The death toll from an explosion at a bustling market in the Armenian capital Yerevan rose to six on Monday as search operations continued for people believed trapped under rubble.
Another 61 people were injured and 15 were missing after Sunday’s blast that led to the collapse of a building at the Surmalu wholesale market, Armenia’s Emergency Situations Minister Armen Pambukhchyan said.
Rescue operations were continuing “very carefully” with people still believed to be trapped beneath the debris, he added.
Pambukhchyan told reporters that video footage of the incident showed that “there can be no talk of a terrorist attack” as the fire started before the explosion.
He said the fire spread to “pyro materials”.
Local media had earlier said the explosion went off at a place that stored fireworks.
The cause of the fire was being established.
The minister said that smoke and small fire could persist for several more days with lots of plastic smouldering at the scene.
Photos and videos posted on social media after the blast showed a thick column of black smoke over the market and what appeared to be a series of detonations can be heard.
Prosecutors meanwhile launched a probe into violations “on stocking inflammable goods”, breaches in fire safety standards and the death of people “due to negligence”.
Armenia’s Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan visited the site of the blast on Monday, according to his press service.
In all, 200 firefighters and medical workers were sent to the scene, as well as fire engines and construction site equipment.
Rescue workers used a digger to clear away rubble, an AFP journalist at the scene reported earlier.
The disaster comes as the country of three million people is still recovering from a 2020 war with Azerbaijan, which ended in a heavy defeat and sparked a political crisis.
President Muhammadu Buhari has directed the National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI) to produce more solar cells to boost the alternative power sources in the country.
Chief Executive Officer of NASENI, Prof. Mohammed Haruna made this known to State House correspondents after briefing the president on the activities of the Agency on Friday in Abuja.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that Buhari is the Chairman of NASENI.
According to Haruna, the president also directed the implementation of modular irrigation project and the production of more farm implements, to boost agricultural activities.
He said: “The President is impressed that NASENI is delivering on its mandate.
I gave him the usual quarterly briefing and he is happy with what we have done in this quarter.
“Therefore, he has directed us to do more, particularly in the modular irrigation project that we are commencing form Adamawa State, the solar cells production and also agricultural implements.
” The NASENI boss informed Journalists that the agency has been able to impact the power sector, leading to the establishment of a factory in Karshi, Abuja.
According to him, the factory has the capacity to produce 7.5 megawatt of solar energy.
“Through our research and development activities in solar, it is so successful that through local innovations we now have a factory, 7.5 megawatt capacity Limited Liability Company.
“The company is 100 per cent owned by government in Karshi-Abuja, producing solar modules of highest quality.
“These modules are installed in many places, we have dealers who buy these and distribute and we participate in installations in private and government buildings.
“7.5 megawatts cannot meet the needs of the nation and that is not making the price of solar power affordable because the cells used are imported.
“Solar cells are products of silicon and silicon is obtained from silica, which is nothing other than the sand that we have abandoned,’’ he said.
He said this informed the president’s approval for the Agency to obtain the facility from China in order to achieve 100 per cent made in Nigeria products, “When that is done, solar power supply will be affordable because the most expensive component is the cells,” he said.
The NASENI boss disclosed that a unit of the agency, the Nigerian Machine Tools Osogbo in Osun State also produced protective wares for security men.
According to him, the company is also in the process of assembling Armoured Personnel carriers, in collaboration with Azerbaijan and Indonesia.
“The Nigerian Machine Tools Osogbo has been doing a lot in the production of protective wares; anti-ballistic helmets, and other bullet proof vests and boots among others.
“With NASENI’s collaboration with Indonesia and Azerbaijan, we have trained people on how to assemble Armoured Personnel carriers as well as produce certain components of the carrier,” he said.
Haruna also revealed that the agency produces laboratory equipment for science students in primary, secondary and tertiary institutions across the country.
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan on Thursday questioned the role of Russian peacekeepers in the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh after a new flare-up left three soldiers dead.
