Tag Archive | portfolio committee on energy

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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MPRDA Bill returned to National House of Leaders

Some sort of movement on MPRDA at last……..

sent to clients 18 March…..In a parliamentary document recently published it is shown that the Mineral and Petroleumcoal mining Resources Development Amendment (MPRDA) Bill has been sent on a token trip through the National House of Traditional Leaders for comment in thirty days and then to be returned to the Portfolio Committee on Mineral Resources.

This is probably for some temporary major changes to be made to the Bill after debate until such time as two new Bills, one for the mining industry and one for the oil and gas industry, are drafted in time to come.     No doubt this movement was initiated as the result of the recent meeting between President Zuma and business leaders.

The extraordinary affair of the MPRDA has been going on since the first draft of the Bill was published for comment in December 2012 regulating extensively the exploitation of minerals and resources and the legal movement and transfer of resource rights.    Both industries have their own and very different BEE charters and the single Bill deals with both and many empowerment factors.

Core issues


Two issues
of note were that in the new Bill as originally proposed the Minister was to form a new “entity” which will “promote onshore and offshore exploration for and production of petroleum” and which will also “receive, store, maintain, interpret, add value to, evaluate, disseminate or deal in all geological or geophysical information” relating to petroleum and gas exploration matters.

Secondly, sections 80 and 84 of the anchor Act were to be amended to provide for State participation in any successful minerals and gas/oil development exercises carried out by the private sector, the Bill providing for a State right to free carried interest in all such exploration and production rights.
Specific details regarding the extent of the “free carry” were to be published in a government gazette, a figure of 20%susan shabangu being bandied about at the time.   “We are on the path of changing the mining and petroleum industry in South Africa, whether you like it or not,” said Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu earlier in 2014.

Strong views

Accompanied by a public outcry and strongly worded objections from private industry, foreign companies and other institutions, the Bill reached Parliament virtually unchanged.    Again, brought up before the Portfolio Committee on Mineral Resources in public hearings, were strong objections from Opposition MPs and institutionalised industry, neither of whom minced their words, describing the Bill, in one case, as a “self-destruction tool of South Africa’s investment climate.”

Nevertheless, the ANC Alliance continued on their course and the Bill was hammered through in a rush at the end of the parliamentary term, the ANC summonsing through its whip sufficient numbers.

In the background, as the Bill went through Parliament, was the fact that the Department of Mineral Resources and the Department of Energy were only just completing their split apart. Crossed wires were the order of the day.

Nothing happened

Since that date the Bill has sat in limbo; a new Mineral Resources Minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi Ngoako Ramatlhodiagreeing shortly after with the with mining companies and the Chamber of Mines that the best and fastest way forward to bring certainty to the mining and oil drilling industry would be to pass the Bill subject to amendments based on a new approach to the mining beneficiation issue.

Secondly, the matter of state “free carry” could be dropped.

At the time it was guessed that at least a year and a half would be the delay if two replacement Bills were to be drafted, separating mineral resources from oil and gas in the light of the fact that both have separate and very different BEE charters. The quicker alternative to bring some certainty was that temporary amendments to the existing Bill should be made.

Despite this, the Bill has just stuck right there, in the President’s office, until recently, now moving back togas exploration sea Parliament because, as is suspected, business leaders in their recent discussions with President Zuma must have drawn his attention to the continuing lack of lack of certainty in both industries because of unknown legislative changes about to occur and an apparent inability by Cabinet to give clear policy leads.

So where are we?

So as far as the MPRDA Bill is concerned, there is movement in the goods sidings but whether any train is about to start on a journey can only be known when a meeting is scheduled by the Portfolio Committee on Mineral Resources. Yet another minister is the train driver.

Previous articles on category subject

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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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Fuel price controlled by seasonal US supply

US refinery shut downs affect fuel price…..

US refineryThe current spike in the price of petrol is due of a number of international issues  compounding together but the primary cause is that at this time of year in the United States, a number of major US refineries close down for maintenance in order to prepare for the US summer surge in fuel sales.

This was said by Dr Wolsey Barnard, acting DG of the department of energy (DoE), when he introduced a briefing to the portfolio committee on energy on its strategy for the coming year.

In actual fact, the meeting had been called to debate the promised “5-point energy plan” from the cabinet’s “war room” which did not eventualise, the minister of energy also being absent for the presentation as scheduled. It appeared that the DoE presentation had been hastily put together.

“Price swingers” make perfect storm

Dr Wolsey BarnardDr Barnard said that it could be expected that the price of fuel would be extremely volatile in the coming months due in main “geo-political events” affecting the price of oil, local pricing issues of fuel products and possibly even sea lane interruptions. Price would always be based on import parity and current events in Mexico, Venezuela and the Middle East would always be “price swingers”, he said.

On electricity matters, his speciality, he avoided any reference to past lack of investment in infrastructure, but said that he called for caution in the media, by government officials and the committee on the use of the two expressions “blackouts” and “load shedding”.

Same old story

“Over the next two years”, he said, “until sufficient infrastructure was in place, there would have to be planned maintenance in South Africa” and referred to the situation in the US as far as maintenance of refinery plant was concerned. He said that also “unexpected isolated problems” could also arise with ageing generation installations, during which planned “load shedding” would have to take place.

