Oil markets ease after three days of gains

An oil tanker is being loaded at Saudi Aramco’s Ras Tanura oil refinery and oil terminal in Saudi Arabia. The kingdom is temporarily halting oil shipments through the Red Sea shipping lane of Bab Al-Mandab. (Reuters)
Updated 27 July 2018
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Oil markets ease after three days of gains

TOKYO: Oil prices edged lower on Friday in quiet trading after three days of gains, but took support from Saudi Arabia halting crude transport through a key shipping lane, falling US inventories and easing trade tensions between Washington and Europe.
Brent futures were down 5 cents at $74.49 a barrel by 0319 GMT, after gaining 0.8 percent on Thursday. They are heading for a near 2 percent gain this week, the first weekly increase in four.
US West Texas Intermediate futures were 5 cents lower, at $69.56, after rising nearly 0.5 percent in the previous session. The contract is heading for a 1.3 percent weekly loss, a fourth week of declines.
Saudi Arabia said on Thursday it was “temporarily halting” oil shipments through the Red Sea shipping lane of Bab Al-Mandab after an attack by Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi movement.
Any move to block the Bab Al-Mandeb, which is between the coasts of Yemen and Africa at the southern end of the Red Sea, would virtually halt oil shipments through Egypt’s Suez Canal and the SUMED crude pipeline that link the Red Sea and Mediterranean.
“The fundamentals of the oil market haven’t really changed. We will have sporadic news coming out of the more volatile regions every now and again, but the market is still oversupplied,” said Peter Lee, Asian oil and gas analyst at BMI Research in Singapore.
“The picture is getting a little better but it is not going to be until 2019 when we start to see more material signs of a deficit building in the market,” he said. “We expect to see range-bound trading till the end of the year.”
An estimated 4.8 million barrels per day of crude oil and refined products flowed through the Bab Al-Mandeb strait in 2016 toward Europe, the United States and Asia, according to the US Energy Information Administration.
However, Saudi Arabia has the Petroline, also known as the East-West Pipeline, which mainly transports crude from fields clustered in the east to Yanbu for export. That could offset a bottleneck caused by Bab Al-Mandeb’s closure.
US President Donald Trump and Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, the EU’s executive body, struck a surprise deal on Wednesday that ended the risk of an immediate trade war between the two powers.
A trade war would likely hit demand for commodities like oil, which is used heavily in shipping, construction and other economic activity.
US crude oil inventories last week tumbled more than expected to their lowest level since 2015, the EIA said on Wednesday, as US gasoline and distillate stockpiles fell.


Siemens CEO pushes plans to boost Iraqi power infrastructure

Updated 23 September 2018
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Siemens CEO pushes plans to boost Iraqi power infrastructure

FRANKFURT: Siemens said its boss Joe Kaeser met Iraq’s prime minister on Sunday to discuss a proposal by the German company to expand the Middle East nation’s power production.
The German engineering group said it was proposing a deal to add 11 gigawatt (GW) of capacity over four years, saying this would boost the country’s capacity by nearly 50 percent.
It did not give a value, but such a contract would be worth several billion euros based on previous comparable deals.
Iraq has a wide gap between electricity consumption and supply. Peak demand in the summer, when people turn on air conditioners due to high temperatures, is about 21 GW, far exceeding the 13 GW the grid is currently provides, experts say.
Kaeser said in a statement after meeting Prime Minister Al-Abadi that they had “discussed the comprehensive Siemens roadmap to build a better future for the Iraqi people.”
“In Egypt, we have done the same and successfully built up the power infrastructure in record time with the highest efficiency,” he said.
In 2015, Siemens signed an 8 billion euro ($9.4 billion) deal with Egypt to supply gas and wind power plants to add 16.4 gigawatts of capacity to the country’s power grid, marking the group’s single biggest order.
The proposal for Iraq, first pitched in February, would include cutting Iraq’s energy losses, introducing smart grids, expanding transmission grids, upgrading existing plants and adding new capacity.
The group would also help the government secure funding from international commercial banks and export credit agencies with German government support, creating thousands of jobs in Iraq.
Siemens would donate a $60 million grant for software for Iraqi universities, it said.