OPEC+ sticks to modest boost in oil output despite omicron

A 3D printed oil pump jack is seen in front of displayed OPEC logo in this illustration picture. (Reuters/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo)
A 3D printed oil pump jack is seen in front of displayed OPEC logo in this illustration picture. (Reuters/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo)
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Updated 02 December 2021

OPEC+ sticks to modest boost in oil output despite omicron

OPEC+ sticks to modest boost in oil output despite omicron

NEW YORK: OPEC and allied oil-producing countries decided Thursday to maintain the amount of oil they pump to the world even as the new omicron variant casts a shadow of uncertainty over the global economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.
Officials from OPEC countries, led by Saudi Arabia, and their allies, led by Russia, voted to stick with a pre-omicron pattern of steady, modest monthly increases in oil releases — a pace that has frustrated the United States and other oil-consuming nations as gasoline prices rise.
The OPEC+ alliance approved an increase in production of 400,000 barrels per day for the month of January.
The fast-mutating variant led countries to impose travel restrictions when it emerged late last week. In a worst-case scenario, lockdowns triggered by omicron could cut oil demand by nearly 3 million barrels per day in early 2022, according to projections by Rystad Energy.
Positive news about drugs to treat the variant or the vaccines’ effectiveness against it could improve that outlook. But even with positive news, a decrease in oil demand is likely because “the distribution of these remedies may not actually reach all markets with extreme immediacy, which would still necessitate the lockdowns in much of the developing world,” said Louise Dickson, senior oil markets analyst for Rystad.
The price of a barrel of US benchmark crude fell with news of the variant and then fell further as OPEC+ revealed it wasn’t going to curtail production. It was about $78 a barrel a week ago and was trading at about $66 a barrel Thursday. International benchmark Brent crude followed a similar path, falling from $79 a barrel a week ago to about $69 on Thursday.
The decision by OPEC+ to stay the course sends a signal that “the group does what it says and that they will continue their policy on their own terms,” Dickson said. “It also really signals that OPEC+ needs a bit more time to really dig into the numbers on the omicron variant.”
Some analysts had predicted that the OPEC+ alliance — made up of OPEC members and allied non-members like Russia — would act cautiously Thursday, pending more clarity from medical experts on the new variant.
Before omicron’s appearance, the OPEC+ meeting had been shaping up as a potentially fraught moment in a growing dispute between oil-supplying nations and oil-consuming ones, as the global economy rebounds from the worst of the pandemic downturn and demand for oil surged.
Angering the US and its allies, OPEC+ has stuck to a plan to open the petroleum taps bit by bit — even as oil prices surged to seven-year highs — until deep production cuts made during the depths of the pandemic are restored.
With rising gas prices putting him under political pressure at home, President Joe Biden last week responded to OPEC’s refusal to increase supplies more quickly by announcing the US and other nations would release tens of millions of barrels of oil from their strategic reserves, boosting supplies and temporarily lowering prices. But gasoline prices in the US barely moved.
And then, omicron’s emergence unsettled those dynamics.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Thursday that there are no plans to slow releases from strategic reserves, despite the advent of the variant and OPEC’s decision.
“We welcome the decision today to continue the 400,000 barrels-per-day increase,” Psaki said. “We believe this should help facilitate the global economic recovery.”
OPEC+ will meet again Jan. 4.


Golf Saudi launches behind-the-scenes documentary with Kingdom’s leading amateur players

Golf Saudi launches behind-the-scenes documentary with Kingdom’s leading amateur players
Updated 5 min 26 sec ago

Golf Saudi launches behind-the-scenes documentary with Kingdom’s leading amateur players

Golf Saudi launches behind-the-scenes documentary with Kingdom’s leading amateur players
  • Five-part series will lift sport’s profile across the nation, and build support for Faisal Salhab and Saud Al-Sharif ahead of the $5m Saudi International next month

RIYADH: A specially commissioned documentary series following two of Saudi Arabia’s fledgling golf stars is aiming to raise the game’s profile among the sport’s growing fan base in the Kingdom.

The Golf Saudi-backed #SeeItAll Series follows amateur golfers Faisal Salhab and Saud Al-Sharif as they prepare to go head to head with global stars of the game at next month’s PIF Saudi International powered by SoftBank Investment Advisers.

Shot over five episodes, the behind-the-scenes documentary follows the two golfers as they practice with their coaches, spend time on and off the golf course with their families, and put in the physical and mental training needed to ensure they go into February’s $5 million prize-pot tournament ready to compete at the highest level.

