Egypt signs 9 new agreements for oil and gas exploration

Egypt signs 9 new agreements for oil and gas exploration
A man takes a picture of fishing boats docked along the Mediterranean Sea, north of Cairo, Egypt December 6, 2020. (REUTERS)
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Updated 03 January 2021

Egypt signs 9 new agreements for oil and gas exploration

Egypt signs 9 new agreements for oil and gas exploration
  • The deals with major oil companies in the Mediterranean and Red Seas involves investments of more than $1 billion

CAIRO: The Egyptian Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources has signed nine new petroleum agreements to search for petroleum and natural gas in the Mediterranean and the Red Sea with six major international and Egyptian companies.

Egyptian Minister of Petroleum Tarek El-Molla said that the ministry reached a total of 12 agreements during the period of the coronavirus pandemic, with a minimum investment of about $1.4 billion, to drill 23 wells in nine regions in the Mediterranean and three regions in the Red Sea, pointing out that the three further agreements are to be signed soon.

He said that the ministry’s strategy to promote investment opportunities was the reason for its success in attracting new global investment to Egypt. In addition to its existing work with companies such as Shell, BP and Total, it was forging new partnerships with Exxon Mobil and Chevron, which were entering Egypt for the first time to invest in oil and gas exploration.

The Egyptian minister said that the Egyptian Tharwa Petroleum’s participation opens up the potential expansion of its activities and those of other Egyptian companies in this sphere.

The nine signed agreements include one with Exxon Mobil to search in the North Marquia marine area in the Mediterranean, with a minimum investment of $112 million to drill three wells, and another with Chevron and its partner Tharwa Petroleum to search in the North Sidi Barrani area, with a minimum investment of $70 million, to drill one exploration well.


Bahrain’s Batelco could be first stock to be dual listed on Tadawul

Bahrain’s Batelco could be first stock to be dual listed on Tadawul
Updated 15 min 15 sec ago

Bahrain’s Batelco could be first stock to be dual listed on Tadawul

Bahrain’s Batelco could be first stock to be dual listed on Tadawul
  • Samba has been hired as an adviser on the deal

RIYADH: Bahrain Telecommunications Co. (Batelco) is planning to become the first company to have a dual listing of shares on Saudi Arabia’s stock exchange (Tadawul), Bloomberg reported citing people familiar with the matter.

The investment arm of Samba Financial Group has been hired as an adviser on the deal, the people said, asking not to be identified for information privacy.

No decision has been made and the company may decide against the dual listing, they said.

A spokesperson at Batelco declined to comment, while Samba Capital didn’t respond to messages seeking comment, Bloomberg said.

Tadawul has been trying to encourage Middle Eastern firms to dual list for years, without success. Aluminium Bahrain had considered a dual listing in 2014, but it never occurred.


Saudi Arabia’s National Debt Management Center wins global awards for second year

Saudi Arabia’s National Debt Management Center wins global awards for second year
Updated 18 June 2021

Saudi Arabia’s National Debt Management Center wins global awards for second year

Saudi Arabia’s National Debt Management Center wins global awards for second year
  • Saudi office won Middle East and emerging market awards

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia won the Best Sovereign Public Debt Office in the Middle East and the Most Impressive Emerging Market Issuer Award at the 2021 Global Capital Bond Awards, for the year 2021, for the second year in a row, SPA reported.

The Global Capital Bond Awards honors the achievements of governments and companies of all sizes in the field of sovereign and regional finance, banking services, hedge funds, and many other areas within the financial services sector.

It also highlights the most prominent innovations and achievements within the financial services sector, globally.

Saudi Arabia sold SR8.27 billion ($2.20 billion) of riyal-denominated sukuk in June, up from $941 million in May, bunt down from $3.1 billion April, National Debt Management Center data show.

“Driving growth of the Kingdom’s capital markets will be an increase in bond issuance to help fund the SR12 trillion Vision 2030," said Khalid Al-Bihlal, head of S&P Global Ratings KSA. "We project a gradual rise in the use of Saudi Arabian riyal-denominated bond issuance as the local capital markets develop. The US dollar is currently the currency of choice for such bonds."


