Recovery in the pipeline as Yemen plans major lift in oil, LNG exports

A Yemeni oil worker looks out at the Aden refinery after it was reactived in 2016. The port city is key to Yemen’s plans to boost crude production. (AFP)
Updated 11 February 2019
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Recovery in the pipeline as Yemen plans major lift in oil, LNG exports

  • Yemen produced an average of 50,000 bpd of crude in 2018 compared with around 127,000 bpd in 2014. Last year it exported some quantities of oil

NEW DELHI: The legitimate government in Yemen hopes to scale up its crude production to 110,000 barrels per day (bpd) in 2019, with exports touching about 75,000 bpd, the country’s oil minister said on Sunday.
The government of Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi controls the southern port city of Aden and areas holding Yemen’s oil-and-gas fields. The Iranian-aligned Houthi group controls the capital Sanaa and the oil terminal of Ras Issa on the western coast.
Yemen’s oil output has collapsed since 2015 when the Arab-led military coalition intervened in Yemen’s war to try to restore Hadi’s government to power.
“We will maintain production from four blocks and are planning to build a pipeline to the Arab Sea (Arabian Sea) to resume exports from these blocks,” Aws Abdullah Al-Awd, Hadi’s oil minister, said in an interview.
The conflict has choked energy output and shuttered a key export terminal and pipeline.
Yemen produced an average of 50,000 bpd of crude in 2018 compared with around 127,000 bpd in 2014. Last year it exported some quantities of oil.
The country has proven oil reserves of around 3 billion barrels, according to the
US Energy Information Administration (EIA).
The oil minister said Yemen also wanted to resume production of LNG, which had been halted as a result of the conflict.
“Our country has been affected by the war for the past three years, but now things are coming back. Hopefully, 2019 will be good for Yemen,” he said.
He predicted that LNG output would rise in 2019 to 6.7 million tons and half of that amount would be exported.
“In 2020, we hope to export all of our LNG production, mainly to customers in Asia,” he said.
He noted that companies including Total, US-based Hunt Oil and Korean companies operate the LNG project.


Palestinians in financial crisis after Israel, US moves

Updated 22 March 2019
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Palestinians in financial crisis after Israel, US moves

  • A Ramallah-based economics professor said the Palestinian economy more generally, remain totally controlled by and reliant on Israel
  • Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts have been at a standstill since 2014

RAMALLAH, Palestinian Territories: The Palestinian Authority faces a suffocating financial crisis after deep US aid cuts and an Israeli move to withhold tax transfers, sparking fears for the stability of the West Bank.
The authority, headed by President Mahmud Abbas, announced a package of emergency measures on March 10, including halving the salaries of many civil servants.
The United States has cut more than $500 million in Palestinian aid in the last year, though only a fraction of that went directly to the PA.
The PA has decided to refuse what little US aid remains on offer for fear of civil suits under new legislation passed by Congress.
Israel has also announced it intends to deduct around $10 million a month in taxes it collects for the PA in a dispute over payments to the families of prisoners in Israeli jails.
In response, Abbas has refused to receive any funds at all, labelling the Israeli reductions theft.
That will leave his government with a monthly shortfall of around $190 million for the length of the crisis.
The money makes up more than 50 percent of the PA’s monthly revenues, with other funds coming from local taxes and foreign aid.

While the impact of the cuts is still being assessed, analysts fear it could affect the stability of the occupied West Bank.
“If the economic situation remains so difficult and the PA is unable to pay salaries and provide services, in addition to continuing (Israeli) settlement expansion it will lead to an explosion,” political analyst Jihad Harb said.
Abbas cut off relations with the US administration after President Donald Trump declared the disputed city of Jerusalem Israel’s capital in December 2017.
The right-wing Israeli government, strongly backed by the US, has since sought to squeeze Abbas.
After a deadly anti-Israeli attack last month, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he would withhold $138 million (123 million euros) in Palestinian revenues over the course of a year.
Israel collects around $190 million a month in customs duties levied on goods destined for Palestinian markets that transit through its ports, and then transfers the money to the PA.
Israel said the amount it intended to withhold was equal to what is paid by the PA to the families of prisoners, or prisoners themselves, jailed for attacks on Israelis last year.
Many Palestinians view prisoners and those killed while carrying out attacks as heroes of the fight against Israeli occupation.
Israel says the payments encourage further violence.
Abbas recently accused Netanyahu’s government of causing a “crippling economic crisis in the Palestinian Authority.”
The PA also said in January it would refuse all further US government aid for fear of lawsuits under new US legislation targeting alleged support for “terrorism.”

Finance Minister Shukri Bishara announced earlier this month he had been forced to “adopt an emergency budget that includes restricted austerity measures.”
Government employees paid over 2,000 shekels ($555) will receive only half their salaries until further notice.
Prisoner payments would continue in full, Bishara added.
Nasser Abdel Karim, a Ramallah-based economics professor, told AFP the PA, and the Palestinian economy more generally, remain totally controlled by and reliant on Israel.
The PA undertook similar financial measures in 2012 when Israel withheld taxes over Palestinian efforts to gain international recognition at the United Nations.
Abdel Karim said such crises are “repeated and disappear according to the development of the relationship between the Palestinian Authority and Israel or the countries that support (the PA).”
Israel occupied the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including now annexed east Jerusalem in the Six-Day War of 1967 and Abbas’s government has only limited autonomy in West Bank towns and cities.
“The problem is the lack of cash,” economic journalist Jafar Sadaqa told AFP.
He said that while the PA had faced financial crises before, “this time is different because it comes as a cumulative result of political decisions taken by the United States.”
Abbas appointed longtime ally Mohammad Shtayyeh as prime minister on March 10 to head a new government to oversee the crisis.
Abdel Karim believes the crisis could worsen after an Israeli general election next month “if a more right-wing Israeli government wins.”
Netanyahu’s outgoing government is already regarded as the most right-wing in Israel’s history but on April 9 parties even further to the right have a realistic chance of winning seats in parliament for the first time.
Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts have been at a standstill since 2014, when a drive for a deal by the administration of President Barack Obama collapsed in the face of persistent Israeli settlement expansion in the West Bank.