The first episode of the documentary is available on the PIF Saudi International powered by SoftBank Investment Advisers’ social media channels.

“Both Saud and Faisal are incredible talents. We are proud to see them performing at an elite level internationally, and here within the Kingdom as representatives of Golf Saudi,” Majed Al-Sorour, CEO and deputy chairman of Golf Saudi, said.

Devised by Golf Saudi, the #SeeItAll Series aims to bring Saudi sports fans closer to both Salhab and Al-Sharif, expanding the golfers’ fan base for next month’s Asian Tour sanctioned event.

“We have watched them develop at an impressive rate over the last five years through our Elite Coaching Academy. The work has paid off, with both men claiming fantastic recent wins, including Saud’s victory in last year’s Jordan Open, and Faisal’s recent triumphs in both the Saudi Open and Pan Arab Championship in Egypt,” Al-Sorour said.

“These successes are testament to the hard work, talent and dedication of the pair, plus their strength of character,” he said.

“Their achievements are inspiring — something we want to bring to as many young Saudis as possible, with golf and sport generally continuing to grow exponentially in the Kingdom.”

Following their respective 2021 triumphs — a year that also saw Saudi Arabia’s national team convincingly clinch the title at the 40th edition of the Arab Golf Championship, beating more than 10 countries by a comfortable nine-shot margin — both Salhab and Al-Sharif head to Royal Greens for what will be their third appearance at the PIF Saudi International powered by SoftBank Investment Advisers.

The pair will play alongside the Kingdom’s sole professional golfer, Othman Almulla.

Al-Sorour added: “With the #SeeItAll Series, we hope to inspire more Saudis to embrace and follow Faisal and Saud’s journey with golf.”

The two players will take their biggest step yet at next month’s tournament.

“They will test their talents against the very best in the world — the likes of Major-winners Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson, Sergio Garcia and Shane Lowry,” Al-Sorour said.

“We hope by showing how committed Saud and Faisal are to the game of golf, it will inspire Saudis of all ages.”

Speaking earlier this year, 25-year-old Salhab said that rubbing shoulders with the world’s best golfers during the $5 million tournament is not something that he takes for granted.

“It means a lot to take part in the Saudi International once again, especially considering I received the invite after winning the Saudi Open,” he said.

“I will never forget the reaction when we first saw the names announced for the tournament this year. Some of the national team players and I started jumping up and down, we were so excited. It is incredible to think how far Saudi Arabia has come in world of golf and to now see these players compete in our country.”

He added: “I encourage all Saudis, whatever their level of interest in golf, to come out and support the players and the events that everyone in Golf Saudi works tirelessly to organize. The quality of the tournament is incredible. Seeing the world’s elite golfers compete in the Kingdom is something that every Saudi should cherish.”


Mine costing $200m to be built in Saudi Arabia after gold and copper discovery: mining chief

Mine costing $200m to be built in Saudi Arabia after gold and copper discovery: mining chief
Updated 9 min 16 sec ago

Mine costing $200m to be built in Saudi Arabia after gold and copper discovery: mining chief

Mine costing $200m to be built in Saudi Arabia after gold and copper discovery: mining chief

RIYADH: Gold, copper, zinc and silver has been discovered among 25 million tons of rock near Taif, western Saudi Arabia, by Gold and Mineral Co, a joint venture between global and local partners.

The unearthing of the metals has prompted the company to set out plans for a mine, according to the CEO of Gold and Mineral Co.

“To build a mine, it will cost us and my shareholders $200 million, creating jobs for around 700 people,” Brian Hosking told Arab News on the sideline of the Future Mineral Forum in Riyadh. 

The company expects to start producing in 2025, but will first have to complete the design of the mine that avoids environmental damages and assures local community engagement in the project.

Hosking expects higher demands on copper in the future thanks to its ability to conduct electricity compared to other minerals.

“The lucky thing is that Saudi Arabia has actually got many projects which are possibly for copper,” he said.

He also said he supports measures by the Saudi government to ensure mining is carried out in an environmentally responsible way.

“This is not about zero carbon, this is about that my children and your children have a future on this earth,” he added.

Gold and Mineral Co is a joint venture between the London-listed company KEFI Minerals and Abdul Rahman Al-Rashid and Sons Co., which has a 69 percent stake in the company.


