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LE BOOM PETROLIER EN GUINEE EQUATORIALE

EL BOOM PETROLIFERO  EN GUINEA ECUATORIAL

EQUATORIAL GUINEA  OIL BOOM

 
     
 
 

Equatorial Guinea, oil

Malabo, Business City

Ampco-Bioko

 
 

PA Resources Completes Drilling of Appraisal Well In Equatorial Guinea

 
 
 

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The drilling of the appraisal well I-5 has been completed on the Benita structure in Block I in Equatorial Guinea. The well determined the net oil pay to 13 meters and defined the oil-water contact. The oil and gas group PA Resources has a 6 percent working interest in the license.

The operator Noble Energy has successfully completed the drilling of the appraisal well I-5 on the Benita structure in Block I in Equatorial Guinea. The well was designed to determine down dip reservoir limits as well as provide an opportunity to flow test the oil zone. The purpose with the well was to appraise the extent of the earlier made discoveries of oil and gas in the wells I-1 and I-2 on the Benita structure.

The appraisal well was successfully drilled to a total depth of 3,075 meters by the drilling rig Sedco 700 and it encountered approximately 13 meters of net oil pay and defined the water-oil contact. Noble Energy is currently preparing to flow test the well, after which the rig will proceed to drill on a Miocene prospect named Diega in Block I.

- This result is very encouraging as the I-5 well has established additional oil in the Benita structure. This well has furthermore provided the license partners with vital information to continue the planni ng of the development of the Benita field" says Ulrik Jansson, President and CEO of PA Resources.

PA Resources has a 6 percent working interest in Block I, through its fully owned subsidiary Osborne Resources. Operator is Noble Energy (40 percent) and the other partners are Atlas Petroleum International (29 percent) and Glencore (25 percent).
 
 

Noble Energy Announces Block I Well Results in Equatorial Guinea

 
 

Monday, January 14, 2008

Noble Energy, Inc. announces a successful test in Block "I" offshore Equatorial Guinea. The 'I-4' well, which is on trend with the Belinda discovery on Block "O" offshore Equatorial Guinea, encountered a high quality Miocene reservoir that, when tested, yielded flow rates of 1,634 barrels per day of condensate and 28.9 million cubic feet per day of natural gas, or approximately 6,450 barrels of oil equivalent per day (based upon a natural gas to crude oil conversion ratio of 6 to 1), with production rates limited by test equipment.

The 'I-4' well, located in 2,226 feet (678 meters) of water and seven miles (11.2 kilometers) southwest of the original Belinda discovery in Block "O" was successfully drilled to its objective at a total depth of 9,721 feet (2,963 meters). The well was the final of the six-well program drilled by the Songa Saturn drillship on behalf of Noble Energy.

Charles D. Davidson, Noble Energy's Chairman, President and CEO, said, "The successful exploration and appraisal drilling program in the Belinda trend along with further calibration of our seismic and additional reservoir analysis confirms that the original pre-drill resource range was too conservative. We now believe the resource range to be approximately 60 percent greater than original expectations. In addition, well results in the area verify the presence of substantial recoverable liquids which are now estimated to be about 40 percent of the total resources discovered with proper processing."

Davidson went on the say," We plan to have an active 2008 exploration and appraisal drilling program for both Blocks "I" and "O" as we assess our options to commercialize our discoveries in the region. Our next well, scheduled to spud in late February with the Sedco 700 drillship, will look to verify the oil resources downdip at the Benita discovery on Block "I"."

Noble Energy is the Technical Operator of Block "I" with a 40 percent participating interest. Its partners on the block include Atlas Petroleum International Limited (29 percent participating interest), who is the Administrative Operator, Glencore Exploration Ltd. (25 percent participating interest) and Osborne Resources Limited, a company within the PA Resources Group (six percent participating interest). GEPetrol (the national oil company of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea) has a five percent carried interest once commerciality has been determined.
 
 

Acuerdos  de exploración conjunta de los recursos petroleros entre Guinea Ecuatorial
y Sao Tomé y Príncipe en la zona limítrofe entre los dos países

 
 

3 de marzo de 2008

   El presidente de Sao Tomé y Príncipe, Fadrique de Menezes, visitó Malabo la pasada semana. Resultado de este viaje ha sido la firma de un memorandum para la exploración conjunta de los recursos petroleros en la zona fronteriza entre los dos países. La página Macauhub lo cuanta así: "São Tomé e Príncipe y Guinea Ecuatorial quieren establecer un acuerdo de exploración conjunta del bloque de petróleo situado en la zona de delimitación marítima entre los dos países, anunció el viernes el presidente ecuatoguineano, Teodoro Obiang Nguema.

   El anuncio hecho por Obiang Nguema fue difundido por la televisión nacional de São Tomé e Príncipe, TVS, en un reportaje “balance” sobre la visita del jueves del Presidente de Sao Tome,  Fradique de Menezes, a Malabo, capital de Guinea Ecuatorial, inscrito en el ámbito de la cooperación bilateral.

   Admitiendo la hipótesis de la existencia de un bloque de petróleo situado en las fronteras marítimas de los dos países, el Jefe del Estado ecuatoguineano indicó que “estamos estudiando la posibilidad de una exploración conjunta del boque de la zona de delimitación”.

   Nguema defendió también la distribución de los ingresos resultantes de la exploración conjunta conforme a la potencialidad de los posibles yacimientos encontrados y su localización en la frontera marítima de los dos Estados, en la zona del Golfo de Guinea, en la costa occidental de África, separados por una distancia de unos 300 kilómetros.

   El acuerdo, en el que participarán también las empresas petroleras interesadas, se preparará por una comisión mixta de las dos partes así como por consultores internacionales, según un memorando básico firmado el viernes en Malabo por los respectivos presidentes, Fradique de Menezes de São Tomé e Príncipe y Teodoro Obiang Nguema de Guinea Ecuatorial.

   Mientras Guinea Ecuatorial dispone ya de experiencia en temas de exploración petrolera, Sao Tomé iy Principe está en una fase inicial de esa actividad con una zona marítima exclusiva cuya prospección en bloques está prevista para finales de año, junto con otra zona de exploración conjunta con Nigeria, en la que los descubrimientos hechos, no justifican todavía una explotación comercial.

   Además del sector petrolero, el acuerdo de cooperación entre São Tomé e Príncipe y Guinea Ecuatorial implica también a sectores forestales, infraestructuras, educación y transporte".

   http://www.macauhub.com.mo/pt/news.php?ID=4953

Editado y distribuido por ASODEGUE

 
 
     
 

Guinée équatoriale: Démarrage de production pour la compagnie pétrolière Amerada Hess de son deuxième gisement de brut en Guinée équatoriale avec une extraction à terme 60 000 barils par jour pendant vingt ans

 
 
 

MALABO, 13 fév 2007 - La compagnie pétrolière américaine Amerada Hess a donné lundi le coup d'envoi de la production de son deuxième gisement de brut en Guinée équatoriale, "Okumé", dont devraient être extraits à terme quelque 60.000 barils par jour, a rapporté mardi la radio nationale. Inauguré par le président équato-guinéen Teodoro Obiang Nguema et le président de la compagnie américaine John Hess, ce champ offshore, situé à une trentaine de kilomètres au large de la ville continentale de Bata, devrait produire "pendant une période approximative de vingt ans", selon M. Hess. Le complexe "Okumé", dont l'aménagement a coûté un milliard de dollars, est opéré par Amerada Hess en coopération avec la société nationale équato-guinéenne de pétrole (Gepetrol) et la compagnie britannique Tullow Oil - Energy, a indiqué à l'AFP une source pétrolière. Amerada Hess est présente depuis cinq ans en Guinée équatoriale, où elle exploite un autre champ offshore baptisé "Ceiba" au large de Bata, avec une production d'un peu plus de 45.000 barils par jour. Une dizaine de sociétés, pour l'essentiel américaines, exploitent depuis le début des années 1990 le pétrole de Guinée équatoriale, troisième producteur de brut d'Afrique subsaharienne derrière le Nigeria et l'Angola.

 
 
 

Devon Energy Agrees to Sell Assets in Equatorial Guinea for $2.2 Billion

 
 
 

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Devon Energy Corporation has agreed to sell its oil and gas business in the African nation of Equatorial Guinea for $2.2 billion. The buyer is GEPetrol, the national oil company of Equatorial Guinea.

Devon estimates its after-tax proceeds will be approximately $1.7 billion. The effective date of the sale is January 1, 2008. Completion of the transaction is subject to customary closing conditions and approvals. Devon expects closing to occur on or before May 30, 2008.

Devon's principal asset in Equatorial Guinea is its 23.75 percent participating interest in the Zafiro offshore oil field, located on Block B. Estimated proved reserves attributable to Zafiro were 55 million barrels of oil at year-end 2007. Devon's share of production from Zafiro is currently about 20,000 barrels per day.

Other assets included in the transaction are Devon's interests in offshore Blocks C and P. The two blocks are undeveloped.

"This transaction represents the largest piece of our African divestiture program," said John Richels, Devon's President. "With aggregate pre-tax proceeds of the announced transactions surpassing $3 billion, the divestiture results have exceeded our expectations."
 

Noble Energy Announces Additional Discovery on Block 'I' in Equatorial Guinea

 

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Noble Energy, Inc. announces a new discovery on Block "I" offshore Equatorial Guinea. The 'I-3' well, which tested the Yolanda prospect, encountered a high quality Miocene reservoir containing 47 feet (14 meters) of net hydrocarbon pay. Production tests from the well yielded flow rates of 371 barrels per day of condensate and 36 million cubic feet per day of natural gas, or approximately 6,371 barrels of oil equivalent per day (based upon a natural gas to crude oil conversion ratio of 6 to 1), with production rates limited by test facilities. The Yolanda discovery, located in 2,940 feet (896 meters) of water is approximately 30 miles (48 kilometers) east of Bioko Island and six miles (10 kilometers) south of the Benita discovery, which is also on Block "I". It was drilled to a total depth of 9,482 feet (2,890 meters).

The Songa Saturn drillship will remain on Block "I" where it will move to test an additional Miocene exploration prospect that is on trend with the Belinda discovery located on Block "O" offshore Equatorial Guinea.

Noble Energy is the Technical Operator of Block "I" with a 40 percent participating interest. Its partners on the block include Atlas Petroleum International Limited (29 percent participating interest), who is the Administrative Operator, Glencore Exploration Ltd. (25 percent participating interest) and Osborne Resources Limited, a company within the PA Resources Group (six percent participating interest). GEPetrol (the national oil company of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea) has a five percent carried interest once commerciality has been determined.

