Egypt Independent: Business-Main news en Iran-Saudi row threatens any OPEC deal, puts role in question <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><p><span id="articleText"><span class="focusParagraph">OPEC&#39;s thorniest dilemma of the past year - at least from a purely oil standpoint - is about to disappear.</span></span></p><p><span id="articleText">Less than six months after the lifting of Western sanctions, Iran is close to regaining normal oil export volumes, adding extra barrels to the market in an unexpectedly smooth way and helped by supply disruptions from Canada to Nigeria.</span></p><p><span id="articleText">But the development will do little to repair dialogue, let alone help clinch a production deal, when OPEC meets next week amid rising political tensions between arch-rivals Iran and oil superpower Saudi Arabia, OPEC sources and delegates say.</span></p><p><span id="articleText">Earlier this year, Tehran refused to join an initiative to boost prices by freezing output but signaled it would be part of a future effort once its production had recovered sufficiently. OPEC has no supply limit, having at its last meeting in December scrapped its production target. </span></p><p><span id="articleText">According to International Energy Agency (IEA) figures, Iran&#39;s output has reached levels seen before the imposition of sanctions over its nuclear program. Tehran says it is not yet there.</span></p><p><span id="articleText">But while Iran may be more willing now to talk, an increase in oil prices has reduced the urgency of propping up the market, OPEC delegates say. Oil has risen toward a more producer-friendly US$50 from a 12-year low near $27 in January.</span></p><p><span id="articleText">&quot;I don&#39;t think OPEC will decide anything,&quot; a delegate from a major Middle East producer said. &quot;The market is recovering because of supply disruptions and demand recovery.&quot;</span></p><p><span id="articleText">A senior OPEC delegate, asked whether the group would make any changes to output policy at its June 2 meeting, said: &ldquo;Nothing.&nbsp;The freeze is finished.&rdquo;</span></p><p><span id="articleText">Within OPEC, Iran has long pushed for measures to support oil prices. That position puts it at odds with Saudi Arabia, the driving force behind OPEC&#39;s landmark November 2014 refusal to cut supply in order to boost the market. </span></p><p><span id="articleText">Sources familiar with Iranian oil policy see no sign of any change of approach by Riyadh under new Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih - who is seen as a believer in reform and low oil prices.</span></p><p><span id="articleText">&quot;It really depends on those countries within OPEC with a high level of production,&quot; one such source said. &quot;It does not seem that Saudi Arabia will be ready to cooperate with other members.&quot;</span></p><p><strong><span id="articleText">Higher exports</span></strong></p><p><span id="articleText">Iran has managed to increase oil exports significantly in 2016 after the lifting of sanctions in January.</span></p><p><span id="articleText">It notched up output of 3.56 million barrels of oil per day in April, the IEA said, a level last reached in November 2011 before sanctions were tightened. </span></p><p><span id="articleText">Saudi Arabia produced a near-record-high 10.26 million barrels per day in April and has kept output relatively steady over the past year, its submissions to OPEC show.</span></p><p><span id="articleText">Iran, according to delegates from other OPEC members, is unlikely to restrain supplies, given that it believes Saudi Arabia should cut back itself to make room for Iranian oil.</span></p><p><span id="articleText">&quot;Iran won&#39;t support any freeze or cut,&quot; said a non-Iranian OPEC delegate. &quot;But Iran may put pressure on Saudi Arabia that they hold the responsibility.&quot;</span></p><p><span id="articleText">Saudi thinking, however, has moved on from the days when Riyadh cut or increased output unilaterally. Talks in Doha on the proposed output freeze by OPEC and non-OPEC producers fell through after Saudi insisted that Iran participate.</span></p><p><span id="articleText">Indeed, differences between Saudi Arabia and Iran, which helped found the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries 56 years ago, over OPEC policy have made&nbsp;cooperation harder - to say nothing of more fundamental disagreements.</span></p><p><span id="articleText">For more than a decade after oil crashed to $10 in 1997, the two set aside rivalries to manage the market and support prices, although they fell into opposing OPEC camps with Iran wanting high prices and Saudi more moderate.</span></p><p><span id="articleText">Now, the Sunni-Shia conflicts setting Saudi Arabia and Iran at each other&#39;s throats, particularly in Syria and Yemen, make the relationship between the two even more fraught.</span></p><p><span id="articleText">The two disagree over OPEC&#39;s future direction. Earlier in May, OPEC failed to decide on a long-term strategy as Saudi Arabia objected to Iran&#39;s proposal that the exporter group aim for &quot;effective production management&quot;.