The international solar arena which was once dominated by the developed countries in the West is now flaring in the emerging markets of Asia. We are looking at a holistic view of solar PV market across selected Asian countries – the finale of our series focusing on solar photovoltaic market landscape across selected Asian countries.
While Botswana has been an important player in the global precious stones industry for years, it has once again received global attention in November 2015, when the second-largest diamond ever unearthed was found in Botswana’s Karowe mine. Diamonds-derived revenues have been the key pillar to the country’s development over years, on the back of Botswana’s considerable deposits and well-performing global precious stones market. However, the outlook for Botswana might not be so bright anymore, as industry experts expect the global diamond production to decline after 2025 when majority of the mines are likely to be exhausted. Botswana, still one of the largest producers and exporters of diamonds, is already facing challenges in this industry. Being a diamond-dependent economy, will Botswana be able to maintain a sustained growth in the future as its shining precious gems industry weakens?
Diamond-fueled economic growth
Botswana, a small African country with a population of around two million people, has witnessed huge success since its independence in 1966. From being one of the poorest countries in the continent, Botswana has grown to be now considered one of the fastest developing countries in the world (with average annual GDP growth rate of 4.45% from 1995 until 2015). The success of the nation is largely attributed to the diamond deposits and the associated extraction industry. The discovery of the gems in 1967 led the way to the country becoming the poster child of the continent’s success. As of 2015, the diamond industry contributed 80% to the country’s export revenues and 30% to public revenues. In 2013, it accounted for around 25% of the country’s GDP. The success of the industry paved the way for the development of several roads, schools, and clinics in the country. Gaborone, the capital of Botswana, has transformed from a village to a city of malls and office buildings, all largely thanks to the diamond industry. Further, the sector has created job opportunities in the country and greatly contributed to raising standard of living of the country’s citizens.
“For our people, every diamond purchase represents food on the table, better living conditions, better healthcare, potable and safe drinking water, more roads to connect our remote communities, and much.” – Festus Mogae, Botswana’s President, 2006
As of 2014, Botswana was the largest producer of diamonds in terms of value and the second largest, after Russia, in terms of volume. The country’s production increased from 17.73 million carats in 2009 to 24.67 million carats in 2014. This represented a hike of almost 40% in the span of only five years.
Diamond mining operations in Botswana are controlled by Debswana Diamond Company, a joint venture between De Beers, world’s leading diamond company engaged in exploration, mining, and marketing of rough diamonds, and the Botswana government.
In the past years, the government has undertaken various initiatives to make the country a global diamond hub. In 2013, Dee Beers and the Botswana government formed the Diamond Trading Company Botswana (DTCB) to encourage the practice of sorting and marketing rough diamonds in the country itself, rather than sending them to De Beer’s Diamond Company based in London. This move facilitated job creation and upliftment of the local businesses in Botswana. Further, a state-owned company called Okavango Diamond Company was set up in order to sell 15% of the diamond production of Debswana independent of De Beers.
Grim future for Botswana
Despite being amongst the leaders in the global diamond industry, a grim future lies ahead for Botswana, driven by a range of reasons.
A weakened global demand: The global jewellery industry has been observing a sluggish demand, which has led to the global prices of diamonds witnessing a 12% decline from 2010 until 2015. To compensate for the stagnant sales, Botswana had been relying on opulent Chinese and Indian customers. However, the strengthening of the dollar and the decreasing price attractiveness of Chinese exports have weakened the Chinese economy. This was followed by a 2% devaluation of the Chinese currency, Yuan, which in turn has adversely affected the spending and demand for Botswana diamond by Chinese consumers.
Difficulty in diamond extraction: Botswana mines have reached a plateau as most of the diamond volume has already been extracted from the surface. Deeper extraction has now become a costly and time-consuming affair, showing an early sign that diamonds are likely to gradually become inaccessible in the country.
Competition from India: It is becoming increasingly difficult for Botswana to compete with a low-cost country such as India where majority of diamond cutting takes place. Although the wages in both countries are almost the same, India has levelled up its game by increasing its productivity by two to three times higher than that of Botswana’s. The cutting and polishing costs in 2013 ranged between US$ 60 and US$ 120 per carat in Botswana, whereas, in India it was between US$ 10 and US$ 50 per carat.
The above challenges have had an adverse impact on the country’s economy, particularly the employment sector. Teemane Manufacturing Company, a 20 year old diamond cutting and polishing firm in Botswana, shut down in January, 2015, leaving around 350 workers jobless. In the same period, MotiGanz and Leo Schachter, diamond cutting companies, also released almost 150 employees, and Debswana shut down two of its mines. These companies are offering retrenchment packages to their employees and ending their contracts with third parties which is likely to be affecting over 10 thousand jobs in the country. Shutting down of companies has also led to a decline in the various CSR programmes. The villages near the mines will no longer benefit from initiatives such as electrification of schools and development of roads.
