Iran says China group ready to replace Total on gas deal

Updated 17 May 2018
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Iran says China group ready to replace Total on gas deal

  • Total started the $4.8 billion South Pars 11 project in July 2017, two years after Western powers signed a nuclear deal with Tehran.
  • Chinese state-owned oil company CNPC will replace Total on a major gas field project in Iran if the French energy giant pulls out over renewed US sanctions against Tehran.

TEHRAN: Chinese state-owned oil company CNPC will replace Total on a major gas field project in Iran if the French energy giant pulls out over renewed US sanctions against Tehran, Iran’s oil minister has said.
“Total has said that if it doesn’t get an exemption from the United States to continue its work, it will begin to pull out of the deal,” Bijan Namdar Zanganeh was quoted as saying by his ministry’s Shana news service.
“If that happens, the Chinese firm CNPC will replace Total.”
Total started the $4.8 billion South Pars 11 project in July 2017, two years after Western powers signed a nuclear deal with Tehran prompting the return of many businesses to Iran.
But earlier this month, US President Donald Trump announced his withdrawal from the deal, and warned companies that they face sanctions if they do business with Iran.
The French group said Wednesday it has $10 billion of capital employed in its US assets, and US banks are involved in 90 percent of its financing operations, making Total highly vulnerable if targeted by any US actions.
By contrast, Total said it had spent less than €40 million on the Iranian project, which it runs with its partner Petrochina and which is dedicated to the supply of domestic gas inside Iran.
Zanganeh said on Wednesday that were CNPC, which was part of the Total deal, unable to carry out the work in South Pars due to US sanctions it would fall to Iran’s Petropars.
Iran possesses the second-largest gas reserves on the planet, after Russia, and the fourth largest oil supplies.


Pakistani central bank lifts interest rate as inflation bites

Updated 20 May 2019
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Pakistani central bank lifts interest rate as inflation bites

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s central bank raised its key interest rate to 12.25% on Monday, warning that already soaring inflation risked further rises on the back of higher oil prices and reforms required for a bailout from the International Monetary Fund.
The 150 basis points increase follows a preliminary agreement last week with the IMF for a $6 billion loan that is expected to come with tough conditions, including raising more tax revenues and putting up gas and power prices. It was the eighth time the central bank has increased its main policy rate since the start of last year.
With economic growth set to slow to 2.9% this year from 5.2% last year, according to IMF forecasts, the rate rise adds to pressure on Prime Minister Imran Khan, who came to power last year facing a balance of payments crisis that has now forced his government to turn to the IMF.
Higher prices for basic essentials including food and energy has already stirred public anger but the central bank suggested there was little prospect of any immediate improvement.
Noting average headline inflation rose to 7% in the July-April period from 3.8 percent a year earlier, the central bank said recent rises in domestic oil prices and the cost of food suggested that “inflationary pressures are likely to continue for some time.”

 

It said it expected headline inflation to average between 6.5% and 7.5% for the financial year to the end of June and was expected to be “considerably higher” in the coming year. Expected tax measures in next month’s budget as well as higher gas and power prices and volatility in international oil prices could push inflation up further, it said.
It said the fiscal deficit, which the IMF expects to reach 7.2% of gross domestic product (GDP) this year, was likely to have been “considerably higher” during the July-March period than in the same period a year earlier due to shortfalls in revenue collection, higher interest payments and security costs.
Despite some improvements, financing the current account deficit remained “challenging” and foreign exchange reserves of $8.8 billion were below standard adequacy levels at less than the equivalent of three months of imports.
The central bank said it was watching foreign exchange markets closely and was prepared to take action to curb “unwarranted” volatility, after the sharp fall in the rupee over recent days that saw the currency touch a record low of 150 against the US dollar.
Details of what Pakistan will be required to do under the IMF agreement, which must still be approved by the Fund’s board, have not been announced but already opposition parties are planning protests.
As well as higher energy prices that will hit households hard, there are also expectations of new taxes and spending cuts in next month’s budget to reach a primary budget deficit — excluding interest payments — of 0.6% of GDP.
With the IMF forecasting a primary deficit of 2.2% for the coming financial year, that implies squeezing roughly $5 billion in extra revenues from Pakistan’s $315 billion economy, which has long suffered from problems raising tax revenue.

FACTOID

Pakistan’s economic growth is set to slow to 2.9% this year.