New Regulations Set for Iran Medicinal Plant Exports

An official at Iran’s Agriculture Ministry announced that new regulations have been set for the export of medicinal plants. Hossein Zeynali, the director of the ministry’s medicinal plants national plan, said that in the new export regulations, medicinal plants have been divided into three categories: prohibited, conditionally permitted, and cultivated.

New export regulations were formulated in accordance with the ecological, economic and technical conditions of medicinal plants of the country, he added. The official further stated that this action has been taken due to the challenges and obstacles in the way of exporting medicinal plants due to some shortcomings of the past regulations. Iran exported over 850 tons of medicinal plants since the beginning of current Iranian calendar year (March 21, 2023), an official with the country’s Natural Resources and Watershed Management Organization announced.

Tarahom Behzad, the director-general of the pasture affairs office of the organization, said that 14 natural climates are known in the world, of which there are about 11 climates in Iran, and it is the breeding ground of all kinds of medicinal plants. So far, about 8,600 plant species have been identified in Iran, of which 2,300 species are medicinal and are directly used in the field of medicine, health and food supplements, the official added. He said benefitting from a special climate and the area of about six million hectares of medicinal plant habitats is a very suitable opportunity for Iran for proper exploitation, more serious entry into the field of processing, creating employment, more specialized exports in the field of processed products, and earning foreign currency.

Although, problems such as not allocating an independent line of credit for the protection and modification of medicinal plants and boosting production of these plant, and the lack of necessary and expert personnel have caused the valuable and hidden capacities of this field to remain stagnant, the official lamented. In mid-December, 2023, Hossein Zeynali, the director of the ministry’s medicinal plants national plan, announced that the production of medicinal plants in the country is anticipated to reach 450,000 tons in the current Iranian calendar year (ends on March 19). He also announced that such plants are currently cultivated in near 260,000 hectares of land in the country.

According to the published statistics, 400,000 people are working in the production of medicinal plants in Iran. Also, 32,000 people are working in packaging of these plants. As stated by an official with the Ministry of Health, Iran holds some 40% share of the market for medicinal plants in the neighboring countries. “A large volume of pharmaceuticals, supplements, food products, and beverages are exported to Iraq, Turkey, Georgia, Armenia, and Afghanistan,” IRNA quoted Hamidreza Banafsheh as saying in late October, 2023.

Iran is among the leading countries in the field of medicine and health technology, supplying 98% of pharmaceutical items to the domestic market, the official noted. “Nearly 450 out of 1,400 knowledge-based companies are active in the field of herbal medicines, biotechnology, and food industries.” He went on to say that the National Institute for Medical Research Development aims at expanding exports of medicinal products.

Since most of the raw materials for the production of herbal medicines are native to the country, these products can internationally compete with those of the other countries, he added. Besides, some 15% to 20% of Iran's herbal medicines are unique in the world. Iran has the capacity to introduce new herbal medicines to the world, he highlighted. Producing and commercializing pharmaceutical plants are the best ways to introduce the rich resources of herbal medicines which, in addition to making foreign currency revenues for the country, will lead to the scientific authority of Iran in this field, he concluded.

According to the chairman of the Union of Medicinal Plants Exporters of Iran, the country’s export of medicinal plants can be increased through compliance more with the world standards. Mohammad-Ali Rezaei Kamal-Abad stated that world standards are increasing due to the health-oriented consumption of herbal products, and failure to comply with these standards will lead to the return or destruction of these products. “In the past years, poisons have entered the country, which are not only not used in other countries, but have also caused water and soil pollution in our country”, he lamented.

Referring to the importance of agricultural product export standardization, he added: “Standardization is done in our country, but this standardization is not up-to-date. With the coordination of ministries, expenditure and updating of information can help to standardize agricultural products and develop the export of these products”, he commented. He said that having more than 11 climates out of 13 climates, Iran has 8,000 varieties of medicinal plants, which is at least twice as much as Europe. - Tehran Times


Greek-Owned Ship Targeted Off Yemen's Coast

Two British maritime agencies reported Monday that a ship had been targeted with two missiles while passing through the Bab el-Mandeb Strait in the Red Sea off the coast of Yemen.

