The Eritrean diaspora is mourning

Since February 19, Eritrean social media have been flooded with tributes to Haile “Durue” Woldensae, the country’s former foreign minister who had been in incommunicado detention since September 18, 2001.The social media reaction was ignited by a post …

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Egypt's Sisi: Defaming security forces is 'high treason'

Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi warned on Thursday he considers defamation of the country’s armed forces and police an act of “high treason” that wouldn’t be tolerated.

In televised comments during a visit to the Mediterranean coastal town of Alamein, he reminded viewers of the hundreds of soldiers and police officers killed by armed groups in recent years.

“If anyone defames them, he is defaming all Egyptians. It’s no longer a question of freedom of speech,” said Sisi, a former general who led the military overthrow of elected president Mohamed Morsi in 2013.

“No one defames the army and police while I am here.” 

Sisi’s comments came a day after a call by Egypt’s top prosecutor, Nabil Sadek, for legal action against news outlets that publish “false news, statements and rumors”. 

“[The decision comes] in light of recent attempts by the forces of evil to undermine the safety and security of the nation by broadcasting and spreading lies,” Sadek said in a statement.

Journalism is Not a Crime: The Story of Mahmoud Hussein – Al Jazeera World

Fabricated sources?

Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry criticised the British broadcaster BBC on Tuesday for recent reporting on human rights in the country.

“It is … regretful to notice lack of professionalism in the performance of some media outlets, which base their coverage on fabricated sources, for political purposes, or in search of scoops,” he said. 

“This was the case in BBC’s last week report on Egypt, where the girl – who was alleged as forcibly disappeared and tortured – appeared on screens refuting such claims.”

The State Information Service accused the BBC of spreading false information and demanded an apology “refuting the professional errors and violations, as well as the allegations on the situation in Egypt”.

BBC published a short documentary on February 23 purporting to show human rights violations in the North African country. 

It gave detailed account of arrests, forced disappearances, torture, and sexual violence as recounted by victims and their families. Egyptian authorities called the reporting “flagrantly fraught with lies”. 

Hatem Azzam, a former member of Egypt’s parliament and a human rights advocate, said in a tweet the BBC story exposed practices that have become all too common.

The BBC report shed the light on the systemic enforced disappearance and torture in Egypt that is becoming real life normal practice. It should awake the human consciousness how many Egyptian”Giulio Regeni” like can be there or waiting to be @OrlaGuerin@BBCWorld@BBCOurWorldhttps://t.co/hC0Q6EWA3k

— Hatem Azzam (@HatemAzzam) February 27, 2018

A BBC spokesperson said the organisation stood by “the integrity” of its reporting teams.

The Egyptian government has increased its crackdown on media workers since Sisi seized power, including against Al Jazeera Media Network staff.

Mahmoud Hussein, an Egyptian national who works for Al Jazeera Arabic in Qatar, has been incarcerated without charge since December 2016. 

Hussein, 55, was accused of “incitement against state institutions and broadcasting false news with the aim of spreading chaos”, allegations he, his lawyers, and Al Jazeera strongly deny. He has been held in the notorious Tora maximum-security prison and suffers from physical injuries and severe psychological duress. 

Egypt ranks third in the world in terms of journalists arrested with 24 media workers held in detention. Since 2011, 10 journalists have been killed without proper investigations being conducted, according to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. 

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S Korean Kogas’ 2017 LNG imports rise 4% on year to 33 mil mt

South Korean state-owned Korea Gas Corp.’s LNG imports rose 3.8% to 33.064 million mt in 2017 from 31.846 million mt the year before, a company official said Thursday.

This marks the second consecutive annual increase in the country’s LNG imports after two years of declines, and comes as the country’s domestic LNG demand is expected to increase on the back of President Moon Jae-In’s push to reduce reliance on coal and nuclear for power generation.

The official did not disclose how much Kogas imported in the fourth quarter. But given its imports over January-September totaled 24.428 million mt, up 11.7% year on year, it imported 8.636 million mt in Q4, down 13.4% from 9.975 million mt in Q4 2016, according to S&P Global Platts calculations.

Most of the company’s LNG imports in 2017 came under 15 term contracts, which totaled 35.2 million mt/year, up from 33.3 million-34.3 million mt the year before.

Kogas has term contracts for 9.02 million mt/year from Qatar, 4 million mt/year from Malaysia, 4 million mt/year from Oman, 3.5 million mt/year from Australia, 2 million mt/year from Yemen, 1.7 million mt/year from Indonesia, 1.5 million mt/year from Russia’s Sakhalin and 1 million mt/year from Brunei, among others, the official said.

The company also started to import 2.8 million mt/year of LNG from the Sabine Pass terminal in Louisiana in June 2017 under a 20-year contract.