He said he could not imagine there being a “blackout”.

Opposition members complained that the whole electricity crisis could be solved if some companies would cease importing raw minerals, using South African electricity at discounted prices well below the general consuming manufacturing industry paid, and re-exporting smelted aluminium back to the same customer. They accused DoE of trying to “normalise what was a totally abnormal position for a country to be in.”

Billiton back in contention

One MP said, “Industry was in some cases just using cheap South African electricity to make a profit”. Suchaluminium smelter practices went against South Africa’s own beneficiation programme, he said, in the light of the raw material being imported and the finished product re-exported. “It would be cheaper to shut down company and pay the fines”, the DA opposition member added, naming BH Billiton as the offender in his view.

Dr Barnard said DoE could not discuss Eskom’s special pricing agreements which were outside DoE’s control  and “which were a thing of the past and a matter which we seem to be stuck with for the moment.”

High solar installation costs

Dr Barnard also said that DoE had established that the department had to be “cautious on the implementation of solar energy plan” as a substitute energy resource in poorer, rural areas and even some of the lower income municipal areas.  DoE, he said, “had to find a different funding model”, since the cost of installation and maintenance were beyond the purse of most low income groups.

In general, he promised more financial oversight on DoE state owned enterprises and better communications.   There were plenty of good news stories, he said, but South Africa was hypnotising itself into a position of “bad news” on so many issues, including energy matters. He refused to discuss any matters regarding PetroSA, saying this was not the correct forum nor was it on the agenda.

Still out there checking

On petroleum and products regulation, the DG of that department, Tseliso Maquebela, said that non-compliance in the sale of products still remained a major issue. “We have detected a few cases of fraudulent fuel mixes”, he said, “but we plan to double up on inspectors in the coming months, especially in the rural areas, putting pressure on those who exploit the consumer.” The objective, he said was reach a target of a 90% crackdown on such cases with enforcement notices.

Maquebela added that on BEE factors, 40% of licence applications with that had 50% BEE compliance was now the target.

Competition would be good

On local fuel pricing regulations, Maquebela said “he would dearly like to move towards a more open and competitive pricing policy introducing more competition and less regulations.”

fuel tanker engenOn complaints that the new fuel pipeline between Gauteng and Durban was still not in full production after much waiting, Maquebela said the pipeline was operating well but it was taking longer than expected to bring about the complicated issue of pumping through so many different types of fuel down through the same pipeline. “But we are experts at it and it will happen”, he said.

Fracking hits the paper work

On gas, particularly fracking, DoE said that the regulations “were going to take some time in view of all the stakeholder issues”.

On clean energy and “renewables” from IPP sources, DoE stated that the “REIPP” was still “on track” but an announcement was awaited from the minister who presumably was consulting with other cabinet portfolios regarding implementation of the fourth round of applications from independent producers.

Opposition totally unimpressed

In conclusion, DA member and shadow minister of energy, Gordon McKay, said that the DoEgordon mackay DA presentation was the most “underwhelming” he had ever listened to on energy.   Even the ANC chair, Fikile Majola, sided with the opposition and said that DoE  “can do better than this.”

He asked how Parliament could possibly exercise oversight with this paucity of information.   DoE representatives looked uncomfortable during most of the presentations and under questioning it was quite clear that communications between cabinet and the DoE were poor.

When asked by members who the new director general of the department of energy would be and why was the minister taking so long to make any announcement on this, Dr Wolsey Barnard, as acting DG, evaded the question by answering that “all would be answered in good time”.

Other articles in this category or as background
Energy gets war room status – ParlyReportSA
Medupi is key to short term energy crisis – ParlyReportSA
Integrated energy plan (IEP) around the corner – ParlyReportSAenergy legislation is lined up for two years – ParlyReportSA

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Eskom goes to the brink with energy

Editorial…..

What war room?….

black bulbFor those who have been associated with a war, they will know that a war room is a pretty busy place. However, one gets the impression that the South African war room, mandated to sort out Eskom and energy planning, has no red telephone and little understanding of working overtime in a time of crisis.

Spokesperson, Mac Maharaj or his  replacement, has certainly issued no statements headed with such a title, the President being busy visiting Egypt, Algeria and Angola with the deputy president calling in on the Kingdom of Lesotho.  President Mugabe has come and gone, more presidential visits are planned…… and the World Bank report on South Africa has been published.

Teetering on the edge

Meanwhile, the Eskom issue is still boiling over, the question of the fourth round of IPP tenders and more to come has been announced by the minister of energy but little evidence exists that a war room exists, let alone a high powered advisory council to advise the war room.  Parliament was, of course, on Easter recess which added to the uncanny political silence on urgent matters, particularly the energy issue, although the story at Medupi with a return to work and the appointment of a new CEO at Eskom seems  calming.

At last public servants are re-appearing from extended Easter holidays but the so-called war room gives the impression of having bunkered down. Hopefully the report in the coming weeks on Eskom, as South Africa tackles some of the other serious matters facing the country, will not only show with what went wrong but what the war room intends to do about it.

Perhaps a picture of the war room sitting and debating might actually help us believe there is one.

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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/

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Eskom crosses its fingers

Medupi:  Eskom on final run ….

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

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

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

Minister notes….