Pashinyan’s rare criticism of ally Moscow came after tensions escalated on Wednesday in the disputed mountainous region, which is mainly populated by ethnic Armenians.
The former Soviet republics of Armenia and Azerbaijan have fought two wars — in the 1990s and in 2020 — over Nagorno-Karabakh.
In the aftermath of the latest war, Armenia ceded swathes of territory it had controlled for decades.
Russia deployed some 2,000 peacekeepers to oversee the fragile truce but tensions persist despite the ceasefire agreement.
“Questions arise in Armenian society over the Russian peacekeeping operation in Nagorno-Karabakh,” Pashinyan told a government meeting.
He pointed to “gross, prolonged violations of a ceasefire regime” and “constant physical and psychological terror” of Karabakh residents in the presence of the peacekeepers.
Pashinyan said the role of the Russian peacekeeping mission must be “clarified”, adding that Armenia expected the contingent to prevent “any attempt to violate the line of contact”.
The two sides accuse each other of violating the fragile truce.
On Wednesday, Baku said it had lost a soldier and the Karabakh army said two of its troops had been killed.
The Azeri defence ministry said Karabakh troops targeted its army positions in the district of Lachin, which is under the supervision of the Russian peacekeeping force.
The Azeri army later said it conducted an operation dubbed “Revenge” in response and took control of several strategic positions.
On Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin is hosting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for talks in the Black Sea resort city of Sochi.
Turkey backed Azerbaijan in the 2020 war over Nagorno-Karabakh.
By NJ Ayuk, CEO of the African Chamber of Energy Senegal and Mauritania could be described as rising stars in the energy industry.
After one major offshore discovery after another in the region between 2014 and 2017, it has become clear that the region has massive reserves of natural gas: up to 1.13 trillion cubic meters (tcm) in proven reserves in Senegal and 28 .3 billion cubic meters (bcm) in Mauritania.
There was a time in the not too distant past when the chances of Senegal and Mauritania fully capitalizing on their rich resources were not entirely certain.
The great African discoveries of oil and gas were greeted with hand wringing by Western countries and environmental organizations.
The general argument was that African countries were better off leaving their oil resources in the ground so that they would not contribute to greenhouse gas emissions and global warming.
International oil companies (IOCs) and investors were increasingly reluctant to support African oil projects.
But now, world events have changed much of that.
During the last months of 2021, global demand for gas began to outstrip supply, driving natural gas prices to record highs in Asia, Europe and the US.
Russia's dependence on gas in response to its invasion of Ukraine .
The situation has become even more urgent for Europe in recent months: Russia has responded to Europe's plans to gradually use less Russian gas with immediate reductions in gas deliveries.
As a result, Western countries that once pressured African countries to give up their oil resources are now investing in African oil and gas projects.
They are interested in building African infrastructure.
They are focused on doing whatever they can to help meet your pressing gas needs.
I wouldn't describe the under-supplied gas market or the suffering in Ukraine as opportunities, but these situations have created a new reality for African countries with oil and gas reserves.
My advice to Senegal and Mauritania, and the companies that have discovered oil there, is to be aggressive in keeping their projects on schedule.
Natural gas and liquefied natural gas (LNG) projects are already in various stages of development in Senegal and Mauritania, but it is imperative that stakeholders do all they can to push their projects forward.
They must avoid delays because it is impossible to know how long European countries will be willing to invest and promote these projects.
The reality is that while Senegal and Mauritania now have a better chance to capitalize on their gas for domestic needs, to monetize gas, and to grow and diversify their economies with gas, their window to achieve those things has an invisible expiration date.
The African Chamber of Energy addresses this issue in its Petroleum Laws - Benchmarking Report for Senegal and Mauritania, to be published soon.
One of the report's key recommendations for government leaders and international oil companies (IOCs) in Senegal and Mauritania is to make it a priority to avoid project deadline delays.
We have already seen declines As our report points out, projects in the region have already faced some obstacles.
Take a look at Greater Tortue Ahmeyim (GTA), the offshore LNG project on the Senegal-Mauritania maritime border being developed by BP, Kosmos Energy, Senegal's national oil company Petrosen and the Societe Mauritanienne des Hydrocarbures (SMHPM) of Mauritania.
