UAE's ADNOC Distribution Profits Rise as Growth Strategy Pushes Forward



ADNOC Distribution’s gross profit increased by 37.1% in the company’s non-fuel retail business, while the average amount spent by each customer rose by 12.5%.

ADNOC Distribution’s net profit rose 12.1% to AED 542.2 million (US$147.6 million) in the first quarter of 2018, as it continues to push forward with a growth strategy the company says is “on track”.

In its Q1 financial results released on Wednesday (16 May), ADNOC Distribution noted that gross profits went up 14.3% to AED 1.185 billion (US$322.6 million) compared to the same time period last year, while EBITDA (earnings before interest taxes depreciation and amortization) went up 24.9% to AED 702.8 million (US$191.3 million).

“ADNOC Distribution’s first quarter results illustrate a company that is financially strong and has laid a solid foundation for further growth, with its fuel, non-fuel and cost-efficiency initiatives,” said Saeed Mubarak Al Rashdi, ADNOC Distribution’s acting CEO.

“A strong and profitable ADNOC Distribution is good for shareholders, but it’s also good for customers and the UAE as it allows the company to continue investing in critical infrastructure, technology and human capital that supports the country’s development,” he added.

According to ADNOC, the total fuel volume sold rose 0.9% from Q1 2017, reaching 2.3 billion liters.

Gross profit increased by 37.1% in the company’s non-fuel retail business, while the average amount spent by each customer rose by 12.5%.

Over the course of Q1, the company launched ADNOC Flex, which will be rolled out throughout the UAE in Q2 and Q3 of this year.

Additionally, the company opened its first Géant Express store in Abu Dhabi as it pushes forward with a convenience store revitalization plan.

“Our financial performance in the first quarter was strong, despite some market-wide headwinds, with increases in EBITDA and net profit,” said ADNOC Distribution deputy CEO John Carey.

“This provides us with a solid foundation to continue transforming our business and delivering against our growth strategy.”


17/05/2018




Omani PDO’s Oil Output to Come from EOR by 2025



Petroleum Development Oman (PDO), the nation’s largest oil and gas producer, says it is pressing ahead with its Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) program notwithstanding ongoing fiscal challenges posed by the constrained economic environment.

The program, targeting difficult reservoirs that cannot be produced through primary and secondary means, involves the use of a range of commercial-scale technologies, including chemical EOR, miscible gas injection (MGI) and thermal applications. The goal is to boost the contribution from EOR-based production to more than 23% of PDO’s total output by the year 2025, the majority government-owned oil and gas firm said in its 2017 Sustainability Report.

At the same time, PDO is also investigating a number of “novel EOR technologies” for their efficacy in unlocking difficult hydrocarbon resources. “This is being done through a series of dedicated laboratory and field testing programs,” the company stated.

Notable among PDO’s chemical EOR initiatives in the Marmul Polymer project, Phase 1 of which came into operation more than seven years ago, delivering around 13.7 million barrels of oil since then. The second phase, centering on the injection of polymer into 19 additional wells starting in 2015, has delivered 840,000 barrels of oil to date. Both phases have contributed an average production of 5,755 barrels per day (bpd) of oil in 2017.

Last year, PDO took a Final Investment Decision to implement Phase 3 of the project, entailing the infill drilling of existing wells in the Marmul Al Khlata reservoir, along with waterflood and polymer rotation. Around 80 million barrels of incremental oil is proposed to be developed during this phase, with first oil anticipated by Q1 2023, according to the Sustainability Report.

Miscible sour gas injection — another type of EOR — has boosted oil recovery from PDO’s Birba field by 22% while yielding an additional 50 million barrels of crude since the project was launched around 23 years ago. The recovery rate is projected to climb to 45% as further infill drilling and additional gas injection activities are undertaken.

At Harweel 2AB, miscible gas injection that began in April 2014 was ramped up to full capacity a year later, with the potential to boost recovery from the field by about 45%. Likewise, gas injection in the Sakhiya field, undertaken as part of the Sak miniflood project, is contributing to positive reservoir pressure and slowing depletion rates.

In Qarn Alam, thermal gas-oil-gravity-drainage (T-GOGD) — a thermal based EOR initiative under way since 2011 — is helping enhance hydrocarbon production from the reservoir. Last year alone, 6.8 million barrels of oil was produced following the injection of 3.3 million tons of steam into the Shuaiba oil-bearing formation. Injection rates reached peak levels of 15,000 tons per day.

The Amal steam project — a signature EOR initiative of PDO — achieved an average output of 15,716 bpd in 2017. “There was a continued strong steam injection performance with 2017 representing the highest annual average injection rate of around 7,700 tons per day,” according to the report.


