The deal will have commercial effect from January
1. The Qatar assets were acquired by OMV in 2003, as part of the
acquisition of the international E&P portfolio of Preussag Energie
International GmbH. They comprise non-operated working interests in
the producing Block 12 of Al Rayyan Field and in the exploration Block
13. Both blocks are located in shallow water offshore Qatar
With India's petroleum minister Mani Shankar Aiyar
emphasizing that India would go ahead with the proposed $7 billion gas
pipeline from Iran through Pakistan, New Delhi is likely to seek
improvements in World Trade Organization (WTO) rules related to such
projects which involve freedom of transit, it is reported. Pipelines
should be explicitly covered under Article 5 of GATT (General
Agreement of Tariffs and Trade) which deals with freedom of transit,
senior officials feel. This could make sure that Pakistan does not
disrupt flow of Iran gas to India. The government's efforts to source
oil and gas from the Central Asian region would also get a boost if
such projects - which involve flow of goods through several countries
- are secured by WTO norms.
India's attempt to spruce up its energy security by
acquiring equity in overseas oil fields would also gain from 'WTO
security shield' once norms laid down under Article 5 of GATT are
The WTO rule on freedom of transit was originally
introduced for ensuring trade channels of land-locked countries not
Now, India is looking at the possibility of using
the same set of norms for securing gas supply through pipelines as the
European Union has already initiated a discussion on the issue.
The petroleum and commerce department are examining
various aspects related to transit pipelines. Three financial
consultants in fray for pipeline KPMG International, Ernst & Young
and Standard Chartered bank are the three financial consultants short
listed by Indian Oil Corp (Indian Oil) for the multibillion dollar
Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline project. "Out of five who had
bid, we short listed these three for making detailed presentations on
the international best practices in pipeline projects and their
proposals," Indian Oil finance director S.V. Narasimhan said.
"We will finalize the financial consultants by month end or the
beginning of September," he said.
The selected consultants would be given time till
November to present project models for the execution of the natural
gas pipeline project, now estimated to cost over $7 billion given the
rise in input costs of products like steel. The project design would
have to address security concerns, a financing model for the execution
of the project and work out a formula for ensuring delivery of natural
gas at India's border at a price lower than the imported liquefied
natural gas (LNG) among other factors.
India is committed to having in place technical,
legal and financial consultants ahead of the second round of the
India-Pakistan joint working group meeting in Islamabad next month.
While Indian Oil has been given the task of appointing the financial
consultant, gas infrastructure Major GAIL (India) Ltd. will nominate
the technical and legal consultants by month end.
Pakistan is also planning to appoint its own
consultants as the three nations work towards finalizing the way
forward before December end.
Iran has refused to accept a call by the European
side on suspension of activities at Isfahan UCF to hold the scheduled
talks on August 31, a senior Iranian official said.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid-Reza Asefi, who is
also deputy foreign minister for parliamentary and legal affairs, said
"The performance of the Europeans indicates they are following
other objectives from negotiations with Iran.
"The Islamic Republic of Iran has announced
from the outset it seeks settlement of the issue through negotiation,
but a negotiation which reinforces and ensures Iran's rights and which
does not have any preconditions," he said.
The spokesman added, "Contrary to claims made
by the Europeans, it was not Iran that violated the Paris Agreement
but the Europeans themselves practically breached the agreement by
ignoring Iran's rights and refraining from providing firm guarantees.
"The Europeans, who interpreted and violated the Paris Agreement
unilaterally, are to blame because activities in Isfahan (Uranium
Conversion Unit) have nothing to do with enrichment and do not violate
regulations or the Paris Agreement." He stressed, "By
negotiation, the Islamic Republic does not mean just holding talks. We
still believe negotiations should restore and guarantee Iran's rights
to have access to peaceful nuclear technology." Iran offers
condolences over Peruvian plane crash Asefi also on expressed his
regret over a Peruvian plane crash on Tuesday last.
According to reports, a Peruvian passenger jet
crashed during a severe storm in Peru's northeastern jungle, killing
at least 40 people, police said. State-run airline TANS said it's
Boeing 737-200 plane with 100 people aboard made an emergency landing
without its landing gear in swampland about 500 miles (800 km)
northeast of Lima.
In his message, Asefi said the crash of the
Peruvian passenger plane brought deep sadness to the Iranian
government and nation. He further expressed the Iranian government's
deepest sympathy to the relatives of the victims. Asefi expounds on
release of an Iranian from Guantanamo prison
Foreign Ministry spokesman also on Tuesday said
that the Iranian detainee, Mohammad Anvarkord, has been released from
Guantanamo Bay Prison through negotiation and mediation of the
International Committee of the Red Cross.
According to a report issued by the Foreign
Ministry Media Department, Asefi added that upon entering Afghanistan
illegally some years ago, Anvarkord along with several Afghans, was
arrested by the U.S. troops and transferred to the U.S. Naval Base at
Guantanamo Bay, where he was detained.
