Oil steady with investors focusing on possible return of Iranian supply

Oil steady with investors focusing on possible return of Iranian supply
A section of the BP Eastern Trough Area Project oil platform in the North Sea. (Reuters)
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Updated 26 May 2021

Oil steady with investors focusing on possible return of Iranian supply

Oil steady with investors focusing on possible return of Iranian supply
  • Crude stocks fell by 439,000 barrels in the week ended May 21.
  • Indirect negotiations between the US and Iran have resumed in Vienna

TOKYO: Oil prices were steady on Wednesday as concerns a possible resumption in Iranian supply would cause a glut were offset by hopes for stronger US fuel demand after a drop in weekly inventory estimates by the American Petroleum Institute.
Brent crude oil futures for July gained 5 cents, or 0.1 percent, to $68.70 a barrel by 0102 GMT, while US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude for July was at $66.05 a barrel, down 2 cents.
Both benchmarks edged higher on Tuesday, ending at their highest levels in a week, amid hopes for rising demand from the approach of the northern hemisphere’s summer driving season and lifting of coronavirus restrictions.
US crude oil and fuel inventories fell last week, according to two market sources, citing API figures on Tuesday.
Crude stocks fell by 439,000 barrels in the week ended May 21. Gasoline inventories fell by 2 million barrels and distillate stocks fell by 5.1 million barrels, the data showed, according to the sources.
“The API data was good, but investors were paying more attention to the Iran talks because the impact from possible return of Iranian oil to the market is more significant,” said Kazuhiko Saito, chief analyst at commodities broker Fujitomi Co.
Iranian government spokesman Ali Rabiei said on Tuesday he was optimistic over Tehran reaching an agreement soon at talks with world powers to revive a 2015 nuclear deal, although Iran’s top negotiator cautioned that serious issues remained.
Indirect negotiations between the US and Iran have resumed in Vienna this week after Tehran and the UN nuclear agency extended a monitoring agreement on the Middle Eastern country’s atomic program.
Iran and global powers have negotiated in Vienna since April to work out steps that Tehran and Washington must take on sanctions and nuclear activities to return to full compliance with Iran’s 2015 nuclear pact with world powers.
Analysts have said Iran could provide about 1 million to 2 million barrels per day (bpd) in additional oil supply if a deal is struck and sanctions lifted.


Crisis-hit Lebanon hikes fuel prices in de facto end to subsidies

Crisis-hit Lebanon hikes fuel prices in de facto end to subsidies
Updated 8 sec ago

Crisis-hit Lebanon hikes fuel prices in de facto end to subsidies

Crisis-hit Lebanon hikes fuel prices in de facto end to subsidies
BEIRUT: Lebanon raised fuel prices on Wednesday in a de facto end to state subsidies, pushing the cost of filling a vehicle’s tank to more than the monthly minimum wage in the poverty-stricken nation.
Subsidies were gradually phased out over the past few months to shore up diminishing foreign currency reserves at the central bank, which could no longer fund fuel imports.
A revised price list published by the energy ministry set the cost of 20 liters (5.3 gallons) of 95-octane petroleum at 302,700 Lebanese pounds, or around $15 at the black market rate.
This is around five times the price of 61,100 pounds set at the end of June, adding to the economic pain in a country where power cuts are common and basic goods including medicine have become scarce.
The revised price “marks a complete lifting of petroleum subsidies,” Fadi Abou Chakra of the country’s fuel distributors’ association told AFP.
“The fuel price hike will cause the cost of services to also increase, especially transportation,” he added.
The energy ministry on Wednesday also raised the price of diesel and cooking gas following a drop in the value of the Lebanese pound against the dollar on the black market.
The nose-diving pound was selling for around 20,500 pounds to the greenback, its lowest value in months, money exchangers told AFP.
An energy ministry official said that the “latest petroleum prices were calculated on the basis of a currency exchange rate of 20,000 pounds to the dollar as per a central bank request.”
The official spoke on the condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to comment on the issue.
The price increases have mostly erased massive queues at gas pumps that clogged streets across the country during the summer when importers and gas station owners severely rationed supply.
To fill a medium-sized vehicle’s tank, Lebanese would now have to pay more than the monthly minimum wage of 675,000 pounds, at a time when nearly 80 percent of the population is estimated to live below the poverty line.
The International Monetary Fund and France are among creditors demanding an audit of the central bank as part of urgent reforms to unlock financial support for Lebanon.
The World Bank has called the country’s economic crisis one of the planet’s worst since the mid-19th century.
Officials said the audit by a New York-based firm resumes on Thursday.

