Algerian Products: Qualitative Progress Opens New Opportunities for Exports

tires, TV sets, floor tiles and electrical products are among the many made-in-Algeria products which national operators managed to export to foreign markets.

Met at the National Fair of Products destined to export "Djazair Export", the assistant general manager of SATEREX, Djamel Guidoum, told APS that his company, owner of IRIS brand, has exported tires to Spain for the first time.

The Algerian tires have been exported to a Spanish operator operating in the Portuguese and Moroccan markets, said Guidoum.

SATEREX has launched his huge tire complex in Setif, last July with an annual production capacity of 2 million tires, which 30% is destined to export. This rate will raise to 50% within three to four years, while the complex capacities will increase in five years to reach 5 million tires.

The company plans to participate in various key fairs in Shanghai, Dubaï and Las Vegas.

"With these participations, we will be able to publicize our products that are competitive and certified to foreign markets," he said.

Regarding electronic products, appliances and mobile phones, Guidoum said that SATEREX products are already present in Tunisia, Libya, Morocco and some European markets.

"We have recently sold a quantity of our TV sets in Germany and the feedback is very positive," he said.

As for him, Carreau du Sahel company - Koléa (CSK) which also participates in the Fair, exported more than 70 tons of monolayer tile to France: "This first operation aims at introducing our products to European markets," said its manager for Development, Mustapha Lehouidj.

For two years, CSK exports to Senegal and recently has received orders from Mauritania, added the official.

In recent years, this company has supplied several projects in Algeria, notably the Great Mosque of Algiers "Djamaa El Djazair ", Algiers metro stations, Mostaganem Tramway and the pavement of the main boulevards of Algiers.

BMS Electric, a company specializing in the manufacture of electrical equipment and accessories, has been able to gradually expand its foreign market presence by exporting to nine African countries: Tunisia, Libya, Mali, Niger, Mauritania, Cameroon, Senegal, Burkina Faso and Chad.

"We conducted our first export operation in 2006, and now we are present in nine countries with 80% of our products," said Corporate Marketing Manager, Mahmoud Ouazaa.

The Electro-Industries company, which specializes in the manufacture of transformers, is also embarking on new markets.

In this regard, he has designed specific transformers for Mauritania, from plant based in Azazga (Tizi-Ouzou).

This public company has also set up a joint venture project with the Indian company "Vijai Electricals", in partnership with Sonelgaz, for the creation of power transformers manufacturing plant up to 315 MVA.

The new factory that will start producing in 2021 looks to export a significant share of its production, according to officials of the company.


LuLu Hypermarket Launches Online Shopping in Bahrain

LuLu Hypermarket has launched its online shopping portal that puts over 20,000 products at the fingertips of shoppers all over Bahrain. “The Lulu Online Shopping Experience carries the same brand promise of quality, affordability and customer service excellence as our iconic stores around the world – with the added value of convenience,” Lulu Group Executive Director Ashraf Ali, who spearheaded the e-commerce presence of the hypermarket, said.

“We are proud that we have not compromised on the human interface with our customers – the Lulu online portal and app is serviced by a highly-skilled team of personal shoppers who have been trained to pick the right products and brands to match online orders and we have a fleet of vehicles that promise delivery in the most hygienic conditions. In fact, the Bahrain fleet is one of over 500 online delivery fleets present throughout the region.”

The ministry has laid the ground for e-commerce transactions and expansion with robust legislation and ease of doing business, he added. 'We look forward to the rapid growth of the Lulu online transactions because of their support. We are proud that the over 20,000 items in our hypermarkets will now be available to our customers in the comfort of their own space,' he said.

The launch at Ramli Mall was inaugurated by Ali Abdul Hussain Makki, Assistant Undersecretary of Commercial Registration and Companies, and Abdul Aziz Mohamed Al Ashraaf, Assistant undersecretary for Control and Services, from the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Tourism along with Maram Mukhtar Almahmeed, Director of Information Systems, at the ministry and Director Juzer Rupawala.


Saudi Aramco IPO Prospectus to be Filed This Month

Saudi Aramco is expected to publish a prospectus for the initial public offering (IPO) before end of this month, the Wall Street Journal reported. The prospectus will be published in Arabic on October 25 and in English two days later and will be followed by a book-building process in November during which the oil giant will test interest in the company’s shares, the Journal reported citing a document outlining the timeline, as seen by the financial paper. A decision on whether to go ahead would likely be made after the book-building, the paper said.

The attacks on the state oil giant’s installations last month would have no impact on its stock market listing plans, Saudi Aramco's CEO, Amin Nasser said at the Oil & Money conference in London on Wednesday. A dual listing of Aramco's shares is expected - through floats on Tadawul and one international exchange. According to Reuters, Aramco is seeking a US$2 trillion valuation and has approached wealth funds including Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA) and Singapore’s GIC to invest in the domestic leg of the listing.

