Oil falls for sixth day as supply fears mount

OPEC member Iran on Thursday announced plans to increase production within the next four years by at least 700,000 barrels a day. (Reuters)
Updated 09 February 2018
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Oil falls for sixth day as supply fears mount

TOKYO: Oil prices fell for a sixth day on Friday after Iran announced plans to boost production and US crude output hit record highs, adding to concerns about a sharp rise in global supplies.
The falls come amid a rout in global share markets as inflation fears grip investors.
Brent futures were down 44 cents or 0.7 percent, at $64.37 a barrel by around 0700 GMT. On Thursday, Brent fell 1.1 percent to its lowest close since Dec. 20.
US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude was down 62 cents, or 1 percent, at $60.53 a barrel, having settled down 1 percent in the previous session at its lowest close since Jan. 2.
Both contracts have fallen more than 9 percent from this year’s high point in late January.
“Bets on further rising oil and metals prices, for example by hedge funds, have climbed to excessively bullish levels,” said Carsten Menke, commodities research analyst at Swiss Bank Julius Baer.
“We see oil prices dropping toward and below $60 per barrel,” he said.
OPEC member Iran on Thursday announced plans to increase production within the next four years by at least 700,000 barrels a day.
Meanwhile, the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) this week said crude production last week rose to a record high of 10.25 million barrels per day (bpd).
At that level, US production would overtake the current output in Saudi Arabia, the biggest producer in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).
OPEC and other producers, including Russia, have cut production since January 2017 to force down global inventories, but these cuts have been offset by rising US oil production.
China plans to launch its long-awaited crude oil futures contract on March 26, two sources familiar with the situation said on Friday, a move that will potentially shake up the pricing of the world’s largest commodity market.
The launch next month will mark the end of a push to create Asia’s first oil futures benchmark, which would give China more clout in pricing crude in the region and a share of the trillions of dollars in the oil futures trade.


UK’s Quercus pulls plug on $570m Iran solar plant as sanctions bite

Updated 15 August 2018
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UK’s Quercus pulls plug on $570m Iran solar plant as sanctions bite

  • Quercus said it will halt the construction of a 500 million euro ($570 million) solar power plant in Iran
  • Iran has been trying to increase the share of renewable-produced electricity in its energy mix

OSLO: A British renewable energy investor Quercus said it will halt the construction of a 500 million euro ($570 million) solar power plant in Iran due to recently imposed US sanctions on Tehran.
The solar plant in Iran would have been the first renewable energy investment outside Europe by Quercus and the world’s sixth largest, with a 600 megawatt (MW) capacity.
Iran has been trying to increase the share of renewable-produced electricity in its energy mix, partly due to air pollution and to meet international commitments, hoping to have about 5 gigawatt in renewables installed by 2022.
In June, before the US-imposed sanctions, more than 250 companies had signed agreements to add and sell power from about 4 gigawatt of new renewables in the country, which has only 602 MW installed, Iranian energy ministry data showed.
Washington reimposed sanctions last week after pulling out of a 2015 international deal aimed at curbing Iran’s nuclear program in return for an easing of economic sanctions.
US president Donald Trump has also threatened to penalize companies that continue to operate in Iran, which led banks and many companies around the world to scale back their dealings with Tehran.
“Following the US sanctions on Iran, we have decided to cease all activities in the country, including our 600 MW project. We will continue to monitor the situation closely,” Quercus chief executive Diego Biasi said in an email on Tuesday.
The firm will continue to monitor the situation closely, said Biasi, who declined to comment further.
Last year Quercus said it would set up a project company and sell shares via a private placement after attracting interest from private and institutional investors, including sovereign wealth funds.
Construction was expected to take three years, with each 100 MW standalone lot becoming operational and connecting to the grid every six months.

SANCTIONS BITE
Independently-owned Quercus has a portfolio of around 28 renewable energy plants and 235 MW of installed capacity.
The firm, founded by Biasi and Simone Borla in 2010, controls five investment funds and has a network of “highly regarded external partners,” it says on its website.
The 600 MW plant it aimed to construct in Iran would be the firm’s largest investment. Quercus declined to comment on the details of its decision to cease the plan and on any financial losses that could result from it.
Fearing the consequences of the US embargo, a string of European companies have recently announced they would scale back their business in Iran.
On Tuesday, German engineering group Bilfinger, said it did not plan to sign any new business in the country, while automotive supplier Duerr on Aug. 11 said it had halted activities in Iran.
Another project, planned by Norway’s Saga Energy, which said last October it aimed to build 2 GW of new solar energy capacity in Iran and to start construction by the end of 2018, has also stalled.
Saga Energy’s chief of operations Rune Haaland told Reuters it was still working on getting the funding, which is more complicated since recent developments, and although it aimed to push on with its plans, construction could be delayed. ($1 = 0.8773 euros)