Saudi Arabia will remain top oil exporter, but ‘cannot ignore’ shale revolution, says IEA

The IEA's Fatih Birol said: ‘In the shale-revolution world, no country is an island. The established producers’ strategy in terms of cuts and limits will have to be reconsidered in light of the huge growth in shale.’ (Reuters)
Updated 05 March 2018
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Saudi Arabia will remain top oil exporter, but ‘cannot ignore’ shale revolution, says IEA

HOUSTON: Saudi Arabia will remain the “most important oil exporting country for many years to come,” but its strategy and that of the rest of the OPEC countries will have to be reconsidered in light of the revolution in the energy world as a result of the boom in US shale production.
That was the message from Fatih Birol, the executive director of the International Energy Agency (IEA) at the CERAWeek by IHS Markit meeting in Houston, Texas.
Birol, who unveiled the IEA’s global oil report at the event, said Saudi Arabia and other “established producers” had limited scope to affect global energy trends over the next five years, and would have to rethink their strategy to take account of the new energy environment.
“In the shale-revolution world, no country is an island. The established producers’ strategy in terms of cuts and limits will have to be reconsidered in light of the huge growth in shale,” he said.
Birol was asked if Saudi Arabia should try to coordinate strategy with shale producers in light of the US boom, with speculation in Houston that OPEC producers were in talks with their American rivals.
“Saudi Arabia will remain the largest and most important exporter, but is not the biggest producer, and there is an important difference. The market has its own dynamics and companies always will look to increase their financial returns. From that angle, the shale producers will continue to grow regardless of any agreement Saudi Arabia might reach with shale producers. That cannot ignore the growth coming from shale,” he said.
The IEA oil report forecast growing demand for crude over the next five years, but also predicted that US shale was on the brink of a “major second wave” that would see American producers supplying more than half of the increased global demand expected to come mainly from China and India. “America will put the stamp on global oil market developments over the next five years,” he said.
The IEA said that its bullish forecasts for shale output were conservative. “We will revise upward if the oil price goes much above $60,” Birol said.
However, Neil Atkinson, head of the IHS oil market team, said it was unlikely prices would head upward significantly in the near future. “It’s difficult to see how prices can move upward much, apart from geopolitical reasons,” he said.


Foreign investors hope India dials back policy shocks after Modi win

Updated 24 May 2019
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Foreign investors hope India dials back policy shocks after Modi win

  • Modi’s pro-business image and India’s youthful population have lured foreign investors
  • After Modi’s win, about a dozen officials of foreign companies in India and their advisers said they hoped he would ease his stance and dilute some of the policies

NEW DELHI: Foreign companies in India have welcomed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s election victory for the political stability it brings, but now they need to see him soften a protectionist stance adopted in the past year.
Modi’s pro-business image and India’s youthful population have lured foreign investors, with US firms such as Amazon.com , Walmart and Mastercard committing billions of dollars in investments and ramping up hiring.
India is also the biggest market by users for firms such as Facebook Inc, and its subsidiary, WhatsApp.
But from around 2017, critics say, the Hindu nationalist leader took a harder, protectionist line on sectors such as e-commerce and technology, crafting some policies that appeared to aim at whipping up patriotic fervor ahead of elections.

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“I hope he’s now back to wooing businesses,” said Prasanto Roy, a technology policy analyst based in New Delhi, who advises global tech firms.
“Global firms remain deeply concerned about the lack of policy stability or predictability, this has sent a worrying message to global investors.”
India stuck to its policies despite protests and aggressive lobbying by the United States government, US-India trade bodies and companies themselves.
Small hurdles
Modi was set to hold talks on Friday to form a new cabinet after election panel data showed his Bharatiya Janata Party had won 302 of the 542 seats at stake and was leading in one more, up from the 282 it won in 2014.
After Modi’s win, about a dozen officials of foreign companies in India and their advisers told Reuters they hoped he would ease his stance and dilute some of the policies.
Other investors hope the government will avoid sudden policy changes on investment and regulation that catch them off guard and prove very costly, urging instead industry-wide consultation that permits time to prepare.
Protectionism concerns “are small hurdles you have to go through,” however, said Prem Watsa, the chairman of Canadian diversified investment firm Fairfax Financial, which has investments of $5 billion in India.
“There will be more business-friendly policies and more private enterprise coming into India,” he told Reuters in an interview.
Tech, healthcare and beyond
Among the firms looking for more friendly steps are global payments companies that had benefited since 2016 from Modi’s push for electronic payments instead of cash.
Last year, however, firms such as Mastercard and Visa were asked to store more of their data in India, to allow “unfettered supervisory access,” a change that prompted WhatsApp to delay plans for a payments service.
Modi’s government has also drafted a law to clamp similar stringent data norms on the entire sector.
But abrupt changes to rules on foreign investment in e-commerce stoked alarm at firms such as Amazon, which saw India operations disrupted briefly in February, and Walmart, just months after it invested $16 billion in India’s Flipkart.
Policy changes also hurt foreign players in the $5-billion medical device industry, such as Abbott Laboratories, Boston Scientific and Johnson & Johnson, following 2017 price caps on products such as heart stents and knee implants.
Modi’s government said the move aimed to help poor patients and curb profiteering, but the US government and lobby groups said it harmed innovation, profits and investment plans.
“If foreign companies see their future in this country on a long-term basis...they will have to look at the interests of the people,” Ashwani MaHajjan, an official of a nationalist group that pushed for some of the measures, told Reuters.
That view was echoed this week by two policymakers who said government policies will focus on strengthening India’s own companies, while providing foreign players with adequate opportunities for growth.
Such comments worry foreign executives who fear Modi is not about to change his protectionist stance in a hurry, with one offical of a US tech firm saying, “I’d rather be more worried than be optimistic.”