EconSource: Libya Chaos Threatens Oilfields, Power Supply, and Gas Exports to Italy

Libyan protesters demanding jobs have shut down the eastern Irda gas field and are threatening to close the western Wafa oil and gas field, which would stop gas exports to Italy, a spokesman for Libya’s National Oil Corporation (NOC) said. The closure will worsen widespread power cuts and might shut down one of the last revenue generators for the central bank. Libya’s state electricity firm warned earlier this week that power cuts will worsen. Meanwhile, both the eastern Es Sider oil port and the western El Feel oilfield remain closed. [Reuters, 4/29/2015]

Iraq seeks credit rating before $5 billion bond issue
Iraq plans to obtain a sovereign credit rating and is approaching rating agencies as it prepares for a $5 billion bond issue needed to cover a budget deficit caused by low oil prices. Iraq’s need for cash is acute; the government has projected a budget deficit of about $25 billion this year, in a budget of roughly $100 billion. Obtaining a credit rating from a major agency, which Iraq currently lacks, could help to persuade global fund managers and banks to subscribe to the issue. However, process of obtaining a credit rating could be a delicate one for Iraq, requiring it to open its books to the agencies and disclose new information on its finances. [Reuters, 4/30/2015]

Poll says Egypt’s economic growth set to accelerate over next two years
Egypt’s economic growth is set to accelerate in the next two years, reaching 5.5 percent in fiscal 2016/17, a Reuters poll forecast on Wednesday. After struggling to restore growth during more than four years of political upheaval, the Egyptian economy is showing signs of a revival. The poll showed economists had lifted their growth forecasts for the current fiscal year ending in June to 4.2 percent after the economy grew by more than 5 percent in the first half. The outlook should continue to improve, although not by as much as the government hopes in the near term. [Reuters, 4/29/2015]

Tunisia agrees to public sector wage hike after union talks
Tunisia’s government has agreed to increase the wages of 800,000 public sector workers after negotiations with the main labor union. Tunisia is under pressure from international lenders to reduce public spending and cut the deficit to help economic growth. A union source said the deal for a 50 Tunisian dinar a month ($26) increase was expected to be signed on Thursday. The increase will add about 540 million dinars ($280 million) more public spending to the budget. It raises the minimum wage in the public sector by 15.6 percent, the second such hike in less than two years. [Reuters, 4/29/2015]

Also of interest
Syrian army setbacks drive currency to record low | Reuters
Gulf economies’ growth forecasts cut as oil stays low | Reuters
OPEC oil output in April climbs to highest since 2012 | Reuters
Oil slump emptying the stores of Dubai (analysis) | Bloomberg
Royal reshuffle boosts Saudi stocks; Egypt rebounds on tax compromise hopes | Reuters
Algeria launches new strategy to explore foreign markets | Algerie Presse Service
Jordan’s overland trade paralyzed by Iraq, Syria border woes | AP