Rohani Warns US over Preventing Iran from Exporting Oil

Iranian President Hassan Rohani on Monday cautioned the U.S. administration about pursuing hostile policies against Tehran, saying preventing Tehran from exporting its oil would be “very dangerous”, but did not rule out talks between the two countries.

“Imposing sanctions on Iran to prevent us from selling our oil will be very dangerous ... If (U.S. President Donald) Trump wants to talk to Iran, then he first should return to the (2015) nuclear deal first,” the ISNA news agency quoted Rohani as saying in a meeting with senior editors of foreign media in New York. - Reuters


Saudi Aramco Committed to Cutting Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Saudi Aramco, the world's leading integrated energy and chemicals company, has reinforced its commitment to reduce climate change-causing greenhouse gas emissions, at annual Oil and Gas Climate Initiative (OGCI) meeting in New York.

Saudi Aramco, a founding member of the OGCI, joined several major oil and gas companies and key energy and climate leaders for the fourth annual meeting of OGCI yesterday (Sept 24) in New York.

At the meeting, CEOs of OGCI’s 10 existing member companies and the three newly-joined members, discussed the industry’s approaches to decrease greenhouse gas emissions with key stakeholders.

The OGCI also unveiled plans to reduce the collective, average methane intensity of members’ core upstream oil and gas operations to below 0.25% by 2025, with the ambition of reaching 0.2% corresponding to a reduction by one third.

Amin H Nasser, Saudi Aramco president and CEO, commented: “The climate change challenge has become one of the most significant challenges facing humanity in our modern world. There is not one single entity, regardless of its influence, that can confront this challenge without collaboration and cooperation from various stakeholders.

"Therefore, today’s announcement by the OGCI further reaffirms the ambition and commitment of its member companies, to be part of the global solution to addressing the climate challenge. Saudi Aramco recognizes the power of collaboration and partnerships and through the OGCI’s Climate Investments, we are harnessing our collective resolve, as well as our resources, talents and technologies, to find concrete solutions and accelerate the deployment of ground-breaking technologies across various industries.”

Announced in November 2016, OGCI Climate Investments (OGCI CI) aims to accelerate the deployment of new technologies for carbon capture use and storage and methane detection and mitigation among member companies and beyond. It will also identify ways to cut the energy intensity of both transport and industry. Working in partnership with like-minded initiatives across all stakeholder groups and sectors, the OGCI CI believes its emission reduction impact can be multiplied across industries.

Nasser added: “At Saudi Aramco, we are leveraging our industry leading position to pursue a comprehensive strategy to tackle the climate challenge, to protect the environment and to achieve high levels of performance. That includes stringent compliance standards across our operations, energy efficiency measures in all end-user sectors and ramping up our R&D efforts to develop leading-edge technologies. As we seek to be aligned with the Kingdom’s efforts to achieve sustainable development, the ultimate objective of our efforts today is driven by the need to create a sustainable future for our current and future generations.”

According to a recent study published in the journal Science, which analyzed emissions from nearly 9,000 actively-producing oil fields in 90 countries, Saudi Arabia's crude oil production has one of the lowest carbon emissions per barrel globally. The low carbon intensity advantage of Saudi Arabian crude oil is a result of multiple factors, including the company’s continuous implementation of best-in-class reservoir management practices, flare minimization, GHG management, and methane leak detection and repair (LDAR), said the statement.

The LDAR program has been implemented kingdom-wide across all company operations and is now being optimized by assessing and introducing new cost-effective methane-monitoring technologies, such as thermal cameras, laser detection, and quantification sensors.

Saudi Aramco is developing and deploying cutting-edge technologies that not only reduce emissions from our operations, but also reduce the carbon footprint of our products, with a focus on higher efficiency transportation fuels and technologies, direct conversion of crude to chemicals and conversion of CO2 into useful products, it said.