The weakening demand also meant that early this year, De Beers failed to dispose off 30% of its diamonds stock. The company had to reduce its 2015 production target from 23 million carats to 20 million carats. And the impact of the sluggish demand goes beyond the industry as well. In the first half of 2015, the country witnessed a year-on-year decline of 16.8% in the export of rough diamonds. Further, since the production of diamonds is a critical element in Botswana’s GDP composition, a fall in the diamond output has reduced the country’s GDP growth forecast for 2015 from 4.9% to a mere 2.6%. Botswana’s government has decided to use its foreign reserves amounting to around US$ 8.3 billion to fuel growth in the country.
The Botswana economy has relied heavily on its diamond industry for survival for a long time. Since the revenues from diamonds are now becoming uncertain, the country is in a dilemma of how to keep its economy moving. Encouraging economic diversification could be one of the ways to help the country reduce its dependency on diamonds. Apart from diamonds, Botswana also produces other minerals such as coal, copper, iron ore, and nickel. The country should focus on developing a suitable industrial policy to promote the production and export of these minerals. However, whatever the alternative growth-fuelling path is chosen by Botswana, the country has a long way to go in order to shift away from over-dependence on diamonds, its largest structural weakness, to make its economy sparkle even when diamonds run out.
The new Indian government, elected in 2014, has created a wave of enthusiasm in Indian solar sector with its announcement of an ambitious target to install 100 GW of solar power capacity by 2022. But considering that India had an installed solar PV capacity of only 3.74 GW as of March 2015, achieving this target seems to be a herculean task.
This article is part of a series focusing on solar PV market across selected Asian countries: China, India, Thailand, and Malaysia. The series closing article Solar Rises in the East examines challenges and opportunities in all four markets, with additional look into Indonesia and
India’s still modest solar PV capacity indicates how ambitious the 2022 target is. The country expanded its cumulative solar PV installed capacity from a mere 35.15 MW in March 2011 to 3.74 GW in March 2015. According to Indian government calculations, the country would need to invest US$110 billion between 2015 and 2022 to achieve the target of 100 GW solar power capacity. While obtaining such funding seems like a challenging task, it seems India has it all sorted out. At RE-Invest 2015 (a renewable energy global investment promotion conference held in New Delhi in February 2015), Piyush Goyal, minister of state for coal, power, and renewable energy, managed to get commitments worth US$200 billion from Indian companies as well as foreign investors. Furthermore, government managed to get commitment to build 166 GW solar installations from several solar developers.
Government is in talks with leading multilateral funding and lending agencies, such as the Asian Development Bank, World Bank, Germany-based KfW, Japan International Cooperation Agency, and Japan Bank for International Cooperation, to raise US$3 billion for solar power projects. In 2014, India received a funding of US$1 billion from US Exim Bank for solar power projects in the country. Announcement of 100 GW solar target has also caught attention of several private equity firms such as Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, IFC, and Standard Chartered. All of these efforts to secure funding for solar projects allow to hope that the 100 GW target by 2022 is achievable.
As India is blessed with virtually limitless solar energy, such inflow of large-scale investment can aid rapid development of solar market in the country. With more than 300 days of sunshine, India ranks among the highest irradiation-receiving countries in the world. Most parts of the country receives solar irradiation between 4-7 kWh/m2 per day (as seen in India Solar Resource Map, sourced from National Renewable Energy Laboratory).
A report, released in November 2014, by Indian Ministry of New and Renewable Energy estimated the country’s solar power potential at about 750 GW indicating that India has the prospects to become one of the largest solar power markets in the world. As per the report’s estimates, regions of Rajasthan (142 GW) and Jammu & Kashmir (111 GW) have the highest solar power potential in the country. More than 60 GW of solar power potential is estimated for Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra, which are among the largest of the Indian states with large wasteland resources.
Key growth drivers
Rising Energy Gap
India is experiencing unprecedented energy demand from its increasing population (1.27 billion as of 2014) and rapidly developing economy (India’s economic growth rate for fiscal year 2014-15 is estimated at 7.4%). The country consumed 869,000 GW of electricity in 2012, representing 130% increase as compared to electricity consumption in 2000.
India remains a power-deficit country, with 25% of its population not having access to electricity, according to Census 2011. The country suffers from severe shortages of electricity, particularly during peak hours of demand. Moreover, significant dependence on oil imports to meet energy needs poses threat to country’s energy mix. Considering country’s tremendous solar potential, solar power generation can potentially fill in the mounting energy gap of the power-hungry nation.
Declining cost of solar power generation
Solar power is becoming increasingly affordable, with cost of solar equipment declining significantly over the last few years as a result of rising competition and technology advancements and innovation.
