Oil surges on hopes of new deal on output cuts

Oil surges on hopes of new deal on output cuts
DME Oman crude rose above $40 a barrel for the first time since early March. (Shutterstock image)
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Updated 02 June 2020

Oil surges on hopes of new deal on output cuts

Oil surges on hopes of new deal on output cuts
  • Brent price has doubled in five weeks
  • OPEC talks may be brought forward

DUBAI: Oil prices surged toward $40 a barrel on Monday as hopes rose for an early agreement to extend the big production cuts agreed by Saudi Arabia and Russia under the OPEC+ alliance.

Brent, the global benchmark, jumped by more 9 percent to nearly $39, continuing the surge that has doubled the price in five weeks — the best performance in its history. It recovered after record supply cuts agreed between the 23 countries of the OPEC+ partnership, and enforced cuts in US shale oil.

DME Oman crude, the regional benchmark in which a lot of Saudi Aramco exports are priced, rose above $40 a barrel for the first time since early March.

Market sentiment was buoyed by the possibility that the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries would agree with non-OPEC members to extend the cuts for a longer period than was agreed in April.

Oil analysts expect OPEC to fast track a “virtual” meeting to formally agree to maintaining cuts at the record 9.7 million barrels a day level. The meeting was scheduled for June 9, but bringing it forward would allow producers more time to set pricing levels.

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An official with one OPEC delegation told Arab News there was consensus among the 23 OPEC+ members for the new date, which could be as early as June 4. The meeting will also consider how long the current level of cuts would be maintained. Some OPEC members want it to run to the end of the year, other producers would prefer a two-month extension.

Omar Najia, global head of derivatives with trader BB Energy, told a forum run by Gulf Intelligence consultancy: “I’d be amazed if OPEC did not extend the higher level of cuts. As long as Saudi Arabia and Russia continue saying nice things to each other I’d expect the rally to continue.”

A Moscow source close to the oil industry said energy officials there had come to the conclusion that “the deal is working” and it was important to keep prices at an “acceptable” level.

Sentiment was also affected by a comparatively high level of compliance with the new cuts, running at about 75 percent among OPEC+ members, with only Iraq and Nigeria noticeable under-compliers.

Robin Mills, chief executive of Qamar Energy, said: “That’s where I’d expect it to be after two months in such a fluid situation. It will be even better in June.”


Apartment living, e-commerce centers the key trends as Saudi real estate rebounds from 2020

Skyscrapers stand in the King Abdullah financial district in Riyadh. (Getty Images/File Photo)
Skyscrapers stand in the King Abdullah financial district in Riyadh. (Getty Images/File Photo)
Updated 1 min 21 sec ago

Apartment living, e-commerce centers the key trends as Saudi real estate rebounds from 2020

Skyscrapers stand in the King Abdullah financial district in Riyadh. (Getty Images/File Photo)
  • CBRE report believed physical offices are here to stay, will get boost from Riyadh Strategy 2030 HQ announcement

RIYADH: The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the Saudi property market in many ways, with a number of trends emerging, such as a focus on apartment living, the growth of e-commerce impacting the warehouse and retail sector and the reopening of international movement spurring a rebound in the hospitality sector.

In its new report, real estate consultancy firm CBRE observed that in the residential sector there has been “increased demand witnessed across major markets for smaller residential typologies, with increased focus on community living environment. Developers are responding by introducing a greater proportion of apartments and townhouses within their mega projects.”

As part of its Vision 2030 program, the government is aiming to increase homeownership in the Kingdom to 70 percent, up from about 47 percent in 2017. One of the ways it is doing this is through the launch of Roshn, which is owned by the Public Investment Fund (PIF). Roshn is planning to start off-plan sales at its flagship project in Riyadh later this year, with the handover of the first homes to tenants likely in early 2022.

“Our communities are entirely inclusive, with homes to suit all tastes and budgets. Our aim is to provide a modern, aspirational living experience while giving residents the freedom to interpret what this means to them in their own unique way. Our communities have been designed to inspire a strong sense of neighborly spirit and genuine connection between residents,” Roshn’s Group CEO David Grover told Arab News.