The response of investors during the roadshow will inform the final offer price of the shares and whether the current sole shareholder—the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia—decides to move forward with listing 1%-2% of the company domestically, the Wall Street Journal report said.


Several Asian Refiners to Get Full Saudi Supplies in November

At least seven Asian refiners will receive the full crude volumes they requested from Saudi Arabia for November loading, a sign that Saudi production has stabilized after disruptions last month, multiple sources with knowledge of the matter said. Most of the refiners are getting the crude grades that they want, the sources said on Thursday, adding that there was no request from state-owned oil company Saudi Aramco for them to change grades.

Saudi Aramco's oil processing facilities at Abqaiq and Khurais were attacked by missiles and drones on Sept. 14, shutting down 5.7 million barrels per day (bpd) of its production, or more than 5% of global supplies. At the height of the disruption, Saudi Aramco asked customers to switch their crude grades for loadings in the second half of September and early October and pushed back crude and oil product deliveries to customers by days.

Top Saudi oil officials have said that the kingdom's output has bounced back to 11.3 million bpd and the country was on track to regain its maximum oil production capacity of 12 million bpd by the end of November.


KFH Gets Kuwait Central Bank’s Initial Nod for Bahraini Bank Takeover

Kuwait Finance House has received conditional approval from Kuwait’s Central Bank for its proposed acquisition of Bahrain’s Ahli United Bank. The deal depends on a number of requirements to ensure adherence to sharia, transparency and protection of free competition, the Central Bank said in a statement. KFH announced its plan to take over the Bahraini lender in January.


New Hub to Unlock Potential of Hydrogen Economy in Oman

The Ministry of Oil and Gas has proposed the setting up of a working group to jumpstart the development of a low-carbon and sustainable hydrogen economy in the Sultanate. Salim bin Nasser al Aufi, Under-Secretary, said the working group, initially led by the ministry, will seek to bring together all of the stakeholders — government, academic institutions, R&D organizations, Oil & Gas operators, industries and petrochemical companies — thereby paving the way for the creation of a Hydrogen Centre or hub to spearhead the development of a hydrogen economy for the Sultanate. The official made the announcement in closing remarks at the conclusion of the 1st Oman Hydrogen Symposium which was held on Wednesday, October 9, under the auspices of Dr Ahmed bin Mohammed al Futaisi, Minister of Transport and Communications, at the Halban campus of the German University of Technology in Oman (GUtech).

The daylong symposium was organized as part of the Oman Hydrogen Initiative — a joint project of GUtech and Hydrogen Rise AG of German. The initiative, first unveiled last year, seeks to serve as a platform for engagement between government and other stakeholders on the potential for igniting the growth of a future economy based on the production, storage, distribution and usage of green hydrogen in the Sultanate. Part of a rapidly growing multi-trillion-dollar global industry, hydrogen is being increasingly adopted as fuel in power generation and other heat applications. Furthermore, as an energy carrier in fuel cells, hydrogen has promising potential for heavy duty transport applications, such as trucks, rail and ships, as well as industrial applications that require both electricity and heat.

The daylong symposium featured a series of presentations highlighting the exponential growth of hydrogen around the world as fuel and feedstock. The list of speakers included Prof Dr Michael Modigell, Rector of GUtech; Dr Bernd Wiemann, CEO — Hydrogen Rise; Thomas Friedrich Schneider, Ambassador of Germany to the Sultanate; Olav Carlsen, CFO — Hydrogen Rise; Clara Orthofer of the Technical University Munich (TUM); and Dr Abdullah al Abri, Executive Director of EJAAD Oman. Experts from Germany and Japan also outlined strategies by their respective nations to decarbonize their economies by switching to renewables and hydrogen. According to Al Aufi, hydrogen has the potential to be a game-changer for the Sultanate with beneficial ramifications similar to hydrocarbons, albeit minus the environmental impacts. “If we go by how solar and wind energy have progressed over the last few years, I think (the adoption of hydrogen) will be much faster. There is huge demand, based on the realization globally that the only way we can meet the Paris Agreement on climate change is that we must decarbonize on an industrial scale. And to do that, hydrogen is probably at the center of these efforts.”

The opportunity to create a new ecosystem in Oman around hydrogen was very exciting, the official noted. In this regard, he called on all the stakeholders to collaborate in this strategic endeavor. He challenged the key players, including R&D institutions, Oil & Gas operators and industries to study the feasibility of using hydrogen as an alternative to natural gas as fuel and feedstock. Success on this front will address the ministry’s biggest challenge: allocating gas to new applicants. In attendance at the symposium were high-level officials representing Oman Oil and Orpic Group (the Sultanate’s integrated energy flagship), leading Oil & Gas operators, the Authority for Electricity Regulation Oman, Oman Power and Water Procurement Company (OPWP), Sultan Qaboos University (SQU), The Research Council, EJAAD, and a host of organizations from the academic, industrial and energy domains.