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

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

No rest with summer

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

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

More price increases

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

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

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

Strikes

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

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

Outside inputs

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

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

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

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

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Gas Utilisation Master Plan gets things going

Gas a “game changer” in energy mix…

gas pipelineWith the publication for comment of the Gas Utilisation Master Plan (Gump) by the department of energy (DoE), South Africa came a step further towards the finalisation of its Integrated Energy Plan (IEP), meaning also that the document has received approval by the cabinet.

The document, based on a Green Paper released by DOE some years ago, provides a framework for investment in gas-supporting infrastructure and outlines the role that gas could conceivably play in the electricity, transport, domestic, commercial and industrial sectors.

LNG and gas, offshore -onshore

The Gump outlines, amongst other issues,  the import of liquified natural gas (LNG) and piped gas from Namibia and Mozambique and plans for production of natural and shale gas in South Africa.  A plan to have 67 GW of installed gas generation by 2050 is considered by the paper.
The plan is particularly relevant at the moment with Eskom having to rely, as grid backup during the current winter, on expensive diesel-fueled open-cycle gas turbines. The Gump proposals on electricity generation, talk of conversion to closed-cycle turbine power using gas.

The paper also expands on importing electricity from gas sourced from Mozambique and Namibia with lines to the Eskom system grid including imports from the largest present and mainly undeveloped gas fields in Tanzania neighbouring the northern Mozambique fields.

Learning curve

New minister of energy, Tina Joemat-Pettersson, will have deepen her knowledge base very quickly on such matters as the IEP, energy resources and liquid fuels plans, all urgent and with immediacy.   Such issues as the process of energy integration overall and the issue of the stalled independent power producers (IPP) programme in terms of the held-over Independent System Market Operators (ISMO) Bill, are also waiting for position on the energy starting track.

DoE has also pointed to its intended coal gas programme with an IPP programme for the generation of some 6,500MW of power. The department further states that the Gump takes a 30-year view of the industry. It not only deals, they say, with the regulatory environment and economic predictions but does touch on social issues and environmental matters as well.

The master plan also talks of a gas line from Mozambique to Gauteng via Richards Bay and how gas will be distributed and stored, together with the issue of LNG terminal storage.

As a separate issue to Gump but part of the same overall plan, DOE has also released public comment the issue of investment by private merchants in fuel and gas storage, particularly referring to Saldanha Bay.

Storage, a vexed issue

Fuel storage at the present moment is traditionally undertaken by the major oil companies, in some cases integrated with state facilities and who can more easily absorb some of the more riskier aspects of this sector with their vertical interests both upstream and downstream.

DoE sees a greater contribution from investment by private merchants in storage and is currently attempting to re-structure the system to attract and build the industry to counter present storage problems and for early consideration as part of South Africa’s strategic fuels plan and as part of a licensing and regulation background.

In the short term, DoE says in its Gump programme, such a system is needed in terms of LNG holding reserves, imported as LNG or from state owned PetroSA’s gas-to-liquids plant at Mossel Bay, until more natural gas comes down the envisaged pipelines from the current exploration areas.

At the moment Sasol pipes 188-million gigajoules a year of gas into South Africa from Mozambique.  The possibility of LNG re-gasification plants offshore on the West coast in the near future is also debated in the Gump programme released.

Other articles in this category or as background
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//energy/parliament-re-starts-oilsea-gas-debate/
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//energy/shale-gas-exploration-gets-underway/
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//energy/oil-and-gas-industry-criticizes-minerals-petroleum-bill/
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//energy/future-clearer-as-gas-amendment-bill/

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Eskom looks at cutbacks, maybe rebates

Eskom reviews whole process of rebates…

eskomEskom has placed its energy efficiency rebates for businesses and homes on hold pending a review of financial constraints after being with left with , the spokesperson says, a shortfall of R7.9bn when granted the third Multi-Year Price Determination (MYPD) period until 2018. All this compared with the R13.09bn it sought.

The review to curb on costs would affect new projects that were to be implemented in the next financial year and a review is being conducted on present rebates.

Cannot maintain “aggressive” style

As part of a programme of cutbacks, new general manager Andrew Etzinger has confirmed that the lower-than-applied for funding meant that Eskom could not sustain such an “aggressive programme” at the same levels whilst, he said the group was in discussions with government on alternative funding models.

Etzinger stated that the benefits of current integrated demand management (IDM) programmes were obvious and such interventions had assisted with the country’s power situation. With savings of about 3 600 MW since inception, the IDM programmes have established capacity in megawatt equivalents, to an average power station. Without those savings, South Africa would have been in daily load shedding since 2008, Etzinger said.

Energy targets outlined

In the MYPD2 period, Eskom spent R5.4-billion on the current IDM interventions and achieved savings of 1 200 MW over the three-year period. For the current financial year, Eskom is aiming to achieve savings of 379 MW through energy efficiency interventions and is targeting 240 MW in the next financial year. Hence the cut backs, he said.

Eskom says, “The residential mass roll-out was the largest contributor to demand savings in the 2013 financial year. The programme is based on a free bulk roll-out of a “basket of technologies”, focusing on replacing inefficient lighting and implementing energy saving technologies and load control devices in the residential sector.”