17/05/2018




Salalah Methanol Co. Resumes Production after Periodic Maintenance



Salalah Methanol Company announced the successful completion of its second periodic maintenance and resumption of production operations last week. The maintenance lasted for 35 days.

This was the company’s second maintenance closure after April 2014. Adopting the best factory practices, the plant maintenance is done to restore and renovate the machines in order to enhance the production capacity of the plant, and upgrade the specifications of the design of processing equipment and operating mechanisms by examining the standards and the overall quality of the operation of the facility.

The current maintenance is crucial for the company as the methanol production processes would also be linked to the ammonia plant.

The maintenance process, according to SMC officials, is in the interest of the company to raise the efficiency of the plant and health and safety standards of the employees working in the company.

“Equally important for us is environment for which we are extra cautious. Salalah Methanol plant has been designed for periodic maintenance every four years since its opening in 2010. The plant has set up the best HSE practices with 750,000 continuous working hours without accidents and waste of time.”

Awad bin Hassan al Shanfari, CEO of the Salalah Methanol, said the HSE achievement was among many other achievements made by the company during the year.

“The company is proud of the Omani workforce, which constitutes 65.9% of the total workforce. The company is proud of the success of the company’s Omanization strategy. It demonstrates the interest of the company since its inception in the Omani cadres.” He said.

The company, according to him, keeps on investing on skill development and training of the Omani workforce so they could take the top leadership positions in the company and be partners in progress of the society and economy.

The CEO put stress on the company’s achievement of more than 6 million work hours in the field of HSE, without the occurrence of time-wasting accidents. “This reflects the importance and role of HSE in the company.”

He touched upon the SMC’s role in social responsibility, which is one of the major policy pillars of sustainable development of the company.


17/05/2018




Dow Opens New Innovation Center in Saudi Arabia



Dow Chemical Company has announced the launch of its newly-built innovation center located within the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) premises in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Located in KAUST’s Research and Technology Park, the Dow Innovation Centre will support the company's ramped-up research efforts to address critical needs in the kingdom and the region including increasing energy efficiency and minimizing environmental footprint.

The hitech facility was inaugurated at a grand ceremony in the presence of Dow's executive leadership, the KAUST Board of Trustees, university leadership, and special invited guests from Saudi Arabia. The 13,500 sq m space, which is designed to achieve Leed Gold certification, will house Dow’s Research & Development facilities and the newly established Dow Digital Marketplace Center for the region.

State-of-the-art labs, research areas and offices will provide application development and technical service focused on oil and gas technology solutions, sustainable coating and construction solutions, and industrial chemicals for a variety of applications relevant to Saudi Arabia and the region. The vision for a Dow's Saudi center was born at the start of the two partners’ relationship in 2009, when the US firm became a founding member of the KAUST Industrial Collaboration Program, which works through close academic-research-industry partnership to commercialize research breakthroughs into practical applications and solutions for the market.

The center’s completion marks a significant stage in the growth of the KAUST Research and Technology Park, which is home to leading companies from Saudi Arabia and around the world. Nesma and Partners Contracting Company was the official contractor for the Dow building, while architectural firms HOK and Kirksey Architects had designed the exterior and interior of the center along with Vanderweil Engineers delivering the MEP engineering.

Dow Saudi Arabia President Chuck Swartz said the new Dow Innovation Center marks the culmination of a decade-long journey to have a dedicated facility focused on innovation and talent development to support the growth in the kingdom. “This facility is perfectly aligned to Dow’s strategy and our commitment to this region, employing a highly skilled workforce, a number already are graduates from KAUST with diverse backgrounds in science and engineering,” he noted.

KAUST Interim President Nadhmi Al Nasr said: "The innovation center represents yet another milestone in Dow’s deep and growing commitment to the kingdom and region, which I am proud to say has been largely supported and facilitated by its partnership with KAUST over the years."

“By integrating the profound research developed at the University into industry solutions, the Center is helping to advance KAUST’s larger mission to drive the country’s future knowledge and innovation economy,” he added.

Dow Chemical Company has announced the launch of its newly-built innovation center located within the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) premises in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

Located in KAUST’s Research and Technology Park, the Dow Innovation Centre will support the company's ramped-up research efforts to address critical needs in the kingdom and the region including increasing energy efficiency and minimizing environmental footprint. The hitech facility was inaugurated at a grand ceremony in the presence of Dow's executive leadership, the KAUST Board of Trustees, university leadership, and special invited guests from Saudi Arabia.

