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Competition Commission gets to know LPG market

 DOE holds off on LPG regulatory changes…

Sent to clients 25 Oct….In a briefing to the Portfolio Committee on Energy on the report by the Competition Commission (CC) into the Liquified Petroleum Gas (LPG) sector, acting Director General of the Department of Energy (DOE), Tseliso Maqubela, has again told Parliament that the long-standing LPG supply shortages are likely to continue for the present moment until new import infrastructure facilities come on line.

He was responding to the conclusions reached by the CC but reminded parliamentarians at the outset of the meeting that the Commission’s report was not an investigation into anti-competitive behaviour on the part of suppliers but an inquiry, the first ever conducted by the CC, into factors surrounding LPG market conditions.

Terms of reference

In their general comments, the Commissioner observed that the inquiry commenced August 2014 on the basis that as there were concerns that structural features in the market made it difficult for new entrants and the high switching costs for LPG gas distributors mitigated against change in the immediate future.

They worked on the basis that there are five major refineries operating in South Africa, these being ENREF in Durban, (Engen);

refinery

engen durban refinery

SAPREF in Durban, (Shell and BP); Sasol at Secunda; PetroSA at Mossel Bay; and CHEVREF in Cape Town (Chevron). There are four wholesalers, namely Afrox, Oryx, Easigas and Totalgaz.

Wholesalers different

As far the wholesalers are concerned, in the light of all being foreign controlled, CC also observed that transformation was poor, but this was not an issue on their task list, they said. They had assumed therefore that BEE legislation was difficult to enforce and that the issue had been reported to the Department of Economic Development, the portfolio committee was told.

Price regulation at the refineries and at retail level is supposedly determined by factors meant to protect consumers, the CC said, but their inquiry report noted no such regulations specifically at wholesale level. This fact was stated as being of concern to the CC in the light of known “massive profits in the LPG wholesaling sector”.

Structures

Commissioner Bonakele said, “We started the inquiry because of the worrying structures of the market but in benchmarking our market structures with other countries and we found LPG in SA was not only unusually expensive but was indeed in short supply. Why? When it is so badly needed, was the question, he said

The CC established from the industry that about 15% of LPG supplied is used by householders and the balance is for industrial use.   In general, they noted that there were regulatory gaps also in the refining industry but regulatory requirements were over-burdening they felt and contained many conflicts and anomalies.

The CC had also reported that the maximum refinery gate price (MRGP) to wholesalers and the maximum retail price (MRP) to consumers were not regulated sufficiently and far too infrequently by DOE.

Contentious

There needed to be one entity only regulating the entire industry from import to sale by small warehousing/retailers, they said. The CC suggested in their report that the regulatory body handling all aspects of licensing should be NERSA .

As far as gas cylinders were concerned, Commissioner Bonakele noted in their report that there are numerous problems but their criticism was that the system currently used was not designed to assist the small entrant. The “hybrid” system that had evolved seemed to work but there was a “one price for all” approach.

DOE replies

In response, DG Maqubela confirmed that the inquiry had been conducted with the full co-operation of DOE into an industry beset with supply and distribution problems, issues that were only likely to change when there were “adequate import and storage facilities which allowed for the import of economic parcels of LPG supplied to the SA marketplace.”

When asked why local refineries could not “up” their supply of LPG to meet demand, DG Maqubela explained that only 5% of every barrel of oil refined by the industry into petroleum products could be extracted in the form of LPG. Therefore, the increase in LPG gas supplied would be totally disproportionate to South Africa’s petrol and diesel requirements.

Going bigger

Tseliso Maqubela, previously DG of DOE’s Petroleum Products division, told the Committee that two import terminal facilities have recently been commissioned in Saldanha and two more are to be built, one at Coega (2019) and one at Richards Bay (2021). These facilities were geared to the importation of LPG on a large scale.

He said, in answer to questions on legislation on fuel supplies, that DOE were unlikely to carry out any amendments in the immediate future to the Petroleum Pipelines Act, since the whole industry was in flux with developments “down the road”.
It would be better to completely re-write the Act, he said, when the new factors were ready to be instituted.

Rules

On the regulatory environment, DG Maqubela pointed out that for a new refinery investor it would take at least four years to get through paper work through from design approval to when the first spade hit the soil. This had to change. The integration of the requirements of the Department of Environmental Affairs, Transnet, the Transnet Port Authority, DTI, Department of Labour, Cabinet and NERSA and associated interested entities into one process was essential, he said.

On licencing, whilst DOE would prefer it was not NERSA, since they should maintain their independence, in principle the DOE, Maqubela said, supported the view that all should start considering the de-regulation of LPG pricing. He agreed that DOE had to shortly prepare a paper in on gas cylinder pricing and deposits which reflected more possibilities for new starters.

MPs had had many questions to ask on the complicated issues surrounding the supply, manufacture, deposit arrangements, safety and application of cylinders. In the process of this discussion, it emerged, once again, that LPG was not the core business of the refinery industry and what was supplied was mainly for industrial use. The much smaller amount for domestic use met in the main by imported supplies for which coastal storage was underway over a five-year period.

Refining

DG Maqubela noted that on Long Term Agreements (LTAs) between refineries and suppliers, DOE in principle agreed with the Commission that LTAs between refiners and wholesalers could be reduced from 25 years to 10 years, to accommodate small players. Again, he said, this would take some time to be addressed, as was also an existing suggestion of a preferential access of 10% for smaller players.

All in all, DG Maqubela seemed to be saying that whilst many of the CC recommendations were valid, nobody should put “the cart before the horse” with too much implementation of major change in the LPG industry before current storage and supply projects were completed.

However, the current cylinder exchange practice must now be studied by DOE and answers found, Tseliso Maqubela re-confirmed.
Previous articles on category subject
Overall energy strategy still not there – ParlyReportSA
Gas undoubtedly on energy back burner – ParlyReportSA
Competition Commission turns to LP gas market – ParlyReportSA

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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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Karoo Fracking

Fracking, shale gas gets nearer

Mineral resources gives update on fracking, shale gas

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

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

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

EIA to come

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

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

Warning on BEE

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

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

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

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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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