EconSource: Egypt to Cut Oil Debt in August, Repay Rest by End of 2016

Egypt aims to reduce its debt to foreign oil companies to $2.9 billion from $3.5 billion by the end of 2016. Oil Minister Sherif Ismail said Egypt plans to repay the rest of the debt by the end of 2016, pushing back the deadline by about six months. Egypt’s oil ministry said in March that it aimed to fully repay its debts to energy companies by mid 2016, about a year later than previously indicated. The payments to oil and gas companies have been delayed by economic instability. Ismail added that Egypt will no longer receive oil grants from Gulf Arab allies. “Gulf oil grants are over. We are now talking about trade agreements where we pay for what we get either in the form of crude oil cargoes or in cash,” he said. Egypt is in energy talks with Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates, he said. [Reuters, 8/3/2015]

Tunisia foreign reserves drop marginally after militant attack
Tunisia’s foreign currency reserves have dropped only marginally since a June 26 militant attack in Sousse, according to central bank data. The figures suggest authorities are succeeding in preventing the decline in tourism earnings from threatening any balance of payments crisis, even though the country runs a substantial current account deficit. Net assets in foreign currency totalled 13.36 billion dinars ($6.78 billion) at the end of July, compared to 13.50 billion dinars in mid-June. The central bank did not say how it had prevented a significant fall in reserves during July, but Tunisia has been receiving foreign aid from governments and multilateral donors. Recently, the European Union adopted the first part of its annual assistance package for Tunisia, totaling EUR 116.8 million. The aid aims to strengthen Tunisia’s security sector and support socioeconomic and regional development. [Reuters, 8/4/2015]

PKK attacks Turkey’s halted Shah Deniz gas pipeline
Kurdish militants attacked Turkey’s Shah Deniz pipeline carrying natural gas from Azerbaijan early on Tuesday, but the blast did not impact supply as flow had already been halted for maintenance, Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said. The blast came days after another attack by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) halted flows along a pipeline carrying crude oil to Turkey from Iraq. British Petroleum (BP) said on Monday it had suspended operations on the Shah Deniz platform in the Caspian Sea as well as the Shah Deniz facility inside the Sangachal terminal for planned maintenance from August 2. Shah Deniz, Azerbaijan’s biggest gas field, is being developed by partners including BP, Norway’s Statoil, Azeri state energy company SOCAR, and others. [Reuters, 8/4/2015]

Middle East refinery expansion plans hit snags
Middle Eastern countries are experiencing setbacks in plans to expand their oil refining capacity, hampering efforts to reduce reliance on imported oil products such as gasoline, diesel and jet fuel. In Saudi Arabia, a 400,000 barrels per day (bpd) refinery complex in the Red Sea port city of Jizan will not open in 2017 as planned due to disagreements with contractors. In the United Arab Emirates, a 200,000 bpd refinery in Fujairah will not be completed until the end of 2018. The refinery was scheduled to be opened in 2016. In Kuwait, plans to build the 615,000 bpd Al Zour refinery have stalled over political opposition and the plant is not scheduled to open until 2019 at the earliest. [WSJ, 8/3/2015]

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