only gas issue to coming before Parliament in the near future.
Other articles in this category or as background
Fracking, shale gas gets nearer – ParlyReportSA
Competition Commission turns to LP gas market – ParlyReportSA
Gas Utilisation Master Plan gets things going – ParlyReportSA
Oil sea gas/debate restarted by Parliament
Uncertainty in oil and gas exploration industry

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Minister Joemat-Pettersson clams up on nuclear

Nuclear deals cannot be transparent

(published to clients 25 Sept)

In a meeting to explain intergovernmental agreements so far made by South Africa on the nuclear New tina-joemattBuild programme, Department of Energy DOE and DDG of Nuclear, Zizamele Mbambo, was completely overshadowed by the requests by Minister of Energy, Tina Joemat-Pettersson, to preface the entire presentation with her own comments. She also was to speak first in answer to the many direct and pertinent questions from Opposition MPs directed at DOE.

In both cases it became less and less clear how much the nuclear programme was going to cost the country.  Also it became unclear what stage the Cabinet had reached as far as decision making was concerned, causing the chairperson of the committee, Fikile Majola (ANC), to remind the Minister that Parliament was supposed to provide oversight on financial commitments to other countries and certainly must be consulted before any such agreements were signed.

Russia dominating events

p van dalenIn an acrimonious exchange between P Van Dalen (DA) in summarising the areas of co-operation between South Africa and the Russian Federation, France, China, South Korea and the USA, Van Dalen remarked to the Minister that the whole picture looked like “Russia versus the Rest”. He wanted to know why the Russian co-operation areas were more informed and more extensive. He gave the example of the Russian agreement offered naming the actual location sites in South Africa for three possible structures.

Minister Joemat-Pettersson responded that the “areas of co-operation still had to be finalised” with Japan, to which country she had yet to visit, and Canada. The Russian Federation had done a particularly good job, she noted. Little information was given for Chinese involvement, it being assumed that President Jacob Zuma’s visit to that country would result in an update. Media reports state that Japan is teaming with Westinghouse.

 Just to keep some happy

 The Minister complained that Opposition members were making the Ministry’s life untenable by constantly demanding information on the extent, the cost and the timing of the New Build nuclear programme when too much information given out would compromise the bidding process. She denied there was any preferred bidder in the process.

She said DOE was supplying information to the meeting, “going as far as they could without compromising the whole exercise” because the Opposition parties had been very demanding. But it was still too early to make all documents available.

No sense

Gordon McKay demanded to know how it was then that Minister of Finance Nene had, in a mediagordon mackay DA briefing recently, stated that the “country could not afford a nuclear build programme” and how it was to be paid for?      If nobody knew the cost, what was Minister Nene talking about, he asked.   He said that Parliament was having “to rely on second hand information from the media” and this was wrong because it represented non-disclosure.

He also wanted to know who it was in South Africa that was “qualified enough to make a judgment call on both selection of the of the winning bidder and also be satisfied on the cost to the taxpayer.”

It was at this point that a surprising fact emerged.     Despite the Minister’s stated inability to answer on total project costs, it was admitted by her that an “independent consultant” had not only completed and supplied a project modelling report but a financial model as well.

All will be revealed

koebergNo further information could be supplied, the Minister said, either on who this was and estimated costs but she promised that the Committee would be briefed once the vendor bidding process was complete. A date at the end of 2015 was promised for further information to be supplied to Parliament on costs, plus the independent modelling reports “in due course”.

The Minister stated that again and again that “transparency was her target as far as Parliament was concerned” but said that she was constrained by the nature of the bidding at this stage. She however confirmed that a nuclear contribution “probably greater than originally expected” had to be part of the energy mix if South Africa was to meet its COP 15 environmental targets agreed to internationally.

DOE has a schedule

Z MbamboDDG of DOE, Nuclear, Zizamele Mbambo in his presentation, confirmed to Parliamentarians that the department was at the stage of the completion of pre-procurement processes and that commencement of procurement would start in the second quarter of 2016, with finalisation of partners by the end of the calendar year.

The intergovernmental agreements at present being concluded were displayed and covered the technology to be selected and construction: research reactor technology and construction; financing and commercial matters; manufacturing, industrialisation and localisation; human resources and skills development; public awareness programmes; safety liability and licensing; nuclear siting and permitting; the nature of both front and back ends of the fuel cycle itself and non-proliferation matters.

 Waste disposal issues

Opposition members wanted to know why waste disposal was not raised as a requirement and DDG Mbambo explained that South Africa had already enacted legislation to adequately cater for this issue and was deeply involved in waste disposal, quoting the Koeberg model.
However, it was notable that France and the USA contained “waste management areas of co-operation” in this regard, whereas the Russian contribution referred to enhancing support for the current legislative and regulatory environment, once again indicating a clearer knowledge of local conditions.

The DOE presentation went no further than just enumerating on a comparative basis each bidder’sbrics partners technological and commercial contributions in broad terms. However, it was notable that the Russian proposals went further than others on the degrees of localisation in the form of manufacture of components and skills training. It also included the “joint marketing and promotion of produced products to third country markets.” A considerable number of South Africans were already in Russian training exercises as they were in China.

Uranium in Karoo

The South Korean proposals were noticeably different in the area of contributing towards desalination of salt water projects and support in various aspects of nuclear research and the exploration and mining of uranium. At this stage the Chines contributions were limited for reasons stated but, again, noticeable in China’s paper was the expression “the development of new technology for civil nuclear energy for the (SA new) build programme and Republic of China and other third world countries.”
Other articles in this category or as background
Nuclear partner details awaited – ParlyReportSA
Nuclear and gas workshop meeting – ParlyReportSA
Nuclear goes ahead: maybe “strategic partner” – ParlyReportSA
National nuclear control centre now in place – ParlyReportSA

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