SBRIS Daily News – Excerpts from International Media Reports
/Provided as a service from the Saudi-US Trade Group, Washington, DC/
Saudi Oil Output At 31-Year High: BLOOMBERG
Wael Mahdi | 3/18/12
Saudi Arabia, the largest oil producer in OPEC, pumped 9.87 million barrels a day in January, its second-highest monthly output since at least 1980, official data showed. The country produced 0.6 percent more crude in January than in the previous month, according to statistics the government submitted to the Joint Organization Data Initiative. The world’s biggest exporter of crude also boosted shipments to 7.51 million barrels a day in January from 7.36 million barrels in December, data posted today on the website of the international initiative known as JODI showed. SAUDI VELA TO SEND 11 OIL SUPERTANKERS TO US IN MARCH/APRIL: Saudi Arabia’s state shipping company, Vela, is set to send 11 supertankers, totalling up 22 million metric tons of crude oil, to the U.S. this month and next, an abnormally high number, shipbrokers and analysts said Friday, Energia reports.
What’s Behind Rising Gas Prices?: WALL STREET JOURNAL
Daniel Yergin | 3/15/12
As in the 2008 presidential election—remember the chants of “Drill, baby, drill!”—rising oil and gasoline prices have become an issue in 2012. But election-year politics aside, the forces driving up prices at the pump are very different today than they were four years ago. In 2008, it was primarily the surge in oil consumption in emerging markets, disruptions, and a belief that the world was running short of oil (the so-called peak oil crisis). In 2012, the reason is mainly geopolitics. SOLUTIONS FOR RUNAWAY SAUDI OIL CONSUMPTION: Saudi Arabia consumes about three million barrels a day, which translates into (40) barrels a year per capita. By comparison, the United States per capita consumption is estimated at (9.5) barrels a year and Japan’s is only (5) barrels a year per person, writes Abdel Aziz Aluwaisheg (Arab News).
Mourad Haroutunian | 3/17/12
Saudi Arabian shares extended gains, approaching their highest level since the start of the financial crisis, and volume surged as better-than-expected U.S. economic data underpinned global growth prospects. RETAIL INVESTORS, SPECULATION DRIVING GROWTH: Speculation has been the driving force behind the Saudi stock market’s rally and record volumes make it more substantive despite the improvement in the global macroeconomic environment as well as corporate profits, according to a new report, Arab News reports. SAUDI STOCK MARKET CAP SURGES TO SR1.49 TRILLION: The Saudi stock market depicted a positive drive on tenth straight week. Last week a couple of sensational records of highest volume were logged at Tadawul, which raised investors’ enthusiasm to participate more. Since the start of 2012, a substantial increase in the demand for Saudi stocks came to light, Arab News reports. TOP 10 RANKING IN SIGHT FOR TADAWUL: Saudi Arabia’s stock exchange is expected to quickly rank among the world’s 10 most active markets if it opens up to international investors. The Saudi Tadawul has attracted high levels of activity in recent months as speculation mounts that an easing of restrictions on foreign investors may be imminent. Currently, such investors are barred from trading except through swap agreements, Gregor Hunter (The National) writes.
North-South Railway to Cost Saudi Gov’t US$5.33bn: ARABIAN BUSINESS
The cost of construction for the railway project that will connect the North and South of Saudi Arabia is estimated to be around US$5.33bn, the chairman of Saudi Railway Company (SAR) said on Thursday.
Stephen Wilson | 3/19/12
Saudi Arabia could send female athletes and officials to the Olympics for the first time after talks with the IOC on a list of potential competitors for the London Games.
Mourad Haroutunian | 3/19/12
Internet subscriptions in Saudi Arabia, the Arab world’s largest economy, rose to 13.6 million by the end of 2011, from 11.4 million a year earlier, according to the kingdom’s telecommunications regulator.
Saudi Sends Military Gear to Syria Rebels: Diplomat: GOOGLE NEWS
AFP | 3/18/12
Saudi Arabia is delivering military equipment to Syrian rebels in an effort to stop bloodshed by President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, a top Arab diplomat said on Saturday.
Kingdom’s Jobless Hits 10.5%: ARAB NEWS
Galal Fakkar | 3/19/12
There are about 8 million foreigners in Saudi Arabia annually remitting about SR100 billion while unemployment among Saudis in the Kingdom has reached 10.5 percent, Labor Minister Adel Fakeih said. He added this is equivalent to 500,000 jobless Saudi men and women looking for jobs.