Charles D. Davidson, Noble Energy's Chairman, President and CEO, said, "The success at Yolanda continues the momentum of our exploration and appraisal drilling program in Equatorial Guinea. This discovery represents our fourth consecutive successful well in Equatorial Guinea. Since beginning our exploration program in late 2005, there has only been one dry hole out of the six wells drilled in Blocks "O" and "I". Our discoveries, which include both gas-condensate and oil fields, have confirmed that this basin contains significant hydrocarbon resources. We look forward to additional exploration and appraisal drilling while moving forward with our planning for commercial development of these important discoveries."
 
 

"El petróleo no es eterno...".

 
 

"Continúa la avalancha petrolera y se diversifican los operadores. Sin embargo, algunos se preparan ya para el futuro, interesándose fundamentalmente por el gas. 

   Iniciando en septiembre la relación con el gigante ruso Gazprom, un año después de haber invitado a los chinos, el presidente Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo busca, sin duda alguna, salir de su dependencia respecto a las empresas norteamericanas, haciendo jugar plenamente la competencia y sacar mayores beneficios de las concesiones petroleras. Quedan lejos los tiempos en los que el Estado sólo recibía el 3 % de los beneficios obtenidos en el campo Alba y el 5% de los del Zafiro y Ceiba. Tras más de catorce años de explotación, las autoridades han reencontrado el sentido de la negociación. El sistema actual establece royaltys de entre el 10 y el 16 % de la producción, una participación de las empresas estatales en las filiales americanas en Guinea Ecuatorial y una transferencia del 15% de los beneficios en lugar del 3 % en los años 1990. Sin embargo, las tres cuartas partes de los ingresos van todavía a los bolsillos de las compañías extranjeras. “Por eso les hemos impuesto una renegociación global de los contratos que nos ligan con ellas. La gran mayoría de estas empresas han recuperado ampliamente sus inversiones y es ya tiempo para que se aumente la parte que nos transfieren… Aspiramos al 40 o al 50 %, incluso más », explica el jefe del Estado, sensible al combate de su homólogo venezolano Hugo Chávez contra la grandes empresas petroleras occidentales.

   Esta política se ha vuelto imperativa, aunque las autoridades sigan gestionando sus ingresos con parsimonia, el maná va a disminuir progresivamente a partir de 2008, año en el que se prevé el pico de la producción. Las extracciones de petróleo y de gas se aproximarán a los 580 000 barriles por día – frente a los 400 000 actuales- antes de disminuir a la par que lo hace el principal yacimiento de bruto, el Zafiro.

Iniciada su producción a lo largo de la isla de Bioko en 1995, este campo ha enriquecido a la compañía norteamericana ExxonMobil, cambiado el aspecto del país y el tren de vida de sus dirigentes. Pero su ciclo de producción va a disminuir rápidamente, el ritmo de extracción bajará de los 100 000 b/d. en 2013, frente a los 250 000 en la hora actual. A corto plazo, las perdidas se compensarán en parte por la entrada en explotación del yacimiento Okoumé, que permitirá hacer pasar la producción de Amerada Hess, otra gran empresa petrolera norteamericana, de 50 000 a 100 000 b/d. Pero sobre todo por el desarrollo del potencial gasistico, estimado en 40.000 millones de metros cúbicos.

   El viceministro de Minas, Energía y de Industria, Gabriel Mbegha Obiang Lima, se dedica igualmente a poner en valor el offshore profundo y las concesiones de la parte continental. Recorre el mundo para preparar la entrada de nuevas operadoras. ¡Con un cierto éxito! La brasileña Petrobras anunció el 11 de enero haber conseguido luz verde del gobierno para hacerse cargo del 50 % de una concesión en la cuenca del río Muni (entre 500 y 2 200 metros de profundidad). Otros grandes grupos están en fase de explotación, entre ellos la malasia Petronas, la nigeriano-noruega Dangote Energy Equity Resources (EER) y la española Repsol.

   “Algunos han hecho hallazgos interesantes, pero su explotación dependerá de la evolución de los contratos de participación en la producción y de los precios del petróleo dada la importancia la amplitud de las inversiones que se necesitan» explica un asesor del FMI. Además, otras Varias compañías han expresado su interés por concesiones situadas al sur de la isla de Bioko y en el entorno de Annobon.

   A largo plazo, podría levantarse el secreto [lómerta financiero. Aunque las cuentas de Gepetrol y Sanagaz no se presentan a los parlamentarios, las autoridades han manifestado su intención de adherirse a la Iniciativa internacional para la transparencia de las Industrias Extractivas (EITI). Guinea Ecuatorial dispondría de mas de un millón de francos CFA de reservas financieras, constituidas gracias a los ingresos petroleros. Los proveedores de fondos internacionales animan al gobierno a que alimente la cuenta de reservas para las generaciones futuras y llaman a las autoridades a hacer inversiones en los ámbitos de las infraestructuras públicas, de la educación y de la sanidad. Según el FMI, el 80% de la población vive todavía en la pobreza mientras que el PIB por habitante alcanza en la actualidad los 11.000 dólares por año".

   Los artículos del corresponsal de Jeune Afrique tienen siempre aspectos de interés, pero acaban mostrando siempre demasiadas concesiones para con la dictadura ecuatoguineana. De interés en este caso es el que ponga el acento en el futuro de la producción de gas que irá sustituyendo al petróleo en los próximos años en Guinea Ecuatorial, es también de interés el  que se refiera abiertamente a las condiciones de abuso en las que las grandes compañías americanas (apoyadas por el dictador) iniciaron la producción petrolera a mediados de los años noventa y la continúan en la actualidad y que no olvide nunca que sobre el gris esplendor de las condiciones de vida de una minoría reposa sobre la mísera de la gran mayoría de la población.

   Concesiones a la dictadura es pretender que el régimen ecuatoguineano mantiene serias diferencias con estas petroleras o que las nuevas leyes del petróleo suponen un intento serio de poner coto a sus excepcionalmente ventajosas condiciones de producción. Las relaciones (oscuras relaciones) del régimen ecuatoguineano con las grandes petroleras norteamericanas son imprescindibles para su pervivencia política y Obiang lo tiene muy presente aunque se permita alguna crítica contra ellas, destinada a mantener viva alguna brizna de nacionalismo entre su parroquia o ante la opinión pública africana. [La alusión que se hace a Hugo Chávez no puede interpretarse mas que como un chiste].

   Concesiones a la dictadura es presentarla como un régimen normal, preocupado por algún problema del país y no por el simple enriquecimiento de sus integrantes, capaz, por si solo, de evolucionar a situaciones de normalidad o de transparencia. La democracia, la transparencia, la existencia de un gobierno preocupado por la situación del país llegarán a Guinea Ecuatorial (porque llegarán, pueden estar seguros) contra la voluntad de Obiang y los suyos..

Editado y distribuido por ASODEGUE  http://www.asodegue.org/enero0407.htm     4 de enero de 2007          Pascal Airault

 
 
 

Hyperdynamics Looks to Make Waves in Quiet Gulf of Guinea Concession

 
 
  A little suburban Houston company has made a big grab to drill for oil in a largely unexplored area off the coast of Africa. Hyperdynamics Corp., a 22-employee company, is getting in the offshore Africa drilling game with a 31,000-square-mile concession off the Republic of Guinea that's about the size of South Carolina.Plenty of rigs dot the offshore West Africa seascape, particularly along oil-rich countries such as Nigeria, Equatorial Guinea and Angola. But the vast area off Guinea's coast, directly west of Nigeria, is pretty quiet;
Hyperdynamics, which is publicly traded on the American Stock Exchange, hopes to change that.

"We ended up being in the right place at the right time," said Mike Watts, a consultant on investor relations and business development for the company, which is run by his brother, Kent Watts.

Mike Watts said Sugar Land-based Hyperdynamics, once a data-oriented technology company that turned to oil and natural gas after the tech bust of 2000, got its foot in the door with software that converted data on old seismic tapes to DVDs. Hyperdynamics also shot seismic data to help oil companies scout out oil and gas.

In 2002 Hyperdynamics shot seismic off Guinea's coast for USOil Corp., which had obtained the concession years earlier. Watts said that data showed a promising oil presence.

Eventually Hyperdynamics took over negotiating an agreement with Guinea's government to explore the concession, and signed it in September.

The agreement -- which has yet to be ratified by Guinea's National Assembly -- says 36 percent of the concession is Hyperdynamics' to explore. The company has the right to participate in any development in the remaining 64 percent.

Greg Priddy, an analyst with Eurasia Group, a New York-based political risk advisory and consulting firm, said he wasn't familiar with Hyperdynamics, but he's not surprised at an effort to tap a largely untapped area.

"There hasn't really been a significant amount of development in the Republic of Guinea offshore before," he said. "It's not surprising if they were inviting foreign companies in. There have been offshore finds in other places in that area."

Brad Richards, a partner in the international practice group for law firm Haynes and Boone in Houston, called the area "truly speculative" because it hasn't attracted other players.

"It is a rare thing to be able to obtain rights to an area that is so large. It's an extraordinary opportunity, but only if there is something there. You can obtain all rights to drill in Poland, but nobody's found any oil and gas there," he said.

However, if drilling proves successful and demonstrates potential in the area, "then you'll have a lot of people diving in," Richards said.

Another reason the area is largely an untapped frontier could be Guinea's low ranking in the 2006 Corruption Perceptions Index survey of 163 countries by Transparency International, a Berlin-based watchdog group, said Art Smith, an analyst with John S. Herold.

The 2006 survey ranks Guinea 160th -- just above Iraq, Myanmar and Haiti. Finland ranks first as the least corrupt in the survey. The U.S. is 22nd.

Such rankings don't keep U.S. companies away if oil is there. Angola ranks 142nd, Nigeria 146th and Equatorial Guinea 154th in the 2006 survey. And Guinea's ranking didn't concern Kent Watts.

"We've invested heavily in understanding the government and how they work. We're also working with our government over there to make sure that everything is done properly," he said.

Dianne Sutherland, chief editor of Petroleum Africa Magazine, noted that exploration and production are ongoing off the shores of Guinea's neighboring countries.

"Once Hyperdynamics makes a find, they will likely turn over acreage or turn back some acreage to focus on smaller areas. The government will most likely attract other people to explore those areas Hyperdynamics no longer looks at."

The company has contracted with Applied Technology Drilling, a subsidiary of Houston-based drilling contractor GlobalSantaFe, to assess the drilling infrastructure.

Hyperdynamics had $656,000 in revenue in the fiscal year that ended June 30 and logged a $7.5 million net loss in the same period, the filing said.

The company acknowledged in its annual filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that it relies on third parties for production services and processing facilities.

"We can share some risk, which is usually the prudent thing to do," Kent Watts said.

Copyright (c) 2006, Houston Chronicle. Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Business News.

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Le pétrole n’est pas éternel…

 
 
  La ruée vers l’or noir se poursuit et les opérateurs se diversifient. Mais, d’ores et déjà, certains préparent l’avenir, en s’intéressant au gaz notamment.

