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Comoros oil boom dream hinges on seismic survey

Though the survey is yet to begin, the political oppositions are blunt in their verdict of how the president would treat any discovery.

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Comoros oil boom dream hinges on seismic survey

For years, the Comoros islands off the eastern coast of Africa have dreamt of an oil or gas strike -now the first planned seismic survey could reveal if the country’s hopes are about to come true.

The possibility of a lucrative resources boom has gripped Comoros for seven years after then-president, Ikililou Dhoinine awarded a batch of offshore oil and gas exploration permits.

Optimistic residents imagined a future where public coffers overflowed with petrodollars that funded a rapid economic transformation of a country facing deep economic issues.

But any economic miracle has yet to materialise, with only uncertain clues pointing to possible oil or gas deposits 2,000 metres (6,600 feet) below sea level -far beyond the financial means of small-scale exploration companies.

The arrival last year of Tullow Oil changed the game, as the British company boosts a strong record striking deposits in Ghana, Uganda and Kenya.

It has joined up with partner Discover Exploration to explore three underwater blocks covering 16,000 square kilometres (6,200 square miles).

“We are gearing up for a modern 3D seismic survey,” Alexander Mollinger, chief operating officer for Discovery Exploration in Comoros, told AFP.

“This will be Comoros’ first ever 3D seismic survey and represents a significant investment. It is the final exploration activity prior to deciding whether to drill an exploration well.”

‘Significant potential’-

With the survey scheduled for later this year, the prospectors have reason to be confident -the three blocks border on Mozambican waters where US giants Anadarko and Chevron, and Italian firm ENI have hit the largest gas deposits found in the past 20 years.

“There have been no oil or gas discoveries anywhere in the Comoros,” said Mollinger.

“There is no certainty of any commercial accumulations of oil or gas, but we believe based on technical work that these blocks have significant potential.”

Any discovery could transform the politically-unstable country, which is made up of three islands with a population of 800,000 and a per capita annual income of about $800.

The weak economy relies on exports of vanilla, clove and perfume essence, as well as foreign aid and remittance money sent home by overseas workers.

President Azali Assoumani, who was re-elected in March in a vote count rejected by the opposition, has put oil revenue at the centre of his development plans, vowing to make Comoros an “emerging economy” by 2030.

“The first indicators give a lot of hope,” he said during the election campaign. “If we have a united country, this oil can be a springboard for the country’s economy.”

However, he added “oil is not an easy exercise… If we do not have people who can exploit it for the benefit of the population, it is useless.”

Personal wealth?

Such promises to share the wealth have not convinced all everyone in Comoros, and Assoumani is regularly accused of corruption and a dictatorial style.

Foreign diplomats posted to Moroni express concern over how any discovery would be handled.

“If the project progresses, it could get the country out of poverty -in theory,” one told AFP. “But the requirements are huge for Comoros. A gas processing unit costs billions of dollars, and you have to have a credible financial system.”

Though the survey is yet to begin, the political oppositions are blunt in their verdict of how the president would treat any discovery.

“He sees the oil as his personal wealth, not for the country,” said opposition leader Mohamed Ali Soilihi, warning that countries like Venezuela “are full of oil, but the people do not see the benefits”.

SOURCE: NEWS CENTRAL AND NEWS PARTNERS

 

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Zimbabwe’s inflation rate climbs to 175%

Supplies of essentials such as bread, medicine, and petrol are regularly running short in the country

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Zimbabwe's inflation rate climbs to 175%

Zimbabwe’s annual inflation rate hit 175 per cent in June, official data showed Monday, stoking fears of a return of the hyperinflation that wiped out savings ten years ago when the economy collapsed.

Official inflation is the highest since hyperinflation forced the government to abandon the Zimbabwe dollar in 2009.

Supplies of essentials such as bread, medicine, and petrol are regularly running short in the country.

“The year-on-year inflation rate for the month of June 2019 as measured by the all items consumer price index stood at 175.66 per cent, while that of May 2019 was 97.85 per cent,” the Zimbabwe National Statistical Agency said in a statement.

Millions of Zimbabweans have fled abroad in the last 20 years seeking work.

Many others are now seeking to leave as conditions worsen under President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who had promised an economic revival after succeeding long-ruling Robert Mugabe in 2017.

Mnangagwa vowed to end the country’s international isolation, attract investors and create growth that could fund the country’s shattered public services.

But the economy has declined further, with shop prices rocketing and long power cuts.

The U.S dollar has been the national currency since 2009.

But last month, Zimbabwe, in theory, ended the use of U.S dollars and other foreign currencies and replaced them by two local parallel currencies — “bond notes” and electronic RTGS dollars, which would combine to become the new “Zimbabwe dollar”.

