Qatar-Egypt gas talks put on hold

Egypt and Qatar are not currently negotiating further natural gas deliveries as supplies of fuels from other Gulf states and the end of peak summer demand eases pressure on Cairo to reach a deal, industry sources said, according to Reuters.

Doha agreed in May to donate five cargoes of liquefied natural gas (LNG) and initial talks were held for Egypt to buy at least 13 more, but that was before the Egyptian army removed Qatar-backed Islamist President Mohamed Mursi from power in July.

“We haven’t resumed negotiations yet,” a senior Egyptian energy official said.

Egypt has curbed gas exports in recent years as its domestic energy use has surged, peaking in mid-summer as soaring temperatures boost demand for air conditioning.

To help this summer, Qatari officials convinced foreign partners in its LNG export projects to accept $13 per million British thermal units for cargoes that Doha then donated.

Egypt was able to allocate the Qatari LNG cargoes it received to foreign partners, freeing up more of its own gas for the domestic market.

The cash-strapped government expects declining temperatures over the next few months to drastically reduce its gas needs.


Qatari banks to maintain robust profitability

Deriving benefits from the country’s rising infrastructure spending and their global expansion, Qatari banks are set to maintain “robust profitability” in 2013-14, QNB has said in a report.

In its “Qatar Economic Insight” QNB said it expects Qatar’s banking sector to maintain its strong profitability for the remainder of 2013 and into the next year.

Profits reached $8.9bn in the first half of 2013, equivalent to a return on average equity (ROAE) of around 15.2% for reporting banks.

Higher lending, a low cost base and low provisioning have supported the banks’ overall profitability, even though stiffer competition has reduced ROAE somewhat in recent years.

“We expect an increased profitability in 2013-14 as rising public infrastructure spending and a growing population provide ample opportunities for credit growth.

“In addition, Qatari banks will continue to expand internationally as global banking asset prices remain relatively attractive and Qatari enterprises expand their international presence,” QNB said.

Qatar has the third largest banking sector assets in the GCC and led asset growth in the region. Qatar had the highest growth rate of 18.4% in banking assets region-wide in year to end-June 2013.

The main growth driver was domestic assets, which comprised mainly credit (71%) and investment (21%). Conventional banks account for the largest share of assets (72%).

The contribution of the banking sector to the economy continues to expand with the ratio of total banking assets to GDP increasing from 97% in 2008 to 127% in June 2013.

Higher energy prices and increased gas production have provided for large public spending programmes and private investment, both financed mainly through the banking sector.

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