En ouvrant la filière hydrocarbures au géant russe Gazprom en septembre, un an après y avoir invité les Chinois, le président Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo cherche indubitablement à sortir de sa dépendance à l’égard des compagnies américaines en faisant jouer à plein la concurrence, et à tirer le meilleur bénéfice des concessions pétrolières. Il est loin le temps où l’État ne percevait que 3 % des bénéfices réalisés sur le champ d’Alba et 5 % de ceux de Zafiro et de Ceiba. Après plus de quatorze ans d’exploitation, les autorités ont retrouvé le sens de la négociation. Le système actuel prévoit des royalties comprises entre 10 % et 16 % de la production, une participation des sociétés d’État dans les filiales américaines opérant en Guinée équatoriale et le reversement de 15 % des bénéfices au lieu de 3 % dans les années 1990. Néanmoins, les trois quarts des revenus vont encore dans les poches des compagnies étrangères. « C’est pourquoi nous leur avons imposé une renégociation globale des contrats qui nous lient à elles. La plupart de ces sociétés ont largement récupéré leur investissement, et il est temps pour nous d’augmenter la part qui nous revient… Nous visons 40 % à 50 %, voire plus », explique le chef de l’État, sensible au combat de son homologue vénézuélien Hugo Chávez contre les majors occidentales.

Cette politique est d’ailleurs devenue impérative, alors que les autorités auront à gérer leurs revenus avec parcimonie, la manne devant diminuer progressivement à partir de 2008, année prévue du pic de production. Les extractions de pétrole et de gaz avoisineront alors les 580 000 barils par jour (b/j) - contre 400 000 à l’heure actuelle - avant de diminuer avec la poursuite du déclin du principal gisement de brut, Zafiro.

Entré en production au large de l’île de Bioko en 1995, ce champ a fait la fortune de la compagnie américaine ExxonMobil, changé le visage du pays et le train de vie de ses dirigeants. Mais sa courbe de vie va désormais rapidement s’infléchir, le rythme d’extraction devant passer sous la barre des 100 000 b/j en 2013, contre 250 000 à l’heure actuelle. À court terme, les pertes seront en partie compensées par l’entrée en exploitation du gisement d’Okoumé, qui permettra de faire passer la production d’Amerada Hess, autre major américaine, de 50 000 à 100 000 b/j. Mais surtout par le développement du potentiel gazier, estimé à de 40 milliards de mètres cubes.

Le vice-ministre des Mines, de l’Énergie et de l’Industrie, Gabriel Mbegha Obiang Lima, s’emploie également à valoriser l’offshore profond et les permis de la partie continentale. Il sillonne le monde pour préparer l’entrée de nouveaux opérateurs. Avec un certain succès ! Le Brésilien Petrobras a annoncé le 11 janvier avoir obtenu le feu vert du gouvernement pour prendre 50 % des parts d’une concession dans le bassin du fleuve Muni (entre 500 et 2 200 mètres de profondeur). Plusieurs autres grands groupes sont en phase de recherche, notamment le malaisien Petronas, le nigériano-norvégien Dangote Energy Equity Resources (EER) et l’espagnol Repsol.

« Certains ont fait des découvertes intéressantes, mais leur exploitation dépendra de l’évolution des contrats de partage de production et des cours du pétrole compte tenu de l’ampleur des investissements », explique un conseiller du FMI. Plusieurs compagnies ont, par ailleurs, exprimé leur intérêt pour des concessions situées au sud de l’île de Bioko et autour de celle d’Annobon.

À terme, l’omerta financière sur la filière pourrait être en partie levée. Si les comptes de la Gepetrol et de la Sonagaz ne sont toujours pas présentés aux parlementaires, les autorités ont manifesté leur volonté d’adhérer à l’Initiative internationale pour la transparence dans les industries extractives (EITI). La Guinée équatoriale disposerait de plus de 1 000 milliards de F CFA de réserves financières constituées grâce aux revenus pétroliers. Les bailleurs de fonds encouragent le gouvernement à alimenter le compte d’épargne pour les générations futures et appellent les autorités à investir en priorité dans les domaines des infrastructures publiques, de l’éducation et de la santé. Selon le FMI, 80 % de la population est encore victime de la pauvreté alors que le PIB par habitant s’élève aujourd’hui à 11 000 dollars par an.
http://www.jeuneafrique.com/jeune_afrique/article_afrique_dossier.asp?dos_id=233
GUINÉE EQUAT. - 24 décembre 2006 - par PASCAL AIRAULT

 
 
 

Recent developments in Equatorial Guinea

 
 
  United States sponsored secret flights and clandestine detention centres in Europe and elsewhere have received plenty of comment recently. Politicians and journalists tell us the ”war on terror” demands extreme measures. At the same time, in countries which have nothing to do with that ”war”, detainees are held incommunicado, without effective judicial protection and routinely tortured in carefully ignored prisons. Reports about conditions in Iraq and Afghanistan are widespread, but almost little appears about what is going on in Equatorial Guinea, a country friendly to the West. One of Equatorial Guinea´s prisons, surrounded by a tropical sea, has the same name as a relaxing California beach : Black Beach. In spite of this, it is not a sunny spot in a lost paradise. It is an ugly compound in Bioko Island, near Malabo, Equatorial Guinea´s capital.

This tiny country of 28.000 square kilometres and 500.000 inhabitants is located on West Africa´s Gulf of Guinea between Cameroon and Gabon. Until independence in 1968, it had been a Spanish colony for almost 200 years. Since the landmark ”scramble for Africa” Berlin Conference in 1884, it has been known mainly for its cocoa production, endless penury, dictatorships and the natural beauty of its jungles and beaches.

Until recently nothing much seemed to change, except now for the beauty and the cocoa, both for the worse. The country´s beauty is being mercilessly spoiled by pollution from the offshore oil industry and intensive timber exploitation. The oil industry is controlled by head of State, Teodoro Obiang Nguema, who seized power from his uncle, through a coup in 1979. Timber production is controlled by the Minister of Forestry, Obiang´s eldest son. Cocoa production, formerly run by colonial entrepreneurs, has nose-dived since independence when international pressure ended Spanish rule.

Following independence, dictatorship and neo-colonialism (globalization in modern parlance) have grown and are now even stronger than before. The prison at Black Beach is an glaring example of their perverse synergy, compounded by the effects of extreme poverty on the general population. Dictatorship and neo-colonialism work hand in hand, greased by oil. Wealth from the oil industry over the last ten years has not trickled down to the population, its legitimate owner. Instead, it is channelled overseas to benefit Obiang and his entourage and the foreign corporations that back them. Equatorial Guinea is the paradigm of the ”curse of natural riches”.

Governments in Western capitals know this very well. International agencies and human rights organisations routinely criticise General Obiang´s rule. However, those Western governments increasingly support him, steadily developing economic, political and military ties with his regime. When it suits them, the United States and Spanish governments, two of Obiang´s major trading partners and close supporters, declare a willingness to cooperate with Equatorial Guinea´s government in what they call its ”democratization process”.

This and similar statements appear in the media to mark political summits and official visits. The Spanish Foreign Affairs Minister told the Spanish Parliament after a visit to Equatorial Guinea in 2005, ”the President asked Spain to accompany him in his endeavours to modernise the State and reform the administration”. In response, the Minister said the Spanish government was fully devoted to this task, although remaining ”extremely critical and mindful concerning the rule of law and encouragement of those citizens willing to contribute to Equatorial Guinea´s democracy and political life”.

Some of this ”democratization process, was reported in a press conference in June 2006 by Weja Chicampo, leader of the banned MAIB (Movement for the Self-determination of Bioko Island). Chicampo arrived in Madrid after being expelled from his own country by Obiang. During the two years, three months and two days he spent in Black Beach, without proper charges, trial or legal assistance, he says, ”they (the jailers) beat me until I lost my vision; then, after some more beating, I lost consciousness. My family and children were terrified. From that moment on a long agony starts and it will last for days, weeks...... In order to give you an idea I can say that I was handcuffed for four months in a row. There were many other instances of torture like this.” (Chicampo press conference of June 22nd, 2006.)

The number of political prisoners in Equatorial Guinea has averaged 200 in the last six years. A proportionate comparison would mean a figure of 20.000 in Spain. It must be noted that some detention centres escape any kind of control. Prisoners have no contact with the outside world. They remain at the mercy of their jailers and the jailers´ boss: General Obiang. Chicampo reports that ”there are transfers from Black Beach to other detention centres, in order to obstruct access of Red Cross teams to the prisoners while visiting facilities. I was transferred to a military prison (Acacio Mañé Military Unit) on April the 5th, 2004. Other prisoners that should not be seen were transferred to Punta Fernanda and other places”.

The Spanish government has plenty of information about this reality and about the torture. But this does not prevent it from cooperating with the dictatorship in Equatorial Guinea even as, together with other European Union governments, it demands the closure of the US government´s Guantánamo prison in Cuba.

The United States government too has the same information. Its Department of State has even made it partially public in its annual reports. The one released in March 2006 notes of Equatorial Guinea: ”The government´s human rights´ record remained poor, and the government continued to commit or condone serious abuses... security forces reportedly killed several persons through abuse and excessive force... The following human rights problems were reported: arbitrary arrest, detention, and incommunicado detention... There were reports of politically motivated kidnappings, there were continuing reports of government figures hiring persons in foreign countries to intimidate, threaten, and even assassinate citizens in exile.” What can ”abuse and excessive force” be except mealy-mouthed diplomatic jargon for torture?

Despite this, inter-governmental relations are excellent, according to the US ambassador in Malabo. In his 2005 Independence Day remarks at the US embassy, in front of Obiang and some members of Obiang´s regime, he said: ”We value our relations with Equatorial Guinea and are pleased that they are excellent and indeed, growing closer. I personally had the pleasure of accompanying his Excellency President Obiang Nguema Mbasogo on his June visit to Baltimore and Washington. In both cities, the President was well-received. Among both business and government leaders, he made an excellent impression and called effective attention to further opportunities to strengthen our relationship.”

Beyond the specious political discourse, attention should really focus on the United States´ role in Equatorial Guinea: the enormous growth of its oil industry and the consolidation of dictatorship in the face of mounting internal opposition and foreign criticism. United States oil companies operating in Equatorial Guinea have made it the third largest African oil producer South of the Sahara in just ten years of industrial activity. The US embassy, formerly closed because of political differences with the Obiang regime, as was hinted at in the State Department report quoted above, was reopened once the oil companies established themselves, even though the dictatorship did not change its policies.

