Egypt petroleum ministry keen to resolve gas export disputes: Official

Gas tanks are seen in the desert north of Cairo. (Reuters)
Updated 20 February 2018
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Egypt petroleum ministry keen to resolve gas export disputes: Official

CAIRO: Egypt’s petroleum ministry on Tuesday said that it was keen to resolve any gas export disputes.
Officials said Egypt was right to import gas “from Cyprus or from anywhere else” in its quest to become a regional energy hub. The statements followed Monday’s announcement of a $15 billion deal to export Israeli gas to Egypt.
Ministry spokesman Hamdi Abdel Aziz was quoted by local news website Masrawy saying “receiving gas from Israel is part of solutions to reach an agreement on disputes between companies before the international arbitration court.”
A Reuters report said on Monday that an Egyptian company would buy $15 billion of Israeli natural gas in two 10-year agreements.
The partners in Israel’s Tamar and Leviathan offshore gas fields said they would supply the private Egyptian firm Dolphinus Holdings with around 64 billion cubic meters of gas over a decade — with half coming from each field, and the proceeds shared equally.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the agreements would “strengthen our economy (and) strengthen regional ties.”
Israel’s Delek Group and Texas-based Noble Energy have led both gas projects.
“Egypt is becoming a real gas hub,” Yossi Abu, CEO of Delek unit Delek Drilling, told Reuters. “This deal is the first deal of potentially more to come.”
Egyptian Petroleum Minister Tarek El-Molla told the private Egyptian television channel “ON E that” outstanding disputes would have to be resolved for the deal to go through.
Molla’s comments refer to Egypt’s challenge to a 2015 ruling by the International Chamber of Commerce ordering the country to pay $2 billion in compensation after a deal to export gas to Israel via pipeline collapsed in 2012 due to months of attacks by insurgents in Egypt’s Sinai peninsula.
“We don’t mind importing gas from Israel, but we have terms in order (to allow) something like this to happen ... most importantly, the settlement of ongoing arbitration,” Molla said.
An Egyptian government official who declined to be identified said the deal did not mean Egypt itself would import any gas from abroad.
“International private companies will import gas from abroad in the framework of their own needs, and will liquefy and export them again,” the official said, without elaborating.


Google puts up $1B to ease housing headaches it helped cause

In this May 1, 2019, file photo, a woman walks past a Google sign in San Francisco. Google is making a $1 billion commitment to address the soaring price of housing in the San Francisco Bay Area, a problem that the internet company and its Silicon Valley peers helped create as the technology industry hired tens of thousands of high-paid workers. (AP)
Updated 19 June 2019
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Google puts up $1B to ease housing headaches it helped cause

  • A report by Working Partnerships called upon Google to build more than 17,000 homes in the area to help offset the anticipated price increases caused by the new campus

SAN FRANCISCO: Google is pouring $1 billion into easing the high-priced housing headaches that it and its Silicon Valley peers helped give the San Francisco Bay Area.
The pledge announced Tuesday by Google CEO Sundar Pichai consists of a $250 million investment fund and $750 million of company-owned land. It will be used to build at least 15,000 homes that will include low- and mid-income housing.
Google’s commitment eclipsed a recent $500 million pledge made by Microsoft to combat housing shortages in the Seattle area and a $500 million housing fund created by a consortium including Facebook.
Google is extending a helping hand as it draws up plans to expand into sprawling offices beyond its headquarters in Mountain View, California. That suburban city of roughly 80,000 people has been swamped with affluent tech workers since Google moved there shortly after its 1998 inception.
Since then, Google’s payroll has swelled from a few dozen workers to the more than 103,000 people now working for it and its corporate parent, Alphabet Inc. Nearly half of those workers are based in the Bay Area.
While Google has been expanding, so have a wide variety of other technology companies, including Apple, Facebook, Oracle, Salesforce and Netflix — all of whom also lavish their workers with six-figure salaries and stock options that can yield multimillion-dollar windfalls.
The high incomes have resulted in bidding wars for the limited supply of homes in the Bay Area that can only be afforded by the affluent, a group increasingly dominated by tech workers, while people employed in other lines of work struggle to make ends meet on more modest incomes.
That is making it impossible for people on the lower end of the economic spectrum to buy a home in the Bay Area, where a mid-priced house sold for $990,000 in April, according to the California Association of Realtors, a trade group. In 1999, a mid-priced home sold for $308,000.
It’s even worse in San Francisco, a city from which many tech workers ride company buses to the Silicon Valley suburbs. A mid-priced house in San Francisco sold for nearly $1.7 million in April, according to the realtors’ group, quadruple the price of 20 years ago.
Google’s next big project will be in the Bay Area’s most populous city, San Jose, where it plans to build a corporate campus consisting of offices and housing where 15,000 to 20,000 of its employees will work and live.
The project faced resistance from community activists worried about its effect on housing prices. Last week, a report by Working Partnerships called upon Google to build more than 17,000 homes in the area to help offset the anticipated price increases caused by the new campus. The report by the labor-union backed labor group envisions apartment rent increases of $235 million by 2030 if action isn’t taken.
“For several months, we have encouraged Google to make a bold commitment to address our region’s affordable housing challenge,” San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo said in a statement applauding the company’s $1 billion pledge.