Basmati Prices Fall as India Awaits Clarity on Iran Export Payment Mode

Basmati paddy is being sold at Rs 4,700 (~US$66) per 100 kg –– which is around 5% lower compared to a fortnight ago –– as traders and companies await government clarity on the export payment mechanism to Iran. The industry has requested the government to issue guidelines to ensure that payments against rice exports to Iran will be guaranteed in view of the US doing away with waivers for import of crude oil from Iran by India. Iran has remained the largest importer of basmati rice from India in recent years, by buying over 30% of the total basmati rice exported from India. Traders said there was volatility in the market as things were unclear. “Market has shown a fall of 5% since April 22 till date, although exporters have stock. Prices can further fall in the coming days if we don’t get clarity on Iran demand,” said Rajesh Paharia, a Delhi-based grain trader. Prices of different varieties of basmati paddy have seen a fall in Haryana mandi, he said.

“The 1121 steamed basmati paddy prices fell by 2.4% to Rs 8,100 (~US$114) per 100 kg while the traditional basmati paddy has fallen 7.8% to Rs 4,700 (~US$66) per 100 kg in the past 15- 18 days,” said Paharia. Companies said that if Iran is unable to import Indian basmati rice because of the nonexistence of an export payment mechanism, then rice prices would go down in India in the coming paddy season.  This could impact basmati planting in Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir. Paharia said Indian companies have started talks with Saudi Arabia and traders in the UAE to offload the huge stocks they are holding now. “Now that the US has abolished the waiver for import of crude oil from Iran by India, there is uncertainty among exporters whether or not to accept fresh orders since they are worried about receipt of payments against such supplies,” said Vinod Kumar Kaul, executive director, All India Rice Exporters Association.

Basmati rice is a major commodity in the agricultural export basket of India fetching close to Rs 30,000 crore (~US$4.2 billion) in foreign exchange, said Kaul. An agreement had been signed by the Indian and Iranian government on November 2, 2018, that India will import crude oil from Iran using a rupee-based payment mechanism through UCO Bank.  Under this bilateral mechanism, UCO Bank remits payment to Indian exporters against exports to Iran.

In 2011-12, basmati rice exports from India to Iran was only 6.18 lakh tons. After setting up this bilateral payment mechanism through UCO Bank, exports from India to Iran grew substantially to 14.80 lakh ton in 2018-19. - Economic Times


Peugeot Offers New Fuel-Efficient Model in UAE

French carmaker Peugeot is offering motorists in the UAE an efficient solution to the rising cost of motoring with its recently launched 508 fastback. Peugeot 508 is the latest generation of the company’s sport sedan, and is equipped with a 1.6L turbo engine delivering 165 hp, and a top speed of 223km/h, all with a frugal fuel consumption of 14.6km/l, it said.

The Peugeot 508 fastback has been designed with compact coupe-inspired aerodynamics making it more fuel efficient. Compared to its predecessor, it has been given a weight reduction of 70kg, resulting in improved economy, safety and performance.

The 508 is packed with the latest cutting-edge technology including a variety of driving aids such as: active safety brake and distance alert, lane keeping assist, driver attention alert and active blind spot monitoring system. These are all included alongside the brand’s innovative i-cockpit.

Peugeot’s compact SUV, the 2008, takes the lead in the Peugeot SUV range in terms of fuel economy, with a consumption rate of 15.5km/l. Its 1.6L engine delivers a top speed of 188 km/h, and goes from 0 -100 kph in 13.1 seconds. The entry model to Peugeot’s SUV range combines robust exterior design and economic performance offering a practical driving package.

The Peugeot 3008 is the French brand’s flagship SUV, powered by a 1.6L turbo, 165hp engine complete with a 6-speed automatic gearbox ensuring maximum efficiency when it comes to fuel consumption - maintaining 15.1km/l. The multi award-winning 3008 was named the ‘Public Car of the Year’ through a public vote at the 2018 Middle East Car of the Year Awards.

Considered the family-friendly SUV - thanks to its spacious 7-seat interior - the Peugeot 5008 is the brand’s largest SUV. Its 1.6L Turbo engine offers 15.1km/l, a rate similar to its smaller sibling, the 3008, and similarly reaches a top speed of 201 kph, and 0–100 kph in 9.9 seconds.