A review of the hard facts corrects the ambassador´s rosy picture. ExxonMobil, Chevron-Texaco, Amerada Hess, Marathon Oil and other companies transfer vast profits to the United States from exploiting Equatorial Guineas´s oil. For exploitation rights these companies pay huge sums of money directly to Obiang and his family into United States bank accounts. It is crystal clear that these sums should benefit all the people of Equatorial Guinea, not just the ruling family. But that is not happening.

The European Union has reported: ”Equatorial Guinea´s GDP growth was the world´s highest between 1995 and 2001 and well above average growth in the region ...although it had one of the lowest only ten years ago. However, this increase in resources has not yet been matched in the social sphere by a similar improvement in the living conditions of the population, which still show worrying indicators.”

Equally illustrative of the level of corruption among the country´s elite are the findings of the United States Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations in their ”Money Laundering and Foreign Corruption” report, made public on July 15th, 2004. Among other issues, the report deals with Obiang´s - and his family´s - accounts in Riggs Bank: ”The Subcommittee investigation found that Riggs opened multiple personal accounts for the President of Equatorial Guinea, his wife, and other relatives.” The total amount of bank deposits held by Obiang in the United States and other countries is unknown, but it is believed that to exceed seven hundred million US dollars, in addition to the value of luxurious villas and other real estate investments.

In the meantime, Equatorial Guinea´s Human Development Index is near the bottom of the medium human development group: position 121 out of 177 countries in the UNDP 2005 Human Development Report. The country has experienced some minimal improvement: in 1999, it was in position 131 out of 174 with GDP per capita (PPP$) 1.817 in 1999, while in 2005 it was 19.780. The fact that not a single country in this medium human development group has a similar current GDP per capita indicates the grotesque injustice of wealth distribution in Equatorial Guinea.

Self-evidently, the triangle in Equatorial Guinea formed by Obiang´s dictatorship, the country´s oil wealth and Western economic interests results in prisons like Black Beach and another one in Bata (second most important city in the country). In other words: the Obiang clan´s machinations thoroughly greased by United States oil companies, have turned them into plutocrats amidst an impoverished, oppressed population, who barely enjoy even the most meagre crumbs while the dictator´s family and the oil companies feast.

General Obiang is a dictator. Backed by Western governments, he denies fundamental human rights to his compatriots. The United States government and its allies hypocritically tolerate Obiang´s dictatorship so long as their international companies enjoy rights to exploit Equatorial Guinea´s oil wealth. While an exclusive minority obtain huge benefits, the majority only enjoy a notional ”democratization process”, which in practice means occasional fraudulent elections, Presidential birthday ”pardons” for prisoners, and empty political speeches on Independence Day, all under the complacent gaze of Western ambassadors.


Fuente: www.counterpunch.org//Genet
Fecha: 20/12/2006 7:06:00
Autor: agustin.velloso
publicado por: agustin.velloso
Palabras: 1680
Book Review: Fascinating story of coup attempt is lost in the details
Web Posted: 12/01/2006 09:07 PM CST

Bob Davis
Special to the Express-News

The Wonga Coup
By Adams Roberts

Public Affairs, $26

In "The Wonga Coup," Adam Roberts presents a confused, convoluted story of a coup attempt in Equatorial Guinea, a small country in west Africa consisting of both island and main continent elements.

Of course, since the coup itself proved muddled and messed up, perhaps it's natural Roberts' book would suffer from similar maladies. But one would expect an experienced journalist of Roberts' caliber to be able to sort it out a little more effectively than he has done here.

"The Wonga Coup" basically tells the story of the plotting and eventual failure of mercenaries led by British aristocrat and ex-SAS man, Simon Mann, to oust Equatorial Guinea President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo (better known simply as Obiang). Unfortunately, the story's many offshoots and sidebars detract from the otherwise interesting and fascinating subject of greedy men attempting to depose the leader of a nation in which they themselves are not citizens. Revealing the plotters is driven in part by a sense of adventure, but more so by the hopes of great personal fortunes in this oil-rich, virtually unknown west African country. Roberts clouds the story by the inclusion of too much detail, much of it seemingly included solely for the purpose of sensationalism.

His inclusion of an earlier 1973 attempt seems to exist solely so he can accuse Frederick Forsyth, author of the best-selling "The Dogs of War," of plotting the failed coup and then using the actual information related to it as the basis for the book, published in 1974. Forsyth steadfastly denied having actually plotted a coup and stated someone obviously misunderstood when he dealt with actual mercenaries, arms dealers and the like in his research for the book.

Denials are also forthcoming from well-known author Jeffrey Archer, whom Roberts claims provided funds for the Wonga coup in 2004. Archer has repeatedly denied his involvement, and Roberts offers no concrete proof that the J.A. Archer who provided funds is indeed Jeffrey Archer.

Then there's the inclusion of material related to the Riggs Bank. The bank, an old, well-known establishment in America ended up ruined because they banked Obiang's oil revenues into personal accounts of Obiang and his family. In short, they violated American banking rules, but it's unclear whether the attention of Congress and the subsequent ruination of the bank stemmed from the coup attempt raising the awareness of American oil company actions in Obiang's country or from other causes. In any event, the Riggs Bank situation had nothing to do with the Wonga Coup since it occurred well after the coup attempt.

Unfortunately, instead of presenting a straightforward description of the events as they unfolded, with colorful background added as necessary, Roberts tries to reveal the actions and motivations of every person involved, no matter how remotely connected to the actual coup. In doing so, Roberts bounces back and forth through time and locations, creating a confusing picture rather than a clear portrait of the attempted coup. His efforts are further hampered by the insertion of suppositions and possible happenings interspersed with hard facts. It almost seems as if Roberts has some personal ax to grind with authors Forsyth and Archer, Mark Thatcher and the Riggs Bank.

The basic story of the Wonga Coup is fascinating and intriguing. One has to wonder how people with the experience of Simon Mann and his co-plotters could have been so lackadaisical about security, so careless about getting the needed arms, and so lax about assuming governmental approval from the various governments. Or perhaps they were careful about security, did take special efforts to obtain the needed arms and did try to verify the supposed approval of South Africa, Spain, Zimbabwe and the United States. You can't really tell because Roberts hasn't presented the balanced, well-organized coverage one would expect from a journalist of his background
http://www.mysanantonio.com/entertainment/stories/MYSA120306.0P.book.wonga.10b6e89.html
hebergement de site web
 
 
 

Equatorial Guinea President Clears Higher Oil Royalties

 
 
  HOUSTON, Nov 28, 2006 (Dow Jones Newswires)
Equatorial Guinea's powerful President Teodoro Obiang has ratified a new law that increases the government's take in one of Sub-Saharan Africa's fastest growing oil and gas producing areas.

The legislation raises minimum royalties to 13% from 10%, mandates training for local workers and includes regulations for the petrochemical sector and the country's nascent natural gas industry, according to a document posted on the Oil Ministry's Web site Nov. 24. Ministry officials couldn't be reached for comment Monday.


The changes are modest in comparison to more aggressive legal overhauls undertaken by Bolivia and Venezuela, but just like those countries, the small West African republic seeks a bigger share of the oil rent. The legislation is expected to incrementally diminish profits for Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM) and other U.S. companies that dominate oilfield development in Equatorial Guinea, all of whom either declined comment or said they weren't familiar enough with the changes to substantively address them.
"They are just harmonizing and modernizing their laws to reflect the fact that their hydrocarbon sector has grown considerably since they first put their laws in place," said Monica Enfield, a Washington-based Africa expert for PFC Energy.

Some new regulations, however, worry observers. The new law opens the door for the possibility of a windfall tax, and also allows for the renegotiation of existing contracts to grant the government a bigger stake in oil and gas projects. It is unclear whether the Equatoguinean government will resort to these measures, though.

Devon Energy Corp. (DVN) spokesman Chip Minty said the company is "in the process of reviewing the new law to determine how it will affect our business."

Marathon Oil Corp.'s (MRO) spokesman Paul Weeditz said his company plans to participate in upcoming meetings with government representatives to review the changes.

"It would be premature for us to comment at this point until we have a chance to thoroughly review this law and to participate in the workshop that's going to take place," Weeditz said.

Hess Corp. (HES) declined comment. A spokeswoman for ExxonMobil, the country's biggest producer, couldn't provide a comment in time for publication.

Following the ratification of the new law, the ministry extended the closing date of its 2006 Licensing Round to March 31, 2007, from Jan. 31 "in order to allow pre-qualified companies to fully evaluate the available acreage," according to a ministry press release.

New Horizons

Equatorial Guinea, an impoverished former colony of Spain, has been historically very favorable to the foreign producers that catapulted the country into Africa's energy jet-set by exploiting its offshore resources. In 2005, the country produced 356,000 barrels of oil a day, up from 5,000 barrels a day 10 years earlier.

With the foundations of a thriving industry in place, "new horizons have emerged," said Obiang in a Nov. 3 document sanctioning the law, which had been approved by the Parliament in late September. Citing the pending nature of presidential action, ministry officials previously declined to comment extensively on the changes.

Besides raising minimum royalties to 13% from 10%, the law says that the state has the right to a 20% share in contracts with foreign operators. In addition, producers will be required to pay "any windfall tax that may be imposed by the state," according to the law's text.

New natural gas regulations prohibit natural gas flaring, although the ministry may authorize some flaring upon request by operators.

Producers are also required to train Equatoguinean nationals to work on "all levels of their organizations," and to help pay for the training of ministry personnel through annual disbursements, the law said.

The new laws bring Equatorial Guinea in line with policies already implemented by other increasingly demanding resource holders in the developing world. The legislation "is pretty consistent with what's going on in the rest of the region," said PFC Energy's Enfield.

Copyright (c) 2006 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
http://www.rigzone.com/news/article.asp?a_id=38542
 
 
 

Marathon, Equatorial Guinea Meet Dec 19 on New Law

 
 
  NEW YORK, Nov 30, 2006 (Dow Jones Newswires)
Marathon Oil Corp. (MRO) said Wednesday it expects to get a better idea of what Equatorial Guinea's new hydrocarbon law will mean for the company's liquefied natural gas (LNG) Train 1 project after a Dec. 19 meeting with the country's government.

The $1.4 billion project, in which Marathon has a 60% interest, is on-budget and ahead of schedule, with first shipments expected in the second quarter of 2007.


The just-passed hydrocarbon law has raised minimum royalties to 13% from 10%, mandates training for local workers and includes regulations for the petrochemical sector and the country's nascent natural gas industry.
The Dec. 19 meeting is expected to afford an opportunity for specific questions about the law.

Steve Hinchman, senior vice president of worldwide production, indicated that it was his understanding that LNG trains would be grandfathered in the wake of the law's passage.

The Equatorial Guinea LNG company has defined terms which will be applied to future trains, pending negotiation, Hinchman said.

