EconSource: IMF Extends Standby Loan for Tunisia; Data Shows Fall in Industrial Activity

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) announced that it has extended a standby loan for Tunisia by seven months in order to give the North African nation more time to enact banking and fiscal reforms. The IMF approved a $1.75 billion standby arrangement for Tunisia in June 2013, of which about $1.15 billion has been disbursed. The seven month extension keeps the loan in place until the end of this year. Official data showed on Wednesday that Tunisia’s economic economic growth slowed to 1.7 percent year on year as industrial activity declined. Four towns began a general strike in against unemployment in response to the slowed industrial activity. [Reuters, 5/19/2015]

Egypt opens new power plant as peak energy season approaches
Egypt has opened a 750 megawatt power plant in the northern outskirts of Cairo as the country tries to stave off power cuts that have plagued Egyptian lives and businesses in the summer months of the last few years. The $500 million plant in Qalyubia is part of the state’s 2012-2017 plan to provide environmentally friendly electricity. In addition to investing in new plants, Egypt has secured a floating liquefied natural gas (LNG) import terminal and signed LNG import agreements with Russia and Algeria. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources said there is no intention to raise fuel prices after a new smart card system is introduced. [Reuters, 5/19/2015]

Saudi Arabia, partners turn down Chinese requests for extra oil
Saudi Arabia and its main Middle East partners in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) are turning down Chinese requests for extra oil as they hold back fuel for their own refineries in response to record demand. While Saudi and other refusals for additional crude supplies may not be part of a new pricing strategy, the rejections to their biggest client help explain a 40 percent rise in oil prices this year as Chinese importers have had to seek more oil from other suppliers. A source said Chinese requests for more crude from Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) were similarly turned down. [Reuters, 5/20/2015]

Libya’s NOC chief sees higher oil prices, not relying on OPEC
The head of Libya’s National Oil Corp (NOC), Mustafa Sanallah, said that the NOC is working to boost output and regain market share taken by other producers. He said he expects oil prices to rise starting in the second half of this year and to continue to rise in 2016. He added that Libya hopes to increase the amount of oil it is pumping by 200,000 barrels per day (bpd), from the current 436,000 bpd, in the next two months by repairing damaged fields and engaging with those who have blocked pipelines and fields. Libya’s El Feel oilfield remains closed due to a strike by security guards, the NOC said Wednesday. [Reuters, 5/19/2015]

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