Since inception in October 2011, about 245 projects have been registered for the standard offer, realising demand savings of 118 MW and energy savings of 478.6 GWh. More than 4 800 projects have been registered for the standard product programme, which started in January 2012, realising demand savings of 122.7 MW and energy savings of 555 GWh.

Presumably Eskom with its current statement means that any new programmes will not be started and it will review current arrangements.

Etzinger stressed, however, that while the IDM interventions were temporarily on hold, Eskom would continue to benefit from the savings achieved through the projects that are implemented on an ongoing basis with agreement with the parties involved.

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Electricity connections not making targets

No hope of meeting Zuma’s promises…

elec poleThe inability of municipalities and local government to bring electricity to the poor and for the department of energy (DOE) to meet its promised target of electricity to all households by 2015 was a subject which dominated the DOE’s annual report to Parliament recently. New Minister of governance and traditional affairs, Pravin Gordhan, will have this issue before him as he tackles local government problems as will new minister of public enterprises, Lynne Brown.

Ms Nelisiwe Magubane, DG of DOE was reporting on the activities of her department for the 2o12/13 period and neither the minister of energy, Ben Martins, or his deputy, was present, much to the chagrin of portfolio  committee energy committee chairperson, Sisi Njikelena, who reported angrily on the subject.      DOE was reporting on its annual report and second quarter achievements.

Success with avoiding Middle East for oil

In noting that the year had been dominated by fluctuating oil prices, Ms Magubane noted that South Africa had succeeded in switching 41% of its oil imports to the African continent.

DG Magubane also reported that the electricity supply situation had improved in the country and the department’s own household electricity connection programme had also improved, mainly thanks to Eskom, but there was a large backlog that still existed due to lack of accountability by municipalities. This was a worrying factor for the country, she said. On this subject, further reports followed.

Other DOE targets met

Dr Barnard

Dr Barnard

On clean energy as far as the year was concerned, she reported that in August financial close had been received from twenty eight of the independent power producer (IPP) bids: the biofuels blending regulations had been drafted; the draft pricing arrangements started; and a nuclear safety report compiled and submitted as a result of lessons learnt from the Fukushima disaster.
 Dr Wolsey Barnard took up the issue of DOE’s poor record on electricity connections and said that bearing in mind the lack of skills and training at local government, it “was a miracle that South Africa had achieved so much”.

Aside from the fact, he said, that the government financial year was different to the municipal year, which made a mockery of funding programmes and targets, he said dealing with municipalities was “extremely difficult”  but nevertheless “for each seventy seconds of each day there was a connection some here in South Africa”.

Treasury must ring fence local funding

On the problematic relationships with local government, Dr Barnard said DOE was doing as much as it could “but you can pull a rope but you can’t push it and that was the trouble in dealing with local government officials”.   He said he looked forward to the day when National Treasury’s promised Bill “ring fencing” funds was promulgated “and then we might get somewhere”, he said.

He noted that each municipality had to sign a contract to get funding in the first place, providing business plan, “but sometimes we get to a place to install for a lot of homes built and there is no sub-station or any hope of connecting to the national grid”.

Cabora Bassa dam debt at R1

nelisiwe magubaneMs Magubane confirmed that in the annual reports a loan to Mozambique for the Cabora Bassa dam had been written down to R1 with the permission of Treasury. This loan was in respect of money loaned in the ‘sixties and it was clear that the Mozambique government could not pay. However, the question of re-payment of this loan would be re-raised, she said.

On queries why there seemed so little interest in gas exploration by government in Mozambique, whereas other countries seemed to have “got their foot in first”, Muzi Mkhize, chief director of hydrocarbons, said that “unlike other countries, we do not subsidize our national oil exploration effort and, in any case, the quest of dealing with countries was a foreign affairs matter and country to country relationships had to come first.”

SA to meet Mozambique on gas exploration

Sisi Njikelana said that this was a totally unsatisfactory answer and called on Mkhize for a better explanation to his committee.  Mkhize admitted that South Africa was “meeting Mozambique on a government to government basis on gas exploration matters in mid-October”.

When asked what had happened to the nuclear safety report, deputy director general of nuclear, DOE, Zizamele Mbambo, said that this was a security document but it had been acted upon.

The Eskom representative was asked to speak on the subject when a question was raised about the Koeberg Nuclear plant by a Cape Town MP, and the Eskom official reported that a “fortnightly nuclear safety committee met in the area with all representatives present” and that the meeting was chaired by a person drawn from the local community.

Refer to articles in this category
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//public-utilities/municipal-free-basic-services-slow-build/
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//energy/dpe-

Posted in BEE, Electricity, Energy, Enviro,Water, Facebook and Twitter, Finance, economic, LinkedIn, Public utilities, Trade & Industry0 Comments

PASA ready for fracking and sea gas

Gas regulator separate from others….

In a presentation to Parliament, the strategic role of the new Petroleum Agency of SA (PASA) was debated and government officials showed MPs that estimations indicated that at least 20% of PASA’ future effort would be spent on contributing to the legislative and regulatory framework surrounding shale gas in South Africa.

Two major areas of gas and oil exploration revenue for the new body were clearly indicated as income from shale gas operations, or “fracking”, and also from maritime gas investments mainly off the East coast of South Africa, and from current operations on the West coast which were also to be extended, PASA officials said.

