Tag Archive | PetroSA

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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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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Parliament closes on sour note

Oversight role threatened…..

editorial…..

We have to admit it was not a happy Parliament that closed on 25 May 2016. Whilst we try to ignore newspaper parliament mandela statuescandals and listen to the more serious debate of those trying to get things right in the interests of the country, it was indeed a troubled Parliament that went into recess.

We have delayed our report to catch the last of the meetings before the election period. Usually, where there is a forthcoming election, whether national or provincial, there are many unreasonable statements from politicians. However, it seems that this time, there are lot more issues and certainly a lot more abrasive statements than usual.

Politics aside

Many such matters have involved the question of relationships with Parliament – the institution that is supposed to stand apart, like the judicial, from political machinations. Separation of these powers is critical to the process of halting a democracy from becoming a dictatorship, so it becomes important not to enter this space. However, quite clearly some members of the Cabinet, even perhaps the Presidency, are trying to by-pass Parliament on the question of oversight.

Although this is strongly denied on every occasion when the subject comes up, it becomes more and more difficult to tell whether government officials are having pressure applied on them when it comes to telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth to Parliament.

Hence, also it is difficult to discern true government policy in the long term as distinct from Cabinet putting out fires in the short term. We will be glad when this period in South African politics comes to an end, which hopefully it will.

Parliament and its system

Mbete,Baleka sworninIt would seem to us, a fact which is supported by most commentators, that the party list system is one of the culprits in this area – a system a whereby a member of Parliament stays in service, complete with salary and pension, according to his or her adjudged service to the cause.

Secondly, all directors general of government departments are, in most cases, party appointments and currently every chairperson of every committee in Parliament is a member of the ANC Alliance. It is the integrity of that person, therefore, that matters and this, we afraid to say, seems not to be coming through from the Cabinet. Every country gets the government they deserve (Joseph de Maistre).

All is not as at it appears

It came as a shock to many to learn that what had been listened to in Parliament, such as statements and presentations from directors general and CEOs of utilities or SOEs representing massive structures such as Eskom, PetroSA, Central Energy Fund, Police Services, Defence (and even PIC), that all was not quite, shall we say, totally accurate – even in expensive powerpoint presentations and in long convoluted answers to the Auditor General. The trend has been a painful experience to observe.

The cowboys, such as Lucky Montana of PRASA – now disgraced, were relatively easy to spot. Quite clearly his parliamentary reports were dubious and the presentations he made were an attempt to cover up foolish mistakes and bad management but there had remained a feeling of enthusiasm to succeed in his case. Just somebody in charge who shouldn’t have been.

However, in the case of “pressure coming from the top”, there are the odd stories continually emanating from the energy debate and matters related. These are disquieting, as are matters relating to broadband allocation, the aviation industry and land reform coupled with traditional affairs and matters related to expropriation.

Divided

Aside from the unfortunate chaos in the National Assembly debates, meetings which we attend occasionallyparliament 6 only from a business viewpoint – usually budget issues, the evident atmosphere of dissonance between Cabinet and Treasury is clearly affecting and hindering the parliamentary oversight role and translating itself down to the parliamentary working portfolio committees.

A poor relationship with Treasury badly affects the “engine room” of Parliament and makes a mockery of financial control.

We can only attend, make précis on what is said and report without opinion but we can say, quite honestly in our editorial, that currently we are not impressed by the seemingly cowed body language of the public service on certain issues. Witness the decisions on the output of the SABC and although we do not report on this as it bears no business brief, it somehow manifests a Cabinet gone wrong.

We shall continue to be watchful, particularly in the area of new legislation that affects business and declared changes in government policy.

Previous articles on category subject
Parliament under siege – ParlyReportSA
Shedding light on Eskom – ParlyReportSA
PRASA gets its rail commuter plan started – ParlyReport

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Minister Brown wants utility shareholder management 

Shareholder Management Bill could kill cosy jobs…. 

sent  to clients 20 Dec…..Public Enterprises Minister, Lynne Brown, reports that she is to introduce, as aLynne Browndraft, the Shareholder Management Bill as part of a plan to introduce more leadership ability and some form of continuity for the state owned enterprises (SOCs) under her control. This includes Eskom, Transnet, Denel, SA Express, Alexkor and Safcol.

Maybe start of something big.

Whilst troubled SAA is now an independent, falling under National Treasury for the moment. Providing President Zuma makes no more changes, Minister Pravin Gordhan is set to sort out National Treasury itself and challenge the management style of his old stomping ground, SARS.. How much come out of the Cabinet Lekgotla is critical.

The problem children

PetroSA logoMeanwhile, PetroSA is in real deep water, the entity falling under Central Energy Fund (CEF) and which reports itself to Department and Energy (DOE). But at least the PetroSA problem is now in the open with somebody obviously having to take over the reins and sort the mess out, probably CEF itself.

Oddly enough there are people in CEF who know exactly what the problem is but once again politicians pushed experts in the wrong direction, it appears.

In addition, the Passenger Rail Association (PRASA) is very much on the slippery slope and, together with SANRAL, both present highly contentious transport issues, are now in the hands of to untangle

Public Enterprises comes to the party.

Minister of Public Enterprises, Lynne Brown appears to be getting the senior management of her portfolio undereskom control and whilst there could possibly be power supply problems at Eskom she says, because “machines can break down unexpectedly”, the leadership is there, as is the case with Denel.

Minister Brown recently reported at an AmCham meeting in Cape Town that there are around seven hundred SOCs, an extraordinary fact, but bearing in mind the fact that South Africa is reputed to have the largest head count in public service per population count, this would appear quite probable.

On the road again

With Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa chairing an Integrated Marketing Committee, which will hopefully designate which entities should remain SOCs and those which should be absorbed back into their relevant departments, there appears some hope with regard to containing the ballooning public service machine which has characterised President Zuma’s presidency.

