EconSource: Saudi Aramco Names New President and Chief Executive

Saudi Aramco’s Supreme Council has named Amin Nasser as President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the state oil company. Nasser has been acting president and CEO of Aramco since April, when his predecessor Khalid al-Falih was appointed Aramco’s Chairman and Health Minister. A statement by Saudi Aramco said the appointment was made after the company’s ten-member Supreme Council, which was created in April this year, held its first meeting in Jeddah. The council is chaired by Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Aramco did not say who will replace Nasser as senior vice president of upstream operations. Aramco said the council also approved a five year business plan, but didn’t give any further details. [Reuters, WSJ, Bloomberg, The National, 9/17/2015]

Kuwait to start offshore oil exploration by 2017
Kuwait plans to start an offshore oil exploration program within two years, Kuwait Oil Company Manager of Planning Bader al-Attar said. In comments suggesting Kuwait will maintain energy investments despite plunging oil prices, al-Attar, was quoted as saying Kuwait aims to add a total of 700,000 barrels per day (bpd) of crude oil production capacity from offshore and onshore areas. He did not identify the potential offshore locations. Most of Kuwait’s production is from the onshore Burgan field, the world’s second largest, in the southeast of the country. Al-Attar said Kuwait aims to boost production capacity to 3.5 million bpd by the end of 2015, from around the current 3.15 million bpd. He added that Kuwait seeks lift output capacity to 4 million bpd by 2020 and sustain this level until 2030. [Gulf News, 9/17/2015]

Egypt’s trade deficit widens in June, putting pressure on the pound
Egypt’s trade deficit grew to EGP 26.3 billion in June, jumping by more than 62.3 percent, compared to the EGP 16.2 billion trade deficit recorded in the same month last year. The widening deficit was driven by both an increase in imports and a decline in exports. During June 2015, state statistics agency CAPMAS reported that the value of Egypt’s exports to the world fell by more than 24 percent year on year. CAPMAS attributed the drop in exports to a decline in market prices for key Egyptian export commodities such as crude oil and petroleum products. Meanwhile, imports rose by 15.3 percent year on year. While foreign reserves grew in June, they fell in July and August, intensifying calls to devalue the Egyptian pound. Speaking at a conference last week, Investment Minister Ashraf Salman suggested that a devaluation was becoming inevitable. On Thursday, as expected, the Egyptian pound was held steady by the central bank. [Mada Masr, 9/17/2015]

Turkey’s economic worries mount as Fitch weighs rating
In the throes of a worsening conflict with Kurdish and Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL) militants, looming elections and the potential fallout from higher US interest rates, Turkey is due for its scheduled checkup at Fitch Ratings this week. Already assessed as junk by Standard & Poor’s, any notion from Fitch that it too might consider cutting Turkey could add selling pressure from those investors limited to holding investment-grade assets. Fitch gave a glimpse into its thinking last week when it identified Turkey among the emerging markets “most exposed” to a higher Federal Reserve rate because of the large amount of foreign-currency debt owed by banks. A junk assessment could mean more pain for Turkey’s bonds and currency, which fell to a record low on Monday. [Bloomberg, 9/17/2015]

Also of interest
Saudi Arabia says six credit agencies apply for licences | Reuters
Saudi sells 20 billion riyals of sovereign bonds to banks | Reuters
$50 oil puts Saudi budget deficit beyond reach of spending cuts| Bloomberg
UAE’s NBAD, National Bank of Egypt to advise on Egypt Midor’s expansion | Reuters
European Union offers Tunisia increase of olive oil exports | The Financial