Samir Cherfan, senior vice president for sales and marketing, Peugeot Middle East, said: “As fuel prices continue to rise in the UAE, we have a solution for our customers with a range of stylish and economical cars.”

“We are shaking-up the industry with unmatchable offers, cutting-edge technology and premium quality products,” he said. “Over the past two years we’ve launched two premium SUVs, the 3008 and 5008, and, most recently our elegant sport sedan, the 508. Since reintroducing the brand in the GCC we have doubled our market share, reflecting consumers' confidence in the Peugeot brand and our products. In our efforts to boost this growth, we are expanding our dealer network and partners beyond our existing presence in the UAE, Kuwait, Qatar and Oman,” he added.


Egypt Desert Capital Plan Faces Delays Amid Battles for Funds

Egypt’s government wants to start running the nation from a new capital in the desert from mid-2020, but the US$58 billion project is struggling to raise funds and needs to overcome other challenges after investors pulled out. Workers are rushing to build core areas of the new city to replace Cairo, the existing capital on the Nile that has become a traffic-clogged, urban sprawl of more than 20 million people. The project, launched in 2015 by Abdel Fattah al-Sisi a year after he was first elected president, aims to offer a clean and efficient base for the government and finance industry, as well as homes for at least 6.5 million people.

But the project, which also seeks to lift an economy dented by political turmoil after 2011, lost a lead investor from the UAE and is now being run by the Housing Ministry and the army’s Engineering Authority. “There is very strong interest from the political leadership in the project,” said Ahmed Zaki Abdeen, a retired general who heads the company building the new city, told Reuters.
But he said “the large scale of the work leads to large scale problems”, such as finding enough skilled labor to wire up the “smart city” and raising about 1tn Egyptian pounds (US$58 billion) in financing over coming years from land sales and other investment. “We need very extensive financing and the state doesn’t have money to give me,” said Abdeen, adding that about 20% of investment so far had come from abroad, including up to US$4.5 billion from China. The new city, known for now as the New Administrative Capital, is eventually expected to cover about 700 sq km.

The first phase, covering about 168 sq km, will have ministries, residential neighborhoods, a diplomatic quarter and a financial district. With parks and tree-lined avenues, the city will consume an estimated 650,000 cubic meters a day of water from the North African nation’s scarce resources. At the construction site, about 45km (28 miles) east of Cairo, diggers and cranes clutter the landscape and wide roads run between empty plots and part-finished buildings. Workers for China State Construction Engineering Corp (CSCEC) lay foundations for the business district, where 21 skyscrapers including Africa’s tallest at 85 stories are planned. Abdeen said he hoped a US$1.2 billion electrified train link from Cairo to the city, also being built by a Chinese firm, would be ready in 18 months. Before then the city would be served by electric buses, he said.

However, a US$20 billion deal for the second project phase agreed in 2016 with China Fortune Land Development Co Ltd fell through over financial terms. The second and third phases had been “postponed”, he added. Despite setbacks, Egypt’s general-turned-president has been keen to show off the project, taking visiting French President Emmanuel Macron on a helicopter tour of the site in January. David Sims, author of Egypt’s Desert Dreams, a book on development projects, said the backing of Egypt’s presidency and military made the project “too big to fail”, although he said that did not guarantee people would want to live there. “It’s one thing to have an army of laborers and lots of machinery out there pushing dirt around but it will be another thing to see if it all comes together,” he said.


Rise in Oman Crude in April

The average price of Oman Crude Oil Future’s Contract on the Dubai Mercantile Exchange (DME) witnessed a hike by 6.2 % in April 2019 compared with price trends during the previous month. The official selling price for Oman Crude Oil during trading in April 2019, for the delivery month of June 2019, settled at US$71.15, which was higher by US$4.18 per barrel compared with March 2019 trading prices, the Ministry of Oil and Gas stated in its monthly review for April. The daily average trading marker price ranged between US$68.24 per barrel and US$74.73 per barrel.

Oman’s total production of crude oil and condensate throughout April 2019 reached 29.114 million barrels representing a daily average of 970,476 barrels. Of this total, exports reached 23.949 million representing a daily average of 798,301 barrels. Asian markets accounted for the lion’s share of Omani crude oil exports during April 2019. China was the largest importer of Oman export blend crude oil with a 83.83 % share (up 2.46 % compared with the previous month). Likewise, imports by Japan and India increased by 5.11 % and 1.74 % to reach 10.55 % and 5.62 % respectively from total imports.