The project, which began construction in 2004, comprises a 3.7 million metric tonnes per annum (mmtpa) liquefaction plant that is aligned with, and integrated into, Marathon's other Equatorial Guinea gas processing operations on Bioko Island.

Under a previously announced agreement with BG Gas, Marathon will sell 3.4 million tonnes a year of LNG to BG for 17 years.

Marathon said that based upon a $6/MMBtu Henry Hub price, it expects to realize after-tax cash flow of about $200 million per year and after-tax income of about $180 million per year from the project.

Company executives also said that all the Equatorial Guinea LNG project partners are in discussions with potential gas suppliers in Nigeria, Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea which could provide the basis for additional LNG trains on Bioko Island.

Marathon's partners include an Equatorial Guinea government-owned entity which has 25% and Japan's Mitsui & Co. and Marubeni Corp. which have 8.5% and 6.5% respectively.

The partners are also conducting a study on a potential second LNG train. Feed work on a potential 4.4 mmtpa plant and associated facilities is expected to be completed by the end of the first quarter 2007.

Copyright (c) 2006 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
http://www.rigzone.com/news/article.asp?a_id=38639
 
 
 
 

Budget en forte hausse - 27/11/2006

 
 
  Le Parlement équato-guinéen a adopté un projet de loi de finances 2007 à l'équilibre d'un montant de 2.313 milliards de francs CFA (3,52 milliards d'euros), en hausse de 131% par rapport au budget de l'année précédente.
L'essentiel des recettes de ce budget provient des revenus pétroliers avec un total de 2.181 milliards de francs CFA (3,32 milliards d'euros), en très forte hausse par rapport à l'année précédente en raison "de la forte progression des prix du brut pendant l'année", relève la loi budgétaire.

La partie Dépenses se répartit en 1.183 milliards de francs CFA (1,8 milliard d'euros) pour les dépenses de fonctionnement et d'investissement de l'Etat et 1.129 milliards de francs CFA (1,7 milliard d'euros) pour le remboursement de la dette et de ses intérêts, ainsi que pour le financement des fonds spéciaux, notamment celui destiné aux générations futures.

La Guinée équatoriale occupe le troisième rang des producteurs de pétrole d'Afrique subsaharienne, derrière le Nigeria et l'Angola.

La très grande majorité de sa population de moins d'un million d'habitants continue toutefois de vivre dans la plus extrême pauvreté.

Classé au 30e rang mondial pour son revenu par habitant, le pays ne pointe qu'en 120e position au classement de l'indice de développement humain (IDH) publié par le Programme des Nations unies pour le développement (Pnud).
http://www.afriquecentrale.info/fr/news/news.asp?rubID=1&srubID=7&themeID=1&newsID=5289
 
 
 

William Jefferson: Tollbooth Operator on the Road to Africa

 
 
 
Update: the item we reported yesterday on the home jointly owned by Letitia White, a lobbyist and former staffer to Representative Jerry Lewis, and an owner of defense contractor Trident Systems, has become part of a much larger unfolding story. Check out TPMuckraker [1][2][3], which also reported the story yesterday, and the New York Times, and look in your newspaper tomorrow. A number of reporters will likely be weighing in.

As has been widely noted, Rep. William Jefferson, the Louisiana Democrat who reportedly keeps his cash in the icebox, is under investigation by the FBI for allegedly taking a bribe from the owner of iGate Inc. to arrange deals for the high-tech company in Nigeria and several other African countries. According to court records, the FBI is also looking into “at least seven other schemes in which Jefferson sought things of value in return for his official acts.”

The invaluable African Energy Intelligence, a Paris-based newsletter, reported this week that several of the seven cases “involve oil groups seeking to establish themselves” in Nigeria and other African countries, including Equatorial Guinea, Congo-Brazzaville, and São Tomé. Jefferson frequently met the leaders of all those countries, the newsletter said. I hadn't previously heard anything on a Congo-Brazzaville–Jefferson connection, but I have been told by a source familiar with the investigation that the congressman's links to Equatorial Guinea are under scrutiny. There's strong evidence pointing to a São Tomé connection as well.

With the support of lawmakers like Jefferson, Africa has emerged as a major American oil supplier in the last decade. Jefferson and his staff strongly supported the African Oil Policy Initiative Group (AOPIG), an ad hoc panel of U.S. government and energy industry officials that described African energy as a “vital interest” of the United States. In an article in 2003, Alexander's Gas & Oil wrote that Jefferson was calling for a “full-fledged makeover of the U.S. strategic relationship with Africa” to take advantage of its “petroleum potential.”

In November of 2000, Jefferson led the first-ever Congressional delegation to Equatorial Guinea, taking along representatives from Baton Rouge–based Shaw Global Energy Services and from CMS Energy, which had extensive interests in the country that were later sold to Marathon. When it got involved in Equatorial Guinea in the mid-1990s, CMS allowed a company controlled by the country's president, Teodoro Obiang, to obtain a stake in two joint ventures. Even by the standards of Equatorial Guinea, a textbook kleptocracy, this was a friendship with remarkable benefits. Obiang put no money down for his stake—which was worth about $29 million as of 2004—and received $1 million in dividend payments between 2003 and 2004 alone, according to a Senate investigation.

The government of Equatorial Guinea was so pleased with Jefferson's visit that it presented him with a key to the capital city of Malabo. Jefferson also stopped in São Tomé and Nigeria on the trip; Shaw Global picked up the congressman's travel tab, which came to $6,872. After he returned home, Jefferson began lobbying for the U.S. to reopen its embassy in Equatorial Guinea—it had been closed in the mid-1990s, in part because the government threatened the American ambassador—a step the Bush Administration reauthorized in late 2001.

Another Louisiana firm with ties to Jefferson is Schaffer Global Group. Back in 2002, according to interviews and documents I have received, Schaffer Global was unsuccessfully chasing potential business deals in Equatorial Guinea in conjunction with several other firms, including a lobbying and business-development company called AfricaGlobal that worked for the Obiang regime (and which is now owned by Schaffer). In addition to trying to drum up American investment in Equatorial Guinea, AfricaGlobal also sought to improve ties between Obiang and the United States. At least three people from Schaffer or AfricaGlobal made modest campaign contributions to Jefferson; one of them, Warren Weinstein, served on the AOPIG with Melvin Spence, an aide to the congressman.

Gustavo Envela, an Equatoguinean national who lives in the United States and who briefly served as a consultant to AfricaGlobal, said that Jefferson was a key congressional ally of AfricaGlobal and was enlisted to help in Equatorial Guinea “because of his close relationship” with the Obiang regime. (I'm not suggesting that any of these firms bribed Jefferson, only that the congressman was close to the hideously corrupt government of Equatorial Guinea.)

A second source familiar with Equatorial Guinea told me that when Obiang came to Washington for visits, Jefferson would meet with the dictator at his hotel (which on at least one occasion was the Hay-Adams). This person also said that one of Jefferson's Hill aides was always assigned to accompany government officials from Equatorial Guinea when official delegations were in town.

Jefferson also has interesting ties to São Tomé and to some Americans doing business there, specifically people linked to ERHC. That's the small Texas-based firm that had zero revenue, one full-time employee, and a controversial Nigerian owner (whom I'll discuss below), but which obtained lucrative oil rights in tiny São Tomé. On May 22, I reported that investigators recently hit ERHC with a search warrant for “documents related to correspondence with foreign governmental officials or entities in São Tomé and Nigeria.” According to my source and to the report in African Energy Intelligence, the warrant is linked at least in part to the Jefferson investigation.

Here's what ties Jefferson to people from ERHC and suggests that the warrant slapped on the firm might be part of the Jefferson story:

In February 2004, Jefferson again traveled to Nigeria, São Tomé, Equatorial Guinea, and Cameroon. That trip was paid for by iGate, the firm at the heart of the current investigation, and several other companies, including one that is now called Global Environmental Energy Corp (GEEC). According to records filed with the Louisiana Secretary of State, GEEC's principal office is in the Bahamas; its president is Noreen Wilson, and its registered agent is Phil C. Nugent. The latter is the son of Phil H. Nugent, a Houston-based oil and gas consultant who, when I met him three years ago, was a major shareholder in ERHC and major promoter of the firm. Noreen Wilson is a Beltway lobbyist and ERHC shareholder who helped negotiate the company's deal in São Tomé. (Phil Nugent Sr is also linked to GEEC through Green Energy Management, a firm that partnered with GEEC and of which he was chairman.)

So GEEC, which helped pay for one of Jefferson's trips to Africa (a trip that included a pit stop in São Tomé), has ties to ERHC, the company with the big oil stake in São Tomé. As for ERHC's owner: that would be Emeka Offor, a controversial billionaire with close ties to Nigerian political figures, including vice president Abubakar Atiku. The Nigerian vice president owns a home in Maryland that was searched as part of the Jefferson investigation, and court records show that the congressman is alleged to have planned to bribe him in order to advance iGate's interests in Nigeria. A story published last December by a Nigerian journalist reported that Offor was “being investigated by a branch of the American government,” and suggested it might be tied to money “said to have been paid to some U.S. congressional contacts.” (Offor disputed the claim.)

There is one final iGate connection, which might well be nothing more than a coincidence. Court papers show that Jefferson told a cooperating witness in the probe about a firm called Global Energy & Environmental Services (GEES), which was controlled by his children and run by his son-in-law. The congressman allegedly arranged for GEES to benefit financially from his efforts on behalf of iGate.

Africa's tragedy is that its great resources have been used to enrich a tiny number of colonizers, post-colonial strongmen, and their foreign friends. That may well turn out to be the real story of the Jefferson affair.
http://www.harpers.org/sb-william-jef-1149716306.html
 

 
 
 

Oil Boom Enriches African Ruler

 
 
  As vast offshore oil fields generate hundreds of millions of dollars for tiny Equatorial Guinea, there are few signs of the petroleum boom in the impoverished West African nation. Most of the population lives on about a dollar a day, and a U.S. State Department report found "little evidence that the country's oil wealth is being devoted to the public good." So where has the money gone?

That has been declared a "state secret" by Equatorial Guinea's ruler, Brig. Gen. Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo. But the Guinean ambassador to the U.S. and other sources close to Obiang say the country's oil funds are held in an account at Riggs Bank in Washington.

According to several of those sources and others familiar with the account, more than $300 million of the country's energy earnings has been deposited in the account by international oil companies active in Equatorial Guinea, including ExxonMobil Corp. and Amerada Hess Corp. The money is under the direct control of Obiang, the sources say.

The arrangement has raised concerns at the International Monetary Fund, where officials have refused to provide assistance to Equatorial Guinea until Obiang accounts for his country's oil money and have urged him to transfer it to its home treasury. It has also complicated efforts by the Bush administration to improve ties with the country, which soon will become sub-Saharan Africa's third-largest oil producer after Nigeria and Angola. Critics say the administration should not embrace Obiang's regime until it improves its human rights record and implements anticorruption reforms.