The project's floating liquefied natural gas (FLNG) project, a Phase 1 development, was initially scheduled to come online in 2022.
Project partners now plan to complete Phase 1 in 2023.
The initial delay was caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, but the project also experienced a small “timeline shift” due to cost inflation, which delayed completion of Phase 1 from Q1 2023 to Q3.
GTA, and the other projects in the region, from the Yakaar-Teranga LNG and power project to BP's BirAllah gas project off the coast of Mauritania, must move forward.
As our report says, “Any delay in these projects that are already looking at from the late 2020s to the mid 2030s (barring the launch of GTA FLNG Phase 1) may result in no can fully utilize the under-supplied LNG market in the coming years.” It is also important to recognize that while European countries are doing their best to import natural gas from Africa, they are working just as furiously to source gas from other regions of the world, including the US, Guyana, Qatar and Azerbaijan.
As Stanley Reed wrote for The New York Times, “As Russia tightens its grip on natural gas supplies, Europe is looking everywhere for energy to keep its economy running.
Coal-fired power plants are being revived.
Billions are being spent on terminals to bring in liquefied natural gas, much of it from shale fields in Texas...
Across Europe, fears are growing that a Russian gas cutoff will force governments to ration fuel already companies to close factories, measures that could put thousands of jobs at risk.” We must also remember that Europe also considers green energy sources as part of its energy solution.
Once again, European leaders are looking to Africa to meet some of those needs, in particular green hydrogen (produced without fossil fuels), which is a valuable opportunity.
But that doesn't mean we shouldn't recognize the urgency of helping Europe meet its natural gas needs while we still can.
To miss out on all that gas can do for Senegal and Mauritania, in what it can do to help eradicate energy poverty, build businesses and create jobs, would be a heartbreaking loss.
We can do this.
I understand that some gas project delays, like those caused by the pandemic, are out of anyone's control.
But there are steps governments and companies can take to keep projects moving forward.
As I have made clear more than once, the governments of Senegal and Mauritania are to be commended for all that they have done to create a positive environment for doing business in their countries.
Their tax policies were created specifically to attract IOCs, and that was exactly what needed to be done.
With that said, I would encourage oil and gas ministries to continue to find and eliminate bureaucracy and inefficiencies that may impede the progress of gas projects.
I am encouraged by the words of Moustapha Bechir, Director General for Hydrocarbons at the Mauritanian Ministry of Petroleum, Energy and Mines, who has said that the ministry is working to optimize Phase 2 of the GTA FLNG project.
“We are now remodeling Phase 2 to better fit the concept and to speed it up and maximize project economics,” Bechir said in 2021.
As for the companies that have been exploring in Senegal and Mauritania, those that are moving forward with projects gas and LNG, have also made great strides.
I would simply encourage them to be proactive in recognizing situations that could interfere with project timelines so that they can be addressed as efficiently as possible.
I have told my employees and fellow African energy stakeholders that we still have work to do, there is still much good we can achieve.
The same goes for the governments and companies of Senegal and Mauritania.
The region's natural gas really does have the power to benefit ordinary people.
It can make it possible for millions, many for the first time, to experience life with reliable electricity.
You can create business opportunities and empower people to make a good living.
And it can lay the foundation, through industrialization and economic diversification, for a pattern of long-term growth and stability.
We simply need to move quickly and decisively to make these things happen.
NOW Azerbaijan said that one of its soldiers was killed by Armenian gunfire on Wednesday near the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh.
The Azerbaijani defence ministry said Armenian troops targeted Azerbaijani army positions in the district of Lachin, which is under the supervision of the Russian peacekeeping force, killing an Azerbaijani conscript.
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Iranian police have arrested several people for disturbing security after they protested the drying up of a lake once considered the largest in the Middle East, official media said on Sunday.
