Oil prices ease on potential supply hikes by Russia

Supply outages in Libya pushed oil prices higher late last week, although prices still ended down for a second straight week. Above, the El Sharara oilfield in Libya in 2014. (Reuters)
Updated 16 July 2018
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Oil prices ease on potential supply hikes by Russia

SEOUL: Oil prices fell on Monday as concerns about supply disruptions eased and Libyan ports resumed export activities, while traders eyed potential supply increases by Russia and other oil producers.
Brent crude futures were down 48 cents, or 0.6 percent, at $74.85 a barrel at 0302 GMT.
US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude was down 39 cents, or 0.6 percent, at $70.62 a barrel.
Supply outages in Libya and strike action in Norway and Iraq pushed oil prices higher late last week, although prices still ended down for a second straight week.
“Crude oil prices fell as fears of supply disruptions eased. News that Libya’s state oil producer had restarted output from a major oil field ignited the selloff earlier in the week,” ANZ Bank said in a note.
The market focus shifted toward possible supply increases, even as a Norwegian union for workers on offshore oil and gas drilling rigs stepped up a six-day strike.
“There are mixed supply signals and I think the (Brent) price is likely to be in the low-to-mid $70s range,” said Kim Kwang-rae, commodity analyst at Samsung Futures in Seoul.
“A summit between US President Trump and Russian President Putin is also being watched in case they say something about oil,” Kim said.
US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin are set to hold their first stand-alone meeting in Helsinki on Monday. Trump has been vocal about his dissatisfaction with higher oil prices, asking OPEC to lower prices.
Russia and other major oil producers may increase output further should supply shortages hit the global oil market, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said on Friday.
Stephen Innes, head of trading for Asia/Pacific at futures brokerage OANDA, said US-China trade tensions “should subside this week and could be a possible plus for oil prices,” but a possible sale of US oil reserves would hurt prices.
“With the Trump administration actively considering tapping into the nation’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve, it could weigh negatively,” Innes said.
The United States holds a reserve of about 660 million barrels, and the Trump administration was considering drawing on the country’s oil reserve, which would increase supply, according to a Bloomberg report.
Meanwhile, the number of rigs drilling in the United States was unchanged at 863 in the week to July 13 as the rate of the growth slowed amid a fall in crude prices.


Meet the Dubai ad men who pay you to sit in traffic

Updated 20 August 2018
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Meet the Dubai ad men who pay you to sit in traffic

  • Blockchain technology challenges traditional outdoor media
  • Adverts connect to driver mobile phone

LONDON: A new startup founded by UAE-based entrepreneurs is in the process of test-running a blockchain-based technology that could help people turn their cars into mobile advertising vehicles.
It could challenge the use of traditional advertising methods such as outdoor billboards, the founders of The Elo Network claim.
The platform — which has been set up by Mohammed Khammas and Mohammed Bafaqih and incorporated in the Cayman Islands — will enable people to be paid for displaying adverts on the side or back of their vehicles while they go about their daily routines of driving to work, the mall or doing the school run.
The adverts will feature low-frequency bluetooth ‘beacons’ that connect to the drivers' mobile phone which will be able to monitor when the driver is in the car and where the car is being driven.
There is a minimum threshold for the number of miles being driven a day, but the main prerequisite is that the driver is in the car. Drivers will still be paid even if stuck in a traffic jam.
Advertising clients will be able to put out requests that drivers head to a particular area — for instance to be close to a new brand launch — with drivers being paid up to 4 or 5 times more than their standard rate if they accept.
While the concept of paying people to use their cars for advertising is not new, it is the use of blockchain technology that will make The Elo Network particularly grounding-breaking in the advertising world, its founders said.
“Billboards are very expensive and static and don’t give you the KPIs and insightful information that brands want these days. You solve that by getting them that data,” Bafaqih said.
The Elo Network collates detailed data by tracking the movements of the drivers and their day-to-day activities. Data points such as a particular area’s population density can been collected.
The information will be encrypted ensuring that the brand will never know the identity of the driver, said Bafaqih.
“It creates data sets that didn’t exist before. You don’t have to worry about privacy but at the same time the brand can know about your patterns. They can know where you go in mornings, where you drive, what normal patterns are created in certain areas and countries,” he said.
This level of detail is increasingly important for brands looking to run targeted campaigns, and it is something that traditional billboards are unable to offer.
The technology will also be used to overcome the payment problems that other similar car advertising schemes have faced.
“Historically what happens, where there is a authority that is issuing payments, it causes a lot of problems. There can be disputes on how much they (the drivers) are owed or how many miles were driven or what campaign someone has done,” he said.
Under the Elo Network program, the blockchain technology allows you to create so-called “Smart Contracts” — which is a software protocol that enforces and verifies the performance of a contract.
“It says driver A is going to be paid — for example — a dollar per mile — so as the person drives he starts receives ‘IOUs’. Those IOUs are convertible at any time,” he said.
With no ‘middle man’ involved, the driver is able to redeem their IOUs and get paid as and when they want.
The network is currently at ‘proof of concept’ stage and is test-running the platform with a number of brands. It is anticipated that the network will be rolled out to the public toward the end of this year and early 2019.