Saudi Arabia oil exports to hit 10.6m barrels

In this file photo taken on September 20, 2019 a general view of Saudi Aramco's Abqaiq oil processing plant is seen on September 20, 2019. (AFP)
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Updated 31 March 2020

Saudi Arabia oil exports to hit 10.6m barrels

  • The Kingdom intends to increase its crude oil exports starting in May, by about 600,000 barrels per day

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia is to boost exports of crude oil to a record high in a new show of strength on international energy markets.

From May, the Kingdom will export about 600,000 more barrels of oil per day on top of the current level of 10 million barrels, even as demand and crude prices have been falling.

The extra exports have been made possible by switching to gas for domestic energy generation, and by lower domestic demand caused by the coronavirus pandemic, an energy ministry official said.

Global demand for crude is down as much as 20 percent by some estimates because of stalled economic activity. Oil prices on International markets were volatile again yesterday. Brent, the Middle East benchmark, dipped sharply before closing up by about 5 percent at just over $26 per barrel. West Texas Intermediate, the US standard, fell below the significant $20 per barrel level. It recovered slightly, but still closed about 8 percent down.

US and Russian presidents Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin discussed both oil prices and the coronavirus pandemic in a telephone conversation on Monday.

Trump said he was concerned about the effect of falling prices on the US oil industry, which has higher costs than either Saudi Arabia or Russia. “We don’t want to have a dead industry,” he said. “I never thought I’d be saying that maybe we have to have an oil price increase, but we do.”

However, experts said the new Saudi export levels were a sign that there would be no early truce in the “oil price wars” following the end of the Saudi-Russia alliance to limit output. On top of already announced discounts, the export increase “will translate into a very low price for Saudi crude,” Olivier Jakob, director of Swiss-based energy consultancy Petromatrix, told Arab News.

Others said the Kingdom’s strategy of taking market share at the expense of high cost producers, especially in the US, was beginning to pay off. The strategy was a “game theory masterstroke” that would re-assert Saudi dominance of global energy markets, said Antoine Halff of the Columbia University Center on Global Energy Policy.


Lebanon removes banking secrecy rules to fight corruption

Updated 28 May 2020

Lebanon removes banking secrecy rules to fight corruption

  • The move opens the way for investigations into bank accounts of current and former officials such as Cabinet ministers

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s parliament approved on Thursday a law to remove decades-old banking secrecy rules in order to better fight rampant corruption that has pushed the country to the edge of economic collapse.
The move opens the way for investigations into bank accounts of current and former officials such as Cabinet ministers, legislators and civil servants, state-run National News Agency reported.
The restoration of stolen public money in the corruption-plagued nation has been a key demand of protesters who have been demonstrating since mid-October against Lebanon’s ruling elite, which they blame for widespread corruption and mismanagement.
The approval of the law came two months after the Cabinet approved a draft resolution to abolish the country’s banking secrecy laws, which have turned tiny Lebanon into the region’s Switzerland, attracting clients from around the Arab world who prized the anonymity its banks offered.
The new law gives powers to National Anti-corruption Commission and a Special Investigative Committee at the central bank to investigate bank account of officials, the report said.
For Thursday’s session, Lebanese lawmakers convened inside a Beirut theater so that they could observe social distancing measures imposed during the pandemic. Dozens of anti-government demonstrators briefly clashed with riot police outside as legislators met.
As lawmakers in face masks arrived at the theater, known as the UNESCO palace, paramedics sprayed them with disinfectant before they entered, one at a time.
Lebanon has been facing its worst economic crisis in decades, with unemployment figures soaring and the local currency losing more than half of its value against the dollar.
After the banking secrecy measure was passed, Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri suspended the session until later in the afternoon when the legislators were to discuss a draft general amnesty law.
The amnesty issue has deeply divided parliamentary blocs, with Christian groups calling for pardoning Lebanese who fled to Israel after it ended its occupation of southern Lebanon in 2000, while former Prime Minister Saad Hariri and others want the release of hundreds of Islamists held as terror suspects.
Lebanon and Israel are at a state of war and some Lebanese who fled to Israel now hold Israeli citizenship. Scores of protesters demonstrated in Beirut and southern Lebanon on Thursday against pardoning those living in Israel.