Hands off appointments

An essential element of Minister Lynne Brown’s plan is to remove the appointment to the boards of the entities under her domain away from Ministers, including herself, to a shareholder management team that creates a leadership operational plan for all SOCs and appoints, through due process, a tightly run appointment system.
A brave proposition indeed but it does indicate that Minister Brown is her own person.

Whilst the proposals might look like state control, in fact it is a clear signal that government may have heard the message that the current system of Ministers appointing board members is not working and is one of the reasons leading to what the auditor general calls “useless and wasteful expenditure”.

On the drawing board

The Shareholder Management Bill, Minister Brown said subsequently in Johannesburg, will first need a concept paper (perhaps she means a White Paper) and such could be released after the Cabinet Lekgotla in February, with an intention of introducing such as system by the end of 2016.

Minister Brown said that she herself as a Minister would therefore be excluded from making appointments in her own SOCs for a start. Perhaps this system can be applied to all forty-seven government departments and agencies, suggested a questioner bu the Minister would not be drawn into matters outside of her brief.

Leadership needed

During the same address, she added that Eskom was “not out of the woods” yet and there was still not sufficientlyne brown 2 electricity to facilitate economic growth but this would change. Minister Brown said none of the entities under her control “would be approaching the National Treasury with begging bowls.”

One small step

No doubt, as far as confirmation of an appointment is concerned, the Minister involved will still have to “approve” any selection decision by the independent team of specialists but it is worth watching the outcome of the debate on the shortly-to-be tabled Broadcasting Bill, if only to see if the appointment of inept senior appointments can be halted or reversed.

What has come out of the Eskom, PRASA and PetroSA issues is that a person who has no right to be in a position of leadership, or worse one who has supplied fraudulent qualifications, leads to frustration and anger by those with genuine skills and high academic qualifications lower down the ladder and at the coalface.

This is in the space of government service where technical skills are located and badly needed and it is hoped that Minister Lynne Brown has more of these “eureka” moments.

Previous articles on category subject
PetroSA on the rocks for R14.5bn – ParlyReportSA
Central Energy Fund slowly gets its house in order – ParlyReport
Shedding light on Eskom – ParlyReportSA

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Overall energy strategy still not there

Feature article………….

DOE energy strategy in need of lead 

From closing parliamentary meeting….sent clients dec 15….   South Africa’s energy strategy problem is as much about connection as it is about the integration of supply resources, said Dr WolseyDr Wolsey Barnard Barnard, acting DG of the Department of Energy (DOE), when briefing the parliamentary select committee on DOE’s annual performance before Parliament closed in 2015

Of all the problems facing South Africa on the energy front, probably the most critical is the lack of engineering resources facing South Africa at municipal and local level, negatively affecting economic development and consumer supply, he told parliamentarians.

He particularly referred in his address to the fact that the main problem being encountered in the energy supply domain was the quality of proposals submitted by municipalities for supply development in their areas.     In many cases, he said, the entities involved totally lacked the technical skills and capacity to execute and manage projects and there was also, in many cases, a lack of accountability with reports not being signed off correctly and in some cases technical issues not resolved before the project started.

Doing the simple things first

Despite all the queries from Opposition members on major issues such as fuel regulation matters; nuclear development and the tendering processes; the independent power producer situation with clean energy connection problems and issues surrounding strategic fuel stocks; again and again (DOE) emphasised that nothing was possible until South Africa developed its skills in the area of energy (electricity) connections.

electricity townshipsThe quality of delivery in this area was “extremely poor”, Dr Barnard said, inferring that without satisfactory delivery of energy the burning issues of supply became somewhat academic. Localised development at the “small end” of the energy chain had to be developed, he said. This lack of skills was exacerbated by the “slow delivery of projects by municipalities and by Eskom in particular”, he said.

Eskom  in areas not covered by local government.

Dr Barnard said that there was a lack of accountability on reports provided; poor expenditure by most municipalities evident from the amount of times roll overs were called for and high vacancy rates in municipalities. Consequently, he said, the overall Integrated National Electrification Programme (INEP) was producing slow delivery of electrification projects requested of both local government and Eskom against the targets shown to MPs.

In probably the last meeting of the present Parliament before its recess, DOE spoke more frankly than has been heard for some time on the subject of its short, medium and long term energy solutions, including a few answers on the problems faced.

Frank answers

DOE explained it had six programmes focus which were outlined as the various areas of nuclear energy; energy efficiency programmes; solar, wind and hydro energy supply; petroleum and fuel energy issues, regulations and development electrification with its supply and demand issues.

DOE specifically mentioned that the Inga Treaty on hydro-power had come into force in the light of theinga fact that conditions to ratify the long term agreement between SA and DRC were satisfied and commercial regulations could begin in order to procure power. This would change the future of energy of solutions. This was a long terms issue but targets for the year on negotiations had been met.

Opposition members were particularly angry that a debate could not take place of nuclear issues and whether South Africa was to procure reactors or not. It was suggested by the Chair that maybe the outcome of COP21 might have given more clarity but MPs maintained that to make a decision DOE, as well as the Cabinet, “must know the numbers involved”.

DOE maintained silence on the issue saying as before that enumerating bid details would destroy the process. It was assumed by the committee at that stage that the then Minister of Finance must be grappling with the issue but MPs wanted an explanation to back up President Zuma’s State of the Nation address on nuclear issues, complaining that nobody in Parliament had seen sight of Energy Minister Joemat-Pettersson nor heard a thing on the issue.

Full team minus nuclear

Present from DOE, in addition to Dr Wolsey Barnard, Deputy DG and Projects and Programmes were Ms Yvonne Chetty, Chief Financial Officer; DG Maqubela, DG of Petroleum Regulations and DG Lloyd Ganta, Governance and Compliance.