Futures trading of crude oil prices witnessed a healthier trading movement during April 2019 compared with March 2019 for most major crude oil benchmarks around the world. The average price for West Texas Intermediate crude oil at the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX) has averaged US$63.91 (which was higher by US$5.51 compared with previous trading’s month). The average price for North Sea Brent mix on the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) in London ended at US$71.63 per barrel, up US$4.60 compared with March 2019.

“The higher prices of crude oil during April trade 2019 were influenced by several positive factors that directly affected oil prices, most notably the imposition of US sanctions on Iran and Venezuela which thus affected oil supplies. In addition, Opec and its allies continue to cut production for six months starting in January 2019. They have pledged to cut output by 1.2 million barrels per day since the beginning of the year to reduce surplus and support prices,” the ministry said.


Saudi Elenex 2019 Ends

The 22nd edition of Saudi Elenex – the international trade exhibition for Electricity, Alternative Energy, Lighting, Power Generation, and Water successfully concluded amid strong international and local participation. The overwhelming participation witnessed by the 2019 edition of the event once again highlighted its pivotal role as an interactive platform that facilitates dialogue between VIPs and key decision makers from the public and private sectors in the fields of natural resources and renewable energy. Saudi Elenex 2019, which was held at the Riyadh International Convention & Exhibition Centre (RICEC), showcased a range of cutting-edge technologies and innovations in the renewable and non-renewable energy sectors at a time when the Kingdom’s renewable energy market is witnessing steady growth, underlining national efforts to increase power generation based on renewable energy. These efforts aim to achieve 40 gigawatts of photovoltaic (PV) solar power, 16 gigawatts of wind power and 3 gigawatts of concentrated solar power through large-scale investments by 2030.

Held under the patronage of Saudi Electricity Company, with support from SABIC and King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) as research partner and in line with the Saudi Sustainable Energy and Technology Forum (Saudi SETF 2019), Saudi Elenex 2019 turned out to be an ideal opportunity to draw the international community’s attention to the successive developments and remarkable achievements in the Saudi energy sector. The strategies of the Ministry of Energy, Industry and Mineral Resources that present promising investment and employment opportunities attracted considerable international interest as well. These include the launch of seven solar PV projects with a capacity of 1.52 GW and a direct investment of US$1.51 billion. The exhibition also served as the ideal venue to form new deals and partnerships that complement the development of renewable energy value chains and the adoption of best practices in manufacturing, research and development, which will further support the Saudi economy.

Mohammad Al Al-Sheikh, Head of Marketing, Riyadh Exhibition Company Ltd, pointed out that the success of Saudi Elenex 2019 underscores the growing local and international confidence in the Saudi renewable energy sector, which has exceptional opportunities to generate clean energy. He further highlighted the existence of strong fundamentals, including the abundance of solar power throughout the year, that underpin the Kingdom's leadership in the global renewable energy landscape. The exhibition is an important strategic platform that unifies national efforts aimed at supporting advanced technological innovations in the service of renewable and non-renewable energy sectors, he added. This falls in line with the Kingdom's strategy to adopt a pioneering methodology to accelerate the pace of development to achieve the objectives of the “National Transformation Program 2020” and “Saudi Vision 2030”.

Al Al-Sheikh continued: “The exhibition was successful in facilitating effective partnerships between the public and private sectors, thereby opening new channels of communication between leading manufacturers, distributors and national and international companies. Furthermore, it witnessed the launch of promising projects that are set to benefit from Saudi Arabia's competitiveness and attractiveness as the largest regional market for solar energy, which is capable of contributing 50% of global solar capacity by 2030. The success of the latest edition of Elenex reflects relentless efforts led by a team of experts at Riyadh International Convention & Exhibition Centre, raising the event’s standards to new heights each year. With 38 years of expertise in organizing exhibitions, conferences and interactive events in the Kingdom, we look forward to further expanding the scope of Saudi Elenex to contribute to bringing in latest innovations and localization of advanced technologies to support the development of a sustainable renewable energy sector.”

Meanwhile, the Saudi Sustainable Energy and Technology Forum (Saudi SETF 2019), which was held in conjunction with Saudi Elenex 2019 reviewed the current policies on renewable energy and power generation projects, as well as ways to address challenges related to the manufacturing of solar and wind technologies locally. Besides, the Forum reviewed the evaluation of local financing tools and opportunities for solar and energy storage projects and identified investment opportunities for the renewable energy in the Kingdom. Apart from showcasing the results of studies on finance and business models, the Forum also explored potential partnerships.


