Oil jumps on OPEC+ omicron contingency plan, trimming weekly drop

Oil jumps on OPEC+ omicron contingency plan, trimming weekly drop
Both Brent and WTI are headed for a sixth weekly decline. (Getty Images)
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Updated 09 December 2021

Oil jumps on OPEC+ omicron contingency plan, trimming weekly drop

Oil jumps on OPEC+ omicron contingency plan, trimming weekly drop
  • OPEC+ agrees to meet before next scheduled meeting if omicron disrupts demand
  • Group pressed ahead with planned production increase in January

LONDON: Oil rose for a second day on Friday after OPEC+ said it would meet again to review output if the omicron COVID-19 variant impacts demand.

Prices were still headed for a sixth week of declines on concern a steady increase in supply from the Organization for Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies including Russia would lead to a surplus in the coming months.

Brent crude was 2.8 percent higher at $71.62 as of 11:57 a.m. Riyadh time following a 1.2 percent gain on Thursday. WTI, the US benchmark, also gained 2.8 percent, to $68.32 after adding 1.4 percent yesterday.

While the market was surprised by the OPEC+ decision on Thursday to go ahead with its plan to add 400,000 barrels a day of supply in January, the group said it would meet again before its next scheduled meeting on Jan. 4 to reconsider its plans if deemed necessary.

The decision came following weeks of calls by US President Joe Biden for more oil to ease pump prices, which had been resisted by OPEC. US officials have been in the Gulf for talks this week, the results of which have been a game-changer that goes beyond oil policy, a person familiar with the meetings told Bloomberg News, although no details of any agreement gave emerged.

“We appreciate the close coordination over the recent weeks with our partners Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and other OPEC+ producers to help address price pressures,” White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said after the OPEC+ output decision. “Together with our recent coordinated release from the SPR, we believe this should help facilitate the global economic recovery.”

Traders are "reluctant to bet against the group eventually pausing its production increases,” analysts from ANZ Research wrote in a research note.

Still, Brent was headed for a 2.6 percent weekly decline, while WTI was set to close 1 percent lower in the week, both on a six-week losing streak.

The market has been focused on the potential impact of omicron on the global economy and oil demand if countries impose new lockdowns.

President Joe Biden has unveiled stricter Covid-19 travel rules as the US confirmed a handful of cases of the omicron variant. The UK tightened mask-wearing rules this week and advised at-risk groups not to travel, while South Korea announced on Friday that people visiting restaurants and cinemas and other public spaces will have to show vaccine passes.

The omicron coronavirus variant threatens to fuel soaring inflation in the United States by further pressuring supply chains and worsening worker shortages, Cleveland Federal Reserve Bank President Loretta Mester told the Financial Times.

However, Asian stocks rose on signs the omicron variant could be less severe than the previous dominant strain, delta.

Scientists in South Africa, where the mutation was first discovered last month, said symptoms for vaccinated infected patients appeared to be mild, while a handful of US omicron cases identified also displayed moderate symptoms.

India’s health ministry said on Friday the severity of the COVID-19 disease from the omicron variant in the country could be low because of vaccination and high exposure to the Delta variant.

“Given the fast pace of vaccination in India and high exposure to delta variant as evidenced by high seropositivity, the severity of the disease is anticipated to be low,” it said in a statement. “However, scientific evidence is still evolving.”


South Korea seeks to boost clean energy efforts with UAE cooperation

South Korea seeks to boost clean energy efforts with UAE cooperation
Updated 17 January 2022

South Korea seeks to boost clean energy efforts with UAE cooperation

South Korea seeks to boost clean energy efforts with UAE cooperation
  • Seoul and Abu Dhabi reach landmark $3.5 billion defense agreement — largest in South Korea’s arms history
  • President Moon Jae-in scheduled to travel to Saudi Arabia on Tuesday

SEOUL: South Korea is seeking to increase hydrogen cooperation with the UAE in a bid for a sustainable future and carbon neutrality, President Moon Jae-in said on Monday in Abu Dhabi during his Middle East tour to explore business opportunities in the region.

Moon arrived in the UAE on Saturday for a three-day visit as part of his week-long Middle East trip. From Abu Dhabi he will fly for talks in Riyadh.

“Through hydrogen cooperation between the UAE and Korea, I hope that we can move forward in a sustainable future and carbon neutrality,” he said while addressing the Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week.