On solar energy, DOE said some 92 contracts had been signed in terms of the IPP programmes. Forty of them were now operating producing some 2.2 megawatts of energy at a “cheap rate” when on line and solar germanythe grid being supplied but it became more expensive when not being taken up. Dr Barnard explained that South Africa was not like Germany which was connected to a larger EU “mega” grid in Europe where it both received and supplied electricity.

SA’s system, he said was rather a “one-way supplier”, solar energy being made available only when needed by the grid. But as SA grew economically, things would change.

He commented that the new solar energy station in Upington had not yet been completed but shortly it would not only be supplying energy “when the sun was shining” but, importantly, be able to stored energy for later use. This made sense with the purpose of the IPP programme, he said.

The big failure

On the issue of the PetroSA impairment of R14.5bn, subject raising again the temperature in the meeting, DG Lloyd Ganta of DOE explained that the PetroSA impairment had happened mainly for two reasons.
The first was that PetroSA had made a loss in Ghana to the value of R2.7bn, primarily, he said, due to the fluctuations in the price of oil, the price falling from $110 per barrel to $50 at the time shortly after their entry and at the point of the end of the first quarter.

Project IkwheziThe second reason was due to losses at Project Ikwhezi (offsea to Mossgas) where volumes of gas extracted were far lower than expectation, the venture having started in 2011. At the end of the 2014/5 financial year, only 10% of the expected gas had been realised. When parliamentarians asked what the new direction was therefore to be, the answer received was that engineers were looking at the possibility of fracking at sea to increase the disappointing inputs.

The financial reports from Ms Chetty of DOE confirmed the numbers in financial terms making up the loss,

Dependent on oil price

Acting DG Tseliso Maqubela then stressed that nothing could not change the fact that South Africa was an oil importing country but the country was attempting to follow the direction of and promises made on cleaner fuels and it had been decided to continue with the East coast extraction.

In terms of the NDP, DOE said that South Africa clearly needed another refinery for liquid fuels but

refinery

engen durban refinery

whilst an estimated figure of R53bn had been attached to the issue some time ago for the financing of such, the issue of upgrading existing plant had not been resolved with stakeholders.

Oil companies, he commented, had said that if the government were not to pay for this in part, especially in the light of fuel specification requirements also required to meet cleaner fuel targets set by international agreements signed by SA, the motorist would have to foot the bill as the country could not import clean fuel as such to meet all demand.

More refining capacity

“A balance has to be found with industry and a deal struck”, he said, the problem being that the motorist was at the end of the fuel chain and such a call would affect the economy. He said that possibly the refinery issue could be approached in a phased manner and at perhaps a lower cost.

In the meanwhile, cleaner fuels were a reality and already some traders had applied to the DoE for licenses to construct import facilities, one in Durban and one in Cape Town.

If traders were to bring in large quantities of clean fuels, he said, this would represent a complete change in the petroleum sector and an energy task team, made up of government and main stakeholders was at present putting together a full report on cleaner fuels and a strategy for the future.

LPG a problem

lpgThe Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG) situation was different, he said, since in this area there was not enough production and import storage facilities and it was a question of short supply therefore to the market – a problem especially in winter.

Both propane and butane, the main constituents of LPG are used in the refining process in the far more complicated process of straight petroleum fuel production and with the economies of scale that have to apply to South Africa, this resulted in a high market gate price and insufficient quantities, he said.

Unfortunately, LPG was becoming very much the energy source of preference with householders,especially poorer homes, hence the pressure on government to find some way of introducing LPG on an a far larger scale and at a lesser price. The impression was given that LPG “got the short straw” in terms of production output numbers.

Nuclear non-starter

Again when the subject came round to nuclear matters, no officials present from DOE were in a position to answer MPs questions on why eight nuclear power stations should be necessary, if nuclear was indeed a necessity at all, and whether the affordability had been looked at properly – the chairman again suggesting that the matter be put off until reappearance of the Minister of Energy in the New Year.

Gas on back-burner, as usual

Finally, on questions of gas and fracking, DG Tseliso Maqubela said that government “was takingmozambique pipeline a conservative approach” inasmuch that any pipeline from Northern Mozambique to South Africa was not under consideration but that plans were afoot to expand existing pipelines from that territory in the South.

On fracking, as most knew he said, a strategic environmental assessment had been commissioned, basic regulations published and also the question of waterless fracking was a possibility, now being investigated.
Previous articles on category subject
MPs attack DPE on energy communications – ParlyReportSA
Eskom goes to the brink with energy – ParlyReportSA
South Africa at energy crossroads: DOE speaks out – ParlyReport
Gas undoubtedly on energy back burner – ParlyReportSA
SA aware of over-dependence on Middle East, says DOE – ParlyReportSA

Posted in Electricity, Energy, Facebook and Twitter, Fuel,oil,renewables, LinkedIn, Mining, beneficiation, Public utilities, Special Recent Posts, Trade & Industry, Transport0 Comments

The big SA cabinet crunch

Editorial….

Cabinet hopes are Brown, Ramaphosa, Gordhan…..

Public Enterprises Minister, Lynne Brown, reports that she is to introduce as a cabinet draft, the Lynne BrownShareholder Management Bill as part of a plan to introduce leadership ability and some form of continuity for the state owned enterprises (SOCs) under her control.   This includes Eskom, Transnet, Denel, SA Express, Alexkor and Safcol.

We hope this is the start of something big.

The last few weeks have been an exercise in disaster, so let’s try and take a positive spin on things from a parliamentary viewpoint. Whilst troubled SAA is now an independent, falling under National Treasury and if President Zuma minds his own business, Minister Pravin Gordhan is to sort out National Treasury itself and also the troubled SARS, which he re-designed in the first place and which became such a success working with Trevor Manuel.

