Angola to launch big oil block under shadow of OPEC cuts

The Kaombo Norte floating production, storage and offloading vessel can pump 115,000 barrels per day, half the oil block’s eventual production. (Courtesy Total)
Updated 09 March 2018
0

Angola to launch big oil block under shadow of OPEC cuts

LONDON: The first vessel that will pump and store oil for Angola’s 230,000 barrels per day (bpd) Kaombo project is en route to the West African nation, operator Total said.
The Kaombo oil block will produce its first oil this summer, Total said on Thursday. Once it is fully up and running, it will add roughly 14 percent to the OPEC member’s average 2017 output of 1.632 million bpd.
The Kaombo Norte floating production, storage and offloading (FPSO) vessel left Singapore earlier this week, Total said. It can pump 115,000 bpd, half the oil block’s eventual production.
The $16 billion offshore project will add a significant amount of oil to Africa’s number two exporter at a time when it is bound by output limits under a deal orchestrated by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.
A source close to the project said the block was expected to pump roughly 100,000 bpd by August.
Another FPSO, Kaombo Sul, is still in Singapore.
OPEC is reducing output by roughly 1.2 million bpd as part of a deal with Russia and other producers that began in January 2017 and was extended until the end of 2018.
So far, Angola has complied comfortably, pumping even less than the maximum agreed. Last month, its output of 1.6 million bpd amounted to 194 percent of compliance with promised cuts of 78,000 bpd.
Declining production at mature fields has cut into Angola’s output, but the Kaombo addition could complicate efforts to maintain compliance.
Angola’s state oil company Sonangol has said production will be roughly steady this year, and the above-target cuts earlier in the year could keep its average compliance for the year within OPEC’s limits.
Longer term, Angola is expected to struggle just to maintain output, with the International Energy Agency (IEA) warning that only Venezuela will see a bigger drop in production over the next five years.
Angola’s oil production peaked at 1.9 million bpd in 2008, the IEA said, warning in its five-year outlook that capacity will drop by some 370,000 bpd by 2023 even with the new projects.
“Angola is expected to post the biggest slide in capacity after Venezuela as aging oil fields lose steam and foreign investors, faced with relatively uncompetitive prospects, lose enthusiasm,” the IEA said.


Young Iraqis use innovation to make a living in oil-rich south

Updated 18 June 2018
0

Young Iraqis use innovation to make a living in oil-rich south

  • The job market for Iraqi youths has become starkly different in the post-Saddam Hussein era
  • In the decade which followed the US invasion and the dictator’s ouster in 2003, authorities continued to increase state hirings — with a heavy dose of nepotism

BASRA: From a roving cafe to scrap metal sculptures, young Iraqis unable to tap into the country’s oil wealth are having to find creative ways to make a living.
While their parents generally went straight into public sector jobs after graduation, the job market for Iraqi youths has become starkly different in the post-Saddam Hussein era.
In the decade which followed the US invasion and the dictator’s ouster in 2003, authorities continued to increase state hirings — with a heavy dose of nepotism.
But now, as 26-year-old Karrar Alaa discovered, there are no more guarantees.
Three years ago, he was counting on his business degree leading to a public sector job in the southern port city of Basra.
But tired of waiting, he has turned entrepreneur.
After gathering up all of his savings and borrowing money from relatives, Alaa invested in a car and transformed it into a coffee shop on wheels.
“It’s the first of its kind in Basra. I got the idea from a video shot in Europe and posted on Facebook,” he told AFP.
The “Coffee 2 Go” car has a giant plastic cup mounted on the roof, while an image of a cup of cappuccino and coffee beans is emblazoned on the body.
An initial investment of $20,000 has led to daily earnings of around 150,000 dinars, or $120, from cups of coffee made in a machine installed in the car boot.
Mashreq Jabbar earns similar sums from his little bookshop squeezed into a corridor of a Basra fashion mall.
“Renting a shop costs $6,000 a month; I only pay $2,500 for my hallway,” said the slim 26-year-old, as he tidied shelves of school books, romantic novels and poetry collections.
The geology graduate had also hoped to get a job as a public official, confident that his degree would make him employable in the local oil industry.
But even though the sector accounts for 89 percent of the state budget and 99 percent of Iraq’s export revenues, it provides only one percent of jobs as the majority of posts are filled by foreigners.
The lack of opportunities is nationwide; from the capital Baghdad to second city Mosul in the north, and from the agricultural east to the western desert.
It is not uncommon to find engineers working as taxi drivers, or sandwich stalls manned by literature graduates in a country of avid readers.
Officially, 10.8 percent of Iraqis are jobless, while youth unemployment is twice as high in a country where 60 percent of the population are aged under 24.
A mushrooming number of private universities — with Baghdad boasting around 30 — has made the situation even worse among graduates.
The private sector which emerged after Saddam’s rule has failed to fill the employment gap, with many young Iraqis holding out for the coveted public sector posts.
“The common view is that there’s no choice but to work in the public sector,” said Ahmed Abdel Hassan, an economics professor at the University of Basra.
“Young people who go to work in the private sector say it’s a temporary move before getting a post in the public sector,” he said.
Even Basra’s entrepreneurs see the benefits, with Alaa noting the social security and pension perks, while Jabbar pointed to civil servants’ guaranteed salaries.
Many of those holding out for a state job, however, are left unable to move out of their parents’ house.
Omar Abdallah, 28, had pinned his hopes on getting a teaching job at the end of his studies in fine art.
Iraq once had a high-quality and free education system, but that was left in tatters following the international embargo of the 1990s after Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait.
Having failed to land a job and with no capital to start a business of his own, Abdallah began collecting scrap metal.
“I could only count on myself and my talent,” he said at his family home, where one room serves as both his workshop and exhibition space.
Abdallah has transformed old bicycle chains into scorpions, cutlery into dragonflies and used nuts and bolts to make motorbike models.
In a good month he can sell half a dozen sculptures, charging between $200 and $250 apiece.
“People love my sculptures,” he said proudly. “They tell me: ‘How did you manage to make something so beautiful out of rubbish?’“