Top News: Eni CEO Says Egyptian Gas Find Estimate Conservative, Could be Raised

The estimate of 850 billion cubic meters of gas for Eni’s giant gas find off the coast of Egypt is “conservative” and could be increased, the chief executive of the Italian oil and gas group said on Wednesday. “[The estimate] is conservative and could be raised; below we have found another field,” Claudio Descalzi said at a senate hearing in Rome. “We will see in 2016 when the exploration restarts.” He added that Eni expects between $6 billion and $10 billion of total investment for the development of the gas field. [Reuters, 9/9/2015]


High-profile figures register for Egypt’s parliamentary polls; Court upholds ban on Ezz candidacy
Over 4,100 parliamentary hopefuls submitted their papers to register as candidates in Egypt’s upcoming parliamentary elections within one week after the nomination period began Tuesday. The number is much larger than that of applications filed in the first six days of registration prior to the 2011-2012 elections. However, Omar Marawan, Spokesman for the High Election Committee (HEC), said the number of hopefuls is still small because most electoral coalitions formed in recent months to contest the polls have yet to submit their papers. High-profile candidates among those who have registered include Khaled Youssef, a film director, Hussein Megawer, the former head of the General Egyptian Federation of Trade Unions (GEFTU) and a former NDP leading official, Ragab Hilal Hemeida, a religious cleric and former independent MP.  Mohamed al-Gindi, a lawyer for former Interior Minister Habib al-Adli, Ali al-Demerdash, Cairo’s former security chief,  Hafez Abu Seada, Chairman of the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights (EOHR), Esmat al-Merghani, a female political activist who heads the Free Social Party, and Hamdi Bekhit, a renowned political and military expert. Meanwhile, Egypt’s Supreme Administrative Court upheld a decision on Tuesday to disqualify steel tycoon Ahmed Ezz from running in the elections. This is a final decision which Ezz cannot appeal. [Ahram Online, DNE, Aswat Masriya, Mada Masr, 9/8/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Wafd demands Prime Minister’s removal over new ruling annulling constituencies | AMAY


Prosecution releases twenty-five accused of torching police station pending trial
A Giza prosecution ordered on Tuesday the release of twenty-five suspects charged with setting fire to a police station in August 2013 during a violent reprisal following the police’s dispersal of two pro-Morsi encampments. The suspects, released pending trial, were charged with setting fire to the Ayat police station in Giza. They are also charged with protesting illegally, joining an armed terrorist group, thuggery and destroying public property. Additionally, an individual was sentenced to life in prison for the burning of a church in Kerdasa. [Ahram Online,  9/8/2015]     

Judges’ Club calls Egyptian media reports on salaries ‘inappropriate’
The Egyptian Judges’ Club issued a statement slamming the media for reporting “exaggerated salaries and special privileges” following the Supreme Judicial Council decision to approve a yearly bonus of EGP 10,000. Head of the Judges’ Club Abdalla Fathy has neither confirmed nor denied those reports. He did, however, stress that the judiciary has an independent budget that is separate from the state’s fiscal budget. Egyptian media reported that the Supreme Judicial Council, headed by Ahmed Abdel Latif, approved annual bonuses for heads of courts and their deputies worth EGP5,000 and another for the upcoming Eid al-Adha festival also worth EGP5,000. The council reportedly approved a bonus of EGP 8,000 for lower ranking judiciary members. The Judges’ Club statement called on media outlets to abide by “accuracy and objectivity.” It also expressed the club’s frustration with previous reports on “exaggerated salaries and special rights” for judges, saying they were groundless. [Ahram Online, 9/8/2015]


Egypt aims to cut arrears owed to foreign oil firms to $2.5 billion this year
Egypt is aiming to lower the amount of arrears it owes foreign oil companies to $2.5 billion by the end of 2015, according to Petroleum Minister Sherif Ismail. Egypt paid foreign oil companies $600 million in arrears in August and still owes them $2.9 billion, which is about 16 percent of Egypt’s reserves, according to Bloomberg. Delays in paying back foreign companies had discouraged investment in Egypt’s economy. Egypt’s Central Bank said Wednesday that the country’s current account deficit widened to $12.2 billion in the 2014/15 fiscal year, from $2.7 billion the previous year. [Reuters, 9/9/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Egypt downsizes Arabtec project to 100,000 units | Ahram Online
  • Housing minister: No chance for entrusting million-home project to Arabtec | AMAY, Reuters
  • Egypt investment minister affirms central bank’s’ independence | DNE
  • Outstanding balance of treasury bonds at EGP 614.19 billion by end of August: Ministry of Finance | DNE
  • EFSA commissions EGX to put in place rules for private placements | DNE
  • Egypt’s market loses EGP9.1 billion on Tuesday, EGX30 falls 3.4 percent | Egypt Independent, Reuters
  • Zohr gas field steals the show at Euromoney | Mada Masr
  • Mac Optic to build petrochemical plant in Gulf of Suez: Vice President | DNE
  • Four Red Sea ports closed due to sandstorm in Egypt | Ahram Online, AP, Aswat Masriya


