Nov 26 - Dec 02, 2001
Norway output cut boosts oil price
Both Mexico and Norway have pledged to help Opec Crude oil
prices in London have leapt almost 7% higher, breaking back through the $20 per
The sudden surge came after Norway said it had agreed to
mirror the behaviour of the Opec cartel by reducing supply in order to boost
"The government has decided that if Opec and non-Opec
countries carry out cuts, then I have got a mandate to carry out cuts of 100,000
to 200,000 barrels a day," Norwegian Oil Minister Einar Steensnaes said.
The news prompted renewed confidence that Opec will push
through its own cuts which were agreed on the condition that Russia, Mexico and
Norway followed suit.
Norway's decision to support Opec leaves Russia in the
spotlight since Mexico has already made a firm commitment to reduce output.
Opec chief Ali Rodriguez has said that he was "very
confident" that Russia would cut production.
"We are very confident of a rational decision by
President Putin and the authorities in Russia," Mr Rodriguez said.
But analysts — and the signals from Russia itself — have
been mixed so far.
Russian oil officials are meeting at the Kremlin on Friday in
order to discuss a cut, but traders are sceptical of the country's ability to
enforce quota discipline.
Oil prices hit a two and a half year low at the beginning of
this week, slipping to $16.65 per barrel.
But renewed hopes of concerted action from Opec has seen
prices touch $20.00 per barrel on Thursday.
Last year, the oil price soared to more than $30 a dollar,
prompting widespread fuel protests in September after the strong crude oil price
fed through to prices at the petrol pump.
Aramco to undertake joint venture in China
Saudi oil company Saudi Aramco, in strategic partnerships
with Fujian Petrochemical Company Ltd (FPCL) and ExxonMobil, is working on a
project to develop an integrated petroleum refining and petrochemical project in
Quangang, in the Fujian province of China.
In this context an agreement was signed in Beijing on
November 14 by Aramco Overseas Co. B.V., a Saudi Aramco subsidiary, with the
Fujian Petrochemical Company Ltd (FPCL) and ExxonMobil.
China Petroleum and Petrochemical Co. Ltd to carry out a
joint feasibility study (JFS) for the Fujian Integrated Petroleum/petrochemical
The JFS is a document through which the partners agree on and
define the objectives and plans of a project.
After completion the study would be submitted to State
Development Planning Commission (SDPC) of the People's Republic of China, a
Saudi Aramco announcement said.
The joint venture will be formed after the Chinese government
approves the joint venture contract and then the articles of association of the
The submission of the JFS to the SDPC is being regarded as an
important step in the development of the existing FPCL refinery in Quangang,
Fujian Province of China.
FPCL is a joint venture between China Petroleum &
Chemical Corp. (Sinopec) and the Fujian province. Abdulaziz F. Al-Khayyal,
senior Vice President Saudi Aramco International Operations termed the signing
of the JFS submission agreement as a key milestone in the development of the
project and Saudi Aramco's strategic partnership in China. "The integrated
petroleum refining and petrochemical project has strong and sound fundamentals
and will contribute to the exceptional economic development in Fujian, in
particular and China in general. We look forward to the Chinese government's
acceptance and approval of the JFS," he was quoted as saying.
Saudi Aramco and ExxonMobil will each have 25 per cent stake
in the proposed joint venture while the FPCL would have a 50 per cent stake in
Saudi Arabia to sell shares in joint venture cos
The Saudi cabinet has authorized the General Investment Fund
(GIF) to sell the state's shares in a number of joint venture companies,
including the Saudi-Pakistani Industrial Development Company , to the local
private sector. The cabinet asked Saudi Minister for Finance and National
Economy, Dr Ibrahim Al-Assaf to make necessary arrangements for the proposed
The cabinet also authorized the minister to hold discussions
with the partner countries to make changes in bilateral agreements on joint
venture companies and sign related documents in this regard.
The Saudi government has a 50-per cent stake in seven joint
venture companies established with a number of countries, including Pakistan,
Syria, Egypt, Morocco and Bangladesh.
Muslim states to form Islamic financial market
Four predominantly Muslim countries have signed an agreement
to create an Islamic financial market, regulators in Malaysia said on Monday.
The Labuan Offshore Financial Services Authority says
Malaysia, Bahrain, Indonesia and Sudan have agreed to set up a governing board
for the new Islamic financial market. Brunei, another overwhelmingly Muslim
nation, is expected to join.
"The board is expected to hold its inaugural meeting in
January 2002 to establish a secretariat headed by a full-time chief executive
officer," the authority said.
The four countries and the Islamic Development Bank signed
the deal in Paris last Tuesday but have yet to finalize the operating structure.
It is thought the market will aim to boost cooperation and trade between
companies and banks in the member nations.
Amnesty: Israeli forces increasing use of torture
Amnesty International said Tuesday that Israeli security
forces are increasingly using torture against Palestinian suspects despite a
1999 High Court ruling, which sought to stop the practice.
In a written submission to the UN Committee Against Torture,
which began its regular examination of Israel on Tuesday, the human rights group
said the Israeli government had failed to counter evidence of the increasing use
of torture by law enforcement officials during interrogations.
Amnesty said that members of the Israeli security forces are
benefiting from impunity for torture or ill-treatment of Palestinians.
Amnesty said it had strong evidence that methods such as
sleep deprivation, painful handcuffing and forced positioning were being used
again, mainly against Palestinians.