Reuters | 3/19/12
Iraq has agreed to repatriate Saudi prisoners who fought alongside Islamist insurgents against US-led forces under a deal that signals further improvement of relations between the two major Arab countries.
Saudi Electricity gets thumbs-up from Moody’s: CONSTRUCTION WEEK ONLINE
Moody’s Investors Service has affirmed the A1 issuer rating of Saudi Electricity Company (SEC), along with a ‘stable’ outlook for the future.
Severe Sandstorms Engulf Saudi Cities: ARAB NEWS
The General Presidency for Meteorology and Environment yesterday warned of possible severe sandstorms in the northern and eastern regions and Riyadh. It also warned of below-zero temperatures in the northern areas of Tabuk, Turaif and Al Qurayat in the next few days.
IRAN: HAWKS STEERING DEBATE ON HOW TO TAKE ON IRAN
With Israeli leaders warning of an existential threat from Iran and openly discussing the possibility of attacking its nuclear facilities, pro-Israel groups on all sides have mobilized to make their views known to the Obama administration and to Congress. But it is the most hawkish voices, like the Emergency Committee’s, that have dominated the debate, and, in the view of some critics, pushed the United States closer to taking military action against Iran and another war in the Middle East, Eric Lichtblau and Mark Landler (NYT) write. OPINION: THE DANGERS OF WARMONGERING ON SYRIA: Those who can’t wait to start a war with Iran tell us that Tehran is within three seconds, three months, or a year of developing a nuclear weapon. I promise you they don’t know this for anything near a fact. They’re trying to push Israel and the United States into a military attack against Iran, Leslie Gelb (The Daily Beast) writes. Here’s all we do know for sure: Iran is enriching uranium and has the capacity to enrich enough of it to a level of purity sufficient to make nukes—maybe, perhaps, in a year or two or more. Iran may have or may be developing related capacities to place this uranium into explosive form in a bomb or missile warhead. We have suspicions about the latter based on various kinds of imaging and listening intelligence. Now, are these activities something to worry about? Absolutely! But it is not a basis for going to war now or soon. ISRAEL SHIFTS VIEWS: Despite saber-rattling from Jerusalem, Israeli officials now agree with the U.S. assessment that Tehran has not yet decided on the actual construction of a nuclear bomb, according to senior Israeli government and defense figures, AP reports.
AFGHANISTAN: GULF WIDENS BETWEEN US AND KARZAI
Such harsh talk may sound as if it comes from the Taliban, but those are all remarks either made personally by the United States’ increasingly hostile ally here, President Hamid Karzai, or issued by his office in recent days and weeks. The strongest such outburst came Friday, the NYT reports.
YEMEN: US CITIZEN SHOT DEAD
Two gunmen have killed a US citizen in southwestern Yemen in an attack that was claimed by an armed group associated with al-Qaeda. The assailants, who were riding a motorbike, shot the man in his car while he was driving in Taiz, then fled the scene, a Yemeni official told the AFP news agency, Al Jazeera reports.
SYRIA: BLACK MARKET FOR WEAPONS NEARLY DEPLETED
For months, arms merchants such as Abu Ismail have been buying black-market weapons in Lebanon for the insurgency against Syrian President Bashar Assad. But the arms supply has slowed to a trickle, he says, LAT reports. “When attacks on protesters began, an RPG cost $300; now it’s $800 and there aren’t any more to be found,” said Abu Ismail, who is from the embattled city of Homs and asked to be identified by a family nickname for security reasons. “The Lebanese weapons market has dried up completely.” TWIN BOMBINGS IN DAMASCUS KILL 27: Two explosions struck the heart of Damascus on Saturday, killing at least 27 people in an attack on security installations that state television blamed on “terrorists” seeking to oust Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Reuters reports.
EGYPT: LEADER OF COPTIC CHRISTIANS DIES
Pope Shenouda III, the patriarch of the Coptic Orthodox Church who led Egypt’s Christian minority for 40 years during a time of increasing tensions with Muslims, died March 17 at his residence in St. Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Cairo. He was 88, Lee Keath and Maggie Michael (Washington Post) report.
/The daily news is provided as a service of the Saudi-US Trade Group, Washington, DC. Visit www.SUSTG.org for more information and to get a free email subscription to the News Review./</h4></div>