South Korea, GCC expect free trade deal within 6 months as negotiations resume

South Korea, GCC expect free trade deal within 6 months as negotiations resume
Updated 5 min 38 sec ago

South Korea, GCC expect free trade deal within 6 months as negotiations resume

South Korea, GCC expect free trade deal within 6 months as negotiations resume
  • The free trade agreement between the two sides is expected to “contribute to strengthening the solid economic relations and strengthening the strategic partnership”

DUBAI: South Korea and the Gulf Cooperation Council agreed on Wednesday to resume free trade, with an agreement expected to be reached within six months from the date of the first round of negotiations.

During a meeting between South Korean Minister of Trade, Industry and Energy Moon Sung-wook and GCC Secretary-General Nayef Al Hajraf, both parties stressed the importance of “opening wide prospects for trade and industrial cooperation.” 

Both men discussed the challenges facing GCC countries, which prompted them to reduce dependence on oil incomes, enhance non-oil revenues and focus on renewable and clean energy, according to a statement issued by the council. 
The free trade agreement between the two sides is expected to “contribute to strengthening the solid economic relations and strengthening the strategic partnership between us,” the statement added.


TASI edges down amid rising oil prices, lingering omicron worries: Opening bell

TASI edges down amid rising oil prices, lingering omicron worries: Opening bell
Updated 16 min ago

TASI edges down amid rising oil prices, lingering omicron worries: Opening bell

TASI edges down amid rising oil prices, lingering omicron worries: Opening bell

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s main stock index, TASI, started the day in the red territory amid lingering omicron-driven fears and higher oil prices, which hit a seven-year high on Tuesday.

As of 10:15 a.m. Saudi time, TASI edged 0.2 percent lower to reach 12,177 points, and the parallel market Nomu was flat at 26,056 points.

Early morning losses were propelled by an adverse performance in Saudi Arabia's financial sector.

The Kingdom’s largest bank by market value, Al Rajhi Bank, fell 0.3 percent.

Shares in the Saudi British Bank, or SABB, Bank Aljazira, and Riyad Bank were down 1.4, 0.5, and 0.3 percent, respectively.

Saudi Aramco opened 0.14 percent lower.

The oil giant signed one agreement and nine MoUs with leading South Korean entities to advance its downstream strategy and support development of low-carbon energy solutions, while creating new financing options for the company.

Tadawul group, owner of the Saudi Exchange, went up to its highest value since listing of SR170 ($45.3), with over SR90 million worth of shares changing hands during early trading.

Shares in Saudi real estate developer Red Sea International Co. gained 1.5 percent, after it signed a SR60.5 million deal with The Red Sea Development Co., TRSDC, to develop three complexes in the Saudi Western region.

Riyadh-based consumer durables and apparel company Thob Al Aseel Co. led the gainers, up 3 percent.

In energy trading, Brent crude reached $87.9, and US WTI crude oil traded at $86 per barrel as of 10:30 a.m. Saudi time.


Doctor goes on trial in Germany accused of torture in Syria

Doctor goes on trial in Germany accused of torture in Syria
Updated 5 min 58 sec ago

Doctor goes on trial in Germany accused of torture in Syria

Doctor goes on trial in Germany accused of torture in Syria
  • In one case, he is accused of beating an anti-government demonstrator after prison officials called the doctor to the hospital to treat a man experiencing an epileptic attack following torture

BERLIN: A court in Germany will begin hearing a case Wednesday against a Syrian doctor accused of crimes against humanity for torturing and killing inmates at a government-run prison in his home country.
Federal prosecutors say the doctor, identified as Alaa M. in keeping with German privacy rules, worked at a military intelligence prison in the Syrian city of Homs from April 2011 until late 2012.
They accuse the doctor of killing one person, torture in 18 cases, causing serious physical and psychological harm to another person, and other crimes including one that led to another death.
The defendant entered Germany in 2015, and German authorities permitted him to practice medicine after recertifying his Syrian medical credentials. He worked at a clinic near Kassel in central Germany, where multiple Syrians recognized the doctor from his time in Syria and reported him to German police.
In one case, he is accused of beating an anti-government demonstrator after prison officials called the doctor to the hospital to treat a man experiencing an epileptic attack following torture. That man later died.
In another case, German authorities accused the doctor of intentionally killing a prisoner via injection to demonstrate “his power and at the same time to suppress the uprising of a part of the Syrian population,” the Frankfurt regional court said.
The defendant has denied the allegations.
This latest case follows last week’s landmark conviction of a former senior member of the Syrian secret police for crimes against humanity, including the torture of at least 30 anti-government demonstrators at a detention center in Douma, Syria.
Alaa M. has been in pretrial detention since his arrest in June 2020.