Kingdom leads GCC in nonoil production

Updated 17 July 2013
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Kingdom leads GCC in nonoil production

The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries are strenuously working to diversify income sources and minimize reliance on oil through investment in leading industrial activities, local media reported.
Saudi Arabia, in particular, is leading the GCC region to develop nonoil sector where the value of the ongoing nonoil projects is estimated at $ 17 billion (SR 63.7 billion), Al-Riyadh daily said quoting a report by Gulf Investment Corporation (GIC).
The Kingdom has reportedly occupied the 12th rank among the world's biggest 40 countries concerned with renewable energy sources.
In other GCC countries, the UAE has spent $ 5 billion in solar energy projects, currently under construction, whereas the value of nonoil projects is estimated at $ 2.1 billion, which are mostly concentrated in Abu Dhabi Emirate.
The Kingdom recently announced four solar energy projects, notably the solar energy project in Makkah, announced in the last quarter of 2012, whereby the holy city will become the first area to use an alternative energy source in the Kingdom, the local media said.
In Qatar, meanwhile, nonoil projects captured some $ 2.8 billion, mostly in iron and steel industries. Cement industry is predicted to lead business sector in the next five years at the growth rate of 11.2 percent followed by consumer industry sector at 7.7 percent.
On the other hand, the GCC countries will continue to achieve high rates of economic growth in the current year despite a slight decline in the oil prices and lower exports, which dropped by 5 percent compared to last year’s figures, the local media said.
Based on the above situation, levels of personal incomes have steadily increased, which led to the expansion of bank deposits, particularly in Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Qatar, and encouraged the banks to expand banking credits.
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia has topped the MENA countries in terms of solar energy projects where it got 4.1 points out of 5 points, according to a report released by VtM, a US solar research firm.
Turkey came second at 3.9 points, followed by Abu Dhabi and Morocco jointly at 3.6 points in the third rank, Jordan in the fifth rank (3.2 points), Dubai in the sixth rank (3.1 points), Algeria and Egypt jointly in the seventh rank (3 points), and Qatar in the ninth rank (2.4 points).
The MENA region has the biggest solar energy potentials globally whereas Saudi Arabia and Turkey will lead the regional countries in terms of the highest energy demand and will become the first two countries to use the electric scale of GigaWatt (or billion watts) by 2015, according to the VtM report.


Undersea gas fires Egypt’s regional energy dreams

Updated 18 November 2018
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Undersea gas fires Egypt’s regional energy dreams

  • In the past year, gas has started flowing from four major fields off Egypt’s Mediterranean coast
  • Gas production has now hit 184 million cubic meters a day

CAIRO: Egypt is looking to use its vast, newly tapped undersea gas reserves to establish itself as a key energy exporter and revive its flagging economy.
Encouraged by the discovery of huge natural gas fields in the Mediterranean, Cairo has in recent months signed gas deals with neighboring Israel as well as Cyprus and Greece.
Former oil minister Osama Kamal said Egypt has a “plan to become a regional energy hub.”
In the past year, gas has started flowing from four major fields off Egypt’s Mediterranean coast, including the vast Zohr field, inaugurated with great ceremony by President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi.
Discovered in 2015 by Italian energy giant Eni, Zohr is the biggest gas field so far found in Egyptian waters.
The immediate upshot has been that since September, the Arab world’s most populous country has been able to halt imports of liquified natural gas, which last year cost it some $220 million (190 million euros) per month.
Coming after a financial crisis that pushed Cairo in 2016 to take a $12 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund, the gas has been a lifeline.
Egypt’s budget deficit, which hit 10.9 percent of GDP in the financial year 2016-17, has since fallen to 9.8 percent.
Gas production has now hit 184 million cubic meters a day.
Having met its own needs, Cairo is looking to kickstart exports and extend its regional influence.
It has signed deals to import gas from neighboring countries for liquefaction at installations on its Mediterranean coast, ready for re-export to Europe.
In September, Egypt signed a deal with Cyprus to build a pipeline to pump Cypriot gas hundreds of kilometers to Egypt for processing before being exported to Europe.
That came amid tensions between Egypt and Turkey — which has supported the Muslim Brotherhood, seen by Cairo as a terrorist organization, and has troops in breakaway northern Cyprus.
In February, Egypt, the only Arab state apart from Jordan to have a peace deal with Israel, inked an agreement to import gas from the Jewish state’s Tamar and Leviathan reservoirs.
A US-Israeli consortium leading the development of Israel’s offshore gas reserves in September announced it would buy part of a disused pipeline connecting the Israeli coastal city of Ashkelon with the northern Sinai peninsula.
That would bypass a land pipeline across the Sinai that was repeatedly targeted by jihadists in 2011 and 2012.
The $15-billion deal will see some 64 billion cubic meters of gas pumped in from the Israeli fields over 10 years.
Independent news website Mada Masr reported that Egypt’s General Intelligence Service is the majority shareholder in East Gas, which will earn the largest part of the profits from the import of Israeli gas and its resale to the Egyptian state.
Kamal said he sees “no problem” in that, adding that the agency has held a majority stake in the firm since 2003.
“That guarantees the protection of Egyptian interests,” he said.
Ezzat Abdel Aziz, former president of the Egyptian Atomic Energy Agency, said the projects were “of vital importance for Egypt” and would have direct returns for the Egyptian economy.
They “confirm the strategic importance of Egypt and allow it to take advantage of its location between producing countries in the east and consuming countries of the West,” he said.
The Egyptian state is also hoping to rake in billions of dollars in revenues from petro-chemicals.
Its regional energy ambitions are “not limited to the natural gas sector, but also involve major projects in the petroleum and petrochemical sectors,” said former oil minister Kamal.
Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources Tarek El Molla recently announced a deal to expand the Midor refinery in the Egyptian capital to boost its output by some 60 percent.
On top of that, the new Mostorod refinery in northern Cairo is set to produce 4.4 million tons of petroleum products a year after it comes online by next May, according to Ahmed Heikal, president of Egyptian investment firm Citadel Capital.
That alone will save the state $2 billion a year on petrochemical imports, which last year cost it some $5.2 billion.
Egypt is also investing in a processing plant on the Red Sea that could produce some four million tons of petro-products a year — as well as creating 3,000 jobs in a country where unemployment is rife.