We are already close to grid parity as the cost of modules has come down and the generation cost of thermal and gas plants has gone up due to increase in fuel cost. – Rajya Wardhan Ghei, CEO, Hindustan Cleanenergy, 2014
In case of utility-scale solar PV projects, solar power generation costs in India have come down from about INR 18 (US$0.28) per kilowatt-hour (kWh) in 2010-2011 to INR 5.25 (US$0.08) in 2014, which is comparable to cost of electricity generation by power plants using imported coal (coal accounted for 59% of total installed electricity capacity in India in 2014, and about 23% of the demand for thermal coal, which is used primarily in power generation, was met by imports in 2014). Institute of Energy Economics and Financial Analysis concluded in 2014 that newly built imported coal-fired power plant would require power purchase agreement of INR 5.4-5.7/kWh (US$0.85-0.9/kWh).
Solar is going to become one of the lowest-cost forms of generating electricity, even cheaper than fossil fuel.
– Pashupathy Gopalan, Head of Indian operations and President-Asia Pacific, SunEdison, 2014
An A.T.Kearney publication in 2013 suggested that solar power would achieve grid parity (grid parity occurs when an alternative energy source can generate power at a cost lower than or equal to the price of purchasing power from the electricity grid) with conventional power between 2016 and 2018. Similarly, in 2014, Bridge to India, a solar consultancy firm, suggested that the grid parity would be achieved by 2018.
In case of roof-top solar PV projects, experts believe that grid parity is nearly achieved. An article published in The Hindu in March 2015 suggested cost of electricity generation through roof-top solar PV was almost at par with cost of conventional power for commercial consumers (rate of electricity in India varies depending upon state of location, e.g. Gujarat, Rajasthan, Haryana, etc., and type of consumer i.e. domestic/residential, commercial, industrial, and agricultural consumers) in 40% of the Indian states.
As the economic viability of solar power generation continues to increase in India, solar power is expected to gain traction over conventional energy sources, which would further accelerate development of solar market in the country.
Government incentives for solar development
Indian government has taken several initiatives to support solar market growth. Central and state governments offer both tax and non-tax benefits to promote investment in solar power sector.
TABLE I: Tax and Regulatory Benefits (Source: RE-Invest 2015)
Income Tax Holiday
100% for 10 consecutive years – 20% Minimum Alternate Tax (MAT) to apply (if a company’s income tax in India is less than 18.5%, then it has to pay the MAT)
Accelerated depreciation – 80% on solar assets
Additional depreciation – 20% on new plant/machinery in the first year
Deemed Export Benefits (“Deemed Exports” refer to those transactions in which goods supplied do not leave country, and payment for such supplies is received either in Indian rupees or in free foreign exchange)
Advance authorization from Directorate General of Foreign Trade
Deemed export drawbacks on the customs duty paid on the inputs/components
Exemption/return of Terminal Excise Duty
Services of transmission or distribution of renewable source-generated electricity by an electricity utility are exempted from service tax
Customs And Excise Laws
Various duty concessions and exemptions to Renewable Energy (RE) Sector
Certain states allow reduced value-added tax rates (around 5%) on RE projects
Additional One-Time Allowance
15% additional one-time allowance available in budget 2014 on new plant and machinery
Grants received from the holding company engaged in generation, distribution, or transmission of RE power
Applicable when renewable generators sell to state utilities under the MoU route (MoU route means agreements entered into bilaterally without inviting bids)
Available on the manufacturing of solar and wind components
Targeted at specific types of renewable energy technology
Include subsidies and rebates on capital expenditures
Government R&D Programs
Improve renewable energy technologies
Lead to growing performance, importance, and reducing costs
Government-led measures to create a conducive business environment for solar sector in India are expected to lure new players – local as well as global – and eventually expand the market space to support country’s solar mission.
Inefficient transmission infrastructure
Inadequate transmission infrastructure to connect solar power to the grid is expected to be a major roadblock to country’s 100 GW solar ambition. Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry indicated in 2013 that the transmission and distribution losses due to poor grid structure were around 23% of the electricity generated. This clearly shows that a rapid up-gradation of transmission infrastructure would be essential to sustain the envisaged growth in solar power generation.
The solar target is very ambitious. There will be transmission and other infrastructure constraints to contend with.