Omani Budget Carrier Adds 4th A320neo to Fleet

To cater to its ever-expanding network, Oman budget carrier SalamAir has taken delivery of its fourth A320neo aircraft. The Airbus A320neo which incorporates the very latest technologies including new generation engines, customised interior for the carrier and offers a multitude of benefits including improved cabin space and superior comfort.

Captain Mohamed Ahmed, CEO of SalamAir, said: “We are delighted to induct the newest A320neo aircraft into our fleet as we continue to expand our network. The deployment of the Airbus A320neo marks another step SalamAir is taking towards meeting the needs of international, regional and domestic passengers in the perpetually growing aviation market. The employment of this aircraft to our fleet will support the growth plans of our airline’s network. With its industry-leading quality and efficiency, A320neo offers unmatched cabin comfort and enjoyable journey. Offering significant environmental performance, A320neo aircraft assures an appreciably improved carbon footprint. We are proud to augment our airline's fleet with a new aircraft that offers lower operating costs, superior eco commitment and greater comfort for our passengers.”

Adel Albanwan, CEO of Alafco, commented" “I am pleased and delighted to announce the delivery of our third Airbus A320neo aircraft to SalamAir. The delivery of this aircraft signifies our ongoing partnership with SalamAir, but also demonstrates our commitment to provide cost-efficient and flexible solutions to the global airline industry. The A320neo aircraft remains integral to our growth plans, and I expect to see significant upside in this aircraft in the coming years which shall continue to form the cornerstone of our strategy.”

With this delivery, SalamAir currently operates three Airbus A320 aircraft and four Airbus A320neo aircraft making it the first Omani carrier to utilise the highly rated single-aisle aircraft.

SalamAir operates flights to international destinations including Dubai, Doha, Jeddah, Karachi, Multan, Sialkot, Shiraz, Kathmandu, Khartoum, Dhaka, Alexandria, Riyadh, Kuwait, Abu Dhabi, Tehran, Istanbul, Chattogram (Chittagong) and to domestic routes Muscat, Salalah, and Suhar. Additional passenger services to compliment the customer experience on the home-grown airline include options for extra luggage, seat and meal selection.


Egypt Sets Up New Water, Wastewater Projects in Aswan

The Egyptian Ministry of Housing is currently implementing eight water and wastewater projects in Aswan. Three water projects are being built at a capacity of 15,000 square metres per day, the minister of housing Assem El-Gazzar said in a statement on Wednesday. In addition, five wastewater projects are being established at a capacity of 69,000 square metres per day, he added.


Iran Becomes Self-Sufficient in Rice Production

Deputy Ministry of Agricultural Jihad for Planning and Economic Affairs Abdol-Mahdi Bakhshandeh said that Iran attained self-sufficiency in the production of rice. He revealed the considerable 42% growth of rice production in the country in the current year (started March 21, 2019). For the first time, Iran became self-sufficient in the production of rice. He added that the country needs three million tons of rice. This year, rice production volume will hit 2.9 to 3 million tons due to the climatic conditions and this volume of rice will meet domestic demand, he added.

He pointed out that 960,000 tons of white rice, valued at US$1.1 billion, was imported into the country in the first half of the current year (from March 21 to Sept. 22). Elsewhere in his remarks, the Deputy Minister of Agriculture said that the self-sufficiency of rice production will save more than US$1.1 billion worth of foreign currency in the country. Turning to the sanctions overshadowing the country, increased production of rice at about one million tons in the current year (started March 21, 2019) will prevent capital flight of more than US$1.1 billion from the country. Rice imports have been assigned to the Ministry of Industry, Mine and Trade, he said, adding, “accordingly, 960,000 tons of rice have been imported into the country by the private sector in the first half of the current year.” - Mehr


Sweden Breaks Ground on Dubai Expo 2020 Pavilion

Sweden has broken ground on its Dubai Expo 2020 country pavilion being set up under the theme 'Co-creation for Innovation' with a major focus on sustainability. A tree planting ceremony was conducted on October 9 by Swedish Minister for Foreign Trade, Anna Hallberg, at the project site on Wednesday, thus officially marking the beginning of the construction of the Swedish pavilion, 'The Forest'.

Najeeb Mohammed Al-Ali, Executive Director of Expo 2020 Dubai Bureau, too joined the Swedish minister at the ceremony. The Swedish pavilion will be located in Expo 2020's sustainability district. "Building the pavilion itself in a renewable material is completely in line with both Swedish priorities and the strong climate focus on the world exhibition," remarked Hallberg.

Tree planting resonates with the ambition to build the pavilion entirely in wood to minimize its impact on the climate, she added. The Swedish Minister addressed the country’s strong focus on combining innovative solutions with sustainable practices as being the main reason for building the Swedish pavilion in the sustainability district of the Expo 2020 site. She also underscored the importance of global co-creation – an essential part of Sweden’s theme – Co-creation for Innovation.

Henrik Landerholm, Ambassador of Sweden to the UAE, said, "I am very proud to witness the ground-breaking for the construction of Sweden's pavilion at the Expo 2020 in Dubai – in just one year the eyes of the world will be focused on the UAE and this will be an opportunity for the country to showcase state-of-the-art technology and innovative and sustainable solutions."

