Aug 20 -
26 , 2001
Kuwait predicts oil price collapse in long term
Kuwaiti Oil Minister Adel al-Subaih said on
Wednesday the OPEC cartel would maintain its $25 per barrel target for
as long as it could, but he predicted a price collapse in the long
The Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting
Countries, which controls about two-thirds of world exports, was
"feeling the pinch" from its self-imposed output cuts, he
added, while other producers enjoyed the fruits of its sacrifice.
"We are the ones who feel the pinch and
non-OPEC countries get the fruits of our policy," al-Subaih told
reporters at a reception in London.
"In the long term I think there will be a big
collapse in prices and everyone will have to reassess their
position," he added.
OPEC has enjoyed its biggest oil boom for two
decades since 1999, when it slashed production.
But while OPEC used the money to pay down fiscal
deficits, multinational companies invested heavily in new production
outside the cartel, and non-OPEC countries are expected to take for
themselves all the global demand growth next year.
OPEC, meanwhile, maintains its target price band of
$22-$28 per barrel with ever-deeper production cuts. The price of
OPEC's basket of crudes was pegged at $25.01 a barrel on Tuesday.
"It is not easy to maintain prices in the band
because non-OPEC production is increasing and non-commercial oil
becomes attractive at that price," al-Subaih said.
The 10 OPEC members with quotas are now allowed to
pump 24.2 million barrels per day (bpd), 11 per cent below the 27.3
million bpd they were pumping in 1998 before this series of cuts.
They are due to slash quotas for a third time this
year, by 4 per cent or a million bpd, next month under an agreement
made when prices slipped in July.
Iraq, OPEC's 11th member, is outside the quota
system because its exports are restricted by United Nations sanctions.
Jordan looks for private investment for major water
Jordan's water ministry launched Tuesday an
international tender for a project aimed at developing the country's
water resources, ranked in the world's bottom 10.
The ministry announced in the local press and on it
web site a request for the private sector to join a project aimed at
exploiting the underground water table in Disi (South) for a 40 year
period under a Build-Operate-Transfer arrangement.
The project consists of pumping from 65 wells to
Amman from Disi, 325 kilometres (200 miles) south of Amman, for an
estimated 100 million cubic metres (3.5 billion cubic feet) of water.
The cost of the four-year project is estimated at
600 million dollars, of which 200 million will be carried by the
Amman is still hoping for money promised by Libya
one year ago for the Disi project.
In May, Jordan launched an appeal for international
investment in the construction of the al-Wehda dam on the Yarmouk
river along the country's border with Syria.
The dam will create a reservoir with a capacity of
220 million cubic meters (7.8 billion cubic feet), which will be
equally shared by the two countries.
This largely desert kingdom annually needs about
1.1 billion cubic meters (38.8 billion cubic feet) of water, but the
supply this year is forecast at only 850 million cubic meters (30
billion cubic feet). The Wihda and Disi projects are expected to
provide the country with drinking water through 2020.
Yemen foreign debt down to $4.8 bln in March
Yemen's foreign debt reached 4.8 billion dollars
(5.3 billion euros) at the end of March, down 2 per cent from december
2000, said a report from the central bank published Tuesday in Sanaa.
Yemen's internal debt fell by 39.5 from 997 million
dollars in December to 604 million in June, the report said.
Meanwhile, inflation fell from 8.5 percent to 7.3
per cent over the same period.
However, budget surpluses for the first semester of
2001 reached 360 million dollars, against 474 million over the same
period in 2000.
In May, President Ali Abdullah Saleh announced that
economic reforms launched in 1995 had slashed foreign debt to three
Since 1995 the Yemeni government has been following
a programme sponsored by the World Bank and the International Monetary
Fund to lower subsidies and privatise state industries.
Over 110 die in Iran floods
Over 110 people have been killed and 35 others are
still missing following torrential rains which sparked heavy flooding
in northern Iran, IRNA reported on Sunday.
"According to initial estimates, floods in the
northern Golestan province have left over 110 people dead and caused
some 200 million rials ($25 million) in damages," said Habibzadeh
Dabaq, the deputy Golestan governor, cited by IRNA.
He said some 1,500 houses, 100 cars and 80
kilometers of roads, as well as 15,000 hectares (37,000 acres) of
farmland have been destroyed since the waters, sparked by heavy
rainfall, swelled on Friday, flooding 17 villages in this province
which lies east of the Caspian Sea.
Arab ministers meet Arafat over media image
Arab information ministers and Palestinian
President Yasser Arafat on Wednesday agreed to spend over $1 million
to improve the Palestinians' media image in their fight against
Arab League spokeswoman Hanan Ashrawi said all
states would contribute to the fund, aimed at combating "media
deception" relating to the Palestinian issue.
"The money is enough to fully implement these
plans," Ashrawi, the League's Media Commissioner and a prominent
Palestinian lawmaker, told reporters after the meeting.
"Israel is currently destroying the peace
process and its foundations and is launching a war against the
Palestinians," she said. According to a written summary, the plan
aims to "persuade public opinion, especially in the United
States, of the importance and necessity of immediate action to save
the explosive situation".
Syrian PM in Iraq on first such visit in 20 years
Syrian Prime Minister Mohammad Mustapha Miro flew
into Baghdad on Saturday, the official INA news agency said, in a new
sign of warming relations between the two neighbours after a 20-year
Miro, the first prime minister from Damascus to
visit since ties were broken off in 1980, arrived at Saddam
international airport aboard a Syrian aircraft accompanied by a
delegation of businessmen.
