Oil rises as OPEC+ agrees to ‘keep its powder dry’

Oil rises as OPEC+ agrees to ‘keep its powder dry’
OPEC and its allies met to discuss the latest oil market developments. (File/Reuters)
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Updated 05 March 2021

Oil rises as OPEC+ agrees to ‘keep its powder dry’

Oil rises as OPEC+ agrees to ‘keep its powder dry’
  • Saudi Arabia leads move to curb output in uncertain global economy
  • The prince urged a continuation of the Kingdom’s “cautious and vigilant” policy toward oil supply

DUBAI: Oil prices rose on Friday after OPEC+, the alliance of oil producers led by Saudi Arabia and Russia, agreed to keep in place most of the production curbs that have been credited with the recent surge in the price of crude on global markets.

After a virtual meeting of energy ministers organized from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) headquarters in Vienna, only Russia and Kazakhstan were allowed to increase output levels in April.

Saudi Arabia “rolled over” for another month the big 1 million barrel reduction that has kept markets balanced since the start of the year.

Oil prices rose more than 1 percent on Friday morning, extending gains from Thursday. Brent  gained 83 cents, or 1.2 percent, to $67.57 in early London trade.

Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdul Aziz bin Salman told ministers: “The right course of action now is to keep our powder dry, and to have contingencies in reserve to ensure against any unforeseen outcomes.”

The prince urged a continuation of the Kingdom’s “cautious and vigilant” policy toward oil supply.

Reflecting on continuing worries about the post-pandemic economic recovery, Prince Abdul Aziz said: “Before we take our next step forward, let us be certain that the glimmer we see ahead is not the headlight of an oncoming express train.”

The prince said: “There is no doubt that the global oil market has improved since we last met in January,” citing a high level of compliance — 103 percent — to the cuts agreed on last year at the height of the oil crisis.

But the recovery in oil demand was not complete. 

“I have said for a long time that recovery in global oil demand is closely linked to vaccine acceptance and the speed at which these vaccines are being rolled out around the world,” Prince Abdul Aziz said. “The uncertainty surrounding the pace of recovery has not receded.”

Most OPEC+ countries backed the Kingdom’s cautious stance, but Russia and Kazakhstan were allowed to produce an extra 120,000 and 20,000 barrels a day for the next month because of the domestic need for fuel during the winter.

OPEC+ noted that since the historic meeting last April that turned around the collapse in oil demand, some 2.3 billion barrels of oil had been taken off the global market.

OPEC+ ministers said that while economic prospects and oil demand would remain uncertain in the coming months, the rollout of vaccines around the world would be a positive factor for the rest of the year, boosting the global economy and oil demand.

Brent crude, the global benchmark, jumped back above $65 a barrel as traders’ fears of a flood of oil hitting markets on April 1 proved unfounded.


From lizards to water, eco-bumps snag Tesla Berlin plant

From lizards to water, eco-bumps snag Tesla Berlin plant
Updated 3 min 4 sec ago

From lizards to water, eco-bumps snag Tesla Berlin plant

From lizards to water, eco-bumps snag Tesla Berlin plant
  • The extra demand could place a huge burden on a region already affected by water shortages

BERLIN: In the green forest outside Berlin, a battle is playing out between electric carmaker Tesla and environmental campaigners who want to stop its planned “gigafactory.”

“When I saw on TV that the Tesla factory was going to be built here, I could not believe it,” said Steffen Schorch.

The 60-year-old from Erkner village in the Berlin commuter belt has become one of the faces of the fight against the US auto giant’s first European factory, due to open in the Brandenburg region near Berlin in July. “Tesla needs far too much water, and the region does not have this water,” said the environmental activist, a local representative of the Nabu ecologist campaign group.

Announced in November 2019, Tesla’s gigafactory project was warmly welcomed as an endorsement of the “Made in Germany” quality mark — but was immediately met with opposition from local residents.

Demonstrations, legal action, open letters — residents have done everything in their power to delay the project, supported by powerful environmental campaign groups Nabu and Gruene Liga.

Tesla was forced to temporarily suspend forest clearing last year after campaigners won an injunction over threats to the habitats of resident lizards and snakes during their winter slumber.

And now they have focused their attention on water consumption — which could reach up to 3.6 million cubic meters a year, or around 30 percent of the region’s available supply, according to the ZDF public broadcaster.

The extra demand could place a huge burden on a region already affected by water shortages and hit by summer droughts for the past three years.

Local residents and environmentalists are also concerned about the impact on the wetlands, an important source of biodiversity in the region. “The water situation is bad, and will get worse,” Heiko Baschin, a spokesman for the neighborhood association IG Freienbrink, told AFP.

Brandenburg’s Environment Minister Axel Vogel sought to play down the issue, saying in March that “capacity has not been exceeded for now.”

But the authorities admit that “the impact of droughts is significant” and have set up a working group to examine the issue in the long term.

The gigafactory is set to sprawl over 300 hectares — equivalent to approximately 560 football fields — southwest of the German capital.

Tesla is aiming to produce 500,000 electric vehicles a year at the plant, which will also be home to “the largest battery factory in the world,” according to group boss Elon Musk.


