Oil prices rise on expectations of more OPEC output cuts

Pump jacks operate at sunset in an oil field in Midland, Texas. (REUTERS/Nick Oxford/File Photo)
Updated 09 August 2019

Oil prices rise on expectations of more OPEC output cuts

  • Saudi Arabia has said it planned to maintain its crude oil exports below 7 million barrels per day in August and September to bring the market back to balance and help absorb global oil inventories

SEOUL: Oil prices rose on Friday, supported by expectations of more production cuts by OPEC amid fears the US-China trade row could lead to a global slowdown, curbing demand for crude.
International benchmark Brent crude futures, were at $57.61 a barrel by 0009 GMT, up 23 cents, or 0.4%, from their previous settlement.
US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) futures were at $52.79 per barrel, up 25 cents, or 0.5%, from their last close.
Both contracts jumped more than 2% on Thursday to recover from January lows, buoyed by reports that Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest oil exporter, had called other producers to discuss the recent slide in crude prices.
Oil prices have still lost more than 20% from their peaks reached in April, putting them in bear territory.
Global financial markets were rocked over the past week after US President Donald Trump said he would impose 10% tariffs on Chinese goods starting September and a fall in the Chinese yuan sparked fears of a currency war.
China’s yuan strengthened against the dollar on Thursday, on the back of strong export growth in July.
Saudi Arabia, de facto leader of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), planned to maintain its crude oil exports below 7 million barrels per day in August and September to bring the market back to balance and help absorb global oil inventories, a Saudi oil official said on Wednesday.
“Saudi’s production in September will also be lower than it is currently. This helped crude oil rebound from its lowest level since January,” ANZ bank said in a note.
The United Arab Emirates also will continue to support actions to balance the oil market, the country’s energy minister Suhail Al-Mazrouei said in a tweet on Thursday.
The minister said the OPEC and non-OPEC ministerial monitoring committee would meet in Abu Dhabi on Sept. 12 to review the oil market.
OPEC and its allies including Russia agreed in July to extend their supply cuts until March 2020 to boost oil prices.


Taps and reservoirs run dry as Moroccan drought hits farmers

Updated 22 October 2020

Taps and reservoirs run dry as Moroccan drought hits farmers

  • The problems caused by increasingly erratic rainfall and the depletion of groundwater are growing every year in Morocco

RABAT: Two years of drought have drained reservoirs in southern Morocco, threatening crops the region relies on and leading to nightly cuts in tap water for an area that is home to a million people.

In a country that relies on farming for two jobs in five and 14 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP), the problems caused by increasingly erratic rainfall and the depletion of groundwater are growing every year.

In the rich citrus plantations of El-Guerdan, stretching eastward from the southern city of Agadir, more than half of farmers rely on two dams in the mountains of Aoulouz, 126 km away, to irrigate their trees.

However, that water has been diverted to the tourist hub of Agadir, where mains water has been cut to residential areas every night since Oct. 3 to ensure taps in households did not run entirely dry.

“The priority should go to drinking water,” Agriculture Minister Aziz Akhannouch said in parliament last week.

In El-Guerdan, Youssef Jebha’s crop of clementine oranges has been compromised by reduced water supply, he said, which affects both the quality of fruit and the size of the harvest.

“The available ground water is barely enough to keep the trees alive,” said Jebha, who is head of a regional farmers’ association.

“Saving Agadir should not be at the expense of El-Guerdan farmers,” he added, speaking by phone.

‘We hope for rain’

El-Guerdan is not alone in facing drought. Morocco’s harvest of cereals this year was less than half that of 2019, meaning hundreds of millions of dollars of extra import costs.

Despite lower production, Moroccan exports of fresh produce have risen this year by 8 percent. 

Critics of the government’s agricultural policy say such sales are tantamount to exporting water itself, given the crops use up so many resources.

A report by Morocco’s social and environmental council, an official advisory body, warned that four-fifths of the country’s water resources could vanish over the next 25 years.

It also warned of the risks to social peace due to water scarcity. In 2017, 23 people were arrested after protests over water shortages in the southeastern city of Zagora.

In January the government said it would spend $12 billion on boosting water supply over the next seven years by building new dams and desalination plants.

One $480 million plant, with a daily capacity of 400,000 cubic meters, is expected to start pumping in March, with the water divided between residential areas and farms.

Until then, “We hope for rain,” the agriculture minister said in parliament.

In El-Guerdan, the farmers are digging for water. A new well costs $20,000-30,000. However, “there is no guarantee water can be found due to the depletion of ground reserves,” said Ahmed Bounaama, another farmer.