TransGlobe Updates Egypt

TransGlobe Energy saw an average of 13,616 bpd of crude during Q1 from its Egyptian assets. TransGlobe’s Egyptian crude oil is sold at a quality discount to Dated Brent. The company received an average price of US$54.93 per barrel during the quarter

In Egypt’s Eastern Desert two development oil wells were drilled during Q1. At West Bakr, the company drilled and completed the M-10 replacement well (M-10 Twin) as an Asl A oil producer which was placed on production in February and is currently producing around 400 bpd. It also re-entered/deepened two suspended oil wells and converted them to water disposal wells (K-8 WDW and K-10 WDW).

At North West Gharib, the NWG 38A-8 well was drilled to a total depth of 1,631 meters, targeting the southern area of the NWG 38A Red Bed pool to provide water injection/reservoir pressure support for the 38A pool. The well was completed and placed on production at an initial average rate of 45 bpd and 100 barrels per day of water. The company said that sased on early production results, the well was converted to water injection during Q2-2019 to initiate pressure support for the NWG 38A pool.

Subsequent to the quarter, TransGlobe drilled two wells in West Bakr resulting in an oil discovery at HW-2X and a development oil well at H-30. The HW-2X exploration well was drilled to a total depth of 1,654 meters and cased as a Yusr oil well. Based on open-hole logs and wireline samples, the well encountered an internally estimated 34.5 meters of net oil pay in the Yusr formation. The HW-2X well was completed and placed on production in early May at an initial rate of about 625 bpd. The H-30 development well was drilled to a total depth of 1,655 meters and cased as a Yusr oil well. Based on open-hole logs and wireline samples, the well encountered an internally estimated 7.8 meters of net oil pay in the Yusr formation. The H-30 well is scheduled for completion and first oil production by the end of May. Following H-30, the drilling rig is scheduled to drill a development well at West Bakr (K-63) and one exploration well at North West Gharib (NWG 38 D-1).

In the Western Desert, TransGlobe filed a development lease application with EGPC in February for the South Ghazalat SGZ 6X oil discovery. It is targeting production from this concession prior to yearend. At South Alamein, the company was unsuccessful in its attempts to secure military approval for its desired drilling location. In light of recent events, TransGlobe has recorded an impairment loss of $8.4 million and will continue to negotiate access to the western portion of this concession.


Qatargas Hits Milestone

Qatargas has announced that Qatargas Ras Laffan Terminal Operations (RLTO) has safely loaded the 10,000th cargo shipment of non-LNG product in the Ras Laffan Industrial City (RLIC).

Since starting operations in 2006, the dedicated teams at Qatargas have "efficiently and reliably" loaded more than 4bn barrels of product to customers all over the world. With demand continuing to grow for the vast array of products produced in RLIC, RLTO is entrusted with handling approximately 1mn barrels of oil equivalent of product every single day.

To celebrate the important milestone, a ceremony was held onboard the receiving vessel ‘Serjeant’ – an LPG tanker.

Ahmad Helal al-Mohannadi, chief operating officer (North); Fahad al-Khater, chief operating officer (South); Abdullah Khalid Idris, Qatargas RLTO manager and other senior Qatargas officials attended the ceremony alongside senior officials from the Ras Laffan Port.

The ceremony began with speeches by Qatargas chief operating officer (North) and chief operating officer (South), followed by the presentation of a commemorative plaque to the master of the ‘Serjeant’.

Captain CP Gupta thanked Qatargas for its trust, and expressed his appreciation for choosing ‘Serjeant’ as the 10,000th vessel to load from the RLTO facility at Ras Laffan.

Qatargas RLTO was launched in 2006 as the single operator responsible for the storage and loading activities of non-LNG hydrocarbon liquids and sulfur produced in RLIC.

With one operator managing the safe storage and loading of non-LNG products, significant economies of scale were captured, and personnel were safeguarded with uniform safety standards.

The main customers of the services rendered by Qatargas RLTO are Qatar Petroleum, Qatargas, Al Khaleej Gas, Qatar Shell GTL, Dolphin Energy Limited, Laffan Refinery Company Limited 1 and 2, Oryx GTL, Ras Laffan Olefins Company and Barzan.

