US Senate committee passes antitrust bill pressuring OPEC

US Senate committee passes antitrust bill pressuring OPEC
(Reuters)
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Updated 06 May 2022

US Senate committee passes antitrust bill pressuring OPEC

US Senate committee passes antitrust bill pressuring OPEC

WASHINGTON: A US Senate committee passed a bill on Thursday that could expose the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and partners to lawsuits for collusion on boosting crude oil prices.
The No Oil Producing or Exporting Cartels (NOPEC) bill sponsored by senators, including Republican Chuck Grassley and Democrat Amy Klobuchar, passed 17-4 in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
White House spokesperson Jen Psaki said the administration has concerns about the “potential implications and unintended consequences” of the legislation, particularly amid the Ukraine crisis. She said the White House is still studying the bill.
Versions of the legislation have failed in Congress for more than two decades. But lawmakers are increasingly worried about rising inflation driven in part by prices for US gasoline, which briefly hit a record above $4.30 a gallon this spring.
“I believe that free and competitive markets are better for consumers than markets controlled by a cartel of state-owned oil companies ... competition is the very basis of our economic system” Klobuchar said.
NOPEC would change US antitrust law to revoke the sovereign immunity that has long protected OPEC and its national oil companies from lawsuits.
The bill must pass the full Senate and House and be signed by President Joe Biden to become law.
If passed, the US attorney general would gain the ability to sue OPEC or its members in federal court. Other producers like Russia, which works with OPEC in wider group known as OPEC+ to withhold output, could also be sued.
Saudi Arabia and other OPEC producers have rebuffed requests by the United States and other consuming countries to boost oil production beyond gradual amounts, even as oil consumption recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic and Russian supply falls after its invasion of Ukraine.
OPEC+, which cut production when oil prices crashed to historic lows when the pandemic slashed oil demand, agreed on Thursday to stick to its existing plans to reverse the curbs with modest increases for another month.
NOPEC is intended to protect US consumers and businesses from engineered spikes in the cost of gasoline, but some analysts warn that implementing it could also have some dangerous unintended consequences.


Saudi tourism ministry signs deals to boost localization program

 Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Tourism signs two agreements. (Twitter/@Saudi_MT)
Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Tourism signs two agreements. (Twitter/@Saudi_MT)
Updated 20 May 2022

Saudi tourism ministry signs deals to boost localization program

 Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Tourism signs two agreements. (Twitter/@Saudi_MT)

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Tourism has signed two agreements to enhance joint cooperation and support training and localization programs to qualify those wishing to work in the hospitality sector.
The move, which aims to support workers in the food, beverage and accommodation sectors, in support of achieving the Kingdom’s’ tourism human capacity development strategy.
Bandar bin Mohammed Al-Safir, director general of training and localization at the ministry, stressed that these two agreements aim to develop human resources in the tourism sector through quality training programs that will contribute to developing localized skills in the tourism sector.
Under the two agreements, which were signed with Kempinski Al-Othman Hotel and Carlton Al-Moaibed Hotel, the ministry will support dualifying Saudi nationals in the tourism sector within the “Your Future has Arrived” initiative.


Venture capital and microfinance firms should focus on startups, says Al Ahli Holding Group CEO

Venture capital and microfinance firms should focus on startups, says Al Ahli Holding Group CEO
Updated 19 May 2022

Venture capital and microfinance firms should focus on startups, says Al Ahli Holding Group CEO

Venture capital and microfinance firms should focus on startups, says Al Ahli Holding Group CEO

DUBAI: Mohamed Khammas, CEO of Al Ahli Holding Group, said that startup businesses are an excellent opportunity for investment in venture capital funds and microfinance banks.

During an interview with Arab News at the Top CEO event in Dubai, Khammas Mohamed Khammas, CEO of Al Ahli Holding Group, highlighted that startups are a good investment idea because the “ticket size is smaller, and the product ranges are higher.”

Khammas pointed out the risks that arise for startups are not in their early stages but rather when they become successful.

“The challenge is not when they’re trying to have a major impact on the economy; the problems occur when they become successful. All of those are calculated risks,” he said.

Khammas continued to add that regardless of these risks, investing in new, innovative startups is “absolutely the best opportunity.”