Qatar Marks Algiers Agreement Anniversary

The State of Qatar participated in the celebration held on 24 September 2018 in Algiers on the occasion of the second anniversary of the Algiers Agreement, which paved the way for the historic Vienna Conventions at the end of 2016. The delegation of Qatar was headed by Minister of Energy and Industry H E Dr Mohammed bin Saleh Al Sada.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) held its extraordinary meeting No. 170 in September 2016 in Algiers, chaired by the State of Qatar, then President of the Opec Conference, aimed at restoring balance to the world oil market.

The meeting resulted two months after the agreement of the Organization’s member states with a number of non-Opec producing countries to reduce their oil production by 1.8 million barrels per day during the meeting of the Organisation No. 171 on 30 November 2016 and the declaration of cooperation, which was followed on 10 December of the same year.

Dr Al Sada participated in the meeting of the Joint Ministerial Control Committee which monitors the level of commitment to the historic agreement.

He also visited Algeria’s Algerian-Qatari steel company Bellara in Jijel state, about 375 km northeast of Algiers. The project, which covers an area of about 216 ha, is the first of the cooperation agreement signed between the State of Qatar and the Republic of Algeria in 2013.

It is a joint venture between Qatar International Steel Company (49 percent), Algeria’s Cedar and Algeria Investment Fund (51 percent). It is expected that the production capacity of the plant will gradually increase and reach in the coming year 2019 to about 2 million tons of steel.

H E Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani, Prime Minister and Interior Minister, laid the foundation stone for the project in March 2015 with Abdelmalek Sallal, Prime Minister of Algeria.


Egypt’s Software Piracy Drop & Legal Reforms Boost Foreign Investment

Egypt has seen a 2% drop in its software piracy rate to reach (59%), the U.S.-based Business Software Alliance said in its recent study, released last June.

The study revealed that Egypt has managed to decrease the commercial value of the unlicensed software, which declined significantly from US$157 million in 2015 to US$64 million in 2017.

The survey quantified the volume and value of unlicensed software installed on PCs across more than 110 national and regional economies in addition to surveying more than 22,500 consumers and employees in 32 countries who use PCs at home or at work.

Globally, Egypt now has lower piracy rates than some of other global outsourcing contenders including Morocco (64%), the Philippines (64%), Vietnam (74%), and Sri Lanka (77%). This is the second consecutive year that Egypt’s piracy rates have fallen.

Last July, the Egyptian parliament; backed by two thirds of parliament’s 596 members, passed the cyber-crime law that helps in mitigating the cyber threats and establishes rules and measures to be followed by the local ISPs.

The law, which legalizes the digital evidence for the first time in the Egyptian jurisprudence, aims also at stamping out any information inciting violence or hatred, addressing various other types of computer crimes including hacking, fraud, or any attack on private and public information systems and networks.

“Over the past several years, the government has taken tough measures to crack down on the illegal use of software,” said Dr. Mohamed Hegazy, Egypt’s IPR office manager, commenting on the BSA study’s findings.

“We have managed to create a conducive business environment through modernizing the legal framework and law enforcement, combating piracy, and protecting intellectual property rights.”, He added.

Egypt’s Ministry of Communications and Information Technology announced the Cabinet’s approval on the data protection and privacy draft law that, as reported, embraces the new EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

“We are working on a comprehensive strategy for increasing the attractiveness of Egypt to international investors building on our momentum and the ICT sector’s growth which we believe will remain robust,” said MahaRasha, Acting CEO of Egypt’s IT Industry Development Agency.

“The country has the right mix of capabilities that qualifies it to be an ideal hub for global operations and business innovation which is thriving and booming like never before.”

“The new legal reforms add an edge to this mix and generates new wave for foreign investments into the sector.” she added.

The recent reforms will boost Egypt’s appeal to global firms and international data centers besides helping it achieve both economic and cybersecurity gains.

Egypt has demonstrated increased efforts in developing its telecom infrastructure, building tech parks bundled with attractive investment schemes and incentives, nurturing its talent pool through multiple digital training initiatives on advanced technologies such as data science and analysis, IoT, AI, cybersecurity.

Valued at nearly EGP 59 billion (USD 3.26 billion) in 2017, the Egyptian IT and IT-enabled services (ITeS) export industry is spurred by the expansions and increased presence made by the existing multinational companies and the new IT foreign direct investments to the country.

