Sep 18 -
caps runaway oil price, for now
OPEC's decision to lift supplies by another three
per cent will put a lid on oil's breakneck price rise but leaves major
consumers with little reason to breathe easy heading into winter.
The Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting
Countries' deal to release 800,000 barrels per day (bpd) of crude —
on the high side of pre-meeting estimates — is likely to pull prices
back from last week's 10-year peaks above $35 a barrel on the New York
Mercantile Exchange, market analysts said.
Yet US vulnerability to heating oil shortages will
keep prices bubbling near the $30 level that has alarmed
industrialised nations, and maintain the focus on how far OPEC's top
producer Saudi Arabia will go to bring prices lower.
"This is a market that is very strong. The
speculators have got hold of it, and it will need a lot of fundamental
signals to get it lower." said Sarah Emerson of Boston's Energy
Security Analysis (ESAI).
"Crude will come off a dollar or so early on
as 800,000 bpd is a little bit more than expected," said Nauman
Barakat of ABN Amro bank. "After that it will be the US heating
oil and diesel situation that will tell us where we're going."
OPEC's supply rise, lifting quotas to 26.2 million bpd for 10 members
from October 1, offers some relief to US crude oil stocks, hovering at
"They're supplying more than the market
expected. They're saying this is not about economic war, its about
supplying the market in a reasonable fashion," said Roger Diwan
of Washington's Petroleum Finance Company.
OPEC remains powerless, though, to remedy a deficit
in US heating oil that leaves the world's biggest consumer badly
exposed to a cold winter.
US heating oil inventories stand nearly 40 per cent
below this time last year even though the country's stretched refining
network has been running full blast all summer.
vote in first direct polls
Omanis voted for a new advisory council on Thursday
in the Gulf sultanate's first direct polls, with 21 women candidates
standing for office in a new test of the democratic process.
At Chamsa al-Khalili school in Old Muscat, men and
women queued separately in orderly lines, the men in white dishdasha
robes and turbans, the women headscarved and in black.
The voters filled in their names and signed or
added a fingerprint as well as writing down the name of their choice,
which in the case of the illiterate was done by an election official.
"Who says there is no democracy in this
country just because nobody goes around carrying banners? We have
started slowly and it has to be done in a stable manner," said
Barka al-Bakri, a hospital human resources manager, after casting her
Bakri said she helped her candidate running in Al-Ghubra,
near Muscat, education ministry planning director Rahila al-Riyami,
ensure that people registered and turned out to vote.
"I've told all my friends that she's the best
candidate because she's been promoting education for the past 18
years," said 21-year-old medical student Marwa al-Riyami, a niece
of the candidate.
After a morning rush and uninterrupted flow at
several polling stations, voting eased off in the afternoon heat.
An expanded electoral college of about 114,000,
compared to only 51,000 in the last ballot of 1997, was electing a new
83-seat Majlis al-Shura.
The 21 women candidates were among a field of 550
runners, while a president of the council is appointed by the state's
veteran ruler, Sultan Qaboos.
Apart from widening the voter base in Oman, where
only about 600,000 of the 1.6 million people eligible are over the
voting age of 21, a 30 per cent share of participation was this time
fixed for women.
fails to agree on new secretary general
OPEC failed on Monday to agree on a new
secretary-general, postponing a decision until November, Iran's oil
The failure was seen by analysts as a reflection of
continuing political differences within the group of oil producing
nations, notably between US-friendly kingpin Saudi Arabia and other
smaller members. The second three-year mandate of current Nigerian
secretary-general Rilwanu Lukman ends this year, and candidates from
Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Iran are standing to succeed him.
The issue has caused political tensions within the
11-member Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC),
notably sensitive as it seeks to present a unified front to stabilize
world oil prices.
trade ministers to meet EU
The trade and economy ministers of The Gulf
Cooperation Council are to meet their counterparts from the European
Union in Dubai in October "to study ways of strenghening economic
relations" between them, the official WAM agency reported Sunday.
The GCC — Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi
Arabia and the United Arab Emirates — is eager to get a free trade
agreement with the EU, giving its important petrochemical and
aluminium industries complete access to the European market, but the
EU has made this conditional on the establishment of a customs union
within the GCC.
During their last meeting in Dubai in November, the
two sides agreed to step up their efforts to achieve the free trade
agreement "as soon as possible." The GCC warned at its
summit last December that its customs union would not come into being
until March 2005, four years later than orginally planned. Once in
existence, it will create an import market worth more than 80 billion
Jordan mull multi-billion oil project
Canada and Jordan are currently negotiating what
could be "the biggest single economic project in Jordan,"
Jordanian King Abdullah II said Tuesday.
Although he did not go into details, one aide —
who declined to be identified — suggested the project would be a
multi-billion dollar oil extraction operation.
Canada has one of the world`s most advanced
land-based oil industries and has managed to export the technological
know-how it has developed in the oilfields of Alberta.
Negotiations about the Canadian project in Jordan
have been going on for more than a year, according to another official
who also declined to be identified.
That official said a final agreement involving both
the Canadian government and a consortium of Alberta-based oil
companies could be announced "within weeks."
can't meet oil quota
Kuwait's oil minister said Thursday that his
country does not have the capacity to produce as much oil as it
promised under OPEC's new quota agreement announced last Monday,
raising doubts about whether the oil cartel's pledge to boost global
supply is a realistic endeavor.