Lake Urmia, in the mountains of northwestern Iran, began shrinking in 1995 due to a combination of prolonged drought and the withdrawal of water for agriculture and dams, according to the United Nations Environment Program.
Urmia, one of the world's largest hypersaline (or super salty) lakes, is located between the cities of Tabriz and Urmia, with more than six million people depending on agriculture on its shores.
On Sunday, Rahim Jahanbakhsh, the police chief of Iran's West Azerbaijan province, reported the arrests.
He described the suspects as "many evil and hostile elements, who had no other goal than to destroy public property and disturb the safety of the population," according to the state news agency IRNA.
On Saturday, the Fars news agency reported that "dozens of people in the cities of Naghadeh and Urmia had protested against the authorities' lack of attention to the drying up of Lake Urmia."
Fars said protesters had shouted slogans in the provincial capital of Urmia warning that the lake was shrinking.
"Lake Urmia is dying, parliament orders its death," some shouted, Fars reported, and others shouted that "Lake Urmia is thirsty."
Largely arid Iran, like other neighboring countries, has suffered from chronic droughts and heat waves for years, which are expected to worsen with the impacts of climate change.
In recent months, thousands of people have demonstrated against the drying up of rivers, particularly in central and southwestern Iran.
Lake Urmia is an important ecosystem, a key stopover point for migratory birds and home to an endemic shrimp as well as other underwater species.
By NJ Ayuk, Executive Chairman, African Energy Chamber (www.EnergyChamber.org)When German Chancellor Olaf Scholz arrived in Senegal on May 22, he made it clear that his country regards energy, and specifically natural gas, as an important component of future relations between Europe and Africa.Following a meeting with Senegalese President Macky Sall, Scholz announced that his government was ready to continue working with the West African state and was already discussing gas and LNG development projects with Dakar. "It's an issue worth following closely," he said at a joint news conference with Sall.The foreign minister did not offer details, but it is easy to see why gas from Senegal has attracted his attention.In a general sense, Scholz is interested in Senegal because the European Union is interested in all possible avenues to get more gas right now.In other words, European leaders have been devoting a lot of attention to energy-related issues since the Russian invasion of Ukraine in late February. The reason for this concern is obvious: now that Moscow has shown a willingness to trample on internationally recognized borders, Brussels is finally getting serious about helping the European Union wean itself off its dependence on Russian gas. Your efforts must necessarily involve the search for other providers. As the International Energy Agency (IEA) has pointed out, Russia provided no less than 155 billion cubic meters (bcm) of gas to the bloc in 2021. That is equivalent to 45% of all imports and 40% of all consumption. , and it's simply too much to replace or drop all at once. Therefore, the EU needs to find other sellers, and a combination of them, since no other gas exporter is big enough to replace Russia.Senegal becomes one of the potential suppliers under consideration for inclusion in this new constellation of gas suppliers to Europe. It has enough gas to deserve this consideration, as more than 1.13 trillion cubic meters (tcm) in proven reserves were discovered offshore between 2014 and 2017.But in a more specific sense, Scholz is interested in Senegal because, together with Mauritania, it is almost ready to start exporting gas to Europe. It's not just open for business in a general sense. It is open for business in a real sense, in that it has already laid the groundwork for developing its offshore fields, processing some of what it extracts from those fields into liquefied natural gas (LNG) and then exporting the LNG to Europe. . He's taken so many steps in that direction that, in fact, production will start next year.Not in five years. Not in a decade. Next year.Because that's when Senegal and Mauritania are due to bring Greater Tortue/Ahmeyim (GTA), a large offshore cross-border gas field, online: 2023. The third quarter of 2023, to be more specific.
Greece and Bulgaria on Friday opened a long-awaited natural gas pipeline designed to help Bulgaria, which has relied heavily on Russian gas for years, get energy from other sources.
The pipeline underscores the efforts of southeastern European countries "to achieve energy independence," outgoing Bulgarian Prime Minister Kiril Petkov said at the opening ceremony in Komotini, northern Greece.
"In the coming weeks, the pipeline will be filled with Azeri gas and will compensate for the interruption of Russian gas," he said.