– Bharat Bhushan Agrawal, Analyst, Bloomberg New Energy Finance, 2014
India has begun to work on developing high capacity transmission systems to accommodate the projected solar capacity as part of the US$6.96 billion ‘Green Energy Corridor’ project (announced in 2013), under which the government has planned to construct inter-state and intra-state transmission infrastructure across seven states of the country by 2017-2018. KfW, a German government-owned development bank, is expected to lend an initial US$285 million for this project. However, despite availability of funds, not much progress has been noted in the proposed ‘Green Energy Corridor’ project. By early 2015, just two sub-stations were constructed, one each in Tamil Nadu and Rajasthan, to feed renewable power to the main grid. Power Grid Corporation of India, which is to execute the project, argues that there is not enough renewable energy capacity addition and they are still on wait-and-watch mode. With this approach, the proposed green corridor project is likely not to be completed within the proposed time frame. So, it seems that despite concentrated efforts to improve the transmission infrastructure, the progress has been slow, which will hamper the proposed development plans of solar market in the country.
Difficulties in land acquisition
The challenges and menaces involved in sourcing land for large-scale solar projects is daunting many solar developers in India. Large-scale solar power plants require huge space – construction of a 100 MW solar plant typically require around 500 acres of land. The issue is that, in India, land is very fragmented (according to a media article by The Indian Express in March 2015, the average landholding size in India was three acres). And, as per the Land Acquisition Act (The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013), in order to acquire a tract of land, private companies need to get consent of 80% of the land owners of the particular area, while public-private partnership projects need to get consent of 70% land owners. Thus, it becomes extremely difficult to individually negotiate with all the land owners in an area selected for construction of a solar plant, and convince them to sell their respective portion of land and make a large space available. Furthermore, in India, the records of landholding cannot be easily verified and authenticated and many land owners do not have clear title to the land they possess, which might lead to litigations and disputes over the land at a later stage.
Land titles are usually not very clear [and] even if a land deed is shown to be in one person’s name, another relative can come forward and stake his claim and the matter can be sub-judice for years, if not decades. – Jasmeet Khurana, Solar Analyst, Bridge to India, 2014
Many solar projects have been stalled in the country due to these challenges in land acquisition, which has eventually impacted the project budget and costs.
Challenges faced by Essel Infraprojects in acquiring land for solar power plants
In June 2014, Essel Infraprojects, infrastructure arm of an Indian conglomerate – Essel Group, were nearing the completion of a 20 MW solar power plant in Maharashtra, and only last 10 km of transmission lines were to be set up to connect the INR 2 billion (US$31.5 million) plant to the state electricity grid. However, owners of the land on which the transmission towers were to be erected refused to allow their construction.
Negotiating terms with the land owners resulted in delay of project completion by six days. Though the delay was relatively short, unlike in other large-scale infrastructure projects where the litigations with land owners can go on for years, even the six day delay lead to a considerable loss of INR 500 million (US$7.87 million) in bank guarantees.
Learning from their experience in Maharashtra solar power plant project, for their next solar project (a 30 MW solar power plant in Punjab) Essel Infraprojects first acquired the land for transmission towers. In this case, the company struggled to acquire the land for plant itself. The company had started negotiating land deals at INR 800-900 thousand (US$12,598-14,173) per acre, but during the talks the price demanded by land owners increased, and the company had to settle paying INR 2.5 million (US$,39,370) per acre.
Land acquisition for solar projects has proved to be challenging not only for private companies, but also for state-owned enterprises. In 2014, Mahagenco, Maharashtra state-run power utility company, reported delay in construction of solar projects of 125 MW capacity (100 MW in Osmanabad and 25 MW in Parbhani) due to difficulties in acquisition of land. The land holdings on the proposed construction sites are in small segments and Mahagenco is facing difficulty in convincing all the land owners in that area to sell their respective parcels of land to create a larger land area available for the solar plant. Because of the delay, the state missed its target of installing 313 MW of solar capacity for 2013-2014.
Difficulties in sourcing land for solar projects has resulted in delay of project execution and escalated costs. Government has proposed amendments in the Land Acquisition Act, including removal of ‘consent’ clause, to ease and expedite the process of securing land for reform-oriented projects. But this proposal has been stalled due to immense opposition from most political parties and social activists, who argue that the proposed amendments would weaken the rights of land owners. Unless the issues pertaining to land acquisition process are addressed, the country’s solar ambitions are likely not to be achieved in the desired time frame.
Opportunities for global solar companies
Global solar companies eye India as an emerging market opportunity
Indian government offers favorable policy framework for foreign investment in solar sector. 100% foreign direct investment is allowed under the automatic route, without any approval from the government of India. Further, no approval is required for up to 74% foreign equity participation in a joint venture. Additionally, 100% foreign investment as equity is permissible with the approval of Foreign Investment Promotion Board. Investors are also allowed to set up a liaison office in India.
Apart from this favorable framework, global companies are attracted to Indian market thanks to the promising returns on investments. Bridge to India concluded in 2015 that global utility companies could expect 13-15% return on equity invested in solar projects in India, while return for global solar developers could be expected to be in the range of 15-17%.
