EconSource: Egypt Signs $1.5 Billion Sinai Development Deal with Saudi Arabia

Egypt on Sunday signed an agreement with Saudi Arabia worth $1.5 billion to finance development projects in the Sinai during the fifth meeting of the Egyptian-Saudi coordination council in Riyadh, according to the Ministry of International Cooperation. The funds will be used for agriculture projects and to build 26 residential complexes that will include hospitals and schools. Minister of International Cooperation Sahar Nasr highlighted “the importance of sustainable development and offering work opportunities for the residents of Sinai, which is the most important way to eliminate extremism and terrorism.” A separate five-year agreement was signed between the Saudi Development Fund, the Egyptian Public Oil Authority, and Saudi company Aramco to help Egypt finance its petrol needs. [AFPAhram Online, 3/21/2016]

Saudi government to issue 20 billion riyals of bonds

The Saudi government has told local banks that it will sell them 20 billion riyals ($5.3 billion) of three-, five-, and seven-year bonds with floating and fixed rates, sources said on Sunday. Allocations of the bonds will be made on Monday. The government has been selling 20 billion riyals of bonds every month since last August to cover a budget deficit created by low oil prices. Last month, the government sold five-, seven-, and 10-year bonds. [Reuters, 3/20/2016]

Egypt considering tighter regulations on currency bureaus 
The Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) is considering tougher regulations on foreign-exchange dealers as part of a broader effort to crack down on the black market. The CBE is seeking to reduce the number of foreign-exchange bureaus and introduce measures to improve transparency, an unnamed source said. A crackdown on currency traders has been widely predicted in Egyptian media. On Sunday, al-Shorouk reported that some currency bureaus may temporarily halt operations to avoid incurring losses from trading at the official price. Bankers and traders said the pound weakened on the black market on Sunday. Meanwhile, the CBE announced that it will hold only one foreign currency auction a week on Tuesdays for $120 million. The bank previously held three auctions a week for $40 million each. [Bloomberg, 3/20/2016]

Iraq exports first natural gas shipment
Iraq on Sunday exported the first shipment of natural gas in its history, as part of a joint venture between Iraq state-run South Gas Company, Shell, and Mitsubishi. The shipment has a cargo of about 10,000 standard cubic feet of gas in the form of condensates produced by the Basrah Gas Company, Oil Ministry Spokesman Assem Jihad said. Jihad did not reveal how much the cargo was worth or the buyer, but said that the next cargo would be shipped by the end of this month. [APReuters, 3/20/2016]

BP pulls out staff from Algeria plants after attack
British Petroleum (BP) will pull out all its staff from the In Salah and In Amenas gas projects in Algeria over the next two weeks for the safety and security of its staff following an attack on Friday, it said on Monday. The Algerian joint ventures will continue to be supported “remotely,” the company said in a statement. Norwegian oil and gas company Statoil, which operates the plants together with BP, also announced plans to reduce staff after the rocket-propelled grenade attack on the In Salah plant which caused no casualties or damage. “It’s only been four days since shots were fired at In Salah. The production started again, but in the current situation we believe that this is the right decision to make,” said a Statoil spokesperson. [Reuters, 3/21/2016]

Also of interest
Bahrain February inflation rises to 2.9 percent | Reuters
Saudi February inflation edges down to 4.2 percent | Reuters
Saudi Aramco to keep investing in downstream sectors | Reuters
Saudi Arabia tells foreign banks to disclose finances | Bloomberg 
Egypt, Germany discuss boosting trade, investment cooperation | SIS
Egypt considering extending timeline for lifting electricity subsidies | DNE
Egyptian public employees protest civil service law salaries | Ahram Online
Fitch says Egypt pound devaluation positive, economic challenge remain | Reuters
Tunisia tourist arrivals down 19.1 percent from January to March | TAP
Fitch says Tunisia’s leasing companies’ performance depends on economic recovery | Reuters
Court puts Morocco oil refiner Samir into liquidation | Reuters