ATHENS: A consortium of Italy’s Eni and France’s Total has discovered an extensive strain of natural gas southwest of Cyprus, Energy Minister Yiorgos Lakkotrypis said on Thursday.
“An extensive column of clean natural gas was discovered in various geographical formations,” Lakkotrypis told journalists.
Further analysis of data compiled from the Calypso well will be required to assess the quantity but the geology is similar to that of Egypt’s mammoth Zohr offshore field, he said.
“This is a particularly positive development because it is the second substantive discovery in the Cypriot EEZ (exclusive economic zone), which increases the reserves of Cyprus in natural gas,” Lakkotrypis said.
Calypso lies in block 6 of Cyprus’s offshore EEZ about 80 km from Zohr.
Discovered by Eni in 2015, Zohr contains an estimated 30 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of gas and is the largest gas find in the Mediterranean.
Cyprus made its first offshore discovery in 2011 with the Aphrodite field, which lies southeast of Cyprus and is thought to contain around 5 tcf of gas.
Saudi Arabia aims to achieve e-payment target of 70%
Reform plan seeks cashless society
E-payments could exceed $22bn in next four years
Updated 22 February 2019
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia wants to achieve an e-payment target of 70 percent by 2030, a banking official told Arab News on Thursday, as the country moves toward becoming a cashless society.
Talat Hafiz, from the Media and Banking Awareness Committee for Saudi Banks, said online or cashless transactions were part of the Vision 2030 reform plan.
The Financial Sector Development Program (FSDP) was one of the initiatives to support the economic growth goals of Vision 2030, he added.
“Basically it is to transfer Saudi society from being heavily cash dependent in buying goods and services to a cashless society using digital and electronic payment,” he told Arab News. “One of the FSDP’s main targets is to increase and improve the percentage of non-cash utilization, from 18 percent in 2016 to 28 percent in 2020. However, the goal will increase of course with the target to 70 percent by 2030.”
Hafiz, in an Arab News column published earlier this month, said the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA) had been encouraging electronic payments and settlements in order to reduce the reliance on cash.
SAMA had introduced a number of e-payment systems in the last two decades to help consumers and institutions, he wrote, such as the Saudi Arabian Riyal Interbank Express and the online bill payment portal SADAD.
Earlier this week Apple Pay was launched in the Kingdom, joining the cashless roster of payment methods available to Saudi consumers.
A cashback service operated by credit card companies, where a percentage of the amount spent is paid back to the cardholder, was introduced last year in Saudi Arabia.
“All of these efforts collectively from the SAMA side are to reach the ambitious goal of the FSDP.”
Hafiz explained that e-payments saved time and effort and allowed people to access service and goods around-the-clock.
“This is basically why SAMA is very active and now we see SAMA and the National Payment System are responsible and leading (the country) toward a cashless society by achieving the target set by 2030.”
Last February the Amazon-owned Payfort online payments service registered a new company in Saudi Arabia.
According to the “Payfort State of Payments 2017” report, Saudi Arabia and the UAE are the fastest growing markets in the region for electronic payments.
The report estimates that Saudi Arabia conducted $8.3 billion of payment transactions in 2016, showing 27 percent year-on-year growth.
E-payments in the Kingdom are expected to double over the next four years to reach more than $22 billion, the report added.