Jordan unveils new economic reforms programme
Jordan's Prime Minister Ali Abu Ragheb submitted a
comprehensive programme of social and economic reforms to King Abdullah II
Thursday, detailing multi-million-dollar projects to improve life in the
Abu Ragheb's deputy in charge of economic affairs, Mohamed
Halayka, estimated the cost of the projects at 300 million dinars (422 million
dollars) and said they would focus on revamping health and education services as
well as investment-tracking schemes.
Jordan hopes to raise the funds by 2002, outside the budget,
from the alleviation of its seven-billion-dollar foreign debt, foreign aid and
privatisation, officials said.
On October 25 Abdullah gave Abu Ragheb a three-week deadline
to chart out a programme of reforms, insisting that the overall task should be
aimed at reducing unemployment and poverty in Jordan.
Palestinian children killed in blast
Five Palestinian children have been killed in an explosion
near a school in the southern Gaza Strip.
The blast, reportedly from an unexploded Israeli tank shell,
happened close to an elementary school run by the United Nations in the Khan
Younis refugee camp.
Palestinian security commander Colonel Khaled Abu Ola said
the children were killed after stumbling over the shell, fired some time in the
past two days.
Palestinian legislator Hannan Ashrawi called the deaths a
"massacre", and an example of "systematic state terrorism".
AlBaraka merges with TII Kuwait
Dallah AlBaraka Group of Saudi Arabia and the International
Investor Group of Kuwait have merged to create a pan-regional and full service
Islamic financial services group called AlBaraka & The International
Investor , said an announcement on Saturday.
The announcement issued by AlBaraka Islamic Bank, that
belongs to Dallah AlBaraka Group, said the newly created group had assets in
excess of $3 billion, capital of around $350 million, a network of over 100
branches and over 4,000 staff members in 12 countries across South Asia, Africa
and Middle East.
Iran seeks curb on allied troops
Kamal Kharrazi and Jack Straw Iran has warned against the
deployment of more foreign troops to Afghanistan, saying they would only
complicate the crisis in the country.
In a meeting with his British counterpart Jack Straw in
Tehran, Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi said that "handling Afghan issues
should be left to the Afghan people".
US builds new Mid-East peace initiative
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon will meet US President
George W Bush at the White House in December as America renews its efforts to
revive Middle East peace talks.
A White House statement said they would discuss the
international campaign against terrorism and the pursuit of peace in the Middle
The announcement follows a speech on Monday by Secretary of
State Colin Powell, who promised greater US engagement in the region, starting
with the appointment of two envoys.
Iraq oil exports surge to 18.6 million bbl
The volume of oil exported by Iraq under UN supervision
surged last week from 10.9 million to 18.6 million barrels, the office
administering the United Nations oil-for-food programme said Tuesday.
In the week ending November 17, there were six loadings at
Iraq's gulf port of Mina al-Bakr and five at the Turkish Mediterranean port of
Ceyhan, the only export outlets authorised under sanctions imposed on Iraq after
it invaded Kuwait in August 1990.
The average price of Iraqi crude during the week was about
15.65 dollars (17.70 euros) a barrel and revenue was estimated at 290 million
dollars (330 million euros), the office said.
Abu Dhabi in joint venture
Abu Dhabi has formed a joint venture company with a
US-British consortium to manage a new water and power plant to be built next
year in the emirate, government officials said Tuesday.
Shuweihat CMS International Power will be 60 per cent owned
by Abu Dhabi Water and Electricity Authority (ADWEA), while the remaining 40 per
cent will be split equally by British energy group International Power and US
company CMS Energy, the officials said.
The new company, which has been capitalized at 675 million
dirhams (184 million dollars), will operate and maintain power and desalination
operations at the Shuweihat plant for 20 years.
The UAE central bank ordered commercial banks Monday to
freeze the assets of 30 companies as part of a clampdown on financial
irregularities in the country following the US terror attacks in September.
The central bank asked all 47 national and foreign banks
operating in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to "provide the special unit at
the central bank with details of those accounts and remittances to and from
Egypt accuses Bush
An Egyptian government newspaper on Thursday accused US
President George W. Bush of making empty promises to the Arabs on the creation
of a Palestinian state.
Salama Ahmed Salama, the editorialist at Al Ahram daily, said
the United States was beginning to lose incentive to bolster Arab support for
the US-led war on terrorism.
"Now that the US military campaign has had some success
against the Taliban and that Northern Alliance forces have entered the Afghan
Egyptian cabinet reshuffle
New appointments to four Egyptian cabinet posts will be
announced soon, while Economy and External Trade Minister Yusef Butros-Ghali
will lose his economy portfolio, government newspapers said Wednesday.
Slated for change are Minister of Technological Development
and Industry, Mustafa Al-Rifai, Minister of State for the Environment Nadia
Makram Ebeid, Minister of Planning and International Cooperation Ahmed Al-Darsh
and Minister of Electricity and Energy Ali Al-Saidi, Al Ahram and Al-AKhbar
European Commission President Romano Prodi said Monday that
Lebanon and the European Union (EU) will sign a partnership agreement within two
weeks in Brussels.
"The agreement between the European Union and Lebanon
will be sealed within a maximum period of two weeks" in Brussels, Prodi
told reporters after meeting Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri.
A government source told AFP that Hariri will travel to
Brussels within two weeks, heading a delegation including Economy Minister
Bassel Fleihan who will be charged with initialing the accord before its final
ratification by the Lebanese parliament.