Meed's personal timeline, a place to collect and share things from Meed's life.
Created by meeddubai on Jul 6, 2009
Last updated: 09/22/09 at 09:43 AM
Meed M. has no followers yet. Be the first one to follow.
Four South Korean contractors have submitted bids for a $400m petrochemicals project at Jubail in Saudi Arabia more than a year after the Saudi authorities cancelled the original tender because they thought prices were too high.
Samba, Al-Rajhi and Alinma offer $1bn in financing to bidders for Saudi Electricity Company scheme
Abu Dhabi is requesting final commercial bids on the plant by 30 September
Saudi company held 7.8 per cent share of local institution
Arab Kuwait Contractors and Arab Contractors set to build project in Surra
Pipeline project to supply 30 per cent of Amman’s water requirements
Local company will complete work at Jebel Ali free zone in Dubai
Overseas employees can change jobs more easily but will increase sponsorship firms’ costs
Rabat plans to sign $187m contract for F-16 planes and equipment
Countries still need to ratify Gulf Co-operation Council proposals
Six other people also accused of writing bad cheques and breaking financial laws
Health authority plans to build 200-bed children’s hospital
Oil company gives contractors more time to arrange financing
Banks agree to terms of the deal and plan financing by end of September
General Directorate of Civil Aviation invites firms to bid for construction work
Slowing economy hits real estate prices
Public Pension’s Agency ups Samba stake following acquisition of Kingdom Holding stake in early 2009
Sewerage company expects to complete $400m financing package by the end of September.
Deadlines for sour gas project changed after pressure from potential bidders
Uitility selects preferred bidders on a further two contracts on $1.4bn scheme
Decline follows July 2009 high of $382.6m
Taqa issue demonstrates continued appetite for Middle East bonds
Central bank’s reserves can only cover eight months of imports - a record low
Dubai Electricity & Water Authority awards Al-Mazmar substation contract
Country to benefit from trade funding
Firms prepare price proposals for deal to build 100km plus pipeline in Abu Dhabi
Arabian Construction Company wins high-rise contract
Saudi Arabia’s Islamic Development Bank is launching a bond with the aim of raising up to $1.5bn, in the latest sign that Middle East corporates are turning to inter-national debt markets rather than banks to raise capital.Companies in the Middle East & North Africa (Mena) issued $18.9bn worth of bonds in the first eight months of 2009, compared with just $12.5bn in the same period in 2008.By contrast, the value of loans has fallen steeply over this period. In the first eight months of 2009, the banks lent just $22.8bn, compared with nearly $69.6bn in the first eight months of 2008.Many banks are reluctant to lend despite central banks around the world cutting interest rates to encourage lending.“In 2006-08, banks were lending aggressively as they tried to capture market share,” says Nish Popat, Dubai-based head of fixed income at Dutch fund manager ING Investment Management.“Now banks are being much more selective about the terms on which they lend, and thinking more about the capital cost of each loan they make.”The withdrawal of banks from lending has led borrowers to seek money from different sources, leading to a dramatic increase in bond issuance.The Abu Dhabi and Qatari governments kickstarted the bond market when both raised $3bn in late March. State-backed companies with close ties to their respective national governments followed suit with their own bond issues.The same month, Abu Dhabi’s Tourism & Development Investment Company and Mubadala Development Company raised $1bn and $1.8bn respectively.“Banks have been constrained by the need to boost their liquidity and capital ratios,” says Adel Afiouni, head of the global market solutions group at Credit Suisse. “On the other hand, low-risk bond funds [in developed markets] and prime-quality bond issuers attracted strong inflow and appetite from investors seeking a yield pick-up over zero-rate deposits.”In their eagerness to invest in the nearly $20bn worth of bond issues in the Mena region so far this year, investors placed orders for $40bn, says Popat.The loan markets have suffered by comparison. Kuwaiti telecoms company Zain managed to raise $2.5bn in July, but the deal was a challenge to complete and some banks that originally planned to lend dropped out despite the high margins on offer.In April, Dubai Electricity & Water Authority managed to secure a $2.2bn loan, but Dubai Civil Aviation Authority failed to raise $1bn from the loan markets and had to instead secure a $350m equity injection from the Dubai government.While the banks were slow to start lending at the beginning of the year, activity has begun to pick up, says Afiouni. “The situation [in the loan markets] is already improving,” he says. “Banks are more liquid and oil prices much higher than in the first half of the year. However, banks will remain selective in their lending until a clear picture of economic recovery emerges, and will favour large corporates with solid balance sheets or strong government support.”“There is some degree of confidence creeping back into the [loan] market, and pricing seems to have stabilised at the moment,” says Hussain Hussain, director of Royal Bank of Scotland’s corporate debt origination team.Once the banks’ confidence improves, loans are expected to overtake bonds as the most popular form of capital raising.For bond markets to remain the largest source of corporate finance, two things need to occur. First, companies need to appreciate the importance of having multiple sources of funding. Second, a regional investor base has to develop. Investment funds, pension funds and insurance companies are crucial to developing sustainable bond markets.The strong performance of bonds in the secondary market proves investors have a strong appetite for further Middle East bond issues, according to Hussain.The bond deals completed this year were overwhelmingly arranged by international banks, with the top 10 including just one regional bank, Saudi Arabia’s Samba, which has worked on two deals.In 2008, the top 10 included several regional banks. “International banks are in the flow of fixed-income business on a continuous basis, and are able to provide issuers with real-time knowledge of market appetite and investor views when advising them on their deals, which is extremely important in recent volatile markets,” says Hussain.The UAE remains the biggest issuer of bonds and loans.
