Jul 31 - Aug 06, 2000
minister in Iran talks on oil, borders
Kuwait's Oil Minister Sheikh Saud Nasser Al-Sabah arrived in Tehran on
Monday for talks with Iranian officials on the oil market and border disputes.
Sheikh Saud, quoted by Iran's state television, said after arriving
that his visit was part of efforts for greater bilateral cooperation with fellow OPEC
He said he would discuss OPEC-related issues and "oil market
conditions" with his Iranian counterpart Bijan Zanganeh.
Zangeneh, who greeted Sheikh Saud at the airport, said the two
countries sought "greater coordination" on the oil market.
He said the two countries would also discuss plans to settle a border
dispute over areas in the northern Gulf.
"This visit could be a good start for specifying border
territories," he said.
The border disputes resurfaced earlier this year when Iran started
drilling for gas in Al-Dorra offshore field which is claimed by the three OPEC states
Saudi Arabia, Iran and Kuwait.
The drilling was later stopped after protests by Saudi Arabia and
The Kuwaiti minister told Reuters before leaving on his three-day visit
that his country had no plans to unilaterally raise oil output and cited the cartel's
price mechanism as a deciding factor in any OPEC decision.
Commenting on the current oil price he said: "It is a fair price
considering the (summer) season now ... it is a usual adjustment of prices." Sheikh
Saud is to hold talks on Tuesday with Iranian President Mohammad
Jordan sees economic growth speeding up
Jordan's Finance Minister Michel Marto said on Tuesday accelerated
IMF-backed reforms would boost growth in 2000-2001 after three years of sluggish activity.
Marto said recent consultations with an IMF mission to complete a
second review of the three-year programme begun last year focused on setting targets to
extend structural reforms essential for more balanced and sustainable growth.
"Expanded reforms will lead to new investments and further
growth...We are moving ahead," Marto told Reuters.
The International Monetary Fund executive board will meet later on
Tuesday to assess Jordan's performance under the programme which secured it $128 million
SDR financing under an EFF (Extended Fund Facility).
Jordan has been running annual gross domestic product growth of around
1.5 per cent in the last few years.
Marto said growth could be over three per cent, the annual rate of
Jordan's population growth, this year with signs of a turnaround in tourism and services
and more investments.
"Jordan has been struggling to raise growth for the last three
years but we now see light at the end of the tunnel," he said.
A free trade accord (FTA) with Washington expected by September and the
transfer of the Red Sea port of Aqaba into a special economic zone would act as a magnet
These along with new projects in mining and tourism should stimulate
growth to 4.0 per cent or more by 2001, but this hinged on further fiscal restraint,
monetary stability and vigorous advance in reforms, Marto said.
So far inflation has been kept under one per cent while foreign
reserves now stand at a record $2.8 billion.
Regional body studies $2 bln Gulf Arab gas grid
A Gulf regional body said on Tuesday it was carrying out a feasibility
study on a long-standing proposal to build a gas network linking Gulf Arab states at a
cost of up to $2 billion.
"The (gas) project will be implemented in cooperation with the
private sector and is separate from other similar projects," said Ihsan Bu-Hulaiga,
secretary-general of the Gulf Organisation for Industrial Consultancy
Hulaiga declined to give further details, adding that a meeting of the
technical committee for the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) gas network was closed to the
GCC states Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman and the
United Arab Emirates requested GOIC to carry out the study for the regional gas
grid in 1993.
The Doha-based GOIC promotes industrial cooperation between Gulf Arab
states. It groups the six GCC states and Iraq, whose membership has been frozen since it
invaded Kuwait in 1990.
The GCC gas grid, proposed by GOIC in the mid-1990s, aims to transport
Qatar's North Field gas in the first stage to Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. The pipeline would
be extended to other Gulf Arab states in the second stage.
OPEC crude basket fell to $25.70
The price of OPEC's basket of seven crudes fell to $25.70 a barrel on
Monday from $26.33 on Friday, OPEC's Vienna secretariat said.
The price remains well below the $28 threshold that would trigger extra
supply from OPEC.
Under an informal mechanism agreed between OPEC producers in June, if
the basket stays above a $22-$28 band for 20 working days or below the range for 10
working days, crude production will be adjusted by 500,000 barrels a day either way to try
to bring the price back into the range.
The basket has been inside the band since July 19.
The OPEC basket comprises Algeria's Saharan Blend, Indonesia's Minas,
Nigeria's Bonny Light, Saudi Arabian Light, Dubai of the UAE, Venezuela's Tia Juana and
Arab exporters post highest oil income
The Organisation of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries (OAPEC) said a
42 per cent rise in crude prices in 1999 rocketed the oil income of its member states to
104.1 billion dollars, the highest level since one of 145 billion dollars in 1982.
Oil revenues increased by 27.3 billion dollars last year from 76.8
billion in 1998, the 10-nation OAPEC said in an annual report, quoted by Kuwait's official
news agency KUNA on Saturday.
Budget deficits in 1999 either disappeared or sharply dropped due to
the oil price rise, and countries such as Kuwait and Libya recorded positive growth rates
after experiencing negative growth in 1998.
Founded in 1968, the Kuwait-based OAPEC groups Bahrain, Egypt and Syria
with seven members of the more influential OPEC: Algeria, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Qatar,
Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
Annan approves plan for Iraq
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan approved the biannual distribution plan
for humanitarian supplies for Iraq bought with oil revenues through the UN's oil-for-food
programme, the United Nations announced Wednesday.
The sum allocated for supplies to Iraq is of 7.131 billion dollars,
with 1.216 billion of that for food, from June to December 2000, according to the UN
Office of the Iraq Programme.