Saudi MoF electronically linked to SAMA

Saudi MoF electronically linked to SAMA
Updated 18 June 2021

Saudi MoF electronically linked to SAMA

Saudi MoF electronically linked to SAMA

RIYADH: The Saudi Central Bank (SAMA) announced the completion of an electronic link with the Ministry of Finance to process requests relating to the bank accounts of government agencies held at Saudi commercial banks through the online portal Hesaab.

SAMA is seeking to improve and accelerate the procedures related to requests of government agencies’ bank accounts received from the Ministry of Finance, by implementing technical solutions with minimal human intervention, it said in a statement on Thursday.

The Hesaab portal is one of the National Transformation Program 2020 initiatives that improves the level of financial services, in line with Vision 2030.


Oil falls amid dollar strength; demand picture still bullish

Oil falls amid dollar strength; demand picture still bullish
Updated 18 June 2021

Oil falls amid dollar strength; demand picture still bullish

Oil falls amid dollar strength; demand picture still bullish
  • Prices remain close to multi-year highs
  • Dollar jumped since Fed moved rate-hike forecast forward

LONDON: Oil prices fell for a second straight session on Friday as the US dollar soared on the prospect of interest rate hikes in the United States, but they were on track to finish the week little changed and only slightly off multi-year highs.
Brent crude futures were down 64 cents, or 0.9 percent, at $72.44 a barrel as of 9:00 a.m. GMT, extending a 1.8 percent decline on Thursday. The contract is set to be largely steady for the week.
US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were down 53 cents, or 0.8 percent, at $70.51 a barrel, after retreating 1.5 percent on Thursday and is also set to be flat on the week.
On Wednesday, Brent settled at its highest price since April 2019 while WTI settled at its highest since October 2018.
“Oil markets retreated sharply overnight as a stronger US dollar and falling commodity prices elsewhere saw the overbought technical correction continue,” said Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst at OANDA.
The dollar has rocketed in the two sessions since the US Federal Reserve projected possible rate hikes in 2023, earlier than market watchers previously expected. A rising dollar makes oil more expensive in other currencies, curbing demand.
The prospect of rate hikes also weighed on the longer-term growth outlook, which would eventually hurt oil demand, in contrast to the near-term outlook for growth in demand as COVID-19 related curbs on movement and business activity ease and road and air travel pick up, said Westpac senior economist Justin Smirk.
“The near term’s all very positive. The question is how much further can it rise, how much scope is there if you’re looking at an environment where interest rates are going to rise,” Smirk said.
Oil prices also fell after Britain on Thursday reported its biggest daily rise in new cases of COVID-19 since Feb. 19, with government figures showing 11,007 new infections versus 9,055 a day earlier.
Adding to negative sentiment were remarks from Iran’s top negotiator on Thursday saying talks between Tehran and Washington on reviving the 2015 Iran nuclear deal have come closer than ever to an agreement.


Saudi listed company debt jumped by half in 2020

Saudi listed company debt jumped by half in 2020
Updated 18 June 2021

Saudi listed company debt jumped by half in 2020

Saudi listed company debt jumped by half in 2020
  • Debt-to-asset ratio of Saudi companies ended 2020 at 20.1 percent

RIYADH: The debts of companies listed on Saudi Arabia’s Tadawul stock exchange, excluding real estate funds, increased by 45 percent last year as they borrowed to face down the pandemic and took advantage of low interest rates.

Debt reached SR1.3 trillion ($346 billion) at the end of the fourth quarter of 2020, up from SR899.2 billion a year earlier, Al Eqtisadiah reported, citing data from the Tadawul and Saudi Capital Market Authority. On a quarterly basis, debt rose 8.1 percent.

The debt-to-assets ratio of the companies climbed to a record 21.4 percent from 15.8 at the end of 2019, the data showed.

Saudi companies have stepped up bond sales in recent months as the Federal Reserve kept interest rates near record lows.

Saudi Aramco yesterday said it completed a $6 billion dollar sukuk offering, which takes its bond issuance since 2019 to $26 billion.