India is seen as an upcoming solar investment hotspot. Given the conducive business environment and attractive returns, many global solar firms have announced investment plans in Indian solar market. These include leading global solar developers and utilities such as Acme (joint venture between France-based EDF Energies Nouvelles, Luxembourg-based EREN, and India-based ACME Cleantech Solutions), US-based SunEdison, US-based First Solar, France-based Solairedirect, to name a few.
Insufficient domestic solar PV cells and modules production capacity offers opportunities for global suppliers
Minister Piyush Goyal stated in 2014 that domestic manufacturing capacity of photovoltaic cells (PVCs), which accounts for 60% of the cost of a solar module, is 700-800 MW, which is not sufficient to meet country’s solar ambitions. Indian PVCs manufacturers have also been unable to compete with cheaper Chinese and Taiwanese imports. In 2014, the Ministry of Commerce in India proposed anti-dumping duties of between US$0.11-0.81 on PVCs/modules imported from China, USA, Malaysia, and Taiwan (accounting for about 80% of modules used in Indian solar projects).
Indian government rejected the proposal to impose anti-dumping duties on import of solar PVCs and modules, explaining that as the domestic solar PVCs and modules production capacity was inadequate to meet the demands of country’s envisaged solar plans, the proposed anti-dumping duties would result in higher costs for solar projects and eventually hinder the growth of solar market in the country. With no protective measures in place to support the indigenous PVC manufacturing industry, India’s dependence on imports of solar PVCs and modules is likely to increase with expansion of solar PV market, creating manifold opportunities for global solar PVCs and module suppliers.
Abundance of solar irradiation along with continuously falling solar PV prices have created a distinctive opportunity for electricity-deprived India to bank on solar power generation. Realizing this, Indian government is marching towards the goal of installing 100 GW solar PV capacity by 2022. Favorable policy environment and government incentives would be pivotal for the growth of solar market in India. Government’s dedicated efforts to raise institutional funding and develop other financing avenues to support country’s solar power ambitions have received impressive response from investors across the globe.
However, experts caution that most of the announcements in solar sector are made based on just preliminary commitments or MoUs. It is yet to be seen to what extent these plans materialize over the coming years. Despite challenges, Indian solar market is poised to grow rapidly in the near future owing to the euphoria created by recent announcement of government’s ambitious solar vision followed by private sector’s surge of enthusiasm in the solar market. However, whether the country will be able to sustain the growth stride, remains a question.
A host of countries are of the view that Russia is intentionally trying to destabilize Ukraine by allowing infiltration of arms and ammunitions to support Ukraine’s separatist groups. These countries also believe that Russia desires Ukraine to be a part of the newly formed Eurasian Union and be in its circle of influence. This is pinching more to the western group of countries because they, on the other hand, want to integrate Ukraine with the West and make it a member of NATO. Conflicting interests have resulted in the infliction of sanctions from both sides, Russia being the bigger victim.
In order to dilute Russia’s efforts towards annexing Ukraine, western countries imposed sanctions on Russia which initially followed a route of barring entry of people close to the Russian leadership and blocking their assets in those countries, but this strategy proved futile. The result was a series of new sanctions aimed at Russia’s various sectors in an attempt to further pressurize the country by slowing down its economic growth and deteriorating its investment atmosphere.
The latest series of sanctions (those released in July and September 2014) were articulated to weaken Russia’s economy by mainly influencing oil production and its exports (in 2013, exports constituted 28.4% of Russia’s nominal GDP, of which oil and natural gas exports had a share of 68%).
Major Russian energy giants such as Rosneft (integrated oil company majorly owned by the Government of Russia), Transneft (world’s largest oil pipeline company), Lukoil (Russia’s second largest oil company), and Gazprom Neft (fourth largest oil producer in Russia) were directly brought under the purview of sanctions.
The ‘energy sanctions’ prohibit western companies to share energy technologies and invest capital in any Russian offshore oil-drilling projects based out of the Arctic regions, Russian Black Sea, and western Siberia’s onshore. In addition to technology constraint, western companies are debarred from financing Russia’s key state-owned banks for more than 90 days in order to build up financial pressure on Russian energy companies indirectly.
Rosneft and ExxonMobil’s Discovery of Oil at the Universitetskaya-1 Well
One of the major projects under the Rosneft and ExxonMobil partnership was to discover oil and gas reserves in Kara and Black Seas through a joint venture established in 2012. The two companies had also agreed on other projects such as an attempt to conquer the Arctic region’s oil and gas reserves through establishment of the Arctic Research and Design Center for Continental Shelf Development (2013), understand feasibility of developing a LNG facility in Russia (2013), and a pilot project for tight oil reserves development in the shale basin of Western Siberia (end of 2013). Talking about some hard cash involved in research and development activities, Rosneft invested US$250 million while ExxonMobil gambled US$200 million.