The 13,500 sq m space, which is designed to achieve Leed Gold certification, will house Dow’s Research & Development facilities and the newly established Dow Digital Marketplace Center for the region. State-of-the-art labs, research areas and offices will provide application development and technical service focused on oil and gas technology solutions, sustainable coating and construction solutions, and industrial chemicals for a variety of applications relevant to Saudi Arabia and the region.

The vision for a Dow's Saudi center was born at the start of the two partners’ relationship in 2009, when the US firm became a founding member of the KAUST Industrial Collaboration Program, which works through close academic-research-industry partnership to commercialize research breakthroughs into practical applications and solutions for the market. The center’s completion marks a significant stage in the growth of the KAUST Research and Technology Park, which is home to leading companies from Saudi Arabia and around the world.

Nesma and Partners Contracting Company was the official contractor for the Dow building, while architectural firms HOK and Kirksey Architects had designed the exterior and interior of the center along with Vanderweil Engineers delivering the MEP engineering. Dow Saudi Arabia President Chuck Swartz said the new Dow Innovation Center marks the culmination of a decade-long journey to have a dedicated facility focused on innovation and talent development to support the growth in the kingdom.

“This facility is perfectly aligned to Dow’s strategy and our commitment to this region, employing a highly skilled workforce, a number already are graduates from KAUST with diverse backgrounds in science and engineering,” he noted.

KAUST Interim President Nadhmi Al Nasr said: "The innovation center represents yet another milestone in Dow’s deep and growing commitment to the kingdom and region, which I am proud to say has been largely supported and facilitated by its partnership with KAUST over the years."

“By integrating the profound research developed at the University into industry solutions, the Center is helping to advance KAUST’s larger mission to drive the country’s future knowledge and innovation economy,” he added.


17/05/2018




Alawwal-SABB Merger to Create KSA’s 3rd Largest Bank



Saudi British Bank (SABB) and Alawwal Bank have agreed on a merger, Alawwal Bank said on Wednesday, in a deal that would create Saudi Arabia’s third-biggest bank with assets of around US$77 billion.

The merger is the first major banking tie-up in almost 20 years as the kingdom embarks upon a plan to transform the economy and cut its dependence on oil revenues.

The boards of the two banks had reached a non-binding agreement on the share exchange ratio, subject to several conditions, Alawwal Bank said in the statement to the Saudi Arabian bourse.

SABB, which is 40% owned by HSBC Holdings, and Alawwal said in April last year they had agreed to start talks on the merger.

Alawwal is 40% owned by Royal Bank of Scotland.

“A binding agreement is yet to be entered into between Alawwal bank and SABB,” Alawwal Bank said. “Any binding agreement to proceed with the merger will be subject to a number of conditions, including SAMA [central bank], other regulatory authorities, and the shareholders’ approval.”


17/05/2018




Saudi Arabia Plans to Launch Alimony Fund



The Saudi Ministry of Justice is planning to launch an alimony fund similar to the UK’s Child Maintenance Service, in an attempt to empower mothers and provide sustainable living and support, for them and their children.

The alimony fund is dedicated to women who are divorced and facing difficulty in securing monthly expenses from their former husbands. The fund is designed to cover their expenses until a verdict can be reached as to the amount the husband should pay.

"I am so grateful for this fund," said Um Ahmed, a recently separated mother of three. "I am going through a divorce, with no stable source of income for me or my children. My main dispute with my husband was his lack of financial commitment towards me and my kids. This fund will force him to commit financially and will also ensure my children's needs are met."

The fund will be financed by divorced husbands, who are required by law to submit payments to the fund, which are then paid to enrolled women and children. Even if the husband fails to pay on time, the fund still covers the expenses of the enrolled mothers without delays and deducts the amounts from the husbands.

"We are looking forward to see this fund up and running," said the Ministry of Justice. "The ministry has planned well to ensure its sustainability. We researched many similar funds worldwide, such as the Child Maintenance Service in the UK, and used the experience to build a fund that is right for the country. We want to ensure the ministry can act quickly to provide practical solutions for divorced women and their children. We want to demonstrate our steadfast commitment to women in our society and move forward towards the realization of National Transformation Program and Vision 2030, which represents a better future for all our people."

According to the ministry's plan, the number of expected beneficiaries of the fund is expected to reach around 155,000 by 2022.

Saudi Arabia has recently launched several initiatives in support of women in general and Saudi women in particular, both in civic life and in the workplace. The efforts by the Ministry of Justice are designed to complement those initiatives, delivering help for women in providing for and raising their children.


