Iranian Refinery Suppling High Quality Sulfur for Export

Ilam Gas Refinery, which runs on sour gas, supplies valued items like high quality sulfur, while injecting refined gas to the national distribution network for domestic consumption. According to the National Iranian Gas Company (NIGC), Shahryar Daripour, managing director of the refinery, said that over a billion cubic meters of gas was processed in the facility annually, adding the sour gas sweetened in the plant was consumed in the household and industrial sectors in the western provinces.

Ilam Refinery is a modern gas treatment facility which offers a variety of items including pure sulfur that is exported, he added. - Shana


Iran Not to Point Finger at Someone Over Sanchi Incident

Head of Iran's Ports and Maritime Organization announced that the investigation into the Sanchi incident aims not to blame someone, but to find out its causes. The Sanchi ship, manned by 32 sailors, sank after colliding with CF Crystal on Jan. 6, 2018, claiming the lives of its entire crew.

"The most important action taken by the Ports and Maritime Organization in response to the Sanchi incident was to assess its causes," Managing Director of Ports and Maritime Organization Mohammad Rastad said Thursday (8 December).

“An important part of the investigation was the lessons the Ports and Maritime Organization has learned from the incident." “The International Ports and Maritime Organization, in the form of new regulations, could take measures to prevent recurrence of offshore events,” Rastad added. - Trend


SK Innovation CEO Says S. Korea to Restart Iran Oil Imports in Jan-Feb

South Korean oil buyers are expected to restart Iranian oil imports in late January or early February, the head of South Korea’s SK Innovation, which owns South Korea’s biggest oil refiner SK Energy, said on Wednesday (9 December).

In November, South Korea won a six-month waiver from sanctions imposed by the United States allowing the purchase a limited amount of Iranian oil, but the country has not imported any crude from the country since September.

“As South Korea received a waiver and has been in talks with Iran about the first import volume, it seems (Iran oil) could be brought in late in January or early February at the earliest,” SK Innovation Chief Executive Officer and President Kim Jun told Reuters on the sidelines of the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.

South Korean and Japanese buyers were expected to restart Iranian oil imports early this year, industry sources said in November. South Korea can buy up to 200,000 barrels per day of Iran oil, mostly condensate, an ultra-light form of crude oil under the waiver, the sources said.

South Korea was the third-biggest buyer of Iranian oil and the largest importer of Iranian condensate before the U.S. sanctions were reimposed in November.

Kim also said that SK Innovation, a supplier of electric vehicle (EV) batteries to Daimler and Volkswagen , may increase the investment into its U.S.-based EV battery manufacturing business to US$5 billion to secure more of the market.

“SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won expects the U.S. battery manufacturing capacity to be 50 gigawatt-hours (GWh) by as early as 2025,” Kim said, adding that the investment will be focused in the U.S. state of Georgia.

The annual capacity of its global electric car battery production is expected to reach 100 GWh by 2025, and the company is aiming to cut annual production costs by 4% to meet demands from car makers, Kim said.

Late to the EV battery market compared with rivals LG Chem and Samsung SDI, SK Innovation has announced investment plans worth US$3 billion since late 2017, to build new factories in China, Hungary and the U.S.

Under this investment agenda, the company expects its battery orders to double by 2020 from a total of 320 GWh of orders as of the end of 2018, Kim said.

“Our petrochemical business is affected a lot by things like oil prices. We will continue to keep that business competitive but we also need to have a new growth driver. That is our electric car batteries,” Kim said. - Reuters


Blood Money to Sanchi Victims' Families: Iran Minister

Iranian minister of cooperatives, labor and social welfare announced the payment of US$1.217 million to families of the Sanchi victims. "This amount has been paid to families of the Sanchi victims," Minister Mohammad Shariatmadari said on Thursday (8 December) at the first anniversary of the Sanchi incident, Trend reports citing IRNA.

The tanker Sanchi, carrying 136,000 tons of highly flammable condensate, collided with the Chinese cargo vessel CF Crystal on Jan. 6, 2018 in the East China Sea, causing an oil spill and a blaze that raged for four days.

None of Sanchi's 32 crew members survived. “In addition to blood money, US$340,000 was also paid to children of the Sanchi victims as a compensation,” the minister said. - Trend


Iran Will Not Comply with 'Illegal' US Sanctions: Oil Minister

Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh said on Thursday (10 January) U.S. sanctions against his country were “fully illegal” and Tehran would not comply with them.

