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PIRAEUS BANK BEGINS MONEYGRAM MONEY TRANSFER SERVICE IN EGYPT

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on January 1, 2009

01/01/2009 01:25:00

WAM/TF

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE TRIPOLI POST’

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PUBLISHED BY ‘THE TRIPOLI POST’

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Posted in BANKING SYSTEMS, CENTRAL BANKS, COMMERCE, COMMODITIES MARKET, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, EGYPT, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FINANCIAL MARKETS, FINANCIAL SERVICES INDUSTRIES, FOREIGN POLICIES, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION, INDUSTRIES, INTERNATIONAL, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, ISLAMIC BANKS, LYBIA, RECESSION, REGULATIONS AND BUSINESS TRANSPARENCY, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS | Leave a Comment »

EGYPT: SELLING A KIDNEY TO SURVIVE

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 19, 2008

16 Dec 2008

IRIN (humatarian and news analysis)

PUBLISHED BY ‘IRIN NEWS’

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PUBLISHED BY ‘IRIN NEWS’

Posted in COMMERCE, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, EGYPT, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, INTERNATIONAL, NATIONAL WORK FORCES, RECESSION | Leave a Comment »

VEGAS HITS PAYDIRT AT EGYPT’S NORTH WEST GEMSA CONCESSION (Egypt)

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 17, 2008

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Circle Oil Plc

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE RIGZONE’

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PUBLISHED BY ‘THE RIGZONE’

Posted in ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, EGYPT, ENERGY INDUSTRIES, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FINANCIAL MARKETS, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION, INDUSTRIES, INTERNATIONAL, PETROL, RECESSION, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS | Leave a Comment »

FOOD SAFETY ISSUES HINDER RICE EXPORTS – There are several problems facing the export of rice, one of the cash crops that local peasants prefer cultivating compared to cotton and wheat. Recently China has imposed a ban on imports of Egyptian rice

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 13, 2008

December 10, 2008

by Amina Abdul Salam

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE EGYPTIAN GAZETTE’

The reasons behind the ban are related to the use of herbicides, in addition to safety procedures that should be taken in the last stage of the harvest, but which were not made, according to Chinese authorities.

This has prompted Egyptian Minister of Agriculture Amin Abaza to ask the Central Administration of the Agriculture Quarantine to invite a formal Chinese delegation to discuss this issue with Chinese agencies.

A study, conducted by Egyptian agronomists Ali Abdul Rahman and Inas Saleh, has found that although international trade began to expand rapidly in the 1970s in the developed countries, developing countries have recently come to dominate a large part of the agricultural trade. Although fast growing, the international exchange trade has started to slow owing to fierce competition over agricultural production, according to the study. The slowdown is also related to an increase in restrictions representing in health conditions imposed by some countries, which aim at protecting their agricultural produce. Therefore, the health conditions have become legal obstacles, similar to the customs obstacles, many of which were unjustifiably imposed on global trade, the study noted. The study also showed that the previous restrictions were drawn up by some countries, not for the purpose of protecting their produce but in response to political activities practised by those who benefit from these curbs.

Therefore, recognition of the previous conditions led to a resistance of applying health specifications, which were one of the main topics of agenda of the trade negotiations, according to the same study. Otherwise, the exporting country has a right to object to health procedures drawn up by the importer in case the first part asserted the previous procedures had no scientific justification. The complainant should settle the issue with the other country. Rice accounts for around 40 per cent of Egypt’s farm exports.In a report on development and agricultural exports, leading Egyptian expert Abdul Salam Gomaa stressed the importance of paying more attention to organic agricultural products that depend on biological fertilizers so as to cope with market demands.

The report called for a gradual expansion of using organic fertilizers and the necessity of developing programmes of agrarian guidance and linking it with research as well as beginning transforming technology to old and new agricultural lands.Concerning new trends in using undated organic technology in the agricultural field, professor Magda Sabour at the Agricultural Research Centre believes that organic cultivation aims at preserving the environmental and biological safety of living creatures.

She notes that organic agriculture depending on biological methods can combat pests that destroy plants, in addition to producing healthy and safe food. On cereal storage, such as rice, a professor of entomology at the same centre in Giza, Shadia Abdul Aziz says that the peasant should protect his crop, following the harvest, not only to reduce waste, and it is his legal responsibility as well. As for destroying insects in cereals, she explains that the insects make the crop unfit for human consumption. “Therefore strict safety and protection measures should be followed at storehouses, taking into consideration the necessity of preventive steps against the occurrence of infection.”

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PUBLISHED BY ‘THE EGYPTIAN GAZETTE’

Posted in AGRICULTURE, CHINA, COMMERCIAL PROTECTIONISM, COMMODITIES MARKET, ECOLOGICAL AGRICULTURE, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, EGYPT, ENVIRONMENT, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FOOD PRODUCTION (human), FOREIGN POLICIES, INDUSTRIES, INTERNATIONAL, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, RECESSION, REGULATIONS AND BUSINESS TRANSPARENCY, RICE, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS | Leave a Comment »

U.S. ARMS SALES UNDERMINE HUMAN RIGHTS, GROUP SAYS

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 10, 2008

Dec. 10, 2008, 1:31PM

by Barry Schweid – Associated Press

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE HOUSTON CHRONICLE’ (USA)

WASHINGTON — The U.S. arms trade is booming — sales reached $32 billion last year — and more than half of the purchasers in the developing world are either undemocratic governments or regimes that engaged in human rights abuses, a private think tank reported today.

Timed to the 60th anniversary of the U.N.’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the report by the New America Foundation, a nonpartisan policy institute, named 13 of the top 25 arms purchasers in the developing world as either undemocratic or engaged in major human rights abuses.

The 13 listed in the report were Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Egypt, Colombia, Jordan, Bahrain, Oman, Morocco, Yemen and Tunisia.

Sales to these countries totaled more than $16.2 billion over 2006 and 2007.

The total “contrasts sharply with the Bush administration’s pro-democracy rhetoric,” the report said.

Also, the report said that 20 of the 27 nations engaged in major armed conflicts were receiving weapons and training from the United States.

“U.S. arms transfers are undermining human rights, weakening democracy and fueling conflict around the world,” the report said.

William D. Hartung, the lead author of the report, said, “The United States cannot demand respect for human rights and arm human rights abusers at the same time.”

U.S. arms sales grew to $32 billion in 2007, more than three times the level when President Bush took office in 2001, the report said.

The United States is the world’s largest arms supplier. U.S. exports range from combat aircraft to Pakistan, Morocco, Greece, Romania and Chile to small arms and light weapons to the Philippines, Egypt and Georgia.

In 2006 and 2007, the United States sold weapons to more than 174 states and territories.At the beginning of the Bush administration there were 123 arms clients, the report said.

