|06DAKAR2460||2006-10-13 06:15:00||UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY||Embassy Dakar|
1. (SBU) Citing poor returns on investments, Exxon-Mobil officials
have announced publicly the sale of its 300 service stations in
Senegal, Cote d'Ivoire, Gabon, Cameroon, Kenya, and the island of
Reunion to the Libyan firm Tamoil. At the same time, Royal Dutch
Shell is quietly selling off the remainder of its shares in
Senegal's petroleum refinery, SAR, to government parastatal
Petrosen. END SUMMARY.
2. (U) Exxon-Mobil (EM) officials met with EmbOffs to share news of
its plans to sell off its downstream service stations in six African
locations to Libyan company Tamoil. Citing a poor return on
investment, EM is selling off its downstream operations in Senegal,
Cote d'Ivoire, Gabon, Cameroon, Kenya, and the island of Reunion.
While each country's requirements for the transfer of ownership
differ, EM's Director of Finance for Africa expects Senegal's
transfer to be the quickest of all six to implement. According to
EM officials, once Tamoil declares its intention to buy EM
operations the transaction can be finalized within 10 days of the
declaration. EM does not expect employees to be affected by the
transfer in ownership, and Tamoil will have the rights to retain the
Exxon-Mobil name for up to one year.
3. (U) While EM has pulled out of downstream operations, officials
maintain that the upstream oil exploration market is lucrative, and
they intend to double their upstream investment in Africa by 2010.
(NOTE: EM will continue to maintain its service stations in Nigeria,
Morocco, Tunisia and Egypt. END NOTE.)
EXXON MOBIL THANKS EMBASSY TEAM
4. (U) Following months of intensive advocacy in 2005 and 2006 by
senior mission officers, last week EM finally received USD 1.29
million in GOS tax credits owed as a result of changes in Senegal's
tax codes that caused Exxon-Mobil to pay taxes to both SAR and
Customs on the same product, from 1999 to 2002. Over the past year,
Exxon-Mobil faced the possible write-off of USD 2.8 million in tax
overpayments if Senegal did not officially acknowledge the error and
take steps to reimburse Exxon Mobil. The Ambassadors raised the
issue multiple times with the Prime Minister and the Minister of
Finance. EM officials credit the Minister of Finance with being
proactive in seeking a resolution to the problem as a result of
these meetings. EM expects to receive another credit in the amount
of USD 290,000 before the end of the month. The remaining USD
800,000 is still under review.
SHELL SELLING SHARES IN SAR
5. (SBU) Energy officials informed EmbOff that Petrosen (the
state-owned oil company) is finalizing negotiations with Shell to
buy its remaining shares in SAR. This move would give the GOS a
68.2 percent majority stake in the oil refinery. As the GOS has
limited experience in the management of a refinery, it is expected
that it will contract with France's Total Elf to run operations. As
of October 11, SAR remains closed.
EMERGENCY FUEL FUND
6. (SBU) The creation last month of the Emergency Fuel Fund (EFF)
came in response to the country's severe energy crisis (Ref B).
According to a draft government decree, the Fund aims to ensure a
steady supply of fuel for the country, while officials grapple with
the way forward to liberalize fuel prices. Margins obtained from
lowered prices on the international oil market will replenish the
Fund and savings will not be passed on to the consumer. (NOTE:
Government officials have conceded that they might have to lower
prices slightly at the pump to appease disgruntled consumer groups.
END NOTE.) According to the draft government decree, additional
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resources will come from friendly countries and development
partners, reportedly including Morocco, Libya, Nigeria and Iran, and
also from the sale of petroleum products given to Senegal at
preferential rates by these petroleum supplying countries.
7. (SBU) The draft decree is short on specifics, but it outlines
the use of the Fund to offset commercial losses linked to the
importation of petroleum products, to support costs of refining
activities, and to support costs related to the declassification of
various petroleum products.
8. (SBU) The Fund's management committee, according to the draft
decree will include a representative of the Ministry of Energy, two
representatives of the Ministry of Finance and two from the Ministry
of Commerce, as well as representatives from SAR and licensed fuel
importers. The Fund's manager will be appointed based on a separate
decree from the Ministry of Finance.
9. (SBU) It is clear that Senegal will see a couple of new entrants
(Tamoil and oil suppliers from Iran and other "friends of Senegal")
in its energy sector over the next several months. Perhaps they
will be able to help Senegal muddle through its energy crisis. With
power shortages continuing unabated during the peak demand season,
SAR inoperable, and U.S. IPP GTi mothballed due to lack of full
payment and a reliable fuel supply stemming from the delayed
payments by power utility Senelec, it is highly likely that
President Wade's proclamation to end power outages by October 15,
2006 will prove to be empty.
10. (SBU) At the same time, we remain concerned about an overall
lack of transparency in the management of the energy sector by the
GOS and the electricity parastatal/monopoly SENELEC. The draft
decree on the EFF does not provide adequate information on oversight
and accountability for such a potentially large fund. Further,
recent GOS steps, including the reacquisition of shares of SAR, are
a clear retreat from the Wade administration's commitment (via a
2003 policy paper presented to major donors) to take steps to
enhance private-sector participation in Senegal's long-troubled
energy sector. As a result, the World Bank, reportedly in response
to on-going management and policy concerns related to SENELEC, has
stopped funding energy-related projects in Senegal. END COMMENT.