"The capacity of OPEC to increase production
is very limited," Kuwaiti Oil Minister Saud Nasser al-Sabah's
said in an interview with pan-Arab daily newspaper al-Hayat in Paris.
"We have reached our maximum production capacity," he said,
adding that only Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have a
margin of extra production capacity.
hits $36 a barrel
Crude oil prices in New York hit 36 dollars a
barrel on Friday — the highest level since the 1990 Iraqi invasion
of Kuwait — before closing at 35.92 dollars.
Morocco's tourism receipts rose 12 per cent to
11.26 billion dirhams ($1.02 billion) in the January-July period
compared to the same period in 1999. The state-run trade regulatory
body Office de Changes said in a report that tourism receipts at the
end of the January-July period of last year stood at 10.05 billion
Morocco expects some 2.5 million foreign
holiday-makers by the end of 2000. Most of them come from France,
Spain and Germany.
Jordan and the Palestinian territories will engage
in door-to-door trade from October 1 with trucks rolling in and out
past Israeli controls without having to transship their loads,
Jordan's transport minister said Tuesday.
"The new door-to-door system will go into
effect October 1 and will reduce the cost of transporting merchandise
and help promote trade between Jordan and the Palestinians," said
Mohammed Al-Kalaldeh, quoted by Petra news agency reported.
to initial EU partnership deal soon
Egypt will soon initial a long-delayed partnership
agreement with the European Union, Prime Minister Atef Obeid said on
"We will sign very soon the initialisation of
the partnership agreement with the European Union," he told
reporters after meeting Italian Industry and Foreign Trade Minister
Obeid said Egypt was waiting for the EU to respond
to its request for clarifications on European aid for an industrial
modernisation programme that forms part of the package.
seen exporting over $10 b oil
A senior United Nations humanitarian official said
on Tuesday Iraqi oil exports during the present phase of the six-month
oil-for-food plan could exceed $10 billion if prices stay at current
Tun Myat, the UN coordinator and in charge of the
oil-for-food programme in Iraq, also told reporters an acceleration of
approval of oil spare parts was expected when a new panel of experts
Saudi Prince AlWalid bin Talal said Monday he had
agreed to invest a further 50 million dollars in priceline.com, the
Internet service provider, bringing his total Internet investments to
more than 1.4 billion dollars.
makes energy find off Egypt
Exploration and production company BG International
reported a "significant" energy discovery off Egypt on
Monday with its 50-50 partner Edison International.
The Sapphire-1 well 65 km (40 miles) northeast of
Alexandria tested at a rate of 35 million standard cubic feet (mmscfd)
of gas a day and 1,100 barrels of condensate per day, with the flow
rate constrained by testing equipment.
Morocco's Maroc Telecom, which is slated for
privatisation by early 2001, said on Monday its net profit rose by 48
per cent $114 million in the first half compared with same period in
to deliver generators to Lebanon
Iran will next week deliver the first of two mobile
generators built specially for Lebanon after Israeli warplanes bombed
its power stations, an Iranian official said Monday.
The second of the generators, which cost a total of
nearly two million dollars to construct, will be delivered in October,
said the official, cited by the state IRNA news agency.
Iran, Egypt and a number of other Arab and European
countries have sent technicians, equipment and financial aid to help
Lebanon repair its power grid after Israeli air-raids in February and
the previous June.
denies airport expansion plans
Kuwait's civil aviation authority Sunday denied
that it had embarked on a huge project to expand the emirate's only
international airport, as contractors had announced.
An official of the general management of the
aviation authority played down the importance of the work, started in
July, saying it covered only "the construction of a carpark,
restaurants, shops and airline offices," the official KUNA news
agency reported. Earlier Sunday, the managing director of Kuwait
United Construction Management, Hussein Al-Sayegh, told AFP that the
project was worth 39 million dollars and would double the airport's
capacity to six million passengers a year.
mulls billion-dollar employment plan
The Syrian government is considering a
billion-dollar plan to create 440,000 jobs in the economically
troubled country, the official newspaper Tishrin said Sunday.
Syria, which has an active population of 4.5
million, officially has an unemployment rate of 9.5 per cent, but
economic experts believe the rate is closer to 20 per cent.
The plan, which would start next month and last
until September 2005, also calls for annual growth of six per cent to
accommodate up to 300,000 new workers in the market each year, Tishrin
to hold intensive capital markets course
Atlas Investment Group (AIG) and Amman Stock
Exchange (ASE) are sponsoring an intensive, 4-day International
Capital Markets course in Amman in cooperation with the reputable
Euromoney Training (London).
The programme is designed to give a broad exposure
to all areas of capital markets. The course will provide an intensive
practical training with computer-based case-studies, and workshop
This programme is designed to give a broad exposure
to all area of capital markets. It is thus equally suitable for
relatively new entrants into investment banking and corporate finance,
experienced professionals transferring into capital market areas,
consultants, lawyers and other specialists providing service to
capital markets firms.
Arab firms urged to be bolder
Companies need to be bolder and more aggressive in
order to end the marginalization of the Arab market in the world
economy, Lebanese Finance Minister Georges Corm urged Tuesday.
Saying it was too easy to blame war and
state-controlled economies for the problem, Corm said "what is
more preoccupying is the attitude of the private sector vis-a-vis