The United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO), managed by the British Royal Navy, stated it received "a report of an incident 40 nautical miles south of Al Mukha in Yemen." It added that "the captain reported that his ship was attacked with two missiles," noting that the ship's crew is safe and that the ship continued its course to its next port of call.

Additionally, the British maritime security agency “Ambrey” reported that a Greek-owned cargo ship flying the flag of the Marshall Islands "was targeted with missiles in two separate incidents" within 20 minutes and "it was reported to have been hit and sustained damage on the starboard side," noting that the ship had an armed security team onboard.

Since November 19, the Houthis have been carrying out attacks on merchant ships in the Red Sea and the Arabian Sea affiliated with the Israeli Occupation, citing support for Gaza, which has been under the Israeli Occupation’s aggression for 1229 days.


JACO Launches Largest Mercedes-Benz Vehicle Center in Riyadh

Juffali Automotive Company (JACO), the Exclusive Distributor of Mercedes-Benz in Saudi Arabia, inaugurated its largest center in the Kingdom in January 2024. The center is located on the Northern Ring Road in Alghadir District near KAFD in Riyadh. The Mercedes-Benz “Centre of Tomorrow” has been constructed on a total built-up area of over 21,000 square meters, featuring state-of-the-art facilities and technologies all aiming to provide the best experience for customers.

This new center features an innovative showroom utilizing latest technologies to create a unique experience for Mercedes-Benz customers in terms of sales and after-sales services. Customers can explore a variety of vehicles and choose what suits them in the new spacious two-floor showroom, accommodating more than 30 vehicles on display. Additionally, the comprehensive center includes maintenance services and a distribution point for genuine spare parts.

On this occasion, Mr. Basim Wali, Director of Marketing and Development at JACO, pointed out that: “The new Mercedes-Benz Centre on Riyadh’s busy Northern Ring Road provides customers with more space and freedom to explore vehicles and learn about their various details. This flagship center was executed according to Mercedes-Benz’s global standards. It offers a unique atmosphere enhanced with advanced technologies for obtaining information, while allowing customers to compare different options in terms of color, interior, and exterior materials available in each model.

He continued saying: "The new center comes in response to the growing demand for Mercedes-Benz vehicles as well as the rapid and great expansion of Riyadh city, to keep pace with the qualitative leap in all regions of the Kingdom in line with Vision 2030. The center consists of two main floors, in addition to a basement floor for parking. The main showroom has four vehicle delivery areas, all equipped with electric vehicle charging stations. A full upper floor has been dedicated to luxury vehicles such as Mercedes-Maybach and G-Class, along with a section allocated for Mercedes-AMG vehicles. Furthermore, a dedicated space has been allocated for VIPs and customers of this section to enjoy a more exclusive purchasing experience.

Also, in line with our strategy to provide the best possible after-sales service to our customers, the maintenance center has been equipped in accordance with the highest standards and specifications. With an area of 2700 square meters, it is ready to accommodate more than 30 vehicles at the same time.


Libyan NOC Launches Campaign to Plant 1 Million Trees

The National Oil Corporation (NOC) has launched the first phase of the “We Think About Tomorrow” campaign to plant one million trees to reduce carbon emissions, starting in the Al-Assa and Al-Jufra regions.

The NOC explained in a statement that the campaign targets several locations by planting types of forest seedlings that are compatible with their nature, to achieve multiple environmental purposes, increase green spaces and enhance agriculture to adapt to the risks of climate change.

The campaign witnessed great cooperation from several parties, such as the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock and its affiliated bodies, civil society organizations, school students, local councils in municipalities, and security personnel in the Al-Assa and Al-Jufra regions.


Official: Iran World’s 3rd-Largest Producer of Fresh Dates

Iran is the third-largest producer of the fresh dates in the world, announced the chairman of the Iranian National Date Association. Mohsen Rashid Farrokhi said Iran exported US$270 million worth of fresh dates to foreign countries in the first 10 months of the current Iranian year (started March 21, 2023).