17/05/2018




Investments in New LNG Projects to Help Boost Qatar Stock Exchange



Increased investments in new projects related to expansion of liquefied natural gas (LNG) and those aimed at ensuring self-sufficiency as well as higher foreign ownership limits (FOLs) augur well for the Qatar Stock Exchange (QSE), which is now seeking to diversify investor base.

The strategy was disclosed by the QSE chief executive Rashid bin Ali al-Mansoori-led delegation at the London Investors Forum which was organized in association with leading investment bank Deutsche Bank and QNB Financial Services (QNBFS).

“Despite challenges we believe the macro picture for Qatar remains resilient with the market experts forecasting increased GDP (gross domestic product) forecasts for 2018 taking into account the impact of increased forecast oil prices; an expectation of a sharper rebound in hydrocarbon output and an expectation of a reduced economic impact of the blockade on 2018 GDP,” he told the forum that was attended by the world’s largest international fund managers.

In the longer term, Qatar’s economy should benefit from a number of recent measures including increased investment in new projects related to the expansion of LNG production and projects aimed at ensuring self-sufficiency and sustainability, he said.

Lifting the moratorium on the North Field, Qatar had last year said it was expanding liquefied natural gas output by 30% to 100Mta. Whilst QSE has been a member of key global indices, such as MSCI and FTSE Russell, since 2014, it continues to place emphasis on the importance of an ongoing improvement in transparency and ease of access for foreign investors. Qatar’s recent announcement of a number of key listed companies increasing their FOLs up to 49% is part of the ongoing commitment.

The listed companies met with market-leading institutions that represented the most important funds allocating money to Qatar, GCC and the broader emerging markets. Eight listed corporates, representing blue-chip investment opportunities in the Qatari market used the opportunity to meet with the world’s leading fund managers. The participating companies were QNB, Doha Bank, Commercial Bank, Masraf Al Rayan, Ooredoo, Industries Qatar (also covering Gulf International Services and Mesaieed Petrochemical Holding), Qatar Islamic Bank and Qatar Electricity and Water.

“In addition to the critical listed company meetings, QSE has also taken the opportunity to continue direct ongoing dialogue with stakeholders in our market including international brokers and fund managers,” al-Mansoori said.

Quoting a QNBFS study, Abdul Aziz al-Emadi, Director, Listing Department said the increased FOLs will result in material inflows as part of the MSCI and FTSE rebalancing, which could drive about QR7bn in passive funds into these QSE-listed names.

“We believe the commitment of investors to our market is evidenced by the rally in Qatar, with the All-Share Index up 12% to May 1 after nine issuers including, for example, participating companies QNB, Industries Qatar, Qatar Islamic Bank and Qatar Electricity and Water announced an increase in their FOLs,” he said.


17/05/2018




Qatar Inc Looking at Stake Buys in Turkish Companies



Qatar Inc is increasingly looking at acquiring Turkish companies with three Doha-based firms contemplating stake purchases in agriculture and light industries, it is learnt.

“We are aware of three” (Qatari companies pursuing stake purchase options in Turkish firms), KPMG in Qatar country senior partner Ahmed Abu-Sharkh told media on the sidelines of a Qatar-Turkey trade and investment opportunities seminar where the Turkish ambassador Fikret Ozer delivered the keynote address.

Among the top 10 foreign direct investment (FDI) in Turkey is the Qatar Investment Authority and BRF joint venture’s 92% stake in the food and beverage entity Banvit for US$470 million.

Highlighting that Qatar’s investment focus has initially been on Turkey’s financial and real estate sectors; he said it is increasingly turning into food security and agriculture.

An investor may execute an acquisition in Turkey either through acquisition of a company (share deal) or acquisition of a certain business (asset deal). There are no general government controls or restrictions on investments in assets, business entities or acquisition of other rights in Turkey.

However, certain specific business activities require a regulatory approval before change of ownership (such as banking and insurance, telecommunications, production and distribution of energy). A merger or acquisition transaction may also trigger approval requirement from Turkish Competition Board based on certain criteria.

“With Qatar’s economy on a clear upwards trajectory, many businesses are looking overseas to bolster growth and for ways to enhance their local operations and Turkey’s economic and regulatory profile make the country an ideal destination for both investment and trading,” he said.

Abu-Sharkh said the proposed acquisition move is in agriculture and light industries. However, he refused to divulge further details citing confidentiality.

Highlighting that Qatari interests on acquisitions had seen a pause for a little while due to the economic blockade, he however said the interest has started to rise and will continue.

“Looking ahead, we believe strong fundamentals of the Turkish market will again support the M&A (merger and acquisition) landscape in the coming period,” he said in a presentation made at the seminar.