More problem children

Meanwhile, PetroSA is in real deep water falling, the entity falling under Central Energy Fund (CEF) reporting to Department and Energy (DOE). With Minister Joemat-Pettersson not back from COP21 or wherever, the country still faces some serious energy issues. But at least the PetroSA problem is now all in the open, with somebody obviously having to take over the reins and the mess, probably CEF itself.
Oddly enough there are people in CEF who know exactly what the problem is but once again politicians pushed experts in the wrong direction, it appears.

In addition, the Passenger Rail Association (PRASA) is very much on the slippery slope and, together with SANRAL, both present highly contentious transport issues which are now in the hands of Minister Cyril Ramaphosa to untangle. Troubling times indeed.

Public Enterprises comes to the party

lyne brown 2Now Minister Lynne Brown appears to be getting the senior management of her portfolio under control and whilst we could still have shutdowns at Eskom she says, because “machines can break down unexpectedly”, the leadership is there she says, as is the case with her Denel.
Lynne Brown recently reported that there are around 700 SOCs, an extraordinary fact, but bearing in mind the fact that South Africa is reputed to have the largest head count in public service per population count, this would appear quite possible.

On the road again

With Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa chairing an Integrated Marketing Committee, which will hopefullyramaphosa designate which entities should remain SOCs and those which should be absorbed back into their relevant departments, there appears some hope with regard to containing the ballooning public service machine which has characterised President Zuma’s presidency.

Hands off appointments

An essential element of Minister Lynne Brown’s plan is to remove the appointment to the boards of the entities under her domain away from cabinet and Ministers, including herself, to a shareholder management team that creates a leadership operational plan for all SOCs and appoints, through due process, a tightly run appointment book.

A brave proposition indeed but it does indicate that Minister Brown is her own person.

Whilst the proposals might look like state control, in fact it is a clear signal that government may have heard the message that the current system of Ministers appointing board members is not working, is open to abuse and what is worse, the consequent “jobs for the boys” system results in taxpayer’s money being thrown away through bad management, corruption and what the auditor general calls “useless and wasteful expenditure”.

On the drawing board

The Shareholder Management Bill, Minister Brown said in Johannesburg, will first need a concept paper (perhaps she means a White Paper) and such could be released after the February Cabinet Lekgotla in February, with an intention of introducing such as system by the end of 2016.

Whilst it is pretty obvious who should not be on such an appointment team, the plan begs the question of will be chosen to occupy such critical posts but it is far too early to cogitate on this one. With Ministers changing their portfolios as if it was a game of musical chairs, there is reason to congratulate Minister Brown on the statement that she herself as a Minister would be excluded from making appointments in her own SOCs.

Leadership needed

During the same address, she added that Eskom was “not out of the woods” yet and there was still not sufficient electricity to facilitate economic growth, but the leadership issue was being addressed satisfactorily with the right people being appointed. Brown said none of the entities under her control “would be approaching the National Treasury with begging bowls”.

Perhaps this is the principle being adopted behind the scenes with the SABC, which whilst not affecting business and industry other than travel costs, unlike trade and investment hurdles and industrial strategic changes, SABC is threatened by the possibility of being returned to its parent government department which at first glance appeared to be a move by President Zuma to gain control of state financed media, Mugabe style.

However, in a broad sense it seems to be Minister Brown’s idea that appointments to the top echelons running the country should be as a result of finding those qualified to do so rather than being handled by totally unqualified persons, some with solicitous intent, and others trying to retain power with dubious appointments such as having friends, in the case of the SABC, to broadcast “the truth” to specific rural audiences.

Unprincipled governance remains the one of the biggest problems facing South Africa, intrinsically coupled to (and in some cases causing} lack of growth and lack of jobs.

Croneyism

Bad appointments by Ministers and of Ministers has been the cornerstone of control by patronage, the route for corruption and the reason for sheer bad management, a practice now openly exposed but not yet controlled by any means. From a parliamentary viewpoint, let us leave it there. The rest is being said by the media but most MPs when they return to Parliament in late January 2016 will have realized that sheer stupidity can ruin their own futures and their pensions.

But if Minister Lynne Brown, in her practical and down to earth manner, can come up with the remarkable idea of Cabinet Ministers, hopefully including the Presidency as well, not interfering in who does what as far as expertise is concerned, then perhaps this can be applied to all 47 government departments and agencies.

One small step

No doubt as far as confirmation of an appointment, the Minister involved may still have to “approve” such a decision but it is worth watching the outcome of the debate on the shortly-to-be tabled Broadcasting Bill, if only to see if the appointment of inept senior appointments can be halted or reversed.

What has come out of the Eskom, PRASA and PetroSA issues is that a bad leader with no qualification or right to be in a position of leadership, or worse led by one who has supplied fraudulent qualifications, leads to frustration and anger by those with genuine skills and high academic qualifications lower down the ladder at the coalface. This is in the space of government service where technical skills are located and badly needed.

We hope Minister Lynne Brown has more of these “eureka” moments.

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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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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/

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

Objections to Minerals and Petroleum Resources Bill

Exploration investment threatened……

Roughnecks wrestle pipe on a True Company oil drilling rig outside WatfordProposed changes to the Minerals and Petroleum Resources Bill (MPRDA) were given the “thumbs down” sign by a number of international participants in the oil and gas industry who provided the minister of mineral resources with a solid indication that the amendments to the Bill are not acceptable as they stand if major investment is to be expected or gas exploration encouraged.

Shell SA was largely ambivalent, although calling for greater clarity on a number of issues.

Confrontation was clearly evident from some of the submissions made by members of the oil and gas exploration industry, however, to a number of principles contained in the MPRDA Bill, the most common issues being lack of clarity for investment purposes and objections to the consolidation of the B-BBEE charters for mining and liquid fuels.

Plenty to think about

oil rigWhilst the chairperson of the portfolio committee of mineral resources claimed there were over six hundred pages from the private sector on the subject which the minister of mineral resources already had stated would probably be a contentious matter, a number of exploration companies were quite vociferous in their objections, both in their oral hearings and when it came to questioning from MPs.