Oil company payments into offshore government accounts are not illegal, and several other African energy-producing countries have similar arrangements. But they are sharply criticized by international financial institutions and anticorruption groups, because they increase the possibility for diversion of oil revenue into private bank accounts of well-placed officials.

Alejandro Evuna Owono, a top aide to Obiang, denied that the government was secretive about oil revenue. "The IMF and the World Bank know national production figures, but we can use the money as we see fit," he said. "We are an independent country and they cannot interfere with the management of those resources."

Owono would not say whether the government held its oil monies at Riggs. But Guinean Ambassador Teodoro Biyogo Nsue, who is Obiang's brother-in-law, mentioned that oil revenue was held at Riggs during a presentation on Equatorial Guinea late last year at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, according to three people who attended.

Multiple sources, including another Guinean government official, have since told the Los Angeles Times about the Riggs account. Several sources familiar with the account said it was controlled exclusively by Obiang and its balance has ranged from $300 million to $500 million during the last two years. An ExxonMobil spokeswoman declined to comment on payments it makes to Equatorial Guinea, citing a confidentiality agreement with the country. Amerada Hess and Riggs did not return phone calls.

The bank has provided mortgages on one of Obiang's two luxury homes in Maryland and on an official residence for Nsue in Virginia. A Riggs banker assisted Obiang's brother -- accused in State Department reports of ordering the torture of political prisoners -- in the purchase of a home in Virginia. The banker vouched for Obiang's brother as a "valued customer" in correspondence with the seller's agent.

Concerns about Equatorial Guinea are rooted in a history of petroleum-fueled corruption in its neighboring nations. Angola ranks 161st out of 173 countries on the United Nations' Human Development Index, which ranks nations according to their citizens' quality of life, and its president, Jose Eduardo dos Santos, is believed to have accumulated a vast personal fortune. The London-based group Global Witness, which investigates the oil business in Africa, estimates that at least $1.4 billion of Angola's energy revenue disappeared last year.

The situation in Nigeria is equally grim. In April, the family of former strongman Gen. Sani Abacha agreed to return $1 billion that he stole between 1993 and 1998. That was only about one-quarter of the money that the current Nigerian government accuses Abacha of embezzling during his reign. African countries provide the United States with about 15% of its oil, nearly as much as Saudi Arabia. That figure could grow to 25% by 2015, according to a study by a U.S. intelligence panel. Urged on by the oil industry, the administration hopes to use African oil to reduce the United States' dependence on Middle Eastern oil.

"Without pressing forcefully for improvements in governance and human rights, the U.S. could end up coddling a number of oil-rich dictatorships," says Arvind Ganesan, director of the business and human rights program at Human Rights Watch. Oil company officials have said they are obliged to accept the terms set by the governments in the countries where they operate in order to obtain exploration permits.

Obiang has ruled Equatorial Guinea since 1979, when he took power in a coup against his uncle. On Dec. 15, Obiang won 97.1% of the votes in a presidential election that was widely viewed as fraudulent. Until the mid-1990s, Equatorial Guinea's economy seemed to be on the verge of collapse. Since then, foreign companies -- led by American firms such as ExxonMobil, Marathon Oil Corp., Amerada Hess and ChevronTexaco Corp. -- have discovered huge reserves in the country and invested about $5 billion in its oil sector.

Equatorial Guinea's oil production has jumped from just 17,000 barrels per day in 1996 to a current rate of more than 220,000 barrels per day. As a result, the Bush administration has initiated a political thaw with the Obiang regime. In late 2001, President Bush authorized the reopening of the U.S. Embassy in Equatorial Guinea, which had been closed six years earlier, in large part due to the country's horrific human rights record.

There's been little if any improvement since then on that issue. A recent State Department report said the country's security forces "committed numerous, serious human rights abuses," including torture and beatings, and that citizens "do not have the ability to change their government peacefully." The World Bank has censured the regime for failing to account for oil revenue, which it says has had "no impact on Equatorial Guinea's dismal social indicators."

In 2001, Obiang asked for help from the International Monetary Fund in putting together an economic restructuring plan. Talks broke down, however, because his regime refused to provide detailed data about oil revenue. An IMF report released in October 2001 said that Equatorial Guinea's management of oil contracts lacked transparency and that there was "no fiscal control over the payments due from, and paid by the oil companies."

The IMF urged the government to fully disclose its foreign bank holdings and to transfer the deposits back home. In "My Life for My People," his autobiography, Obiang complained that the IMF had tried to force him to cede control over the country's budget. "If the people of Equatorial Guinea have deposited their faith in me, functionaries of the IMF can't take it away," he wrote.

A State Department official declined to comment except to say that the administration was aware of IMF and World Bank concerns. Gavin Hayman, who tracks Equatorial Guinea for Global Witness, says Obiang "has taken advantage of a rash of secret deals with U.S. oil companies to privatize his country's oil wealth."

Oil and banking experts say Obiang's account with Riggs is uncommon, particularly if he exercises sole control over it. Standard practice for a national account would require dual control, typically exercised by the minister of finance and the head of the central bank. "It is an unusual set of circumstances," said Larry Barcella, a Washington lawyer and money laundering expert. "The bank would have needed to ask additional questions to make sure that it was an appropriate account and that there was no need to file a Suspicious Activity Report."

U.S. banking rules call for financial institutions to closely monitor accounts set up by foreign political leaders, which the Federal Reserve classifies as a "high-risk" activity that calls for "enhanced scrutiny." If the source of income or spending from the account raises concerns about corrupt practices, banks are required to file a Suspicious Activity Report with the Treasury Department. The Treasury Department will not disclose whether it has received such reports on the Guinean account and Riggs is prevented by the Bank Secrecy Act from saying whether it has filed one.

Founded in 1936, Riggs has long specialized in offering discreet services to foreign governments and wealthy individuals. The Web site for the bank -- which maintains offices in the Bahamas and the island of Jersey, two jurisdictions with strong bank secrecy protections -- promises its wealthy clients "the utmost discretion." The site boasts that Riggs has "repeatedly demonstrated the ability to work as a financial confidant to heads of state, diplomats, business leaders and prominent individuals and families."

Riggs' reputation for discretion has attracted controversial clients in the past. They have included CIA agent turned Russian spy Aldrich H. Ames, who moved some of his payments from Moscow through a Riggs account in the early 1990s. Equatorial Guinea's account is managed by Simon Kareri, a senior vice president and senior international banking manager at Riggs' Dupont Circle branch in Washington. Kareri handles embassy banking for Africa and the Caribbean region and also offers private banking services for wealthy individuals with a minimum of $1 million to invest.

Kareri did not return phone calls. One of Kareri's past private banking clients was Foutanga Dit Babani Sissoko, a Mali businessman who was subsequently accused of embezzling nearly $250 million from the Dubai Islamic Bank and funneling it through U.S. and European financial institutions. Dubai Islamic filed suit to recover the money and in 1999 recovered a small part of the missing funds through a default judgment.

Kareri opened a Riggs account for Sissoko in 1997, when Sissoko was under house arrest in Miami after having pleaded guilty to attempting to bribe a U.S. customs agent. Sissoko wanted to conceal his control over the account, ran millions of dollars through it and regularly had a representative stuff large withdrawals into a suitcase or his pockets. Kareri told Dubai Islamic lawyers in a deposition that he was suspicious of Sissoko but did not report his concerns to his superiors or the Treasury Department.

Property records show that Kareri and Riggs helped with Obiang's local real estate purchases. In late 1999, the Guinean president paid $2.6 million in cash for a mansion in the Maryland suburbs that has 10 bathrooms, seven fireplaces and an indoor pool, according to the real estate listing. Early the following year Obiang bought a second Maryland property for $1.15 million. He took out a $747,500 mortgage from Riggs on the property, and paid it off nine months later, real estate records show.

Kareri also is listed as the contact on a $349,000 Virginia townhouse purchased in 2000 by Obiang's brother, Armengol Ondo Nguema, who heads the country's security apparatus. Nguema is one of the most feared men in Equatorial Guinea. A 1999 State Department report said that he directed security forces to urinate on prisoners, kick them in the ribs, slice their ears with knives and smear oil over their naked bodies to attract stinging ants. Five of the prisoners allegedly died. According to the State Department, one person who survived said the prisoners were beaten to death on Nguema's orders.

Kareri's signature appears on a letter vouching for Nguema's ability to pay cash for the Virginia townhouse. "We are please [SIC] to confirm and certify that Mr. Armengol Ondo Nguema is a valued customer of Riggs Bank NA," says the letter to the seller's agent. "We verify that Mr. Nguema has the financial capacity and available funds with this bank to purchase the property."

A Guinean official said Obiang, who controls a private business group with large holdings in his country, used personal funds to pay for the Maryland properties. He said Guineans don't care whether Obiang leads a lavish lifestyle as long as they have food. "People don't mind if they're saying that the president's family is buying jets or something," he said. "It's a different culture."
By Ken Silverstein
Angeles Times
January 20, 2003
http://www.globalpolicy.org/security/natres/oil/2003/0122gui.htm
 
 
 
 

Obiang's Banking Again: State Department and Washington insiders
help a dictator get what he wants

 
 
 

Back in 2004, Senate investigators released a report showing that Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, the kleptocrat who rules oil-rich Equatorial Guinea, had stashed vast sums of money at Riggs Bank in Washington, D.C. The report revealed that Riggs managed dozens of accounts holding upwards of $15 million that was available to Obiang, members of his family, and various government officials. One person with an account was Armengol Ondo Nguema, Obiang's brother and the country's feared security chieftain, whom State Department reports have accused of employing torture against political foes; another was the first lady of Equatorial Guinea, to whom Riggs granted a $10,000 daily credit card limit for her shopping needs. The Senate report also discovered accounts containing half a billion dollars of oil revenues paid to the Obiang regime by American firms, over which the dictator had de facto control.

Riggs, said the Senate report, had “turned a blind eye to evidence suggesting the bank was handling the proceeds of foreign corruption.” The bank was later hit with a $25-million fine over its handling of the Equatorial Guinea accounts, and Obiang was politely asked to take his money elsewhere.

All of this made Equatorial Guinea a pariah in American banking circles and I was told by multiple sources that a number of major financial institutions—including Citibank and Wachovia—subsequently refused to handle money from the country. As a result, the Obiang regime had to transfer much of its American-stashed loot abroad, apparently to European and South African banks.

But it seems that there's no substitute for the convenience, prestige, and legitimacy offered by an American bank. So Obiang turned to the Bush Administration and well-connected Washington insiders for help. The United States has been cozying up to Obiang for years—the dictator met in Washington with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in April—because his country is a major oil provider, where ExxonMobil, Marathon, and Amerada Hess have billions of dollars invested.