“We believe that we should not comply with the illegal sanctions against Iran,” Zanganeh told a joint news conference in Baghdad with his Iraqi counterpart, Thamer al-Ghadhban.

Zanganeh also said Iran would not discuss the volume or destination of its oil exports while it remained under U.S. sanctions.

“We have discussed today how to improve cooperation with Iraq on different aspects, especially on oil issues,” Zanganeh said.

Ghadhban, who also said the discussions had touched on energy issues, added that Iraq had not yet reached an agreement with Iran to develop joint oilfields.

He said a decline in global oil prices had stopped and that he expected them to rise gradually.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, of which Iran and Iraq are members, and its Russia-led allies agreed on Dec. 7 to cut output by more than expected, despite pressure from U.S. President Donald Trump to reduce oil prices.

The OPEC deal had hung in the balance on concerns that Iran, whose crude exports have been depleted by U.S. sanctions, would receive no exemption and block the agreement.

Ghadhban said any decision relating to future OPEC cuts would depend on monitoring price developments. - Reuters


Report on Iran’s Annual Exports of Chandeliers

Islamic Republic of Iran annually exports US$200 million worth of chandeliers to neighboring countries, said managing director of chandeliers cooperatives on Friday. Mohammadreza Qareh Yazi made the remark on Friday on the sidelines of 26th Iran International Chandeliers & Decorative Lights Exhibition. Yazi said the chandeliers industry can bring foreign currency to country at the moment. He went on to say that Islamic Republic of Iran is among the top five countries in the field of producing chandeliers and decorative lights.

Iraq, Turkey, Armenia, Republic of Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan are among Iran’s main export markets, he said, adding, “moreover, Islamic Republic of Iran exports chandeliers and decorative lights to Persian Gulf littoral states, Saudi Arabia, European Union and East Asian countries.”

Mohammad Javad Ghanbari Deputy Head of Iran Intl. Exhibition Company for Exhibition Affairs was the next speaker who said, “participation of Iranian companies paves suitable way for introducing products and exporting them to neighboring countries in particular.”

He pointed to Iran’s export of chandeliers to other countries and added, “Iran can bring about more profitability in case of producing raw materials in this industry.” The 26th Iran International Chandeliers & Decorative Lights Exhibition kicked off in Tehran Permanent International Fairgrounds this morning and will run through Jan. 14. - Mehr


Renewable Energy Investment May Slow Down: UAE’s Masdar Chief

The deployment of renewable energy around the world is dependent on the growth of national economies and may slow down in the event of a downturn, according to Masdar CEO Mohamed Jameel Al Ramahi. Speaking at the UAE Energy Forum in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday, Al Ramahi said that renewable energy has become “mainstream”. “[In the near term] you’ll see growth in renewable energy like you’ve seen over the past five years,” he said. “There should be more investment into renewable energy, that’s true, but this is driven by growth in economies.”

Al Ramahi added that “if we forecast or project that the global economy is potentially going to be slowing down, particularly in China, then potentially the deployment of renewable energy in countries like China is going to slow down.” Any slowdown, he added, could also negatively impact that targets set by the Paris Agreement in 2016 to mitigate global warming. However, Al Ramahi said he remains optimistic about the future of renewables. “The world understands the importance of climate change … regardless of what the trends are, sometimes they shift right or left,” he said.

“The organizations and companies like Masdar at the global level are committed to decarbonization and the green economy. You can see it across the whole world.” Al Ramahi added that many companies in the fossil fuel economy are working with Masdar and similar companies on major projects around the world, which he said is a sign that “they are also committed.”

In the UAE, the country’s ‘Energy Strategy 2050’ calls for clean energy to contribute 50 % of its power by 2050 , as well as a 70 % reduction in its carbon footprint. According to the plan, the country will invest AED 600 billion (US$163.36 billion) by 2050 to meet growing energy demand.


Govt. Announces UAE’s Policy on Residential Communities

The UAE government has announced a national policy on creating vital residential communities, which includes various regulations and standards, with the aim of improving living standards and providing a new model of life in the country, said a report.

The new policy, which is in line with the National Agenda of the UAE Vision 2021 and the UAE Centennial 2071, was approved by Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, reported state news agency Wam.

The national policy includes six key components, which are: a suitable location, integrated facilities, cohesive communities, areas for interactive living, cultural participation, and smart systems, to prevent the isolation of residential neighborhoods and facilitate transportation and communication, as well as to provide the necessary facilities.