</span></p><p><span id="articleText">With that backdrop, ministers may be advised to keep expectations low, an OPEC watcher said. </span></p><p><span id="articleText">&quot;The only aspiration OPEC should have for its 2 June meeting is simply not to repeat the chaos of the Doha process,&quot; said Paul Horsnell, analyst at Standard Chartered.</span></p><p><span id="articleText">&quot;A straightforward meeting with no binding commitments and, most importantly, no overt arguments would be the best outcome for ministers.&quot;</span></p> Wed, 25 May 2016 14:14:00 +0000 Reuters 2469883 at sites/default/files/photo/2016/05/23/505021/gas_in_iran.jpg Eni has suffered no impact from Regeni case: CEO <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><p><span class="focusParagraph">The operations of Italian oil and gas major Eni in Egypt have suffered no impact from the killing of Italian researcher Giulio Regeni earlier this year, Eni CEO Claudio Descalzi said.</span></p><p><span class="focusParagraph">&quot;I think that Egypt is starting working and collaborating with the Italian institutions,&quot; he said, speaking on the sidelines of a hearing on security and supply at the European parliament.</span></p><p><span class="focusParagraph">Eni announced the discovery of the giant Egyptian Zohr gas field, the largest ever in the Mediterranean, last year.</span></p><p><span class="focusParagraph">Descalzi also said there was no rush to sell down the group&#39;s 50 percent stake in the Area 4 gas field in Mozambique.</span></p><p><span class="focusParagraph">&quot;When you are selling something you have got to sell it at the best price,&quot; Descalzi said, adding the sale could go through at best by year end or otherwise in 2017.</span></p> Tue, 24 May 2016 07:22:00 +0000 Reuters 2469844 at sites/default/files/photo/2015/09/25/499612/enis_giant_zohr_gas__in_egypt.png Oil falls after Iran dampens hopes for production freeze <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><p>Brent oil prices fell for a fourth consecutive session on Monday after Iran insisted it would not freeze crude output, returning investor attention to a global glut.<br /><br />Adding to signs the oil market will remain oversupplied, data showed last week the number of rigs operated by U.S. drillers held steady for the first time this year, following a near two-year slump in the rig count.<br /><br />Global benchmark Brent futures LCOc1 were down 41 cents at $48.31 a barrel by 0851 GMT, on track for a fourth straight day of losses for the first time in a month.<br /><br />U.S. crude futures CLc1 traded at $47.91 a barrel, down 50 cents on Friday&#39;s close.<br /><br />&quot;Stagnating rig counts and comments from Iranian officials show that the way up for the oil prices may come to an end now,&quot; said Frank Klumpp, oil analyst at Stuttgart-based Landesbank Baden-Wuerttemberg.<br /><br />Iran&#39;s Deputy Oil Minister Rokneddin Javadi told Iran&#39;s Mehr news agency on Sunday his country had no plan to halt a rise in oil production and exports.<br /><br />He said Iranian crude exports, excluding gas condensates, were at 2 million barrels per day (bpd) and would reach 2.2 million bpd by the middle of summer.<br /><br />His comments further dampened hopes for a coordinated decision to freeze OPEC oil production at a meeting of the exporter group in Vienna on June 2.<br /><br />The bearish comments outweighed concerns about unplanned oil outages globally hitting a five-year high mainly due to wildfires in Canada that have affected oil-sands production and losses in Nigeria and Libya.<br /><br />Meanwhile, Goldman Sachs said in a research report on Monday that it expected shale productivity gains through 2020, which will push average breakevens for shale plays below $50 per barrel for U.S. crude.<br /><br />It raised its average Brent forecast to $45 per barrel this year, from $39, while it said West Texas Intermediate would average $45 per barrel this year, up from $38 previously.</p> Mon, 23 May 2016 12:40:00 +0000 Reuters 2469839 at sites/default/files/photo/2016/05/23/504802/oil.jpg Egypt wins most famous tourist destination award in Shanghai <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><p dir="ltr">Egypt has won the award for &quot;most famous tourist destination&quot; at the 2016 World Travel Fair, which concluded on Sunday in the Chinese city of Shanghai.</p><p dir="ltr">Egypt&rsquo;s Travel Advisor to China, Abul Maaty Shaarawy, received the award.</p><p dir="ltr">In remarks on Monday to the state-run news agency MENA, Shaarawy expressed what an honor it was to claim the award for Egypt at this year&rsquo;s fair, where the biggest international exhibitors in the field of travel and tourism take part annually.</p><p dir="ltr">According to the travel fair&#39;s official website, 23 prizes were given at the award ceremony, judged in the categories of tourist destinations, travel services, travel agencies, hotel and air companies.</p><p dir="ltr">More than 450 exhibitors from around the world took part in the three-day fair, he said. The fair provided the chance for tourism agencies and tour operators<strong> </strong>to meet, promote trip programs and exchange views with experts on marketing promotion strategies.</p><p dir="ltr"><em>Edited translation from MENA</em></p> Mon, 23 May 2016 09:54:00 +0000 MENA 2469823 at sites/default/files/photo/2016/05/23/504802/egyptian_tourism_minister_yehia_rashed.jpg