At the last minute the submission from PetroSA was withdrawn subsequently explained by the CEO of PetroSA to the portfolio committee on energy as being for reasons of signatures to various confidentiality agreements.

The amendments contained in the Bill are extensive, including proposals to seek to promote beneficiation of resources: extend government ownership into all ventures; place two state officials on the boards of companies to monitor BEE compliance; the combining of both industry BEE charters; the dissolution of the Petroleum Agency of SA (PASA) and to declare “certain minerals” as strategic resources.

Anadarko at sea over Bill

anardarkoAnadarko SA, a subsidiary of Anadarko Petroleum Corporation who stated they were one of the world’s largest independent oil and gas exploration and production companies with over 5,000 employees and were currently in partnership with PetroSA in Mozambique waters, said their primary areas of concern with the MPRD amendments were that they caused total fiscal instability and uncertainty, something they were not used to working with.

They preferred a dedicated regulator to deal with the oil and gas industry who dealt with only that, they said.   On the issue of fiscal stability, their CEO, Emil Ranoszek, stated that the new Bill “lacked robust economic stability provisions to protect the rights and legitimate expectations of existing rights and permit holders going from an exploration right through to a production right”.

Risk at unacceptable levels

Anadarko, he said, was “committed to establishing a mutually beneficial relationship with the South African state and that oil and gas companies and (they) were ready to make significant investments in South Africa but the Bill in its current form disturbed this balance and raised commercial risk to unacceptably high levels”.

Ranoszek noted that PetroSA was a 20% shareholder in the areas where Anadarko already had a license.    Anadarko was one of the few companies in the world, he said, which had the technical knowledge to “draw the water depths” where they were currently working. If the terms, conditions and risks were deemed to be too high and Anadarko decided not to proceed with operations, then the company would relinquish its licenses.

How PetroSA was going to decide to handle such a situation was unknown and he could not speak for them.

Money flowing to communities

When asked how Anadarko was contributing to the job creation situation in Mozambique, Ranoszek replied that this had been both in the form of direct and indirect jobs from services providers and other sourcing companies. The revenue generated was in the billions of dollars, he said, with the result that Anadarko “was literally building small towns along the coast.”

Anadarko was presently funding a programme in a Mozambican University for the study of petroleum engineering “to upscale the locals in terms of petroleum skills and knowledge.”

ExxonMobil says no clarity

Exxon mobileRuss Berkoben, president of ExxonMobil said the amendments would have several adverse consequences for the growth potential of the South African oil and gas industry. There was “much ambiguity as to the State’s intent”, he said.

Clarity was required regarding the concept that the state would be issuing so-called special shares if it exercised an option for an interest and the state’s right to appoint two directors to a management board of a production operation.”  The Bill gave no clarity on how such matters would be applied.

Berkoben said the minister had to recognise the differences between the petroleum industry and the mining sector and it was his opinion was that PASA should be retained as a body, an entity that understood many of the complexities of his industry, some of which he outlined.  The dissolution of PASA was unwise, he suggested, and with no idea of what regulations were intended, the situation regarding investment had become totally fluid.

BEE  and beneficiation a problem for industry

On the issue of the proposed fines for non-BEE compliance, ExxonMobil said that this would further compromise the viability of certain petroleum operations and discourage expenditure on exploration and development work programmes.  On beneficiation requirements Berkoben stated that he could not visualise how these were applicable to the petroleum exploration or gas industry in reality, other than the minister having rights to offer fuel to outlets with different pricing structures downstream.

When asked by MPs if ExxonMobil had consulted at ministerial level on the Bill and its proposals, Berkoben replied that the answer was simply that ExxonMobil had not been consulted as a stakeholder originally regarding the basis of the proposed changes and he felt that they were being imposed on the oil and gas industry. They were unwarranted, he said.

SA may loose opportunity

impact fieldSean Lunn, managing director of Impact Oil and Gas Ltd, told the committee that the company held an exploration right and three technical cooperation permits along the eastern coast of South Africa and prospects so far identified lay in very deep water and a long way offshore, with the Agulhas current which heavily impacted on exploration along the coastline.

He explained that the oil and gas exploration industry was a dynamic, worldwide business and countries were ranked by their “prospectivity” in fiscal terms, resulting in an industry that was willing to take such risks as proposed on South Africa’s East Coast, one of the most dangerous in the world, when it provided the rewards that were commensurate with the risks taken.

Impact was partnering with ExxonMobil, he explained, and the potential benefits for South Africa “were great, not to mention that the country could become self-sufficient in oil and gas.  South Africa was currently considered to have very high geological risk as no major oil or gas fields had yet been found.

If the current process was unable to find a mutually workable solution, the possibilities that existed offshore may, therefore, lie untapped for decades to come and the huge potential benefit to the country could remain unrealised, he concluded.

Perilous uncertainties

A briefing by the Offshore Petroleum Association of South Africa (OPASA) was made by the acting chairperson, Vusumuzi Sihwa, who re-iterated that the oil and gas exploration environment was challenging environment; high risk; had a surprisingly low success rate with a massive capital outlay to explore a hostile offshore environment such as the East Coast of Africa; and with no guarantee of commercial success.

South Africa’s potential resources, coupled with the current legislation, encouraged the industry to take these huge risks but the MPRDA Bill created “perilous uncertainty for the industry” through lack of stability, uncertainty, coupled with added confusion through the disbandment of PASA.

Sihwa said oil and gas companies could simply shift their focus to other global opportunities.  He suggested that a full working group of all stakeholders, not just some, be convened before the President signed the Bill and the group engage meaningfully and in good faith to reach a mutually agreeable way forward.

OPASA recommended that an upstream petroleum regulator be retained as one unit in one location.