Bourses lose value after concerns over credit cutbacks in China
Bahrain plans to build a 5MW combined solar and wind power plant as part of the government’s effort to develop renewable energy sources in the country.
A joint venture of Qatar’s Midmac Contracting Company and Belgium’s Six Construct has won a $490m contract to build an extension to the convention centre at Education City on the western edge of Doha.
Islamic Development Bank is latest to issue a bond as international banks remain reluctant to lend.
Investment firm plans to start placing funds in regional projects
The 2010 federal budget is based on an oil price of $60 and assumes that Iraq will export an average of 2.2 million barrels per day.The government has said it plans to submit the budget for parliamentary approval by October (MEED 10:8:09).Iraq has suffered from a budget deficit of about $20bn this year following the collapse in oil prices during the second half of 2008.In November 2008, the government set the 2009 budget at $80bn, but it slashed the sum to $58bn by the time parliament approved the bill in March.
Samer Majali, chief executive officer (CEO) at the Bahraini national carrier has confirmed the airline plans to operate flights from Manama to Baghdad, Najaf, Erbil, Basra and Sulaimaniya by the end of 2009. Gulf Air launched its inaugural flight to Baghdad on 1 September, making it the only commercial carrier in the Gulf to fly to Iraq. The only other Middle Eastern airline now flying to the country is Royal Jordanian, where Majali was president and CEO until August.Gulf Air now flies five times a week to the Iraqi capital. Najaf and Erbil join the network in the coming weeks, with flights to Basra and Sulaimaniya launching later in 2009.
The companies announced the deal in a statement to the Qatar Exchange on 2 September.The agreement covers a 25-year period starting from the date of production and is worth QR8.46m ($2.33m) a year.The limestone will be used in the desalination process in QEWC’s plants.QNCC will supply limestone from a new plant which is due to begin operating at Umm Bab in 2010.QEWC made a a net profit of QR415m in the six months to 30 June, an 18.9 per cent increase from QR349m for the same period in 2008 (MEED 27:7:09).
The former commerce minister was President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s choice for the job but faced strong opposition from conservative members of parliament (MPs) because of his lack of experience in the sector. Mirkazemi received 147 votes, just three more than he needed to take the post. He now wants to boost oil production using advanced technology, and to start a spending programme of $140bn on upstream production infrastructure. Irandepends on oil for 80 per cent of its export earnings, and the post of oil minister is critical. When Ahmadinejad came to power in late 2005, the Majlis rejected three of his nominees for the crucial portfolio, saying they lacked relevant experience.
International Capital Trading invites select firms to bid for construction contract
Under the licence, which covers the 5.6-square-kilometre BC Block, the Chinese state-run firm will conduct seismic surveys of the area, drill exploration wells under QP’s supervision and produce oil and gas from the concession.The Chinese company is planning a $100m exploration drilling campaign between 2009 and 2014, and will make further investment decisions after it has studied the results.The award marks the first time Qatar has awarded an offshore exploration licence to a foreign firm, a trend that will continue in 2010 with more agreements, according to QP.