"The image of Sweden is very positive in UAE, generally associated with nature and beautiful landscapes as well as the strong recycling culture. We want to show that Sweden is also an innovative and prominent hi-tech country with world-leading companies and that there are major business and collaboration opportunities," he added.

A special film produced by the Swedish Expo organization on the country's sustainable and large-scale forest cultivation was shown to the guests at the tree planting ceremony. Whilst viewing the film, the guests were transported to the vast plains of the region Dalarna where the trees for the Swedish pavilion were picked up last spring. For each tree harvested for the pavilion, three new ones will be planted, said senior officials. "Our pavilion will showcase the best that Sweden has to offer within research and innovation. Building the pavilion itself in a renewable material is completely in line with both Swedish priorities and the strong climate focus of the world exhibition," he added.


Work on Millennium Hotel Apartment Project in Dubai Completed

Deyaar Development, one of Dubai’s largest property development and real estate services companies, on October 10 announced that the work on its Millennium Executive Apartments Mont Rose is now completed and expected to be operational this October. Developed in co-ordination with Millennium Hotels & Resorts, one of the fastest-growing hotel management companies in the region, the prime property, features 126 one-bed and 72 studio apartments across 20 floors along with a grab-and-go dining service, said the statement from Deyaar. It is part of the three-tower Mont Rose development located in Dubai Science Park in Al Barsha South, it added.

Deyaar’s Millennium Executive Apartments Mont Rose project is accessible via Dubai’s main roads – Al Khail Road, and Mohammed Bin Zayed Road and is just minutes away from Mall of the Emirates and Miracle Garden. On the new venture, CEO Saeed Al Qatami said: "Millennium Mont Rose is another contribution we are proud to make to Dubai’s hospitality scene, in support of Dubai Tourism Vision 2020. The diversification of hospitality offerings in the emirate will create further appeal to a diverse range of tourists, who are keen to find residences that cater to their specific needs.

" This development is a further addition to Deyaar’s hospitality portfolio and the increasing diversification of the company, he stated. Hospitality will be a cornerstone to Deyaar’s long-term vision in delivering sustainable returns to its shareholders and in supporting the creation of employment in the city of Dubai, he added. Millennium Hotels and Resorts CEO (Middle East and Africa) Kevork Deldelian said: "This is the third hospitality collaboration between Millennium and Deyaar, and the second Executive Apartments amongst our Dubai’s properties."

Building on its longstanding reputation for successful commercial and residential property development, Deyaar has in recent years expanded its property management and facilities management divisions, as well as allocating up to one million square feet for hospitality projects.


Iran Confirms Attacks on Oil Tanker in Red Sea

Iran’s foreign ministry confirmed that the Iranian-owned oil tanker Sabiti had been attacked in the Red Sea on Friday and was damaged, state TV reported.

“Those behind the attack are responsible for the consequences of this dangerous adventure, including the dangerous environmental pollution caused,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi told state TV. - Reuters


US Secretary of State Calls for EU to Condemn Iran over Tanker

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday called on the European Union to condemn Iran and hold Tehran accountable after he said oil from Iranian tanker Adrian Darya had been offloaded in Syria. “Oil from the #AdrianDarya1 has been offloaded in Syria, proving that Iran lied to the UK and Gibraltar ... EU members should condemn this action, uphold the rule of law, and hold Iran accountable,” Pompeo wrote in a post on Twitter.

The United Kingdom seized the tanker in July off the coast of Gibraltar in July. After authorities received formal written assurances from Tehran that the ship would not discharge 2.1 million barrels of oil from Syria, the vessel was released. But in September, Britain’s foreign minister said the tanker had sold its crude oil to the Assad regime in Syria, breaking those assurances. - Reuters


Oil Leak from Iran's Sabiti Tanker under Control, Crew Are Safe

An oil leak from the Iranian tanker Tehran said was targeted by two missiles in the Red Sea on Friday is under control, Iranian state news agency IRNA said. The Sabiti tanker suffered heavy damage and was leaking crude about 60 miles (96 km) from Jeddah port, Iranian media had reported. “The leak of oil has stopped and the situation is under control,” IRNA said.

All crew members of the oil vessel are safe and the situation of the tanker is stable, Iran’s Nour news agency reported on Friday. “None of the crew members were injured at the explosion... the situation is under control,” the news agency, close to Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards Corps, reported. - Reuters


NITC Says No Country Has Helped Iranian Stricken Tanker in Red Sea

The CEO of the National Iranian Tanker Company (NITC) said no ship nor any authority had responded to distress messages of the blast-hit Iranian tanker in the Red Sea. According to Al-Alam, Nasrollah Sardashti said that the tanker would change its route in the sea.

SABITI, an Iranian oil tanker owned by NITC, was hit by two blasts at 5 and 5:20 a.m. local time 60 miles off Jeddah Port, Saudi Arabia on Friday. The blasts damaged the ship on its main storage tank.

