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A summary of last week’s major macroeconomic updates and indicators brought to you on one page for your convenience.

March 12 to March 18 Coverage:

Egypt’s budget deficit reached EGP 222.5 billion from July 2108 to January 2019, accounting for 4.2% of the country’s GDP, according to Amwal Al Ghad.

The Egyptian pound reached its highest value against USD in two years on March 17 because of the foreign funds increase. The currency was trading at 17.34 to the dollar, Reuters reported.

Egypt’s non-oil exports recorded $2.043 billion in total at the end of January 2019, Amwal Al Ghad quoted a statement released by the GOEIC.

Egyptian officials expected receiving the final tranche of the $12 billion IMF loan in June or July 2019, the Arab Weekly reported.

The Egyptian-Japanese trade exchange increased by 30.5% in 2018, recording $1.26 billion, compared to $969 million during 2017, according to Amwal Al Ghad.

Egypt’s annual headline inflation increased recording 14.4% in February 2019, up from 12.7% in January 2019, a three-month high, according to the CBE, Ahram Newspaper reported.

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Egypt plans to increase Idku liquefaction plant’s gas exports to reach 1.13 billion cubic feet per day (bcf/d) in June 2019, compared to the current 800 million standard cubic feet per day (mmscf/d) of gas exports.

The plant is set to start operating in full capacity by mid-2019, as natural gas from neighboring Mediterranean fields reach the plant and as local production increases, Minister of Petroleum, Tarek El Molla, told Al Borsa News.

Idku’s gas exports brought Egypt back to the global market after achieving self-sufficiency, El Molla noted.

The plant is owned 12% by the Egyptian General Petroleum Corporation (EGPC), 12% by the Egyptian Natural Gas Holding Company (EGAS), 35.5% by Royal Dutch Shell, and 5% by Gaz de France (GDF).

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The United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Afghanistan have signed memoranda of understanding (MoUs) in several fields; including education, culture, sports, mining and energy, Emirates News Agency (WAM) reported.

Anwar bin Mohammed Gargash, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, and Mohammad Humayon Qayoumi, Afghanistan’s Acting Minister of Finance, signed four agreements covering the fields of education, mining, energy, and sport cooperation.

Additionally, Qayoumi signed an MoU on cultural cooperation with Noura bint Mohammed Al Kaabi, Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development, and another agreement on agricultural cooperation with Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, Minister of Climate Change and Environment.

The signed MoUs aim at enhancing the joint cooperation between the two countries.

The MoUs signings were witnessed by Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, and President Ashraf Ghani of Afghanistan.

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Eni plans to complete establishing the onshore pipeline connecting Zohr gas treatment plant in Port Said to Damietta Liquefaction plant by April 2019.

The plan is to export liquefied natural gas (LNG) from some of Zohr’s production to the European markets upon obtaining a license from the Ministry of Petroleum, a source at the ministry told Al Borsa News.

According to Eni’s agreement to develop Zohr, the company is entitled to export gas quantities to global markets after obtaining the license from the ministry, the source said.

Eni purchased a share at the Idku liquefaction plant after making the Zohr discovery, with a target to export parts of its production, the source noted.

Moreover, Eni owns around 26% of the Damietta liquefaction plant after buying 50% of Union Fenosa’s share. In addition, Eni had contracted to pump 750 million standard cubic feet per day (mmscf/d) to Damietta plant.

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The Iranian President, Hassan Rouhani, inaugurated the new four development phases of South Pars field on March 17th, according to a Twitter statement by the Iranian oil ministry, Reuters reported.

Iran had announced the development phases on March 12th without giving further information about its inaugural.

The country has invested around $11 billion to complete the new phases.

Launching the development phases is expected to increase the country’s gas production capacity by 110 million cubic meters per day (mcm/d), according to the statement.

The gas production at South Pars is expected to be more than 750 mcm/d by late 2019. Meanwhile, the country produces around 841 mcm/d in the current year, which began in March 2018, according to Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh.

Iran expects to produce 880 mcm/d in the next year and 950 mcm/d the following year, Zanganeh added.

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Sidi Kerir Petrochemicals (Sidpec)’s board of directors decided to self-finance 30% of the company’s propylene and polypropylene factory through a rights issue, and to secure the remaining 70% via loans from Egyptian banks, the company said in a statement to the Egyptian Exchange (EGX).

