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Wednesday, 27 December 2017

Russia’s LNG ambitions no longer a pipe dream

Russia’s LNG ambitions no longer a pipe dream:

"Leonid Mikhelson beamed with pride when Vladimir Putin this month hailed Novatek’s $27bn liquefied gas pipeline project as an “extremely important step” for the country.

The chief executive of the nation’s biggest privately owned gas producer and the Russian president had for years been told that the Yamal liquid natural gas project in the Russian Arctic was too difficult to build and not viable in a country where gas exports have been dominated by state-owned Gazprom.

“This is a complex project, of course, and in this room there are very good people, good specialists, who at the beginning of the process, told me: ‘Do not do this’,” Mr Putin told the chief executives of Russia’s other top energy companies, including Gazprom’s Alexei Miller and Rosneft’s Igor Sechin, who were summoned to fly to Yamal for the pipeline’s opening ceremony. “But those who took on this project took a risk; this risk proved to be justified — and achieved results.”"



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High profile Saudis released after graft probe

High profile Saudis released after graft probe:

"Several high-profile Saudi businessmen and former government employees rounded up in a corruption crackdown have secured their freedom after reaching financial settlements with the authorities.

Those freed include Ibrahim al-Assaf, who was finance minister for two decades before being sacked last year, and Saud al-Duwaish, a former chief executive of Saudi Telecom Company, according to two people briefed on the matter. Pictures and videos circulated online recently appeared to show them out of detention.

There were no details about the settlements, but the government has previously said those detained could be released if they handed over cash and other assets, believed to be up to 70 per cent of suspects’ wealth in some cases. Others said to have been released include a son of Saleh Kamel, a billionaire who runs one of the Middle East’s biggest conglomerates."



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MIDEAST STOCKS-Gulf mostly rises on oil surge; Saudi petchems, builders up | ZAWYA MENA Edition

MIDEAST STOCKS-Gulf mostly rises on oil surge; Saudi petchems, builders up | ZAWYA MENA Edition:

"An overnight surge in the Brent oil price above $67 a barrel for the first time since May 2015 helped most Gulf stock markets rise on Wednesday, while Dubai rebounded modestly from a six-month low. The Saudi stock index closed 0.3 percent higher in active trading volume, though it came off an early high as the oil price retreated from its peak on Wednesday afternoon. Eleven of 13 Saudi petrochemical producers, whose margins could benefit from dearer oil, rose. The biggest, Saudi Basic Industries , added 0.6 percent. "



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Saudi Arabia’s reform drive is bold, yet fraught with risk

Saudi Arabia’s reform drive is bold, yet fraught with risk:

"The Middle East’s most dynamic leader this year, albeit in a sluggish field, would be Mohammed bin Salman, crown prince of Saudi Arabia. MbS, as the 32-year-old wunderkind is known, has seized the reins of power and set a dizzying pace for a ruling family that by habit coalesces slowly around low common denominators, with caution and consensus as its watchwords. Saudi Arabia’s radical attempt to fire up its economy with private investment and wean it off dwindling oil revenue is a story with huge implications. There is no doubting the ambition and energy with which MbS, licensed by his aged father, King Salman, is propelling economic and social reform; or how important it is, for the region as well as the kingdom, that he succeeds. His socio-religious liberalisation is bold, breathing fresh air into a stifled Saudi society. He has clipped the wings of the fanatical religious police. He is slowly dismantling gender segregation and the cloistering of women, and promoting mixed entertainment, lifting ludicrous bans on concerts and cinema. Next year, in a move that must stick in the craw of Wahhabi clerics, women will be allowed to drive."



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Oil prices slip away from 2015 highs, but market remains tight | Arab News

Oil prices slip away from 2015 highs, but market remains tight | Arab News:

"Oil prices on Wednesday slipped away from two-and-a-half year highs hit the previous session as the gradual resumption of flows through a major North Sea pipeline made up for supply disruption in Libya. But the two outages in quick succession have highlighted how much tighter global oil markets have become a year into supply cuts led by OPEC and Russia. US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $59.73 a barrel at 0421 GMT, down 24 cents from their last settlement. WTI broke through $60 a barrel for the first time since June 2015 in the previous session."



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Qatar’s trade surplus surges by 54.8% - The Peninsula Qatar

Qatar’s trade surplus surges by 54.8% - The Peninsula Qatar:

"Qatar’s trade surplus expanded to QR12.8bn in November, a 32 percent jump from a year ago and 54.8 percent surge from the previous month, a preliminary data released by the Ministry of Development Planning and Statistics showed yesterday. In November 2017, the total exports of goods, including exports of goods of domestic origin and re-exports, amounted to around QR21.8bn, an increase of 15.9 percent compared to November 2016, and increase by 3.8 percent compared to October 2017. On other hand, the imports of goods in November stood at QR8.9bn, down 2 percent from a year ago. On month-on-month, imports declined by 26.9 percent."



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After Oman, Kuwait also postpones VAT until 2019 | ZAWYA MENA Edition

After Oman, Kuwait also postpones VAT until 2019 | ZAWYA MENA Edition:

"Oman’s finance ministry decided to postpone the implementation of the Value Added Tax (VAT) until 2019, and transitive tax until mid-2018. Meanwhile, a CNBC Arabiya TV said that Kuwait has also decided to defer applying VAT until 2019, likely to give the National Assembly enough time to vote on the unified Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) to enforce the tax in all member states.

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have already decided to put the tax into practice by January 1, 2018. VAT is a tax imposed on the difference between products’ cost and sale prices. It is an indirect tax imposed on all goods and services except those exempted by an official decision."



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Tax-free no more: Saudi Arabia, UAE to roll out VAT in 2018

Tax-free no more: Saudi Arabia, UAE to roll out VAT in 2018:

"Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which have long lured foreign workers with the promise of a tax-free lifestyle, plan to impose a 5 percent tax next year on most goods and services to boost revenue after oil prices collapsed three years ago.

The value-added tax, or VAT, will apply to a range of items like food, clothes, electronics and gasoline, as well as phone, water and electricity bills, and hotel reservations.

Elda Ngombe, a 23-year-old college graduate who’s looking for a job in Dubai, said there’s one specific purchase she’s planning before next year’s price hike: “Makeup, because I can’t live without makeup.”"



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MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi rises on oil price surge, most of Gulf little changed | ZAWYA MENA Edition

MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi rises on oil price surge, most of Gulf little changed | ZAWYA MENA Edition:

"Saudi Arabia's stock market rose in early trade on Wednesday as petrochemical shares climbed on the back of an overnight surge in the Brent oil price LCOc1 above $67 a barrel for the first time since May 2015. Other Gulf bourses were little changed.

The Saudi stock index added 0.5 percent in the first 45 minutes as the top petrochemical stock, Saudi Basic Industries, rose 1.0 percent.

Construction firms were also strong on hopes that higher oil revenues would give the government money to boost infrastructure spending next year; Khodari rose 1.3 percent. "



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