It is anticipated that the number of companies utilizing the RLTO services will expand as various growth projects come into fruition.


Restarting Businesses in Fallujah, Kirkuk & Mosul

IOM Iraq’s Enterprise Development Fund (EDF) encourages rapid, large-scale private sector job creation and economic recovery through tailored support to Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). The EDF is a financing mechanism that provides SMEs with financial capital to contribute to their recovery and/or expansion.

To assess the capacity of the market to absorb medium-sized grants, the EDF market assessment was rolled out in Kirkuk, Fallujah, and Mosul in November 2018. The assessment was led by IOM Iraq’s Return and Recovery Unit (RRU) and contributes to the necessary groundwork to introduce the EDF in any location.

Please see below the assessments for three governorates:

•Fallujah, Anbar governorate
•Kirkuk, Kirkuk governorate
•Mosul, Ninewa governorate


New Appointment Made at Iran's Petroleum Ministry

Through a decree issued by Shojaeddin Bazargani, Deputy Petroleum Minister for Legal and Majlis Affairs, Seyyed Mohammad Tabatabaei-Nejad has been appointed as the Director General for Legal Affairs at the Oil Ministry replacing Taghi Ebrahimi. - Shana


BPGIC & Sahara Energy in Partnership Agreement to Set Up Refinery in Fujairah

Brooge Petroleum and Gas Investment Co (BPGIC) and Sahara Energy Resources DMCC Dubai Tuesday evening signed a partnership agreement to set up an oil refinery capable of producing bunker fuel with a capacity of up to 250,000 barrel per day (bpd) in the Emirate of Fujairah.

BPGIC and Sahara Energy said the facility will be one of the first of its kind in the Middle East and North Africa to comply with the new regulations of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) 2020 by capping sulfur content in shipping fuels. The first phase of the planned refinery is expected to be completed by Q1 2020.

Mohammed Sanusi Barkindo, Secretary General of OPEC, attended the signing ceremony here in Abu Dhabi and said the deal "evolved through the drive of the UAE's leadership in promoting and supporting such private initiatives and expediting the diversification of their economies." He underlined the "unique role of the private sector as a critical engine for economic vision and strategies." Commenting on the signing, Nicolaas Paardenkooper, BPGIC CEO, said, "The new facility will contribute to bolstering the growing status of the Emirate of Fujairah in the Oil & Gas industry and help meet the growing demand for shipping fuel that complies with the new international laws on capping sulfur content in shippingfuels, as most of current shipping fuel contains up to 3,5% sulfur." New regulations of IMO will require ships to use fuels with a sulfur content below 0.5% beginning in 2020. "It falls in line with the company's expansion strategy and its growing contribution to the development of the Oil & Gas industry in the UAE by injecting more investments into this essential sector," he noted.

Executive Director, Sahara Group, Wale Ajibade, said the Refinery Unit would from its location in Fujairah make Sahara Energy DMCC a major supplier of IMO 2020 compliant products in the UAE as well as in African, Asian and European Markets.

"Sahara Energy DMCC is delighted to be part of this landmark leap into the future of clean energy. We are constantly seeking opportunities to expand our operations and develop the sector in line with global best practices. Bringing energy to life is the passion that drives us at Sahara and we are committed to ensuring that our energy is accessible, clean and ultimately reliable for promoting sustainable development globally," he said.

Nicolaas Paardenkooper, BPGIC CEO highlighted the listing process of BPGIC on Nasdaq Stock Exchange which started in April as a resounding success conducive for building up investor confidence in the company and its expansion plans.

Wale Ajibade said Sahara Group continues to operate as foremost promoter of clean energy initiatives, working in collaboration with prominent global stakeholders. In addition to other interventions, Sahara Group recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) to promote reliable access to affordable and sustainable energy in Africa.


IEA: Rising US Oil Output Helps Fill Gap Left by Iran, Venezuela

The world will require very little extra oil from OPEC this year as booming U.S. output will offset falling exports from Iran and Venezuela, the International Energy Agency said on Wednesday.

The IEA, which coordinates the energy policies of industrial nations, said Washington’s decision to end sanctions waivers that had allowed some importers to continue to buying Iranian crude added to the “confusing supply outlook.”

