UAE sees only ‘moderate’ rise in shale output

Suhail Al-Mazrouei, pictured here in Kuwait, says that Abu Dhabi had invested 400 billion dirhams in its oil industry. (AFP)
Updated 12 December 2017
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UAE sees only ‘moderate’ rise in shale output

ABU DHABI: The UAE expects only a “moderate” increase in output from US shale oil producers next year, even if oil prices maintain their steady upward trend.
Suhail Al-Mazrouei, the Emirates’ minster for energy, told an audience at the Bloomberg Invest Abu Dhabi event in the UAE capital that he had been “positively surprised” that growth in US shale output has been relatively low this year, despite the crude oil price hitting the $60 per barrel amount most experts regard as the economic level for profitable shale production.
“Growth in shale has not been as fast as expected, and I think it will also be moderate next year. I think the shale producers have in the past concentrated on the ‘sweet spots’ — reservoirs where it’s cheap and easy to get oil. But the new reservoirs are not as easy, and the costs are higher,” he said.
“So while I think shale oil production will increase, I don’t think it will rise enough to offset the production limits agreed under the OPEC deal, combined with the increase in global demand for oil. We were surprised by the growth in demand in 2017, and I think next year will also be healthy,” he added.
Al-Mazrouei said that Abu Dhabi had invested 400 billion dirhams ($109 billion) in its oil industry, making it one of the most efficient in the world. “I’m sometimes asked if we can compete against the low-cost producers, but we are one of the lowest-cost producers and that will continue.”
He said that at the recent OPEC meeting in Vienna, “a group of responsible nations came up with a production cut to manage the glut of oil and reduce inventories. OPEC will continue to be a responsible market balancer for oil supplies.”
Waleed Al-Muhairi, who is chief executive of alternative investments for the Mubadala Investment Company, told the gathering that it had invested in 16 technology firms as part of its $15 billion investment in the SoftBank Vision Fund, in which Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund is also a leading investor. He said the investments had been in the sectors of artificial intelligence, robotics, and agricultural technology, including what he described as “vertical farming,” a high-tech form of agriculture that he said was more efficient than farming “in the ground.”
Mubadala is to open an office in San Francisco to be near to investment prospects in America’s technology heartland.
Mohamed Jameel Al-Ramahi, chief executive of the Masdar alternative energy business, said that he was considering big investments in Saudi Arabia, including in the solar panel business.
“It’s clear that Saudi Arabia, as the biggest economy in the region, is a very important market and they are committed to renewables. We are also committed to that market,” he said.


India names Modi demonetization backer as cenbank head

Visitors are seen standing next to a logo of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) at the bank's head office in Mumbai on December 5, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 12 December 2018
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India names Modi demonetization backer as cenbank head

  • Das — a high-profile backer of Modi’s controversial 2016 move to scrap high-value currency notes, known as demonetization

MUMBAI: Ex-finance ministry official Shaktikanta Das took charge of the Reserve Bank of India on Tuesday, in a swift appointment expected to ease a dispute with the government as it pushes for looser credit rules ahead of a general election.
The announcement by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s administration came just a day after Urjit Patel resigned from the post, following months of clashes between the two institutions over lending curbs and how to deploy the central bank’s surplus reserves.
Pressure on the RBI to take immediate steps to boost the economy, including a transfer of the excess reserves to the government, could well rise after Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) suffered likely election losses in three key states on Tuesday.
Das — a high-profile backer of Modi’s controversial 2016 move to scrap high-value currency notes, known as demonetization — will serve a three-year term as governor, effective immediately.
RBI watchers said they expected the 61-year-old, who retired last year as secretary of the department of economic affairs having previously served on the RBI’s board, to put relations between the Mumbai-based bank and the finance ministry in New Delhi on a stabler footing.
Investors will also look closely at his ability to hold up against outside influences after recent efforts by the Modi government to gain greater control over the central bank’s regulatory powers.
“The incoming governor will have to work hard to prove that he has his own independent mind,” said Deepak Jasani, head of retail research at Hdfc Securities.
Investors said any openly political appointee with little macro-economic experience, would not sit well with financial markets that already sold off following the BJP’s election setbacks.
But Ashish Vaidya, executive director and head of trading at DBS Bank in Mumbai, said he expected India’s debt and currency markets to react positively.
“He is a bureaucrat...We expect the RBI to take a pragmatic approach under him, be pro-growth and change its stance going ahead given that inflation has come off sharply,” he said.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley told Reuters partner ANI that the government acknowledged the bank’s independence.
“Government will fully support the RBI and coordinate with it in areas where consultations of government are required to make sure India’s economy benefits from both government policy decisions and areas which fall within domain of the RBI,” ANI tweeted, quoting Jaitley.

SWIFT APPOINTMENT
Pronab Sen, India’s former chief statistician, said he was surprised by the speed of Das’s appointment.
“If you have a situation where a position as important as the governor of the RBI is filled within 24 hours of the resignation of the incumbent, that will raise eyebrows,” Sen told Reuters.
“People are going to say, clearly this guy had already been identified. And, the situation was created where Urjit Patel had to quit.”
Das — widely seen as a contender for the top RBI job after Raghuram Rajan’s term ended in 2016 — did not answer calls from Reuters to his mobile phone.
RBI officials who have worked with him closely said Das was likely to be more inclusive in the decision-making process than Patel.
“He has a balanced approach and is good at consensus building,” said a former deputy governor. .”..We have had our fair share of differences. But he has always been solution-centric rather than festering on those differences.”
Das worked in the finance ministry under both Modi’s government and the previous coalition led by the main opposition Congress party and was also involved in drafting the Insolvency and Bankruptcy code aimed at protecting small investors.
He came under fire for his pro-demonetization stance and was the most vocal bureaucrat at the time Modi withdrew the high-value bank notes to fight tax evasion.
Das last year criticized the methodology of global rating agencies and sought a sovereign rating upgrade for India.