According to the policy, residential communities must contain facilities that will support the lives of their residents and provide with a rich residential experience, such as shared gardens and sporting facilities, it stated.

The UAE, under the leadership of President HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan prioritizes the quality of life of its citizens, while its government has prioritized housing and is achieving sustainability in this vital sector, said Sheikh Mohammed, while speaking at a ceremony held to mark the launch of the new national policy.

It was attended by Lt General Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, and Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs, it added.

Addressing the gathering, Sheikh Mohammed said the goal was to provide an integrated life for every citizen, and not only a place of residence.

"We want our residential communities to bring people together and improve their health and social cohesion. The integrated role of government sectors and authorities is to improve life quality in the UAE," he remarked.

"Today, we are beginning a new stage in developing vital residential communities, which facilitate and improve the lives of all citizens without exception," he added.

Sheikh Mohammed directed relevant authorities to begin adopting the policy and activating its regulations in the design and establishment of all the residential projects around the country, as well as to benefit from its contents and raise living standards, said the Wam report.

The policy, which was developed by the "National Program for Happiness and Wellbeing," in cooperation with the Sheikh Zayed Housing Program, aims to determine new principles and standards, to create residential communities that will improve the quality of life of citizens and their communities, in line with goals of the National Agenda, it stated.


MoTC & QFC in Deal to Boost Digital Industry Support for Qatar GDP

The Ministry of Transport and Communications (MoTC) and the Qatar Financial Centre have signed an agreement for co-operating in all areas related to the technological and economic development of Qatar. The memorandum of understanding (MoU) aims at supporting the activities or projects that help raise the digital industry’s contribution to the Qatari gross domestic product (GDP).

The two parties will also work together on improving the competitiveness of the local digital sector and supporting the activities aimed at attracting local and international investments and companies.

The MoU was signed by MoTC’s Assistant Undersecretary for Digital Society Development Affairs Reem al-Mansoori and QFC chief executive Yousuf Mohamed al-Jaida.

MoTC and QFC intend to support digital development in the field of information and communication technology and its adoption in Qatar for high priority segments of society such as the youth, entrepreneurs, startups and small and medium enterprises.

The MoU has special areas of focus. All of them fall in the context of developing the digital and technological industry as well as the programs and projects that MoTC executes toward that end such as the Smart Qatar Program (TASMU) and relevant innovation and research areas through the exchange of knowledge among stakeholders.

Economic development is also another area of focus through promoting and attracting global e-commerce and e-commerce related technology companies and driving digital investments in Qatar jointly through initiatives the two parties organize.

"This MoU will offer a significant platform for constructive co-operation and a broader and more pragmatic co-ordination toward what we aim for,” al-Mansoori said.

Both the parties will work together to improve potential and competitiveness through the TASMU Digital Valley, specialized e-commerce programs and TASMU, she said.

"By increasing the digital industry’s contribution to Qatar’s GDP we can help improve the competitiveness of the sector, thereby attracting both local and international investments, which remains the key mandate of the QFC," al-Jaida said.


UAE Minister: Oil Market Set for Price Corrections by Month-End

The global oil sector will be ripe for more price corrections by the month-end following the OPEC- non-OPEC deal in December to cut their combined oil output by 1.2 million barrels per day, said. Suhail bin Mohammed Faraj Faris Al Mazrouei, the UAE Minister of Energy and Industry.

The current market conditions are better than those two years ago, stated Al Mazrouei while speaking to the Emirates News Agency (WAM) on the sidelines of the Global Energy Forum which opened earlier today in Abu Dhabi.

Al Mazrouei also said he did not expect OPEC members Venezuela, Libya or Iran, who effectively have exemptions from the cuts, to increase their oil output in 2019, rather it was more likely their production would decline.

He pointed out that there was no need for OPEC and its allies to meet before April when they are likely to decide their output policy for the rest of the year. The 1.2 million bpd cut should be enough to balance the market, Mazrouei said, adding that he expected the correction to begin this month and to be achieved in the first half of the year.


Saudi Aramco Oil Reserve Upgrade Seen Boosting Bonds, IPO

A flurry of announcements from Saudi Arabia’s energy authorities was seen by experts as a triple boost for the Kingdom at a crucial time for the global oil industry. Khalid Al-Falih, the energy minister and chairman of Saudi Aramco, the world’s biggest oil company, on Wednesday revealed that the Kingdom’s oil and gas reserves had been valued by independent experts as significantly higher than previous official estimates.

