Energy Recap: The oil market wavers

Energy Recap: The oil market wavers
Oil prices went in different directions at the end of the week. (File photo/AFP)
Updated 24 March 2019

Energy Recap: The oil market wavers

Energy Recap: The oil market wavers

RIYADH: Oil prices went in different directions at the end of the week. Brent deteriorated to $67.03 per barrel and WTI rose to $59.04 per barrel, but both remain at four-month highs. 
Still, poor economic signals that added to the generally bearish mood did not manage to drive oil prices down because of the tightening global supplies that led the surprise drawdown in US inventories.
The 10 million barrels fall in US crude stocks was the largest drop since July 2018, due to a combination of strong exports and higher refining utilization. 
The reduced number of US oil rigs for a fourth week running sent drilling activity to its lowest in nearly a year.
The current level of oil prices does not reflect the market’s relatively strong fundamentals and supply tightness.
The Arabian Gulf sour crude grades have seen extensive buying activity with refiners securing spot cargoes in addition to their term cargoes.
Such high demand for the sour medium and heavy crude grades had Dubai crude in high demand.
Asian refiners are becoming increasingly concerned about the tightening supplies for the medium and heavy crude grade.
That is because many of them lack the flexibility to swiftly switch their refining systems to handle alternative light sweet crude grades that have low sulfur content. 
The market remains preoccupied with Iranian sanction waivers, which may be extended for another round of six months.
Given the tight oil market that has been further exacerbated by the sanctions on Venezuela, the second half of this year might experience further tightening.
The US is widely expected to continue extending the waivers for the key importing countries which are China, India, Korea and Japan. 
The a potential second round of waivers may not impact the market as much as last time in November 2018 when the price dropped by as much as $30 per barrel.
Helped by OPEC output cuts, the market has been stabilizing gradually even if not entirely recovering those early losses.
The current market appears too tight to be moved significantly by further waivers and should be able to absorb additional barrels — be they from Iran, Venezuela, Libya or the US.
Even with the last round of waivers, Iranian oil exports did not exceed 1.25 million barrels per day in February.

  • Faisal Mrza is an energy and oil market adviser. He was formerly with OPEC and Saudi Aramco. Reach him on Twitter: @faisalmrza

Flagship Huawei store in Saudi Arabia will be its biggest outside China

Flagship Huawei store in Saudi Arabia will be its biggest outside China
Terry He, the CEO of Huawei Tech Investment in Saudi Arabia, said the Kingdom is a very important market for the company. (AFP)
Updated 16 January 2021

Flagship Huawei store in Saudi Arabia will be its biggest outside China

Flagship Huawei store in Saudi Arabia will be its biggest outside China

RIYADH/JEDDAH: Chinese tech firm Huawei has signed an agreement with Kaden Investment for the launch in Saudi Arabia of its largest store outside China.
During the signing ceremony, at the Ministry of Investment headquarters in Riyadh, Investment Minister Khalid Al-Falih highlighted the importance of investment in information and communications technology, along with energy and entertainment, which are important pillars of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 development plan.
He said that the agreement with Huawei is a symbol of the prosperity that comes from long-term partnerships, in this case a 20-year relationship with the Chinese business. It is a “long-standing digital partner and ahead of the curve” in spotting the potential offered by the Kingdom, he added.
“Huawei has played an instrumental role in Saudi Arabia’s development, collaborating with government and private enterprises to enhance our nation’s technological infrastructure,” said Al-Falih. “It continues to share our commitment to talent development, innovation and ambition, the values which underpin Vision 2030.”
Terry He, the CEO of Huawei Tech Investment in Saudi Arabia, said the Kingdom is a very important market for the company.
“It gives me great pleasure to announce the next step in Huawei’s commitment to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, to open the largest Huawei flagship store in the overseas market,” he added. “This will provide customers with an unprecedented, immersive full-scenario experience.”
Fahad Alarjani, a member of the Saudi Chinese Business Council, welcomed the agreement as a “huge success” for the Ministry of Investment, in collaboration with other Saudi ministries, in attracting high-tech investments to Saudi Arabia, “especially given that Huawei is considered a technology giant in China and the world.”
Alarjani, a doctorate-level scholar in sustainable entrepreneurship, SMEs development, and marketing strategies, said it is important that agencies in the Kingdom work together to create a fertile, world-leading environment for investors so that they can attract the latest, and sustainable, technological innovations.
“This will help to open new markets and speed up entrepreneurial development,” he added. “It is important to be aware of the fact that Chinese companies are working hard on being pioneers of 5G.”

The agreement with Huawei is a symbol of the prosperity that comes from long-term partnerships, in this case a 20-year relationship with the Chinese business.

Khalid Al-Falih, Investment minister

Saleh M. Al-Saleem, a professor of computer and information sciences at King Saud University, said: “The agreement will definitely entail training programs to transfer technology, and an investment by a company of this size in the Saudi market is an acknowledgment on its part of the huge size of the technological sector in the Kingdom.”


He added that the agreement opens the door for increased competition between the biggest international companies in the sector, and will contribute to lower costs and enhanced services in the Kingdom.
Saudi consumers also expressed excitement about the news. Pharmaceutical science graduate Ruwaid Mahalawi, 29, who lives in Jeddah and describes himself as a Huawei fan, said: “It’s nice to see big names coming into Saudi Arabia and this is only the start — it will inspire more companies to invest in the Kingdom and recognize the market is extremely welcoming.”
Saudis are a very tech savvy society, he said. “Children and adults alike use electronic devices — especially now, with the pandemic — whether it’s for work or schooling. I think it’s shedding light on how big the market is here.”
Mahalawi’s wife, 26-year-old Wajd Abdullah, is also a fan of the Chinese firm and said she ditched her iPhone for a Huawei Mate. She appreciates the added level of service that is provided when a tech brand sells its products through its own stores, rather than through third-party retailers.
“It’s always best when a brand’s own store opens,” she said. “You don’t have to worry about insurance for the gadgets or quality. The store staff will be more knowledgeable and helpful, too, and that helps to ensure customers will return.”
An opening date for the new store, which will be in Riyadh, has yet to be announced.