EconSource: US Designates Tunisia Major Ally, Pledges to Double Aid

President Barack Obama designated Tunisia a major non-NATO ally and said that the United States will double aid to the North African country after meeting with Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi. The United States will consider a loan guarantee of as much as $500 million to support an “ongoing reform program,” according to a White House statement. The administration said it plans to provide $134 million in aid to Tunisia for next year. The statement also said the United States and Tunisia will establish a new Joint Economic Council (JEC) to support Tunisia’s economic reform priorities and encourage private sector ties. As part of Essebsi’s visit, US Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker held a meeting between Essebsi, government officials, and US business leaders to discuss how to best strengthen the Tunisian economy. [Bloomberg, CNN, Economic Times, 5/21/2015]

Saudi oil supply outpaces rivals in grab for record China demand
Saudi Arabia expanded its share of China’s oil market last month, outpacing rival producers as they compete to meet record demand from the world’s biggest energy consumer. China’s imports from Saudi Arabia jumped 37 percent from a year earlier to the highest level since July 2013. The world’s biggest crude exporter was the number one supplier to China, accounting for 17.4 percent of its overseas purchases. Saudi Arabia has led the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries’ (OPEC) policy of maintaining production to defend its market share and force US shale drillers to curb the highest American output in more than three decades. [Bloomberg, 5/22/2015]

Iraqi forces break siege on Baiji oil refinery
Iraqi forces broke a siege on the country’s largest oil refinery by Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL) militants on Thursday, liberating around 300 soldiers who were held hostage in the area. Iraq’s Interior Minister said that Iraqi forces had deployed inside the refinery, but that the fight for Baiji is still underway. Meanwhile, Iraq’s Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq appealed for greater international help in fighting ISIS at the World Economic Forum in Jordan. [Al Arabiya, Rudaw, 5/22/2015]

Egypt set to launch up to $3 billion LNG purchase tender in June
Egypt is set to launch what will be a highly sought after tender in early June to buy up to $3 billion of liquefied natural gas (LNG) over 2016 and 2017. Egypt has emerged as a major new market for LNG as it looks to ease its worst energy crunch in decades. This year it secured $2.2 billion worth of LNG largely from European traders in its first-ever tender to supply a newly installed import terminal.
A new tender to purchase additional cargoes will go towards supplying Egypt’s second planned floating import terminal. [Reuters, 5/22/2015]

Also of interest
Oil market shrugging off turmoil in the Middle East | Bloomberg
Kingdom built on oil foresees fossil fuel phase-out this century | Financial Times
Gulf markets edge up as oil rises; Egypt resumes rally | Reuters
Yemen struggles with food shortages as shipments stay slow | Reuters
Egypt’s trade deficit grows 4.3 percent in February | Ahram Online
Egypt’s investment law predicament (opinion) | Ahram Online
Jordan unveils $18 billion investment plan | Gulf News