Licensing revenue from gas

Current inland petroleum operations and possible extensions of exploration within the main body of South Africa would also continue as a source of revenue, PASA said.

The present mandate of PASA, parliamentarians were told, was to facilitate and regulate the exploration and sustainable development of oil and gas “for the benefit of all South Africans”.     Cash flows from licensing were expected to increase from the forecast R13.7m for 2013 to R147m by 2017 which would be used for oil and gas investments although this was not necessarily ring fenced according to national treasury.

MPRDA includes PASA

The licensing process in terms of the Minerals and Petroleum Development Act, under which PASA falls, includes receiving applications for oil and gas reconnaissance permits, technical co-operation permits, exploration rights and production rights.

In all instances, the major focus, PASA officials indicated, would be to advise and regularly report to the minister of energy affairs on recommendations regarding the industry and “to receive, maintain, store, interpret, evaluate, add value to, disseminate or deal in all geological or geophysical information related to petroleum”, such a data base being the most important part of current work being undertaken.

Skills to be acquired

The future includes the establishment of a force of a number of geologists with specific specialist knowledge, particularly in the near future to support South Africa’s current claim to the international agencies for the extension of its maritime territorial limits.

This is to include some 45,000 km2 off the West Coast of South Africa; about 560,000 km2 in the vicinity of the Prince Edward Islands owned by SA; an area 190,000 km2 south of Madagascar; and the largest area which includes sections of the Mozambique Channel amounting to 1,075,000 km2.

Mozambique Channel

Most of the current litigation involved the application for the area known as “Discovery Ridge” in the Mozambique Channel, where gas deposit realisations are expected to be high.

Income for the new function, other than from “exploration rental” and application for exploration fees, was expected to mainly come from the sale of data but, for the present moment, PASA is expected to operate, for the current year, at a major loss of some R74m as it establishes its mandate, awaits the legal outcome on the moratorium on shale gas exploration and continues to support South Africa’s application to extend its nautical offshore limits.
Refer previous articles in this category
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//cabinetpresidential/to-ignore-fracking-would-be-an-opportunity-lost/
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//bee/mprda-bill-causes-contention-parliament/
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//energy/chemical-industries-plan-for-training-skills-in-fracking/

 

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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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Integrated energy plan (IEP) around the corner

IEP a few months off

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

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

Continuing energy story

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

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

Not just supply factors

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

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

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

International view

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

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

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

Control of resources

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

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

Pricing restructuring

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

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

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

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

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

Fuel prices: SA remains at mercy of global facts

No relief at present….

cl;eanerfuels1In the light of vacillating fuel price but with a strong upward trend, Robert Maake, hydrocarbon energy chief, department of energy affairs (DOE), briefed the portfolio committee on energy on fuel prices and why these were so volatile at present. There was little relief in the short or medium term, he said. The discussion was part of a generalised overview of the liquid fuels industry in South Africa.

He pointed to the fact both the Egyptian and Iraqi situations, coupled with unrest in Southern Sudan, illustrated the fact that South Africa, as a net importer of oil, was highly sensitive to such geopolitical instability. A combination of other factors also contributed to a lack of major relief on the horizon.

Fixing the price to continue

There was no escaping the fact that in a country such as South Africa, which is likely to remain as a net importer and where both the price elements and formula used to reach to adjust pricing are published, the import parity system, i.e. fixing prices based on a comparison of what it would cost to import refined fuel and land same, would continue into the foreseeable future, Maake said.

Over and under recoveries by the importers at the month’s end would therefore continue to affect the consumer coupled with the appropriate time lag to carry out monthly adjustments. There were a number of issues totally out of the importer’s control such as demurrage where loading and unloading due to weather and port inefficiencies; the rand/dollar rate and the cost of levies – a lot of countries having far less factors contributing to cost –  and a lot having unrelated cost levies, such as road accident fund contributions.

Subsidies not for us

However, the major fact affecting costs at the moment was geopolitical instability, Maake said, and the playing fields being altered completely insofar as purchases were concerned. Some countries, such as Nigeria, had tried subsidization but in that environment enormous quantities of fuel were moving across borders and smuggling was a big industry, he noted.

Maake said that in South Africa, both Singapore and Amsterdam remained major refining and wholesaling/storage zones and prices were very much correlated or bench marked to these areas and how much they were selling their refined fuel for. On illuminating paraffin there was a strong possibility that a price reduction of two rand would shortly be signed off as agreed to by the minister.

State mostly outside fuel infrastructure

When asked why the government was not buying oil for consumers from cheaper suppliers in Africa, DOE replied it did not buy foreign oil from any country for consumer use. Only the private fuel companies imported for consumer use and government bought only for strategic oil stock reserves.

He added that it was difficult to move the private companies to African crude since crude as presently purchased was geared to refining abilities, since oil differed much in its makeup and nature. Consequently, the type of crude and what zone it came from was critical since most SA refineries were geared to Arabian light crude as distinct from heavier crude from other areas.

Cushioning fund

Also asked was whether price hikes could be avoided by building up reserves when the price dropped and not passing these on to the consumer, DOE said they were rather looking at the issue of having an annual adjustment with more notice of change in order to assist business and industry generally by creating more stability and planning ability .