NITC said in a statement that the blasts were probably caused by missile strikes on the Iranian vessel. Nasrollah Sardashti said that the tanker’s crewmembers were in good health, adding the Iranian tanker has not yet resumed its route and as soon as it begins its journey, it will change its route to exit the Red Sea. According to the NITC CEO, the source of the strikes was not yet clear for NITC, but oil leakage to the sea has been contained. - Shana


Iran Decries 'Cowardly Attack' on Oil Tanker

An Iranian government spokesman on Saturday described as a “cowardly attack” an incident that Iranian media have called the apparent targeting by missiles of an Iranian-owned oil tanker, and said Iran would respond after the facts had been studied.

The tanker Sabiti was hit in Red Sea waters off Saudi Arabia on Friday, Iranian media have reported, an incident that could stoke friction in a region rattled by attacks on tankers and oil installations since May. “Iran is avoiding haste, carefully examining what has happened and probing facts,” government spokesman Ali Rabei was quoted as saying by the official news agency IRNA.

Separately, a senior security official said video evidence had provided leads about the incident, adding that the Sabiti was hit by two missiles, the semi-official news agency Fars reported. “A special committee has been set up to investigate the attack on Sabiti... with two missiles and its report will soon be submitted to the authorities for decision,” said Ali Shamkhani, secretary of Iran’s top security body, according to Fars.

“Piracy and mischief on international waterways aimed at making commercial shipping insecure will not go unanswered,” he said. Rabei was quoted by IRNA as saying “an appropriate response will be given to the designers of this cowardly attack, but we will wait until all aspects of the plot are clarified”.

Leakage of cargo from the tanker has been stopped as it heads for the Persian Gulf, the semi-official news agency Mehr reported. “The tanker is heading for Persian Gulf waters and we hope it will enter Iranian waters safely,” it quoted an unnamed official as saying.

Nasrollah Sardashti, head of National Iranian Tanker Company (NITC) that owns the damaged tanker, said the crew were safe and the vessel would reach Iranian waters within 10 days, the Oil Ministry’s news agency SHANA reported. There was no claim of responsibility for the reported incident and it has yet to be independently confirmed.

It was the latest involving oil tankers in the Red Sea and Persian Gulf region, and may ratchet up tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia, long-time regional adversaries fighting a proxy war in Yemen, which lies at the southern end of the Red Sea.

The United States, embroiled in a dispute with Iran over its nuclear plans, has blamed Iran for attacks on tankers in the Persian Gulf in May and June as well as for strikes on Saudi oil sites in September. Tehran has denied having a role in any of them. Saudi Arabia had no immediate comment on the reported attack on the Iranian-owned tanker. The U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet, which operates in the region, said it was aware of the reports but had no further information.

The Iranian reports on Friday offered sometimes diverging accounts. State-run television, citing the national oil company, said the tanker was hit by missiles while denying a report they came from Saudi Arabia.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry said the ship was hit twice, without saying what struck it. State television broadcast images from the Sabiti’s deck saying they were taken after the attack but showing no visible damage. The ship’s hull was not in view.

Oil prices rose on the news of the incident and industry sources said it could drive up already high shipping costs. Political risk consultancy Eurasia Group said it did not have firm evidence about who may have been behind the incident.

“The proximity of the tanker at the time of the attack to Saudi Arabia’s Jeddah port might imply that the missiles could possibly have been launched from the kingdom. “Another plausible theory is that it was an Israeli sabotage operation...The purpose would be to disrupt Iranian tanker activity in the Red Sea corridor as it heads towards the Suez Canal. A third possibility would be that the attack was conducted by a terrorist group,” Eurasia said in a statement. The Red Sea is a major global shipping route for oil and other trade, linking the Indian Ocean with the Mediterranean via the Suez Canal. - Reuters


Iranian Oil Tanker Hit Off Saudi Coast, May Have Been Missiles

An Iranian-owned oil tanker was struck, probably by missiles, in the Red Sea off Saudi Arabia’s coast on Friday, Iranian media said, an incident that if confirmed will stoke tension in a region rattled by attacks on tankers and oil sites since May.

The Sabiti was hit in the morning about 60 miles (96 km) from the Saudi port of Jeddah, Iranian media reported. The National Iranian Tanker Company (NITC) said the ship was damaged but now heading to the Persian Gulf, denying reports it was set ablaze.

The incident, which has yet to be independently confirmed, is the latest involving oil tankers in the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf area, and is likely to ratchet up tensions between Tehran and Riyadh, long-time regional foes fighting a proxy war in Yemen, which lies at the southern end of the Red Sea.

The reports offered sometimes diverging accounts. Iranian state-run television, citing the national oil company, said it was hit by missiles while denying a report they came from Saudi Arabia. NITC said in statement on its website that “the blasts were probably caused by missile strikes” and it was investigating the source, adding two tanks were damaged but the crew was safe.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry said the ship was hit twice, without saying what struck it. State television broadcast images from the Sabiti’s deck saying they were taken after the attack but showing no visible damage. The ship’s hull was not in view.