“However, there have been clear and, in the IEA’s view, very welcome signals from other producers that they will step in to replace Iran’s barrels, albeit gradually in response to requests from customers,” the Paris-based IEA said in its monthly report.

“There is certainly scope for other producers to step up production,” it said, adding that it estimated OPEC states in April had produced about 440,000 barrels per day (bpd) less than the amount agreed in a production pact, with Saudi Arabia producing 500,000 bpd below its allocation.

The IEA said there was a “modest offset to supply worries from the demand side”, as it expected growth in global oil demand to be 1.3 million bpd in 2019, or 90,000 bpd less than previously forecast. It said 2018 demand growth had been estimated at 1.2 million bpd.

It said global oil demand would average 100.4 million bpd in 2019, exceeding 100 million bpd for the first time. It also said higher output from producers outside the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, especially the United States in the second quarter, would keep the market well supplied.

U.S. production of oil and condensates was forecast to rise by 1.7 million bpd in 2019. Crude oil would account for about 1.2 million bpd of that rise, the IEA said, although it added that said this would be lower than U.S. crude oil output growth of 1.6 million bpd in 2018.

The IEA said reduced rig counts and maintenance in the Gulf of Mexico had affected U.S. output in the first half of the year, but an uptick in drilling permits and hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, early in the year would lift output.

Global oil supply in April fell 300,000 bpd, the IEA said, with Canada, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Iran leading the losses. But OPEC crude output rose by 60,000 bpd to 30.21 million bpd, on higher flows from Libya, Nigeria and Iraq, it added. The IEA said the call on OPEC would be 30.9 million bpd in the second quarter of 2019 and would fall to 30.2 million bpd in the second half of the year. - Reuters


US Believes Iran Proxies May Be Behind Fujairah Tanker Attacks: Official

U.S. national security agencies believe proxies sympathetic to or working for Iran may have attacked four tankers off the United Arab Emirates rather than Iranian forces themselves, a U.S. official familiar with the latest U.S. assessments said on Tuesday.

The official said possible perpetrators might include Houthi rebels in Yemen and Iran-backed Shi’ite militias based in Iraq but said Washington did not have hard evidence on who sabotaged the four vessels, including two Saudi tankers on Sunday near Fujairah port, which lies just outside the Strait of Hormuz.

Saudi Arabia said armed drones hit two oil pumping stations in the kingdom on Tuesday in what it called a “cowardly” act of terrorism.

A fifth of global oil consumption passes through the Strait of Hormuz from Middle East crude producers to major markets in Asia, Europe, North America and beyond. The narrow waterway separates Iran from the Arabian Peninsula.

On Monday, a U.S. official familiar with U.S. intelligence had said Iran was a leading candidate for having carried out attacks on the four tankers but that the United States did not have conclusive proof Tehran was behind them.

Iran has rejected the allegation and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Tuesday that “extremist individuals” in the U.S. government were pursuing dangerous policies, amid a war of words with Washington over sanctions. - Reuters


Pakistan to Pay Heavy Price If Iran Takes Legal Action on IP: FM

Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said on Tuesday that halting the multi-billion dollar Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project ( IPI Pipeline ) is going to cost Pakistan a heavy penalty, IRNA reported.

Speaking to the local media, the official expressed concern over tension between Iran and the United States, saying it is impacting the region. The official who briefed the National Assembly Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs in Islamabad, noted that Pakistan is looking to make progress on the project but there are some third party hurdles including sanctions against Iran. He said Pakistan is discussing this issue with Iran.

Qureshi further pointed to his country’s financial problems saying, although the IP pipeline is a great project and will contribute significantly to the future of Pakistan’s energy supply, currently the country is wrestling with financial problems.

On Monday, Pakistani daily Express Tribune reported that a high-ranking Iranian delegation is due to visit Islamabad in near future to discuss the stalled Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project (known as IP project).