He was due to attend a meeting of a joint
Iraq-Syria commission and try to boost trade, which today stands at
about 500 million dollars, an Iraqi official said.
"A cooperation agreement covering economic,
trade and cultural areas will be signed during this visit," Miro
told the INA agency.
He restated the Syrian position in calling for the
lifting of the embargo against Iraq, believing that "it violates
the principles of the UN and international law."
Iran: Gulf war cost us $23 bln in damages
The 1991 Gulf war cost Iran 23 billion dollars in
damage, the deputy minister of agriculture Behzad Ghareh-Yazdi said
"The occupation of Kuwait by Iraq caused 23
million dollars in damage, including 15.4 billion in the sector of
natural resources, agriculture and fishing", the official was
quoted as saying by IRNA.
"A third of Iran's Persian Gulf waters were
polluted by the fires set off by Iraq in 700 Kuwaiti oil wells and the
explosion of platforms", he said.
He also mentioned the burden of the estimated one
million refugees, both Kurds and Shiite Muslims, who fled to Iran when
the war broke out.
The assessment of Gulf war damage was carried out
by a team of government officials and academics and financed by the UN
up to 17.7 million dollars.
Three Britons confess to bomb blasts
Three British men confessed on Saudi television
Monday to responsibility for three bomb blasts in the kingdom between
December 2000 and March 2001.
The three men, named as James Lee, James Cottle and
Les Walker, gave detailed confessions with maps of three attacks, two
in Riyadh and one in the eastern city of Khobar, that left two other
Britons and an Egyptian injured.
They had "received orders" to carry out
the attacks, the trio said without elaborating.
Lee, who said he worked at a military hospital in
Riyadh, said he and Cottle had been recruited in November to carry out
Cottle said he worked for a private construction
firm while Walker worked for an investment company.
The three men confessed to the December 15 blast in
Khobar that targeted British citizen David Brown, wounding him in the
shoulder, throat and stomach.
Intifada grounds El Al profits
State-run national airline El Al Israel Airlines
lost $83 million in the first half of the year, more than the $70
million the airline had predicted, the Ha'aretz daily reported on
Ha'aretz said the poor second-quarter results
stemmed mainly from a sharp drop in incoming passengers, due to the
It also said El Al recorded a 21 per cent fall in
passenger traffic for the first half of the year.
Palestinians reciprocate embargo on Israeli farm
Palestinian Agriculture Minister Hikmat Zaid on
Thursday announced an embargo on a list of agricultural products from
Israel, in response to a 10-month blockade on Palestinian goods
"As of today, certain Israeli agricultural
products will not enter Palestinian territory," the minister told
reporters. "This measure aims to denounce the destruction of
Palestinian agriculture by Israel through the Israeli blockade of
Palestinian territories," he added.
"It will be lifted if the (Israeli) blockade
is lifted, allowing the free circulation of agricultural products and
Palestinian veterinaries through the Palestinian territories." He
said restrictions on the movements of vets was leading to a rise in
The Israel products to be banned included bananas,
mangoes, melons, pears, apples, chickens and eggs, beef and dairy
products, with the exception of milk.
Arab Financial Forum to be held in Cairo
Deliberations of the sixth Arab Financial Forum
will begin in Cairo on September 11 to discuss opportunities and
challenges that face the
Middle East and North Africa region, regional and
international developments as well as issues relating to financial
Participants will also discuss during the two-day
forum a host of issues including trade, joint projects, financial
markets, indebtedness, telecommunications, trade policies in light of
globalization in addition to the future role of the Arab financial
The forum will also be attended by experts in
financial markets from 32 Arab and foreign countries as well as
economic experts from international financial institutions.
Superbrands comes to the Middle East
Superbrands, the association that celebrates and
supports the cause of quality branding throughout the world, recently
set up its first middle-east office in Dubai.
A representative branch of its main office in the
UK, the new office is set to go about promoting its activities and
selecting members for its regional council, whose responsibility it
will be to select the region's Superbrands.
ABB wins $93 mln contract in Algeria
Swiss-Swedish engineering group ABB said on Monday
it has won a contract worth 93 million dollars (104.5 million euros)
to design and build a gas compressor station in Algeria.
The station makes up part of a pipeline 1,400
kilometres (875 miles) long that runs from Algeria to Europe under the
Straits of Gibraltar, a company press statement said.
The new compressor will boost the pipeline's
capacity to 11 billion cubic meters per year from eight billion, ABB
The station, expected to be completed in 27 months,
will be run by Algerian oil company Sonatrach.
BP signs $2.5 bln Algerian gas deal
The Algerian oil company Sonatrach and British
Petroleum this weekend signed three contracts worth 2.5 billion
dollars (2.8 billion euros) for the development of gas reserves in the
Algerian desert, officials said on Sunday.
Other companies involved include Kellog-Brown and
Root, JGC, Bechtel and Algerian drilling company ENAFOR.
When complete, the project is expected to yield
nine billion cubic metres (315 billion cubic feet) of natural gas per
One contract is for a gas processing plant, pumping
networks and infrastructures.
A second covers a 460-kilometre (275-mile) gas
pipeline linking the largest Algerian gas field at Hassi R'mel to In
Salah in the heart of the desert.
The third contract provides for the drilling of 71
production wells, the officials said. "The new quantities of
Algerian gas available when this major project is implemented will
confirm the role Algeria intends to continue playing on the
international gas market and the energy market of the European and
Mediterranean region," Algerian Energy Minister Chakib Khelil