Egypt has already established its reputation as a prime location for tech giants looking to establish their IT/ ITES global delivery and shared services centers.

Many technology leaders and a long list of multinational companies including DELL EMC, Valeo, Microsoft, Convergys, Teleperformance, Sutherland, IBM, Sykes, and Mentor Graphics opted to outsource their IT services and R&D centers to Egypt.

The government has prioritized attracting new IT investment, touting the country’s highly competitive cost for multilingual operations, the abundant skilled and tech-savvy workforce, and the positive business environment along with the continuous government support.


Iraqi Airways Carries 9,200 Passengers between Iraq, Russia

Iraqi Airways has reportedly carried 9,200 passengers between Iraq and Russia in the first 12 months of operating flights.

According to, this consisted of 5,200 inbound to Russia and 4,000 outbound.

The majority of those passengers flew between Moscow’s Vnukovo Airport and Baghdad, with the rest flying between Vnukovo and Basra.


Intl. Investments Hike in Bahrain

International investments in Bahrain have reached US$810 million till now this year, a significant increase from US$733 million recorded during the whole of 2017, it has been revealed.

The figures were revealed at a board meeting of the Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB), chaired by Deputy King HRH Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa.

At the meeting, HRH the Deputy King stressed the importance of securing the kingdom’s long-term fiscal stability by balancing fiscal adjustment measures with growth in the wider economy, said a Bahrain News Agency report.

He highlighted that this objective would lead to growth in the kingdom's key sectors, which play a vital role in driving forward sustainable development and ensuring a brighter future for citizens, in line with the vision of HM King Hamad.

In this regard, HRH the Deputy King instructed the swift implementation of initiatives designed to increase Bahrain's competitiveness and facilitate opportunities for citizens.

He noted that Bahrain’s strong, investment-friendly regulatory system has created an environment conducive to foreign direct investment (FDI) and growth in the entrepreneurship sector.

He also stressed that the kingdom remains committed to strengthening Bahrain’s regulatory system by incorporating modern technologies and processes, increasing the efficiency of government services for investors and citizens.

He added that the kingdom would continue to engage with investors through events such as Gateway Gulf, which play an important role showcasing investment opportunities in the Kingdom.

Khalid Al Rumaihi, EDB chief executive, presented an update on recent economic developments and outlined the EDB’s recent achievements, which include a significant uplift in international investments from US$733 million in 2017 to US$810 million till now.

Recently released data by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) highlighted that Bahrain achieved the fastest FDI growth rate in the GCC region in 2017.

Al Rumaihi also affirmed that Bahrain was recognized as the top country in the Mena region to invest in by Site Selection magazine. The magazine also included the EDB on the list of Top Investment Promotion Agencies for 2018.

He went on to discuss a number of recently introduced regulatory initiatives from the EDB working in partnership with the public and private sectors, aimed at enhancing the kingdom’s business ecosystem.

These initiatives include the Competition Law, Bankruptcy Law, Data Protection Law, Health Insurance Law and the Wage Protection System, which stipulates that payments to private sector employees must take place through personal bank accounts. The EDB also cooperated with the Bahrain Development Bank to launch the US$100 Million Al Waha Fund of Funds.

He also highlighted the interest shown by foreign investors in Bahrain’s business ecosystem during Gateway Gulf. The forum, which was held last May and showcased investments projects worth US$26 billion, brought together over 900 investors and 80 speakers from Bahrain and globally. The event represented a platform to promote Bahrain’s position as a gateway to investment opportunities both in the kingdom and across the US$1.5 trillion GCC Market.


IMO 2020 to Cause One-Off Oil Demand Surge before Market Adjusts: OPEC

Tighter global shipping pollution regulations from 2020 will lead to a temporary surge in oil demand while denting the oil revenues of producers of heavy or high sulfur crudes, OPEC said in its annual long-term oil forecast Sunday.

The International Maritime Organization's global marine fuels sulfur cap of 0.5% in 2020 will produce a one-off jump in crude demand from the global refining system in order to meet for the need for compliant, non-marine residual fuels, OPEC said.

