Friday, August 24, 2007

Reblog: Oman offers India gas in exchange for coal

I've posted a news item on Oman Community Blog from an Indian online source that says that Oman has offered India a deal to supply gas in exchange for coal. According to the source:
Indian coal has a high-ash content, one reason why some domestic coal-based power plants mix it with higher quality coal that is imported. However, Oman wants Indian coal for this very reason. Fly ash is a key component in the manufacture of cement and Oman, currently going through an infrastructure and construction boom, needs as much of the building material as it can get.
The details are:
India wants 5 million standard cubic metres of gas a day (mscmd) or 1.25 million tonnes (mt) of gas a year for every 4.5mt of coal it exports in a year. In money terms, that volume of gas translates into $520-650 million (Rs2,132-2,665 crore) at current spot rates of $8-10 per million British thermal units (mBtu), although gas is available at lower rates through long-term contracts.

Related post: Where did the gas go?

Friday, August 17, 2007

The hard facts on inflation in Oman

Annual inflation in Oman accelerated to 5.9% in June, the highest in at least two and a half years, as food costs and rents jumped, official data showed.

The consumer price index rose to 110.3 points compared with 104.2 points in the year-earlier, according to data published on the Ministry of National Economy website. Inflation was 4.3% in May.

The cost of food, beverages and tobacco, which account for around 30% of the index, rose 11.1% in June, compared with 9.1% in the previous month. (Link)

Cost of food went up 11.1% in one month. Add the 9.1% the previous month and that's a 20% increase in just May and June!

Oman Community Blog

I'd like to draw your attention to the Oman Community Blog, a blog with open membership that currently brings together over 20 bloggers with common interest of writing about Oman. I have 4 or 5 post there in the past couple of weeks.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Dear Mr. Shetty

In the midst of unrest, it is inevitable that there will always be those who suffer and those who prosper. In the aftermath of Cyclone Gonu, those who were affected are now looking towards restoration, services and household goods companies to help them return life to a state of normality. As a result, such companies are seeing their workload increase, sometimes even beyond their capacities, and their profits are going up.

Karim Baksh Trading and Contracting in Wadi Kabir is one such company. General manager, Divakar Shetty, explains that Karim Baksh, which specialises in interior design and restoration, has seen its earnings increase by RO200,000 since the cyclone hit Muscat. The company's latest project is to restore three or four shops in CCC and seven shops and one bank in the Al Araimi Complex.

Moreover, Shetty adds that Karim Baksh is fully booked for the rest of the year. As a result of this huge demand for his services, he has employed 60 extra staff members, including electricians, carpenters and wood polishers, to help deal with the added workload. "Whereas we used to work a ten-hour day, currently my staff and I are busy 18-19 hours a day." [link]
How very fortunate for you, Mr. Shetty. Unfortunately for me, I contracted your company in October 2006 to do the doors, kitchen, wardrobes, closets, staircase rails, and vanities in my house and you are yet to complete my order. At first you promised me to start delivering at the end of December but then you blamed the rains and flooding that happened that month for the delay. Then I heard that you had taken a job to restore all the damaged store fronts in the CCC and when I confronted you about it you promised to finish the job by February. Feb became March, and it flooded again and you went and took more emergency jobs. Then you promised to have it all done by May. Gonu came in June. And here you are boasting of how much work you have in BusinessToday magazine. What am I to do with you, Mr. Shetty? My house has been ready for months and I can't move into it because it still doesn't have a kitchen, the master bedroom still doesn't have dressing room closets, and worst of all my stairs still don't have rails on them. I've threatened to delay your payment and all you do is laugh and say that keeping the money with me is the same as keeping it in the bank. I threatened to tell everyone I know about your delays and you say that unfortunately your reputation for tardiness and long delays is already known by most of the people who contract you but they still give you jobs because they like the quality of your work. I know that posting this on my blog isn't going to help one bit but I don't know what else to do.

Muscat Wastewater's Phantom Contractor

Is this Muscat Wastewater Project billboard's declaration of "بداية جديدة" (A New Start) an admission from the Oman Wastewater Services Company of the rumors that the project's contractor, China's Sino Hydro Corporation, has indeed withdrawn from the project and left town leaving the project in limbo?

Extreme Ways are Back Again

At long last we managed to actually venture out of the house and go to the movies. This summer we've already missed most of the "threequels" including Spiderman 3, Pirates 3 and Shrek 3. Died Hard 4 was good fun. Ocean's 13 was lighter than air, but at least it didn't suck like 12 did. Haven't seen Harry Potter 5 yet but I think it might still be playing in some of the smaller screens so I still have a chance to catch it.

With no nanny to look after Faisal, going to the movies requires plenty of advance planning so the movie better turn out to be worth it. And dammit, Bourne Ultimatum rocks. It's the perfect summer movie. Matt Damon is excellent. Director Paul Greengrass has outdone himself. The editing is still jumpy but not as confusing as it was in The Bourne Supremacy. The Bourne movies are now a perfect trilogy- something very rare in the action genre. The movies have nothing in common with the novels they are named after except for the character Jason Bourne and his amnesia. But it doesn't matter. Robert Ludlum isn't exactly high literature. I read the novels in high school and college. The last one I read must have been at least 15 years ago, so I wouldn't remember much even if the movies were faithful to them.

I think I'm gonna go look for my still unwrapped Bourne Supremacy DVD which I found in the bargain bin in Carrefour last year and give it a spin.

Monday, August 06, 2007

An English lesson from Futoon

A lesson in simple English from this week's Futoon, the free paper published by Al Watan.


Saturday, August 04, 2007

Oh life..

What a roller coaster these past few weeks have been. I'm not going to go into details but just a short explanation for my sudden disappearance. Three weeks ago we had a huge health scare with my mother and we immediately dropped everything and flew to Germany. After a lot of tests and many tense days waiting for news, the results came out with a diagnosis that was less severe than originally thought here in Oman. We're back in Oman. She's back home and she's going to be on medication for an extended period. In sha' Allah '7air.

Al Maha Souk

What's happening with the Souk convenience stores at Al Maha filling stations? They never were my choice of stores to stop at but lately circumstances had me going to a bunch of them, both here in Muscat and on the drive back from Dubai yesterday. The stores are a mess. In some, the shelves are empty. In most the fridges are not stocked with many popular drinks. None of them have Coca Cola products (my wife is a Diet Coke addict). One of them they didn't even have small bottles of water. The staff were unprofessional. They don't wear a uniform or anything that identifies them. Not even a name tag. If it weren't for the fact that they were standing behind the counter you wouldn't even know they work there. Most were dressed in dishdashas without anything covering their heads. In every single store the clerk was talking on his mobile phone the whole time I was there, even while punching my purchases through.

Shopping at a convenience store isn't exactly about having an outstanding time shopping, but what these stores offer is pathetic. It's almost as if they are deliberately being run down.