Speaking to IRNA, he said that the largest number of species of dates in the world belongs to Iran. Dates are mainly produced in the provinces of Khuzestan, Hormuzgan, Kerman, Bushehr, Fars and Sistan and Baluchestan, he noted. Egypt is the first producer of dates in the world, producing 1.8 million tons per year, followed by Saudi Arabia and Iran. Iran stands in the first rank in the world in terms of the variety of species of dates, Farrokhi noted.

Iran can export about 30% of its dates (350,000 tons), to the target countries, he added. The country exports its dates to the Central Asian countries, Europe, and Russia, the official highlighted. With the adoption of accurate export policies, Iran can export between US$600 million and US$700 million worth of the product overseas within the next one or two years, Farrokhi added. - Iran Daily


Significant Rise in Export of Some Iran Agro Products to Russia

The head of Russia’s Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Supervision said that the import of some Iranian agricultural products, including orange, lettuce and bell pepper, from Iran has increased by 500% in 2023 compared to a year earlier. Sergei Dankvert made the remarks in a meeting with Iran’s Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Iran’s Ambassador to Russia and head of Iran Veterinary Medicine Organization held in the Russian capital of Moscow. He noted that the volume of trade between the two countries in the field of agricultural products is on a growth trajectory. Dankvert pointed to the growth of Iran’s export of agricultural products to Russia and added that Iranian products have replaced those imported into Russia from Europe and this shows the high quality of Iranian products, IRNA reported. The development of cooperation between Iran and Russia in the field of agriculture will serve the interests of both countries, he emphasized.

For his part, Iran’s Deputy Minister of Agriculture Alireza Paymanpak said that high-ranking officials of the two countries have placed special emphasis on boosting bilateral ties in all fields, especially in the fields of trade and economy, so, responsible officials of the two sides should make their utmost efforts to materialize this objective. He pointed to the recently-inked Free Trade Agreement between Iran and the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) and said it will expand trade activities between the two countries. Paymanpak called on the Russian side to remove the existing trade barriers regarding the entry of Iranian goods to the Russian market. The free trade agreement between the EAEU and Iran was signed during the EAEU summit in St. Petersburg on December 25. In 2018, Iran and the EAEU inked a Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA), which came into effect on October 27, 2019. The two sides later began negotiations to upgrade the PTA to an FTA after the success of the former. - Tasnim


Slight Rise in Egypt’s Non-Oil Exports

Egypt’s non-oil exports inched up 1.6% year on year (YoY) in 2023, recording US$34.424 billion, compared to US$33.894 billion, Al Arabiya Business reported, citing official data.

Exports of building materials topped the list of non-oil exports last year with US$8.781 billion, representing a 26% annual growth. Meanwhile, exports of chemical products and fertilizers came in second place with US$6.416 billion with a 28% YoY decrease.


Fall in Egypt’s PMI in January

Egypt’s headline seasonally adjusted Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) dropped to 48.1 in January 2024 from 48.5 in December 2023. The PMI reading marked a further decline in operating conditions at the beginning of 2024, as sales volumes continued to fall amid hiking price pressures.

It is worth underlining that the Net International Reserves (NIR) of the Arab Republic increased to US$35.249 billion at the end of January 2024 from US$35.219 billion in December 2023. The registered amount was also higher than US$35.17 billion at the end of November 2023, according to the latest data from the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE).


Iran Opens 17th Edition of Tourism Exhibition

The 17th Tehran International Tourism and Related Industries Exhibition has opened in the capital city. The international event that kicked off at Tehran International Permanent Fairground on February 12 will run until February 15.

Representatives from 11 countries including Russia, Türkiye, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Tajikistan, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, and Sri Lanka, have participated in the expo.

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi opened the four-day event. During the opening ceremony, he described tourism as a key sector that helps boost the non-oil economy. - IRNA


Nasser: Saudi Aramco Shareholders to Decide on Selling More Shares in 2024

Shareholders will decide if Saudi state-oil giant Aramco will sell more shares in 2024, CEO Amin Nasser said on Monday. He added that Aramco has adequate spare capacity of about three million barrels per day and is always ready to expand it if needed.