In September 2014, the two companies announced their success at discovering oil at the Universitetskaya-1 well in the Kara Sea which became Russia’s second offshore Arctic project. This discovery was a big finding and they initiated drilling activities quickly through the West Alpha rig (originally owned by Seadrill subsidiary of North Atlantic Drilling but under a contract with ExxonMobil till July 2016). Till this time, the partners were under the assumption that they won’t be affected by western sanctions imposed on Russia but to their disappointment, the new sanctions restrained ExxonMobil to cooperate (restricted energy technology transfer) with Rosneft on this project any further. To their dismay, drilling came to a halt in October 2014 as Rosneft could not utilize ExxonMobil’s West Alpha rig.
Rosneft is presently on a lookout for a new rig managed by companies located in the East, China, or South Korea. An attempt to find a new rig and then adjust it at the Kara Sea’s well site is going to be a enormous task and expected to delay things at least till mid-2016. Meanwhile, China (through Honghua Group, for instance) is strengthening its chances of getting positioned as a substitute provider of energy sector technology to Russia, but it is doubtful if it will be able to match the capabilities of western companies. It will be a humongous challenge for Rosneft to find a rig provider which has the expertise to ensure safety operations in such a tough part of the world.
The objective of recent western sanctions appears to not only limit present oil production but harm the future of Russia’s energy sector. 90% of current oil production in Russia comes from conventional oil fields such as West Siberian brownfields which do not require highly advanced western energy technologies, but the problem is that these fields are depleting rapidly. Russia, therefore, faces an urgent need of finding new oil sources to retain its position of being one of the main players in the world’s energy sector (3rd largest crude oil producer – 10.44 million bbl/day, 2013; 2nd largest crude oil exporter – 4.72 million bbl/day, 2013; 2nd largest natural gas producer – 669.7 billion cu m, 2013; largest natural gas exporter – 196 billion cu m, 2013).
Delay of the Rosneft project is slowly fading Russia’s aspirations of increasing oil output as tapping of Universitetskaya well’s oil reserves (estimated to be up to 9 billion barrels) could have added approximately US$900 billion to the government coffer over the next 10-12 years. Similar projects might have led to discovery of new oil reservoirs in the Kara Sea where oil reserves are estimated to be around 13 billion tons (way more than Gulf of Mexico’s and Saudi Arabia’s independent reserves). As per Merrill Lynch, Russia might lose US$500 billion of direct investment and US$26-65 billion of budget revenue during the next 10 years, as energy investors from other parts of the world also become uncertain of Russia’s economic stability.
If western sanctions remain at this level, it would make it difficult for Russia to discover and exploit oil resources in areas like Arctic, as it is primarily western companies (BP, ExxonMobil, Shell, etc.) which have the required expertise and technology to do so. Since the Russian energy sector almost single-handedly drives the country’s economy through exports, impact of the western sanctions, which is already impacting various facets of Russian economy, will be felt heavily in the long-term.
The 1970s’ oil discovery transformed Nigeria from a largely agro-economy to a more oil-dominated one. Over the last several decades, oil played a significant role in Nigeria’s positive growth story, and its emergence as one of the key economic hubs in Africa. Interestingly, however, the last few years have seen a revival of non-oil sectors, such as agriculture, once the key economic driver of the country. What does this ‘change’ mean for Nigeria and how does oil fit into the bigger picture?
Post Nigeria’s independence in 1960, the country’s economy was primarily agrarian, with mainstay products such as cocoa, rubber, palm oil and kernels, groundnut, and cotton; the agriculture sector accounted for 60% and 75% of the country’s GDP and total employment, respectively. During the 1970s, the Nigerian government undertook various measures to exploit the naturally available oil reserves, such as extending oil exploration rights to foreign companies in Niger Delta’s offshore and onshore areas, to tune the economy to one which is oil-centered (petroleum revenue share of the total federal revenue increased from 26% in 1970 to 70% in 1977). The oil-centered Nigerian economy reached its peak in 2008 when oil accounted for about 83% of the country’s total revenue. In recent years, the oil sector has been experiencing a decline with its share in total revenue falling to 75% in 2012, largely due to a stagnant crude-oil production at 2 million barrels per day (mbpd) (2.3 mbpd in 2012 and 2.2 mbpd in 2013). A steep fall has also been observed in crude-oil exports to the USA (Nigeria’s main oil export market), which contracted by 11 percentage points in a single year, falling from 16% of Nigeria’s total oil exports in 2012 to 5% in 2013.
