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MENA news roundup

The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) is one of the most important regions in the world for oil and gas production, and the latest news coming from the area is largely positive. Opportunities for new export avenues are opening in the Middle East, through both the Southern Gas Corridor and IGAT VI pipelines.

Elsewhere, international cooperation is occurring as both Venezuela and India are close to inking deals with MENA countries regarding oil and gas. Read on for more about this region's exciting prospects.


US oil imports from the Middle East rise

MENA countries are responsible for a large amount of the US' oil imports, making up three of the top ten countries that it buys oil from. This week saw a six per cent increase in overall US crude oil imports, with the Middle East largely responsible for this.

For the week ending June 12th, total imports added up to around 7.1 million barrels per day (bpd). Of this, almost 1.4 million bpd came from Saudi Arabia, which was responsible for 17.2 per cent of oil bought by the US in 2014. This is an increase of around 11 per cent.

However, it was Kuwait that saw the largest proportional increase in oil bought by the US. The amount imported more than quintupled last week, from 43,000 bpd up to 233,000 bpd. Iraq also features in the US top ten, with 77,000 bpd exported to the US last week.


Gas from Iran, Iraq and Israel to be transported through Southern Gas Corridor

According to Natig Aliyev, Azerbaijan's minister of energy, the Southern Gas Corridor pipeline is to transport natural gas from Iran, Iraq and Israel. Mr Aliyev said that this was necessary in order to meet European demand.


Libya to double oil output?

Libyan oil production was hit hard by the 2011 crisis, and it has still not recovered. However, a spokesman from its state-run oil company - National Oil Corp - has revealed to Bloomberg that the nation plans to step up work and boost the amount of oil it produces each year. In fact, output of the resource is expected to double by July.

Before 2011, Libya was producing an average of around 1.6 million bpd. Now, it averages at between 400,000 and 460,000 bpd. However, Mohamed Elharari - spokesperson for National Oil Corp - told Bloomberg: "There are efforts underway ... to reopen the oil and gas pipelines to the ports of Zueitina, Zawiya and Mellitah.

"If these initiatives succeed, Libya's crude output could rise to nearly 800,000 barrels a day." The improvements will be undertaken during Ramadan, which runs from June 18th to July 16th.


IGAT VI will boost gas delivery to Iraq

Ali-Reza Gharibi, managing director of Iran Gas Engineering and Development Company, has said that the construction of Iran Gas Trunkline VI (IGAT VI) will lead to an increase in gas exports to Iraq. An offshoot of the pipeline will deliver four million cubic metres of natural gas to Iraq per day, a figure that will eventually be increased.

Eventually, 40 million cubic metres per day could be delivered to Iraq over the 25 years of the countries' contract. Mr Gharibi added that the cost of IGAT VI is currently estimated at $2.2 billion.


India to team up with UAE and Kuwait for oil and gas JVs?

The Indian state-run Oil and Natural Gas Corporation has announced that it is currently negotiating with both Kuwait and the UAE about the possibility of forming joint ventures (JVs). India's oil minister, Dharmendra Pradhan, is meeting with the energy ministers of the other two nations to secure this deal.

Kuwait and the UAE are in need of assets in the petrochemicals, refining and retail sectors, while India is looking to acquire upstream assets. If the three countries joined together, they could be able to purchase these assets to improve their standing in the international oil and gas trade.


Algeria and Iran looking to blend oil with Venezuela's

In a bid to increase the value of their oil, a group of nations including Iran and Algeria are looking to secure a blending deal with Venezuela. If this comes to fruition, heavy Venezuelan crude will be mixed with the lighter oil produced by Algeria, Angola, Iran and Nigeria, according to president of PDVSA - the Venezuelan state oil company - Eulogio Del Pino.

Blending the two types of oil would enable these nations to compete with the US and Canada, both of which are stepping up production thanks to the shale boom. The medium-grade oil that the blend would create would be more welcome on the market in comparison to the lighter shale oil.

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