Egypt says Bahrain, Kuwait and UAE to lift ban on its agriculture exports

Above, Egyptians shop at a vegetable market in Cairo. Egypt’s agricultural export season runs from September through August. (Reuters)
Updated 22 October 2017
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Egypt says Bahrain, Kuwait and UAE to lift ban on its agriculture exports

CAIRO: Bahrain, Kuwait and the UAE have agreed to lift a ban on imports of Egyptian agricultural products, Egypt said on Sunday, as the country works to step up exports to narrow its budget deficit.
The agreement came after a series of meetings and negotiations held between an Egyptian delegation and the Gulf countries, the Egyptian agriculture ministry said in a statement.
The series of bans, which were said to have been on concerns over pesticide residues, had come at a time where there was an increased appetite for Egyptian exports resulting from a currency float that slashed the pound’s value in half last year.
The three Gulf countries had banned various agricultural imports from Egypt, including pepper, lettuce and onion, earlier this year.
Egypt has asked an agricultural quarantine body to advise on shipments and warn of exporters who violate agreed-upon international standards, the statement said.
It said that counterpart bodies will also be appointed abroad to monitor the quality of exports on the other end and that the ministry is currently negotiating that exporters who violate the rules be punished instead of countries of origin.
Egypt’s agricultural exports rose 13.9 percent during the first nine months of 2017, reaching 4.1 million tons compared to 3.6 million last year.
“A ban on Egyptian strawberries imposed by Saudi Arabia was also lifted about a month ago after a Saudi delegation visited Cairo,” agriculture ministry spokesman Hamid Abdel Dayem said on Sunday.
The kingdom had imposed a ban on Egyptian strawberries also over pesticide residues in July. Sudan is yet to lift a blanket ban on Egyptian agricultural and animal imports it imposed in May.
Egypt’s agricultural export season runs from September through August.


Kuwait Energy starts producing natural gas from field in southern Iraq

Updated 43 min 3 sec ago
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Kuwait Energy starts producing natural gas from field in southern Iraq

BASRA: Kuwait Energy PLC started producing natural gas from Siba on Wednesday, the first gas field to be brought on stream in the south of Iraq, an Iraqi oil executive said.
Siba began producing gas at an initial rate of 25 million cubic feet a day (mcf/d), which should rise gradually to 100 mcf/d by the end of the year, said Kareem Abd Oda, the director general of the joint venture established by Iraq and Kuwait Energy to develop the field.
Siba, south of the city of Basra, is producing natural gas and gas condensates, he added.
The other hydrocarbon reservoirs of southern Iraq that are already in operation produce natural gas alongside crude oil.
The gas extracted in several of these fields is burnt off instead of being captured, as the country lacks the capacity to process it into fuel for local consumption or exports.
Energy-rich Iraq is looking to boost oil and gas production with joint ventures with Kuwaiti, Turkish and Egyptian firms, as it rebuilds its economy following years of turmoil, including the takeover of large parts of the country by Daesh in 2014.
The semi-autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government has started producing natural gas from fields in northern Iraq.
Iraq hopes by 2021 to end gas flaring, which costs nearly $2.5 billion in lost revenue for the government and would be sufficient to meet most of its unmet needs for gas-based power generation, according to the World Bank.
Iraq holds on Thursday an auction of oil and gas exploration contracts in 11 blocks alongside the border with Iran and Kuwait and in offshore Gulf waters. The new contracts set a time limit for companies to end gas flaring from oilfields they develop.
Iraq is the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries’ second-largest producer after Saudi Arabia.
Companies including BP, Exxon Mobil, Eni , Total, Royal Dutch Shell and Lukoil helped Iraq expand production in the past decade by more than 2.5 million barrels per day (bpd) to about 4.7 million bpd.
Iraq’s crude exports from its southern region on the Gulf have averaged 3.5 million bpd so far in April, two oil executives told Reuters on Wednesday.
That is higher than the March average of 3.45 million bpd.