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Palestinians plan first sukuk in 2011 – regulator

Sukuk to act as monetary tool in initial stage; details, including currency, yet to be determined

Palestinians plan first sukuk in 2011 – regulator
SUKUK WATCH: Palestine Monetary Authority plans to issue Islamic bonds to banks in the first quarter of 2011 (Getty Images)

The
Palestine Monetary Authority (PMA) plans to issue Islamic bonds to banks in the
first quarter of 2011 as a tool for injecting and withdrawing liquidity from
the money market.

Jihad Al
Wazir, the PMA governor, said late on Wednesday the banks would trade the
bonds, or sukuk, among themselves.

"We
will start bit by bit to see the needs of the market based on liquidity
management," Wazir told Reuters, but said it was too early to say which
currency the bonds would be denominated in, or how much would be issued.

The
Palestinians, a stateless people, do not have their own currency and the
Israeli shekel is used for most day-to-day cash transactions. But any bond
issue is likely to be in US dollars or Jordanian dinars, analysts say.

Earlier this
year, the Palestinian Authority which governs part of the West Bank and Gaza
strip, said it would issue its first government bonds in dollars next spring.

There is
strong potential for Islamic banking in the predominantly Muslim Palestinian
territories, Wazir said, adding that the PMA had established a specialised
Islamic body to serve as a local reference for Islamic banking.

The PMA
regulates the 19 banks operating in the Palestinian territories, occupied by
Israel in a 1967 war. "It's a financial instrument to generate an
interbanking market. It will be used as a monetary instrument to inject or
withdraw liquidity from the market," Wazir said.

Palestinian
economic growth has picked up in recent years due to generous donor support to
the Western-backed Palestinian Authority, improved security and stability and a
loosening of Israeli movement restrictions in the West Bank.

The
International Monetary Fund has forecast growth of 8 percent in the Palestinian
territories this year, compared to 6.8 percent in 2009.

Oil company 2010 spending to hit $380bn, consultant says

Oil and
natural gas companies are expected to raise investment in production projects
to more than $380bn this year, partly driven by spending on drilling for shale
gas in the US, consultant Wood Mackenzie said.

Global
upstream investment will rise about 5.3 percent, or by $19bn, from last year,
Edinburgh-based Wood Mackenzie said today in a report. The spending will be
about 10 percent below a historical high in 2008, according to the report.

“The
most spectacular recovery has been in the U.S., where total spend should return
close to peak levels by 2011,” the consultant said. “This is primarily due to
restored confidence and an impressive renewal of activity in unconventional
resources, particularly shale gas.”

Exxon
Mobil Corp, BP, Royal Dutch Shell Plc and other oil explorers have expanded
unconventional oil and gas projects in the U.S. and added expertise in shale
production, which involves drilling horizontally for thousands of feet, then
fracturing rock with injections of water, sand and chemicals.

Chevron
Corp, the second-largest U.S. oil company, this week agreed to buy Atlas Energy
Inc. for $3.2 billion, giving it access to the Marcellus Shale formation in
Pennsylvania.

“Record
growth in capital spending is already under way in Australia, where new project
approvals and major gas developments will see capital expenditure grow
three-fold by 2013,” Wood Mackenzie said. “In Iraq, upstream investment is
likely to climb rapidly to $10bn in the next three years.”