Its 30-year contract with Indonesia’s Badak project, under which Kogas has imported 1 million mt/year since 1998 expired, late last year. Two other long-term contracts will expire in 2018 — 2 million mt/year from Malaysia’s MLNG II project that began in 1995 and 1 million mt/year from Brunei’s BLNG that began in 1997.

This equates to a total loss of 4 million/mt, more than 10% of Kogas’ term contract volume.

Seven more long-term contracts, worth 17.28 million mt/year, are scheduled to expire before 2030, including 7 million mt/year from Qatar’s Rasgas, 4 million mt/year from Oman’s OLNG and 2 million mt/year from Yemen’s YLNG.

Kogas said it will seek to diversify its LNG supply sources to include Russia and the US to ease its dependence on the Middle East and Southeast Asia. Around 90% of its imports are currently sourced from five suppliers: Qatar, Australia, Oman, Malaysia and Indonesia.

“Kogas has started preparations for new term contracts and seeks to sign new deals at least five years before existing contracts expire,” the company official said.

The rise in LNG imports last year came as Kogas’ sales of the fuel have been on the decrease.

The state utility, which has a monopoly on domestic natural gas sales, sold 32.163 million mt of LNG in 2017, down 1.9% year on year.

Of the total, LNG sales to retail gas companies for households and businesses rose 5.8% year on year to 18.39 million mt, while LNG sales to power generators fell 10.5% to 13.773 million mt.

“The decline in LNG sales to power generators was attributable to the start of production at a newly coal-fired power plant and restart of several nuclear reactors shut for a major earthquake,” the Kogas official said.

Despite the 1.9% decline in LNG sales in 2017, Kogas’ revenue rose 5% year on year to Won 22.17 trillion ($20.49 billion) in the year, driven by higher retail prices, the official said.

The utility posted a net loss of Won 1.92 trillion for 2017, expanding from a net loss of Won 612.5 billion the year before. Its operating profit rose 3.6% to Won 1.03 trillion over the same period.

The expanded net loss was attributable to losses in exploration and development projects overseas, such as in Iraq, Australia and Indonesia. Kogas is involved in 25 overseas projects in 13 countries, including 10 under development and production and four at the exploration stage.

Kogas saw its debt decrease to Won 29 trillion at end 2017 from Won 30.57 trillion a year earlier. But its debt-to-equity ratio rose to 356.2% from 322.7% over the same period.

The state utility’s LNG imports and sales are likely to keep rising in 2018 as Moon, who took office last May, has vowed to increase power generation by LNG to reduce the country’s heavy reliance on coal and nuclear.

Under the country’s long-term Basic Blueprint for Power Supply released last December, the percentage of electricity production from LNG would climb to 18.8% in 2030 from 16.9% in 2017.

The share of coal would fall to 36.1% in 2030 from 45.3% in 2017, of nuclear would fall to 23.9% from 30.3%, and of renewables would rise to 20% in 2030 from 6.7% in 2017.
Source: Platts

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DP World Chairman and Panama President Discuss Future Trade Ties

Trade infrastructure development to diversify Panama’s economy and DP World’s international experience in over 40 countries were at the centre of discussions held in Dubai yesterday between the global trade enabler’s Group Chairman and CEO Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem and Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela. As part of his visit, Mr. Varela was taken on a tour of DP World’s flagship Jebel Ali Port and Free Zone, including Terminal 3, which is among the world’s most productive and technologically advanced, employing surveillance drones and remote-controlled quay cranes that are operated from the safety and comfort of a control room. A presentation was also delivered on the role that DP World plays in enabling customers to manage the complexities and cut costs in the global supply chain, highlighting the Dubai Logistics Corridor as a model that has helped the port and free zone contribute to over 20% of Dubai’s GDP. DP World Group Chairman and CEO Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, said: “Panama’s economic growth within the last decade has been among the highest in the world.

Major contributors have been the Panama Canal and its expansion, the resulting global logistics hub potential and the country’s economic diversification. We’ve experienced a similar growth story with the development of the Jebel Ali Port and Free Zone coupled with the development of trade infrastructure such as the Dubai Logistics Corridor and the continued drive of our leaders to develop trade and business. We’re keen to share this experience with governments from around the world and to build successful partnerships for the benefit of all. “All stakeholders are looking for additional value in getting their goods to market and to enable trade in an increasingly complex world. Panama has a lot to offer including thriving agriculture and fisheries, which can be even better connected to regional and global supply chains by developing multimodal transport links and cold storage facilities.” DP World’s existing operations in Latin America include a 50-year concession in Ecuador, investing over $1 billion in developing maritime trade infrastructure, with plans to develop a logistics zone to create a regional trading hub in Posorja.

