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Saudi Arabia has an estimated $500bn “stashed away in US treasuries” (bonds), as one expert puts it. And the view being ordered from above – from King Abdullah Bin Abdelaziz down – is that “more of this will be invested at home, as was signalled by lifting the limits on the amount the PIF [Public Investment Fund, chaired by Finance Minister

Saudi Arabia
Issue 847 - 13 February 2009

Oman hosts a range of smaller companies

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While Oman has its fair share of big IOCs – such as key PDO partner Royal Dutch Shell, Occidental Petroleum Corporation and Maersk Oil, and more recent entrants such as BG Group and BP – the Sultanate also attracts plenty of minnows and other players.

Oman
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Gulfis have played a role in developing Sudan’s upstream oil industry, and the comings and goings of regional investors continues. Last March saw the entry of Kuwait’s Kharafi Group, which bought a 3% stake in the Chinese-led Petrodar Operating Company from Dubai-based Al-Thani Investments, which has recently been selling off some of its Africa interests.

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Russia’s Gazprom has made a deal with Kuwait’s Noor Financial Investment Company to set up a joint venture targeting exploration and production work in Russia and the Middle East. The signing of a bilateral agreement on civil nuclear co-operation with George W Bush’s administration prior to the Republican president’s departure from office has raised some eyebrows in the United States, for fear that it will spark a ‘nuclear arms race’ in the region.

Kuwait | United Arab Emirates (UAE)
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Eritrea, a county with more than eight decades of exploration history but not much recent success, in late 2008 assigned two offshore blocks to a local/Chinese joint venture called Defba Oil Share Company, set up through a partnership of the Asmara government and Bahrain-registered Energy Alliance Company WLL.

United Arab Emirates (UAE) | Bahrain
Issue 846 - 30 January 2009

Saudis look to North African projects

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Among the Gulf investors that have looked for upside in the Maghreb’s hydrocarbons industries, London-based Xtract Energy Plc, which has Australian and Central Asian energy interests, last year announced a joint venture with the Saudi-owned Alraed Limited Investment Holding Company.

Saudi Arabia
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The credit crunch is slowing down the pace of investments, but the announcement that a Dubai government flagship is to ‘invest $16bn’ in Nigeria serves as a reminder of the extent to which Gulf investors have sought out new business in Africa. GSN has tracked the move of Gulf business players into the continent over a long period, and can record some real investments as well as the usual welter of statements of intent that mark the entry of apparently ever more Arab investors into African business.

Nigeria | United Arab Emirates (UAE) | Qatar
Issue 846 - 30 January 2009

Saudis buy into Mauritania

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Saudi Arabia’s Groupe Ahmed Saleh Bughchan is also present in Mauritania, holding the licences for Blocks Ta-14, Ta-26, Ta-36, Ta-37, Ta-61, Ta-62, Ta-63. Ahmed Saleh is from Jeddah’s Bughchan family; like many other important business families in the Kingdom (the Bin Laden, Binzagr and Bin Mahfouz), the Bughchan are originally from Yemen’s Hadhramaut region. The family has a range of interests including transport, construction, drinks, perfume and telecommunications, and owns shopping malls, hotels and a hospital.

Saudi Arabia
Issue 846 - 30 January 2009

Al-Ghurairs eye Mozambique

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In September, Dubai’s ETA Star Holdings was named as part of a consortium awarded the 10,957km2 Block B in Mozambique. Other members are Pakistan-focused Orient Petroleum International (run by Pakistan’s wealthy Hashwani family) and the local Osho Energia Limitada.

United Arab Emirates (UAE)
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Among the issues thrown up by the Ministry of Oil (MOO)’s second licensing round, announced on 31 December, is the challenge it poses to the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) through Baghdad’s decision to offer exploration permits in the Qamar, Nau Doman and Gilabet oilfields and Khashm Al-Ahmar gas field in upper Diyala province. The fields’ inclusion in the round comes before the Kurds can resolve the ownership of disputed territories in these fields. Indeed, according to analysis by GSN’s sister publication Iraq Focus, “Baghdad is playing the Kurds at their own game of laying down markers on key terrain in the border oilfields.”

Iraq
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The breakdown of the deal between The Dow Chemical Company and Petrochemical Industries Company – in which the Kuwaiti state-owned PIC would take a 50% stake in the United States’ largest chemicals group for around $9bn in return for the Americans developing the emirate’s downstream value-added via the KDow joint venture – is unsurprising.

Kuwait
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A pair of deals between the federal government and Kurdistan Regional Government on oil exports and developing the Kirkuk oil field have raised hopes of further strategic compromises, but severe tensions remain between Baghdad and Irbil. Baghdad has agreed to the export of Kurdistan oil via its northern export pipeline within months,

Iraq
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While Kuwait’s latest government crisis keeps the headline writers busy (see Politics, below), major oil companies are worrying that their hopes of developing the emirate’s huge reserves seem as elusive as ever. Some IOCs will struggle to make a profit even

Kuwait
Issue 842 - 05 December 2008

Options weighed for Dolphin refinancing

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Manoeuvrings for refinancing one of the GCC region’s most important energy transfer projects, the Dolphin Energy Ltd (DEL) gas pipeline between Qatar and the UAE, are expected to accelerate in the New Year, although bankers are remaining tight-lipped on details. The Dolphin refinancing will replace some

United Arab Emirates (UAE) | Qatar
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Saudi supertanker (VLCC) Sirius Star, carrying an estimated $100m worth of oil was hijacked by pirates off the coast of Kenya and headed towards the northern Somali coast. Bahrain’s Ebrahim Abdulaal Group of Companies (EAGC) has signed an MoU with London-based H Oil.

Saudi Arabia | Bahrain