Oil Hikes on Mideast Risk

Oil prices rose on Tuesday on fears Middle East tensions could disrupt supply, but uncertainty about the pace of potential US interest rate cuts and the ensuing impact on fuel demand capped gains. Brent futures edged up 31 cents, or 0.4%, to $82.31 a barrel as of 0725 GMT. US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude rose 36 cents, or 0.5%, to $77.28 a barrel. Oil prices were near flat in Monday's trade, after gaining 6% last week.

The conflict in the Middle East has kept prices elevated. Yemen's Iran-aligned Houthis fired two missiles on Monday at an Iran-bound cargo ship in the Red Sea. The group has attacked international vessels with commercial ties to the US, Britain and Israel since mid-November claiming solidarity with Palestinians over the Israel-Hamas war. A move by the US to tighten or step up enforcement of sanctions on Iran would impact oil market supplies.

But worries about interest rates limited price gains. The New York Fed said its January Survey of Consumer Expectations showed the outlook for inflation a year and five years from now were unchanged, with both remaining above the Fed's 2% target rate. If inflation worries delay Fed interest rate cuts, that could reduce oil demand by slowing economic growth. US inflation data is expected on Tuesday, while British inflation and euro zone Gross Domestic Product data should land on Wednesday.

Market participants awaited industry data on US crude inventories due later on Tuesday. Four analysts polled by Reuters estimated on average that crude inventories rose by about 2.6 million barrels in the week to Feb. 9. The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries is also scheduled to release its monthly oil market report on Tuesday. OPEC member Iraq said on Monday it was committed to the organization's decisions and to producing no more than 4 million barrels per day (bpd).

"What will be of more interest in the coming weeks is what OPEC+ decide to do with their voluntary supply cuts which expire at the end of March," ING analysts said in a Tuesday note. "Our balance sheet suggests that the market will be in surplus in the second quarter of 2024 if the group fails to roll over part of these cuts." OPEC and its allies including Russia, known as OPEC+, will decide in March whether to extend voluntary oil production cuts in place for the first quarter. In November, OPEC+ agreed to voluntary output cuts totaling about 2.2 million bpd for the first quarter of this year, led by Saudi Arabia rolling over a 1 million bpd voluntary reduction.


Deputy Agri Minister Announces Iran’s Export of Products to EAEU States

Iran’s deputy minister of agriculture said that the country exported US$1.4 billion worth of goods to the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU)’s member states in the first 10 months of the current Iranian calendar year (started March 21, 2023). Among the products exported from Iran to the member states of the union in this period, about US$500 million are related to agricultural and food products, Alireza Paymanpak noted.

Iranian greenhouse products, summer crops, fresh fruits and vegetables and dairy products are highly welcomed in the lucrative Eurasian market, he said. He also pointed to Astara Border Terminal which is the main gateway of Iran to the Eurasian market and said effective steps have been taken in this regard including the correction of the customs infrastructures, etc. in line with boosting trade with these countries, Mehr news agency reported.

Earlier, an official at the Trade Promotion Organization of Iran (TPOI) said the value of trade exchanges between Iran and the EAEU’s member states will rise to US$20 billion with the implementation of the Free trade Agreement (FTA) signed by the two sides. On December 25, 2023, the EAEU countries signed a full-scale free trade agreement with Iran. The agreement officially comes into force from the moment it is ratified by the member states. - Tasnim


IPTC Kicks Off in Dhahran

Exclusively hosted by Aramco, the 16th edition of International Petroleum Technology Conference (IPTC), opened at the at the Dhahran Expo on 12 February 2024 with a focus on sustainable energy supply.

The event, anticipating the presence of over 20,000 industry leaders, professionals, influencers and key players within the oil and gas domain, is being held under the patronage of Prince Saud Bin Nayef Bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, Governor of the Eastern Province, until 14 February 2024.

The event that started in 2005 in Doha, Qatar, has today become the flagship multidisciplinary technical event in the Eastern Hemisphere that plays a vital role in providing a platform for oil and gas professions to share knowledge, collaborate and drive technological advancements.

It will also contribute to advancing the petroleum industry in Saudi Arabia as a sustainable energy supply and bring decarbonization learnings to other key countries across the Mena region.