Al-Falih also updated global markets on plans for an initial public offering (IPO) of Aramco shares, scheduled for 2021, assuming markets conditions allow, and nailed down the schedule for what could be a record-breaking issuance of bonds. The international debt offering, set to be Aramco’s first, will now take place in the second quarter of this year, he said.

The upward estimate of reserves was the most eye-catching of the announcements. Saudi Arabia is officially ranked second in the world for reserves, after troubled Venezuela, but the Kingdom’s own estimate has stayed constant for some years.

The latest assessment comes from DeGolyer & MacNaughton, a respected firm of oil analysts based in Dallas, Texas. The firm concluded that, including reserves in the “partitioned zone” between Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, the Kingdom’s total oil reserves would have amounted to 268.5 billion barrels at the end of 2017, after which the DeGolyer study was made. Natural gas reserves were also upgraded in the DeGolyer survey, showing 325.1 Tscf of gas compared to a previous estimate of 307.91 Tscf.

Jean-Francois Seznec, the US-based academic and specialist in Middle East business and finance, said: “The audit by a reputed independent firm certainly adds to the credibility of the IPO, even though it may not happen in the next few months. “I was especially intrigued by the increase in natural gas reserves … I always assumed that the Kingdom was short of gas; I guess I will have to change my tune,” he added.

Other analysts linked the announcement on reserves to longer-term financial planning by Aramco. Ellen Wald, president of Transversal Consulting and author of “Saudi Inc,” a business history of the

Kingdom, said the announcements show that “both Aramco and Saudi Arabia are not hesitant to open up their books if there is a good reason. The upward revision is not large enough to be particularly significant, but the openness is, especially in the context of issuing bonds or a future IPO.”

Jim Krane, fellow in energy studies at Rice University’s Baker Institute in Houston, Texas, said: “There’s been a cottage industry in speculation about the ‘true’ size of Saudi oil reserves. These figures ought to put to rest speculation about the true size of Saudi reserves being anything other than what Aramco says they are.”

The bond issue is an important step for Aramco. Although it has issued bonds in Saudi riyals before, this will be the first time it has tapped the international markets for debt. Al-Falih said the issue was “probably” going to be in US dollars.

International bond issues oblige the issuer to reveal detailed financial information about the company, in what could become a trial run for the higher levels of financial disclosure required for an IPO by Aramco.

Al-Falih told Bloomberg that the funding program “will be sustained over time as Saudi Aramco grows and undertakes its capital program … We believe that having bonds and commercial paper as one of its sources of capital is prudent and necessary.”

The funds to be raised this year are likely to be earmarked for the acquisition of Sabic, the industrial conglomerate listed on the Saudi stock exchange, in which Aramco has said it is considering purchasing a stake.

That acquisition could cost as much as US$70 billion. Aramco has not decided on how to fund that outlay but a big bond issue could be a key part of the process. Al-Falih did not specify the exact size of the planned Aramco issue but said: “It is not going to be anywhere near the number that has been rumored.”

Further out, the reserves upgrade could also affect the valuation of Aramco in any IPO. Al-Falih restated the official intention to proceed with an international offering of shares by 2021. The flotation was originally slated for 2018.

Krane said: “I’m not sure that certifying Aramco’s reserves is enough to resurrect the IPO any time soon. There are good reasons why Saudi policymakers called off the IPO, and worries over the size of Saudi reserves were not high on the list.

“But providing this transparent audit gives us an important piece of the puzzle. Investors now have more certainty that Saudi reserves are real. Even if the IPO winds up selling off part of Aramco’s downstream business — something not directly related to producing crude oil — confidence over reserves will build confidence.”

Meanwhile, a Reuters report published Thursday suggested strong global appetite for Saudi bonds more generally. The Kingdom, seeking to raise US$7.5 billion in bonds, attracted demand that topped US$27 billion for the dual-tranche paper maturing in 2029 and 2050, according to a document seen by the news agency.


1st Platform of Iran's SP 22-24 Comes Online

Production of rich gas has started from the first offshore platform of phase 22-24 ( SP Phase(s) 22-14 ) of the supergiant South Pars gas field, operator of the project said. According to Pars Oil and Gas Company (POGC), the platform is operational and can recover 14.2 Mcm/d of natural gas from the massive joint field in the Persian Gulf.