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PUBLISHED BY ‘THE HOUSTON CHRONICLE’ (USA)

Posted in BAHRAIN, BANKING SYSTEMS, BARACK HUSSEIN OBAMA -(DEC. 2008/JAN. 2009), CENTRAL BANKS, CHILE, COLOMBIA, COMMERCE, COMMODITIES MARKET, DEFENCE TREATIES, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, ECONOMY - USA, EGYPT, FINANCIAL CRISIS - USA - 2008/2009, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FINANCIAL MARKETS, FOREIGN POLICIES, FOREIGN POLICIES - USA, FORMOSA - TAIWAN, GEORGIA, GREECE, HUMAN RIGHTS, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION - USA, INDUSTRIES, INDUSTRIES - USA, INTERNATIONAL, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, IRAQ, ISLAMIC BANKS, ISRAEL, JORDAN, KUWAIT, MILITARY CONTRACTS, MOROCCO, OMAN, PAKISTAN, PHILIPPINES, RECESSION, REGULATIONS AND BUSINESS TRANSPARENCY, ROMANIA, SAUDI ARABIA, THE ARMS INDUSTRY, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS, THE ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN STRUGGLE, THE LAST DAYS OF GEORGE WALKER BUSH - 2008/Jan. 2009, THE LEBANESE CIVIL STRUGGLE, THE OCCUPATION WAR IN IRAQ, THE UNITED NATIONS, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES, USA, WAR IN AFGHANISTAN, WARS AND ARMED CONFLICTS, YEMEN | Leave a Comment »

BEIRUT BOURSE TRACKS LOSSES ABROAD (Lebanon)

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 8, 2008

Monday, December 08, 2008

BlomInvest, with The Daily Star

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE DAILY STAR’ (Lebanon)

BEIRUT: With the deepening world recession, the Beirut Stock Exchange (BSE) continued to mimic the performance regional Arab stock exchanges that on average have fallen around 43 percent from the start of the year.

On a weekly basis, total volume of trades increased 48 percent to 1.29 million shares as investors rushed to liquidate their portfolios. But the corresponding value decreased 33 percent to $10.29 million on declining share prices that sank the BLOM Stock Index to a 52-week low of 1,183 with a year-to-date drop of 21 percent.

Of the 26 listed stocks on the Beirut Stock Exchange, 11 stocks exchanged hands this past week, of which 2 went up and 9 decreased. Solidere stocks represented 64.9 percent of the total value traded.

The banking sector accounted for the remaining 35.1 percent. In the banking sector, BLOM GDR dropped this week by 2.08 percent to $68.4 after trading 7,830 shares at $533,187. Audi Bank’s GDR stock went down by 3.65 percent to close at $54.1 following trades of 9,460 shares with a value of $518,676. Byblos Bank’s common stock increased slightly this week by 0.61 percent to $1.65 recording a volume of 566,400 shares valued at $939,953. On the other hand, its preferred stock class 2008 dropped by 2 percent to $97.9. Solidere stocks remained vulnerable this week as its A shares dipped 4.58 percent to close at $16.66, Solidere B also dropped 2.65 percent to $16.87.

As described last week, the overall situation on the Beirut Stock Exchange remains volatile and vulnerable to the ongoing financial crisis.

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PUBLISHED BY ‘THE DAILY STAR’ (Lebanon)

Posted in ALGERIA, BANKING SYSTEMS, CENTRAL BANKS, COMMERCE, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, EGYPT, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FINANCIAL MARKETS, INTERNATIONAL, ISLAMIC BANKS, LEBANON, LYBIA, MIDDLE EAST, MOROCCO, RECESSION, REGULATIONS AND BUSINESS TRANSPARENCY, STOCK MARKETS, THE ARABIAN PENINSULA, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS | Leave a Comment »

ARAB ECONOMIES TO GROW DESPITE SETBACKS

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 2, 2008

December 1, 2008 at 9:10 AM EST

OXFORD ANALYTICA – Exclusive – PUBLISHED BY ‘THE GLOBE AND MAIL’ (Canada)

SUBJECT: The impact of the world economic downturn on Arab economies.

SIGNIFICANCE: In contrast to the severity of the downturn in other parts of the world, the Arab world appears likely to experience relatively moderate losses. However, certain countries may be particularly vulnerable.

ANALYSIS: The IMF’s latest downward revisions of growth rate projections for 2009 place Arab countries in third place at 5.3 per cent after China and India at 8.5 per cent and 6.5 per cent respectively, although World Bank figures are somewhat less optimistic. Positive growth prospects reflect two key factors:

Macroeconomic fundamentals are positive, in particular the prospects for sustained investment growth, which will be driven by accumulated oil revenues and continuing oil incomes.

Regional capital markets, which have been hit by the crisis, are among the smallest and least significant in emerging markets.

Investment. Buoyant investment activity is now and will continue to be supported by oil income and wealth: The current account surplus of oil economies is expected to double to some $132-billion (U.S.) in 2008 against $77-billion in 2007.

Arab sovereign wealth funds possess at least $1.53-trillion in assets, with considerably more in reserves and accumulated private wealth.

Despite the slashing of oil revenues due to the present fall in oil prices, accumulated assets are likely to make up the difference from a regional standpoint – although particular countries may suffer.

Intra-Arab foreign direct investment has been rising steadily, from $8.8-billion between 1985-1995, to nearly $17-billion between 1995-2002, to $77-billion between 2002-07, with $14-billion in 2007 alone: FDI accounts for 12 per cent of regional capital formation compared to 7.8 per cent in developing countries as a whole.

GCC investors are now investing around 25 per cent of their oil wealth in the region compared to 15 per cent in 2003.

In oil, gas and energy, $520-billion worth of projects are planned for 2009-2013, down from a projected $650-billion before the crisis; even if only $400-billion worth are financed, $8-billion to $10-billion a month of investment will take place.

The crisis in Europe and the United States will strengthen the need for geographic diversification, and will confirm intra-Arab investments as a key category in Arab portfolios.

Investors will likely diversify away from real estate and tourism into other sectors such as food, transport, and medical diagnostics.

There have been official promises to maintain intra-Arab capital and investment flows, although the use of resources in domestic bailouts may limit the fulfilment of such commitments.

Market losses. The four largest markets – Dubai, Egypt, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia – have lost up to half of their value, mirroring heavy losses elsewhere. Another four markets – Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, Qatar, and Oman – registered relatively moderate losses of 20-40 per cent. All had fallen from historical highs in summer, 2008.

There are a number of channels of contagion from global financial markets:

Exits by non-Arab investors have most seriously affected the more open Arab stock markets, namely those of Egypt and the United Arab Emirates.