The new “Zimbabwe dollar” does not yet exist in paper form.

Hyperinflation hit 500 billion per cent in 2009.

SOURCE: NEWS CENTRAL AND NEWS PARTNERS

 

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Central African Republic panel calls for closure of Chinese-run gold mines

The nature of the ecological disaster discovered onsite justifies the immediate, unconditional halt to these activities

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Four Chinese-run gold mines should be closed in the Central African Republic because of pollution threatening public health, a parliamentary panel said in a report published Saturday. 

“Ecological disaster,” “polluted river,” “public health threatened,” were some of the phrases used in the report.

“Gold mining by the Chinese firms at Bozoum is not profitable for the state and harmful to the population and the environment,” the commission found after its investigation into mining in the northern town. 

“The nature of the ecological disaster discovered onsite justifies the immediate, unconditional halt to these activities,” the report found.

A local missionary, Father Aurelio Gazzera, has published a video showing the state of the river and named the four firms concerned as Tian Xian, Tian Run, Meng and Mao.

Members of the commission spent four days in Bozoum a month ago in response to “multiple complaints from the population.”

There, they found a badly polluted River Ouham, shorn of several aquatic species following the excavation of its riverbed.

They discovered that a rising death rate in fishing villages as well as shrinking access to clean drinking water.

The commission also turned up suspicions of accounting irregularities during its investigation. 

“Average production is between 400 grams (1 lb) to 1 kilo per site per month. This situation seems unacceptable with regard to daily production costs,” the report says.

The investigators also voiced fears that the country’s “resources are being squandered with the complicity of certain ministry of mines officials.”

The C.A.R is rich in natural resources but riven by conflict which has forced around one in four of its 4.5 million population to flee their homes.

Under those circumstances, exploitation of the country’s natural resources is difficult to monitor effectively given that the state only has partial control of its own territory.

SOURCE: NEWS CENTRAL AND NEWS PARTNERS

 

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Airtel listing pushes Nigerian stock exchange market capitalisation up

Airtel Africa’s share price rose by the maximum daily percentage change of 10 per cent to close yesterday at ₦399.30 per share

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Airtel listing pushes Nigerian stock exchange market capitalisation up
(File photo)

Airtel Africa Plc started trading on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) with strong enthusiasm, rallying a ₦136.4 billion gain in the immediate hour after its shares were listed on the Exchange.

Airtel Africa’s share price rose by the maximum daily percentage change of 10 per cent to close yesterday at ₦399.30 per share.

The NSE listed 3.758 billion ordinary shares of Airtel Africa on its main board at ₦363 per share, the offer price for the telco’s initial public offering (IPO). Airtel Africa had last week listed on the London Stock Exchange (LSE), its primary listing exchange, at 80 pence.

As against the weak start on the first trading day at LSE, Airtel Africa’s dual listing on the NSE started on a positive note, with the telco leading the Nigerian market to a total gain of ₦1.38 trillion.

Airtel Africa’s debut trading on the LSE was, however, weak dropping by as much as 16 per cent during the first trading session.

Airtel Africa set out with an initial listing value of ₦1.36 trillion and closed the first day at the NSE with a market capitalisation of ₦1.5 trillion.

Under its IPO, Airtel Africa had allotted 39.23 million ordinary shares to qualified institutional investors and high net worth investors in Nigeria while 704.82 million shares were allotted to other global investors in various jurisdictions outside Nigeria.

Chief Executive Officer, Airtel Africa Plc, Raghunath Mandava, says Airtel Africa is delighted to be listed on the main board of the Exchange.

READ: MTN Nigeria debuts in $6.5 billion stock exchange listing

“This is an exciting time for Airtel Africa in the 14 countries it operates in and an important milestone in our development as a leading provider of telecommunications and mobile money services in Africa”, Mandava says.

Speaking on the floor of the Exchange, Managing Director, Airtel Network Limited (Airtel Nigeria), Mr. Segun Ogunsanya, noted that Nigeria has been a great place for business and Airtel Africa remains committed to building a leadership position in Nigeria.

Chief Executive Officer, Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), Mr. Oscar Onyema, noted that Airtel Africa has made history as the first telecom company to simultaneously list on both the LSE and NSE.

He said the listing on the Exchange reaffirms Airtel Africa’s long-term commitment to expanding opportunities for Nigerians in addition to providing everyday services to them.

“This listing serves to deepen the telecoms and technology sector for investors and provides an opportunity for a wider group of Nigerians to be part of the African telecoms growth story.

This listing is a promising development in Africa with Airtel Africa being the second company to have its ordinary shares listed on both the London Stock Exchange and the Nigerian Stock Exchange,” Onyema said.

SOURCE: NEWS CENTRAL AND NEWS PARTNERS

 

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