Bulgaria ended deliveries from Russian giant Gazprom in April, weeks after Russia invaded Ukraine.
The project to build the Greece-Bulgaria Gas Interconnector (IGB), a 182-kilometre (113 mi) cross-border gas pipeline linking Komotini to Stara Zagora in Bulgaria, was initially conceived in 2009, but construction did not start until 2019.
Petkov called the pipeline historic.
It will allow Bulgaria to connect, via Greece, to the TANAP/TAP pipeline designed to supply Western Europe with gas from Azerbaijan's giant Shah Deniz gas field in the Caspian Sea.
It will also channel gas from other sources, particularly from Algeria and Qatar through the existing LNG terminal at Revithousa, west of Athens, and the planned terminal at Alexandropoulis, northeast of Greece.
The IGB in 2019 was estimated to cost €220 million ($224 million) to complete, including €45 million in funding from the European Union. It has a capacity of three billion cubic meters, with an option to expand to five.
Bulgaria, like Finland and Poland, was deprived of Russian gas in April when it refused to pay for supplies in rubles, a demand made by Moscow in response to the imposition of Western sanctions over its war against Ukraine.
Nigeria’s candidate, Mrs Esther Eghobamien-Mshelia, has been elected to the UN Committee on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) in a keenly contested election held at the UN headquarters, New York.
The UN correspondent of the News Agency of Nigeria reports that Eghobamien-Mshelia was elected to fill one of the 12 vacant positions, to serve for three years from 2023 to 2026.
CEDAW is the body of independent experts that monitors implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.
The CEDAW Committee consists of 23 experts on women’s rights from around the world.
Speaking with NAN after the election on Thursday, Mr Muhammad Bandiya, Minister Counsellor First Committee and Elections, Permanent Mission of Nigeria to the UN, said Eghobamien-Mshelia ‘s victory was outstanding.
The official said Eghobamien-Mshelia scored 137 votes out of 187 votes, adding that only 94 votes were needed to be elected to the position.
Bandiya said 24 Member States nominated candidates to fill the 12 vacant seats, noting that one of the members withdrew its candidacy, making it 23 candidates.
He said from the 23 Members States, 10 countries from Africa contested and three countries won the election, namely Nigeria, Uganda and Egypt.
“Twelve Member States elected are Nigeria, Cuba, Uganda, Egypt, Sri Lanka, Israel, Spain, Estonia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria Trinidad and Tobago as well as Japan,’’ he said.
Meanwhile, Bandiya listed the Member States that lost the elections as Algeria, Georgia, Germany, Ukraine, Zimbabwe, Cameroon, Burundi, Benin, Cyprus, Cote d’ivore and Burkina Faso.
Earlier, Eghobamien-Mshelia in an interview with NAN, unveiled her agenda as she pledged to implement robust gender responsive investment initiatives.
“We do have a long way to go to realise gender equality and for me, artificial intelligence, robotics are sub-sectors to understand in promoting gender issues.
“As a new digital economy is unfolding, I think, gender issues should be central to that, and I believe that a general recommendation on gender and digital economy is something I will work with you to achieve.
“We can push that in the CEDAW so that we have a clearer framework of a linkage between the new digital economy and gender issues.
“We need to understand the link between digital economy and gender issues so that we don’t reinvent discrimination and for us who in developing countries, there are new, emerging investment opportunities from the global North,” she said.
Eghobamien-Mshelia said she would bring her wealth of experience in gender issues to implement her vision and the mandates of CEDAW.
She said she would make women’s livelihoods count in the economic growth of states evolving digital economy, world of robotics and artificial intelligence through partnerships and collaboration.
Eghobamien-Mshelia said her vision was to protect women’s rights through digital and multi-sector response to Gender Based Violence as well as promoting women in leadership in public and private sector.
NAN reports that Eghobamien-Mshelia had served as a member of CEDAW Committee in 2018 to fill the void occasioned by the demise of Nigeria’s representative.