Exposure to the US prime and sub-prime markets has affected players in Kuwait, Qatar and the UAE.

A more significant channel is heightened fear and uncertainty about the unfolding global recession; the region’s markets, whose trends have been dominated by excitement and herd behaviour, joined the global panic.

Negative sentiment overwhelmed the effects of positive fundamentals, including the strong results of many listed corporations for the first half of 2008.

Mitigated impact. Yet there are good reasons to believe that the falls in Arab markets will be less enduring, and have less negative broader impact, than in markets elsewhere:

The fall in OECD financial markets is the most severe in decades; in contrast, wild swings in the region are common.

Arab stock markets are highly volatile, narrow and illiquid; only a small proportion of total capitalization is traded.

The dominance of financial institutions in market indices made their fall in the present crisis inevitable; financials constitute 56 per cent of the S&P’s Pan Arab index, compared to 16 per cent in the Latin America index and 36 per cent for Africa.

Remarkably, the four smallest markets – Beirut, Jordan, Morocco, and Tunis – retained gains, indicating that intra-Arab investments have constituted a successful portfolio diversification strategy.

Arab markets are still constructing operational and regulatory structures. Gaping holes remain in corporate governance rules and practices, and the culture of retail investors is still underdeveloped. In 2007-2008 a series of investigations targeted insider dealings and share manipulation. Fines were handed to listed firms, brokers, and investment companies in Jordan, Egypt, UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Oman. However, the relative unsophistication of markets and their lesser significance in the broader economies has shielded Arab countries from the worst effects of the financial crisis.

Slowdown. The downside risks are not to be underestimated in a deep and complex world crisis: Oil revenues will be dented by declining world demand, forcing oil-rich countries to engage in belt-tightening and possibly threatening FDI flows to other Arab countries.

The cost of finance, in terms of spreads, has already risen to all-time highs, and all types of capital raised are below 2007 levels.

Falls in exports will cause losses across the region; many once-booming industries such as petrochemicals and fertilizers are now faced with sliding markets.

Falls in tourism will hit players such as Morocco, Egypt, and Dubai; falls in remittances will hit North African countries.

Dubai’s fall is likely to be the sharpest, linked as it is to the bursting of an enormous real estate bubble; mortgage lending had quintupled in the last five years, and government debt is high at around $70-billion.

Egypt, which is poor and heavily indebted, is likely to be hit hard by declines in the stock market, oil and gas income, and Suez revenues; even a moderate downturn is likely to feed growing public discontent.

CONCLUSION: Losses on Arab stock markets have wiped out abnormally high returns, but not the prospects of solid positive returns. The region is finally drawing on what has long underpinned East Asian and European growth: domestic and intra-regional investment. Supported by ample reserves and SWF resources, this strength should help the region to weather a world recession. Growth prospects are therefore dented, but remain positive.

From the Oxford Analytica Daily Brief

Copyright 2008 – Oxford Analytica Ltd. All rights reserved.

Founded in 1975, Oxford Analytica’s 1,000+ analysts provide international organizations with monitoring, research and consultancy services that explore the strategic implications of policy, economic, financial, industry, trade and security developments around the world.

www.oxan.com

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PUBLISHED BY ‘THE GLOBE AND MAIL’ (Canada)

Posted in BANKING SYSTEMS, CENTRAL BANKS, CHINA, COMMERCE, COMMODITIES MARKET, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, ECONOMY - USA, EGYPT, ENERGY, EUROPE, FINANCIAL CRISIS - USA - 2008/2009, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FINANCIAL MARKETS, FOREIGN POLICIES, IMF, INDIA, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION, INDUSTRIES, INTERNATIONAL, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, ISLAMIC BANKS, ISLAMIC DEVELOPMENT BANK, LYBIA, MACROECONOMY, MOROCCO, NATURAL GAS, OPEC, PETROL, REGULATIONS AND BUSINESS TRANSPARENCY, STOCK MARKETS, THE ARABIAN PENINSULA, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS, THE LAST DAYS OF GEORGE WALKER BUSH - 2008/Jan. 2009, USA, WORLD BANK | Leave a Comment »

GHANEM: OPEC MAY MEET NOV 29 TO DISCUSS OIL MARKET

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on November 17, 2008

15/11/2008 – 14:44:00

The Chairman of National Oil Corp. (NOC) said Thursday that the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Organization of Petroleum Exporting CountriesCountries, or OPEC, indeed could hold a meeting in Cairo at the end of November.

“We may have a meeting in Cairo,” Shukri Ghanem said.

The meeting could take place on the sidelines of a meeting of the Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries, known as OAPEC, which is taking place in the Egyptian capital on Nov. 29, he said.

“Since we are about 10 or nine…who are members of OAPEC, who are also members of OPEC, that happen to be in Cairo, so why not consult also on the market situation?” he said.

After Ghanem’s statement oil prices rose earlier in the day after another OPEC source mentioned the likely emergency output meeting later this month.

Before that prices had slumped to a three-and-a-half-year low point close to $ 50 a barrel in London trading, owing to weaker energy demand caused by a global economic slowdown.

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PUBLISHED BY ‘THE TRIPOLI POST’ (Libya)

Posted in COMMERCE, COMMODITIES MARKET, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, EGYPT, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, OPEC, RECESSION | Leave a Comment »

RIGHTS GROUP ASKS WHY EGYPT’S POLICE ARE GUNNING DOWN MIGRANTS

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on November 15, 2008

Published: November 14, 2008

by Joseph Mayton (Middle East Times)

CAIRO – African migrants trying to sneak into Israel from Egypt along the lengthy Sinai border, often THE LUCKY ONES - Sudanese refugees walk to a garden in Jerusalem after illegally crossing the border from Egypt into Israel to seek shelter and safety. (UPI)with little more than the clothes on their backs, are being gunned down by Egyptian police carrying out a new “shoot-to-kill” deterrence policy, a human rights group says in a damning report that also claims Israel may be involved.

The Egyptian government has defended its use of force in the Sinai Peninsula as a critical part of a counter-terror strategy against smuggling.

But Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in its 90-page report titled, “Sinai Perils: Risks to Migrants, Refugees and Asylum Seekers in Egypt and Israel,” that the migrants who were killed on the 266-kilometer (130-mile) border posed no threat to the border guards who opened fire.

“The Egyptian government should send a clear message to stop shooting the defenseless, harmless and [non-threatening] people on the border,” HRW researcher Bill Van Esveld told journalists at Cairo’s Press Syndicate during the release of the report.

“[But] unfortunately, it does not seem that Egyptian officials here recognize the seriousness of the problem,” he said.