Total FDI inflows into Turkey were at about US$11 billion by the end of 2017, which however showed a 19% decline year-on-year. The majority of the deals in 2017 were in small and mid-market as 186 of 298 transactions was of size less than US$10 million.

“Over the past years, we have been observing a significant increase in investments from Qatar and we are pleased that Qatar and Turkey are increasingly developing their business relations,” according to Eray Buyuksekban, head of International Tax (KPMG Turkey).

Most FDI come from the European region, but of late the relationship between Qatar and Turkey has become closer than ever, Tayfun Pisirir, deal advisory partner (KPMG Turkey) said, hinting at the greater potential for Qatar’s role in Turkey’s M&A landscape.

Investment incentives are applicable to foreign investors in Turkey’s free trade zones, technology development zones and in underdeveloped regions or incentivized sectors.


17/05/2018




Iran in Talks with Intl. Oil Firms to Start Coop. with SOCAR



Iran is negotiating with leading international oil companies, which are active in deep-water drilling regarding the joint projects with Azerbaijan's state oil company (SOCAR) in the Caspian Sea, an official with the Iranian oil ministry told Trend.

The final talks will be held by a joint Iranian-Azerbaijani committee, which will be formed soon, Hossein Esmaeili Shahmirzadi, general director for Europe, America and Caspian Sea countries at Iran's Oil Ministry, said.

Referring to the issue of the decision made by Tehran and Baku to establish a joint oil company, the Iranian official said that political will of the two sides is in favour of joint work for development of the agreed blocks in the Sea.

He added that Tehran and Baku are working on the issue of forming the joint oil company. Esmaeili further said that Iran has no specific limitation regarding the deep-water drilling, which is needed for the exploration of hydrocarbon reserves in the Sea. He added that Iran’s Amir Kabir drilling rig, which is a unique platform, is located in the Sea and the Azerbaijani side also has some equipment in the area.

Amir Kabir semi-submersible drilling rig (Iran’s largest offshore structure with a weight of 14,700 tons) is capable of drilling in waters with a depth of 1000 meters and also drilling from the sea bottom up to a depth of 6600 meters.

Last Month Tehran held talks with Norway’s Offshore Resource Group AS (ORG) on Sardar-e Jangal oil field and three more blocks in the Sea. In the negotiations the Norwegian company presented its proposals on development of the blocks 24, 26 and 29, as well as reconstruction of Amir Kabir rig.

Esmaeili also told Trend that after the recent visit of Iranian President Hassan Rohani to Baku, a new chapter was opened for mutual oil and gas cooperation. The two parties are working on a cooperation package, the official said, adding that the package include cooperation in various areas including oil, gas and refining.

The practical results will soon be seen in development of oil and gas cooperation between Tehran and Baku. Last March during a visit of President Rohani to Azerbaijan, the two countries signed "The Memorandum of Understanding on "Joint Development of Relevant Blocks in the Sea". - Trend


17/05/2018




Kuwaiti Agility's Net Profit Increases in Q1



Agility, a leading global logistics provider, has reported a net profit of KD18.9 million (US$62.66 million), during the first quarter (Q1) of 2018, an increase of 29.8% compared to Q1 2017. Revenue for the quarter reached KD 371.8 million (US$1.23 billion) and EBITDA was KD 37.7 million (US$125 million), said a statement. Tarek Sultan, CEO and vice chairman, Agility, said: “We continue to deliver results. Our double-digit EBITDA growth affirms the company’s momentum over the past three years.”

“Global Integrated Logistics (GIL) continues to drive profitability gains through strong performance in ocean and air freight, in addition to improving its efficiency. Companies in the Infrastructure group posted healthy gains and are delivering consistent with their road map,” he said.

In Q1 2018, GIL gross revenue grew 15.7% to KD 278.1 million (US$922.1 million). Air freight revenue increased 22.1%, driven by strong volume growth (4.8% increase in air tonnage) and ocean freight revenue grew 14% as a result of an 11.5% increase in TEUs. Contract Logistics revenue increased 15.1% and road freight showed 8.4% revenue improvement in Q1 2018, it said. GIL’s Q1 net revenue (NR) rose 7.9% from the same period in 2017, primarily due to growth in freight forwarding and contract logistics. Air NR grew by 18.7% due to improving yields, and Ocean NR increased 7.1%, it added.

Contract Logistics NR increased by 5.8%. However, GIL’s NR margin was 23.3%, down from 24.9% during the same period a year earlier due to yield pressure in road freight and project logistics. Regionally, air freight and ocean freight performed well in Asia Pacific, Europe and the Americas. Contract logistics continued its solid growth, primarily in Middle East and Asia Pacific, as a result of effective utilization of facilities, said a statement.