Farhad Izadjou, operator of the phase’s development project, said all the operations concerning hookup and commissioning of the phase’s platform were carried out by Iranian experts who registered a new record in starting up the structure.

He said the gas recovered from the phase was carried to onshore refining facilities via a 32-inch sea pipeline which stretched 110 kilometers. Four platforms are scheduled to be installed at the phase each supplying 14.2 Mcm/d, he added.

The phase is being developed for production of a total of 56 Mcm/d of sour gas, 50 Mcm/d of methane, 2,900 tons of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) 2,750 tons of ethane, 75,000 barrels of gas condensates and 400 tons of sulfur. - Shana


Iran Expects Oil Exemption to be Extended by US: Deputy FM

Iran's deputy foreign minister for economic diplomacy predicted that Iran's oil export exemption by US would be extended.

"My assessment is that the request of all countries that have received exemptions will certainly not be rejected in the second time," Iran's deputy foreign minister for economic diplomacy Gholamreza Ansari said, Trend reports citing Donyaye Eghtesad newspaper.

Washington gave a six-month waiver to eight countries, including India, allowing them to import Iranian oil.

Ansari highlighted the agreements between Tehran and New Delhi in the three fields, including oil, money and banking, and the Chabahar port, noting that Iran and India are two complementary economies.

“One of the issues to be clarified between Iran and India is the banking issue,” he said. “A few weeks ago, an agreement was signed between the Central Bank of Iran and the Ministry of Finance of India, which is an instruction for how to use Iran's funds in India.”

The deputy minister said that this agreement allows Iran to use its resources in India in very diverse areas, including in the fields of investment, securities and stocks in India, which is among the most trusted stocks in the world.

Ansari went on to mention two very serious and good programs between the two countries.

“First, follow-up program will be set up between the central banks of the two countries; and the second is the establishment of Pasargad bank`s branch in India,” he added.

The branch of Pasargad bank will open within next two months (close to New Iranian Year on March 21).

“On the other hand, the Indians have again introduced the UCO Bank, which has had good experience in cooperation with Iran in the past. Other banks could be added to the portfolio, in order to meet the volume of trade between the two countries,” said Ansari.

On December 19, some Indian sources announced that India will deposit payments for crude oil imported from Iran into escrow accounts of five of their banks held with state-run UCO Bank Ltd. after the two nations agreed on a payment mechanism to overcome U.S. sanctions.

“Iran considers to spend 50% of its oil revenues to purchase Indian products or products available in India,” said Ansari. “For the other 50% , Indians have declared that they will transfer money through any banking system which Iran introduces.” - Trend


Energy Efficiency to Help KSA Cut Oil Dependence

Faced with growing energy demand and to reduce reliance on fossil fuels, Saudi Arabia is turning to nuclear power to diversify its electricity-generating capability. The Kingdom plans to build two large nuclear power reactors as part of a program to deliver as many as 16 nuclear power plants over the next 25 years at a cost of more than US$80 billion.

Saudi Gazette spoke with Milos Mostecky, director of the Rosatom project in Saudi Arabia, to shed light on the country’s nuclear ambitions. Rosatom is a Russian state corporation headquartered in Moscow that specializes in nuclear energy and Mostecky is also vice president of Rosatom Overseas.

Speaking about his company’s future cooperation with KACARE and Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources, Mostecky said, “It is a great honor for us at Rosatom that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia invited us to bid on a such a large-scale project as construction of the first nuclear power plant in Saudi Arabia. Since October 2017, at the invitation of KACARE along with other suppliers, we contribute in the process, which we call a competitive dialogue. Being in charge of the tender KACARE is our main counterpart in the process.”

He said the issue of Rosatom’s potential participation in the construction of nuclear power plants in Saudi Arabia, as well as in other projects in the field of nuclear energy, was being discussed at the highest levels.

Asked about the areas of energy cooperation with local companies, Mostecky said the implementation of a massive infrastructure project such as construction and operation of a nuclear power plant in fact offers large capacity and localization opportunities for local suppliers, and it consequently represents a powerful driving force of industrial and economic development. The record shows that one new job generated by a NPP construction creates 10 jobs in supporting industries, he added.