While she served, she set up the CEDAW Hub as a virtual support tool to enhance understanding of CEDAW among stakeholders for the two years.
More than 100 grassroots women’s organisations have been trained and are assessing the hub till date. (
The CEO of international exploration and production company Kosmos Energy, Andy Inglis, will attend and participate in the African Energy Week (AEW) (AECWeek.com), Africa's premier event for the oil and gas sector, which will take place from October 18 to 21, 2022 in Cape Town. South Africa. Representing one of Africa's most active international oil and gas independents, Inglis' involvement in Africa's leading investment platform for the oil and gas sector is critical to driving dialogue on the role of companies like Kosmos Energy in the optimization of exploration and production in the rich basins of Africa.
Prior to his current role at Kosmos Energy, Inglis held executive roles at several energy giants, including UK-based infrastructure developer Petrofac and Russia's third-largest oil producer TNK-bp. Inglis led bp's exploration and production activities during his 30-year career and executed the company's growth prospects in Azerbaijan, Angola, Algeria, the Gulf of Mexico, Egypt, Trinidad and the Asia-Pacific region. At AEW 2022, Inglis' experience and knowledge of managing exploration and production activities for various companies will be vital to the discussion on expanding upstream activities in Africa.
Since taking over as CEO of Kosmos Energy in 2014, Inglis has led the US company in a range of production optimization services in Ghana and Equatorial Guinea and infrastructure-led exploration in proven basins in Equatorial Guinea. The success of Kosmos Energy in Equatorial Guinea, under the leadership of Inglis, led the firm and its partners to secure a production sharing contract extension for Block G with the Equatorial Guinean Minister of Mines and Hydrocarbons, a development that will bring new investments and accelerate exploration and production throughout the Central African country. With Equatorial Guinea and other African countries such as Ghana, Senegal and Mauritania looking to expand collaboration with international independents, the deal is a significant and positive development within the continent's upstream sector at a time when African capital spending across the chain value of oil and gas continues to decline.
Meanwhile, with Kosmos Energy representing one of the co-developers of the monumental Greater Tortue Ahmeyim (GTA) project, located on the maritime border of Senegal and Mauritania, Inglis will be instrumental in leading discussions on African gas. Gas represents a particularly lucrative energy resource in Africa, with the potential to alleviate energy poverty and drive sustainable socioeconomic growth while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Consequently, AEW 2022 has placed natural gas as a central theme, promoting the role the resource has and continues to play in making energy poverty history while driving the transition to a clean energy future. Coming to AEW 2022 in Cape Town, Inglis will not only engage in discussions on the industry moving forward on gas, but will also provide updates on the project, emphasizing the role GTA gas will play in both Africa and Europe.
What's more, at a time when African gas is becoming increasingly valuable in global supply chains, in large part as European nations seek to divest from Russian gas, projects like GTA will be key to addressing security. international energy. With a number of large-scale gas developments expected to come online in the coming years (GTA phase one expects first production in 2023, for example), European markets are looking to improve trade networks with Africa. Recently, German Chancellor HE Olaf Scholz traveled to Senegal to discuss potential pipeline developments that will connect GTA to Germany. While other nations are turning to Africa, AEW 2022 represents the ideal platform for deals to be signed, trade deals to be struck and global partnerships to be formed between Africa that will usher the world into a new era of energy security.
“We are honored and proud to host Andy Inglis, CEO of Kosmos Energy, at AEW 2022 this year in Cape Town. Kosmos Energy is carrying out important developments throughout the continent, particularly in the field of natural gas. As projects like GTA come online and European nations seek collaboration from African gas producers, companies like Kosmos Energy will be instrumental in positioning Africa as a globally competitive gas market. AEW 2022 will be the place to sign agreements and make decisions that will not only transform Africa's energy landscape, but also global energy networks,” said NJ Ayuk, Executive Chairman of the African Energy Chamber (AEC).
Under the theme "Exploring and investing in Africa's energy future while driving an enabling environment", Inglis will participate in several summits at AEW 2022, driving discussions on gas, exploration and energy security.