As South Korea wants to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, Moon said Seoul wants to bolster cooperation with the UAE in the development of carbon-capture technologies to create what is known as blue hydrogen — a form of the fuel obtained from natural gas in a process that stops carbon emissions from being released into the atmosphere.

The UAE is one of the world’s foremost pioneers in the field.

Prof. Jung Sang-ryul of the Institute of Middle Eastern Affairs at Myungji University in Seoul told Arab News that with UAE-Korean hydrogen cooperation, the industry “can make a greater leap forward.

“The hydrogen industry is a field for future cooperation,” he said. “The UAE has strengths in the production of green and blue hydrogen, whereas South Korea (has) in utilization, storage and distribution, including hydrogen-powered vehicles, charging stations, fuel cells and liquid transportation.”

During Moon’s visit, Seoul and Abu Dhabi also reached a landmark $3.5 billion defense agreement on Sunday, under which the UAE will purchase KM-SAM surface-to-air-missiles, known as Cheongung II. It is the largest deal in the history of South Korea’s arm exports.

“The UAE is the first foreign nation to operate the Cheongung II,” Kang Eun-ho, commissioner of the Defense Acquisition Program Administration, Seoul’s arms procurement agency, said in a statement. “The deal is the result of the bilateral defense cooperation based on mutual trust and will serve as a watershed moment for the two nation’s strategic defense partnership.”

The KM-SAM was developed with technical support from Russia to replace the older Hawk surface-to-air missiles that had been in service in 1964. Equipped with a multi-function phased array 3D radar, the interceptor can “hit-to-kill” hostile missiles coming in at altitudes below 40 km.

On the sidelines of the missile acquisition contract, the two countries also signed a memorandum of understanding on collaboration in defense technologies, including the potential development of weapons systems.

The UAE is South Korea’s top export market and biggest partner in human resource exchanges in the Middle East.

South Korean firms have participated in the development of Emirati oil fields and the Barakah nuclear power plant — the first nuclear power station in the Arabian Peninsula, which started operations last year.

On Tuesday, the South Korean president will continue his trip to Saudi Arabia.

His office said in a statement that Moon is scheduled to meet Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

“The leaders of the two nations are expected to discuss energy and infrastructure, as well as health care, science and technology, hydrogen, intellectual property and education,”the office said.

On Wednesday, Moon is scheduled to meet Gulf Cooperation Council secretary-general Nayef bin Falah Al-Hajraf to discuss the resumption of negotiations for a free trade agreement between Seoul and GCC.

South Korea and the GCC started talks on a free trade deal in 2007, but negotiations had stalled and were suspended in 2010.


Europe energy savings practices is inefficient, auditors say

Europe energy savings practices is inefficient, auditors say
Updated 17 January 2022

Europe energy savings practices is inefficient, auditors say

Europe energy savings practices is inefficient, auditors say

BRUSSELS: More than 2 billion euros of European Union funding to help businesses save energy contributed little to climate change targets and in some cases funded investments that would have happened anyway, according to an auditor report released on Monday.

The EU regards curbing energy use as essential to meeting goals to cut greenhouse gas emissions, and record high gas and power prices in recent months have increased the focus on measures to save energy.
But so far, EU funding to support energy savings for businesses has not been effective, the European Court of Auditors said in a report.

The EU spent 2.4 billion euros ($2.74 billion) from its budget over 2014-2020 to support energy efficiency in enterprises, including energy audits and measures to cut energy consumption or energy intensity in industry, services or the public sector.

The auditors estimated that projects backed by that funding achieved 0.3 percent of the annual savings needed to reach the EU’s target to cut final energy consumption by 32.5 percent by 2030, compared to projected levels.

“European Union funding is insufficiently linked to business needs — there was no proper analysis of what is really needed by the enterprises,” ECA member Samo Jereb told Reuters.
Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Germany, Italy and Poland, accounted for the bulk of the support.
Brussels plans to increase its 2030 energy saving target, and last year unveiled plans to renovate millions of buildings to achieve the huge energy efficiency improvements needed to meet its climate goals. Residential energy savings were not covered by the auditors’ report.

