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

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.


Despite agreement, China purchase of US agriculture lags

Updated 10 August 2020

Despite agreement, China purchase of US agriculture lags

  • The two sides are set to meet on Saturday to discuss the deal, American media says

NEW YORK: Seven months after the United States and China signed a preliminary agreement to temper their trade war, Beijing’s purchases of US agricultural goods have yet to reach the deal’s target.

As President Donald Trump readies for a tough reelection battle in November, US media reported the two sides are set to meet beginning August 15 to discuss the deal, which calls for China to sharply increase buying American goods and services this year and next.

But according to data compiled by the Peterson Institute for International Economics (PIIE), Chinese agricultural purchases at the end of June were far from where they should be at this point in the year.

They had reached only 39 percent of their semiannual target, according to US figures, or 48 percent, based on Chinese figures.

“If we get back to what the level of trade was in 2017, we’ll be lucky,” said Chad Bown, a PIIE senior fellow who authored the study, referring to the year before the trade war began.

Under the deal’s terms, China agreed to increase agricultural imports $32 billion over the next 2 years from 2017 levels.

Chinese orders for corn and soybeans have increased since mid-July, with Beijing buying just over 3 million tons of American oilseeds between July 14 and Aug. 7, according to US Department of Agriculture data.

At the end of July, the United States reported the largest-ever daily order by China for its corn, of 1.9 million tons.

The announcements were a relief to US farmers, who are expecting a bumper crop this year and need to find buyers to take it.

They also came at a time of high political tension between the two countries, after the Trump administration authorized sanctions against several Hong Kong leaders over the rights crackdown in the city, and restrictions on Chinese apps WeChat and TikTok.

The Chinese “realize we’re not being the best of buddies right now, but they need the products and they’re gonna take as much as they need,” said Jack Scoville, agricultural market analyst for Price Futures Group.

It’s possible that Beijing will change its orders from buying this year’s harvest to next year’s.

But analysts warn that any orders could be called off before the ships carrying them leave port.

Brazil and Argentina, two of the world’s largest soybean and corn producers, are starting their harvests next spring, said Brian Hoops, president of the brokerage firm Midwest Market Solutions.

China “could cancel all these purchases they made in July and buy at much cheaper prices if that’s available to them,” Hoops said.

The trade deal dubbed “phase one” and signed in January has managed to survive both the tensions and the sharp global economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic, which has badly hit international trade.

US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer in June said China would follow through on its commitments, while Washington would also pursue a “phase two” trade deal that “will focus on issues of overcapacity, subsidization, disciplines on China’s state-owned enterprises, and cyber theft.”

Bown said any success in getting China to buy not just farm but also energy and manufactured goods, would aid Trump in his reelection campaign.