CPJ, Canadians call on Canadian Prime Minister to work to free jailed journalist
Some 300 prominent Canadians, together with the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), are calling on Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper to take immediate action for the deportation of jailed Canadian former Al Jazeera journalist Mohamed Fahmy to Canada. In a statement released Wednesday, the CPJ announced it sent a letter to Harper, signed by CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon, Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator Sherif Mansour, and over 300 other prominent public figures and human rights groups. “Direct and persistent requests from you personally to President al-Sisi are Mr. Fahmy’s only hope for release,” the letter said. Former Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin, Supreme Court of Canada justice Louise Arbour, and author Michael Ondaatje are among those who signed the letter.  [DNE, AP, 9/8/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Anti-atheism campaign at Cairo cultural center ends second phase | Mada Masr
  • Corruption report highlights widespread vice in government institutions | DNE


Twenty-seven alleged ‘terrorists’ killed in second day of major North Sinai operation 
The Egyptian army killed twenty-seven alleged ‘terrorists’ and arrested one hundred and fifty four suspects on Tuesday in the North Sinai towns of Rafah, al-Arish and Sheikh Zuweid, according to Egypt’s Military Spokesman. This brings the total number of individuals reportedly killed by the military in the past two days to fifty six. The operation, titled ‘The Martyr’s Right,’ began on Monday and is the largest military action in North Sinai in months. [Ahram Online,  AFP,  Aswat Masriya, 9/9/2015]     


Egypt reportedly sends up to 800 ground troops to Yemen
As many as 800 Egyptian soldiers arrived in Yemen late on Tuesday, Egyptian security sources reportedly said, swelling the ranks of a Gulf Arab military contingent which aims to rout the Iran-allied Houthi group after a five-month civil war. Four Egyptian units of between 150 to 200 troops along with tanks and transport vehicles arrived in Yemen late on Tuesday, two Egyptian security sources told Reuters. The newswire quoted a senior Egyptian military source as saying, “We have sent these forces as part of Egypt’s prominent role in this alliance … the alliance fights for the sake of our brotherly Arab states, and the death of any Egyptian soldier would be an honor and considered martyrdom for the sake of innocent people.” [Reuters, 8/9/2015]

Egyptian Foreign Minister on two-day visit to Paris, London
Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry met with his French counterpart Laurent Fabius in Paris on Monday as part of a European trip where he is visiting France and England. The two ministers discussed relations between their governments and the latest developments in Libya and Syria as well as the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. According to a statement released by the Foreign Ministry Spokesman, the French Foreign Minister described relations between the countries as “more than excellent” and expressed his satisfaction with the development of bilateral cooperation in recent months. Shoukry headed up an Egyptian delegation participating in an international ministerial conference in Paris, aiming to address vulnerable populations in Syria and Iraq. The conference was led by French president Francois Hollande, with Jordanian King Abdullah II and numerous foreign ministers attending. Shoukry flew Tuesday to London to hold bilateral talks with his British counterpart, Philip Hammond, and British Minister for the Middle East and North Africa, Tobias Ellwod, and the UK National Security advisor. [Ahram Online, 9/9/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Mahlab signs sixteen agreements in Tunisia, storms out of press conference | DNE, Aswat Masriya
  • The more Egypt does for itself, the more we can do for Egypt: EU Ambassador | DNE
  • Sawiris offered a Maldive island following refugee shelter pledge | Egypt Independent
  • Jordan bans entry of dissident Brotherhood leader | AMAY
  • Egypt’s foreign ministry launches another fiery shot at Europe on refugees | DNE
  • French Prime Minister to visit Egypt in October | Aswat Masriya
  • Sisi to meet with Italian, Kuwaiti officials | Cairo Post
  • Palestinian President arrives in Cairo Wednesday | Cairo Post