Also asked was why DOE “could not assist in cleaning up the LPG gas value chain with some use of a similar reserve and also doubling up on safety”, the reply was that there was a government review, including stakeholder workshops, in progress and expected outcomes were that some form of consumer assistance would result.

Sasol profits

Again, the question was asked that in the light of the fact that Sasol was using a natural resource, in this case coal, and producing profits because of lower costs, why could this additional margin of profit achieved not be used to protect the poor as a state subsidy. The reply was that Sasol’s contribution was so low in terms of market share in fuel sales that such plans as introducing any radical market changes were not either feasible nor did it make market sense.

DOE said that a much more interesting proposal would be the eventual introduction of shale gas to local market product figures, bringing up issues such as export parity pricing. But at present he said, and in the short term, the local production factor was only about 6% and therefore Sasol did not really feature in such economics.

Competition

 The principle therefore still applied, Maake said, as had been the case for many years, that if Sasol were to offer a branded pump price on a competitive basis for lower prices they would be presumably be totally stripped of their ability to supply at all in a very short time and thus would be threatened financially as a valuable contributor to exports. Such a situation was a non-starter, he said

The chair asked whether, as in Australia, more emphasis could not be given to ensuring that no collusion takes place in the industry and asked the DOE what their relationship was relationship was with the Competition Commission locally. DOE said that they were most interested in the Australian system and how they monitored import costs with a double check system to ensure no collusion. However, the lack of players in South Africa has led to the belief the collusion is not such a major issue in this country.

Parliamentarians again complained that department of energy was still failing to produce a national energy strategy to underwrite the entire industry in all its aspects. More certainty was called for, said one opposition member.

Refer previous articles in this category
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//energy/south-africa-at-energy-crossroadsdoe-speaks-out/
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//uncategorized/south-africa-to-stick-with-published-fixed-fuel-pricing/

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

Illegal diesel coming in from Mozambique

DOE working with customs……

Department of energy (DoE), admitted to the portfolio committee on energy that they knew of illegal diesel fuel imports emanating from Mozambique and that the department was working with customs and excise officials to track down culprits. DoE was reporting on its third and fourth quarter performance figures.

DoE confirmed that in many cases tanker transport was being used and in most instances the fuel itself was sub-standard, sometimes being a mixture of diesel and other fuels such as paraffin. Most of the fuel was being offered to farmers at cheap rates.

The subject arose when Mr L Malaudzi, acting chief operating officer, was outlining to members many of the issues involved in DoE’s programmes on governance and compliance. He explained the department’s inability to hold a planned anti-fraud workshop due to time constraints and other more pressing issues but promised that such a workshop would be conducted in the first quarter of 2013/4 and he would call stakeholders.

Focus point Mpumalanga

Questions arose from opposition members that fuel was being offered for sale in some areas of Mpumalanga from such sources. Tseliso Maqubela, deputy director general, confirmed that DoE was aware of such incidents and that the department of customs and excise had many problems with goods passing through this “porous border” nearby and that cheap and sometimes “dirty” fuels were on the list of issues.

Maqubela confirmed in his report to parliamentarians on petroleum regulations during the final quarter of 2012/3, that 92 site inspections over and above the target of 1500 sites had been completed but that no fuel sample testing was conducted due to a lack of budget for this function. This subject was to be deferred to next year, he said.

No budget to investigate

In discussing fuel specifications generally, Maqubela confirmed that DoE would “speak to industries to see if we can re-prioritise the matter”. He did not elaborate on this as to whether he was talking about capital projects or fuel mixes generally. He said, however, that on border transfers, particularly by road, had to be investigated and a budget of R50m had been requested next year from the fiscus to follow up on this. At the moment, only diesel imports were being followed up in investigations, such investigations also being limited.

On fuel pricing generally, he said that a desk top study on basic fuel pricing (BFP) was being undertaken, the stakeholder discussion portion of the study having been completed in March of this year.   BFP was a major issue nationally at the moment, he said, as were various items that went to make up its structure. He hoped that most of the issues would be resolved with stakeholders towards the end of this year.

Crude oil priorities

On existing crude oil matters, Saldanha, Milnerton and Durban were the current priority areas at the moment for infrastructure development, he said, and whereas before 28% of crude imports came from Iran, he said, “We haven forced to diversify which is exciting because it introduces the issue of African trade”.

The US is now producing considerable quantities of light crude which again has reversed trends and “there is an opportunity for Africa, particularly Angola and Nigeria, to deal with us and take up slack.”

Clean energy savings

On clean energy issues, Ompi Aphane, deputy director general, said that that so far major savings in terms of the municipal energy saving plan had been recorded with fifteen of the twenty eight participants in the DoE programme having registered savings, which Aphane said had translated into some R37m a year and 31,000MWh to the national grid.

However, he reported that the intended strategy plans for biomass, biogas and biofuels had got nowhere and DoE were looking at taking away from SANEDI the responsibility for this undertaking.