Israel has long told Cairo to do more to inhibit the movement of people across their border. But the rights organization was also critical of the Jewish state, saying that it should not immediately return to Egypt potential asylum-seekers where they could face deportation to nations with well-documented human rights violations.

“Despite the violations of refugee rights on the Egyptian side, Israel had returned many people back into the custody of the Egyptian border police,” Van Esveld said.

Some activists in Israel have started questioning their government’s policy of return, suggesting that as Jews themselves they should consider giving those who are seeking a reprieve from genocide the opportunity to remain.

“Both Egypt and Israel have responded to this cross-border flow with policies that violate fundamental rights,” said the report.

Many Africans in Cairo boast of friends who have succeeded in running the border gauntlet into Israel.

“I have a number of friends who told me of the joy they are having in Israel, where they work and have a life again,” said Somali refugee Ali, who did not want his surname to be published.

But that hope has been dashed for dozens of Africans who have been wounded and sometimes killed by bullets at the border.

One of the reasons Africans seek to go to Israel is to escape the poor conditions they are experiencing in Egypt. Ranging from unemployment, racism and lack of funds, the Africans are distraught and unable to find a niche where they are.

“Many Sudanese said that attitudes among ordinary Egyptians were racist and frequently spilled over into violence,” the report said.

“My choice was to stay in Cairo, go through Libya [to Europe] and maybe die at sea, or go to Israel and die by a bullet. I preferred to die by a bullet,” it quoted an asylum-seeker from Sudan’s Darfur region as saying.

Some 13,000 Africans have made it into the Jewish state since 2006, while 33 people have been killed since June 2007 and scores of others injured along the border, highlighting the ongoing struggle that rights groups have with Cairo and Israel.

Although the report does not go as far as to claim Israel demanded that Egypt begin the “shoot-to-kill” policy that is applied throughout the border area over the past year, HRW does allude to a meeting between Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in 2007.

At the meeting, the two leaders discussed new measures designed to deter refugees from seeking to enter Israel via Egypt.

“We are not saying that Israel ordered Egypt to kill people; there is no evidence of that,” explained Van Esveld, “but what we are saying is that it seems that Egypt has responded to Israeli pressures with this policy of lethal force.”

No matter what, the reality on the ground is that Africans continue to be gunned down by Egyptian border police, despite not posing a threat to the well-armed guards. The rights organization has called on both Israel and Egypt to investigate the deaths of Africans and they demand a change in policy that does not infringe upon the rights of migrants.

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PUBLISHED BY ‘MIDDLE EAST TIMES’ (Egypt)

Posted in AFRICA, EGYPT, HUMAN RIGHTS, INTERNATIONAL, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, ISRAEL, POLICE BRUTALITY, SUDAN, WARS AND ARMED CONFLICTS | Leave a Comment »

HELPING HUSSEIN – A Muslim campaigner reflects on the need to defend Barack Obama’s Christianity to American voters

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on November 15, 2008

October 2008

by Neal Hussein (*)

My name is Neal Hussein, and I have worked for Senator Barack Obama’s campaign for US President. I BARACK HUSSEIN OBAMA - IN CAMPAIGN - 2008have had the unique — and at times unsettling — opportunity of being a Muslim named Hussein trying to convince American voters that Barack Hussein Obama is a Christian with no Muslim sympathies.

Obama’s father was born Muslim but later renounced Islam. As the senator chronicled in his first memoir, Obama’s parents separated when he was two, and he was raised by his agnostic mother and his grandparents. Obama’s father was mostly absent from his life; nevertheless, Obama’s association with Islam has persisted because of his middle name, internet-based rumors and the several years he spent living in Indonesia as a child.

Twenty-four hour news stations exploded with the ‘breaking news’ last fall: “As a child, Barack Obama attended a madrasa!” After several days of talking heads discussing the story at length, a reporter finally sent back footage of the school in session. The students wore western uniforms in integrated classes. American late-night comedy shows had fun, showing the hysteria of the cable news channels, followed by The Daily Show host Jon Stewart whispering conspiratorially to viewers, “psst, somebody tell them madrasa means ‘school.’”

While the furor died down, the stigma remained in the electorate’s minds

One day, while canvassing door to door in New Hampshire, my partner and I were invited in by a likely Democratic voter. Upon learning our names, she was quite excited by the novelty of having a pair named Neal Hussein and Benjamin Jacobs come to her door. That was probably the one moment when the diversity I added to the campaign was an asset in talking to voters.

Every other time I introduced myself as simply Neal, and never mentioned my ethnic origins or religious affiliations. Doing so might negate all the benefits that my knowledge of foreign affairs brought to the campaign.

In the New York campaign office, a co-worker named Hani Khalil was talking with a potential voter who had called to check if Obama really was a Muslim. After several minutes of refuting it, Hani got off the phone and said to me, “what I really wanted to tell him was ‘I am a Muslim from Chicago and would probably know if he was one too.’”

Political campaign work requires us to grin and bear it, no matter what comes your way. For example, on Super Tuesday I did visibility work in downtown Manhattan when a woman approached me and asked, “what does Obama think about white people?”

I politely pointed out that Obama’s mother was white.

“His mother’s dead!” she snapped.

Still grinning, I pointed out that Obama had many white friends and worked closely with the other 99 members of the Senate, where he was the only black man.

Obama was asked about the rumors directly, and with a seemingly patient smile he responded with the facts: He is a Christian and was sworn into the Senate with his hand on the Bible, not the Qur’an.

As a Muslim listening to the debate, it was hard to not hear Obama ask, ‘Why would it matter if I was?’ I had to remind myself that he wore the same patient face when accused of being too black, then not black enough, or too diplomatic, or any of the other distractions he has had to push past to remain on message. While some are upset that by his campaign’s distance or seemingly mild reaction to these ‘smears,’ Obama still enjoys a large amount of support from Arab and Muslim communities. These groups have even been surprisingly patient with his ‘disappointing conventional’ statements on Israeli-Palestinian matters.

“Arab and Muslim Americans are almost whole hog (even though it’s haram) behind this campaign,” Khalil explains. “And many, including myself, still see this as a useful starting-off point for more organized efforts at civic engagement in our communities.”

Perhaps voters’ fears that Obama is Muslim stems not from actual suspicions, but instead is a convenient pretext for not voting for a black candidate, without having to admit to racism. While mistrusting someone for being black is unacceptable in most parts of the country, voting for religious reasons remains widely tolerated.

This problem cannot be seen in a vacuum. Many less educated, rural voters hear much of what they understand about politics through religious figures, and the idea of America as a Christian nation has been reinforced over decades and generations. The current administration has exacerbated the problem through continuous references to ‘Islamo fascism’ and ‘Islamic extremism.’ As Muslim Americans become a larger, more integrated part of American society (by recent estimates there are currently two to six million Muslim Americans) this mentality is likely to slowly morph or evaporate, but probably not by November 4.