Q1 EBITDA reached KD7.4 million (US$24.53 million) with margin expanding to 2.7%, compared with 2.4% in Q1 2017. GIL continues to drive performance through its “focus and capability” strategy, which focuses on driving growth by committing to defined solutions, customer segments, sales productivity and efficient trade lane development. In addition, GIL is driving its technology-based transformation by building systems and solutions that enable business insight, efficiencies, and productivity for customers and operations. Further, it is developing tools to better serve customers online.

Sultan continued: “We recently launched Shipa Freight, an online freight service aimed at a market with massive potential: the small and medium-size companies that account for most of the world’s businesses.”

“Shipa Freight lets them get rate quotes and book, pay and track, ocean and air shipments around the world, all online in a matter of seconds,” he added.

Agility’s Infrastructure Companies

First quarter revenue for the infrastructure group grew 20.7%, and EBITDA increased 24.6% to KD 34.1 million (US$113.06 million) as margins expanded from 33.5% to 34.6%. Agility continues to invest in those companies to drive its future growth. Agility Industrial Real Estate (Red) continues to improve the efficiency of its Kuwaiti assets by offering a range of warehousing services to its customers. Red will soon deliver the first 80,000-sq-m warehouses in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

In Africa, Agility is growing its existing operations and identifying new locations to develop new logistics parks. Tristar, a fully integrated liquid logistics company, won new turnkey contracts in Q1. Tristar continues to invest and diversify its operations by expanding in shipping and broadening its geographic reach. National Aviation Services (NAS) operations posted good growth in the first quarter. Contributing to its growth were the successful launch of operations in Uganda and significant improvement in Cote d’Ivoire and Afghanistan. NAS was also able to improve its business performance in Morocco and Tanzania, with the latter expecting a very good year and turnaround in 2018.

UPAC, a leading real estate and facilities management company in the Middle East, continues to improve the operational efficiencies of key operations in Kuwait. UPAC is developing the 450-store Reem Mall in Abu Dhabi in partnership with National Real Estate Company (NREC). GCS, a company specialized in customs modernization, showed improved performance in the first quarter. GCS manages all customs’ activities at ports of Kuwait and aims to enhance customs modernization through its services.

Sultan said: “Our company is accelerating a fast-moving transformation to establish itself as a digital leader in the logistics industry.”

“We are rapidly introducing new digital products, aggressively piloting and pioneering new logistics models and technologies, and re-engineering our systems for speed and competitive advantage. We want to identify technology that makes logistics more efficient and lowers costs for customers,” he concluded.


17/05/2018




Qatar's International Reserves to Grow by 2020



Qatar’s international reserves are expected to reach US$16.8 billion by 2020, FocusEconomics said and noted that the country’s economy is growing faster now compared to 2017 with a stable outlook.

The country’s international reserves totaled US$13.8 billion in 2017, according to FocusEconomics. This year, it may touch US$16.6 billion, US$19.3 billion in 2021 and US$21.7 billion in 2022.

In 2018, the country’s international reserves may cover 6.1 months of imports, 5.6 months in 2020, six months in 2021 and 6.4 months in 2022.

The country’s merchandise trade balance is expected to exceed US$47.5billion in 2022. This year, Qatar’s merchandise trade balance may reach US$42.7 billion, US$43.8 billion (2019), US$44.9 billion (2020) and US$46.2 billion (2021).

Qatar’s GDP is expected to exceed US$176 billion this year, US$186 billion (2019), US$196 billion (2020), US$206 billion (2021) and US$217 billion (2022).

GDP per capita may account for US$63,407 this year, US$66,107 (2019), US$69,464 (2020), US$72,998 (2021) and US$76,718 (2022).

Current account balance is projected to be 4.8% of the country’s GDP this year, 4.4% in 2019, 4.5% (2020), 4.5% (2021) and 4.6% (2022).

Qatar’s public debt (as a share of the GDP) may be 54.5% this year, 53.5% (2019), 52.7% (2020), 51.9% (2021) and 51% (2022).

FocusEconomics said so far this year, Qatar economy has shown “signs of improvement” compared to last year, when it grew at the slowest pace since 1994 “as Qatar exceeded its compliance obligations with the OPEC oil-cap agreement, and the country was hit by the Saudi-led economic blockade.”

The report said in the January-to-March period, the merchandise trade surplus grew nearly 50% compared to the same period last year. “Despite the blockade, Qatar still supplies almost a third of the world’s LNG. In the first months of this year, that strong market share once again supported the country’s external sector position,” FocusEconomics said.