“Rosatom is actively working with a big number of local companies. Many of them have already signed solicitation of interest, based on which we are working further on refining the scope of works that can be localized. I would like to stress the crucial importance of events with participation of all interested parties, such as the workshop on Russian nuclear technologies that we organized with assistance of Saudi Arabian Chamber of Commerce on Dec. 5 in Riyadh. I am confident that the open dialogue is mutually beneficial. It allows local companies to be introduced to the standards that Rosatom imposes to suppliers on the one hand, on the other it is a great opportunity for us to size their possibilities in the framework of implementation of the project,” Mostecky said.

It is also critical to underscore that in case Saudi Arabia takes a decision to build several power units, share of local companies involved in the project will increase from stage to stage, he said, adding that this strategy was successfully tested on a number of recent projects implemented by Rosatom in different markets.

Mostecky was positive that by achieving energy efficiency, especially in the field of renewable energy, Saudi Arabia can reduce its dependence on oil in line with its Vision 2030.

“Today there are 450 nuclear power reactors operating in 30 countries, which provide about 11 % of the world’s electricity. According to World Nuclear Association (WNA), nuclear energy represents one of the best sources of low-carbon power in terms of quality-price ratio. Furthermore, nuclear power is as safe for environment as renewable energy sources are, but contrary to them, it does not depend on weather conditions,” Mostecky said.

“From the point of view of energy capacity, nuclear fuel is much more powerful in comparison with fossil fuels: 630 grams of uranium releases energy equivalent to 70 tons of coal. This said, modern VVER 1200 Generation 3+ reactors of Russian design are able to achieve net capacity factors of well over 90 %,” he said.

Mostecky said, “Calling for the development of nuclear energy does not mean that they are opposed to renewable sources of energy. On the contrary, they are complementary. Globally, nuclear power is considered a viable baseload alternative, producing power 24/7 with no intermittence by nature. This makes nuclear an ideal source of energy for powering industry and important infrastructural facilities such as hospitals and school, along with satisfying all the civil population energy needs. While nuclear is unrivaled as a baseload energy supplier, renewables are perfect to meet peak energy demand.”

He said nuclear energy allows not only to diversify national energy mix and supply Saudi Arabia with stable, clean and affordable energy for a life span of minimum 60 years, but also ensures job creation and allows to reorient the released natural resources to the external market. It also increases state revenues from taxation and export of high-technology products and contributes to research and development, he added.


Al Rahmania Gas Station Opens in Sharjah

The Sharjah Electricity and Water Authority, SEWA, inaugurated the new Al Rahmania Gas Station Tuesday at the cost of AED35 million (US$9.5 million) to deliver natural gas services to the people of Al Rahmania area.

Speaking on the occasion, SEWA Chairman Dr. Rashid Al Leem said that the new station will serve a number of new areas and projects, such Al Waha, Nasma and Al Zahia communities, and other projects. The plan also includes extension of natural gas lines for the central region and Dhaid through to Khorfakkan.

Dr. Al Leem said that the new station is operating in accordance with the best technical specifications, and the highest international safety systems have been taken into consideration in setting up the station, which serves a number of new areas, expansions and development projects. He added that the number of natural gas pumping and distribution stations in the Emirate of Sharjah has increased up to 5 stations, including Al Majaz station, Industrial Area 5 Roundabout station, the new Al Rahmania station, Kalba station and Khorfakkan station.

He pointed out that the number of subscribers in the natural gas services in Sharjah exceeded 300,000 and that SEWA is continuing the expansion of the natural gas network in the new areas of Sharjah and the Eastern Region in Kalba and Khorfakkan, where more than 70,000 new subscribers benefited from the natural gas supply in 2018.

He expressed the Authority's keenness to encourage the people of Sharjah to use natural gas as an alternative fuel to benefit from the multiple benefits it achieves compared to the use of liquefied gas (LPG), adding that the natural gas contributes to the preservation of the environment and is available throughout the day in addition to safety and security aspects, not to mention its competitive prices against the high prices of LPG.

Dr. Al Leem pointed out that the natural gas project in Sharjah has achieved great success with a gas network of more than 2,500 kilometers in addition to 90 km in Khorfakkan and 120 km in Kalba.


KSA Awards Wind Project to EDF, UAE's Masdar Consortium

EDF Energies Nouvelles and Abu Dhabi's Masdar lead a consortium which has been awarded a US$500 million wind energy project by Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Energy, Industry and Mineral Resources, state news agency SPA reported on Thursday.


