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FIRST GAS DISCOVERY IN MOROCCO

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 13, 2008

11-10-2008

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE NORTH AFRICA JOURNAL’ (Boston, MA, USA)

UK-based independent hydrocarbons exploration firm Circle Oil Plc confirms that it has found natural Britain’s Isle of Grain Liquefied Natural Gas terminal has received its first gas shipment after a substantial upgrade programme designed to increase handling capacity to 8.6 Bcm per year - 26-11-2008gas in the north-east of the Moroccan capital Rabat. The finding is important in that Morocco has long been hoping to find hydrocarbons and past discoveries turned into failed ventures and bad PR disasters.

This time, the news is more solid. Circle says the gas was found on well ONZ6 in the Ouled N’Zala Permit. The Company confirms a discovery in the Upper Ouled Formation with the well testing gas at a sustained rate of 3.32 MMscfd. The well has been completed as a potential producer and the drilling rig has now moved to the Sebou permit to start drilling the second location of the six well drilling program planned for the two permits.

A full technical evaluation of all the results is underway which will allow for forward planning as a precursor to further assessment of the resource including conducting an extended well test. A full assessment of reserves has not yet been completed.

The Ouled N’Zala Permit lies north-east of Rabat in the Rharb Basin, Morocco. The Rharb Basin is a foredeep Basin located in the external zone of the Rif Folded belt. The concession agreement includes the right of conversion to a production license of 30 years, plus extensions, in the event of commercial discoveries. Circle holds a 75% interest in the Sebou permit.

The work in Morocco is being undertaken by Circle Oil Maroc Ltd (COML), a wholly owned subsidiary of Circle Oil plc, which was signed an Exploration and Exploitation Agreement with ONHYM (Office National des Hydrocarbures et des Mines) for the Sebou Concession (296 km2), situated in the Rharb Basin, Morocco. The Exploration Agreement is for a total period of 8 years with the right of automatic conversion to a minimum (but extendable) 25 year Exploitation period.

The Sebou Permit has previously been owned, explored and exploited by ONHYM. In the partnership the shareholding is COML 75% and ONHYM 25%. The Rharb Basin is highly prospective and has a historic natural gas production of almost one billion MM3. 2D seismic and well calibration is available and ONHYM have extensive knowledge of the area. Small scale Gas production within the Rharb is presently from four wells.

The permit has considerable potential for the exploration and development of more natural gas and exploitation would be by a series of low cost wells/producers each producing from 20-80MM3 of gas. The produced gas will be sold to local industry at locally agreed commercial rates. If successful, the development will allow COML to achieve production in a relatively short time scale and provide a long term continuing earnings contribution to COML.

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PUBLISHED BY ‘THE NORTH AFRICA JOURNAL’ (Boston, MA, USA)

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Posted in COMMERCE, COMMODITIES MARKET, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, ENERGY, ENERGY INDUSTRIES, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FINANCIAL MARKETS, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION, INDUSTRIES, INTERNATIONAL, MOROCCO, NATURAL GAS, RECESSION, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS, UNITED KINGDOM | 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

CLICK HERE FOR THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE

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 »

MOROCCO SET FOR TALKS ON PROTECTING BLUEFIN TUNA – AND FISHERY BUSINESS

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on November 17, 2008

Monday, November 17, 2008

by Marlowe Hood – Agence France Presse (AFP)

PARIS: The survival of the Atlantic and Mediterranean bluefin tuna population, exploited to the brink of THE BLUEFIN TUNA collapse, could depend on international negotiations starting Monday in Marrakesh, Morocco. The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) will try to hammer out a new plan that protects the over-fished species without threatening the multi-million dollar industry that has been built around it.

Measures on the table range from tighter quotas and enforcement to an outright moratorium.

The stakes are high not just for bluefin and large-scale fisheries in a dozen countries but for ICCAT itself, according to the organization’s chairman.

“Our fate will be sealed ultimately by the decisions we make in Marrakesh,” Fabio Hazin wrote in a letter to the commission’s 40-odd member states two weeks ahead of the special meeting.

“Let’s not fool ourselves: There will be no future for ICCAT if we do not fully respect and abide by the scientific advice,” he warned.

Driven by skyrocketing prices – especially in Japan, which consumes over 80 percent of tuna caught in the Mediterranean Sea – bluefin tuna populations have crashed over the last decade.