Changing playing fields

Under questioning, the company said existing regulations and the operating environment were very favourable, which was why almost all the prospecting blocks were taken up. The current amendments had brought an element of uncertainty to the table; “the rug was being pulled from under the feet of the industry and this was now a worry, especially whilst projects were in process.” Companies had come into South Africa in terms of a set of rules which were now being decisively altered, he said.

With regard to the liquid fuels charter, OPSA complained that they have never been part of any matters involving mining charters and it was incorrect to impose regulations historically from one industry upon another industry.

Unintended consequences of Bill

sasolIn a separate presentation, Sasol, represented by Johan Thyse, said that Sasol was different to many in the oil and gas industry as it was present throughout the value chain. Consequently government policy and regulation affected the company extensively. Thyse warned the chairperson that the Bill, as it stood, would have serious unintended consequences for both industries.

He said the proposals if left unchallenged would severely affect Sasol’s ability to execute its strategy in South Africa and play its role in the National Growth Path and in the National Development Plan.

Sasol commented in detail on issues surrounding free carried interest and also the mining charter as compared with the liquid fuels charter; the concept of “concentration of rights” which they were highly critical of; the transfer of petroleum licencing; what was referred to in the Bill as regional regulators; the disbandment of PASA and beneficiation as it affected Sasol.

Environmental off beam

They were particularly and deeply concerned regard environmental management issues proposed and the authorisation of issues surrounding increasing the extent of a mining rights through amendments; the removal of prescribed time-frames on many issues and the matter of redefinition of strategic minerals and any consequent effect upon on exports.

Under questioning Sasol said there was total lack of clarity on many issues. Coal for example did not follow cadastral boundaries on the issue of rights as did maritime resources and there was confusion on beneficiation targets and time-frames as to whom and what it applied to.

When asked whether the Bill, with its uncertainties and bearing in mind Sasol’s stakeholders and shareholders, would make it easier or harder to operate in South Africa Thyse replied that “due to the lack of clarity on investment in the Bill, Sasol certainly would re-look at how and where it would invest.”

Investment climate threatened

shellJan W Eggink, Upstream General Manager, Shell SA, said their primary concern where matters equity ownership provisions in the mining charter and how this would the affect investment climate. He said that his company fully supported government’s B-BBEE agenda and matters related to a state interest in the petroleum and mining industry but he needed clarity on whether mining, offshore gas exploration on BEE issues could possibly be combined under one set of rules in view of their disparity.

Under questioning, Egglink called for “more constructive engagement with government” on the combining of matters affecting both the mining and onshore gas industry”.  His overall opinion was that it was difficult to say much on the MPRDA without any knowledge of how any regulations might work.

It was after the Shell presentation, that it was announced by the chair that the PetroSA submission had been withdrawn although the absence from the hearings had been noticeable.

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

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CEF still has its troubles

CEF subsidiary SASDA faces closure

Reporting under the Central Energy Fund label during parliamentary presentations to the portfolio committee on energy, the South African Supplier Development Agency (SASDA) admitted that in incurring a loss of over R18m during 2011/12 and a loss estimated at R14.5m for the present year, shutdown or liquidation was inevitable.

Lunga Saki, acting CEO, said the situation had become untenable.

He described SASDA as the “driving force behind the liquid fuels charter” but that SASDA, with dwindling cash reserves and with CEF “having insufficient dividend flows from subsidiaries” had put tremendous pressure on SASDA’s ability to continue its work, funding for which at present existed as loans from the central group.

Directors anxious to resolve

CEF had said that as a body it was to approach the department of energy and industry players such as SAPIA on the future of SASDA.  A possible liquidation was on the books, since the directors of SASDA did not want to enter the realm where they, knowing that SASDA had liabilities which exceeded its assets, could be accused of reckless trading and SASDA receiving qualifications from the auditor general with them at the reins.

SASDA focused on mentoring and coaching, providing technical support, skills training, facilitated access to raw materials, project management and they claimed facilitated financial support to CEF projects.

General picture

Sizwe Mncwango, CEO of CEF, in reporting to Parliament on overall group activities, excluding that of subsidiary PetroSA which in view of its size and structure reported separately, said he would focus on the work of CEF excluding this

CEF was in the process of restructuring for growth, he said. He saw the group as contributing to national security of energy supply dealing in renewables, oil and gas, strategic storage, licencing, mining development projects and supplier development issues within the energy field.

In clean energy, CEF’s project at Solar Park had a mission of developing renewable energy and low smoke fuel projects and agreements for solar water heaters had been signed in cooperation with the departments of human settlements and energy. Their second phase of this successful project was about to start. Photovoltaic (PV) manufacturing was being investigated.

Strategic stocks

On strategic stocks and storage facilities the company stored and managed third party crude oil on a commercial basis in order to fund the oil pollution prevention and control activities at the Saldanha Bay, Milnerton and Ogies facilities. There was a major project which included office refurbishment at the Milnerton Tank Farm, with tank refurbishment being undertaken with more sourcing of additional strategic stock tanks required.

A warning was given that the oil pollution sea vessels were aged and the fleet was urgently in need of refurbishment.

David Van Der Spuy, acting general manager at the Promotion Petroleum Agency South Africa (PASA), explained to parliamentarians the implication  of section 71 of the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act (MPRDA) on the need to promote onshore and offshore exploration and production of petroleum, monitor and report regularly to the Minister in respect of compliance on permit, rights and licensing.

PASA faced a funding problem, he said, but the regulation of MPRDA remained an imperative and could not be threatened.

CEF coal venture

CEF also reported on its small coal mining venture at Vlakfontein, Mpumalanga, run by a subsidiary African Exploration Mining and Finance (AEMFC) which amounted to a pilot development and which was successfully mining 1.5m tons of coal, with no fatalities.

This financed a mining exploration venture known as Pan African Minerals Development Corporation (PAMDC and was driving PAMDC’s additional coal exploration programme. CEF investments shareholding in PAMDC was 33.3%, AEMFC being a 49% participant at project level but the group was searching for third party funding to hive the project off and engagement with the department of mineral resources was positive.