The $9.6bn project, sponsored by Saudi Aramco & Total Refining & Petrochemical Company (Satorp), has been modelled on a structure that expects banks to take on significant risk.Defaults at two large Saudi conglomerates means that some banks are expecting to have problems getting credit committee approval for the loans.The financing will be split between a $1.5bn commercial bank tranche, and a $1.5bn Islamic tranche. A further $3.5bn will come from export credit agencies.The financing is being arranged by France's Calyon and its Saudi partner Banque Saudi Fransi (MEED 12:07:09).
After more than a year of economic turmoil and despondency, some optimism is at last returning to the region. According to senior economists surveyed by MEED, most GCC states will now avoid budget deficits this year, allowing them to continue with aggressive spending plans to stimulate their domestic economies.The change in mood represents a sharp turnaround from the situation at the start of 2009, when economists predicted budget deficits would appear across the region for the first time since 2002, as a result of crumbling oil prices (MEED 16:1:09).Budget deficits and surpluses (% of GDP)20072008e2009f2010fBahrain3.210.3-7.5-1.2Kuwait29.3218.511.7Oman13.513.3-4.5-1.1Qatar12.7177.89.9Saudi Arabia12.3184.108.40.206UAE220.127.116.11.2GDP=gross domestic producte=estimatef=forecastSource: EFG-HermesAt the time, the price of a barrel of crude had fallen from a high of $147 in July 2008 to less than $40, and further falls were predicted.Philip Verleger, a former adviser to the US government and founder of Colorado-based energy consultant PKVerleger, talked of oil prices falling as low as $20 a barrel. Prices that low would have put the budgets of the Gulf countries under severe pressure just as they were trying to spend their way out of the economic slump.Of the six GCC states, only Qatar was expected to continue to post a budget surplus, helped by long-term contracts to export gas to Asia and Europe. Oman, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia all faced falling into deficit, while the UAE and Kuwait were expected to only balance their budgets.Healthy surplusesBut confidence has returned along with a stronger-than-expected oil price. In late August, the benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude was priced at about $70 a barrel. In the first half of the year, the average oil price was $53 a barrel, and Egyptian investment bank EFG-Hermes is forecasting that it will average $67 a barrel in the second half of the year.The buoyant oil price has led banks across the region to revise their forecasts for government finances this year. Saudi Arabia’s fiscal position has been upgraded from an expected deficit of 4.8 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) to a surplus of 0.6 per cent by EFG-Hermes, and Kuwait, the UAE and Qatar should all report healthy fiscal surpluses.Only Oman and Bahrain, where energy sales make up a smaller proportion of the economy, are still expected to end the 2009 fiscal year with deficits. “The oil outlook was substantially weaker at the start of the year,” says Monica Malik, a Dubai-based economist at EFG-Hermes. “We were predicting an average oil price for 2009 of $50 a barrel, which many of our clients said was optimistic.”Other analysts have also been busy revising their forecasts. Howard Handy, chief economist at Saudi bank Samba, predicted in February that Riyadh would report a deficit of about 7 per cent of GDP this year, based on an oil price of about $45 a barrel. He now says the budget will probably be in surplus.Similarly, the National Bank of Kuwait, which had only expected Kuwait to balance its budget this year, now says it should have a surplus of KD4.8bn ($16.7bn), or 15 per cent of GDP. Kuwait was the only GCC government to respond to the downturn by cutting spending, reducing expenditure by about 10 per cent, according to Daniel Kaye, senior economist at National Bank of Kuwait. “It has been surprising that Kuwait has put the brakes on while the rest of the [countries in the] region have been trying to stimulate their domestic economies,” he says.However, the revival of oil revenues should now allow Kuwait to join the rest of the GCC governments in boosting spending in 2010. Other governments, which were already following expansionary fiscal policies, should also be able to continue to spend to help stimulate their economies. Saudi Arabia’s current budget is 16 per cent higher than the previous year’s spending plan, while the UAE’s is 21 per cent higher.These spending plans were formulated at a time of low oil prices and relied on governments being willing to dip into the savings accumulated from previous years of surplus. But they could not be sustained over the long term if oil prices had stayed weak.Malik says a sustained period of oil prices below $40 a barrel would have required a reassessment of the development policy adopted by governments and a reduction in future spending. “[But] the continuation of the expansionary fiscal stance in 2010 and beyond is now more assured, even if there is a correction in the oil price,” he says.Other economists agree that governments can now be more confident in their spending plans even if overall economic growth remains weak. “They will continue to follow strong counter-cyclical fiscal policies,” says Handy. “Government spending has not been affected by the downturn in the oil price.”This should offer some hope to companies active in areas such as transport infrastructure, utilities, education, healthcare