"Based on investigations, in Guantanamo Prison
Anvarkord was mistreated and exposed to extensive psychological
pressure. "The inhuman behavior of the prison keepers, in
violation of human rights, caused psychological disorder for him, so
that he needs to be recuperated and treated," added Asefi.
IPIC IN FAR EAST
Abu Dhabi Oil Investment Fund, the financial arm of
International Petroleum Investment Company (IPIC), announced plans
earlier this week to expand its operations to Far Eastern markets. The
firm, which is owned by the Abu Dhabi government, has embarked on an
acquisition spree securing a stake into state-owned Chinese Petroleum
Corp (CPC) and possibly making a bid for Royal Dutch Shell's LPG
business, "We are looking to buy refineries and marketing
companies in the Far East, targeting Thailand, Malaysia and
Korea," said Khadem Al Qubaisi, head of IPIC's investment
management division. "We are also interested in utilities and gas
companies because it is important for us to diversify our portfolio
and we need exposure on the utility side, especially in
Company officials also spoke about possibly
doubling IPIC's stake in Spanish oil firm Cepsa to more than 15% by
buying stock from bank Santander.
IPIC signed a memorandum of understanding with CPC
in June giving it the right to buy 20-25% of CPC and set up a
petrochemical joint venture with the Taiwanese firm, Al Qubaisi said.
Al Qubaisi said IPIC had formally expressed
interest in a planned sale by Royal Dutch Shell of its liquefied
petroleum gas business, which analysts said could be worth more than
As for increasing its stake in Cepsa by buying some
of the shares of Spanish bank Santander, IPIC said the deal was
conditional on the UAE and Spain resolving taxation issues. "We
now hold a 9.5% stake in Cepsa and we want to raise the stake to
15%," Al Qubaisi said. "We are a long-term strategic
investor in Cepsa and we want to strengthen our investment."
However, any sale of shares in Cepsa is effectively
frozen at present because of a dispute between its two biggest
shareholders Santander and France's Total. In further plans, IPIC is
evaluating the possibility of joining a natural gas pipeline project,
Nabucco, which will run from Turkey to Europe, and also considers
entering the U.S. market.
IPIC's downstream investments outside of Abu Dhabi
are estimated at $1.35 billion, covering six refineries with a
combined production capacity of 642,500 barrels per day, 2,800
marketing outlets, and exploration and production rights in 11
SYMPOSIUM ON THE LIFE OF PROPHET (PBUH)
The Directorate of Education, Jeddah, is organizing
a four-day symposium on the life of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) under the
tile "Allah's messenger as if you are seeing him".
The symposium, the first of its kind, will be held
under the supervision of The Girls' Administration for Education
Development. The event aims to present the Prophet's life and
characteristics in a practical program for the young to follow as a
The symposium will he held at the Prince Bandar ibn
Sultan Hall at Dar Al-Hekma College. Dr. Abdullah Omar Naseef, former
deputy chairman of the Shoura Council and former secretary-general of
the Muslim World League, will be the honorary guest at the event which
will be attended by Abdul Kareem Al-Hukail, director general of the
Directorate of Education, Makkah region for girls, and Abdullah Al-Huaimel,
the director general of the Directorate of Education, Makkah region
for boys. More than 1,200 people are expected to attend.
Among the topics to be discussed are: The
misconceptions and misleading campaigns against Islam and the
Prophet's Sunnah; women's rights; loving the Prophet without extremes
and following the Prophet's example by focusing on internal changes
and implementation. The speakers will include Dr. Aiydh Al-Qarni, Dr.
Salman Al-Ouda, Dr. Zaghlool Al-Najjar, Dr. Fatima Naseef and Dr. Nora
With companies under pressure to Saudize, the
Leylati wedding hall complex has managed to succeed at both
maintaining its prestige and reputation and employing Saudi women
workers in most divisions of the office. The management has created
opportunities for these young women, which have broadened their
horizons and benefited the company. Career opportunities range from
management skills, catering, event organizing, and dealing with their
The Management Department was previously run by
four Lebanese women. This has now changed; all employees working in
this sector are Saudi women. "It was hard to find Saudi women who
would be dedicated to the job. We need our employees to be patient
with clients, proficient in two languages, experienced, and
presentable," said Wassma Al-Fadul, the Laylati sales
representative in the management section. The eight-hour working day,
six days a week, makes it harder for women workers to take on such
Leylati is famous for the Filipino waitresses and
caterers who serve the late night shifts during weddings. In the past
year, strenuous efforts were made to train Saudi women to operate at
the same level. The supervisors admit to their strict approach when
dealing with their trainees, but found it essential; many who want the
work are not qualified and the company was under time constraints to
employ more Saudis.
A trainee contacted by Arab News said that she was
learning a lot at Leylati. "My job responsibilities are varied
and the working atmosphere is very friendly. It is much better than
sitting at home watching TV." Another employee said she was
gaining a lot from her training. "We got used to the strict
training regulations; they were very beneficial, particularly when we
first started." Both have been working at Leylati for eight
months, and are being trained at the wedding halls. Transportation is
provided for the women employees, even after the late night shifts.
