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Crude Oil Rises as Houthi Rebels Strike Aramco Oil Facilities

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crude oil price at market

By Adedapo Adesanya

Crude oil prices opened the new week in the positives on Monday, spurred by another set of drone attacks against Saudi Arabian energy giant Aramco’s facilities by Houthi rebels.

The tension raised by this act pushed the price of the Brent higher by 0.38 per cent or 24 cents to $63.19 per barrel and lifted the West Texas Intermediate (WTI) higher by 39 cents or 0.64 per cent to $59.70 per barrel.

The Yemeni Houthis claimed responsibility for the attack on the oil facilities in Saudi Arabia, a reminder of political tensions in the Middle East.

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The Houthis targeted Aramco refineries in the western Saudi city of Jeddah and in Jubail in the east, with 10 drones launched at dawn on Monday.

While such attacks have increased this year, they rarely claim lives or cause extensive damage. The attack on the oil facilities comes amid a surge in fighting between the rebels and forces loyal to the Saudi-backed government in Yemen.

The Kingdom condemned the attack against vital installations, noting that it does not only target the Kingdom, but also petroleum exports, the stability of energy supply to the world, freedom of world trade, as well as the global economy.

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The Iran-aligned rebels have struck Aramco facilities in the past, targeting the vulnerability of Saudi Arabia’s expensive and strategically vital oil infrastructure.

Prices were also supported by the fall of the US Dollar. A weakened greenback makes commodities such as oil priced in the US currency more attractive.

There are already signs emerging of the potential impact of a steady reopening in the US on consumption. United Airlines Holdings said it saw an acceleration in customer demand in March, while American air passenger numbers remain near their highest level since March.

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Despite these positives, the market still has to contend with rising coronavirus cases just as the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies (OPEC+) agreed to add more barrels from May.

Iran is also posing a serious threat to the stability of the market as the Middle East giant’s supply may return quicker than expected following advanced talks over sanctions.

Adedapo Adesanya is a journalist, polymath, and connoisseur of everything art. When he is not writing, he has his nose buried in one of the many books or articles he has bookmarked or simply listening to good music with a bottle of beer or wine. He supports the greatest club in the world, Manchester United F.C.

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Economy

Nigerian Digital Freight Startup MVX Obtains $1.3m

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MVX

By Adedapo Adesanya

Nigeria-based digital freight startup, MVX, has announced a $1.3 million seed round to tackle the challenge of financing and booking freight operations in Africa.

Investors in this round included Kepple Africa Ventures, Launch Africa Ventures, Founders Factory and some unnamed angel investors.

The new round is coming after the startup secured a $100,000 pre-seed investment from Oui Capital in 2019 and with the fresh disbursement, MVX wants to ease trade finance and freight shipping in Africa by making the process available online.

According to the Chief Executive Officer, Mr Tonye Membere-Otaji, “We make it easy and convenient for businesses. We handle everything because we have all these service providers in one platform. So, as shippers work with us, MVX works with like seven to ten other service providers.”

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Prior to the establishment of the company, Mr Membere-Otaji had worked in the maritime industry but was intrigued by how there was no online marketplace for vessels.

In 2019, Mr Membere-Otaji finally launched the company with CTO Tobi Amusan after securing a $100,000 pre-seed investment from Oui Capital, a pan-African VC firm.

The company was called MVXchange at first and its business model revolved around providing a support vessel booking platform that matched vessel chartering requests made by operators with available Offshore Support Vessels (OSVs).

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But in March 2020, the company made a sharp pivot and tweaked its model due to uncertain oil prices and the pandemic.

“We couldn’t see ourselves doing vessel chartering for the long term because the demand for fossil fuels will definitely reduce over the next few decades.

“We wanted to do something scalable, something that was impactful, and something that we could be proud of in the next 20 years,” he added.

This led to the launch of MVXtransit, a digital freight booking platform, helping cargo owners find deals on moving containers across Nigeria.

In April 2021, the company launched MVXpay, a finance and payment solution to provide trade finance for freight operators. However, both offerings are now rolled into one: MVX.

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According to the CEO, MVX wants to make freight shipping and trade finance easier for African businesses by bringing booking and deployment processes online.

The startup has expanded beyond Nigeria and claims that merchants from the West African country, as well as Kenya, South Africa, Ghana and Rwanda, can use its platform to move freight in and out of their countries.

MVX charges a commission for the services provided, including trucking, warehousing, shipping, and cargo stuffing.