Ironically, one of the campaign’s bigger public relations problems was not big enough to save us from the religion issue. Midway through the Democratic primary race, the fiery rhetoric of Jeremiah Wright, long-time minister at Obama’s church, became the rage on all the 24-hour cable news channels. Suddenly the candidate who was struggling to prove he was not too soft was having to prove he was not too extreme.

A co-worker who worked Muslim outreach in several states during the primary lamented the fact that Obama’s participation in Wright’s church for 20 years might become a big enough issue to cost him the primary election, but would never be large enough to wipe away rumors of him being a Muslim. A Pew Research Center study shows 13 percent of registered voters currently believe he is a Muslim, up from 10 percent in March.

That Obama’s religion is still a central issue in the campaign seems to indicate that the senator has done well selling his economic plans and dealt with many of the questions surrounding his foreign policy experience — issues of actual substance. Perhaps voters have not been fooled by the persistent rumors. Because of this and because we believe our own message of hope, we will keep smiling until November 4. Until then though, I don’t think we will exhale. et

(*) – Neal Hussein is an Arab American who worked for the Obama campaign in three states during the primaries. He currently works as a risk analyst in Cairo and is an organizer with Democrats Abroad.

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PUBLISHED BY ‘EGYPT TODAY’

Posted in EGYPT, ELECTIONS 2008 - USA, HATE MONGERING AND BIGOTRY, HUMAN RIGHTS, INTERNATIONAL, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, USA | 1 Comment »

SMOKE SCREEN – Economist Nader Fergany has a bone to pick with those who see a rosy fiscal future – There is no development in a country like Egypt. The attempt to use the claim of development and reform is an attempt to cover up an ugly reality,” says Dr. Nader Fergany, a top regional expert on development and all that is attendant to it.

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on November 15, 2008

October 2008

by Manal el-Jesri

Fergany, a professor who has taught at Cairo University, the American University in Cairo and the Professor Nader FerganyUniversity of North Carolina, was also the lead editor of the UNDP’s first four Arab Human Development Reports between 2002 and 2005. He has since excused himself from continuing the journey.

“I stopped for many reasons,” he explains. “It was time for a change. I think with the completion of the first four reports, a complete intellectual project for development in the Arab world had been formulated. It was a point at which change was due. There were also changes in the leadership at the UNDP and in the Arab bureau of the UNDP that would not allow the same level of courage and critical assessment that we enjoyed in the first four reports.”

Today, these four reports are considered an important reference for anyone interested in studying human development in the Arab world. On the eve of the economic turmoil that rocked global and regional markets last month — turmoil that will certainly curb even the most optimistic forecasts for growth in Egypt — Egypt Today spoke with Fergany about development, growth and the future of the economy. Needless to say, his views diverge rather sharply from those of other economists and the government alike. Edited excerpts:

I think the major contribution of the four reports is that we managed to break new ground in issues that were rarely discussed. Perhaps the most important of these is that we introduced the concept of freedom and good governance as a major element of human development. We also elevated the importance of knowledge acquisition and the empowerment of women, but I think introducing the concept of freedom in a very comprehensive manner and good governance as a requirement for the enjoyment of freedom was the major contribution of these four reports.

Manal el-Jesri – But do all governments adopt the same definition of ‘development?’ In Egypt, we find that the word ‘development’ has become a catchword that is inserted into any headline to lend it importance.

Nader Fergany – It is even worse than this. I think it is an act of deliberate deception because no matter how you define development — especially if you define it as we did in the Arab report, to link it to freedom for the country and all its citizens — then there is no development in a country like Egypt.

Manal el-Jesri – Yet the term is used repeatedly. It is even used in conjunction with another favorite word, ‘growth.’ In Arabic, the two words (tanmiya [development], nomow [growth]) sound very similar to the layman.

Nader Fergany – This is another aspect of deception. First of all, the figure of seven percent [the growth rate of Egypt’s gross domestic product in 2007] is not that high. There have been much higher levels of growth in India and China, for example. Secondly, this figure comes after a period of very low and sometimes negative growth for almost 20 years. And thirdly, seven percent for two or three years is not a major achievement.

However, the most important issue [] is that using GDP growth [as a standard] has a major flaw because it ignores the distribution of income. In Egypt, the case is seemingly that whatever growth takes place goes into the pockets and the bank accounts of a very small clique, while the vast majority of the people continue to face economic misery through unemployment and poverty.

The major contribution of the Arab human development report is defining development as inseparable from the total respect of freedom, especially the key freedoms of opinion, expression and association. Egypt is a very clear case where you might have growth that is on the one hand badly distributed, and on the other hand is coupled with a very severe restriction of freedoms.

Nader Fergany – You also believe there is another aspect of cheating regarding the process of computing the seven percent growth rate.

Nader Fergany – In computing the seven percent, the government puts in the revenues of privatization. This is not really growth, which means an increase in the production of goods and services, additional job creation and hopefully a rise in the standards of living. This aspect of the revenues of privatization is nothing but a transfer of ownership from public hands to private hands — it does not result in a contribution to the production of goods and services in the society. Actually, in many cases, privatization has resulted in the destruction of job opportunities and in mass unemployment.

Manal el-Jesri – If the people are being deceived, are they aware of this?

Nader Fergany – They are becoming increasingly aware because all these bogus claims of growth and reform and so on are not translated into effective, good job opportunities and a rise in the standard of living for the people. The contradiction is so stark that people are coming to realize that they are being taken for a ride.

Manal el-Jesri – You graduated from university in 1963. How has the opposition’s situation today changed from what it was back in the 1960s?

Nader Fergany – On the internal front, in the 1960s of course there was oppression, but at the same time there was a rising national project and there was a sense of dignity deriving from the presence of a national project for development. You may have your views about this, but there were facts on the ground, in terms of an industrialization process and a very clear rise in national income. There was essentially no unemployment, despite the problems with the unemployment schemes that were adopted. You did not see people languishing in the streets for lack of jobs as we have today.

On the whole, there was a lower level of economic misery. At the time, Egypt played a prominent role in the so-called liberation movement, which by definition meant a rather tense relationship with the West, especially the dominant powers and especially the American administration.

Now we are in a totally different situation. Internally, we have a failed development process that is being covered up by an act of deliberate deception. They think that slogans and multi-colored posters can change a very ugly reality, which is not true.

Manal el-Jesri – You believe that all regimes who have depended on a foreign power for their own empowerment have been eventually let down.