Meals are provided throughout all shifts; one meal during their
morning shift, another during the afternoon shift, the third at the
beginning of the late night shift, and the final between the middle
and end of late night shifts. In addition, all workers have a company
uniform during the daytime shift, and another for the late night
events. All women cover their hair with a white headscarf, as there
are male employees working behind the scenes and with whom they have
to interact — in the kitchens for example.
Leylati is increasingly employing Saudi women to
work in all fields suitable for women. Wassma Al-Fadul said that even
though it was difficult at first to employ so many Saudi women and
maintain the same standard, "We have become very hopeful however,
as we see the success of our training program and the determination of
the employees to succeed."
SALARY INCREASE TO COST ADDITIONAL SR 15 BILLION TO
It is estimated that the increase in wages is
estimated at SR15 billion to government employees over a total base
salary of SR100 billion yearly. Dr. Saad Alshiek undermined the
inflationary effects of the decision if the increases are limited to
the workers in government only. This is so despite the fact that
increasing liquidity necessarily adds to the demand on goods and
services and causes a general increase in prices inflation, the Al-Madinah
The Saudi expert concluded that this increase in
prices would be limited, because the increase in prices will be driven
by an increased demand not an increase in the costs of production.
The expert counted the positive aspects of the
decision of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques on the general
economic performance in the long term.
These include that increasing prices will encourage
private sector companies to higher production. This will increase
supply to a higher demand (motivated by the wage increase) and will
cause a stabilization of prices at a higher equilibrium.
The expert also predicted that the increase would
result in the long-term flourishing of the economy. This will happen
through the creation of more jobs and a resultant increase in demand.
This increase in demand will, in turn, result in an increase in
production. This will widen the circle of investments, growth and
economic development. Companies will be able to absorb the higher
salaries through expansion and added production.
The Saudi expert concluded that prices would
increase in the short term, but that expanded production will lower
prices in both the short and long terms. Strategically, the decision
has a human aspect in aiding citizens and a political and social
aspect in meeting the expectations of citizens after oil price
increases. The higher oil price makes the government capable of
affording wage increases.
The expert asserted that the decision would have
economic and strategic avenues through increasing the pace of economic
activity especially when fiscal policy is hampered (there are no taxes
in Saudi Arabia). The government is capable of covering the added
expenses including the future burdens of the decision on the national
Riyadh — A major contract for the sale of a 55
percent stake in fixed-line operator Turk Telekom was signed in Turkey
yesterday. Oger Telecom, part of the Riyadh-based Saudi Oger group
with substantial business presence in many foreign countries, signed
the agreement with Turkish government to acquire the stake at a value
of $6.55 billion.
On behalf of Turkey, the share sale agreement was
signed by Turkish Minister of Finance Kemal Unakitan. Mohammed Hariri,
senior vice president and chief financial officer of Saudi Oger,
represented the Oger Telecom and inked the deal. The signing
represents a significant step forward in the privatization, but
closing the sale is still subject to Council of State opinion on Turk
Telekom's concession agreement.
Speaking on this occasion, Hariri said: "We
are fully committed to this investment and are confident of our
ability to build value to all stakeholders including the management of
Turk Telekom, its employees, its customers and to the public at
large." A venture led by Saudi Oger Telecom and including Telecom
Italia won a tender on July 1 this year offering $6.55 billion for a
55 percent stake in Turk Telekom.
Referring to the preparedness of the company, Dr.
Paul Doany, Oger Telecom's managing director said: "The company's
experts and specialists are working hard in all aspects including
detailing the business, technical and commercial plans, while
finalizing the operational plan well in advance."
"Our joint team with BT Telconsult (British
Telecom's consultancy arm) is focusing on the fixed line business
including new technology, products and services," said Doany.
NEW CABINET IN IRAN
The Majlis held confirmation votes on the 21
members of the cabinet team proposed by President Mahmud Ahmadinejad.
Seventeen were approved as ministers, and four were
rejected. The nominees for the oil, education, welfare and social
security, and cooperatives ministry portfolios failed to get the
necessary votes, with the education minister getting the least votes.
President now has three months to present new
candidates for vacant posts. The president is expected to take
responsibility for the oil ministry himself in the interim.
"We should know that we cannot play with
oil," Ali Asgari, an MP from Mashhad, said of the Islamic
republic's main export.
"There are complicated issues within the oil
sector. It is both an economical and political matter. When we want to
threaten the Europeans in the negotiations, our leverage is oil,"
he said, referring to European pressure on Iran for its peaceful
nuclear activities. Majlis speaker Gholam Ali Hadad-Adel said after
the vote that parliament merely "wants to have a stronger
government" and said the rejection of four ministers "is not
a sign of any cooperation between the Majlis and the government."