and housing, where GCC governments have concentrated their spending efforts.In some cases, spending levels could even exceed the amount allocated in the governments’ budgets. “It is wrong to think of government budgets in the region as strait-jackets,” says Handy. “They are more like guidance, with actual spending typically exceeding budgeted levels, although less so in difficult times.”In 2008, for example, Riyadh spent 24 per cent more than it had budgeted for, although this year its expenditure is likely to be closer to planned levels.Many economists are predicting that oil prices will remain close to $70 a barrel in 2010, adding to the level of confidence in government balance sheets and their ability to continue spending.This is important as any economic recovery is expected to be slow and protracted, and private-sector investment is likely to be limited.So far this year, few projects in the GCC have managed to secure private-sector finance. Among those that have are Bahrain’s $2.1bn Addur power and water scheme, which gained support from 17 institutions, and the $2.5bn raised by Saudi Arabia’s Acwa Power International for the Rabigh independent power project.Other high-profile schemes, including the Ras al-Zour power and water plant and the Landbridge rail project, both in Saudi Arabia, have had to rely on government funding because of the reluctance of private-sector investors to support the deals.If that situation persists, governments may need to introduce for further economic stimulus measures in 2010.It will not be easy for all governments to do so, however. For Oman and Bahrain, which are still expected to record deficits this year and next, opportunities to boost spending will be limited. Bahrain has already issued a $750m sovereign bond to help fund its projected budget deficit this year.Further fluctuationsAnd even for those countries liable to post balanced budgets or even surpluses this year, some potential difficulties lie ahead. Giyas Gokkent, chief economist at the National Bank of Abu Dhabi, says the current oil price is higher than the market fundamentals suggest it should be.He points out that the current oil price is partly due to some consuming countries building up relatively high stocks of oil. Once they decide they have sufficient supplies and cut back on their purchases, oil prices could fall again.In that situation, GCC governments will have to reconsider their expansionary policies, but most economists appear confident that no dramatic changes will be needed in the short term.“Budget policy is shaped much more by the medium-term outlook for the oil price, not short-term fluctuations,” says Handy.“Over the longer term, the oil price looks strong and most of the GCC has the [financial] reserves to ride out these weaknesses in the oil market. That will be supportive of state spending, which is a real driving force of the regional economy.”
The firm revised its estimates for Shaikan after new drilling at its Alan and Mus formations.Drilling has now reached 1,710 metres and the firm expecta to continue drilling to a depth of 3,200-3,500 metres.In October 2008, the company estimated reserves of up to 2 billion barrels of oil at the wider Shaikan Block, following the completion of a two-dimensional seismic survey (MEED 15:10:08).The firm's technical staff decided on their 2-billion-barrel estimate for the reservoir after surveying 171 kilometres out of an overall block area of 283 square kilometres.
Throughput at port terminals, that are majority-owned by DP World, was 12.3 million twenty-foot equivalent container units (TEUs). This is a 10 per cent decrease on the 13.6 million TEUs recorded during the first half of 2008.The company's revenue for the first six months of 2009 were $1.4bn, down from $1.6bn during the first six months of 2008.Mohammed Sharaf, chief executive officer (CEO) at DP World, says the market prospects for the second half remain unpredictable, but the group’s focus on emerging markets and the UAE continued to deliver a solid performance.
Once the Executive Council gives its approval, the department will award the contract.Under the contract, the consultant will carry out a feasibility study and outline design for the metro, followed by a detailed design of the network and its stations, and supervision of the eventual construction of the metro.The Department of Transport shortlisted various groups for the contract in July.They were the Adapt consortium of US-based Aecom, Germany's DB International and US-based Parsons Brinckerhoff; UK-based Atkins with Australia's Bovis Lend Lease; Lebanon's Dar al-Handasah (Shair & Partners), France's Egis and two Spanish firms, Gestisa and Ineco Tifsa; and a consortium led by UK-based Mott MacDonald with US-based Parsons International and the UK's Halcrow.The final two groups are the Adim consortium of France's Coteba, Lebanon's Khatib & Alami, and four German firms, Obermeyer, ILF Consulting Engineers, Hamburg Consult and Dornier; and a consortium led by France's Systra with UK-based Arup, Denmark's Cowi, and UK-based Foster & Partners.The metro is Abu Dhabi's largest infrastructure project and could cover hundreds of kilometres of lines serving Abu Dhabi Island and new developments adjacent to the city.According to sources bidding for the project, the Department of Transport plans to have two circular lines.The first will serve Abu Dhabi International airport, Al-Raha Beach, Abu Dhabi Island, Saadiyat Island and Yas Island.The second will connect Abu Dhabi Island, Mussafah and Mohammed bin Zayed City.