The Red Sea is a major global shipping route for oil and other trade, linking the Indian Ocean with the Mediterranean via the Suez Canal. Crude prices jumped briefly on the news and industry sources said it could drive up already high shipping costs.

There was no claim of responsibility for Friday’s reported incident, which follows attacks on tankers in the Persian Gulf in May and June, as well as strikes on Saudi oil sites in September. The United States, embroiled in a dispute with Tehran over its nuclear plans, blamed Iran for the attacks. Tehran has denied having a role in any of them.

Saudi Arabia had no immediate comment on Friday’s reports. The U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet, which operates in the region, said it was aware of the reports but had no further information. Brian Hook, U.S. Special Envoy for Iran, in a briefing said Washington has seen the reports but offered no comment.


Refinitiv ship tracking information indicated the Sabiti, a Suezmax class tanker, was in the Red Sea and heading south under its own power, bound for Larak, off Iran’s southern Persian Gulf coast. The data put the vessel’s draft, or how deeply it sits in the water, at 53%, indicating it is not fully loaded.

The ship’s Automatic Identification System (AIS), which gives its position, appeared to have been off for two months until transmissions resumed on Oct. 11, shortly after the incident. Refinitiv data showed the ship was off Iran’s Persian Gulf coast in mid-August after passing through the Suez Canal in late July and early August.

Tracking service Marine Traffic said on Twitter that, based on its information, including a NASA picture of the area and AIS data, “we do not see any smoke, fire, spills or tugboats. Instead, we see a tanker cruising home at a healthy speed.”

Tensions between Iran and the United States have been running high since President Donald Trump withdrew from a deal between world powers and Iran that aimed to rein in Tehran’s nuclear ambitions. U.S. sanctions have slashed Iranian oil exports.

Russia said it was too early to assign blame for the tanker explosion. China, the top buyer of Iranian oil, said it hoped all parties would work to uphold peace and stability in the region. Iran’s ISNA news agency had earlier cited a source saying the Iranian tanker was struck in a “terrorist” attack.


Oil prices climbed as much as 2% after the reports, with benchmark Brent and U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures both rising more than US$1 a barrel. Brent was trading around US$60 a barrel on Friday.

Crude prices had eased after spiking above US$70 in response to the Sept. 14 attacks on Saudi oil sites, which shut down 5.7 million barrels per day (bpd) of production, about half of Saudi output and roughly 5% of global supply. Output has since been restored.

Saudi Arabian dollar bonds slipped to multi-week lows on Friday, as investors fretted about the risk of further tension in the Persian Gulf. Yemen’s Houthi group claimed responsibility for the Saudi attacks in September, but a U.S. official said they originated from southwestern Iran.

Industry sources said Friday’s incident off the Saudi coast could drive up shipping costs, which have already surged. “War risk insurance premiums for the Red Sea will now likely go up significantly, as will likely the freight (rates),” said Ashok Sharma, managing director of shipbroker BRS Baxi in Singapore.

Tanker rates have soared to multi-year highs in recent weeks after U.S. sanctions on units of Chinese shipping giant COSCO and after the Saudi attacks. Disruption to shipping through Red Sea would affect oil passing through the Suez Canal or SUMED crude pipeline, which has capacity for 2.34 million bpd and which runs parallel to the canal. It is used by tankers that cannot navigate the waterway. - Reuters


Missile-Stricken Iran Oil Tanker Back Home in 10 Days

The CEO of the National Iranian Tanker Company (NITC) said that SABITI, an NITC-owned oil tanker which was hit by two missiles on Friday morning, was en route home and would arrive in Iran within 9 or 10 days. Nasrollah Sardashti said the vessel would reach Bab-el-Mandeb Strait in 24 hours.

The oil tanker is believed to have been stricken by two missiles 60 miles off the Jeddah Port, Saudi Arabia at 5 and 5:20 a.m. The blasts damaged storerooms of the vessel. The source of the strikes is not determined yet and is under investigation.

According to NITC, the ship did not catch fire and all of its crewmembers are safe and secure. He said two main storerooms of the ship were damaged by the blasts, adding it was sailing towards Iran at maximum speed. The NITC CEO added that oil leakage from the ship was fully controlled. - Shana


Iran, Azerbaijan Stress Bolstering Joint Investments

Iranian Finance and Economic Affairs Minister Farhad Dejpasand and Azeri Minister of Labor and Social Protection of the Population Sahil Babayev met on Tuesday to discuss ways of boosting trade ties, Shada reported. In the meeting which took place at the place of Iranian ministry, the two sides stressed bolstering joint investment and mutual economic collaboration as ways of boosting trade ties between the two neighbors.