Sizwe Mncwango told parliamentarians that this was the main objective of CEF in building successful energy participants and letting them flourish on their own, once identified as a successful participants in the energy environment

PetroSA a separate issue

Such was the case with PetroSA, a part of CEF, who would report to Parliament in their own right, Mncwango said.

On questioning it became clear that, aside from the SASDA problem, much of the focus on the balance sheet had been in the creation of loans and funding for PetroSA. Consequently CEF, other than certain mandates such as that retained by PASA in licensing and oil spillage, was mainly involved in support programmes, skills development and sustainability of projects which involved the state’s drive to make contributions in the energy field.
Associated articles archived
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//uncategorized/central-energy-fund-slowly-gets-its-house-in-order/

 

Posted in Energy, Finance, economic, Fuel,oil,renewables, Labour, Public utilities0 Comments

PetroSA has high hopes with the Chinese

Sinopec agreement necessary

PetroSA logoDr Benny Mokaba, an independent consultant on energy planning and options working for PetroSA, confirmed to parliamentarians of the energy committee that a framework agreement had been signed between PetroSA and the giant Chinese petrochemical company, Sinopec. As a result, the Mthombo refinery project at Coega, “continues to gather momentum”.

He asked parliamentarians to remember “that this project had been named as one of the six major projects of the New Growth Plan”.

Crucial infrastructure problems affecting the project were described as rail, port and pipeline issues, relationships with the Coega Development Corporation, Eskom power and dealing with provincial and municipal matters. As this was a presidential “SIP” project, ongoing engagement and reporting on status was being given but parliamentarians were advised that “due to the competitive nature of the industry, very little more could be said.”

Refinery and gas projects

Dr Mokaba said that in the year under review PetroSA had continued to operate safely and profitably; that the Mossel Bay refinery “sustenance” had remained a key focus and the Ikhwezi offshore gas project is progressing well, drilling having started and first gas expected shortly.

However, he said that PetroSA faced increasing challenges with declining feedstock; increased competition for hydrocarbon assets; a weak rand and funding limitations; with the result that it’s cash “was depleting at a fast rate”.

African ventures

Most of the focus of the strategy was on the “upstream plan”, where Dr Mokaba said that PetroSA would “consolidate its recent acquisition in Ghana, known as ‘Sabre’; finalise “farming out” 55% of its equity stake in a block in Equatorial Guinea; and was looking at funding options for a possible acquisition in Venezuela. (During the presentation the exposure by the media of PetroSA of problems in dealings in Ghana had not been made, nor was it mentioned at this meeting)

Sinopec important to the venture

CoegaJoern Falbe, vice president, new ventures, PetroSA, said on midstream matters that the main issue was “we know what we don’t know” and this had led to better planning certainty and the realization that experts, especially when it came to the Mathombo project, were needed.

He pointed out that PetroSA were not the real experts in mega-projects such as this – in fact total project managers and logistical team expertise hardly existed in SA for this kind of undertaking to be handled “in house”, but Sinopec from China were, in their view, the answer and that is why the new framework agreement was an important stage to have finalised.

“We are working closely with IDC over the Mathombo project as well and through them we shall get the financing correct”, he said.   Members asked if government guarantees were going to be needed but this stage had not yet been reached, was the reply.

Little happening downstream

PetroSA said nothing on downstream issues other than to mention a petrol station was being built at Mbizana, working with the local community. Mbizana is a large municipal area located in the Eastern Cape Province on the R61 road connecting KwaZulu Natal south coastal boundary to the N2 highway with a population of approximately 246 500.

On downstream issues generally, the chair explained that PetroSA was in a competitive world and this would not be discussed
Associated articles archived
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//uncategorized/better-year-for-petrosa-with-offshore-gas-potential/
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//uncategorized/integrated-energy-plan-iep-is-not-crystal-ball-gazing-says-doe/

Posted in Energy, Finance, economic, Fuel,oil,renewables, Land,Agriculture, Public utilities, Trade & Industry, Transport0 Comments

MPRD Amendment Bill to be tabled early 2013

MPRD Amendments will cause heat in oil industry…..

susan shabanguNot yet scheduled for meetings by committees or hearings dates in Parliament, is the draft Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Amendment Bill for which mineral resources minister, Susan Shabangu, obtained cabinet approval for in early December last year and who  called for public comment on the draft by the end of January 2013.        With a problematic preamble which states that the draft Bill is to promote the concept that “that the nation’s minerals are developed in an orderly manner while promoting justifiable social and economic development”, certain sectors have already provoked considerable industry comment which were presumably have been conveyed in comments to the minister and her department as called for when gazetted.

Amongst the many “refined existing definitions”, the draft Bill as it stands at present and possibly to be tabled seeks to allow the state to acquire by right of ownership any mineral resource to a “free carried interest” in any exploration matter and a right to acquire “a further interest” in that exploration with also production rights “through an organ of state or state owned company”.

Changes are also proposed on the issue of ministerial limitations on the ability of mining companies to trade JSE shares on the open market.

PASA to go

The disbanding of the Petroleum Agency of South Africa appears to be on the cards as well, since the draft Bill clearly relegates all functions of this agency to the department of mineral resources (DMR) and much of the work undertaken with and by DMR will now be allocated under the Geosciences Act, other work passing from DMR to fall under the National Environmental Management Act and therefore bringing in a further department.

“Technically, therefore, government departments would become a petroleum regulator”, was the comment by the Offshore Petroleum Association of SA in the Johannesburg press. However, clarification of this and the situation with regard to PetroSA and the acquisition of exploration rights will presumably emerge during parliamentary hearings since submissions so far in terms of the gazetted document are naturally private.