UAE-based digital shipping platform Palletpal raises $200K

UAE-based digital shipping platform Palletpal raises $200K
Updated 13 min 5 sec ago

UAE-based digital shipping platform Palletpal raises $200K

UAE-based digital shipping platform Palletpal raises $200K

RIYADH: UAE-based digital shipping platform Palletpal has raised $200,000 in a pre-seed round from US venture capital firm Draper Associates.

The startup gives companies across the Middle East better control over their shipments whether they are transported by air or sea, allowing them to keep an inventory of the entire shipping process from purchase to delivery.

The company plans to use the newly raised funding to grow its brand, expand its team and fine-tunie its minimal viable product (MVP).

Palletpal caters to small businesses using an extensive independent network of 50 freight forwarders and carriers, according to founder Adel Hamwi.

“These businesses are moving a large volume of products, and they're being out-priced by large players because the amount of volume that they provide is not enough for them to affect the margins on the forwarder side. We're giving the power back to the customer. You come to us and fill out a request, and then we will find you the best deal,” Hamwi said.


Luxury chain St. Regis Hotels & Resorts outlines Middle East and North African expansion by 2025

Luxury chain St. Regis Hotels & Resorts outlines Middle East and North African expansion by 2025
Updated 27 min 8 sec ago

Luxury chain St. Regis Hotels & Resorts outlines Middle East and North African expansion by 2025

Luxury chain St. Regis Hotels & Resorts outlines Middle East and North African expansion by 2025

CAIRO: High-end hotel chain St. Regis Hotels & Resorts plans to open new sites in the Middle East and North Africa over the next four years as it boosts its global presence.

The Marriott International-owned brand is set to open The St. Regis Marsa Arabia Island, The Pearl, in Qatar in early 2022.

Further openings are scheduled in Oman with Al Mouj Resort in Muscat in 2024, and the Marrakech Resort in Morocco slated for 2025.

The chain already operates hotels across the region in such countries as Egypt, the UAE and Qatar.

Marriott International said in a statement: “St. Regis has 49 open hotels and resorts today, with 29 hotels and resorts in its pipeline, representing expected growth of nearly 60 percent over the next five years in both urban and leisure destination.”

Other hotel openings are planned in the US, Caribbean and Asia Pacific regions over the period.


Economic growth in the UAE will peak next year: Beltone forecast 

Economic growth in the UAE will peak next year: Beltone forecast 
Updated 33 min ago

Economic growth in the UAE will peak next year: Beltone forecast 

Economic growth in the UAE will peak next year: Beltone forecast 

Abu Dhabi: The UAE's main economic indicators will achieve their highest growth rates in a decade during 2022 with the support of Expo 2020, Egypt-based investment bank Beltone has forecast.

It predicts growth in private spending, non-oil GDP, tax and tourism revenues, with additional expenditure on consumer goods and services during the Expo months, Asharq news reported.

Beltone expects that the total number of visitors to the UAE from around the world will reach 10 million in the period from October 2021 until the end of March 2022.

However, this is less than the pre-pandemic target of 18 million visitors.


ENGIE-led consortium closes financing for Saudi largest solar-powered water desalination plant

ENGIE-led consortium closes financing for Saudi largest solar-powered water desalination plant
Updated 39 min 33 sec ago

ENGIE-led consortium closes financing for Saudi largest solar-powered water desalination plant

ENGIE-led consortium closes financing for Saudi largest solar-powered water desalination plant
  • The plant, supplying potable water to Jubail and Dammam, will have a 60MW capacity solar facility - the largest in-house solar capability for a desalination plant in the Kingdom

RIYADH: Saudi Water Partnership Company (SWPC), in association with the consortium led by France-headquartered ENGIE has achieved financial close on the Jubail 3B Independent Water Project (IWP), the largest solar-powered water desalination project in the Kingdom.

The project is part of the water schemes in Saudi Arabia developed under the public-private-partnership (PPP) structure, Engie said in a statement. The consortium is developing and financing the desalination plant, which will be operated and maintained by ENGIE. The Jubail 3B project was awarded by SWPC as a build, own, operate (BOO) contract, with commercial operation expected in 2024, it said.

ENGIE holds 40 percent of the project, while Saudi based Nesma Co. and Abdulaziz Al Ajlan Sons for Commercial and Real Estate Investment hold 30 percent each. 

On 29 April, SWPC awarded the ENGIE-led consortium a 25-year Water Purchase Agreement, and the contract was signed on 22 June.