Mentioning the two countries’ shared backgrounds and good political relations, Dejpasand said: “A shared history and cultural background alone is not enough to sustain the two countries' positive relations, and we also need joint economic activities to maintain our good relations.” He further stressed the need for strengthening economic relations between the two countries, saying “development of joint ventures and mutual trade are two pillars of the bilateral relations between Iran and the Republic of Azerbaijan.”

"The Islamic Republic of Iran has good capacities for cooperation with Azerbaijan in the fields of investment, customs, taxation, and insurance, which can be tapped on within the framework of the two countries’ joint economic committee’s activities," he added. The Azeri minister for his part expressed satisfaction with his visit to Iran, and referred to the common religion, language and history with Iran.

He pointed to the numerous meetings between the presidents of the two countries in the past five years as indications of the two countries’ willingness for promoting comprehensive relations.
Referring to the 70% growth in the volume of trade between Iran and Azerbaijan, he said: “Certainly the activities of the two countries’ joint committee will deepen and accelerate the economic cooperation between the two sides.” - Tehran Times



Iranian Minister Elaborates On Underway Tourism Projects

A total of 2,451 tourism-related projects worth IRR 2,000 trillion (~US$17.3 billion) are being implemented across the country, Ali-Asghar Moonesan,Minister of  Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts said on Thursday. “The country has potential to attract whatever investment is made in this [tourism] sector and now the tourism share of the country’s GDP is about 2.9%, while a share of 4.5% is sought to be achieved. To attain such figure we need US$21 billion of investments in tourism arena,” Ali-Asghar Moonesan said. He made the remarks on the sidelines of a conference, in which representatives from six eastern Iranian provinces discussed ways to expand tourism.

If [US] sanctions are lifted and regional tensions are reduced, tourism capacity of the country will be much higher [than what we witness today], he said. “I believe that the prospects of tourism is very favorable and it will take the first or second place [in the country’s economy] in the not-so-distant future.”

Referring to the country’s eastern provinces, the minister said that they have high potentials for medical tourism. “In addition, they are benefiting from large regional markets that are considered as tourism potentials of this region.”

Some 7.8 million foreign nationals visited Iran during the past Iranian calendar year 1397 (ended on March 20), which shows 52.5% growth from a year earlier, according to data compiled by the tourism ministry.

Tourism officials said earlier in May that the US-led sanctions, targeting Iran’s economy, has failed to lessen foreign arrivals to the Islamic Republic, adding “Decrease in Iran national currency value has made Iran tour packages more competitive.” - Tehran Times



Zarif Raps US Sanction on Iran Central Bank as War Crime

The US move to impose new sanctions on the Central Bank of Iran amounts to a war crime, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said. Addressing a conference on global economy and sanctions, held in Tehran on Wednesday, Zarif said the US administration’s decision to impose new sanctions on the Central Bank of Iran is tantamount to a war crime, because it obstructs the purchase of medicines and foodstuff.

“The US’ recent measures against Iran do not entail the conditions for the imposition of sanctions, but involves conditions for economic terrorism and war crime,” Zarif deplored, saying the White House has built its economic war strategy on the basis of violating international laws.

Highlighting Iran’s “maximum resistance with reliance on internal capabilities” to counter the US policy of maximum pressure, the foreign minister called for the adoption of strategies for reducing vulnerability to the hegemony of the US dollar in foreign trade.

Zarif underlined that tensions with other countries, particularly with the neighbors, must be addressed and minimized in order to focus the national power on countering the US economic terrorism.
He also called for collective action by the international community to prevent the US from turning its hostile and illegal policies into a global issue.

In September, the US Department of the Treasury slapped sanctions on the Central Bank of Iran and the country’s National Development Fund, a move US President Donald Trump described as the “highest level of sanctions”. The successive sanctions on Iran heightened after the US withdrawal from the JCPOA in May 2018. - Tasnim


Tehran, Beijing Confer on Expansion of Customs, Trade Ties

High-ranking Iranian and Chinese officials in a meeting in Tehran reviewed avenues to further broaden relations between the two countries in customs and trade fields. Chinese Ambassador to Iran Chang Hua in a meeting with Islamic Republic of Iran Customs Administration (IRICA) Mehdi Mirashrafi examined a new plan to expand customs cooperation and facilitate trade between the two countries.

During the meeting, Mirsharafi pointed to strong trade relations between China and Iran, offering proposals to bolster trade exchanges between the two states. He proposed issues like exchanging customs information in the framework of training both sides' employees, strengthening Silk Road, creation of joint trade gate and exchanging X-ray images by both sides as well as holding meetings every six months to access better and faster results.

Hua, for his part, appreciated Iran's Customs Administration's officials, and underlined that Iran is among the largest trade partners of China, so expansion of such ties is so important to China.
In a relevant development in September, Minister of Cooperative, Labor and Social Welfare Mohammad Shariatmadari, in a meeting with Hua, described bilateral ties between the two countries as constructive, and called for strategic cooperation in bilateral and international arenas.