The company says the expected maximum production rate from the field will be 95 million cubic feet a day (cf/d).IEOC, the Egyptian subsidiary of Italian oil company Eni, has a 60 per cent stake in the North Bardawil concession with Kuwait Foreign Petroleum Exploration Company owning the 40 per cent balance.The operator is Petrobel, a joint operating company comprised of IEOC and the state-run Egypt General Petroleum Corporation (EGPC).In 2008 IEOC recorded 240,000 barrels a day of oil from its Egypt operations.
Mustang is a subsidiary of UK energy services company Wood Group and the joint venture is called Mustang al-Hejailan Engineering.Al-Hejailan is investing its gross assets of $11m for an unspecified interest in the venture.Al-Hejailan, based in the Eastern Province city of Al-Khobar, employs 150 staff and is a general engineering services contractor to the state-run Saudi Aramco.The joint venture expects to target future engineering work for The Royal Commission for Jubail and Yanbu, and petrochemicals giant Saudi Basic Industries Company (Sabic).In November 2008 Mustang won a front-end engineering and design (Feed) contract for a carbon capture and storage programme being developed by Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company (Masdar) (MEED 18:11:08).
“These remain challenging times for the sector as a whole and, as expected, we continue to see a lower level of rig refurbishment and offshore construction activity, mainly in the
area of floating production, storage and offloading contract awards than in the same
period last year,” said Nigel McCue, chief executive officer at Lamprell.Net profits at the firm were $31.6m, down from the $47.8m recorded in the first six months of 2008. Revenues for the first half were $259.9m, down 18.2 per cent from $318.2m a year before.Booked orders for the company’s services totalled $417m in June 2009, down 49 per cent from $818m in 2008, although prospective orders were at their highest level in Lamprell’s history, McCue said.
The company secured a $153.5 engineering, procurement, installation and commissioning contract from Qatar Petroleum. The deal covers the construction of four substations, 132kV cables and 33kV and 11kV power distribution lines at Ras Laffan industrial city.Under a second $20m contract, the company will build a 66/11kV substation in Doha. The client is Qatar General Electricity & Water Corporation (Kahramaa).Finally, Dubai Electricity & Water Authority awarded the company a $24m contract to construct a 132/11kV substation.In late June, Larsen & Toubro won a separate $20m contract in Oman for the construction of a 132/33kV substation in the Nakhal area, in the northeast of the sultanate. The client is Oman Electricity & Transmission Company (MEED 29:6:09).
Contractors are preparing to bid for the contract to build a junction on Fahaheel road leading to south Sabahiya and Mangaf.Companies are also due to submit prices for a contract to construct a new crossroad on the fifth ring road leading to new residential areas in south Surra.The prequalifiers for both packages are all local. They are Al-Dar Engineering & Construction Company, Arab Kuwait Contractors Company, Combined Group Contracting Company, Gulf United Construction Company, Kuwait Systems General Trading & Contracting Company, Medco General Trading & Contracting Company, Mubarak Hajeref General Trading and Contracting Company, and Mushrif Trading & Contracting Company.The ministry is also tendering a contract to upgrade Jahra road to the west of Kuwait City. The closing date for bids is 1 September (MEED 30:7:09).The successful bidder will build a 7.2-kilometre-long viaduct between Jahra Gate and the UN roundabout, and all other associated infrastructure works in the area.It will connect to Kuwait University, several hospital buildings, the Defence Ministry, Shuwaikh Port and other planned developments.
The first contract covers the connection of substation number 9025 in West Qassim to the 132kV transmission grid.NCC should finish the SR79m project in October 2010.Under a second contract, NCC will build a 115/13kV substation at West Khobar.The contractor has until October 2011 to complete the SR65m second contract.NCC also won a SR60m contract to build a 132/13.8kV substation in the Al-Oraijah district of Riyadh, due to be completed in October 2011.Saudi Electricity Company is the client.