Quotas put in place to stem the decline are not nearly stringent enough, according to many experts.

Others say current fishing limits would be adequate if they were respected: Last year the total catch in the Mediterranean was 61,000 tons, over twice the authorized limit of 29,500 tons, according to ICCAT statistics.

The body’s own scientific committee has recommended an annual limit of 15,000 tons.

At the end of October, European ministers said they were in favor of “more rigorous management of this fragile species,” including the possibility of lower quotas and a shorter fishing season, but stopped short of calling for a moratorium.

Six European nations have a direct stake in the negotiations: France, Spain, Italy, Greece, Malta and Cyprus.

But industry groups have remained adamant that current quotas should not be cut.

A summary report on tuna fishing by the Community Fisheries Control Agency, a European body set up in 2005 to monitor compliance with European Union fisheries rules, documented dozens of breaches in 2008.

The 10-page review, provided last week to the European Parliament’s fisheries committee, concluded: “It has not been a priority of most operators in the fishery to comply with the ICCAT legal requirements.”

The complete report – which cost 20 million euros ($25.197 million) – has yet to be released.

Environmental groups have sharply criticized European authorities for not making the report’s preliminary findings available to ICCAT’s scientific committee well ahead of the Marrakesh meeting, which runs until November 24.

“Shockingly, this valuable information has been kept hidden from scientists, thus undermining the quality of fisheries management advice,” said Sergi Tudela, head of fisheries for World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Mediterranean.

The WWF and other environmental groups have called for an a moratorium of bluefin fishing until stocks recover.

CLICK HERE FOR THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE DAILY STAR’ (Lebanon)

Posted in COMMERCE, COMMODITIES MARKET, ECONOMY, ENVIRONMENT, FISHERIES, INDUSTRIES, INTERNATIONAL, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, MEAT, MOROCCO | 1 Comment »

AFRICAN MIGRANTS STORM BORDER OF SPANISH CITY – Police use tear gas to keep them from crossing into Melilla from Morrocco

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on November 11, 2008

Updated 11:32 a.m. ET Nov. 10, 2008

Associated Press

MADRID, Spain – African migrants armed with sticks and rocks stormed the border of a Spanish enclave in North Africa on Monday but police using tear gas repelled them, the Spanish Interior Ministry said.

Border guards repelled two waves totaling about 200 Africans in the fifth and largest such attempt to reach the Spanish city of Melilla from Morocco in less than a month, said Gregorio Escobar, the ministry’s top representative in Melilla.

No migrant managed to cross into the Mediterranean city of some 70,000 people.

Moroccan authorities detained most of the 150 Africans who tried to rush a border crossing in a first attempt. Less than an hour later, a group of about 60 turned violent as they tried to force their way across and Spanish authorities used riot gear and tear gas to keep them out, Escobar said.

Police officers suffer minor injuries

Two Spanish police were slightly injured and six other officers were treated after inhaling tear gas, he said.

Thousands of African migrants seeking a better life in Europe try to enter Spain each year. Most try to reach the Canary Islands by boat and others try enter Melilla or Ceuta, another Spanish enclave on Morocco’s coast.

Police have prevented migrants from crossing into Melilla on all the previous attempts over the past weeks except on one occasion when 37 migrants got through. They were later detained on Spanish soil.

Each time, migrants tried to get through a section of border fence damaged in torrential rains in late October. On Monday, however, they targeted a regular border crossing used daily by thousands of people.

Migrants wait on Moroccan side

The migrants often spend weeks or months living in a forest on the Moroccan side of the frontier as they await a chance to cross into Melilla.

The rains in October washed away most of their belongings and made living conditions even worse, said Khalil Jemmah, the head of Morocco’s Association of Victims of Illegalized Migration.

“They’re desperately trying to cross because they’ve got nothing left to lose,” Jemmah told the Associated Press late Saturday after a group of 50 sub-Saharan migrants fought with Moroccan police protecting the breached fence.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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PUBLISHED BY ‘MSNBC’ (USA)

Posted in AFRICA, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, EUROPE, FOREIGN WORK FORCE - ILLEGAL, INTERNATIONAL, MIGRATION AND IMMIGRATION, MOROCCO, SPAIN, THE WORK MARKET, THE WORKERS | Leave a Comment »