EconSource: EBRD Earmarks $250 Million for Renewable Energy in MENA

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has launched a $250 million financing program to promote private sector investment in renewable energy in Morocco, Egypt, Tunisia, and Jordan. Most of the energy produced will be sold directly to private sector consumers, such as cement firms and hotel groups, the EBRD said. The 120-megawatt Khalladi wind farm near Tangiers in Morocco is the first project expected to be financed through the program. Two other funds, the Climate Investment Funds’ Clean Technology Fund and the Global Environment Facility will provide financing of up to $35 million and $10 million, respectively. A technical assistance program funded by the European Union’s Neighborhood Investment Facility worth more than $1 million will support project preparation and analysis. [Reuters, 11/3/2015]

IMF official says GCC countries prepared to deal with low oil prices
Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries are well prepared to handle the fallout of the global slump in oil prices, according to the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) Director of Offices in Europe Jeffrey Franks. “GCC countries have set aside considerable resources in sovereign wealth funds that they can now draw on to continue funding and investing in education programs and other social benefits,” Franks said. However, while GCC countries are well equipped in the medium term, smart budgetary policies are needed to manage the long term, Franks added. He said the IMF does not foresee bankruptcy among GCC countries, but he emphasized budgetary challenges that arise from low oil prices. [Gulf News, 11/2/2015]

Moody’s says Saudi deficit will drive further debt issuance, spending controls
A statement by Moody’s Investors Service on Tuesday said that while Saudi Arabia’s fiscal position is weakening, it is still relatively strong. Moody’s says it expects lower oil revenues from the drop in global oil prices to result in large budget deficits, a drawdown of foreign reserves, and increased sovereign debt issuance. Moody’s said the Saudi government needs to enact further cuts in order to preserve the country’s credit rating. “Given Saudi Arabia’s dependence on the volatile hydrocarbon sector, we expect that low oil prices will continue to drive fiscal deficits for several years. While the kingdom’s large assets provide a cushion, we believe that further measures to address the deficit will be forthcoming,” Moody’s Senior Vice President Steven Hess said. The ratings agency said it expects Saudi gross domestic product growth to be between 2.5 percent and 3 percent over the next two years. Meanwhile, concern about Saudi Arabia’s ability to cope with low oil prices pushed the cost of insuring its sovereign debt against default on Tuesday to its highest level since June 2009. [Moody’s, 11/2/2015]

EU allocates EUR 68 million to Egypt gas development project
The European Union (EU) announced in a statement Monday that it has allocated EUR 68 million to the Egypt Gas Connection Project. The planned project will “address key priorities in Egypt’s energy sector and boost its economic development,” the EU Delegation to Egypt said. “This project will be implemented in collaboration with the French Development Agency that will contribute with a 70 million euro loan and the World Bank that offered a $500 million loan,” the statement added. Egypt aims to start natural gas production from its massive offshore Zohr field in 2017, a year ahead of schedule, Oil Minister Tarek al-Molla said. “We’re looking to expedite the agreement with the partner and speed up production,” Molla said in an interview. Molla also said that the Egyptian General Petroleum Corporation has agreed to import six shipments of fuel oil from Rosneft, Russia’s largest oil producer, by the end of 2015. [SIS, 11/3/2015]

Eyes turn to Turkey Central Bank as inflation surges
Core inflation in Turkey hit a peak in October, putting pressure on its central bank to tighten policy only two days after the country’s parliamentary elections. Annual core consumer prices rose 8.9 percent last month, driven in part by sharp falls in the lira. The year-on-year jump in core prices was the biggest since November 2014. Headline inflation, which includes food prices, slowed to 7.58 percent. The bank has so far steered clear of trying to support the currency by increasing rates, which has raised market concerns about the bank’s independence. Experts says the bank’s monetary policy committee (MPC) cannot hold off raising rates forever. “It remains to be seen how much influence the new government will try to exert on monetary policy. But we continue to think that the MPC will raise interest rates over the next three to six months,” said Capital Economics. [Reuters, 11/3/2015]

Also of interest
Gulf oil producers delay field work, see weaker 2016 prices | Reuters
BofA sees Saudi rating at risk of another S&P cut amid oil slump | Bloomberg
Oil slump weighs on Saudi, UAE businesses as PMI drops | Bloomberg
Gulf’s private-sector growth slows as price of oil falls | Reuters
Moody’s says Egypt’s economic conditions improving, but weaknesses remain | Moody’s
Egypt bourse hit by emerging market storm, sees new IPOs in 2016 | Reuters
Egypt’s Beltone Financial expects to manage four stock market flotations in 2016 | Reuters
Libya’s AGOCO fields operating at normal capacity | Libya Monitor (subscription)
Morocco sees $10 billion from auto industry exports by 2020 | Reuters
Russia has sent Syria 100,000 tonnes of wheat in food aid | Reuters
Iraq sacks trade ministry officials in graft probe | Reuters
United States cuts cash to Iraq over Iran, ISIS fears | WSJ