A number of key speakers, including ministers and industry leaders will shed light on the evolving energy landscape.

The ministerial session will see a one-on-one discussion with Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman Al Saud, Saudi Arabia’s Energy Minister.

This will be followed by executive sessions with Aramco leaders Amin Nasser, President & CEO, and Nasir Al-Naimi, Upstream President, in addition to top officials from TotalEnergies, Woodside Energy, Exxon Mobil, SLB, PTTEP, Adnoc, Baker Hughes, and others.

IPTC is sponsored by four industry organisztions and societies, the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG); the European Association of Geoscientists and Engineers (EAGE); the Society of Exploration Geophysicists (SEG); and the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE).


Every year at IPTC recognizes outstanding industry projects. The IPTC Excellence in Project Integration Award is given to a project that adds value to the industry.

In the past, only projects above US$500 million were considered. However, this year there is an extra award category for projects between US$200-500 million.

The IPTC 2024 finalists in over US$500-million category include:

• Coral South FLNG by Eni: This integrated project comprises the installation of a floating liquefied natural gas facility (Coral-Sul FLNG) to gather the gas production from six gas wells at 2,000 m 80 km offshore northern Mozambique in the Rovuma Basin within Area 4.

The FLNG, which has a nameplate capacity of 3.4 million tons per annum (MTPA) and a design life of 25 years, is the world’s first new-built ultra-deep water FLNG, Africa’s first full functional open sea FLNG and the first in Mozambique.

• Lisa Phases 1 and 2 by ExxonMobil: These exploration wells offshore Guyana in the Stabroek Block 5 started production in 2019 and 2022, respectively, from the Liza Destiny floating, production, storage and offloading (FPSO) vessel, one of the fastest projects from discovery to first oil of its type in the industry.

The Liza development deployed new technologies and novel execution approaches to meet these challenges.

• Shah Deniz 2 by bp: This is one of the largest gas developments in the world. It integrates a 3,500-km southern gas corridor pipeline, delivering natural gas from the Caspian through seven countries, directly to European markets for the first time.

The US$28-billion, bp-operated, Shah Deniz 2 project supplies natural gas and condensate from two bridge-linked platforms offshore in the Caspian Sea.

The gas is produced through 26 subsea wells via 500 km of subsea pipelines, and 85 km of onshore pipelines, to the Sangachal terminal in Azerbaijan.

At plateau, the Shah Deniz 2 project produces 16 billion cubic meters of gas per year.

And the finalists in the US$200–500 million projects are:

• CCUS Evolution Journey by Adnoc: The national oil company of Abu-Dhabi aims to add hundreds of millions of stock tank barrels (mmstb) of oil using CO2-enhanced oil recovery, with efficient CO2 injection.

This project aligns with a sustainable future vision, making a significant contribution to achieving net-zero goals by 2045 as targeting 10 mtpa of CO2 storage by 2030.

• ABH Tight Oil Field Development by Cairn Oil & Gas, Vedanta: The Aishwariya Barmer Hill (ABH) tight reservoir field, situated within the Development Area 1 in the RJ-ON-90/1 Block, in the northeastern part of the Barmer Basin in Rajasthan, India, defied initial skepticism to emerge as a triumph of ingenuity and persistence.

Discovered in 2013, the challenging and initially deemed uneconomical tight oil formation was successfully tapped through innovative practices and technologies.

• Optimum Shah Gas Expansion by Adnoc Sour Gas: The project in the UAE’s Onshore Shah Gas Field stands out as a remarkable technical feat, processing 1.45 BSCFD of ultra sour gas and earning the distinction of being the largest plant of its kind globally.

The uniqueness of OSGE project is its EPC awarded at the peak of Covid 19 pandemic in June 2021. And despite the adversities, the project team embraced the challenge, employing unconventional approaches in execution and completing the project two months ahead of schedule.


Despite being an international event of repute, IPTC hasn’t forgotten the youth, and has segments that help inculcate qualities that build tomorrow’s industry leaders.

The Emerging Leaders Forum offers young professionals (YPs) the opportunity to get together for a day of inspiration, education, and collaboration.