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Economy

Nigeria Picks JP Morgan, 7 Others for $6.2bn Eurobond Sale

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FGN Eurobond

By Dipo Olowookere

Eight companies have been chosen from a pool of 38 bidders to ensure the successful sale of the $6.2 billion Eurobond to be issued by the Nigerian government.

The federal government led by President Muhammadu Buhari had informed the National Assembly when it presented the 2021 Appropriation Act that the sum of N2.3 trillion ($6.2 billion) would be required to finance the budget deficit.

Mr Buhari later wrote a letter to the Senate in May 2021 of the need to approve this loan request and this was authorised in June.

After the parliament’s approval, the Debt Management Office (DMO) swung into action by asking interested organisations to bid for the transaction through an open competitive bidding process as stipulated in the Public Procurement Act, 2007 (as amended) and 38 responded.

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In a statement issued on Wednesday, the debt office said it rigorously evaluated the bids of the companies to ascertain their technical capacities to execute the Eurobond sale.

It said after this process, it found eight of them worthy, with four chosen as international bookrunners/joint lead managers, one taken each as Nigerian bookrunners, financial adviser, international legal adviser and Nigerian legal adviser.

Business Post reports that JP Morgan, Citigroup Global Markets Limited, Standard Chartered Bank and Goldman Sachs were picked as international bookrunners/joint lead managers.

Chapel Hill Denham Advisory Services Limited was taken as the Nigerian bookrunner, FSDH Merchant Bank Limited scaled through as the financial adviser, White & Case LLP was selected as the international legal adviser, while Banwo & Ighodalo was chosen as the Nigerian legal adviser.

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In the statement, the DMO said the Federal Executive Council (FEC) has authorised these firms to be part of the Eurobond sale, which should start very soon.

“With the approval of the transaction advisers by FEC, the DMO will now accelerate activities towards the issuance of the Eurobonds,” a part of the statement read.

The debt office further said, “The Eurobonds to be issued are for the purpose of raising funds for the new external borrowing of N2.343 trillion (about $6.2 billion) provided in the 2021 Appropriation Act to part-finance the deficit.

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“Whilst the government expects a successful outing, it will be mindful of costs and risks (in terms of tenor and pricing) in determining the amount of Eurobonds to issue.”

“Since the Eurobonds are being issued to part-finance the 2021 budget deficit, the proceeds will be used to fund various projects in the budget.

“In addition, the proceeds will result in an inflow of foreign exchange which in turn, will increase Nigeria’s external reserves and support the Naira exchange rate,” it added.

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Economy

FEC Okays NNPC 20% Stake in Dangote Refinery for $2.76bn

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Dangote Refinery

By Dipo Olowookere

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has been given the approval to acquire a 20 per cent stake in the yet-to-be-completed Dangote Petroleum and Petrochemical Refinery in Lagos.

The state-owned oil agency intends to be a minority shareholder in the company, which has the capacity to refine 650,000 barrels of crude oil daily.

Nigeria is blessed with crude oil but this commodity is not refined in the country despite having four refineries. The oil is taken out and imported as premium motor spirit (PMS) commonly known as petroleum and other derivatives.

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The Dangote Refinery located in the Lekki area of Lagos State is expected to change this narrative, though efforts are now being made to rehabilitate the public oil facilities to stop petrol importation.

But before then, NNPC wants to be a part-owner of the private refinery being built by Mr Aliko Dangote, the richest man in Africa, according to Forbes.

On Wednesday, the Nigerian government held its weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting presided over by Vice President Osinbajo because of the absence of President Muhammadu Buhari, who is currently in London for medical attention.

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This issue of the proposed purchase of a 20 per cent stake in Dangote Refinery by the NNPC was discussed and after deliberations, the council authorised the agency to acquire the minority shareholding for $2.76 billion.

Briefing newsmen at the end of the meeting, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Mr Timipre Sylva, disclosed that the transaction would be beneficial to Nigerians.

He also said FEC approved the rehabilitation of both Warri and Kaduna refineries for $1.484 billion, noting that Messers Saipem SPA and Saipem Contracting Limited would do the repair works in three phases of 21, 23 and 33 months.

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According to him, 15 per cent of the amount has been paid to the construction firm, clarifying that $897.7 million is for the Warri refinery and $586.9 million for the Kaduna refinery.

“The completion of the rehabilitation of Warri and Kaduna refineries is going to be in three phases. The first phase will be completed within 21 months, in 23 months phase two will be completed and in 33 months, the full rehabilitation will be completed,” Mr Sylva said.

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