Algeria vows tax reform in energy sector, eyes shale gas cooperation

The headquarters of Algeria’s state-owned energy giant Sonatrach in the capital Algiers. (AFP)
Updated 25 March 2018
0

Algeria vows tax reform in energy sector, eyes shale gas cooperation

ORAN, Algeria: Algeria plans to offer tax incentives in a planned new energy law to attract more investment and is in discussion with foreign energy firms including BP and Anadarko to exploit its shale gas reserves, officials said on Sunday.
OPEC member Algeria is a key gas supplier to Europe, but growing domestic consumption has been hitting energy exports, the main source of the state budget.
In a bid to reverse the fall, the energy ministry has started drafting amendments to the energy law, promising more incentives for foreign investors.
“We will remove all obstacles, wage a battle against bureaucracy and change tax procedures,” Energy Minister Mustapha Guitouni told a gas and gas conference in the western city of Oran.
“The amendment is required by our energy security,” he said. “The current system must change. We will intensify consultations with our partners.”
The law has been in the works for years and is seen as key to attracting more investment but no draft or details have been presented yet.
In the latest bidding round in 2014, Algeria awarded only four of 31 blocks on offer after a disappointing auction in 2011 as foreign firms balked at the terms.
Algeria was already preparing to exploit shale gas to boost output after failed attempts in the past years due to protests by residents of affected areas over fears of pollution.
“Evaluation studies on shale gas potential are going on. This will take 5 to 10 years,” he said, without providing further details.
Arezki Hocini, the head of the National Agency for the Valorization of Hydrocarbon Resources (Almaty), said Algeria had already started discussions with oil majors including BP and Anadarko to help evaluate and exploit shale gas.
“We hope these discussions will lead to talks over possible contracts,” he told reporters, without providing details.
While seeking to attract foreign investors state-run oil and gas company Sonatrach is also trying to expand abroad, mainly in the Middle East, Guitouni said.
“Egypt is interested in working with us,” he said, without elaborating.
Sonatrach earlier this year signed an agreement with Iraqi companies to form joint ventures for gas projects.
Sonatrach had already started operations in Peru and neighboring Libya, Niger and Mali.


India suspends Kashmir border trade with Pakistan

Updated 19 April 2019
0

India suspends Kashmir border trade with Pakistan

  • Kashmir has been on edge since a February suicide attack that killed 40 Indian paramilitaries
  • India said it had reports that trade on the border was being “misused by Pakistan-based elements for funnelling illegal weapons, narcotics and fake currency”

NEW DELHI: India has suspended trade across its disputed Kashmir border with Pakistan, alleging that weapons and drugs are being smuggled across the route, as tensions simmer between the nuclear-armed neighbors.
Kashmir has been on edge since a February suicide attack that killed 40 Indian paramilitaries and brought the two countries to the brink of war with cross-border air strikes.
On Thursday, India’s government, which is in the middle of a tough national election, said it had reports that trade on the border was being “misused by Pakistan-based elements for funnelling illegal weapons, narcotics and fake currency.”
It also said many of those trading across the Line of Control, which divides Kashmir into zones under Indian and Pakistani control, had links to militant organizations.
The home ministry said trade would be suspended until a stricter inspection mechanism is in place.
The cross-border trade is based on a barter system, with traders exchanging goods including chillies, cumin, mango and dried fruit.
It began in 2008 as a way to improve strained relations between New Delhi and Islamabad, who have fought two of their three wars over the disputed region.
The Indian Express newspaper said Friday that 35 trucks carrying fruit traveling from the Indian side of the border had been stopped after the government order.
Trade on the border has been suspended before, including in 2015, when India accused a Pakistani driver of drug trafficking.
The latest move comes after India withdrew “Most Favoured Nation Status” — covering trade links — from Pakistan after the February attack, which was claimed by the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed Islamist group.
Islamabad has denied any involvement in the attack.
India’s Hindu nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi has made national security a key plank of his re-election campaign, pointing to the recent flare-up of violence as he battles the center-left opposition Congress party.
He is seeking a second term from the country’s 900 million voters in the mammoth election which kicked off on April 11 and runs till May 19. The results will be out on May 23.