Bitcoin tumbles as cryptocurrency sell-off intensifies

The exchange rate between South Korean Won and Bitcoin is displayed at a cryptocurrencies exchange in Seoul. Analysts said the Bitcoin sell-off is probably not over. (Reuters)
Updated 02 February 2018
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Bitcoin tumbles as cryptocurrency sell-off intensifies

LONDON/NEW YORK: Cryptocurrencies plunged on Friday, with bitcoin at one point sliding below $8,000 and headed for its biggest weekly loss since December 2013, as worries about a regulatory clampdown globally sent investors scrambling to sell.
The currencies have come off their lows but analysts said the sell-off was probably not over.
This week’s slump brought the total market value of cryptocurrencies down to around $400 billion, half the high it reached in January, according to industry tracker Coinmarketcap.com. The market value of cryptocurrencies is calculated by multiplying the number of digital coins in existence by their price, although many question whether that is the right way to value them.
Bitcoin, the biggest and best-known cryptocurrency, fell as much as 15 percent on Friday to a two-month low of $7,625 on the Luxembourg-based Bitstamp exchange. It clawed back some losses and was down around 4.1 percent at $8,623.50 in mid-morning New York trading.
The virtual currency is down by close to 25 percent this week and almost 40 percent in 2018.
The second and third largest virtual currencies, Ethereum and Ripple, also plunged more than 20 percent at the session low, Coinmarketcap.com said. Ethereum was last down 18.2 percent, at $913.37, while Ripple last traded at 80 US cents, down 16.7 percent.
Retail investors have poured money into digital coins, enticed by the huge run-up in prices. Regulators say cryptocurrencies are highly speculative and dangerous investments.
On Thursday, India vowed to eradicate the use of crypto-assets, joining China and South Korea in promising to ban parts of the nascent market where prices have boomed in recent years.
Social media website Facebook said this week it would ban cryptocurrency advertisements because many were associated with misleading or deceptive promotional practices. US regulators have sent a subpoena to two of the world’s biggest cryptocurrency players, Bitfinex and Tether
“The growing confusion revolving around the Indian government’s view on cryptocurrencies sparked uncertainty, consequently exposing bitcoin to downside risks,” said Lukman Otunuga, research analyst at FXTM.
“Price action suggests that bears are clearly in control, with further losses on the cards as jitters over regulation erode investor appetite further,” he added.
A massive $530 million hack of a Japanese cryptocurrency exchange last week renewed worries about the security of the industry.
Critics of virtual currencies have called the run-up in prices a speculative bubble, but supporters of cryptocurrencies say short-term price volatility is to be expected, and the blockchain technology underpinning these assets maintains its power and value.
Going back to 2011 and including the current selloff, bitcoin’s price has been halved nine times on the Bitstamp exchange before recovering. The last time was from November 2014 to January 2015.


Aramco committed to meeting future oil demand, says Saudi energy minister

Updated 17 August 2018
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Aramco committed to meeting future oil demand, says Saudi energy minister

  • Aramco has discovered two new oil fields, Sakab and Zumul, and a gas reservoir in the Sahba field
  • World’s top oil exporter is also boosting its output of the natural gas needed to meet rapidly rising domestic power demand

DUBAI: Saudi state oil giant Saudi Aramco remains committed to meeting future oil demand through continued investments, the kingdom’s Energy Minister Khalid Al Falih said in a company report on Friday.
Aramco, which is slated for a public share sale, “continued to prepare itself for the listing of its shares, a landmark event the company and its board anticipate with excitement,” Al Falih, who is also chairman of Saudi Aramco, said.
Despite an improved market picture, the oil industry’s preparedness for the future remained in question as the sector had lost an estimate $1 trillion in planned investments since the start of the market downturn, Al Falih wrote.
“Significant new investments are required in additional capacity and expended and upgraded infrastructure, as well as the development of pioneering technology to make petroleum energy more sustainable and accessible,” he said.
The company discovered two new oil fields, Sakab and Zumul, and a gas reservoir in the Sahba field, Aramco said in the report.
Aramco said “it will maintain its position as the world’s leading crude oil producer by production volume by tempering production from mature fields, accelerating younger fields and secondary reservoirs, and developing fresh reserves from new increments.”
The world’s top oil exporter is boosting its output of the natural gas needed to meet rapidly rising domestic power demand and supply raw materials to its strategically important petrochemical industry.
In gas, Aramco “commenced projects to expand production and processing capacity, and brought online the first unconventional gas in Saudi Arabia,” Aramco’s Chief Executive Amin Nasser said in the report.
Aramco was preparing the Midyan non-associated gas field last year to produce 75 million standard cubic feet per day (scfd) of non-associated gas and 4,500 barrels of condensate per day, it said in the report.
Midyan is one of the new gas fields in northwest Saudi Arabia to produce gas for power plants and potentially supply other industries in a region rich in iron ore deposits. It was discovered in the 1980s and has significant reserves.