More ECC approvals sought for north-south gas pipeline

ISLAMABAD (NNI): “The Ministry of Petroleum is in consultation with the ECC of the federal cabinet to seek its approval for executing the $2 billion North- South gas pipeline project,” a senior official of the ministry said. Earlier, he said, the ECC had okayed the project, but now the ministry needed further approvals for some technical and financial aspects of the pipeline. Under the project, a 1,100 kilometer long pipeline would be built from Karachi to Lahore with Russian investment of $2 billion. Russia had nominated RT-Global Resources (RT-GR) company, while Pakistan had designated Inter State Gas System ISGS to execute the project in liaison with SNGPL and SSGC, under the government-to-government agreement.

between the two countries.

He further said the pipeline would connect Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) terminals, located in Karachi, with those of Lahore.

He said the companies had been mandated to define the technical and economic parameters of the project, signed on October 16, 2015, within 12 months from the signing of the agreement.

“Following the agreement, the techno-commercial negotiations between the nominated entities RT-GR and ISGS had been initiated,” the official said.

He said the preliminary study of the proposed route corridor had been completed and a couple of negotiation rounds had also been held between the companies, adding “The commercial negotiations are expected to take three to four months.”

“Pakistan is passing through a severe energy crisis and the project will prove to be a milestone in overcoming this crisis,” he concluded.

Multan committee receives fresh apps under PM Kissan package

MULTAN (APP): Divisional grievances committee has received almost 20000 new applications under PM Kissan package across the division. Additional District Collector Manzar Javed said that a divisional grievances committee comprising eight members, led by Commissioner Multan division, had been set-up and it sought applications from growers who had not received compensation earlier. "About 20000 applications have been submitted by the growers at Assistant Commissioner offices concerned across the division", he said, adding that the committee was busy scrutinizing the applications. He informed that applications of eligible growers would be referred to PDMA for issuing compensation cheques.

Growers could get their cheques from the district government's distribution centres after issuance of cheques by PDMA.

The officer said that cheques distribution process under PM Kissan package to nearly 56000 growers across the district was almost complete.

He said that land record computerization process in the district had also been completed.

Portugal to support Pakistani investors: Envoy

MARDAN (Staff Reporter): Asif Khan Hoti, member of the Business Council for Portugal and Pakistan, had a meeting with Joao Paulo Sabido, Ambassador of Purtagal, at embassy of Portugal. On the occasion, the ambassador said that his country was willing to provide any possible support and facilitation to Pakistani investors. Pakistan can benefit from the expertise and experience of Portugal in power sector, he said. “Let’s join hands for the growth and prosperity of the people of both countries,” he said. “Pakistani business community is keenly interested in Portugal,” said Asif Khan Hoti in his briefing to the envoy. Business delegates could be a great source of economic growth as well as strengthening relations between the two countries.

Dubai announces first airport tax on passengers

DUBAI (AFP): The emirate of Dubai, whose airport is the world's busiest for international passengers, announced Wednesday it was introducing a tax on travellers to help finance expansion, as Gulf governments grapple with plummeting revenues. The 35-dirham ($9.50) fee will apply to all passengers, including those transitting in Dubai, on all flights from June 30, according to a statement carried by WAM state news agency. It is the first time Dubai has announced a passenger tax, which is imposed in many airports worldwide. More than 78 million passengers passed through Dubai International in 2015, keeping its place as the world's busiest for international passengers since overtaking London Heathrow in 2014.

Last month, Dubai Airports increased the capacity of its main airport to 90 million passengers with the opening of concourse D, at a cost of $1.2 billion.

Dubai has a smaller second airport, Al-Maktoum International, which opened in 2013 and will receive 120 million passengers a year once completed.

The receipts of the new tax will be channelled into funding the expansion of Dubai airports, the statement said.

Although part of the oil-rich United Arab Emirates, Dubai has dwindling oil wealth, and its revenues are diversified compared to its oil-dependent Gulf peers.

But the whole region is struggling to cope with a sharp drop in oil revenues since crude prices nosedived.

Situated on transcontinental air routes, Dubai is one of several Gulf-based airports to experience prodigious growth in recent years.

Around 100 airlines fly to more than 240 destinations from the international hub, which is also home to carrier Emirates.

Oil prices gain before US inventory data

LONDON (AFP): Oil prices rose Wednesday, helped by a weaker dollar after Federal Reserve chief Janet Yellen signalled a cautious approach to US interest rate hikes, analysts said. But gains were capped by oil supply glut concerns. An official govt report due Wednesday is expected to show another rise in US commercial crude stockpiles, indicating softer demand in the world's top oil consumer. Around 1115 GMT, US benchmark WTI for delivery in May climbed 64 cents to $38.92 a barrel. Brent North Sea crude for May delivery gained 53 cents to stand at $39.67 a barrel compared with Tuesday's close. The dollar weakened after Yellen said Tuesday that interest rates were not likely to rise before June and that any move will be slow and gradual.

A weaker US currency makes dollar-priced oil cheaper for holders of other units, encouraging traders to buy the commodity.

If the oil price "hinges on US dollar weakness, it is not going to go much higher", said Bernard Aw, a strategist at traders IG Markets.

"In the longer term, it's still a demand and supply game. It's still a supply glut issue. There's only so much the US dollar can do."

Prices have collapsed from levels above $100 seen in mid-2014 largely owing to supply outrunning demand as global economies, particularly China, suffer a growth slowdown.

Major oil producers, led by Russia and Saudi Arabia, will meet in Doha on April 17 to discuss measures to stabilise prices, including a proposal to freeze output.