In Brief

Greece’s Vegas makes large oil find in Egypt CAIRO (Reuters) – Greece’s Vegas Oil and Gas SA has made a significant oil find, in two wells in an onshore concession in Egypt, of over 9,000 barrels per day, and has begun production from one of the wells, the firm said yesterday. Adam Vavourakis, the general manager of Vegas, told Reuters that one of the wells was producing around 1,400 barrels per day after production began several days ago in the Northwest Gemsa concession southeast of Cairo near the Gulf of Suez. That level could be increased once a pipeline is ready, expected within days, he added, speaking by telephone. Vavourakis said one of the wells, Amir Southeast 1, was tested at 3,400 barrels per day with an additional 3.8 million cubic feet of natural gas per day. The Amir Southeast 2 well was tested at 5,800 barrels per day with 7.9 million cubic feet of natural gas per day, he said. Egypt’s state news MENA said the wells had been dug by the Egyptian-made Mubarak 1 land rig. MENA put the capacity of the second well at 6,000 barrels per day. Retail sales volume falls 7.1 percent in December Greece’s retail sales by volume fell 7.1 percent year-on-year in December after a 4.8 percent drop in November, National Statistics Service (NSS) data showed yesterday. Retail sales by revenues dropped 4.0 percent year-on-year in December after a 1.1 percent drop the previous month. «The figures showed a significant slowdown in consumer spending in most sectors in December, partly because of the riots,» said Nikos Magginas, economist at National Bank. «We expect consumer spending to improve in January, as many people put back purchases in December, but it will still remain weak in the coming months.» (Reuters) Ermes gains Cypriot retail group Ermes posted a 7.4 percent increase in 2008 net profit for the full year to 10.38 million euros, the company said, as it opened new outlets across the island. The group, which runs the Debenhams chain of stores on the eastern Mediterranean island and British high-street brands Next, Oasis and Peacocks, said total turnover rose 19 percent to 225.5 million euros. (Reuters) Bulgarian loans Bulgarian loan growth slowed to 30.4 percent in year in January as banks lent cautiously to stave off a liquidity crunch caused by the global financial crisis. Commercial loans extended by banks rose 1.7 percent in the month from 49.1 billion lev ($33 billion) at the end of December, the central bank said. The bank system’s total profit fell 34 percent in January from a year earlier to 73 million lev, data showed. Total assets rose 21 percent from a year ago to 69 billion lev, unchanged from December, according to central bank data. The crisis is taking its toll on emerging markets in Europe by cutting access to credit and investment after years of unprecedented growth as the region integrated with the wealthier West. About 60 percent of Bulgarian exports are shipped to the European Union and many companies have been forced to halt production or fire workers. EU-based banks control 85 percent of all bank assets in the Balkan nation. (Bloomberg)

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