Bedouin in the Sinai on 7 March kidnapped and briefly held Andy Wills, ExxonMobil’s Egypt and Cyprus Managing Director and his wife, while they were en route to a beach resort, Reuters reported. They were released after a couple of hours, but the incident highlights how deteriorating security in Egypt is threatening both of the country’s major revenue sources – namely oil and tourism.

Further delays are also expected to the parliamentary approval process for 11 blocks provisionally awarded in state-owned EGPC’s 2011-12 bid round after Egypt’s Administrative Court on 6 March cancelled a presidential decree calling for parliamentary elections to be held in April. This move will further delays the elections – Egypt has labored under a legislative vacuum since last June when parliament was dissolved. It could well be over two years from the launch of the bidding round in September 2011 by the time resultant PSAs are signed (MEES, 15 February). The electoral chaos is also likely to delay IMF approval for a $4.8bn loan, vitally needed to shore up the country’s finances. (CONTINUED - 282 WORDS)