Also, during his talk at the event, Khammas  urged banks to fund new and innovative products and ideas in the area after he shed light on how banks are hesitant to invest in creative ideas.


Futurist says ‘virtual economies are already worth $130 billion'

Futurist says ‘virtual economies are already worth $130 billion'
Updated 20 May 2022

Futurist says ‘virtual economies are already worth $130 billion'

Futurist says ‘virtual economies are already worth $130 billion'
  • Investing in video games more rewarding than Metaverse: Raford

DUBAI: Even though the business world is increasingly fascinated by the Metaverse, Noah Raford, futurist-in-chief and chief of Global Affairs at Dubai Future Foundation, claimed games, Web3 and virtual economies is where the smart money is.

While speaking at the Top CEO event in Dubai, Raford argued that people should invest in video games, as it is the only successful digital economy so far.
In a statement to Arab News a day after the event, he said: “The metaverse has extraordinary potential and Dubai is moving rapidly to take advantage of it. Virtual assets and digital economies are a huge growth area. There is a lot of hype and wasted investment, but the best examples at the moment are video games and in-game virtual economies – especially connected to NFTs & Web3.”
Fady Kassatly, partner of Enterprise Solutions and Cloud, KPMG, said the Metaverse is nothing but the next evolution, which will make people live differently.

He also added the Metaverse is going to evolve quickly in different directions, and this is just the beginning of the journey.

On his part, Philippe Blanchard, founder of Futurous, stated the Metaverse will change the relationship between humans and nature.

Predicting an inevitable Metaverse future, Valerie Hawley, director of Sorbonne Center for Artificial Intelligence, said every business will look at the Metaverse space and consider using it in the coming years.

She also added the Metaverse is a projection of the world that humans would like to live in.


Egypt’s central bank, citing inflation, hikes interest rates 200 bps

Egypt’s central bank, citing inflation, hikes interest rates 200 bps
Updated 19 May 2022

Egypt’s central bank, citing inflation, hikes interest rates 200 bps

Egypt’s central bank, citing inflation, hikes interest rates 200 bps

CAIRO: The Central Bank of Egypt on Thursday raised its overnight interest rates by 200 basis points, seeking to contain inflation expectations after prices soared by their quickest in three years.

The bank’s Monetary Policy Committee increased the deposit rate to 11.25 percent from 9.25 percent and the lending rate to 12.25 percent from 10.25 percent, it said in a statement accompanying the decision.

It cited an increase in annual urban inflation to 13.1 percent in April from 10.5 percent in March, its highest since May 2019.

Prices were pushed up in part by a currency depreciation and higher wheat prices after the Ukraine crisis, the statement added.

“The MPC decided that raising policy rates is necessary to contain inflationary pressures which is consistent with achieving price stability over the medium term,” it said.

“The elevated annual headline inflation rate will be temporarily tolerated relative to the CBE’s pre-announced target” of between 5 percent and 9 percent before declining after the fourth quarter, it said.

Eighteen analysts polled by Reuters had expected the bank to raise the median deposit rate to 11 percent and its lending rate to 12.25 percent.


Eight injured in S. Korea’s S-Oil Ulsan refinery

Eight injured in S. Korea’s S-Oil Ulsan refinery
Updated 19 May 2022

Eight injured in S. Korea’s S-Oil Ulsan refinery

Eight injured in S. Korea’s S-Oil Ulsan refinery
  • Aramco Overseas Co., a subsidiary of Saudi Aramco, is S-Oil’s major shareholder

RIYADH: At least eight workers were injured in an explosion at an S-Oil refinery in Ulsan on Thursday, reported The Korean Herald.

Aramco Overseas Co., a subsidiary of Saudi Aramco, is S-Oil’s major shareholder. According to the local media, firefighters were notified of an explosion at the S-Oil refinery at 8:52 p.m. The facility is situated some 400 km southeast of Seoul.

The injured workers were shifted to a nearby hospital. The exact cause of the accident has yet to be determined. The Korean Herald quoted fire authorities as saying “the accident occurred inside S-Oil’s refinery at Onsan industrial park while crude oil was being processed into petroleum.”

The injured workers who were transferred to the hospital are being treated for second-degree burns to the face and the palms, according to authorities. S-Oil is the third-largest oil refiner in Korea.

The firefighters at the refinery appeared to be having trouble fighting the blaze, according to local reports.