British Muslim billionaire brothers buy healthy fast food chain

British Muslim billionaire brothers buy healthy fast food chain
Updated 18 April 2021

British Muslim billionaire brothers buy healthy fast food chain

British Muslim billionaire brothers buy healthy fast food chain
  • The deal includes 42 company-owned restaurants, as well as 29 franchise sites
  • The brothers said the firm was a “fantastic brand we have long admired”

LONDON: Britain’s billionaire Issa brothers have bought healthy fast food chain Leon.
More than 70 Leon restaurants across the UK and Europe have been sold for £100 million ($138 million) to EG Group, the petrol station business founded by Mohsin and Zuber Issa, the Financial Times reported.
The deal includes 42 company-owned restaurants, as well as 29 franchise sites, which are mainly found in airports and train stations across the UK and some European countries.
The brothers said the firm, which has been hit badly by the coronavirus pandemic, was a “fantastic brand we have long admired.”
Reports said the group has committed to keeping Leon’s management team and staff the same.
“We have tried hard, done some good things, made a healthy amount of mistakes, and built a business that quite a few people are kind enough to say that they love,” John Vincent, who co-founded Leon in 2004, said.
Speaking about the brothers, he said: “They have been enthusiastic customers of Leon, going out of their way to eat here whenever they visit London.”
“They are decent, hard-working business people who are committed to sustaining and further strengthening the values and culture that we have built.”
In October 2020, the Issa brothers and private equity firm TDR Capital, agreed to buy a majority stake in Asda from Walmart.
The brothers and TDR own EG Group, a global convenience and petrol station retailer, which trades from more than 6,000 sites across 10 countries.


Dubai completes first phase of e-commerce free zone

Dubai completes first phase of e-commerce free zone
Updated 18 April 2021

Dubai completes first phase of e-commerce free zone

Dubai completes first phase of e-commerce free zone
  • It includes 470,000 square feet of real estate
  • The e-commerce sector in the Gulf is booming with the forced closure of bricks and mortar shops during the pandemic giving the industry a further boost

DUBAI: The first phase of a new Dubai fee zone dedicated to e-commerce has been completed.
It includes 470,000 square feet of real estate.
The 3.2 billion dirhams ($871 million) Dubai CommerCity project also includes 145,000 square feet of e-commerce logistics units and warehouses in a cluster managed and operated by Hellmann Worldwide Logistics and DHL.
It has leased 51 percent of the logistics warehouses to companies operating across IT, fashion, jewelry and electronics.
“The launch of Dubai CommerCity aims to lead the future of e-commerce business in the region,” said Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al-Maktoum, chairman of the Dubai Airport Freezone Authority. “The project has been thoroughly studied not only to provide foundational solutions, but also to stimulate and support business and prosperity at a time when the sector is going through peak growth.”
The e-commerce sector in the Gulf is booming with the forced closure of bricks and mortar shops during the pandemic giving the industry a further boost.
The free zone provides opportunities for manufacturers, distributors and global e-retailers while offering tax and investment incentives, it said.
It is divided into three main clusters — Business, Logistics and Social.


Emirates NBD, Etihad Credit Insurance ink deal to ease trade finance access for UAE businesses

Emirates NBD, Etihad Credit Insurance ink deal to ease trade finance access for UAE businesses
Updated 18 April 2021

Emirates NBD, Etihad Credit Insurance ink deal to ease trade finance access for UAE businesses

Emirates NBD, Etihad Credit Insurance ink deal to ease trade finance access for UAE businesses
  • The deal will help the UAE lender to reduce any risks that may be associated with credit facilities

DUBAI: UAE export credit company, Etihad Credit Insurance (ECI), has signed an agreement with Emirates NBD to improve liquidity of UAE exporters by easing their access to credit facilities.
The deal will help the UAE lender to reduce any risks that may be associated with credit facilities, so businesses can pursue export and expansion opportunities, according to a joint statement.
More than 80 per cent of world trade relies on trade finance, ECI’s chief Massimo Falcioni said, and the agreement will allow Emirates NBD to offer innovative financial solutions to their clients.
Governments in the Gulf have been investing in strengthening local businesses as a strategy to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, and to gradually veer away from oil-dependence.

 

 


Italian fashion brand Diesel launches online shopping platform in KSA, UAE

Italian fashion brand Diesel launches online shopping platform in KSA, UAE
Updated 18 April 2021

Italian fashion brand Diesel launches online shopping platform in KSA, UAE

Italian fashion brand Diesel launches online shopping platform in KSA, UAE
  • The website will feature new collections of the fashion line, as well as exclusive deals for online shoppers

DUBAI: Italian fashion retailer Diesel has launched its own e-commerce platform for customers in Saudi Arabia and the UAE, the company said on Sunday.
The website will feature new collections of the fashion line, as well as exclusive deals for online shoppers. It will also offer free shipping for customers in both countries.
Diesel has been in the market for four decades and is known for its denim and casual fashion offerings.
The COVID-19 pandemic has created huge demand for online shopping in the Gulf, with many retailers accelerating their digital efforts to take advantage of it