The draft Bill also contains a great number of changes and redefinitions in the area of associate minerals affecting a broad spectrum of the mining industry. However, in particular the draft states that it proposes to “make provision for the implementation of the approved beneficiation strategy through which strategic minerals can be processed locally for a higher value”. The ability of the minister to set those beneficiation levels and any prices seems to be incorporated.

This specifically will bring focus upon the benefits from tailings in mine dumps, meaning that not necessarily the owners that created them originally will be the sole beneficiaries of subsequent workings. On this subject, the Bill also calls for a new description or interpretation of the word “beneficiation”, this to be inserted into the anchor legislation, the MPRDA itself, by amendment.

Regional mining developmental bodies and environmental committees regarding MPRDA matters are to be set up under the jurisdiction of DMR, such bodies having regional managers with powers.

What effect any submissions have will been seen from the document that is eventually tabled.

Posted in Energy, Fuel,oil,renewables, Justice, constitutional, Mining, beneficiation, Public utilities, Trade & Industry0 Comments

Final push for renewable energy promised

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Posted in Electricity, Energy, Finance, economic, Fuel,oil,renewables, Land,Agriculture, Mining, beneficiation, Public utilities, Trade & Industry0 Comments

Better year for PetroSA with offshore gas potential

In presenting their annual report and internal audit results to the portfolio committee on energy, PetroSA told parliamentarians that progress had been made on the Ikhwezi gas fields off the Mozambique coast and that four wells were originally drilled with two more recently completed, all resulting in a “sub-sea” pipeline to carry gas ashore from the platform created now being created.

The first actual operational well drilling is to be commenced by the end of 2012 and gas is expected to flow by 2013.   This should extend the life of Mossel Bay refinery to 2020.

CEO, Nosizwe-Nocawe Nokwe would not confirm the size or volumes involved in the Ikhwezi project -chairperson Sisa Njikelana reminding parliamentarians that PetroSA was working in a competitive market and certain facts, especially on crude oil and gas  matters, had to be withheld.

Nevertheless, she commented that PetroSA had received an “unqualified” audit opinion and generally things from a management perspective “were looking up”.

Ms Nokwe said that PetroSA’s activities in the downstream market were a “hive of activity” but from her presentations it had to be assumed by MPs attending that this was in the storage area and not in service station ownership.

When asked why PetroSA should be interested in such areas of expansion as “downstream”, as she referred to it, Nokwe replied that it was because “PetroSA had a vision of being a totally integrated oil and fuel supply company”.

A good number of the questions from MPs on the annual report surrounded the unsuccessful ventures to obtain crude oil in Equatorial Guinea where R1, 412m had to be written off in the year under review and in Egypt where R945m was also subject to a write off. The audit opinion was naturally highly critical of such ventures, referring to these as “impairments” but not “wasteful and unfruitful”, however, as was pointed out.

Also “significant uncertainties”, according to the internal audit, surrounding the sale of Brass Exploration Limited and PetroSA Nigeria (SOC) which Nosizwe Nokwe reported on as “ventures which were currently in process of litigation” and therefore, she felt, sub-judice as far as any debate was concerned.

Most of the problem with Brass Exploration had arisen because the investment was disallowable under the PFMA as the business was largely family-owned.

equitorial guinea

On further questioning by MPs, Ms Nokwe finally explained that the Equatorial Guinea venture was apparently on the basis that a partner, subject to certain conditions, had to be found in a specified period and as this had not happened, it was felt prudent to write off the exercise as the contractual arrangements appeared doomed. Nevertheless, in the last few days, such a partner has been located and the matter is being re-discussed.

The focus of PetroSA, said Nosizwe Nokwe, remained as sustaining the Mossel Bay GTL refinery and to develop Ikhwezi.   Group profits had risen 54% in the year under review. PetroSA was on the project group involved and supported the quest to ascertain the viability of shale gas in the Karoo.

Crude production figures for the group were given as 0.8 million barrels which was only 50% of target, the department of performance, monitoring and evaluation (DPME) had noted, which was disappointing as Ms Nokwe said, but the challenges at the production facility were now resolved.    Indigenous refinery production stood at 6.5m barrels for 2011/2.

Chief financial officer, Nkosemntu Nika, said that the small income involved was mostly generated from cash interests of the group but that a feature of the balance sheet was that it was debt-free. The crude oil market experienced some difficulties and resulted in a significant drop in storage rental income.

On the reasons for two recent trips to Venezuela and whether these had been “what might be termed as successful”, as put by the questioner, Ms Nokwe replied that indeed there had been two trips and like the Africa focus, the idea was to build relationships in markets not necessarily tied to old routine arrangements such as in the Middle East but to “forge new initiatives”.

No specific contracts or purchases were envisaged in the short term, she said, in view of the fact that Venezuela only had heavy crudes but there was no telling what could be done with a possible refinery at, say, Mathombo, Coega, she commented. SA refineries were geared to light oil requirements and Iran situation had clearly highlighted what the problems were ahead.

When asked about the possibility of PetroSA continuing with the objective defined as the Mathombo project, she said PetroSA needed a lot more support to start getting this “to the drawing board stage”. The country faced a real risk of fuel supply shortage, as stated in the PetroSA annual report, and also in the fuel energy reports contributed to by PetroSA in the past, but, like most, PetroSA awaited the results of IRP findings on energy supply requirements.

However, again she lobbied parliamentary support for a refinery at Coega.

The DG concluded that PetroSA was concerned on the declining feedstock picture and was working with Eskom on LNG development and alternatives.  The tanks at Saldanha Bay were discussed, but only to the extent that spare space could be taken up for rental on the basis of what would suit PetroSA.   As to their future, she said the Central Energy Fund should be asked, as they were studying the matter.

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Posted in Cabinet,Presidential, Energy, Finance, economic, Fuel,oil,renewables, Mining, beneficiation, Public utilities, Trade & Industry, Transport, Uncategorized0 Comments


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