Cyprus-Egypt gas pipeline to cost $800m-$1bn

Tarek El Molla, right, at a joint news conference with Cyprus Energy Minister Yiorgos Lakkotrypis, said Cypriot gas would be used in part for domestic consumption and in part for export. (Reuters)
Updated 07 May 2018
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Cyprus-Egypt gas pipeline to cost $800m-$1bn

  • Egypt has rapidly increased its production of natural gas and hopes to become a hub for exporting to Europe.
  • Egypt has an extensive pipeline network and two idle gas liquefaction plants ready to export new gas as it arrives.

CAIRO: A planned pipeline connecting Cyprus’ Aphrodite gas field to Egypt’s liquefied natural gas (LNG) facilities will cost between $800 million and $1 billion, Egyptian Petroleum Minister Tarek El Molla said on Monday.
Egypt has rapidly increased its production of natural gas and hopes to become a hub for exporting to Europe after making a series of big discoveries in recent years.
Molla, speaking at a joint news conference with Cyprus Energy Minister Yiorgos Lakkotrypis, said Cypriot gas would be used in part for domestic consumption and in part for export.
Molla said last month that Egypt aims to sign an agreement with Cyprus for a pipeline to transport gas from the Aphrodite field to its LNG facilities.
Lakkotrypis said a final agreement on the pipeline would be signed as quickly as possible but did not specify when.
Egypt hopes to halt gas imports by 2019 and achieve self-sufficiency.
Egypt has an extensive pipeline network and two idle gas liquefaction plants ready to export new gas as it arrives.
The country believes its strategic location straddling the Suez Canal and the land bridge between Asia and Africa and its well-developed infrastructure will help turn it a trading and distribution center for countries in the region and beyond.
Molla said that domestic gas production has increased to 5.7 billion cubic feet per day as a result of new production coming online, up from 5.5 billion in February.
It rapidly increased its production of natural gas in 2017 with four major new gas production projects coming online, some ahead of schedule. Its newly discovered fields include the mammoth Zohr field discovered by Italy’s Eni in 2015.
Egypt is targeting about $10 billion in foreign investment in the oil and gas sector in the 2018/19 fiscal year that begins in July, Molla said last month, matching the figure expected for the current year.


Malaysia reviews China infrastructure plans

Malaysia’s former PM Najib Razak (AFP)
Updated 18 June 2018
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Malaysia reviews China infrastructure plans

  • Malaysia's scandal-mired former PM Najib Razak signed a string of deals for Beijing-funded projects, including a major rail link and a deep-sea port.
  • New Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has announced a planned high-speed rail link between Kuala Lumpur and neighboring Singapore will not go ahead as he seeks to reduce the country’s huge national debt.

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia has been a loyal partner in China’s globe-spanning infrastructure drive, but its new government is to review Beijing-backed projects, threatening key links in the much-vaunted initiative.

Kuala Lumpur’s previous regime, led by scandal-mired Najib Razak, had warm ties with China, and signed a string of deals for Beijing-funded projects, including a major rail link and a deep-sea port.

But the long-ruling coalition was unexpectedly voted out last month by an electorate alienated by allegations of corruption and rising living costs.

Critics have said that many agreements lacked transparency, fueling suspicions they were struck in exchange for help to pay off debts from the financial scandal which ultimately helped bring down Najib’s regime.

The new government, led by political heavyweight Mahathir Mohammed, has pledged to review Chinese deals seen as dubious, calling into question Malaysia’s status as one of Beijing’s most cooperative partners in its infrastructure push.

China launched its initiative to revive ancient Silk Road trading routes with a global network of ports, roads and railways — dubbed “One Belt, One Road” —  in 2013.

Malaysia and Beijing ally Cambodia were seen as bright spots in Southeast Asia, with projects in other countries often facing problems, from land acquisition to drawn-out negotiations with governments.

“Malaysia under Najib moved quickly to approve and implement projects,” Murray Hiebert, a senior associate from think-tank the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told AFP.

Chinese foreign direct investment into Malaysia stood at just 0.8 percent of total net FDI inflows in 2008, but that figure had risen to 14.4 percent by 2016, according to a study from Singapore’s ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute.

However, Hiebert said it was “widely assumed” that Malaysia was striking quick deals with China in the hope of getting help to cover debts from sovereign wealth fund 1MDB.

Najib and his associates were accused of stealing huge sums of public money from the investment vehicle in a massive fraud. Public disgust at the allegations — denied by Najib and 1MDB — helped topple his government.

Malaysia’s first change of government in six decades has left Najib facing a potential jail term.

New Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has announced a planned high-speed rail link between Kuala Lumpur and neighboring Singapore will not go ahead as he seeks to reduce the country’s huge national debt.

The project was in its early stages and had not yet received any Chinese funding as part of “One Belt, One Road.” But Chinese companies were favorites to build part of the line, which would have constituted a link in a high-speed route from China’s Yunnan province to trading hub Singapore, along which Chinese goods could have been transported for export.

Work has already started in Malaysia on another line seen as part of that route, with Chinese funding — the $14-billion East Coast Rail Link, running from close to the Thai border to a port near Kuala Lumpur.

Mahathir has said that agreement is now being renegotiated.

Other Chinese-funded initiatives include a deep-sea port in Malacca, near important shipping routes, and an enormous industrial park.

It is not clear yet which projects will be amended but experts believe axing some will be positive.

Alex Holmes, Asia economist for Capital Economics, backed canceling some initiatives, citing “Malaysia’s weak fiscal position and that some of the projects are of dubious economic value.”

The Chinese foreign ministry did not respond to request for comment.

Decoder

What is the "One Belt, One Road" initiative?

The “One Belt, One Road” initiative, started in 2013, has come to define the economic agenda of President Xi Jinping. It aims to revive ancient Silk Road trading routes with a network of ports, roads and railways.