"In order to produce sufficient volumes of middle distillates, the global refining system is expected to increase runs by around 400,000 b/d in 2020 (additional to the case if no IMO regulations were adopted)," OPEC said in its latest World Oil Outlook. As a result, global oil demand growth is expected to bounce back to 1.7 million b/d in 2020, from 1.4 million b/d in 2019, OPEC said.

But it acknowledged that "as global supply and demand adapt to the regulations, and energy efficiency trends grow, annual demand increases post-2020 are expected to revert to a lower level, some 900,000 b/d in 2021 and 800,000 b/d in 2022 and 2023." Crude price impact

OPEC also signaled that the IMO's regulations will negatively impact the bulk of OPEC members who mainly produce heavy or high sulfur crudes. Prices for heavy and sour crudes are expected to weaken "potentially severely" from 2020, while light crudes are expected to benefit and command a premium over heavy grades, the report stated.

The report estimates that more than 200,000 b/d of the incremental refining demand in 2020 will be surplus high-sulfur fuel oil that will "create pressure on its price and possibly lead to a heavy discount."

The IMO announced the new global sulfur cap -- down from the current limit of 3.5% -- in October 2016, but several shipping and bunker industry representatives have questioned whether the organization will be able to enforce the regulation.

OPEC said it expects compliance to increase gradually in the years after 2020 as more ships install scrubbers -- equipment that sprays alkaline water into a vessel's exhaust to remove sulfur and other unwanted chemicals, allowing it to continue burning high sulfur fuel oil while complying with the new regulation.

The report forecast that about 2,000 vessels will have scrubbers installed by 2020, compared with about 500 vessels this year, once the financial incentive in the form of a widening HSFO discount to compliant LSFO and gasoil materialized. Refining capacity

The global refinery system will see about 1.4 million b/d of throughput capacity closed due to the IMO regulation, OPEC forecast. Two weeks ago, refining sources told S&P Global Platts that up to 800,000 b/d of refining capacity is at risk in Western Europe alone due to IMO 2020. But OPEC said the adoption of scrubbers could lead to some shuttered refinery capacity being restarted.

The HOVENSA refinery in the US Virgin Islands is expected to effect a partial restart by end-2019 with a focus on processing heavy crude and producing 0.5% sulfur marine fuel. The Wilhelmshaven refinery, which ceased operations 10 years ago, will also restart soon to take advantage of its feedstock units.


Minister: UAE Boosting Spare Output Capacity

The UAE is investing in spare production capacity, as well as additional crude oil storage, to provide the market with some cushion in the event of a supply shortage, energy minister Suhail al-Mazrouei told S&P Global Platts.

The Arab country, OPEC's fourth largest producer, aims to achieve a total production capacity of 3.5 million b/d by the end of the year -- some 500,000 b/d above what it currently produces -- but will not tap that full amount unless it sees sufficient customer demand, Mazrouei said in a brief interview.

"As a responsible producer, we have invested in the stability of the market," he said after an OPEC/non-OPEC monitoring committee meeting Sunday in Algiers. "We will not overproduce. We have customers to respond to."

He added that the UAE plans to invest around US$109 billion on upstream projects over the next four to five years, in addition to US$45 billion in its downstream sector.

"We are not worried about market instability if we have spare capacity," Mazrouei said. "We and other countries also have storage capacity. We are building both to help us respond to any shortage or requirement for crude."

OPEC and 10 allies have agreed to boost production by 1 million b/d from May levels, to offset expected losses from US sanctions on Iran and Venezuela's continued economic crisis.

But only a few members have sufficient spare capacity to produce those barrels. Saudi Arabia holds the bulk of global spare capacity, with energy minister Khalid al-Falih saying it has some 1.5 million b/d in reserve that it can produce if needed.

Once the UAE is able to boost its total capacity to 3.5 million b/d, it would hold the second largest spare capacity.

The UAE pumped 2.97 million b/d in August, up 100,000 b/d from May, according to the latest Platts survey on OPEC production.

Industry sources have told Platts that the country is ramping up output from its offshore Umm Lulu field, which was producing about 30,000 b/d in August and could hit 75,000 b/d soon.