Upon closer introspection of the reasons for the declining dominance of oil in Nigeria, various factors come to surface. One of the main reasons is the delay in the approval of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), which aims to ensure the management of petroleum resources according to the principles of good governance, transparency, and sustainable development; this delay has been stalling further investments in the oil sector. Perpetual oil thefts, pipeline vandalism, weak investment in upstream activities, and insignificant discoveries of new oil reservoirs have also hampered the growth of this sector. As a result, oil giants have been selling off their stakes in various onshore as well as offshore blocks. For instance, Shell sold 45% of their interest in OML 40 onshore block to Elcrest Nigeria Limited (an independent oil and gas company) and Petrobras (a Brazilian multinational energy corporation) is planning to auction its 8% and 20% stakes in Agbami oil block and offshore Akpo project, respectively.
So, where does this leave the Nigerian economy?
Apart from the unsatisfactory performance of the oil sector, Nigeria’s economic environment faces risks from security challenges prevailing in the northeastern part of the country, conflicts related to resource control in the Niger Delta region, and high levels of corruption (case in point being the suspension of Nigeria’s central bank’s governor over misconduct and irregularities).
In the midst of all these challenges, the non-oil sector (described as a sector which is not directly or indirectly linked to oil and gas, and include sectors such as agriculture, telecommunication, tourism, healthcare, and financial services) is emerging as the new champion of the Nigerian economy.
This is mainly due to various policies adopted by the government in the light of the looming oil sector, along with the complementary effect of factors such as increase in private consumption and FDI.
In addition to government policies, FDI has played a key role in nurturing the non-oil sector. Nigeria has experienced a compounded annual growth of 20% in the number of Greenfield FDI projects from 2007 to 2013; 50% (total number of projects being 306) of these projects were service-oriented. The telecom sector particularly witnessed strong growth by attracting 24% of all FDI projects, while coal, oil, and natural gas received only 8% of foreign direct investment during 2007-2013.
Private consumption (forecast to reach US$231.2 billion in 2014) has also fuelled the growth of the Nigerian non-oil sector. The largest consumer market in Africa, Nigeria’s consumer spending (an indicator of private consumption) has increased from US$94.3 billion in 2007 to US$309.9 billion in 2013.
The cumulative effect of all these factors has proven exceptionally positive for the non-oil sector. This is evident from the increase in percentage share of the sector in the Nigerian GDP. Agriculture remains the largest contributor, among both oil and non-oil sectors, with a share of 22% in GDP, in 2013. Other non-oil sectors such as manufacturing (GDP share increased from 4% in 2010 to 6.8% in 2013), construction (GDP share increased from 1% in 2010 to 3.1% in 2013), wholesale and retail trade (GDP share increased from 13% in 2010 to 17% in 2013), transport and communication (GDP share increased from 3% in 2010 to 12.2% in 2013) have also strengthened their position in Nigeria’s growth story.
Moreover, non-oil sector’s contribution to government revenue has improved from US$154.3 million in 2000 to US$3,018.2 million in 2011, which is a significant increase. A growth has also been observed in non-oil exports, which have increased from 1.28% in 2000 to 3.59% in 2010, in terms of percentage contribution towards total exports.
The Nigerian non-oil sector has also been attracting a number of investments in recent years, for instance:
July 2014: Procter & Gamble, a multinational consumer goods company, announced the construction of a new manufacturing plant worth US$250 million, in Nigeria’s Ogun state. The manufacturing plant is expected to employ 750 Nigerians and offer opportunities to 300 SMEs
February 2013: Indorama, a global chemical producer, launched a Greenfield urea fertilizer project worth US$1.2 billion, in Nigeria’s Port Harcourt. The project claims to support Nigerian and West African requirements for affordable fertilizers
Apart from giving credit to an increase in private consumption, investments in the non-oil sector must also be attributed to the measures undertaken by the Nigerian government. To showcase the attractiveness of the Nigerian economy, the government undertook a GDP rebasing exercise (GDP calculations are now performed on 2010 year’s figures instead of 1990’s). The exercise led to a better coverage of the informal sector, addition of new industries, and increase in the contribution factor of sectors such as service, manufacturing, and construction.
According to the National Bureau of Statistics, Nigeria’s GDP is valued at US$498.9 billion as compared with US$263.7 billion, prior to rebasing, in 2013. In spite of several criticisms around the authenticity of figures, rebasing of the GDP gave a strong competitive edge to Nigeria, among other emerging and developing economies, by showcasing a high GDP to allure investments. Additionally, implementation of the government’s Industrial Revolution Plan is expected to continue driving the country’s manufacturing sector. Since regular and ample power supply is a critical issue in Nigeria, the plan has implemented reforms in the power sector which aims to facilitate a continuous power supply, thereby, supporting the manufacturing sector by reducing power generation related costs and encouraging further investments.
While the oil sector did well to provide Nigeria with a strong foundation and help build basic infrastructure to support a long-term growth potential, the rekindling of the non-oil sector is likely to strengthen Nigeria’s growth story and help it attract much needed foreign investments to create a balanced economy.