The program allocates 757 million dollars for housing, 752 million for
electricity and 600 million dollars for replacement equipment for the oil industry.
Food supplies are geared for the first time to providing the 2,472
calories per day recommended by the United Nations.
Under the embargo imposed since Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990, Iraq can
sell supplies of crude oil in exchange for supplies of food, medicine and essential goods,
under strict UN supervision.
Lebanon seeks $6.56 bln in development aid
The Lebanese government said on Monday it would ask a meeting of
potential donor nations this week to finance more than $6.5 billion in development
projects following Israel's withdrawal from south Lebanon.
Economy Minister Nasser Saidi said Lebanon's appeal would include $1.3
billion to rehabilitate areas damaged by 22 years of Israeli occupation, $260 million in
emergency aid and another $5 billion for other backward areas of the country.
Arafat determined to declare state
Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat said Wednesday he was determined to
declare an independent state on September 13, the deadline set for a full peace agreement
"We signed an agreement in Sharm El-Sheikh with the government of
(Israeli Prime Minister Ehud) Barak and September 13 is the date for the declaration of
our state," Arafat told reporters here, referring to a deal signed in 1999.
Kuwaiti stocks dip
The Kuwait Stock Exchange (KSE) closed the week Wednesday at a
three-month low amid a traditional summer lull in trading and the government's reticence
to implement any economic reforms.
The KSE index closed at 1,381.5 points, down 0.3 per cent on the week,
4.2 per cent on the end of 1999 and a staggering 51.3 per cent on its all-time high in
The week's trading value dropped sharply to a daily average of just
over two million dinars (6.5 million dollars) from over three million (9.8 million
dollars) in past weeks.
National Bank of Yemen
Yemen has agreed to sell 80 per cent of the state-owned National Bank
of Yemen as part of a privatisation drive underway in the poor Arab state, a senior
government official said on Tuesday.
BMCI to issue $38 mln of bonds
Morocco's blue-chip BMCI Bank will issue 400 million dirhams ($38
million) of bonds to finance the bank's expanding activity, the bank said on Tuesday in a
statement. Subscription date will be opened on July 31 and closed on August 21, the
Syria with water this summer
Syrian Water Minister Taha al-Atrash said Thursday that his country
will provide Jordan with 3.5 million cubic meters of water this summer. Atrash, who was
speaking at a joint press conference with his Jordanian counterpart, Hatem Halwani, said
the water would be pumped over the next two months.
UAE to award power contract
The United Arab Emirates is set to award a Franco-Belgian consortium of
TotalFinaElf and Tractebel a contract for a power generation project worth 1.3 billion
dollars, a newspaper reported.
The contract to upgrade and refurbish Taweelah A-1, Abu Dhabi's second
independent power and water plant, was expected to be signed next week, the Gulf News
TotalFinaElf-Tractebel beat off bids from US firms CMS Energy Corp.,
Enron Corp. and
Oman sets up firm
Oman has set up a state firm with an initial capital of 500,000 rials
($1.3 million) to oversee and invest in natural gas projects in the Gulf Arab state, a
company official said on Thursday.
"It is a state-run company registered as Oman Gas Company and its
primary objective is to invest and oversee natural gas ventures such as the gas pipeline
project and the joint Bukha-Henjam offshore project," the official told.
Yemen oil revenues to hit 1.4 bln
Yemen's oil revenues are set to reach 1.4 billion dollars in 2000, up
40 per cent on 1999, Oil Minister Mohammed Al-Khadem Al-Wajih said Tuesday.
"Oil revenues for the current year will top 1.4 billion
dollars," he said, quoted by the official SABA news agency.
Yemen's oil revenues hit one billion dollars in 1999, double the figure
of 1998, thanks to a dramatic recovery in world oil prices.
A non-OPEC producer, Yemen has stepped up exploration and
production-sharing agreements with foreign firms to raise its expected output to 700,000
barrels per day (bpd) from the current level of less than 500,000 bpd.
Emirates to sign $2.27 b A3XX deal
Dubai government-owned Emirates airline will sign a $2.27 billion deal
on Monday to buy 10 A3XX superjumbo planes from the European consortium Airbus Industrie,
a local newspaper reported.
The Arabic-language Al-Bayan daily quoted informed sources at Emirates
as saying company chairman Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al-Maktoum was due to ink the deal on
the sidelines of Britain's Farnborough International Air Show.
Syrian president orders creation of IT departments
Syria's new President Bashar Al-Assad issued a decree Saturday calling
for the creation of internet technology departments at four Syrian universities,
government officials said.
Assad, who heads the Syrian scientific society for information
technology (IT), and has pledged to take his technologically under-developed country into
the internet age.
Iran to sign $4.3 b gas contracts with ENI
The Italian firm ENI is due to sign two gas contracts with Iran shortly
totalling 4.3 billion dollars, in one of the largest contracts between Tehran and a
western firm since the 1979 Islamic revolution, an Iranian oil official said Sunday.
The contracts call for the development of five zones of a giant gas
deposit with a total area of 3,700 square kilometers (1,480 square miles), some 100
kilometers (60 miles) into the Gulf near Qatar.
The contract will be signed Thursday between ENI and both the Iranian
government and the Iranian firm Petro-Pars, the oil ministry official said.
The recent statement by a Muslim minister that relations with Syria
should be revised has taken many Lebanese by surprise.
Such calls, in the open, are usually the domain of Christians, unhappy
about the Syrian domination of Lebanon, which they feel alienates them politically and
hurts their country's sovereignty.
But Najib Mikati, minister of transportation and public works, said
last week that relations between Lebanon and Syria must be revised to 'healthy relations'.