Al-Naimi: OPEC ‘must combat US shale boom’

Updated 30 November 2014
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Al-Naimi: OPEC ‘must combat US shale boom’

Petroleum and Mineral Resources Minister Ali Al-Naimi told fellow OPEC members in Vienna that they must combat the US shale oil boom, arguing against cutting crude output in order to depress prices and undermine the profitability of North American producers.
Ali Al-Naimi won the argument at Thursday’s meeting, although ministers from members such as Venezuela, Iran and Algeria had wanted to cut production to reverse a rapid fall in oil prices.
A Gulf delegate told Reuters that Al-Naimi had reassured members that the oil price would recover as demand will ultimately pick up. But he insisted that if OPEC cut output it would lose market share.
“Reaching a final decision took a lot of time convincing the others,” said another delegate.
Some members were not prepared to offer big cuts themselves, and, choosing not to clash with Saudi Arabia and their allies, ultimately agreeing to Al-Naimi’s suggestion.
“Al-Naimi spoke about market share rivalry with the US. And those who wanted a cut understood that there was no option to achieve it because Saudi Arabia wants a market share battle,” a source, who was briefed by a non-Gulf OPEC minister after Thursday’s meeting, told Reuters.
Oil hit a fresh four-year low below $72 per barrel on Friday.
A boom in shale oil production and weaker growth in China and Europe have sent prices down by over a third since June.
Secretary General Abdullah Al-Badri effectively confirmed OPEC was entering a battle for market share.
Asked on Thursday if the organization had a answer to rising US production, he said: “We answered. We keep the same production. There is an answer here.”
OPEC agreed to maintain — a ‘rollover’ in OPEC jargon — its ceiling of 30 million barrels per day, at least 1 million above its own estimate of demand for its oil in the first half of next year.
“We are together,” said Venezuelan Foreign Minister Rafael Ramirez when asked whether there was a price war within OPEC.
“OPEC is always fighting with the US because the US has declared it is always against OPEC... Shale oil is a disaster as a method of production, the fracking. But also it is too expensive. And there we are going to see what will happen with production,” he said.
Analysts, quoted by Reuters, said the decision not to cut output in the face of drastically falling prices was a strategic shift for OPEC.


British Steel collapses, threatening thousands of jobs

Updated 22 May 2019
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British Steel collapses, threatening thousands of jobs

LONDON: British Steel Ltd. has been ordered into liquidation as it struggles with industry-wide troubles and Brexit, threatening 5,000 workers and another 20,000 jobs in the supply chain.
The company had asked for a package of support to tackle issues related to Britain’s pending departure from the European Union. Talks with the government failed to secure a bailout, and the Insolvency Service announced the liquidation on Wednesday.
“The immediate priority following my appointment as liquidator of British Steel is to continue safe operation of the site,” said David Chapman, the official receiver, referring to the Scunthorpe plant in northeast England.
The company will continue to trade and supply its customers while Chapman considers options for the business. A team from financial firm EY will work with the receiver and all parties to “secure a solution.”
“To this end they have commenced a sale process to identify a purchaser for the businesses,” EY said in a statement.
The government said it had done all it could for the company, including providing a 120 million pound ($152 million) bridging facility to help meet emission trading compliance costs. Going further would not be lawful as it could be considered illegal state aid, Business Secretary Greg Clark said.
“I have been advised that it would be unlawful to provide a guarantee or loan on the terms of any proposals that the company or any other party has made,” he said.
Unions had called for the government to nationalize the business, but the government demurred.
The opposition Labour Party’s deputy leader, Tom Watson described the news as “devastating.”
“It is testament to the government’s industrial policy vacuum, and the farce of its failed Brexit,” he said in a tweet.
The crisis underscores the anxieties of British manufacturers, who have been demanding clarity around plans for Britain’s departure from the EU. Longstanding issues such as uncompetitive electricity prices also continue to deter investment in UK manufacturing, said Gareth Stace, the director-general of UK Steel, the trade association of the industry.
“Many of our challenges are far from unique to steel — the whole manufacturing sector is crying out for certainty over Brexit,” Stace said. “Unable to decipher the trading relationship the UK will have with its biggest market in just five months’ time, planning and decision making has become nightmarish in its complexity.”
Greybull Capital, which bought British Steel in 2016 for a nominal sum, said turning around the company was always going to be a challenge. It praised the trade union and management team, but said Brexit-related issues proved to be insurmountable.
“We are grateful to all those who supported British Steel on the attempted journey to resurrect this vital part of British industry,” it said in a statement.