During the meeting with Chang Hua, Shariatmadari described Iran-China relations in the international arena as constructive and voiced Iran's readiness for exchanging delegations. He added the countries enjoy old and friendly relations which could be strategic at bilateral and international levels.

Referring to President Hassan Rohani's negotiation with Chinese officials at the meeting of the Council of Heads of States of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), he underlined that the negotiations could be regarded as a roadmap for both sides' cooperation. He expressed Iran's readiness for exchanging specialized delegations to implement the terms of the signed MoUs.
Hua, for his part, stated that both sides' friendship has been long-lasting and the Silk Road has linked them together. He also announced his country's readiness for developing relations, noting that China has tendency to cooperate with Iran in labor and social security. - Fars


Saudi Arabia Received Distress Call From Iran Tanker

Saudi Arabia’s coast guard received a distress call from an Iranian oil tanker that came under attack this week, but the vessel had switched off its tracking system when a response was made to its request for assistance, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

The distress call was sent by email and stated that the front of the tanker, the Sabiti, had suffered damage and there was a subsequent oil leak, the agency cited a coast-guard spokesman as saying.

Communications were analyzed in order to provide help, but the vessel continued moving further away from Jeddah Islamic Port, he said. The tanker switched off its automatic tracking system without responding to the Saudi calls to assist, he said.

The tanker is moving toward Iran at maximum speed and will reach the Bab-el-Mandab strait in less than 24 hours, the Iranian Oil Ministry’s Shana news service reported earlier, citing Nasrollah Sardashti, head of the National Iranian Tanker Co. Sabiti will enter Persian waters in 10 days, Sardashti said. - Bloomberg


Iran to Hold Pavilion at Kazakhstan’s PLAST WORLD Exhibition

Iran will set up a pavilion at Kazakhstan’s 11th international exhibition for plastic industry (PLAST WORLD) next month, Trade Promotion Organization of Iran (TPO) published on its official website.

The international event, which will be held from November 20 to 22 at ATAKENT Exhibition Center in Almaty, provides an excellent opportunity to establish and strengthen business ties in the Central Asian region and expand the horizons of companies through representatives of wholesale companies and retail chains. - Tehran Times


Firms with Integrity Will Reap Reward: Saudi SABIC CEO

The opening up of Saudi Arabia’s stock exchange to international investors has attracted scrutiny of the Kingdom’s publicly traded companies and their standards of compliance and integrity, according to the CEO of SABIC.

Yousef Al-Benyan, CEO and chairman of Saudi Basic Industries Corp. (SABIC), said that companies with the highest standards of corporate governance would benefit most from rising foreign investment in the Kingdom.

The petrochemical giant hosted a conference in Riyadh on Thursday aimed at promoting integrity and transparency which attracted corporate leaders from around the world as well as NGOs and government representatives.

“By strengthening integrity and compliance capacity across the Saudi supply chain, companies and investors can grow with confidence. The opening of the Saudi stock market to foreign investors is increasing attention on the compliance practices of our companies. Those who meet international standards and expectations will be in the driving seat to secure new investment,” said Al-Benyan. He said that the event aimed to highlight corporate integrity’s links with growth and investment.

The event follows the opening of the Saudi Stock Exchange (Tadawul) to foreign investors and its recent listing on the MSCI Emerging Markets Index (MSCI), an international market benchmark that provides additional assurance to potential investors.


Libya's NOC, Petrofac Discuss Erawin Construction Opportunity

On October 9 a delegation from National Oil Corporation (NOC) met Petrofac representatives at the company’s London headquarters, on the sidelines of the Oil & Money Conference, an international industry event.

In a wide-ranging discussion, NOC introduced its plan to increase Libyan production rates and fast-track infrastructure development at sites administered by the Corporation. The two parties reviewed plans to develop Erawin oilfield in the south of the country, which is expected to commence production by late 2020, and NOC invited Petrofac to consider tendering as a potential construction contractor for the project.

Petrofac expressed its willingness to assist NOC in creating quality job and training opportunities for Libyan energy sector employees, in support of NOC’s sustainable development programs.

The NOC delegation included Eng. Abulgasem Shengheer, NOC board member, Dr Khalifa Rajab Abdul Sadiq, chairman of the Management Committee of Zallaf Oil & Gas Exploration and Production Company, Dr Jamal Houwaisa, technical adviser to the NOC board. Petrofac was represented by Mr Ayman Asfari, CEO, and Mr Othman Dar, Assistant General Manager of Engineering Services.


Qatar's Al-Kaabi Meets Chief Adviser of British PM in London

HE Saad bin Sherida al-Kaabi, the Minister of State for Energy Affairs, met in London with Ed Lister, the chief strategic adviser of the British Prime Minister. Discussions dealt with several issues related to UK-Qatari bilateral relations and ways to enhance them, and to co-operate in the field of energy in particular. The meeting took place in the presence of Yousef Ali al-Khater, Qatar’s ambassador to the UK and Ajay Sharma, the UK’s envoy to Doha, as well as senior Qatari and British officials.