Posted in Fuel,oil,renewables, Justice, constitutional, Public utilities, Trade & Industry, Transport0 Comments

Nuclear goes ahead: maybe “strategic partner”

Eskom in poll position…

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

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

Minister spells it out

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

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

Eskom looking a massive loans

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

Air quality a deciding factor

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

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

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

Posted in Cabinet,Presidential, Energy, Enviro,Water, Facebook and Twitter, Fuel,oil,renewables, LinkedIn, Mining, beneficiation, Public utilities, Trade & Industry0 Comments

Eskom warns on costs of new air quality rules

Air quality worries add to cost….

smokeWhilst confirming that it supported full compliance with Section 21 of the National Environmental Management: Air Quality Act listed activities insofar as emissions were concerned, Eskom told the portfolio committee on water and environmental affairs that compliance with the amended Act was also going to mean additional capital costs to Eskom of between R25m to R28m on each of its power plants.

Certain stakeholders in the energy industry were given the opportunity over two days to make submissions on listed activities which result in atmospheric emissions, the development of a such a list having been ongoing since 2010.  Present at the hearings insofar as industry was concerned were the South African Petroleum Industry Association (SAPIA), Eskom and Chamber of Mines and others. Notable in its absence was Sasol.

A lot more than just smoke

Eskom in their presentation, also went on to say that additional water requirements needed to reduce nitrogen oxides and sulphur dioxides at all its plants in terms of the proposed Section 21 list would require between 3-6 million m3 of water per annum, with 400,000 tons of sorbent required.    Only a certain portion of these costs had been taken into account when submitting to NERSA on the multi-year price determination for new electricity tariffs for the next five years, they said.

Eskom spokesperson, Dr Kristy Langerman, said that they would like to see the list of emissions amended and drew attention to the facteskom logo that Eskom did not emit ash or nitrogen oxide emissions and that there was only one area that was non-compliant as far as sulphur dioxides were concerned and that was Kriel town in Mpumalanga.

Eskom provided the committee with an emissions road map relative to all its plant for the period 1982 to 2020. They pointed out that as at 2013, where Medupi appeared on the plant schedule, funding constraints were now applicable. They called for the ability to offset projects and for a 48-hour start-up period in the minimum emissions standards for a cold start after long outages.

In calling for amended timeframes for implementation of capital projects to meet the new requirements, Adv.de Lange, chairperson, told Eskom’s Tony Stott that for this they would need to have a plan with DEA “in a matter of days”; this debated and agreed. He said the country had made commitments on the international climate response stage and, whether the committee or Eskom agreed or not with such agreements, all parties had to participate in SA reaching the targets.  Heavy fines for those not doing so would be the order of the day, he said.

Not happy with point source

sapia logoAnton Moldam, for SAPIA called for a more holistic approach to emissions control that was being proposed. Having been deeply involved since 2007 with government in the development of emissions control, their concern was the “disconnect” between general ambient and “point source” standards, by which whole communities were intended to be protected rather than what came out of stacks and only affected immediate areas, if at all.

It was not good making enormous investments in capital equipment if they do not improve general air quality in public “airsheds”, SAPIA said, and they called for specific site parameters to be drawn up, as is done in other countries.

“New refineries can be designed to meet new specifications”, Moldam said but SAPIA could not support the expectation that existing plant everywhere can be somehow retrofitted to meet new refinery standards. “This is not technically feasible in many cases”, he said.  “The expectation that ageing plants should be upgraded to meet standards of new plant has to be dropped”.

“Bubble” the best

He said that the petroleum industry had for years worked on the “bubble approach” for emission standards where emissions from plant in general was calculated. However, the new regulatory process of emission controls per individual plant stack was impractical for a refinery to consider, since what went through that stack came from dozens of sources.

The decision of the department of DEA to drop the “bubble” approach did not reflect the fact that refineries were highly integrated processes and this was not a manageable process without enormous cost.

SAPIA called for a complete re-think on the DEA proposals on emissions as listed and called, like Eskom, for a “grandfathering” clause whereby DEA allow for the age of the plant and its eventual shutdown be taken into account when regulating that re-capitalisation takes place to meet new standards.

Dr Thuli Mduli, national air quality officer and a chief director of DEA, in introducing the proposed listed emissions in terms of the section 21 list, said that it was a DEA viewpoint that grandfathering was not supported and a consistent approach was needed across the entire spectrum of industries, which was why the “bubble” system of monitoring had been discontinued and a “source specific” approach applied.

Compliance timeframes, she said, for new plants would be corrected back to the original section 21 provisions but in the light of business proposals that it was unreasonable for new plant standards to be defined by such moves, this might be reconsidered. She noted, however, that civil organisations had already condemned DEA for its apparent relaxation but she also noted the committee’s call that further discussion should take place with stakeholders, despite limited time to do this.

When push becomes shove

Lloyd Nelson for Chamber of Mines said that a number of unintended consequences had arisen in terms of existing legislation and they were uncomfortable with “technology forcing” in what was already a difficult financial environment for the mining sector, particularly the platinum sector which was most affected by the proposed lists of controlled emissions. They appealed for “re-categorisation” of certain metallurgical operations.

Nelson said whilst the mining industry very much supported the principles of the proposals, they regretted the constant “moving of the goal posts”, since the original 2010 proposals, which their members had adhered to, had been changed and many mines were angry with the present uncertain investment climate with constant changes and flux.

In making various recommendations, including that the compliance timeframes be relaxed, Chamber of Mines appeared surprised that the petroleum industry had separately negotiated a specific period of three years beyond that applied to industry generally on compliance.