Abu Dhabi National Oil Co., which produces nearly all of the UAE's crude, launched the new light, sweet Umm Lulu grade earlier this year as a blend of crudes from its namesake field and the Satah al-Razboot, or SARB, field, with an expected API density of around 39 degrees.

The first Umm Lulu cargo was lifted in July from Zirku Island. In the longer term, ADNOC has said it wants to reach a combined 215,000 b/d from the Umm Lulu and SARB fields.

Other fields are also being commissioned, sources said.

Besides Umm Lulu, ADNOC also exports the offshore-produced Das Blend, the offshore Upper Zakum crude, and its flagship onshore Murban grade.

"Within ADNOC and within the concessions we have, we can raise production if we have to," Mazrouei said.


AGOCO Starts Up Abandoned Well in Libya

A subsidiary of Libya’s NOC, AGOCO has restored some of its production. According to NOC, the production was added by restoring an old well on the Messla field. NOC said that its subsidiary restored production at a well that had been abandoned for 16 years. Agoco’s General Department of Production used the latest drilling techniques and Schlumberger’s Geo-Sphere mapping technology on this project.

A statement on the NOC website said: “Thanks to the efforts and dedication of the engineers, and implementation of the ‘Drilling and Measurements’ service at Schlumberger Oilfield Service, well HH86-65 in the Mesla oil field is once again in use.” AGOCO is the first company in Africa to use the Schlumberger technology. The HH86-65 well is currently producing at a rate of 3,000 bpd.

According to NOC chairman Eng. Mustafa Sanalla: “This initiative embodies the dedication of our staff to optimize production across operations and utilize the best of cutting-edge technology. Libya continues to represent a unique opportunity for international partners to add value and help secure our economic future.”


Oil Exports to Slightly Rise: Iraqi Official

Iraq, the second-largest OPEC producer, is exporting close to 3.6 million barrels per day (bpd) of crude from its southern oilfields, as OPEC and others ramp up output to replace supply shortfalls from Iran and Venezuela, an Iraqi oil official said.

"We are a little less than 3.6 million bpd ... but we can (reach that level)," Ali Nazar Faeq Al-Shatari, Deputy Director of General State Oil Marketing (SOMO) told Reuters.

Iraq's September exports from its southern oil fields are on track to be the highest on record, two industry sources said last week, surpassing the 3.58 million bpd exported in August.

"The increase won't be dramatic. It would be just a slight increase, just to satisfy the market needs. Everybody is waiting what will happen after the U.S. sanctions. We are not opportunists and we are not going to take market share from Iran," said Shatari.

Exports from Iran have fallen as the United States will re-impose sanctions on Iran's oil sector from November to force Tehran to negotiate a nuclear treaty.

To counter falling supply from Iran, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and other producers are considering raising output by 500,000 bpd.

Iraq also plans to produce 20,000 tons per day of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and 15,000 barrels per day of condensate in 2020, Shatari said at the Asia Pacific Petroleum Conference (APPEC).


LPIC Project on Track for 2020 Completion: Omani Orpic

Orpic, the nation’s refining and petrochemicals flagship, has revealed that Oman’s most anticipated transformational project, Liwa Plastics Industries Complex (LPIC), is currently 67% complete across all four of its Engineering-Procurement-Construction (EPC) packages.

The project is set to improve Orpic’s product mix and business model, double its profit and support the development of a downstream plastics industry in Oman. Taking advantage of the growing global market for plastics, LPIC will create new business opportunities and employment in Oman, and firmly reinforce Orpic as a significant player in the international petrochemicals marketplace as it will bring new business development opportunities for the Sultanate in the fast-growing plastics industry.

Construction is ongoing and is expected to be completed by 2020, said Orpic in a statement. LPIC achieved 31 million LTI-free man-hours out of 47 million man-hours spent since the project was kicked off. The overall cumulative progress achieved was 67.8% against the revised plan of 69.8% till June 2018.

With a total investment of US$6.7 billion, LPIC is expected to boost Orpic’s contribution to develop In Country Value (ICV) for the national economy.

