South Sudan to return to pre-war oil production levels ‘by 2020’

The country has one of the largest reserves of crude oil in the region. (Reuters)
Updated 11 February 2019

South Sudan to return to pre-war oil production levels ‘by 2020’

  • The world’s youngest country, which split from Sudan in 2011, has one of the largest reserves of crude in sub-Saharan Africa, only a third of which have been explored so far

GREATER NOIDA, India: South Sudan will return to producing more than 350,000 barrels of crude per day by the middle of 2020, up from current levels of just over 140,000 barrels per day (bpd) currently, the country’s oil minister said on Sunday.
Production is expected to rise to 270,000 bpd by the end of 2019, Oil Minister Ezekiel Lul Gatkuoth told Reuters. He was speaking on the sidelines of the Petrotech conference in Greater Noida, a satellite city of India’s capital New Delhi.
The world’s youngest country, which split from Sudan in 2011, has one of the largest reserves of crude in sub-Saharan Africa, only a third of which have been explored so far. The country lost many oilfields to a civil war that broke out two years after its independence. A September peace agreement is largely holding.
“By the end of the year, block 3 and 7 will be hitting 180,000 bpd, blocks 1, 2 and 4 will be producing 70,000 bpd, and block 5A will be producing 20,000 bpd,” Gatkuoth said.
“We used to produce 350,000 to 400,000 bpd. We expect to go back to those levels by the middle of next year,” he said.
South Sudan has signed a preliminary agreement with Russia’s Zarubezhneft for exploring some of the blocks, Gatkuoth said.
“They are interested in block B1, B2, E1 and E2. We will be working to see where they are likely to be interested in the most,” he said.
South Africa, which has committed to investing $1 billion in the country, would collaborate with South Sudan on the construction of pipelines and a new refinery along the border with Ethiopia, the minister said.
“We have agreed to build a refinery on the border of Ethiopia, we have already signed an agreement with Ethiopia to offtake refined products,” Gatkuoth said.
Land-locked South Sudan is looking to boost its export options as it looks beyond its neighbor Sudan, the minister said: “We have new blocks in the southern part of South Sudan, oil from which will be exported to East Africa (through the new pipelines).”
American oil majors such as Exxon Mobil and Chevron showed interest in investing in South Sudan, but are currently not interested because of the conflict, he said.
“We have been approaching Exxon officials, and I will be meeting them in Houston next month,” he said.


STC postpones its acquisition of Vodafone Egypt for second time

Updated 13 July 2020

STC postpones its acquisition of Vodafone Egypt for second time

  • Kingdom’s largest telecom company says it will need an additional two months to complete the deal

CAIRO: The Saudi Telecom Company (STC), the Kingdom’s largest telecom company, said that it will need an additional two months to complete a deal to purchase a 55 percent stake in Vodafone Egypt.

In January, STC was in agreement to buy the stake for $2.4 billion. In April, it extended the process for 90 days due to logistical challenges stemming from the spread of COVD-19. The company said in a statement that it would extend the period again to September for the same reason.

The Public Investment Fund, the Saudi sovereign wealth fund, owns a majority stake in STC. The ownership of Vodafone Egypt is divided between 55 percent for Vodafone International, which is the target percentage of the Saudi purchase offer, 44.8 percent for Telecom Egypt, and the remaining 0.2 percent for small shareholders.

Telecom Egypt is awaiting the results of Vodafone’s evaluation of the final share price to announce its position on the deal. A Telecom Egypt official stated that the company is still awaiting STC’s position regarding the purchase of the share. If the deal is not completed, it may be presented with its rights to acquire Vodafone’s share, which would allow it to take over 99.8 percent of the company’s shares, leaving 0.2 percent for small investors.

Ashraf El-Wardany, an Egyptian communications expert, pointed out the importance of waiting until the procedures between STC and the Vodafone Group are complete. The results will determine the next steps by Telecom Egypt.

El-Wardany said that the Saudi operator must, after completing the relevant studies, submit a final binding offer at the share price and any conditions for purchase. If approved by Vodafone, it must submit the offer with the same conditions and price to Telecom Egypt, provided that the latter responds within a maximum period of 45 days to determine its position regarding the use of the right of pre-emption and the purchase, or lack thereof, of Vodafone’s share.

According to El-Wardany, there are other possible scenarios. Vodafone International may not be convinced of the offer or the conditions presented by the Saudi side and the sale may be withdrawn, or the Vodafone group may be ready to sell and has prepared another buyer for its stake in Egypt in the event of rejecting the Saudi offer. It may also it back away from the deal and continue to operate in Egypt for a few more years.

El-Wardany said that if Telecom Egypt decides not to use the right of pre-emption to acquire the remaining Vodafone shares for any reason, it will continue with its 44.8 percent stake.
It may also resort to selling all of its shares or part of it to the Saudi side or to any company that wants to acquire its stake.

“This raises the question of whether STC can acquire all of Vodafone’s shares,” El-Wardany said, adding that the coming months “will make the answer clear.”