Algeria: New law on hydrocarbons
Algeriaís new law on hydrocarbons, promulgated in February 2013, aims mainly at encouraging foreign investments in exploration, which is necessary for Algeria, especially when some studies (Chatham House study 2008) indicated that Algeria would have no oil available to export after 2023. A more recent study argues that Algeria will likely run out of oil to export between 2018 and 2020. The same study warns that without the discovery of new oil reserves, the country could lose its status as an oil producer by 2026.
The law fills a legal gap following the fact noticed over the past years that foreign firms made very few mining discoveries in Algeria.
In 2011, the national oil group SONATRACH made 19 hydrocarbon discoveries in the country. In late 2011, at least 53 exploration agreements were signed, including 40 with the national company alone, while there were only 13 exploration contracts between SONATRACH and one or more foreign firms.
Bahrain solar energy project on track
According to the Gulf Daily News nearly 21,000 solar panels, covering an estimated 34,000 sq m, have been installed, marking a key step in the solar energy pilot project.
Currently under implementation, the project will see five megawatts (MW) of electricity being generated through solar power.
The project is a collaboration involving the National Oil and Gas Authority, Bahrain Petroleum Company (Bapco), the Electricity and Water Authority and the University of Bahrain.
Bapco's technical team has contributed to the project in a big way by preparing engineering and technical specifications, reviewing all engineering designs and overseeing the implementation of the project in Awali, the refinery and the University of Bahrain, where a solar field was created with a capacity of 500 kilowatts.
Besides being a demonstrator in the drive to generate clean energy, the project will contribute to the creation of renewable energy industries in the foreseeable future, which will in turn contribute to the creation of jobs and new industries in the market and to the reduction of national expenditure on energy.
The kingdom is the first in the Gulf to implement a project of this kind, demonstrating a serious commitment to long-term solutions.
Egypt receives $3 bln Qatari deposit
Egypt received a $3 billion deposit from Qatar. The funds will remain with the central bank until Egyptís Finance Ministry issues bonds of the same value to Qatar.
The three-year bonds will carry an interest rate of 3.5 percent.
Qatar has already lent Egypt $5 billion since President Mohammad Mursi took office last July.
Doha had asked for 5 percent interest and a maturity of 18 months, but Egypt was negotiating to get the terms improved. Egypt has been asking Arab and Muslim nations for cheap funds to help it to stave off financial collapse.
It is negotiating a $4.8 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund that would carry an interest rate of only 1.1 percent, but it has balked at the economic policy terms.
Libya deposited $2 billion at Egyptís central bank in April and said it would supply the country with $1.2 billion worth of crude on interest-free credit over one year.
Iraq new energy strategy eyes $6 trillion by 2030
Iraq unveiled an ambitious energy strategy that aims to see it raise $6 trillion from oil and gas sales by 2030 and massively increase local power generation, a major domestic complaint.
The plan, dubbed the Integrated National Energy Strategy, would see Iraq invest some $620 billion in the sector over nearly two decades, in a bid to substantially increase living standards and employment levels in a country badly hit by decades of conflict and sanctions.
In all, Iraq aims to increase oil production to 4.5 million barrels per day by 2014, and about double that by 2020 in its "medium" scenario, with all domestic energy requirements met by 2022.
The country projects it will raise about $6 trillion in revenues by 2030, about 85 percent of which will come from oil exports.
It also aims to diversify its oil-dependent economy and add 10 million new jobs, with planners arguing that by 2020, non-energy sectors of the economy will grow faster than oil and gas.
Iraq has sought in recent years to dramatically increase its oil production in order to fund reconstruction of its battered economy and dilapidated infrastructure.
Jordan to build first shale plant
Six companies have bid to build Jordan's first oil shale power plant which is part of the country's intended future energy mix as it strives to lessen its dependence on imported fuel.
The construction of the 500 megawatt plant is to commence in 2014 and start generating electricity for local consumption by 2017 reducing the country's energy bill by about JD350 a year, the newspaper reported.
Jordanís import bill for fuel accounts for about 20 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) and the kingdom which has one of the smallest economies in the Arab world, relies on foreign grants and aid to finance its current account and fiscal deficits.
Jordan until recently was dependent on Egypt for its gas supply, which has caused its public debt to soar.
Kuwait addressing the housing shortage
As the waiting list for government- subsidized housing in Kuwait has grown to more than 100,000 in 2013, projects aimed at combating the shortage will see a number of new construction projects in the coming years. Sluggish residential real estate growth and restrictive legislation have created difficulties for the sector, but new public-private partnerships (PPPs) and improved credit access could help alleviate Kuwaitís housing problems. In March 2013, the government revealed plans to build 174,000 new houses and three separate cities by 2020, two near the Iraqi border in the north, and one on the Saudi border in the south.
Lebanon has 30 trillion cubic feet of offshore gas
Preliminary surveys of Lebanese offshore fields show reserves of 30 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 660 million barrels of oil, according to Lebanonís energy minister adding that production could begin within four years.
Scanning was now complete on 70 percent of the countryís territorial waters -- an area of some 15,000 square kilometers.
In just 10 percent of that area there are 30 trillion cubic feet (850 million cubic meters) of gas and 660 million barrels of oil.
It is expected to have completed the first exploration phase in the period between 2016 and 2017 and to begin thereafter development and production. Production of oil and gas, however, is not forecasted before 2020.
UAE ranks in the Top-10 most competitive nations in the world
Switzerlandís International Institute of Management Development, ranks the UAE government as the best in the world, in social cohesion and efficiency.
The IIMD Global Competitiveness Yearbook 2013, reports the UAE ranks in the Top-10 most competitive nations in the world.
The improvement in rankings have been largely attributed to an increase in government efficiency and economic performance. In 2011, the UAE was ranked 28th on the list, while it reached 16th position last year.
Regarding the findings of the Arab World Competitiveness Report, which were shared at the WEF Middle East meeting, it says that Qatar and the UAE made encouraging progress in improving their competitiveness. As defined by the WEF, competitiveness measures the ability of a country to grow during the medium term. During 2012-2013, the UAE rose three places to 24th position, ahead of major economies such as China, Turkey and Brazil.
The UAE economy has been lauded for its diversification compared to other regional countries like Qatar and Saudi Arabia. UAE competitiveness was driven by high quality infrastructure, efficient capital markets, strong macroeconomic stability and a transparent government system. These factors were viewed important to attract interest of global investors to all sectors of the economy.
Qatar has the highest density of millionaires in the world
Qatar has the worldís highest density of millionaires, with 143 out of every 1,000 households holding private wealth of at least $1mn, much higher than the global average.
Qatar also ranks fourth in the world by ultra-high-net-worth (UHNW) households, defined as households with more than $100mn in private wealth, with eight out of 100,000 households falling under this category, the Boston Consulting Groupís (BCG) annual global wealth management report said.
Qatar ranks first in the world with the highest density of millionaires, with 14.3% holding private wealth of at least $1mn. Kuwait ranks third with 11.5%, while Bahrain (4.9%) and the UAE (4%) rank seventh and ninth, respectively,Ē said Markus Massi, partner and managing director at BCG Middle East.
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