“With the global market for plastics growing, the Liwa Plastics Industries Complex will firmly reinforce Orpic as a recognized player in the international petrochemicals marketplace – enabling Oman, for the first time, to produce polyethylene, the form of plastic that rates highest in terms of global demand and increased the current production of polypropylene,” the state-owned entity said.

Liwa Plastics Industries Complex consists of a gas extraction plant in Fahud, a 300-km pipeline from Fahud to Suhar, steam cracker plant, and polymers plant in Suhar Industrial area. The steam cracker plant will process light ends produced in Orpic’s plants in Suhar as well as rich gas received from Fahud plant. Its concept lies in rerouting high value elements of existing production streams, in combination with additional purchased feedstocks to deliver high value polymer products for the local and international marketplaces.

The primary goal of Liwa Plastics Industries Complex is to further increase the value-added that can be derived from Omani crude oil and natural gas. The project has six core components to it:
1) A natural gas extraction plant in Fahud, 2) 300km pipeline between Fahud and Suhar Industrial Port Area for gas transportation, 3) An 800+kTA Steam Cracker Unit, 4) An HDPE Plant, 5) A LLDPE Plant and 6) A Polypropylene Plant

Following commissioning, plastics production is forecast to have increased by more than 1 million tons, giving Orpic a total of 1.4 million tons of polyethylene and polypropylene production.

With the highly integrated complex in Suhar including the refineries, aromatics plant, steam cracker and the downstream polypropylene and polyethylene plants, the operation will be one of the best integrated refinery and petrochemical facility combinations in the world. The project is on schedule for completion in 2020.

About US$1.5 billion of the total project, cost is allocated to support ICV. The engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) works lasting for 4 years until the launch of the project in 2020 will lead to a great addition to the ICV platform across the Sultanate through the joint efforts of the Orpic’s ICV team and the key contractors of the four project packages.

Orpic supports ICV by reinforcing & developing businesses and taking human capabilities into consideration. This is achieved by reaching authenticated (made in Oman) products and materials bought by the company and grow the human capital in all Orpic projects by ensuring at least 30% Omanization in the companies working for the project

The work of the ICV team revolves around a clear action plan to achieve its objectives which include 30% Omanization in the project, training 15% of Omani staff working in the contracting companies and supporting Omani companies, including SMEs and Omani suppliers through job opportunities available in the project by 25%. At the beginning of each project, a plan is agreed with the contractor in order to achieve the ICV objectives through Omanization and training along with supporting the Omani products and companies.

Dr Hilal Abdullah al Hinai, GM Support Services at Orpic, said: “Based on our value of serving Oman and customers with pride, we at Orpic, are proud to achieve maximum ICV through our development projects. At LPIC, we built up our productivity in the Omani economy through providing more job opportunities, training and support for SMEs directly through many local contracts, business opportunities and tenders offered by the project packages, guaranteeing 10% of the total contracts and tenders in materials and raw materials for these organizations. Orpic ICV strategy, in line with the national plan of the Sultanate, aims at supporting and developing businesses and the development of human resources and enhancing productivity with regard to serving the national economy by maintaining the maximum value within the country. We have secured US$93 million through supporting more than 500 SMEs in the Sultanate, and we are proud for winning the Entrepreneurship Award for “Best Support by a huge company” at the recent Al Riyada Awards 2018.


Oman Crude Touches US$80, Highest in 4 Years

Oman Crude was traded at Dubai Mercantile Exchange for US$80.02 for November delivery, an increase of US$1.98 from the previous day, the highest since 2014 when lower prices led to major economic uncertainties. Oil prices ahead of Washington’s plan to impose new sanctions on Iran, while senior traders and banks expected to exceed the price of US$90 a barrel in the coming months.

Brent crude futures were up US$79.82 a barrel, up US$1.02, while US crude futures rose 82 cents to US$71.61 a barrel. There are predictions that the Brent could rise to US$90 per barrel and could exceed US$100 in early 2019 when the markets will be hit by short supply due to US sanctions against Iran. The two companies expect the sanctions to lead to a loss of 1.5 million barrels per day.