CBRE said that millennials were emerging as a key consumer class for residential units and demand is high for “digitally enabled homes.”

Within the office sector, the report believed that the recent announcement of the Riyadh Strategy 2030, which aims to attract hundreds of companies to set up their headquarters in the Saudi capital, will benefit developers building office space. While the pandemic saw workers staying at home, CBRE believed that “physical offices are here to stay” but developers may need to move away from traditional models and offer more flexible spaces to accommodate hybrid working plans.

Within the retail sector, the surge in e-commerce in 2020 has led to the development of more fulfilment sectors, warehouses and collection points. “Rapid growth of online shopping is likely to result in more omni-channel retail, however, preserving the ‘physical experience’ will be a critical component of these omnichannel strategies, particularly in the KSA,” the CBRE report observed.

This was echoed by Ahmad BinDawood, CEO of BinDawood Holding, one of the Kingdom’s biggest supermarket operators, who told Arab News in May that while the company had seen a spike in online sales, he believed consumers still prefer to come to the stores to buy their produce.

“The primary way that the customer prefers to shop is actually visiting the stores, not through online. Online shopping is still going to be good for the future but so far we see that the customer prefers to shop in stores to have that experiential element when they come,” he said.

However, other retailers are adopting a more hybrid model. Dubai’s Majid Al Futtaim operates 21 Carrefour stores across nine Saudi cities and is aiming to double its store network by 2025. It saw online sales in the Kingdom rise by 285 percent last year, therefore, alongside the store network expansion, it is also adding fulfilment centers and boosting door-to-door delivery.

Hani Weiss, CEO of Majid Al Futtaim Retail, told Arab News: “This included opening a large online fulfilment center in Riyadh and activating nine of our customer stores to also fulfil online orders. The opening of our automated fulfilment center in Jeddah is the latest in Majid Al Futtaim’s digital transformation of its Carrefour operations.”

The 9,000 square meter center in Riyadh is Majid Al Futtaim’s largest for its online Carrefour business and operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, handling up to 5,000 orders a day.

Within the hotel sector, CBRE believed the recovery may take more time as borders only reopened on May 17. While there was little impact on the guest experience, CBRE believed that hoteliers did have to reduce costs and salaries, but these were coming back. Jochem-Jan Sleiffer, president of Hilton Middle East, Africa and Turkey, told Arab News that while the company is aiming to increase its presence in the Kingdom from 15 properties to 56 by 2025, the last year was tough. The company postponed some investment deals to preserve cash and it did make some layoffs, but it is now back rehiring staff at an accelerated rate.


Saudi small traders can accept payment with their phones

Saudi small traders can accept payment with their phones
Updated 21 June 2021

Saudi small traders can accept payment with their phones

Saudi small traders can accept payment with their phones
  • The “Tap to phone” solution uses near-field communication technology to allow these businesses to accept payments via their smartphone devices

DUBAI: Saudi Payments, owned by the Saudi Central Bank, has partnered with Visa to launch a low-cost contactless payment technology for small and micro-businesses.
The “Tap to phone” solution uses near-field communication technology to allow these businesses to accept payments via their smartphone devices, without having to invest in a separate point of sale device.
The move is in line with Saudi Arabia’s goal to modernize its financial system by making innovation accessible to all segments of society.
“This step enhances the Kingdom’s financial technology capabilities and is congruent with Saudi Vision 2030’s nation-wide drive for digitization,” said Fahad Al-Akeel, Saudi Payments managing director.
He said contactless payments have since grown in popularity as people avoid physical touch points amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The pandemic has made it critical for all businesses to expand their payment methods beyond cash, as consumers expect and prefer secure and seamless cashless payment methods wherever they shop,” Visa’s country manager, Ali Bailoun, said.
He said more than 50 percent of small businesses in the Kingdom showed keen interest in low-cost acceptance solutions, citing a recent Visa study.
“We are excited to partner with Saudi Payments to bring this innovative digital payment solution to merchants in Saudi Arabia and help accelerate the Kingdom’s digital transformation goals,” he added.