Nader Fergany – This is the rather sinister tragedy of the authoritarian governance regimes that bank on the support of the United States and Israel when their time comes, and their time will come. My prime example is the Shah of Iran, who was the most important agent for the American enterprise in this part of the world. He was extremely rich and was the most despotic in terms of oppressing his people, but nevertheless he fell and when he did he could not even find a place to live or to be buried in.

[History is alive with similar examples,] but the leaders do not read. And if they read they do not understand. Of course, it is a case of halawet el-rouh (last throes of death). Have you ever seen a chicken being slaughtered? After the head is separated, it keeps fluttering, obsessed with excess vitality.

Manal el-Jesri – One outstanding difference between the 1960s and today could be the fact that in the 1960s, these elites were a force for change, and hence were feared by the regime. Where are these elites now?

Nader Fergany – Of course, there are very prominent cases of wonderful members of the elite, but the elite at large has betrayed its historical mission to act as the conscience of the people.

Manal el-Jesri – Despite the so-called betrayal of the elite, a group of leftist groups, together with Al-Tagammua’ party, tried to form a coalition a couple of years ago, in an attempt to be an active force for change.

Nader Fergany – I think nothing of value will come from the so-called political parties in this country. They are either useless or are in the pockets of the regime. That is why the real political vitality of the country is coming from outside the parties. It is coming from the extensive protest movements that essentially show the newly acquired vitality of the Egyptian people.

I am not talking about Kifaya, but about the so-called social protest movements, which I do not think are solely social. I think they are political at heart. Even if they concentrate at present on union demands like salaries and benefits, they have a political vision behind that. Movements like Doctors Without Rights, or workers and so on. They have been expanding, mushrooming at a very fast rate and becoming much more effective than they used to be. I think they are the most important source of political vitality in Egypt now.

It is actually taking the political parties by surprise. They are forging a new conscience for the Egyptian people, and in Egyptian politics that is working for freedom and justice, in my opinion. We are not yet there, but we have some very clear examples in Latin America in the last 20 years, where there was a great rise of so-called social protest movements that over time transformed into major political change, essentially leaning towards higher levels of social justice and freedom for the people.

I think we are at the beginning of such a process in Egypt and in other Arab countries. In some Arab countries, the process is even taking a violent turn, as in Algeria, Morocco, and also in Yemen and Saudi Arabia, but even in some smaller Gulf states.

Manal el-Jesri – Are these social movements a sign that the middle class is rising up again to assume its historical role as a force for change?

Nader Fergany – It is not mostly middle class — it is extending throughout society. Actually in many of these protest movements you see a cross-section ranging from the upper sections of the middle class down to the poor. It is cutting across class, and this is a major change and innovation. This traditional dream of the middle class leading change is not valid here.

I think what we will see is active segments of all classes banding together in protest movements, leading to political change in the future. Take the example of Doctors Without Rights: When you think of medical doctors, you think of the upper middle class. This is not true anymore [] Many doctors have been reduced to poverty in this country so they are not middle class anymore.

Manal el-Jesri – If the protest movement is cutting across class boundaries, where will the leadership come from?

Nader Fergany – The standard worry in traditional political circles is that the protest movements will not have a leadership or a unified vision, and I think this is very unfair and inappropriate. You cannot try to impose a traditional type of a hierarchy on protest movements. People are preoccupied with a traditional pattern that, in my opinion, no longer works. This is part of the weakness and tragedy of political parties in this country.

I think we are at a stage in human development where you have to accept that the new forms of organization that will be effective in political change are not the hierarchical forms of organization. We need to be open-minded and accept forms of organization based on network. They will not necessarily be chaotic in a destructive sense, but susceptible to horizontal linkage rather than the traditional vertical hierarchy of leadership. We are already witnessing the beginnings of such protest movements, especially among young people who are reaching out to each other in this kind of horizontal linkage, which is being facilitated by modern technologies such as the internet and mobile phones.

Manal el-Jesri – So you think it will be impossible for any regime to put a muzzle on this process, simply because the modern technologies available are impossible to control.

Nader Fergany – They are trying to disturb it, but try as they may they will not succeed. This is the beauty of expansive protest movements. You cannot round them all and lock them up: You end up having to lock up every Egyptian worker.

Manal el-Jesri – Apart from the technology, what do you see as unique about these protest movements?

Nader Fergany – For the first time, you see women and children playing a very integral role in protest movements. Follow the sit-ins and sleep-ins of many strike movements, and you will see children among them. And the women are there not merely as part of families — they are often leaders. This is especially true in situations where the vast majority of the workforce is made up of women, such as in textile factories or the real-estate tax department.

This is a movement that extends beyond the traditional confines of political thought. It is a movement that extends to every nook and cranny of Egyptian society, because every nook and cranny of Egyptian society is being negatively affected by the poisonous combination of impoverishment and oppression.

Manal el-Jesri – And the lessons learned?

Nader Fergany – Protest does work. Most of the protest movements have attained their declared objective. You must have seen the arrogant initial responses of the government regime being overtaken by the protest. The most important thing is the demonstration effect — it tempts others to wage protest movements. This has been very effective in the Egyptian case.

Manal el-Jesri – But we continue to hear pessimists warning against the infiltration of Islamist forces, which are strong enough, they claim, to take over.

Nader Fergany – Political parties are in the throes of death, so do not worry about them. The protest movement has not fallen prey to any political party, including the Muslim Brotherhood. Through direct contact I can vouch that the leaders of the protest movements are extremely solid social visionaries. They are leaders of the first order, in my opinion.

et

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PUBLISHED BY ‘EGYPT TODAY’

Posted in EGYPT, HISTORY, HUMAN RIGHTS, INTERNATIONAL, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, RELIGIOUS FANATICISM | Leave a Comment »

MELROSE TOUTS ACTIVE DRILLING PROGRAM IN EGYPT, BULGARIA & US

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on November 15, 2008

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Melrose Resources plc

MELROSE RESOURCES

Melrose Resources has issued its Interim Management Statement to cover the period July 1, 2008 to September 30, 2008 (“the Third Quarter”) and up to date. This information is provisional and unaudited and may be subject to further review.

Exploration

In October Melrose announced the success of the Kavarna No.1 exploration well, which was drilled approximately 7 km to the east of the Melrose-operated Galata gas field, offshore Bulgaria. The well

was drilled to total depth of 2,899 feet and encountered the top of the Paleocene reservoir target at a depth of 2,628 feet. The mud log obtained while drilling established that the reservoir formation was well developed and gas-bearing and the initial reserves estimate for the discovery is 24 Bcf.

The new discovery is located between the Galata field and the Kaliakra discovery which was announced earlier this year and which is estimated to contain reserves of up to 47 Bcf. Three future prospects exist on the same geologic trend and are candidates for drilling in 2009 and 2010.

