Bahrain seeks buyers for
Bids from two groups were due to be submitted on Wednesday to buy and
operate a $458 million power and water desalination plant being built in Bahrain, industry
They said the government had asked for proposals from Infrastructure
Development Fund, which is owned by the Jeddah-based Islamic Development Bank (IDB), and
Kuwait-based Gulf Investment Corp, whose technical partner is the US firm AES Corp.
The proposals were to cover buying and operating the plant, as well as
expanding capacity, the sources said.
"It's an option the Bahraini government is looking into to see if
they can provide cheaper electricity," a senior industry official said.
"The Bahraini government asked the two companies to bid for the
plant more than four months ago, and then sell back the electricity to Bahrain. If it is
cheaper, Bahrain will go for it," he said.
Kuwait to host oil conference in November
Kuwait will host a conference in November on the role of foreign
companies in the development of its oil fields, the official Kuwaiti News Agency said.
The conference will run from November 20 to 21 and will focus on
"the role of world oil companies in the development of Kuwait's oil fields, from a
constitutional, legal, economic and technical point of view. "
The emirate Kuwait announced in December that foreign oil firms would
be invited to invest seven billion dollars up to 2003 to develop the emirate's fields.
Kuwait wants to increase its production capacity to 2.5 million barrels
per day (bpd) in 2000 and three million bpd in 2005. Its present capacity is about two
Foreign oil firms are presently restricted to technical service
agreements. The emirate controls about 94 billion barrels of oil reserves, or 10 percent
of global reserves.
Saudi urged to create more private sector jobs
Saudi Arabia needs to revamp its educational system and work with the
private sector to deal with the growing pressure of Saudi nationals seeking jobs, an
economic consultancy firm said.
The Consulting Centre for Finance and Investment (CCFI) said in a
report that Saudi nationals should face the reality that the days of well-paid public
sector jobs were almost over.
"Strenuous efforts need to be undertaken on a large scale in
revamping and retooling the educational system, " said the report.
The report said nearly 60 percent of the Saudi population was of
Official figures in the CCFI report showed that the number of Saudis
employed rose by 20 percent in the fifth development plan from 1990 to 1995 but that
Saudis were only 34.7 percent of the total workforce in the kingdom.
The figures showed that the number of employed Saudis was expected to
rise by 21 percent in the sixth plan 1995-2000 and Saudis would make up 41 percent of the
Bahrain to build $5 bln Oil plant
Work is expected to begin on a planned $5 billion oil refining and
petrochemical complex in Bahrain in September, industry sources said.
The official said private Saudi firm Petroma Refining & Marketing
is expect to choose soon between three European firms and one US firm competing to do the
land reclamation for the project.
"Practical steps are being taken to start construction work on the
project next month," a senior industry official said. He gave no further details.
Jeddah-based Petroma, a sister company of the private Saudi contractor
Industrial Development Establishment (IDE), has been negotiating with six US and European
firms to construct and operate the complex.
A group of Saudi investors, headed by Saudi King Fahd's nephew Prince
Abdel-Aziz bin Mishal bin Abdel-Aziz, are the owners of IDE and
Iran, Saudi, UAE partner in first foreign bank
Iran has signed an agreement with Saudi Arabia and the UAE to open the
first foreign bank here since the 1979 Islamic revolution, press reports said.
The new Investment and Development Bank (IDB) will be aimed at
attracting Central Asian investment capital, particularly for Iran's Sarakhs free-trade
zone along the Afghanistan border.
Sarakhs director Nasser Vaez-Tabassi, cited in the Tehran press, said
IDB will begin operating soon with some 150 million dollars in capital and is planning
branches in nine countries in the region.
He said it would be headed by a former Saudi finance minister but did
not give further details on IDB's management.
He said Iran's 33.5 percent share of IDB is held by the Imam Reza
Foundation, a state-owned behemoth which controls huge swathes of the Islamic republic's
tourism and agriculture sectors as well as the local franchise for Coca-Cola.
Lebanon economy in deep recession
The Lebanese economy is in a recession more acute than last year with
rising unemployment, lower consumption and declining capital inflows, a leading bank said.
"Indicators of aggregate economic activity reveal that recession
this year is deeper than last year. Also unemployment is high, running at more than 25
percent," Fransabank said in a report analysing the economy up to the first half of
The report said aggregate demand, a measure of consumer spending, fell
13 percent in the first half and capital inflows, the bloodline of the economy, dropped 19
"Falling economic activity is captured by the relatively larger
deficit in the balance of payments so far ($149 million)," Fransabank said.
In banking, private deposits grew at half last year's rate to $ 1.1
billion. Lending to agriculture, construction, industry and commerce expanded $883 million
compared to $ 1.1 billion.
Texaco to explore oil, gas in Bahrain
US oil giant Texaco will begin exploration work in Bahrain within a
month, both onshore and offshore, a newspaper said.
A technical team is expected to arrive "soon" and begin work
within a month, to evaluate potential oil and gas sites in and around the Gulf
archipelago, the Gulf Daily News reported.
Texaco and the government of Bahrain on Tuesday signed a memorandum of
understanding for the US company to "carry out technical studies ... to determine the
potential of drilling oil in the country."
Bahrain already has an oil exploration and production-sharing agreement
with the US Chevron company, which came into force in March last year.
That accord covers exploration and production sharing in offshore areas
to the west and north of Bahrain.
Jordanians claim $3.3 bln from Kuwait
Some 25,000 Jordanians expelled from Kuwait after the 1991 Gulf War are
claiming 3.3 billion dollars in compensation from the emirate, the Al-Rai Al-Aam daily
A lawyer charged with winning this compensation, Abdel Nasser Nassar,
told the newspaper the claims were for the Jordanians' shares in companies, factories,
printers and stone masonaries based in Kuwait.
The paper on Saturday said Kuwait had agreed to pay compensation to
Jordanians working in the emirate prior to the 1990 Iraqi invasion and who were barred
from returning after the Gulf War.
The news came amid a thaw in ties between the two countries -- on
Sunday, Jordan appointed its first ambassador to Kuwait since 1990.
Iraq starts pumping oil aid to Turkey
An Iraqi Red Crescent official said on Monday Baghdad had started
pumping $10 million worth of oil to quake-battered Turkey.
"Iraq has began pumping oil to Turkey as from Sunday at a rate of
100,000 barrels per day for five days," Sadeq Hameed Alwash, head of the Iraqi Red
Crescent Society, told a news conference.
Iraq had pledged to top any amount of aid given to Turkey by the US.
Iran to protect foreign investors
Iran must guarantee the security of investments in the Islamic republic
in order to attract the foreign capital needed to help fix its economy, President Mohammad
Khatami said, as reported by the Bahraini The Gulf Daily News.
"Economic security is a prerequisite for solving our economic
problems," Khatami said in a meeting with the new head of Iran's judiciary, Ayatollah
Mahmud Hashemi-Shahrudi, said the paper.
"The further we advance toward making investments in Iran clear
and transparent, the further we move toward solving our economic problems, " he said,
quoted by the official IRNA news agency, the paper added.
The paper said foreign firms have been wary of investing in Iran since
the 1979 Islamic revolution, when countless companies lost millions of dollars as the new
regime nationalized everything from hotels to banks to factories in major industrial
Since then Iran has had no law to guarantee the safety of investments
by foreign firms, which have also shied away because of the so-called "49 Per cent
Law", according to the paper.
Jordan reopened its embassy in Kuwait in March, marking a new era in
relations which had been frozen for nine years after the emirate accused Amman of backing
Baghdad during the 1990-1991 Gulf crisis.