The approval of the PIB, post 2015 elections, might improve the oil sector performance, which should go hand-in-hand with non-oil sector development, making Nigeria an attractive market for global investors. It will be important that the Nigerian government undertake continuous reforms in both sectors to ensure the emergence of a strong economy, able to compete with the more established emerging markets of the world.
In H2 2013, we published an article on Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto’s proposed energy reforms. Eight months after constitutional amendments were introduced to actualize these reforms, the President has taken a historic step and signed the energy reform bills passed by the Congress into law. While analysts seem happy with the new package of laws, the key question pertaining is that, has the government done enough to satisfy the key stakeholders, the oil companies, PEMEX, and the Mexican public.
Mexican President Nieto has set a blistering pace for reform of the nation’s oil, gas and electricity sectors, with final Congressional approvals being in place in less than a year of the initial proposal. The secondary legislation signed into law by the President on 11th August 2014 has opened up the oil and gas sector to private investment for the first time in 75 years. The Mexican government estimates that the new framework will result in an investment of US$50 billion by 2018 in oil exploration, production and refining activities.
The determination with which the President has pursued energy reform is highlighted by the move to pre-pone the ‘Round Zero’ process by a month, which entailed the granting of exploration and production rights to PEMEX. PEMEX has been awarded rights to 83% of the country’s proven and probable oil reserves and 21% of the nation’s prospective resources. The next round of bidding, Round One, will involve private companies, foreign companies, and PEMEX bidding on equal terms for the remaining 79% of prospective reserves. This tender process will be overseen by the National Hydrocarbon Commission (CNH), and is expected to take place between May and September of 2015.
The reforms are considered ‘fairly pro-market’ as private players will be allowed to pursue joint ventures on their own accord or with PEMEX. More importantly, addressing earlier concerns regarding share in resources, foreign and private companies will be allowed to book reserves, even though oil and gas resources will remain under state ownership until they are produced. This has resulted in keen interest from leading global energy companies, few of whom have given official statements stating their intent to bid. The new law also opens up the electricity generation market, while the state retains monopoly in transmission and distribution. The government looks to set up an electricity wholesale market under the reforms.
In addition to introducing private investment into every segment of Mexico’s hydrocarbon sector, the regulation encompasses the strengthening and autonomy of regulatory bodies, CNH and Energy Regulatory Commission (CRE) as well as setting up of new independent bodies for supervising environmental protection as well as controlling and operating the natural gas and electricity network. This it to ensure smooth and transparent implementation of the reforms.
From the point of view of the energy companies, the reforms could have not come at a better time, with several of their current operation zones (of the likes of Iraq, Libya, Nigeria, and Russia), facing violence and above-the-ground problems. In comparison, the situation in the Mexican territory seems much less risky. However, there exists a slight amount of political risk for international companies.
President Nieto has bagged several wins in his first two years, including banking, education, telecommunication, and energy reforms. Unlike the case of the three former reforms, the public has not supported their President in his latest endeavor. According to a poll published in Mexican newspaper, Reforma, 40% of Mexicans believed that the changes under the energy reforms would be bad for the country. Should President Pena Nieto’s PRI party lose elections in 2018, an incoming government may be likely to roll back such reforms that displeased the Mexicans. Nonetheless this risk, most energy companies are likely to welcome the reforms with open arms.
Overall, Mexico’s energy reforms are expected to be transformational for both the country as well as the global energy industry. While they are running well within the timelines in terms of policy formation, time will determine the success, or lack thereof, of the reforms, especially with regards to implementation.
Japan, for many years the symbol of safe use of nuclear energy, started to revise its focus on atomic power following the 2011 tsunami and Fukushima plant meltdowns. After the accident, atomic plants were shut down, and in 2012, the government declared its commitment to the diversification of energy sources, working towards making the country renewable energy-powered.
Yet this wishful thinking was soon confronted with the reality of slow growth of renewable energy generation. In April 2014, a new energy plan re-designated coal as an important long-term electricity source, with similar importance given back to nuclear power. While Japan is unlikely to abandon fossil fuels and nuclear power in any foreseeable future, the shifting focus and public reluctance to atomic power gave start to a more dynamic development of renewable power generation technologies.
Several projects across solar, hydro, biomass, and to a lesser extent geothermal, had already been developed prior to Fukushima accident, but it is now the time for Japan to embrace its renewable energy potential at a larger scale.
Mongolia, uninteresting and perhaps almost forgotten to the rest of the world until just recently, has turned out to become of the world’s largest untapped mining centers. The country houses minerals worth over US$ 1 trillion, thanks to which it has the potential to become one of the most prosperous economies in the East. We take a closer look at Mongolia’s potential, its background, most relevant advantages, and challenges that continue to put a brake on the country’s development. Read Our Detailed Report.