Also not happy with fixed point source

They also pointed to the fact that international regulations permits relaxation of “point source” emissions, providing ambient air conditions continued to meet requirements, and said that attainment of some the limits either by 2020 or before, was not possible or, in some cases, because of purely unrealistic or unsustainable cost.

Also voicing opinion was the cement industry who expressed concern on the cost of monitoring and the chemical industry who complained, as did Eskom and others, that basic errors in the wording of the 2010 Section 21 notice had prevented upgrades and had therefore already caused delays prejudicing planning, thus meaning the extent of re-engineering was now not possible in the timeframes allowed.

secunda emissions graphGroundwork Africa drew a picture of failing governance of air quality control in South Africa, stating that in Secunda, 90% of data showed that that air quality in the area was well in excess of that allowed by international standards. Dr. Eugene Cairncross of the Coalition for Environmental Justice said it had been an error of DEA to allow exclusion of petroleum industry flare emissions since flares were known to give off heavy pollution for at least fifteen minutes on start up and sometimes for a whole day.

In conclusion, chair Adv. de Lange, said once again as he had continued to say  throughout the meetings, that hede lange would resist any attempts by applications to allow DEA to extend timeframes “because industry is known for putting such issues off time and time again and that he was not going to allow South Africa to be polluted by old factories and plant”.

However, he finally admitted that DEA should consider that where it was known that a plant was to be “mothballed”, account of this should be taken into consideration, particularly when an industry member showed that it was patently obvious that to retrofit plant eventually due for closure was both wasteful and uneconomical.

“Industry had better get these requests in fast and make a plan, he said, because the fines are going to be heavy, heavy enough to make everybody think twice”.

The following articles are archived on this subject:
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//health/air-quality-management-framework-bill-to-be-tabled-2/
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//health/air-quality-act-calls-for-air-dispersion-modelling/

Posted in Energy, Enviro,Water, Finance, economic, Fuel,oil,renewables, Mining, beneficiation, Trade & Industry0 Comments

NERSA reports on an anxious year in energy

Unlicensed pipeline operations a problem….

Phindile NzimandeCommenting that the petroleum and gas industry did not seem to take licensing particularly seriously but the electricity industry did, Phindile Nzimande, CEO of the National Energy Regulator (NERSA), gave a characteristically outspoken report to the parliamentary committee on energy on NERSA’s strategic and plan until 2016.

She noted that  NERSA had investigated sixty seven suspected unlicensed activities in petroleum pipeline activity, only four of which were found to not require a licence. Thirteen petroleum storage licences were revoked.

NERSA not changing plans

Nzimande said that NERSA found no reason to alter their five-year plan as originally submitted in 2012 and NERSA would continue with its mandate of transparency, neutrality, predictability and independence. It has been a busy year, she said, not the least of which was the extraordinary amount of work generated by Eskom tariff application, the national hearings process and the time involved in decision making.

In the area of electricity generally, 183 municipal and private distributor tariffs were given approval and 47 energy generation licences granted. 9 distribution licences for connection facilities between Eskom and an independent power producer (IPP) were also granted.

Sasol back to listed tariff next year

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

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

Costly multi-product line

In the area of petroleum pipelines, Nzimande said the “prudency” investigation into the cost of the multi product Durban/Gauteng pipeline was a major undertaking and NERSA was also involved with Transnet on the issue of high port charges which had become a national issue.
The security of supply of petroleum to inland areas was also a matter of deep concern, Nzimande said, and NERSA was “working with stakeholders”. When asked how NERSA was monitoring this she said the matter was very much up to the investors concerned but she was aware that department of energy “was grappling with the issue” and NERSA was closely following the matter which had to be taken in to consideration on pricing matters.

Local government problems

On tariffs generally, Nzimande said a major issue facing NERSA was the legal issue of regulatory relationships with municipalities and their powers in respect of enforcing licensing and pricing structures. This was to be resolved shortly.

When asked if Eskom would be allowed to re-visit the issue of their tariff structure finally allowed and appeal, Nzimande said that she eskom logocould not say that that such a move could be excluded as a legal part of the multi-year price determination process. The chair excused her for answering questions on the Alstrom and Hitachi legal wrangle on the Medupi power plant currently under construction by Eskom but she acknowledged that NERSA was aware of Eskom’s problems and financing issues.

NERSA and NNER?

When asked why NERSA and the structures of nuclear regulatory matters were not combined into one regulatory body, Nzimande replied that international agreements and the structure of the nuclear global industry was specific on this issue and required specific nuclear regulators with specific mandates for their own countries to be established. The work and relationships of a nuclear regulatory authority were very different, she said.

She agreed with complaints regarding difficulties in the petroleum storage area and confirmed that the regulations may have to be re-written in this regard. She was specific that NERSA would look into the issue of tariffs for storage, since one member complained that the current high cost structures could well be acting as a disincentive to investment.

Associated articles archived
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//energy/durbangauteng-pipeline-still-three-years-behind/
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//energy/nersa-gets-countrywide-thumbs-down-to-eskom-increases/

Posted in Electricity, Energy, Enviro,Water, Fuel,oil,renewables, Mining, beneficiation, Public utilities, Trade & Industry0 Comments

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