Ski resorts out in the cold as France eases lockdown

Ski resorts out in the cold as France eases lockdown
French President Emmanuel Macron’s exclusion of ski resorts ‘felt like the door had been slammed in our faces,’ said the mayor of Megeve. (Shutterstock)
Short Url
Updated 27 November 2020

Ski resorts out in the cold as France eases lockdown

Ski resorts out in the cold as France eases lockdown
  • Frustrated resort operators count the cost of holiday season restrictions

MEGEVE, France:  Megeve, in the foothills of Mont Blanc, was gearing up to welcome back skiers before Christmas after a COVID-19 lockdown was eased.

But France’s government — while allowing cinemas, museums and theaters to reopen from Dec. 15 — says its ski slopes must stay off limits until 2021, leaving those who make their living in the Alpine village frustrated and, in some cases, perplexed.

“When you’re outside, when you’re doing sport outdoors, that’s not the moment when you’re going to give COVID-19 to someone. COVID-19 is passed on in enclosed places,” said Pierre de Monvallier, director of ski school Oxygene, which operates in several resorts including Megeve.

Announcing a phased easing of the lockdown on Tuesday, French President Emmanuel Macron said it was “impossible to envisage” re-opening ski slopes for Christmas and New Year, and that he preferred instead to do so during January.

“It felt like the door had been slammed in our face,” said Catherine Jullien-Breches, the mayor of Megeve, whose green slopes are generally covered with snow by mid-December.

“Unfortunately it’s a real drama for the economies of the villages and the winter sports resorts.”

People who live within 20 km of France’s Alpine resorts will able to visit from this weekend, but with the lifts staying shut, the main draw is missing.

“It’s like going on holiday on the Cote d’Azur and being told the sea is off limits,” said David Le Scouarnec, co-owner of Megeve’s Cafe 2 la Poste.

The problem for the resorts — and the hotels, restaurants, and workers who depend on them for their livelihood — is that their season is short, and they will have little time after the New Year to claw back lost revenue.

Other European authorities are wrestling with the same problem. Italy’s resorts regions are seeking approval for restricted skiing, but Austria, whose biggest cluster of the first wave of the pandemic was at the ski resort of Ischgl — where thousands were infected — is skeptical.

Prevarication cuts little ice, however, with Mathieu Dechavanne, Chairman and CEO of Compagnie du Mont-Blanc, which operates cable cars at Megeve and other resorts.

He said who could not understand why the government allowed trains and metros to operate, but barred him from re-opening. “It’s like we’re being punished. We don’t deserve this. We’re ready.”


UAE’s Mubadala Petroleum signs Red Sea oil exploration deal with Egypt

The agreement, signed by Egyptian Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources Tarek El-Molla, allows the company to explore in a 3,084 square kilometer area of the Red Sea. (Shutterstock/File Photo)
The agreement, signed by Egyptian Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources Tarek El-Molla, allows the company to explore in a 3,084 square kilometer area of the Red Sea. (Shutterstock/File Photo)
Updated 23 January 2021

UAE’s Mubadala Petroleum signs Red Sea oil exploration deal with Egypt

The agreement, signed by Egyptian Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources Tarek El-Molla, allows the company to explore in a 3,084 square kilometer area of the Red Sea. (Shutterstock/File Photo)
  • It will own 27 percent of the stake as part of the agreement, while Shell will own 63 percent

CAIRO: The UAE’s Mubadala Petroleum Company has signed an agreement with Egypt to explore for oil and gas in the Red Sea.

The agreement, signed by Egyptian Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources Tarek El-Molla, allows the company to explore in a 3,084 square kilometer area of the Red Sea and was a result of a bidding round in 2019.

It will own 27 percent of the stake as part of the agreement, while Shell will own 63 percent. Egypt’s Tharwa Petroleum Company owns the remaining 10 percent.

The agreement refers to an area known as Sector 4, located in the north of the Red Sea in an area adjacent to the Gulf of Suez Basin, which is rich in natural resources. 

Parties will commit to conducting exploration studies in this sector and collecting seismic data for the area, using three-dimensional techniques, during the first three years of the exploration phase.

“The addition of Sector 4 in the Red Sea represents a new extension of our operations in Egypt, while providing a valuable opportunity to expand our activities, and by working with a strategic partner such as Shell,” said Mubadala Petroleum CEO Bakheet Al Katheeri. “The search and exploration operations in this sector, if successful, will support our strategy of extracting and manufacturing hydrocarbons, in order to contribute to supporting the stability and expansion of the Egyptian market, while providing growth opportunities for our operations in the country.”

Mubadala Petroleum owns a 10 percent stake in the offshore Shurooq gas field concession that includes the Zohr natural gas field, in addition to 20 percent in the concession area of Noor Gas Company. Both are located in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Egypt.