I recently learned from a well-placed source that, earlier this year, Equatorial Guinea deposited monies at trouble-plagued Independence Federal Savings Bank. Independence opened the account only after it was approached by representatives of the State Department and told that Equatorial Guinea was a friend of the United States and that the bank's help would be appreciated.

The State Department declined public comment for this story, but two government officials I spoke with confirmed that the Bush Administration had approached Independence on behalf of Equatorial Guinea. They said there was nothing unusual about the request and that the administration has also helped out other controversial African regimes that have had a hard time finding banking help after the Riggs scandal.

Equatorial Guinea's embassy here and an Independence official confirmed that Obiang's regime had opened the account, though both said it was strictly for embassy business. “We maintain a small account for the Embassy of Equatorial Guinea's operational expenses,” said the bank official, who asked not to be identified. “As far as we know, it's used for payroll and utility bills and other expenses of that nature. While we obviously won't comment on the size of the account, it's commensurate with the size of an embassy for a country like Equatorial Guinea. These types of accounts are standard, and all embassies must have an account like this to run day-to-day operations.”

My original source said he had no knowledge of how much money was currently in the account, but when he heard about the deal earlier this year, he learned that Equatorial Guinea was planning to make an initial deposit in the range of $6 to $8 million, and that its banking desires went beyond a simple embassy account. One of the government officials I spoke with acknowledged that, despite the Riggs scandal, Independence was free to expand its banking business with Obiang's regime. Independence, he added, was hoping to handle a “total investment portfolio.”

Equatorial Guinea's relationship with Riggs Bank, it is worth noting, began with the opening of an embassy account in 1996. The Senate report found that Riggs opened eight embassy accounts for Equatorial Guinea, and while most of these were apparently used to pay embassy bills, the Senate subcommittee “could not determine the purpose of several others.” The report also found that JPMorgan Chase had opened four accounts in the name of the “Permanent Mission of Equatorial Guinea.” It said one of the accounts had limited activity but “substantial funds, opening with $5 million and experiencing ten major withdrawals—one nearly $2 million—in less than a year.” In another case, the government of Equatorial Guinea made a “one-time deposit of $5 million that passed through the account in 24 hours.”

State Department approval notwithstanding, it would be no surprise if Equatorial Guinea's political leaders abused their new banking arrangements, because Obiang and his cronies run their government as a criminal enterprise and make no distinction between the state treasury and their personal checking accounts. Obiang frequently visits the Washington area, where he owns two lavish properties that, I have been told, are looked after by embassy officials. During the Riggs scandal, Teodoro Biyogo, Obiang's brother-in-law and Equatorial Guinea's ambassador to the United States, was known for his lavish lifestyle. He drove around town in a Maybach, a sports car whose standard model starts at about $250,000. (I once saw Biyogo's Maybach; it was not the standard model.)

Sources said that Cassidy & Associates, one of several big lobby shops retained by Obiang, provided help sorting out these banking issues. The lead lobbyist for Cassidy, which is being paid more than $1 million annually by Obiang, is Amos Hochstein, a former aide to retired Congressman Sam Gejdenson, a Connecticut Democrat.

Richard Burt, a former assistant secretary of state in the first Bush Administration, has also aided Obiang in financial matters. He registered as a lobbyist for Equatorial Guinea under the auspices of Farragut Advisors, a New York–based public-relations firm. (In his spare time, Burt is the executive chairman of Diligence, LLC, which is described on its website as “an intelligence gathering and risk management firm that helps its clients confront difficult business challenges.”)

Burt, sources told me, has been seeking—unsuccessfully so far—to help Equatorial Guinea set up an investment fund for its oil revenues. Government officials with whom I spoke said he had met with the State Department and other agencies on behalf of Equatorial Guinea, discussing not only the oil-revenue fund but also energy issues and Obiang's visit to Washington last April.

Burt declined to comment, but I understand he has pitched the investment fund as something that will help the people of Equatorial Guinea. Not likely. A recent report by the London-based NGO Global Witness said that, thanks to oil exports, Equatorial Guinea has the second-highest per capita income in the world ($50,200)—yet it ranks near the bottom of the UN's Human Development Index, with more than half of its people lacking access to potable water. Meanwhile, the report said, American oil companies still refuse to reveal how much money they pay to Obiang's regime, and the I.M.F. has reported that his government holds more than $700 million worth of oil revenues in two offshore accounts.

An investment fund would allow Obiang to watch his money grow—and Burt would surely receive handsome fees for his services—but I wouldn't bet on the citizens of Equatorial Guinea getting drinking water any time soon.
http://www.harpers.org/sb-obiangs-banking-again-1155053056.html

 

 
 
 

The Millionaire “Minister of Chopping Down Trees”

 
 
 

Meet the spoiled crown prince of Equatorial Guinea

Not even Gabriel Garcia Marquez could have dreamed up Teodorin Nguema Obiang, the  skirt-chasing, champagne-swilling, nightclub-hopping, would-be president of oil-rich Equatorial Guinea. Teodorin would be a mere embarrassment if not for the fact that he's the son of the current dictator, Teodoro Obiang, and a strong candidate to succeed his ailing father.

The Bush Administration has embraced Equatorial Guinea, and State Department officials have even been known to claim (though never for attribution) that Obiang Sr. could be a “model” for African reform. That's like saying Enron could be a model for corporate reform. Obiang was “elected” with 97 percent of the vote in 2002 and is widely deemed to be one of the world's most kleptocratic rulers. Indeed, court papers I've acquired from South Africa show that Teodorin effectively acknowledges that ministers can legally plunder the treasury under his father's rule.

But first a brief profile of the man who would be king: Teodorin holds a cabinet post—he's the Minister of Forestry, or the “Minister of Chopping Down Trees,” as a recent New York Daily News article called him—but very rarely attends government meetings. That's because he spends most of his time abroad: in Beverly Hills, where he owned a lavish estate, started a music company called TNO, and dated the rapper Eve, who recently dumped him; in New York City, where several years ago he offered $11 million to buy a Fifth Avenue condominium owned by Saudi arms-dealer Adnan Khashoggi, only to be rebuffed by the condo's board; in Paris, where he tools around in a white Rolls Royce; and in South Africa, where he recently has bought several vacation homes.

Like his father and many other top government officials, Teodorin used to stash part of his loot at Riggs Bank in Washington—until a Senate investigation ignited a scandal that ended the relationship between the bank and Equatorial Guinea. A source familiar with Teodorin's outlandish spending habits told me that Junior would frequently call his personal banker at Riggs with imperious and extravagant demands. One day he'd want arrangements made to fly his friends to Rio for Carnival; on another day he'd need to have a Bentley airfreighted from London to Los Angeles; and on another still he'd demand that a helicopter be immediately dispatched to offload a female companion from a cruise ship because she fallen out of his favor.

Antony Goldman, a London-based risk analyst specializing in west African oil, has long followed Obiang Jr.'s antics. “Teodorin has many enemies in and outside of Equatorial Guinea but the allegations of impropriety and excess [that surround him] are well documented,” Goldman says. “If even a quarter were close to the truth, it would make him a particularly extraordinary character, and peculiarly ill-equipped to be president.”

Now a man named George Ehlers, the owner of a South African construction company, is suing the government of Equatorial Guinea. According to several stories in the Sunday Times of Johannesburg, Ehlers signed a contract to develop an airport in Equatorial Guinea seven years ago. But after becoming embroiled in a dispute with a government official, Ehlers had to abandon the project and surreptitiously evacuate his staff, which at one point had been jailed.

Ehlers was never paid for any of his work, and was forced to leave behind millions of dollars in equipment in Equatorial Guinea. He sued in Cape Town High Court and asked that he be compensated in the form of two homes that Teodorin purchased in the city in 2004 and that are worth a combined $6 million (about half of Equatorial Guinea's annual education budget). Ehlers claimed that while the homes were registered in Teodorin's name, they were purchased with state money and hence formally owned by the Obiang government, with which he had signed the airport deal.

Teodorin denies that, saying he paid for the homes with his own money and the properties therefore cannot be seized to pay a government debt. The court initially ruled in favor of Ehlers and attached the properties but it is now considering an appeal by Teodorin.

Either way, the questions remains as to how a humble public servant in Equatorial Guinea, whose official salary is no more than a few thousand dollars a month, could possibly afford to buy such lavish properties. In fact, the Sunday Times reports that the homes apparently “were not fit for the son of the president of one of Africa's most prolific oil-producing countries.” Teodorin's substantial expenditure on renovations and refurbishment included hundreds of thousands of dollars for a home-theater sound system, plasma-screen televisions, and bathrooms replete with spa baths, chrome fittings and marble surfaces. (The newspaper also quoted an unnamed security guard who had worked for Teodorin. The guard said his employer “always had a briefcase filled with cash on hand” and that he spent thousands of dollars on champagne and wining and dining female companions.)

So how does Teodorin foot the bills? In a notarized affidavit he filed in the case, he sought to explain the source of his income:

Cabinet Ministers and public servants in Equatorial Guinea are by law allowed to own companies that, in consortium with a foreign company, can bid for government contracts and should the company be successful, then what percentage of the total cost of the contract the company gets will depend on the terms negotiated between the parties. But, in any event, it means that a cabinet minister ends up with a sizable part of the contract price in his bank account.

The only thing that may prevent Teodorin from succeeding his father is intense opposition from other members of the country's tiny ruling circle, who fear that the kooky but menacing Teodorin will become an international laughingstock who will hog billions of dollars of oil spoils, most which is produced by American firms. If he does ascend to the throne, rest assured that the Bush Administration will find a way to justify continued warm ties with its “model” ally.
http://www.harpers.org/sb-the-millionaire-minister-1159818882.html

 

 
 
 

Equatorial Guinea: Fear of torture or ill-treatment

 
 
  PUBLIC AI Index: AFR 24/011/2006
UA 287/06 Fear of torture or ill-treatment 26 October
2006

EQUATORIAL GUINEA Filemón Ondó (m) ] Members of Progress Party of José Antonio Nguema (m) ] Equatorial Guinea (Partido del Florencio Ondó (m) ] Progreso de Guinea Ecuatorial, Basilio Mayé (m) ] PPGE)

The four men named above were arrested in Bata, the main city in mainland  Equatorial Guinea, between 9pm on 8 October and 1 am on 9 October. They have  been accused of being members of the Progress Party of Equatorial Guinea (Partido del Progresso de Guinea Ecuatorial, PPGE), a banned political party,  and of having in their possession party leaflets and other documents. The four men are at risk of being tortured or ill-treated in detention.

