The Buzz: This Week in Africa

At the close of this week Brent Crude is trading at $50.48 per barrel, WTI at $49.71 per barrel and natural gas at $3.09 per million BTU (end of day, October 27, 2016). Here are AOP’s top five stories from the last seven days.

ExxonMobil adds up to 1 bn barrels to Nigeria reserves

A reservoir discovered by ExxonMobil – the Owowo field offshore Nigeria – is estimated to hold between 500 million and 1 billion barrels of oil, according to a press release from ExxonMobil on Thursday. The US super-major spudded the Owowo-3 well in September 2016 and drilled to 3,173 meters in 576 meters of water. Partners in the project are Chevron (27 percent), Total (18 percent), Nexen (18 percent) and the Nigeria Petroleum Development Company Limited (10 percent). ExxonMobil holds the remaining 27 percent interest and is the operator.

Brent dips below $50/barrel

Energy markets watched with trepidation this week as oil and gas prices suffered a temporary slump, with oil prices briefly dipping below $50 per barrel and natural gas prices continuing to decline, ending the week at $3.09 per million BTU. The fall in prices came after negative comments from Iraqi officials diminishing the chances of an OPEC deal to control output. Additionally, for the week that ended Oct. 21, the Energy Information Administration reported that US natural gas stockpiles increased by 73 bcf. Still, the price of oil rebounded on Thursday, rising above $50 per barrel.

Oil workers in Nigeria seek help from government

Oil firms in Nigeria have laid off 3,000 workers, and the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas (NUPENG) is calling on the government to take action, according to a Reuters news report. “The government should call the multinationals to order. They are sacking and closing shop,” said Igwe Achese, the president of the union.

Libya turns on the taps

Libya, which has suffered from steep production declines for years because of militant attacks and blockades of export terminals, has resumed production at the Waha oilfield, the government announced Tuesday according to Reuters. This brought overall Libyan production to 580,000 barrels per day, with the Waha field, operated by Waha Oil Co., producing 50,000 bpd. The long term output of the field has declined significantly, however, with pre-2011 output around 330,000 bpd.

Zimbabwe to clear debt to continue powering country

Zimbabwe, which imports about 30 percent of its power needs, has been given a deadline of December to clear its debts with South Africa’s Eskom and Mozambique’s Hidroeléctrica de Cahora Bassa. The two companies are owed a total of $27 million by ZESA Holdings, Zimbabwe’s power utility, according to an article from All Africa. If the country’s power imports are cut off, Zimbabwe would plunge into a “power crisis that could further dampen prospects for early economic recovery,” according to the article.