Prior to completing the well, a strong gas influx occurred in the Kavarna No.1 well and for safety reasons it was necessary to plug the well which will now be redrilled. Subsequently an appraisal well will be drilled on the Kaliakra discovery to test for the significant reserves upside in the structure. First production is expected from the two discoveries in the second half of 2009 and 2010, respectively.

Development

Melrose is continuing with its active development program in Egypt. The West Dikirnis Phase II development project is progressing well with all initial design work complete and all major procurement contracts placed. The project is on schedule for the delivery of first LPG and gas reinjection in mid 2009. Also in Egypt, production was re-instigated from the Qantara field in October and the development projects at East Abu Khadra, North East Abu Zahra, South Zarqa and Damas are ongoing with planned first production on dates between December 2008 and September 2009.

In the USA, Melrose has continued with the development project on its fields in the Permian Basin in West Texas and New Mexico. A total of 42 new wells have been drilled to date and injection of water as part of the secondary recovery project in the Jalmat field has commenced.

In Bulgaria, the project to convert the Galata gas field to a gas storage facility is moving forward and discussions are continuing with the Bulgarian authorities to define commercial terms. First injection in the facility is expected in mid 2009.

Production and Product Prices

Melrose’s net entitlement production in the Third Quarter totalled 6.0 Bcf of gas and 357 Mbbls of oil and condensate, representing an increase of 6% compared with the same period in 2007. Average daily net entitlement production in the quarter was 14.8 Mboepd (88.9 MMcfepd). On a working interest basis average daily production in the quarter was 34.6 Mboepd.

Financial Position

Total capital expenditure in the Third Quarter amounted to $55.4 million, of which $41.7 million was spent on development and $13.7 million on exploration activities. In the period January 1, 2008 to September 30,2008 capital expenditure amounted to $147.4 million, of which $94.4 million was spent on development and $53.0 million on exploration activities.

Melrose remains in a well funded and sound financial position and there have been no major changes in its balance sheet since the publication of the 2008 Interim Results. Group net debt at 30 September was $407.0 million. Increased bank facilities were put in place in June 2008 with the IFC and a syndicate of eight commercial banks. The senior facility has a facility amount of $440 million and the subordinated facility has a facility amount of $70 million. Both facilities remain fixed until 2012 and then amortize with final repayment due in December 2014. Availability under the borrowing base calculation for the senior facility currently exceeds the facility size and Melrose would be in a position to consider increasing the size of the senior facility in the future if required.

The existing loan facilities, coupled with good levels of cash generation from the business, will ensure that the Company is able to finance its planned investment programme going forward. The fall in the oil price has resulted in a decrease in revenue in the Third Quarter compared with the second quarter of the year. Melrose benefits from a number of advantages in the current lower oil price environment. Firstly, approximately 74% of Melrose’s net production in the Third Quarter was gas which was sold at fixed contracted prices. Secondly, under the terms of Melrose’s production sharing concessions in Egypt Melrose has a higher entitlement to production at lower oil prices. Thirdly, and most importantly, Melrose is the operator of its major properties. This gives Melrose the ability to determine the amount and timing of its capital expenditures in the light of available resources.

During the Third Quarter, the Company announced a maiden interim dividend to shareholders of 1.2 pence per share which was paid on October 17, 2008.

Outlook

In Bulgaria, pending receipt of the final approval from the Bulgarian authorities for the conversion of the Galata gas field as a gas storage facility, the Company has reduced the Galata production rate to around 11 MMcfpd and expects to cease production from the field at the end of this year to ensure sufficient gas is left in the reservoir to implement the project.

Because of this and some minor operational delays in Egypt, the Company previously announced last month that it believes it is prudent to reduce its 2008 net entitlement production guidance from 19.2 Mboepd to 18.3 Mboepd. The revised 2008 production guidance equates to 36.3 Mboepd on a working interest basis.

The result of the exploration programme in Bulgaria and reserve additions in the USA put Melrose on track for a strong performance in reserves replacement in 2008. The development projects which comprise the majority of Melrose’s capital expenditures are on schedule which is positive for production expectations in 2009 and beyond.

In the coming few months Melrose has an active drilling program. In Egypt the North Dikirnis No.1 exploration well is currently drilling and an exploration well at East Dikirnis (also known as North Tariff) is planned before year-end. In Bulgaria the re-drill of the Kavarna No.1 will be followed by an appraisal well on the Kaliakra structure. In East Texas, the Nunan No.1 well, which has multiple pay targets, is expected to spud later this month and will be followed by the Ramsey No.1 well which is twinning a well drilled by the previous operator and which discovered the target formation.

Commenting on this report, David Thomas, Chief Executive, said, “Melrose continues to make good progress in all three of our principal areas of operation. In the current environment we are seeing the benefit of our solid production base and of the established development upside in our properties. Drilling success has again demonstrated our ability to add value for the Company through exploration and with our current resources and asset portfolio we are well positioned to provide value growth for our shareholders.”

CLICK HERE FOR THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE

PUBLISHED BY ‘RIGZONE’

Posted in ALGERIA, BULGARIA, COMMODITIES MARKET, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, EGYPT, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FRANCE, FUELS, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION, INDUSTRIES, INTERNATIONAL, PETROL, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS, THE WORKERS, USA | Leave a Comment »

MELROSE TOUTS ACTIVE DRILLING PROGRAM IN EGYPT, BULGARIA & US

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on November 15, 2008

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Melrose Resources plc

MELROSE RESOURCES

Melrose Resources has issued its Interim Management Statement to cover the period July 1, 2008 to September 30, 2008 (“the Third Quarter”) and up to date. This information is provisional and unaudited and may be subject to further review.

Exploration

In October Melrose announced the success of the Kavarna No.1 exploration well, which was drilled approximately 7 km to the east of the Melrose-operated Galata gas field, offshore Bulgaria. The well

was drilled to total depth of 2,899 feet and encountered the top of the Paleocene reservoir target at a depth of 2,628 feet. The mud log obtained while drilling established that the reservoir formation was well developed and gas-bearing and the initial reserves estimate for the discovery is 24 Bcf.

The new discovery is located between the Galata field and the Kaliakra discovery which was announced earlier this year and which is estimated to contain reserves of up to 47 Bcf. Three future prospects exist on the same geologic trend and are candidates for drilling in 2009 and 2010.

Prior to completing the well, a strong gas influx occurred in the Kavarna No.1 well and for safety reasons it was necessary to plug the well which will now be redrilled. Subsequently an appraisal well will be drilled on the Kaliakra discovery to test for the significant reserves upside in the structure. First production is expected from the two discoveries in the second half of 2009 and 2010, respectively.