Near 20 years after the initiation of talks over the peace gas pipeline, beginning as the Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline project, and despite the fact that Iran has completed its part of the pipeline in its territory, Pakistan has fallen behind the target to take delivery of gas, initially scheduled for 2014. Pakistan blames U.S. sanctions on Iran as the main hurdle in the way of the IP project completion. - Tehran Times


Iran's Steel Industry Accounts for Two-Thirds of Revenues from Metal Exports

Iran, hard hit by US sanctions on its oil sales, now faces restrictions on metals exports -- but industry insiders say foreign income from mining and steel will be harder to curb. Tensions are soaring a year after Washington withdrew from a multilateral 2015 deal over Iran's nuclear program. A US aircraft strike group is heading for the Persian Gulf and Tehran has said it will stop abiding by some restrictions on its nuclear activities. US President Donald Trump last week imposed sanctions aimed at punishing anyone who buys or trades in Iranian iron, steel, aluminum or copper. That came after Washington in November re-instated sanctions aimed at slashing the Islamic republic's oil exports, by far its top source of foreign currency. But the steel and mining sector, Iran's second-largest source of foreign revenue, may prove harder to target.

Relatively decentralized, made up of small and medium-sized companies and selling mostly to nearby countries, it is less vulnerable to sanctions, experts say. "The US cannot completely stop exports. Some countries, companies with no US ties, are OK to work with Iran," said industry analyst Mojtaba Fereydouni. "Also our main export markets are our neighbors -- Iraq and Afghanistan, and recently Syria and Oman." He pointed out that Iranian metals firms, no strangers to sanctions, were relatively unscathed by an initial tranche of restrictions re-imposed last year.

"In August, steelmakers were barred from importing essential raw materials and any trade in steel products... yet exports are up" for the year, he said. According to official data, Iran's mineral exports grew about 20% year-on-year to US$6.2 billion in the 12 months to March, with steel making up over two-thirds of that figure.

- Sector cushioned -

Another industry official, Amir Sabbagh, said that while metals firms will face extra costs, they will be "manageable" as the country's weakened currency has made exports more profitable. Iran's rial has lost more than 57% of its value against the dollar on the black market in the last year, making exports more lucrative.

Sabbagh, an official with a state-owned mining firm, wrote on Telegram that the sanctions' main impacts would likely be to increase sea freight costs and reduce exporters' bargaining power.
The sector could also be hurt by banking sanctions re-imposed by Washington in November. Analyst Henry Rome warned that this could hurt Iranian importers who buy many of their raw materials from states further afield such as China, South Korea, Kazakhstan and Russia.

"The financial sanctions will choke off at least some of these relationships," said Rome, a specialist on Iran sanctions for the Washington-based Eurasia Group consultancy.

- Jobs at risk? -

But Tehran-based economist Ehsan Soltani said minerals firms may be cushioned by the fact that their revenues, particularly from steel shipments, rarely make it back to Iran's financial system.
Instead, they are largely kept outside the country to pay for imports. Only one-third of Iran's US$40 billion in non-oil export revenue returned to the country in the last Iranian year, economy minister advisor Hossein Mirshojaeian told semi-official news agency ISNA.

Steelmakers say they keep the money outside Iran in order to pay for raw materials, arguing that they cannot bring it into Iran due to the banking sanctions anyway, Soltani said. Despite these factors, analyst Rome warned that potential factory closures and job losses would increase pressure on the government. Mining employs 200,000 people directly and thousands more in downstream businesses, according to Soltani.

But Fereydouni said the industry could be protected by the fact the government retains a majority share in most major companies, while smaller, downstream firms can fly under the US radar. "Major companies... are still quasi-governmental and therefore will not lay people off under any circumstances" for fear of the political and social consequences, he said. Ultimately, he added, sanctions are "nothing new" for Iran's mining industry. "We have always been sanctioned. Sometimes less, sometimes more," he said. - France 24


Egypt to Attract Billions of Dollars of Investment in Petroleum Sector in 2019-20

Egypt’s petroleum sector is set to attract US$10 billion of investment in its coming financial year, adding to the US$30 billion that has been invested over the past three years, according to an industry head. Mohamed Saad, head of the oil chamber at the Federation of Egyptian Industries, told Zawya last week investments in current and past financial years have “helped Egypt to achieve self-sufficiency” in natural gas production . Egypt’s new financial year begins on July 1.

Saad said that the natural gas sector had represented “an overload” on the state in the past as a result of weak production, but said the situation had now transformed, with the country transitioning from self-sufficiency towards becoming a natural gas exporter.

“During 2018 Egypt was able to achieve self-sufficiency of gas, where the volume of domestic production (rose) to 6.6 Bscf/d, while the total volume of investments for oil and gas exploration and the development of fields producing them in 2018 amounted to about US$10 billion,” he said. “Shell , Eni And Mobil are playing an important role in pumping these investments in Egyptian petroleum sector,” he added.