The company’s management noted that it will take the necessary procedures to negotiate with financing institutions to obtain loans with the best possible terms and conditions to decrease equities’ share in the financing.

Sidpec had earlier obtained a license from W.R. Grace & Co. to use its UNIPOL PP Process Technology, Egypt Oil & Gas previously reported.

Sidpec will use the technology in its 450 kilotons-per-annum (kTA) facility to produce polypropylene products.

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Russian giant gas company, Novatek, has bagan discussions with Saudi Aramco around Arctic LNG 2 project, Reuters reported.

The talks were between Leonid Mikhelson, Novatek’s CEO and Khalid Al-Falih, Minister of Energy, Industry and Mineral Resources of Saudi Arabia, where they are expected to settle on an agreement soon.

“We are in talks with Saudi Aramco [on the Arctic LNG 2 project]. I think we will get something concrete in coming months,” Mikhelson said.

Mikhelson added that he did not think that the global prices of liquefied natural gas (LNG) will change after launching the project.

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The Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) inked an agreement on March 17th, awarding onshore Block 4 to Japan’s INPEX Corporation, ADNOC announced.

The 35-year agreement gives INPEX the block’s exploration rights through its subsidiary JODCO Exploration Limited, which will run the concession on behalf of INPEX.

The agreement was signed by Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Minister of State and ADNOC CEO, and Takayuki Ueda, President and CEO of INPEX CORPORATION.

“This award to INPEX is a further demonstration of how ADNOC is utilizing value-adding partnerships and new technologies to accelerate the exploration and development of Abu Dhabi’s substantial untapped hydrocarbon resources,” Al Jaber said.

“This agreement to explore and appraise oil and gas opportunities in a highly promising sector of Abu Dhabi underpins the importance of our ongoing partnership,” Ueda commented.

INPEX will own a 100% stake during the exploration phase and will invest around $176 million to explore and evaluate oil and gas opportunities in the block.

After finalizing the exploration phase, INPEX will be able to develop any commercial discoveries and ADNOC will have the choice to own a 60% stake during the production phase.

The award has been authorized by Abu Dhabi’s Supreme Petroleum Council (SPC), representing the strong relationship between the UAE and Japan.

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Egypt expects to start receiving natural gas from Israel in mid-2019, Egyptian Minister of Petroleum, Tarek El Molla, said during the CERAWeek conference. Due to unexpected issues in the pipeline connecting Egypt to Israel, the two countries decided to delay gas movements, sources familiar with the subject told Bloomberg.

The companies involved in the $15 billion gas deal revealed the issues in the pipeline and that it will need more work than what was initially planned to start transporting natural gas.

Natural gas trial quantities were planned to be received in March 2019 in case the pipeline did not have any issues, according to the Egyptian partner in the deal.

Israel’s domestic pipeline infrastructure does not have the capacity to transfer the contracted quantities of natural gas from the Tamar and Leviathan fields to Egypt, sources told TheMarker (via Haaretz) in November.

The Israeli pipeline, which belongs to Israel Natural Gas Lines (INGL) company, has an annual carrying capacity of 2 to 3 billion cubic meters (bcm). However, Israel’s Delek-led consortium are contracted to sell 3.5 bcm/y to Egypt under the terms of agreement signed by Egypt’s Dolphinus Holdings in February 2018.

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Egyptian Minister of Petroleum, Tarek El Molla, met with members of the Middle East Institute during his visit to the US to attend the CERAWeek, Egypt Oil & Gas reports.

The meeting was attended by head of US oil companies and organized by US Chamber of Commerce, the Egypt-US Business Council and the American Chamber of Commerce in Egypt.

The Egyptian government adapted a reform program to maintain economic balance and growth and to provide work opportunities, El Molla said in his speech, adding that Egypt’s foreign currency reserves reached around $44 billion by the end of February, recording the highest amount in the Egyptian history.

The country’s economic growth rate grew from 2% to 5.4% by the end of February, El Molla pointed out, adding that the foreign currency flow recorded $163.5 billion during the past four years.

Aiming for more growth, Egypt adopted Vision 2030 in order to reach a competitive variant economy that depends on innovation and knowledge, and is built on social justice.

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