Meanwhile, taking advantage of favorable conditions for emerging market debt, Qatar raised money from the international bond markets for the first time since 2016 in April, netting US$12 billion.

It said “higher oil prices, economic reforms and the government’s infrastructure investment push in preparation for the FIFA World Cup 2022 should support the economy this year.” Nevertheless, the report said the blockade will “continue to weigh on” the outlook.

FocusEconomics panelists forecast growth of 2.9% in 2018, unchanged from last month’s projection, and 2.8% in 2019. The country’s inflation slowed to 0.4% in March (February: 0.8%). FocusEconomics sees inflation averaging 2.1% in 2018 and 2.8% in 2019.


17/05/2018




Maersk Tankers to Wind Down Customer Agreements in Iran



Danish oil product tanker operator Maersk Tankers said on Wednesday it would wind down its customer agreements in Iran by November following new U.S. sanctions on Tehran.

“We will perform customer agreements entered into before May 8 and ensure that they are wound down by November 4, as required by the re-imposed U.S. sanctions,” the company said in an emailed statement.

“We are closely monitoring developments and assessing the potential impact on our activities while staying in dialogue with our customers to inform them in case of changes,” Maersk Tankers said.

Maersk Tankers operates 161 product tanker vessels worldwide.

Danish oil product tanker operator Torm announced on Tuesday it would stop taking new orders in Iran.

Maersk Tankers was a part of A.P. Moller-Maersk until October last year, when the shipping group sold it off to family-owned A.P. Moller Holding A/S. - Reuters


17/05/2018




IEA: Iran & Venezuela Weighing on Oil Market



Global oil supplies could be hit by the decision by the US to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal, and also by falling production in crisis-hit Venezuela, the IEA said on Wednesday. The decision by US President Donald Trump to withdraw from the Iran deal “has switched the focus of oil market analysis from the fundamentals to geopolitics,” the International Energy Agency wrote in its regular monthly report. On May 8, Trump announced he would pull the US out of a 2015 pact — agreed by Britain, China, Germany, Russia and the Barack Obama administration — that opened up Tehran’s atomic program in return for an easing of sanctions.

Oil prices — which had already rising on the back of steady demand growth and a landmark deal by oil producing countries, both inside and outside OPEC, to lower output — have since surged above US$77 per barrel, the IEA said. “In these early days, there is understandable uncertainty about (the) potential impact on Iran’s oil exports” from the US move, it said. When sanctions were imposed in 2012, Iranian exports fell by about 1.2 million barrels per day, the organization said. “It is too soon to say what will happen this time, but we should examine whether other producers could step in to ensure an orderly flow of oil to the market and offset a disruption to Iranian exports.”

Shortly after the US announcement, Saudi Arabia, the OPEC kingpin, acknowledged the need to work with producers and consumers to mitigate possible supply shortfalls, the IEA noted. Another possible risk to the global oil supply could come from crisis-hit Venezuela, the IEA said. “In Venezuela, the pace of decline of oil production is accelerating and by the end of this year output could have fallen by several hundred thousand barrels a day,” the IEA said. “The potential double supply shortfall represented by Iran and Venezuela could present a major challenge for producers to fend off sharp price rises and fill the gap, not just in terms of the number of barrels but also in terms of oil quality,” it said.

The IEA said that the overall market balance was “continuing to tighten,” and it lowered its estimate for 2018 global oil demand growth to 1.4 million barrels per day from its previous estimate of 1.5 million. “Demand at the start of the year was supported by cold weather in Europe and the US, the start-up of new petrochemical capacity in the US and a solid economic background,” the IEA said. “While the economic environment will continue to support oil demand... support from harsh weather conditions will vanish and the recent jump in oil prices will take its toll,” it said. “Therefore, world oil demand growth is expected to slow” in the second half of the year. - Arab News


17/05/2018




Eagle Hills Launches 2nd Residential Project in Sharjah



Eagle Hills Sharjah, a leading real estate investment and development company, has launched Sapphire Beach Residence, the second residential building of the flagship Maryam Island project in Sharjah.

The joint venture between Eagle Hills, an Abu Dhabi-based private real estate investment and development company, and Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq) is working on a trio of major developments that will set new standards of residential living, hospitality, retail and lifestyle communities in Sharjah.

Besides Maryam Island, it is also developing Kalba Waterfront and Palace Al Khan projects which are set to become flagship destinations for locals and visitors, energizing and diversifying the local economy, creating jobs and attracting local and international investments.

The Sapphire Beach Residence launch comes following its success with the first residential building, Azure Beach Residence, last month.