Filemón Ondó was arrested at gunpoint at his home at about 9pm on 8 October, by  three police officers who hit him and who did not have a warrant for his  arrest. He was taken at gunpoint to the residence of the Governor of Litoral  Province, to identify other members of the PPGE. He was then made to accompany  the police officers to the houses of José Antonio Nguema, Florencio Ondó and Basilio Mayé, who were arrested. The four men were taken to Bata Central Police station where they have been held without charge. For the first four days of  their detention they were held incommunicado. Since then they have received limited visits from their families lasting between five and 10 minutes, with a  police officer present. They are not known to have been tortured or ill-treated since their arrest until now.

The police have interrogated the four men about their membership of the PPGE,  which they did not deny. They have also admitted to downloading information  from the party’s website. According to reports, on the night of 25 October, the
Provincial Governor went to the police station and interrogated the four men  about the PPGE and told them to "tell the truth". Before he left, he told them  that he would go back the following night. Amnesty International is concerned
that the four men may be tortured in order to make them confess to some offence. A law passed in Equatorial Guinea in September 2006 banning the use of  torture has yet to be brought into force.

José Antonio Nguema was previously arrested in June 2004, following allegations  of a coup plot in which the President of the PPGE was allegedly involved. He  was held at Black Beach Prison in Malabo, the capital, but was released in a Presidential pardon on 6 June 2006 on the occasion of President Teodoro Obiang Nguema’s birthday. José Antonio Nguema had not been charged or tried at the  time of his release.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

The Equatorial Guinean authorities banned the PPGE in 1998 after its leader, Severo Moto, exiled in Spain since the early 1980s, was alleged to have plotted  to overthrow the Government of Equatorial Guinea. Following the ban, the party  split and some of its members left and joined other parties, including the  ruling Democratic Party of Equatorial Guinea (Partido Democrático de Guinea  Ecuatorial- PDGE)

Between March and July 2004, several former and current members of the PPDG  were arrested after the authorities claimed to have foiled a coup, in which  Severo Moto was allegedly involved. Most were released within days. However,
about five remained detained without charged or trial until they were pardoned  on President Teodoro Obiang Nguema's birthday in June 2006.

A trial held in Malabo between 23 August and 26 November 2004 convicted those  allegedly involved in attempting to overthrow the government of Equatorial  Guinea and sentenced them to long prison sentences. Severo Moto and his self-proclaimed Equatorial Guinea Government in exile were tried in their absence. They too were convicted and sentenced to long prison terms.
http://web.amnesty.org/library/Index/ENGAFR240112006?open&of=ENG-2AF
 
 
 
 

Playboy waits for his African throne

 
 
  RW Johnson, Cape Town

A SPENDTHRIFT playboy is poised to take control of the tiny state of Equatorial Guinea, Africa’s third-largest exporter of oil, amid fears that he may plunge it into civil war.
Teodorin Nguema Obiang, 35, eldest son of President Teodoro Obiang Nguema, has been groomed to succeed his father, who has prostate cancer and heart trouble and is reported to want to leave office “to fight against death”. His weight is said to have shrunk to about seven stone.

Last month the ageing dictator sacked his 50-man cabinet but reinstated Teodorin as minister of forestry. While Teodorin is his father’s favourite, other family members and the major oil companies are believed to favour Gabriel, his younger brother.

A South African legal battle last month cast a spotlight on Teodorin’s wealth and extravagance. Although he has homes in Los Angeles, Buenos Aires and Paris, Teodorin descended on Cape Town two years ago and in the course of a weekend spent nearly £1.1m on two Bentleys — an Arnage T and a Mulliner — and a Lamborghini Murcielago as well as two luxury houses worth £3.7m.

Both houses have been renovated with such items as a £100,000 home theatre audio system, a £40,000 air conditioning system, a £3,500 fridge-freezer and a £1,000 ice maker.

George Ehlers, a South African builder who claims that he is owed nearly £5m for work carried out for the Equatoguinean government, is trying to seize the houses — an action vigorously contested by Teodorin and his father, who say they were bought privately.

The Bentleys — one of them customised with a cream interior and curtains for privacy — and the Lamborghini sit in their garages unused. This is par for the course for Teodorin, who once challenged French journalists to follow him while he raced around Paris in a Lamborghini, buying up to 30 designer suits in an afternoon.

Two-thirds of Equatoguinean oil flows to the United States, which makes the country’s fate a key concern both to American oil companies and the State Department. But Teodorin, a graduate of Pepperdine University in Malibu, California, has been more in the news there for his on-off relationship with the Grammy-winning rap-singer Eve (“Eve of Destruction”).

The couple met when Teodorin hired the 303ft yacht Tatoosh belonging to Paul Allen, the Microsoft billionaire, for a Christmas cruise with Eve and friends, apparently dispensing with the Russian beauties who normally surround him.

He spent nearly £400,000 on the yacht, a great deal more on Eve and was able to dangle his own TNO (“Teodorin Nguema Obiang”) hip-hop recording label before her. Eve was apparently sufficiently impressed by Teodorin’s largesse to brush off reports that he is known back home as the “minister for cutting down trees”, devastating hardwood forests largely to the benefit of his logging company.

However, she was reportedly discomfited by claims that Teodorin’s father was a cannibal. This led to headlines about Eve “dumping” him.

Teodorin owns Radio Asonga, the sole Equatoguinean private radio station, but the press freedom group Reporters Without Borders calls the country “a forbidden zone for free expression and an unchanging hell for journalists”.

Outside the country Obiang, the president, is accused of having profited hugely from allowing large-scale dumping of toxic waste.

Diplomats and even ministers have been caught smuggling drugs: indeed, when one minister was arrested in Spain for drug trafficking in 1997 he wrote a confession in which he alleged that drugs had been distributed in Europe using diplomatic bags and even the president’s luggage on state trips.

Obiang — chronically insecure since an abortive coup attempt in 2004 by Simon Mann, an old Etonian adventurer, which had embroiled Sir Mark Thatcher, the former prime minister’s son — has called in the Israelis to train his guards. He is said to be concerned that Teodorin’s ascent to power could lead to family feuds and open fighting among local factions.
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2089-2340345,00.html

 
 
 
 

Oil fuels evictions in Equatorial Guinea

 
 
  Rufina, a widow with three children, was forcibly evicted from her home, in the Atepa district of the capital, Malabo, on 22 July.
She was already at work when the then Prime Minister and the Minister of Urban Planning arrived with a demolition team at 8.30am. They were accompanied by soldiers, who slapped and shoved anyone who complained or resisted the demolitions.

Rufina’s neighbour phoned, telling her to come home urgently, but by the time she arrived at midday her house and all her possessions had been destroyed. Her children, all aged under 10, were driven out of the house.

Recent forced evictions in Malabo have left hundreds of families homeless and AI fears that more will follow.

Equatorial Guinea is Africa’s third main oil producer. The new wealth from recent oil production has led to pressure on the land for commercial purposes, as well as luxury housing. President Teodoro Obiang Nguema has on several occasions publicly expressed his wish to eradicate “chabolismo” (shanty towns) which he says make the city look ugly and may put off investors. However, many of the houses demolished recently were solid structures in well-established neighbourhoods where the majority of the occupants had titles to the land.

Mariano’s house in Atepa district was also destroyed on 22 July along with about 60 other similar houses, leaving more than 600 people homeless. His wife and their four children had lived in their large wooden house for two years. The title to their land had been granted by President Obiang.

The authorities justified the demolitions claiming that the land was needed for the construction of a road. But the road has already been built and the houses were 80-90 metres away. There was no consultation with the community, no prior warning and no compensation. When people from the community asked those marking the houses for demolition in April for a formal committee to discuss the situation they were told to go and live in the forest like animals.

Forced evictions are contrary to Equatorial Guinea’s expropriation law and to the Constitution which protects the right to property and to a home. The reason often given for demolitions is to use the land for public utility developments. However, no such use has so far been made. The land is frequently usurped by the President, his family and other members of the government to build luxury homes, supermarkets or other businesses for themselves.

The densely populated district of Comandachina in the city of Bata, is currently under threat. Situated near President Obiang’s palace, he has reportedly said that he does not want to look at those “chabolas” on his way home. In April he ordered residents to build two or three floor houses, giving them three months to comply or vacate their properties. Forced evictions and demolitions could begin at any time.

Take action: Demand justice for the victims of Zimbabwe's Operation Murambatsvina (Drive out rubbish)!
http://web.amnesty.org/wire/October2006/Eq_Guinea
 
 
 

More Headlines from Equatorial Guinea

 
 

Africa

The Republic of Guinea Completes Working Visit with Hyperdynamics

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Hyperdynamics Corporation announces that the presidential delegation from The Republic of Guinea has completed a full an...

 
 

Noble Energy Announces Oil Discovery in Benita Appraisal, Offshore Equatorial Guinea

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Noble Energy, Inc. announces results on its Benita appraisal well on Block "I" offshore Equatorial Guinea. The "I-2" app...

Africa

Noble Energy Announces Successful Results for Belinda Appraisal, Offshore Equatorial Guinea

Friday, August 24, 2007

Noble Energy, Inc. has announced initial results from its Belinda appraisal well on Block "O" offshore Equatorial Guinea...

 
 

ROC Provides Equatorial Guinea Activity Update

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

ROC advises that a dispute has arisen between Pioneer Natural Resources Equatorial Guinea Limited ("Pioneer"), a wholly-...

Africa

Noble Energy Announces Discovery on Block 'I' in Equatorial Guinea

Monday, June 25, 2007

Noble Energy, Inc. has announced a new discovery on Block "I" offshore Equatorial Guinea. Well "I-1", which was testing ...

Africa

Marathon and Partners Deliver First LNG Cargo From Equatorial Guinea Train 1 LNG Project Six Months Ahead of Original Schedule

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Marathon Oil Corporation and its partners have announced the delivery of the first cargo of liquefied natural gas (LNG) ...

 
 
Noble Energy, Inc. announces that its 'O-2' exploration well (the Adriana Southwest prospect) on Block 'O' offshore Equa...

Africa

DNO ASA Provides Equatorial Guinea Update

Friday, March 23, 2007

DNO is announcing a summary of exploration drilling activities in Block P offshore Equatorial Guinea (5 % working intere...

Africa

Hess Corporation Announces First Oil Production From Okume Complex Offshore Equatorial Guinea

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Hess Corporation and its partners, Tullow Oil and GEPetrol, have announced that crude oil production has commenced from ...

 
 

Marathon and Project Partners Announce Lifesaving Results From Bioko Island Malaria Control Project in Equatorial Guinea

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Program Achieves 95 Percent Reduction in Malaria Transmitting Mosquitoes and 44 Percent Lower Infection Rates

Africa

Marathon and Partners Award Front End Engineering and Design Contract for Train 2 LNG Project in Equatorial Guinea

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Marathon Oil Corporation, through a wholly owned subsidiary; Sonagas, the National Gas Company of Equatorial Guinea; Mit...

 
 
 

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