Middle East Business News Review – 16 July

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Middle East Business News Review – A look at today’s important financial news and business updates from the Gulf, Levant and North Africa:

Oman June oil output drops 4.1%

Oman’s crude oil and derivatives production dropped 4.1% in June this year compared to the previous month, figures released by the Ministry of Oil and Gas said.

According to official statistics, output fell to 27.7 million barrels in June from 28.89 million barrels in May while average daily production in June also slid 0.92% from 931,955 barrels in May to 923,339 barrels.

The Sultanate’s crude oil exports registered an increase of 5.7% to 23.32 million barrels in June. Muscat supplied the bulk of oil exports to its Asian customers, with China accounting for 48% share followed by Japan with 21%.

GCC economies 2% of world’s GDP says Gulf economist

The Gulf Cooperation Council economies constitute about 2% of the world’s gross domestic product (GDP), a leading economist said in a statement.

Dr Saeed Al Sheikh, economist Al Ahli Bank, told Akhbar Al Khaleej that the GCC nations possess 30% of the world’s gas reserves and 40% of the world’s oil reserves.

He asserted that global and regional economic and security conditions make it imperative for countries of the Gulf region to surmount formalities such as bickering about hosting of the Gulf Union’s head offices.

Iraq signs energy exploration deals

Iraq on Monday announced it has signed an initial deal with a Kuwait-led consortium and awarded contract to a Russia-led group to drill for energy, as part of efforts to strengthen its oil production capabilities.

Baghdad is also considering two other deals with international firms to boost its oil reserves and increase production of much-needed gas to gap the country’s power shortfall.

South Korea mulls importing more Iranian oil

The South Korean government is considering an offer made by Tehran that would allow the delivery of oil on Iranian tankers, effectively bypassing the US-led Western sanctions, Reuters reported.

Iran is finding it hard to maintain significant levels of oil exports, the nation’s primary source of income, since the US and Europe imposed harsh financial sanctions against insuring oil tankers coming from the Middle Eastern nation.

The Islamic Republic’s fleet of oil tankers is ageing due to decades-old sanctions imposed by the United States, making it tough to keep supplies flowing to its top two crude buyers.

Decline in Somali activity helps world sea piracy fall 54%

Worldwide sea piracy levels fell by 54% during the first half of 2012, helped by a massive drop in Somali piracy, an international maritime watchdog said Monday.

The International Maritime Bureau said in its report that ‘pre-emptive and disruptive counter piracy tactics’ adopted by international navies patrolling in seas off Somalia as well as increased presence of private armed personnel on board ships attributed the sharp drop in hijackings and attacks.

Overall, 177 incidents of sea piracy were reported in the first six months of 2012, compared to 266 incidents for the same period in 2011, the International Maritime Bureau said in its findings. The report noted that 20 vessels were hijacked worldwide, with a total number of 334 crew members taken hostage. There were a further 80 vessels boarded, 25 vessels fired upon and 52 reported attempted attacks. At least four crew members were killed.

Saudi, UAE consumers among world’s most confident

Saudi Arabia and the UAE were named on Monday in the world’s top 10 countries for consumer confidence in the second quarter of 2012.

Although Saudi Arabia’s score of 115 was down on its previous high, the Gulf kingdom was still fourth in the world, behind Indonesia which led the Nielsen Global Consumer Confidence Index.

The UAE’s score of 108 was three better than in the first quarter as the Gulf state was placed sixth in the global index.

Qatar eyes $3bn Apache helicopters deal

Qatar has expressed interest in buying 24 AH-64D Apache Longbow attack helicopters and 700 Hellfire missiles from the United States in a potential deal worth more than $3bn.

The Defence Security Cooperation Agency said in a statement that it has notified Congress of the possible sale to the Government of Qatar.

It said the Gulf state has also requested a possible sale of 56 engines and associated equipment including night vision sensors and missile launchers.

Saudi Arabia to stop accepting Umrah visa applications by Tuesday

The Saudi Ministry of Haj has announced that the deadline for Umrah visa applications from around the world will end on Tuesday.

In a letter signed by the Director-General of Umrah services at the ministry, Abdul Aziz Damanhouri, and quoted in several press reports, as saying the deadline will be in effect at 11.59pm on Tuesday, 17 July, which will be also 27 Sha’aban.

SR 4.4 bn deals signed for road projects

Transport Minister Dr. Jabara Al-Seraisry yesterday signed 119 contracts worth SR 4.4 billion to construct new roads and maintain existing ones in various parts of the Kingdom. 

The new roads will be implemented at a total cost of SR 1.8 billion while maintenance work will cost SR 2.6 billion.

Makkah province has received seven road projects valued at more than SR 293 million while four projects worth SR 194.86 million will be built in the Madinah province and three projects worth SR 101 million in the Riyadh province.

New Doha project to save 6.5m litres of water everyday

Doha’s Msheireb Properties has revealed its newest sustainable energy plans, unveiling a non-potable water system that will save Doha over 6.5 million liters of potable water each day.

The municipality will be providing non-potable Treated Sewage Effluent (TSE) water, which is pure enough to be used for irrigation, toilets, and the district cooling systems. The water saved with the new system will be immensely valuable to the residents of Doha, particularly through the summer.

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