 

 

 


Singapore’s central bank issues guidelines to discourage crypto public trading: Crypto moves

Singapore’s central bank issues guidelines to discourage crypto public trading: Crypto moves
Updated 17 January 2022

Singapore’s central bank issues guidelines to discourage crypto public trading: Crypto moves

Singapore’s central bank issues guidelines to discourage crypto public trading: Crypto moves

RIYADH: Bitcoin, the leading cryptocurrency internationally, traded lower on Monday, falling by 1.48 percent to $42,558 at 6:51 p.m. Riyadh time.

Ether, the second most traded cryptocurrency, was priced at $3,241 down by 3.14 percent, according to data from Coindesk.

Other news

The Monetary Authority of Singapore issued on Monday guidelines restricting cryptocurrency trading service providers from promoting their services to the general public, as part of an effort to protect retail investors from potential risks.

In the new guidelines, MAS asserts that companies should not engage in marketing or advertising of DPT services in public areas in Singapore or through third parties, such as social media influencers, to promote DPT services to the general public. They can only market or advertise on their own corporate websites, mobile applications or official social media accounts.

Singapore is a popular location for cryptocurrency companies due to its relatively clear regulatory and operational environment and is among the forerunners globally in developing a formal licensing framework.

The city state authorities have also repeatedly warned that trading in digital payment tokens or cryptocurrency, is highly risky and unsuitable for the general public, as they are subject to sharp speculative swings.

“MAS strongly encourages the development of blockchain technology and innovative application of crypto tokens in value-adding use cases” Loo Siew Yee, MAS assistant managing director of policy, payments and financial crime, said in a statement.

“But the trading of cryptocurrencies is highly risky and not suitable for the general public. DPT service providers should therefore not portray the trading of DPTs in a manner that trivializes the high risks of trading in DPTs, nor engage in marketing activities that target the general public.”

Mining 

Jack Dorsey, CEO of Block, said in a tweet that the fintech company is building an open bitcoin-mining system, as the newly rebranded company looks to expand beyond its payment business and into new technologies like blockchain.

In October, Dorsey said that Block, formerly Square, was considering building a bitcoin-mining system based on custom silicon and open source for individuals and businesses worldwide.

In a tweet thread on Thursday, Block’s general manager for hardware, Thomas Templeton, laid out the company’s plans to build the mining system.

“We want to make mining more distributed and efficient in every way, from buying, to set up, to maintenance, to mining. We’re interested because mining goes far beyond creating new bitcoin. We see it as a long-term need for a future that is fully decentralized and permissionless,” Templeton tweeted. 


Kuwait’s budget deficit 682 million dinars in 9 months

Kuwait’s budget deficit 682 million dinars in 9 months
Updated 17 January 2022

Kuwait’s budget deficit 682 million dinars in 9 months

Kuwait’s budget deficit 682 million dinars in 9 months

KUWAIT CITY: Kuwait’s oil revenue reached 11.5 billion dinars ($38.10 billion) in the nine months to the end of December, the Ministry of Finance said in a report on Monday.
The Gulf OPEC member recorded a budget deficit of 682.4 million dinars in the first nine months of its financial year, which ends in March 2022, the ministry’s preliminary report said.
($1 = 0.3019 Kuwaiti dinars)


Military-affiliated companies to be listed on the Egyptian bourse next year: PM

Military-affiliated companies to be listed on the Egyptian bourse next year: PM
Updated 17 January 2022

Military-affiliated companies to be listed on the Egyptian bourse next year: PM

Military-affiliated companies to be listed on the Egyptian bourse next year: PM

RIYADH: Some military affiliated companies operating in the economy and civil sectors are being restructured to be listed on Cairo's Stock Exchange next year, Egypt's Prime Minister, Mostafa Madbouly, said.

The companies will be available to all Egyptians, not just the private sector,  he added during his interview on a BBC program, citing President Abdel Fattah El Sisi’s statement. 

Soliman did not disclose the names of other companies affiliated with the Egyptian army that are planned to be listed, until the validity of their legal structures is verified. 

“We have offered more than 25 percent of the wholly state-owned e-finance company on the EGX, and many companies, including companies affiliated with the armed forces, are scheduled to be offered on the stock exchange next year,” Madbouly said.  

He added that the size of the armed forces' institutions represents less than 1 percent of the Egyptian economy.

Ayman Soliman, the CEO of the Sovereign Fund of Egypt had previously revealed the organisation was in the process of completing the legal restructuring of two affiliated companies, namely the Safi food company and the Watania petroleum distribution company, with both set to be listed on the stock exchange.