Total pushes on with oil project

France’s Total had decided to go ahead with the Kaombo oil project offshore of Angola after reducing its cost by $4 billion (R42bn) to $16bn, an advance that could help Angola keep up oil output over the long run, it said yesterday. The decision to invest in the ultra-deep sea project, which has been repeatedly delayed because of its cost, is seen as important for Africa’s second-biggest oil producer to replace older fields and hit its production targets. In recent years, a number of other large-scale projects around the world have fallen victim as oil companies have reduced global investment and returned cash to shareholders. “Total has significantly optimised the project’s design and contracting strategy in recent months. Kaombo illustrates both the group’s capital discipline and objective to reduce capex,” Yves-Louis Darricarrere, Total’s president for upstream, said. – Reuters


Budget deficit ‘may hit 12%’

Mozambique’s budget deficit might widen to 12 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) this year, which was negative for the nation’s credit outlook, Moody’s Investors Service said yesterday. The expansionary fiscal policy to pay for infrastructure projects and maritime safety would boost the government’s debt to 47 percent of GDP this year and 50 percent next year from 44 percent last year, Moody’s said. Standard & Poor’s (S&P) lowered the nation’s credit rating by one level to B on February 14, citing a surge in debt and lack of transparency after the government sold an $850 million (R8.9 billion) bond to fund fishing vessels and patrol boats. – Bloomberg


Electricity hikes mooted for rich

Egypt planned to boost electricity prices for the richest 20 percent of its citizens before the presidential elections at the end of next month, as the country had “no time to waste” in starting reforms, the planning minister said yesterday. Ashraf al-Arabi, the Minister of Planning and International Co-operation, said the decision on raising fuel prices would be taken “very soon”, but declined to provide further details. His sense of urgency suggested for the first time in years Egypt was on the same page with International Monetary Fund, which has long urged the country to push through structural reforms, such as gradually reducing costly subsidies. – Reuters