He highlighted the North Delta, Western desert and areas of the Red Sea as the most important sites for petroleum exploration, whereas the Mediterranean Sea is seen as the most important site for natural gas exploration. He predicted that current exploration efforts in the country will begin to pay off by 2021.

“Egypt has two natural gas liquefaction plants with a capacity of about 2 Bscf/d that (are) enabling Egypt to become a regional power center in the region, besides helping us to convert all taxis to natural gas before the end of the year and use the rest of production in the petrochemicals industries and exporting to nearby countries,” Saad said.

Previously, Egypt’s minister of petroleum, Tarek Molla, had said that between 2014-18 Egypt had signed 63 petroleum deals. Exploration agreements for 12 new petroleum concessions were awarded by the Egyptian General Petroleum Corporation in February, which it said would lead to investments of between US$750-US$800 million.


Project Warehouse by Festember Returns to Abu Dhabi

This Ramadan, the popular fair Project Warehouse returned to Abu Dhabi for a vibrant celebration of contemporary culture, featuring a diverse array of art, cuisine, fashion and design. Organized by Festember and hosted by Yas Island, Abu Dhabi’s leisure and entertainment hub, the vibrant pop-up event is taking place from May 15-18.

With a remarkable new location – the live entertainment venue, du Forum, located on the Yas Island - and a thrilling theme focused around lights, structures, art installations and games, Project Warehouse visitors will experience unique entertainment, retail and food and beverage offerings that highlight Abu Dhabi’s reputation as a world-class destination with something for everyone.

“We see this pop-up event as a playground celebrating contemporary arts and culture during the evenings of Ramadan,” said Latifa Al Hamed, Festember owner. “For only four nights, Project Warehouse brings a carefully-curated selection of fashion retail, gourmet food and beverage, art installations and Majlis entertainment. This is an innovative expression that still ties back to our culture and heritage.”

“Yas Island is delighted to welcome Project Warehouse this year to honor the UAE’s timeless cultural scene,” said Leon Marsh, associate director of events, Yas Island. “The island’s yearly calendar of events continues to grow and diversify to include more of these experiences, which is testament to our commitment to providing a dynamic destination for our local community as well as international visitors.”

Art themes at the core of Project Warehouse range from female empowerment to rural Emirati populations and historic mining communities from across the region. The event features the work of various local and international artists.

This year, Project Warehouse welcomes the amazing artist from Los Angeles, Oliver Coreaux, who transform luxury handbags and accessories by “weaving stories to create distinct visual narratives.”

In commemoration of his first visit to the UAE, Coreaux unveiled an accessory capsule collection that conveys an inherent soulfulness that is evident through his engaging works.

Coreaux is painting a series of tote bags and accessories by Goyard, Celine, Hermes, Louis Vuitton and the fashionable Rimowa, each of which showcases a visual collage comprised of text, symbols and other relatable forms.

Additionally, the event’s retail section also captures the exclusive feel of a high-end fashion boutique, enabling various brands to showcase the eclecticism that informs the region’s designers. Project Warehouse gathers a diverse group of trendsetters catering to all tastes, from the budget conscious to the most fashion-forward. Amongst participating brands and designers include: Aisha’s Charms – Accessories; Fabula Jewels – Jewellery; Mo De Sel – Accessories; Shell – Abaya; Spindle – Clothing; The Library Fragrance – Perfumes; and many others.

Project Warehouse’s dedicated fashion hub, The Loft, features young, upcoming designers and virgin brands that are launched during the festival and have an exclusive and dedicated first viewing in front of our event visitors. An area specially built and tailored to accommodate unique fashion, lifestyle, beauty and home styling items.

Lastly, there is the food. “If art is the core, comfort food is the key ‘ingredient,’” added Al Hamed. “Think paratha and chips Oman, chai halib, karak, hotdogs in pastries, ever-so-sweet deserts... but gourmet versions.”

Participating comfort food purveyors include JetLag – Coffee; Royce – Japanese Chocolates; House of Pops – popsicles; The Cousins – Desserts; Wake and Bake – doughnuts; and Moylos – Burgers, amongst others.

Tickets are priced at Dh65 (US$17.6) for adults, Dh35 (US$9.5) for children and Dh180 (US$48.9) for family (two adults + two kids).


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