It also operates DP World Santos in Brazil, the busiest container port in the region. Other locations include DP World Callao in Peru; DP World Caucedo in the Dominican Republic, which is attracting 3PLs and global retailers with a multimodal logistics platform and in-house port community system and a terminal in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Dubai’s non-oil trade with Latin American countries has increased significantly in recent years, amounting to more than USD 35 billion between 2010 and 2016. Meanwhile, Dubai’s trade with Panama exceeded USD 20.6 million in 2017.
Source: DP World

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Asia-Pacific Crude-April cargoes clear; Vietnam keeps most of its supplies

Sweet crude cargoes are gradually clearing in the Asia-Pacific crude market, with most of the Vietnamese supplies staying within the country, traders said on Thursday.

AUSTRALIA: Mitsui has sold a partial Enfield cargo at a premium between $3 and $3.50 a barrel to dated Brent to load in April 14-18, traders said. There had been an option to sell this cargo along with a partial Vincent but the latter remains unsold, they said.

VIETNAM: Vietnamese state oil marketer PV Oil may have sold its Ruby and heavy Bach Ho crude cargoes loading in April to its domestic Bin Son Refinery (BSR), traders said. This would be in addition to April-December Bach Ho light crude supplies that has also likely been awarded to BSR at about $3.50 a barrel above dated Brent, they said.

MALAYSIA: The official selling price of a basket of February-loading Malaysian crude oil grades has been set at $69.39 a barrel, Malaysian state oil firm Petronas said.

BRENT-DUBAI EFS *Brent’s premium to Dubai swaps was at $3.67 per barrel for May.

NEWS

U.S. crude oil production shattered a 47-year output record in November and retreated slightly in December, the U.S. Energy Department said on Wednesday, as oil production from shale continued to upend global supply patterns. The chairman of China’s CEFC China Energy, the private firm that has agreed to buy a nearly $10 billion stake in Russian oil major Rosneft, has been investigated for suspected economic crimes, a person with direct knowledge of the matter said.

Commodities trader Noble Group plunged to a $4.9 billion annual loss, mainly due to losses on derivatives contracts, and said it was still in talks with creditors to finalise a rescue deal. Spain’s Repsol has asked Bank of America-Merrill Lynch to value its energy portfolio in the North Sea as it considers leaving a troubled joint venture with China’s Sinopec, two banking sources said.

Exxon Mobil Corp said on Wednesday it will exit joint ventures with Russia’s Rosneft, citing U.S. and European Union sanctions first imposed in 2014. For crude prices, oil product cracks and refining margins.

Brent Dubai Brent/Dubai EFS PRODUCT CRACKS Fuel oil crack Gasoil crack Naphtha crack Complex refining margins
Source: Reuters (Reporting by Florence Tan; Editing by Amrutha Gayathri)

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Israel's El Al seeks international help to access Saudi airspace

The request came in a letter on Wednesday from El Al’s chief executive to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), in which he said he has also approached Israel’s prime minister.

Saudi Arabia does not recognize Israel though there has been a thawing of the relationship between the US allies, with a shared concern over Iranian influence in the region. Granting an Israeli airline access to its air space by lifting a 70-year-old ban, however, would mark a dramatic diplomatic shift.

The appeal is a response to plans revealed by Air India last month to begin direct flights to Tel Aviv which pass through Saudi airspace, a shorter route so far off-limits to all Israel-bound commercial planes. There has been no official announcement whether Air India has received permission to fly over Saudi soil for its proposed thrice-weekly flights.

El Al’s CEO has now turned to the head of IATA, Alexandre de Juniac, saying he understood no such permission would be granted to Israeli jetliners and asking Juniac to step in to prevent “an uneven playing field.”

“I am approaching you and kindly requesting IATA to intervene and to represent aviation industry’s interest by advocating equal overfly rights for all carriers over the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and opposing any form of discrimination,” CEO Gonen Usishkin wrote in the letter seen by Reuters.

IATA’s membership includes 280 airlines in 120 countries.

Usishkin said he has also requested help from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to resolve the issue.

El Al has yet to receive a response.

El Al currently flies four weekly flights to Mumbai, but these take seven hours rather than five as they take a route south towards Ethiopia and then east to India, avoiding Saudi airspace. Shortening the route would also be a significant cost-cutter.

Air India has not received any communication yet from the aviation regulator, a company spokesman said when asked whether the airline had received permission to operate flights to Israel over the Saudi airspace.

The proposed India-Israel route is a result of strengthening ties between the two countries.

In his letter Usishkin, who became CEO two weeks ago, said Air India’s flights are scheduled to begin on March 6, citing slot information from Israel’s Airports Authority.

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Eritrean diaspora is mourning

Since February 19, Eritrean social media have been flooded with tributes to Haile “Durue” Woldensae, the country’s former foreign minister who had been in incommunicado detention since September 18, 2001.The social media reaction was ignited by a post …

Read More