OPEC warns of trade war ‘risks’ for oil market

OPEC Secretary General Mohammed Barkindo. OPEC has warned about the probable negative impact, on the oil market, of escalating ‘trade tensions’ between the US and China. (Reuters)
Updated 11 July 2018

OPEC warns of trade war ‘risks’ for oil market

  • OPEC said buoyant world trade in 2017 and 2018 had helped impulse economic growth and therefore demand for crude
  • OPEC: ‘If trade tensions rise further and given other uncertainties it could weigh on business and consumer sentiment’

PARIS: The OPEC cartel on Wednesday warned that global trade tensions could have a negative impact on the oil market by pushing down demand for crude.
In its monthly report, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries said buoyant world trade in 2017 and 2018 had helped impulse economic growth, and therefore demand for crude.
But this may change further down the line, OPEC said, as the United States and China fired the latest shots in their escalating trade war.
Washington on Tuesday threatened to impose new tariffs on another $200 billion in Chinese goods and Beijing vowed to retaliate.
The latest moves in the trade war between the world’s top two economies came just after tit-for-tat duties on $34 billion in goods came into effect.
According to OPEC, “the re-emergence of global trade barriers has thus far only had a minor impact on the global economy.”
However, “if trade tensions rise further, and given other uncertainties, it could weigh on business and consumer sentiment,” the report warned.
“This may then start to negatively impact investment, capital flows and consumer spending, with a subsequent negative effect on the global oil market.”
OPEC’s latest report comes after the cartel and non-member Russia pledged to boost oil production in a meeting in Vienna last month.
The agreement to hike output came after the price of crude soared earlier this year, hitting $80 per barrel in May.
According to the report, which cites secondary sources, OPEC crude production stood at an average of 32.33 million barrels per day in June, an increase of 173,000 barrels per day over the previous month.
“Crude oil output increased mostly in Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Nigeria, Kuwait and UAE, while production showed declines in Libya, Venezuela and Angola,” the report said.


Egypt’s creative solutions to the plastic menace

Updated 2 min 25 sec ago

Egypt’s creative solutions to the plastic menace

  • Egyptian social startups are taking alternative approaches to fostering awareness and reducing waste
  • While initiatives around the world are taking action to combat this problem, some Egyptian projects are doing it more creatively

CAIRO: Global plastics production reached 348 million tons in 2017, rising from 335 million tons in 2016, according to Plastics Europe. 

Critically, most plastic waste is not properly managed: Around 55 percent of it was landfilled or discarded in 2015. These numbers are extremely concerning because plastic products take anything from 450 to 1,000 years to decompose, and the effects on the environment, especially on marine and human life, are catastrophic.

While initiatives around the world are taking action to combat this problem, some Egyptian projects are doing it more creatively.

“We’re the first website in the Middle East and North Africa that trades waste,” said Alaa Afifi, founder and CEO of Bekia. “People can get rid of any waste at their disposal — plastic, paper and cooking oil — and exchange it for over 65 products on our website.”

Products for trading include rice, tea, pasta, cooking oil, subway tickets and school supplies.

Bekia was launched in Cairo in 2017. Initially, the business model did not prove successful.

“We used to rent a car and go to certain locations every 40 days to collect waste from people,” Afifi, 26, explained. “We then created a website and started encouraging people to use it.”

After the website was launched, people could wait at home for someone to collect the waste. “Instead of 40 days, we now could visit people within a week.”

To use Bekia’s services, people need to log onto the website and specify what they want to discard. They are assigned points based on the waste they are offering, and these points can be used in one of three ways: Donated to people in need, saved for later, or exchanged for products. As for the collected waste, it is given to specialized recycling companies for processing.

“We want to have 50,000 customers over the next two years who regularly use our service to get rid of their waste,” Afifi said.  

Trying to spread environmental awareness has not been easy. “We had a lot of trouble with initial investment at first, and we got through with an investment that was far from enough. The second problem we faced was spreading this culture among people — in the first couple of months, we received no orders,” Afifi said.

The team soldiered on and slowly built a client base, currently serving 7,000 customers. In terms of what lies ahead for Bekia, he said: “We’re expanding from 22 to 30 areas in Cairo this year. We’re launching an app very soon and a new website with better features.”

Go Clean, another Egyptian recycling startup dedicated to raising environmental awareness, works under the patronage of the Ministry of Environment. “We started in 2017 by recycling waste from factories, and then by February 2019 we started expanding,” said founder and CEO Mohammed Hamdy, 30.

The Cairo-based company collects recyclables from virtually all places, including households, schools, universities, restaurants, cafes, companies and embassies. The customers separate the items into categories and then fill out a registration form. Alternatively, they can make contact through WhatsApp or Facebook. A driver is then dispatched to collect the waste, carrying a scale to weigh it. 

“The client can be paid in cash for the weight of their recyclables, or they can make a donation to a special needs school in Cairo,” Hamdy explained. There is also the option of trading the waste for dishwashing soap, with more household products to be added in the future.

Trying to cover a country with 100 million people was never going to be easy, and Go Clean faced some logistical problems. It overcame them by hiring more drivers and getting more trucks. There was another challenge along the way: “We had to figure out a way to train the drivers, from showing them how to use GPS and deal with clients,” said Hamdy.

“We want to spread awareness about the environment everywhere. We go to schools, universities, companies and even factories to give sessions about the importance of recycling and how dangerous plastic is. We’re currently covering 20 locations across Cairo and all of Alexandria. We want to cover all of Egypt in the future,” he added.

With a new app on the way, Hamdy said things are looking positive for the social startup, and people are becoming invested in the initiative. “We started out with seven orders per day, and now we get over 100.”