OPEC sees lower 2020 demand for its oil, points to surplus

OPEC and its allies last week renewed a supply-cutting pact until March 2020. (AFP)
Updated 12 July 2019

OPEC sees lower 2020 demand for its oil, points to surplus

  • The drop in demand for OPEC crude highlights the sustained boost that OPEC’s policy to support prices
  • OPEC and its allies last week renewed a supply-cutting pact until March 2020

LONDON: OPEC yesterday forecast world demand for its crude will decline next year as rivals pump more, pointing to the return of a surplus despite an OPEC-led pact to restrain supplies.
The drop in demand for OPEC crude highlights the sustained boost that OPEC’s policy to support prices by supply cuts is giving to US shale and other rival sources. This potentially gives US President Donald Trump more room to keep up sanctions on OPEC members Iran and Venezuela.
Giving its first 2020 forecasts in a monthly report, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries said the world would need 29.27 million barrels per day (bpd) of crude from its 14 members next year, down 1.34 million bpd from this year.
“US tight crude production is anticipated to continue to grow as new pipelines will allow more Permian crude to flow to the US Gulf Coast export hub,” OPEC said, using another term for shale oil.
In the report OPEC also forecast that world oil demand would rise at the same pace as this year and that the world economy would expand at this year’s pace, despite slower growth in the US and China.
“The 2020 forecast assumes that no further downside risks materialize, particularly that trade-related issues do not escalate further,” OPEC said of the economic outlook. Brexit poses an additional risk, as does a continuation in the current slowdown in manufacturing activity.”
OPEC, Russia and other producers have since Jan. 1 implemented a deal to cut output by 1.2 million bpd. The alliance, known as OPEC+, last week renewed the pact until March 2020 to avoid a build-up of inventories that could hit prices.
Oil pared earlier gains after the report was released, although prices were still trading above $67 a barrel after three Iranian vessels tried to block a British ship in the Strait of Hormuz oil chokepoint.

HIGHLIGHTS

● Demand for OPEC crude to fall 1.34 million bpd in 2020.

● Cites trade disputes, Brexit as economy risks.

● Oil stocks increase, remaining above five-year average. Points to 2020 supply surplus at current OPEC production.

Despite the supply cut, oil has tumbled from April’s 2019 peak above $75, pressured by concerns over the US-China trade dispute and an economic slowdown.
OPEC also oil inventories in developed economies rose in May, suggesting a trend that could raise concern over a possible oil glut.
Stocks in May exceeded the five-year average — a yardstick OPEC watches closely — by 25 million barrels.
OPEC said its oil output in June fell by 68,000 bpd to 29.83 million bpd as US sanctions on Iran boosted the impact of the supply pact.
According to figures OPEC collects from secondary sources, supply from Iran posted the biggest decline, by 142,000 bpd, as Washington tightened the screws on Iranian exports.
Top exporter Saudi Arabia increased output by 126,000 bpd to 9.81 million bpd in June but continued to voluntarily pump less than the supply pact allows it to in order to bolster the market. Nigeria, seeking a higher OPEC quota, posted the group’s largest boost in output.
With 2020 demand for OPEC crude expected to average 29.27 million bpd, OPEC’s report suggests there will be a 2020 supply surplus of over 500,000 bpd if OPEC keeps pumping at June’s rate and other things remain equal.


Case against Ghosn excuse to get him out of Nissan, claim lawyers

Updated 13 November 2019

Case against Ghosn excuse to get him out of Nissan, claim lawyers

  • The former motor giant chief’s legal team has alleged that both his arrest and the prosecution efforts have been illegal

TOKYO: The drama surrounding the arrest of Carlos Ghosn, former boss of motor giants Nissan and Renault, has yet to reach its climax. Yet the plot continues to thicken with each new development.

On Monday, Ghosn’s defense lawyers unveiled court submissions highlighting the circumstances in which the 65-year-old executive was arrested and subsequently held in detention.

“We believe that Mr. Carlos Ghosn is innocent. We believe that the arrest and the prosecution efforts thus far are illegal and therefore Mr. Ghosn should be immediately released,” the head of his defense team, Junichiro Hironaka, said during a press conference at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan in Tokyo on Monday.

Hironaka claimed that Nissan wanted to kick out Carlos Ghosn from the company and therefore put together a team dedicated to searching around for something that would justify them to do that.

“This prosecution motion wasn’t initiated because the prosecution side believed that Mr. Ghosn had committed an illegal act. Fundamentally there is a problem with this being treated as a criminal act,” he said.

Hironaka further said that the prosecutor’s office is supposed to be acting in the public good for everyone and not behalf of a specific corporation.

“From the investigation level, there were various problems and mistakes with this case. Furthermore, the Japanese persecution office can’t reach overseas so they rely on Nissan employees to go into Mr. Ghosn’s offices and residences and removed objects illegally,” he said.

Hironaka said there is no evidence to support the alleged wrongdoing claim that Nissan made payments to SBA in Oman, and Ghosn re-directed that money to himself or his family.

“The amounts that were paid by Nissan matched exactly the amounts due to SBA,” he said.

The lawyer had a similar response to the reports connecting some donations by Ghosn to a school in Lebanon that would somehow benefit himself. “There is absolutely no evidence or factual basis for indicating that,” Hironaka said.

He said that his team is trying to access correct information and find out what evidence the prosecution might have.

“I have made an effort to share information with the media, including the foreign media, during this whole pre-trial motion,” he said.

Under the Japanese system, the prosecutors are not required to disclose all the evidence at their disposal. Japanese law requires that prosecutors must disclose anything related to any evidence related to the specific filings they make.

They must also disclose any evidence that is related to the filings that are made by the defense counsel. However, there is no requirement for them to disclose evidence from other parts.

Ghosn was arrested at Tokyo’s Haneda Airport on Nov. 19, 2018, on multiple charges related to his stewardship of the two companies.

The cases involved not only Nissan-Renault and Japan’s Mitsubishi Motors (part of the Franco-Japanese alliance), but also the Japanese and French governments along with various key players from Asia and the Middle East.

Nissan was on the brink of bankruptcy in March 1999, with about 2 trillion yen ($17.6 billion) in interest-bearing debt.

This is when it entered a capital partnership with major French automaker Renault SA. Ghosn has been credited for turning the company around dramatically since then.

However, fears that the high-profile CEO and chairman was planning to merge Nissan into a much larger multinational motor alliance appeared to have fueled speculation regarding the future of the company.

It was reportedly argued within Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government that the automaker would no longer be recognizably Japanese.

The case has larger ramifications and the two governments have routinely become involved in discussions related to its future.

According to news reports, when Macron and Abe met in Buenos Aires, the French president asked that the Franco-Japanese alliance be maintained.

On being asked by Arab News Japan about reports of a prosecution team visiting Saudi Arabia and Oman, Hironaka confirmed that the visit indeed took place after Ghosn’s arrest.

“However, we have not been given any access to any information that they may or may not have gathered there,” he said.