Development

Melrose is continuing with its active development program in Egypt. The West Dikirnis Phase II development project is progressing well with all initial design work complete and all major procurement contracts placed. The project is on schedule for the delivery of first LPG and gas reinjection in mid 2009. Also in Egypt, production was re-instigated from the Qantara field in October and the development projects at East Abu Khadra, North East Abu Zahra, South Zarqa and Damas are ongoing with planned first production on dates between December 2008 and September 2009.

In the USA, Melrose has continued with the development project on its fields in the Permian Basin in West Texas and New Mexico. A total of 42 new wells have been drilled to date and injection of water as part of the secondary recovery project in the Jalmat field has commenced.

In Bulgaria, the project to convert the Galata gas field to a gas storage facility is moving forward and discussions are continuing with the Bulgarian authorities to define commercial terms. First injection in the facility is expected in mid 2009.

Production and Product Prices

Melrose’s net entitlement production in the Third Quarter totalled 6.0 Bcf of gas and 357 Mbbls of oil and condensate, representing an increase of 6% compared with the same period in 2007. Average daily net entitlement production in the quarter was 14.8 Mboepd (88.9 MMcfepd). On a working interest basis average daily production in the quarter was 34.6 Mboepd.

Financial Position

Total capital expenditure in the Third Quarter amounted to $55.4 million, of which $41.7 million was spent on development and $13.7 million on exploration activities. In the period January 1, 2008 to September 30,2008 capital expenditure amounted to $147.4 million, of which $94.4 million was spent on development and $53.0 million on exploration activities.

Melrose remains in a well funded and sound financial position and there have been no major changes in its balance sheet since the publication of the 2008 Interim Results. Group net debt at 30 September was $407.0 million. Increased bank facilities were put in place in June 2008 with the IFC and a syndicate of eight commercial banks. The senior facility has a facility amount of $440 million and the subordinated facility has a facility amount of $70 million. Both facilities remain fixed until 2012 and then amortize with final repayment due in December 2014. Availability under the borrowing base calculation for the senior facility currently exceeds the facility size and Melrose would be in a position to consider increasing the size of the senior facility in the future if required.

The existing loan facilities, coupled with good levels of cash generation from the business, will ensure that the Company is able to finance its planned investment programme going forward. The fall in the oil price has resulted in a decrease in revenue in the Third Quarter compared with the second quarter of the year. Melrose benefits from a number of advantages in the current lower oil price environment. Firstly, approximately 74% of Melrose’s net production in the Third Quarter was gas which was sold at fixed contracted prices. Secondly, under the terms of Melrose’s production sharing concessions in Egypt Melrose has a higher entitlement to production at lower oil prices. Thirdly, and most importantly, Melrose is the operator of its major properties. This gives Melrose the ability to determine the amount and timing of its capital expenditures in the light of available resources.

During the Third Quarter, the Company announced a maiden interim dividend to shareholders of 1.2 pence per share which was paid on October 17, 2008.

Outlook

In Bulgaria, pending receipt of the final approval from the Bulgarian authorities for the conversion of the Galata gas field as a gas storage facility, the Company has reduced the Galata production rate to around 11 MMcfpd and expects to cease production from the field at the end of this year to ensure sufficient gas is left in the reservoir to implement the project.

Because of this and some minor operational delays in Egypt, the Company previously announced last month that it believes it is prudent to reduce its 2008 net entitlement production guidance from 19.2 Mboepd to 18.3 Mboepd. The revised 2008 production guidance equates to 36.3 Mboepd on a working interest basis.

The result of the exploration programme in Bulgaria and reserve additions in the USA put Melrose on track for a strong performance in reserves replacement in 2008. The development projects which comprise the majority of Melrose’s capital expenditures are on schedule which is positive for production expectations in 2009 and beyond.

In the coming few months Melrose has an active drilling program. In Egypt the North Dikirnis No.1 exploration well is currently drilling and an exploration well at East Dikirnis (also known as North Tariff) is planned before year-end. In Bulgaria the re-drill of the Kavarna No.1 will be followed by an appraisal well on the Kaliakra structure. In East Texas, the Nunan No.1 well, which has multiple pay targets, is expected to spud later this month and will be followed by the Ramsey No.1 well which is twinning a well drilled by the previous operator and which discovered the target formation.

Commenting on this report, David Thomas, Chief Executive, said, “Melrose continues to make good progress in all three of our principal areas of operation. In the current environment we are seeing the benefit of our solid production base and of the established development upside in our properties. Drilling success has again demonstrated our ability to add value for the Company through exploration and with our current resources and asset portfolio we are well positioned to provide value growth for our shareholders.”

CLICK HERE FOR THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE

PUBLISHED BY ‘RIGZONE’

Posted in ALGERIA, BULGARIA, COMMODITIES MARKET, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, EGYPT, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FRANCE, FUELS, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION, INDUSTRIES, INTERNATIONAL, PETROL, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS, THE WORKERS, USA | Leave a Comment »

PUTIN SAYS RUSSIA IS NOT SEEKING TO FORM GAS CARTEL IN COORDINATING WITH OTHER EXPORTERS

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on November 12, 2008

Last update: November 11, 2008 – 4:07 PM

Associated Press

MOSCOW – Russian President Vladimir Putin sought to ease fears about his planned talks with other VLADIMIR PUTINnatural gas exporters, saying Tuesday that Russia was not forming a gas cartel.

Putin plans Wednesday to hold cooperation talks with Iran and Qatar, which together with Russia account for nearly a third of world natural gas exports.

“We know about the concerns and even fears expressed by some energy consumer countries,” Putin said after a meeting with Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif. “There are absolutely no grounds for such fears. We are not establishing a cartel, we are not striking any cartel deals.”

Russia, Iran and Qatar agreed last month to coordinate their actions more closely, raising concerns that Moscow could expand its influence over energy markets. The European Commission said the European Union would have to rethink its energy policy if the three form an OPEC-style natural gas cartel.

Nazif also met with the chairman of Russia’s state-controlled gas monopoly OAO Gazprom, Alexei Miller, and they agreed that both nations favor the creation of a permanent structure bringing together gas exporters, the company said.

Putin insisted that the goal of closer cooperation was to provide stable supplies.

“Energy producers, as well as consumers, have the right to — and in my view must — coordinate their decisions, exchange information and do their best to ensure uninterrupted hydrocarbon supplies on global markets,” he said.

Putin said Monday that Russia — the world’s second-largest oil exporter but not an OPEC member — should assume a greater role in influencing oil prices.

CLICK HERE FOR THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE STAR TRIBUNE’ (USA)

Posted in COMMERCE, COMMODITIES MARKET, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, EGYPT, ENERGY, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION, INDUSTRIES, INTERNATIONAL, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, IRAN, NATURAL GAS, QATAR, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS | Leave a Comment »