It gives emerging leaders the chance to engage with their peers and industry and management professionals from around the world to debate critical issues, develop vital skills needed for the future of work, and address key challenges.

Another assembly of youth is Education Week. This exclusive university student offers a unique experience to assist selected students with their transition from student to young professional.

This year, 100 top undergraduate science, geoscience, and engineering students from diverse backgrounds have been chosen from 39 countries to attend the Education Week.

Under the theme, ‘Shaping the Future of Energy’, participating students will for five days experience activities that will prepare them for life beyond university.

These include learning from experienced and young professionals, working on joint projects, networking with industry peers and executives, attending technical and panel sessions and participating in dynamic field trips.

Nearly half of the workforce in the oil and gas industry will retire in the next 5 to 7 years. This great challenge makes it an imperative for leadership development.

To address this challenge, the ‘Building Bridges: It Starts with You’ workshop will help participants identify and amplify their unique leadership styles while enhancing their mentorship capabilities.

It will immerse participants in a comprehensive exploration of critical themes, particularly the industry’s impending transformation, known as The Great Crew Change.

In conclusion, IPTC has a well-rounded approach to the industry’s challenges whether it’s technology, knowhow, or the development of human resources.

This year’s event comes on the heels of the key global conference on climate change, COP28, where a declaration to transition away from fossil fuel was made – a first for a UN climate conference.


OPEC Sec Gen Firmly Believes Published Long-Term Demand Outlook Robust

OPEC Secretary General Haitham Al Ghais said on Tuesday Saudi Arabia's decision to postpone its capacity expansion plans should not be translated to mean there is a view that demand is falling.

"First of all I want to be clear I cannot comment on a Saudi decision... but this is in no way to be misconstrued as a view that demand is falling," Al Ghais told Reuters in an interview in Dubai on the sidelines of the World Governments Summit.


Swiss Tourism Partners Attend Bahrain Roadshow

Swiss Tourism organized a roadshow/workshop in Bahrain on February 12, highlighting the various tourist regions in the country and the facilities available for GCC travelers. More than 25 Swiss partners, including luxury hotels and regional tourism authorities, showcased their products to about 100 participants from Bahrain's travel trade and media.

Livio Gotz, the Director of GCC at Switzerland Tourism, delivered an insightful presentation on the Swiss tourism sector and what GCC tourists can expect to see and enjoy. The event, held at Mövenpick Hotel in Muharraq, was part of a seven-day GCC-wide roadshow. Additionally, the event featured a quiz on Switzerland and its facilities, with five prizes awarded to the winners.


Saudi Arabia Set to Exploit All Global Energy Resources: Minister

Saudi Minister of Energy Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said that Saudi Arabia will become a country that exploits all global energy resources. The minister said this in his speech at the International Petroleum Technology Conference in Dhahran on Monday.

Prince Abdulaziz emphasized that achieving energy security is everyone’s responsibility, and everyone must innovate when it comes to achieving energy security. “Our mission in OPEC is to be attentive to any movements in the market, and to be prepared to increase or decrease output at any time, whatever the requirements of the market,” he said while highlighting that the demand for oil constantly exceeds some expectations.

The minister said that the Kingdom has a lot of surplus energy to produce oil. “I think we postponed this investment because we are simply witnessing a transformation. Saudi Aramco has other investments to make, including investments in oil, gas, petrochemicals and renewable energy,” he added.

​It is noteworthy that the ministry of energy on Jan. 30 ordered state oil company Saudi Aramco to halt its oil expansion plan and to target a maximum sustained production capacity of 12 million barrels per day (bpd), one million bpd below a target announced in 2020.

The last meeting of the Joint Ministerial Committee to monitor production of OPEC + decided to keep the oil production policy unchanged. It will decide in April whether to extend or not the voluntary oil production cuts that are in effect in the first quarter.

The Committee also emphasized that it will continue to evaluate the market situation accurately. OPEC and its allies, including Russia, known as the OPEC+, are committed to production cuts amounting to 2.2 million barrels per day in the first quarter of 2024 and that is In line with their previous announcement made in November 2023.