Beijing, Tehran Economic Ties on Rise

Gao Feng Spokesperson for China's Ministry of Commerce said that trade and economic ties between Beijing and Tehran are on the rise. He described economic ties between Iran and China as ‘sustainable and stable’. Iran and China are two important trade and business partners, he stressed in an interview with IRNA.

He put the trade volume exchanged between Iran and China in nine month period of 2018 (from Jan. to Nov.) at US$33.39 billion. The spokesman also put China’s exports value to Iran at US$13.65 billion, adding that Iran exported US$19.74 billion worth of products to China in the same period.

He said that economic cooperation between the two sides are expected to increase in coming years. China attaches great importance to its relation with the Islamic Republic of Iran, he maintained.

Despite US unilateral sanctions imposed on Iran, Chinese Foreign Ministry has announced that it would continue its legitimate trade and economic ties with the Islamic Republic, he said, adding, “in the same direction, Islamic Republic of Iran has welcomed the growing cooperation with China in One Belt One Road or Silk Road Economic Belt.” - Mehr



Waha Adds Faregh Field to Libyan Totals

Waha Oil Company, a NOC subsidiary, completed preparations on another horizontal well in the Faregh field ahead of the planned start of second-phase experimental gas production. Waha is expected to start the second-phase of experimental gas production at the end of Q1 but was able to move the date forward by almost two months.

According to NOC, the initial tests indicate that the B B-14-59 well is expected to produce up to 24 Mscf/d of gas, and 1,500 bpd of condensate. This well is in addition to the expected 33 Mscf/d of gas, and 1,400 bpd of condensate production capacity of well B B-10-59, completed in November 2018.

NOC chairman, Mustafa Sanalla thanked staff dedicated to this project and underlined the importance of a refocused Faregh field to provide gas for local community use, and the fostering of further regional economic development.


WB Ups Algeria's Growth Forecasts for 2019-2020

The World Bank has raised its growth forecasts for the Algerian economy in 2019 and 2020, according to the updated forecasts of this international financial institution, published Tuesday, in Washington. This institution banks, from now on, on a 2.3% growth rate in 2019 against 2% in the previous report on the World Economic Outlook, published last June, i.e. a 0.3% rise. The updated forecasts for 2019 remain, however, slightly low compared to those of 2018, where Algeria’s gross domestic product increased by 2.5%, according to the World Bank. This slight drop is mainly due to the progressive fall in public expenditure, said the Bank.

“Algeria’s growth will slow down by 2.3% because of the progressive fall in public expenditure, which experienced a significant increase last year,” said the World Bank in the note on the economic prospects in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, accompanying this report. It should be noted that this slowdown is expected in the wake of “the darkening of the global economic prospects” that the World Bank foresees this year.

This year will be marked by a stagnation of the recovery in the countries exporting basic products, coinciding with the slowdown of the activity in the countries importing such goods, said the source. The World Bank group adjusted its forecasts upward for 2020, expecting a 1.8% growth in Algeria against 1.3% anticipated in June, up by 0.5%. This rate will also be maintained in 2021.


Saudi Aramco to Issue Bonds in Q2 2019

Saudi Aramco will issue bonds in the second quarter of 2019, Saudi Arabia’s energy minister said. The Saudi oil giant has considered issuing bonds to help finance its planned acquisition of a controlling stake in petrochemical maker SABIC.

The deal is expected to involve the purchase of all or nearly all of the 70% stake in SABIC held by the Public Investment Fund (PIF), the kingdom’s top sovereign wealth fund. That implies a deal value of roughly US$70 billion, though the acquisition price has not been made public yet.

Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said Aramco will release its financials and reserves when it issues the planned bonds, which will be denominated in US dollars, but added that the expected bond issuance is not linked to the SABIC acquisition.

“The bond issue is intended to give Aramco multiple sources of capital,” Falih told reporters. “With or without the SABIC transaction a company the size of Aramco — its capital program and its capital spend is going to be from US$40 to US$50 billion a year — it’s very prudent they have access to the capital market.” Aramco is working with JP Morgan and Morgan Stanley on the SABIC acquisition.


Egypt Plans Japanese Yen Denominated Bonds

Egypt plans to issue US$2 billion worth of Japanese yen denominated bonds in the coming week, two government sources said.

Proceeds from the issue of so-called Samurai bonds will be used to repay debts of state oil company Egyptian General Petroleum Corp (EGPC), said the sources, speaking on condition of anonymity.