Sapphire Beach Residence features 190 units ranging from studios to three-bedroom apartments, all of which are complemented by 20 retail and F&B (food and beverage) units, a shared community pool and gym, a pool and a playground for children. Residents will also benefit from a strategic location a few minutes’ walk away from the beach.

Eagle Hills CEO Low Ping said: "We are delighted to have witnessed such a high level of interest in Azure Beach Residence among both domestic and foreign investors, particularly so soon after the launch of sales. This is a promising sign as it demonstrates that Maryam Island is achieving what we hoped it would — supporting Sharjah’s growing reputation as a premier lifestyle destination, setting new benchmarks for fully integrated communities in the emirate, and attracting a new audience of investors."

"By releasing a fresh wave of units in Sapphire Beach Residence, we hope to sustain this momentum, thereby driving sustainable growth in Sharjah," she stated.

Sapphire Beach Residence is situated at the heart of Sharjah’s most impressive waterfront destination - Maryam Island - which will offer world-class urban planning design and unparalleled views of both the Arabian Sea and the city’s downtown skyline.

Maryam Island residents will benefit from exceptional privacy and serenity, as well as access to the development’s relaxing waterfront promenade and a Souq that reflects Sharjah’s rich heritage.

The centrally located 458,000-sq-m plot is within easy reach of the city’s residential and commercial hubs, and is also home to five- and four-star hotels that offer a total of approximately 600 keys, giving residents the opportunity to enjoy a wealth of upscale amenities.


17/05/2018




Senior Envoy: Iran Takes Steps to Create Bank for EU Transactions



Tehran has taken preliminary steps to establish a bank for transactions between Iran and the European Union in euros in an effort to settle possible financial issues which might arise after Washington's recent decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal, Iranian Ambassador to Germany Ali Majedi said.

"We have not waited for others to take this move and adopted some measures to set up a Euro-based bank … Europe should establish a Euro bank to continue banking cooperation with Iran … Certainly, a bank which only works with Euro will strengthen Euro itself," Majedi said as quoted by the Iranian Fars news agency.

The creation of such a bank would allow Europeans to continue trade with Iran, as well as with Russia, which is also under the US sanctions, Majedi noted.

The Iranian diplomat suggested that this bank could be private, and added that it would be based in Germany.

"At present, Iran and the EU, as well as Russia and China, are facing an important test to show to the world through cooperation that in some areas things can be done without the US partnership," Majedi pointed out, emphasizing the importance of the commitment of Iran and the European states to continued implementation of the Iran nuclear deal despite the US unilateral withdrawal from it.

The move follows the recent US withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal explained by Washington by the alleged flows in the arrangement.

Other parties to the agreement — China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the European Union — opposed to the US move. The European politicians, particularly, expressed opposition to the United States imposing its economic policies on them by banning the EU companies from cooperation with Iran.

Since the Iran nuclear deal, formerly known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), came into effect in early 2016, many large EU companies, such as Airbus, Total, and Volkswagen, have engaged in deals with the Iranian companies. - Sputnik


17/05/2018




Iran oil Exports to S. Korea under Threat from US Sanctions on Tanker Transport



China and India have committed to their oil purchase plans from Iran, but exports to South Korea may be affected due to the impact of pending US sanctions on tanker transport, the head of the National Iranian Oil Company said Wednesday.

"Customers have booked the sales ... they (India and China) have and there is no problem there. Only South Korea has some issues regarding shipment and insurance," NIOC's Ali Kardor said on the sidelines of an industry event in Tehran.

"South Korea has some issues now because they didn't have their own shipping and were outsourcing, like charter, so maybe that is why the issue," he said. "But we told them that our ships are ready for you."

As the countdown begins for the restoration of US sanctions on Iran, many shipping companies such as Maersk Tankers and Torm are already refusing to call on Iranian ports, fearing complications relating to the processing of freight and insurance-related payments.

South Korea is a sizable buyer of Iranian condensate. The country has been buying around 300,000 b/d so far this year.

Key buyers include Hanwha Total, South Korea's largest petrochemical company runs a large steam cracker in Daesan, and SK Energy, which has a refining capacity of 840,000 b/d is another key customer.

Japan and South Korea are seen as the main Asian customers of Iranian crude likely to feel the impact of the US' exit from the nuclear agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

Over the weekend, Kardor put Iran's oil exports in April at a record 2.6 million b/d, crude output at 3.9 million b/d, and production capacity at 4 million b/d.

Up to 1 million b/d of Iranian oil exports could by affected by the US move with Iran's biggest oil buyers, China and India, expected to continue importing its oil. - Platts


17/05/2018