Lebanon needs political action to avoid economic collapse -finance minister

Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil made the remarks following a meeting with the government’s economic and social council. (Reuters)
Updated 12 September 2018
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Lebanon needs political action to avoid economic collapse -finance minister

BEIRUT: Politicians in Lebanon, still lacking a government four months after national elections, need to take action to stop the country’s economic crisis becoming an economic collapse, its finance minister said on Wednesday.
Infighting has hampered efforts by Prime Minister-designate Saad Al-Hariri to form a national unity administration, leaving a political vacuum that has increased concerns for the highly-indebted economy.
“We are not concealing this crisis, but will this crisis inevitably lead us to a collapse? ... I say that with strong political commitment, political will and cooperation between all sectors we can avoid it,” caretaker Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil said.
His comments, which followed a meeting with the government’s economic and social council, were televised. Asked by Reuters what he meant by collapse, he replied “the economic situation.”
Leaders from across the political spectrum agree a government urgently needs to be formed, but a deal remains elusive.
Its formation would be likely to help raise investor confidence in the country, unlock billions of dollars in donor funding and enable parliament to embark on long-overdue reforms.
In April, international donors meeting in Paris pledged more than $11 billion of investment, but they want evidence of economic reforms first. At that meeting Hariri promised to reduce the budget deficit as a percentage of GDP by 5 percent over five years.
Lebanon had the world’s third highest debt-to-GDP ratio, at over 150 percent, at the end of 2017. The International Monetary Fund wants to see immediate and substantial fiscal adjustment to improve debt sustainability.
On Wednesday, parliamentary speaker Nabih Berri said Lebanon did not have the luxury of time when it came to forming a government “especially when it comes to the economic situation.”
Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh has said the Lebanese pound, which is pegged to the dollar, will remain stable and that the central bank has high foreign reserves.
He reiterated those comments to broadcaster CNBC on Tuesday.
Lebanon’s foreign assets excluding gold were $43.56 billion at the end of August, according to central bank data.


Adnoc signs deal with Eni on Ghasha concession

Updated 13 November 2018
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Adnoc signs deal with Eni on Ghasha concession

  • ADNOC grants Eni 25 percent stake in ultra sour gas project
  • Follows Adnoc award to France's Total

LONDON: The Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) has granted the Italian oil company Eni a 25 percent stake in an off-shore gas mega-project, in a move that will support the emirate’s efforts to become self-sufficient in gas.
The energy company is now in discussions with other potential partners for the remaining 15 percent of the available 40 percent stake in the concession earmarked for foreign companies.
The award covers the Ghasha ultra-sour gas concession just off the coast of the UAE, including the Hail and Dalma and other offshore fields. Eni will contribute 25 percent of the development cost of the project which is likely to cost billions of dollars.
The deal comes just days after ADNOC awarded a 40 percent stake to French oil firm Total on Nov. 11 to explore and develop its Ruwais Diyab unconventional gas concession.
The Ghasha gas fields are estimated to hold trillions of standard cubic feet of recoverable gas, according to a company statement.
Once on stream, the project is expected to produce more than 1.5 billion cubic feet of gas per day. This could provide enough gas to supply electricity to more than 2 million homes, said ADNOC.
The project is set to produce 120,000 barrels of oil and high-value condensate per day once complete, the company said.
“ADNOC is committed to ensuring a stable and economic gas supply to the UAE, which is a core component of our 2030 strategy,” said Sultan Ahmed Al-Jaber, UAE minister of state and ADNOC group CEO.
“Development of our Hail, Ghasha and Dalma ultra-sour gas offshore resources, at commercial rates, will make a significant contribution towards delivering that strategic imperative and bringing forward the day when the UAE will not only be self-sufficient in gas but also transitions to net exporter of gas,” he said.
Eni won its first concession rights in the emirate’s oil and gas sector earlier this year, with Adnoc granting the Italian firm a 10 percent interest in its Umm Shaif and Nasr concession and a 5 percent stake in the Lower Zakum concession in March.
“We are pursuing a strategy of growing in the Middle East and today’s signature is further confirmation of our willingness to root our presence in Abu Dhabi,
following the agreements signed last March, with Adnoc,” said Eni CEO, Claudio Descalzi, in a statement.
ADNOC is exploring opportunities beyond Abu Dhabi, having also signed a framework agreement with the Uzbek energy company, Uzbekneftegaz on Tuesday.
The agreement will see the Gulf company provide advice on Uzbekistan’s upstream and downstream operations.