New Fairmont to open in Al-Khobar amid hotel building boom

New Fairmont to open in Al-Khobar amid hotel building boom
Updated 21 June 2021

New Fairmont to open in Al-Khobar amid hotel building boom

New Fairmont to open in Al-Khobar amid hotel building boom
  • With an opening date expected for 2023, the hotel will feature 160 rooms and serviced apartments

RIYADH: Accor is set to open a new Fairmont property in Saudi Arabia on the Ajdan Waterfront development in Al-Khobar.
With an opening date expected for 2023, the hotel will feature 160 rooms and serviced apartments.
"This prestigious destination is known to be one of the most desirable leisure attractions for visitors and residents of the Eastern Province in Saudi Arabia,” said Abdullah AlFozan, chairman of Ajdan Real Estate Development Company.
Saudi Arabia has the world’s biggest hotel pipeline, according to STR data. The hotel research group said the country’s expected 67.1 percent increase in room supply over the next three years is the highest among the 50 most populated countries.
The new Fairmont planned for Al-Khobar will be part of the Ajdan Waterfront mixed-use development, featuring retail, commercial, residential, and entertainment components. It will be located close to the Saudi Aramco headquarters as well as the King Abdulaziz Cultural Centre and Airbase, King Fahd University of Petroleum & Minerals, and various malls and attractions in the city.
It is also in the vicinity of the King Fahd Causeway, which connects thousands of passengers from Al-Khobar to Bahrain.
Accor currently operates 39 properties with 14,314 rooms in the Kingdom with a pipeline of 33 properties.


Abu Dhabi pledges $9.5m to fund development projects in Comoros

Abu Dhabi pledges $9.5m to fund development projects in Comoros
Updated 21 June 2021

Abu Dhabi pledges $9.5m to fund development projects in Comoros

Abu Dhabi pledges $9.5m to fund development projects in Comoros
  • The fund will be used in key projects in education, health, and agriculture

DUBAI: The Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD) has allocated 35 million dirhams ($9.5 million) to support the UAE’s ongoing development efforts in the African island-nation Comoros.
The fund will be used in key projects in education, health, and agriculture, state news agency WAM reported, under the “Mother of the Nation” development program, led by the Emirates Red Crescent (ERC).
About 4.5 million dirhams will fund a garment manufacturing unit to provide livelihood to families in the island; 10 million dirhams will be used to build a student dormitory; and 13 million for two women and children-focused health centers.
The rest of the fund will be channeled into agriculture and livestock projects, and construction of a school.
“Through this agreement, we seek to support sustainable development and improve the living standards of the people of the Comoros by ensuring their access to basic services in collaboration with ERC,” the ADFD’s director-general, Saif Al-Suwaidi, said.
The UAE’s commitment to Comoros dates back to the late 1970s, and the ADFD has since given 436 million dirhams in development aid to the African country.


Arabtec Holding and units bankruptcy approved by Dubai court

Arabtec Holding and units bankruptcy approved by Dubai court
Updated 21 June 2021

Arabtec Holding and units bankruptcy approved by Dubai court

Arabtec Holding and units bankruptcy approved by Dubai court
  • The court last week approved the liquidation of Arabtec and its six subsidiaries

RIYADH: A Dubai court has approved the opening of bankruptcy proceedings for Arabtec Holding and six of its units.
The court last week approved the liquidation of Arabtec and its six subsidiaries namely, Arabtec Construction Abu Dhabi, Arabtec Construction Dubai, Austrian Arabian Ready Mix Concrete (AAC) and Arabtec Precast, in addition to Emirates Falcon Electromechanical Co (EFECO) Abu Dhabi and EFECO Dubai.
The court appointed a trustee for each of the entities and ordered them to publish the bankruptcy decision of each one, review its debts, deposit a record of its creditors, and conduct all the procedures stipulated under the bankruptcy law, within 35 days, the company said in a stock exchange filing.
The court also instructed each trustee to prepare an initial separate report on the assets of each entity and its rights with third parties.
It stopped all judicial and execution procedures on the companies’ assets until approving the restructuring plan or the lapse of 10 months from the date of the decision to open the bankruptcy proceedings.
The court scheduled the next hearing for July 26.