Oil Updates — Crude climbs after Saudi Arabia hiked prices; Eni, Repsol to ship Venezuela oil to Europe; Production resumed at Libya’s Sharara field

Oil Updates — Crude climbs after Saudi Arabia hiked prices; Eni, Repsol to ship Venezuela oil to Europe; Production resumed at Libya’s Sharara field
Brent crude was up 91 cents, or 0.8 percent, at $120.63 a barrel at 0343 GMT after touching an intraday high of $121.95, extending a 1.8 percent gain from Friday. (Shutterstock)
Short Url
Updated 06 June 2022

Oil Updates — Crude climbs after Saudi Arabia hiked prices; Eni, Repsol to ship Venezuela oil to Europe; Production resumed at Libya’s Sharara field

Oil Updates — Crude climbs after Saudi Arabia hiked prices; Eni, Repsol to ship Venezuela oil to Europe; Production resumed at Libya’s Sharara field

RIYADH: Oil futures jumped on Monday, with Brent rising above $120 a barrel after Saudi Arabia hiked prices for its crude sales in July, signaling tight supply even after OPEC+ agreed to accelerate output increases over the next two months.

Brent crude was up 91 cents, or 0.8 percent, at $120.63 a barrel at 0343 GMT after touching an intraday high of $121.95, extending a 1.8 percent gain from Friday.

US West Texas Intermediate crude futures were up 93 cents, or 0.8 percent, at $119.80 a barrel after earlier hitting a three-month high of $120.99. It gained 1.7 percent on Friday.

US to let Eni, Repsol ship Venezuela oil to Europe for debt

Italian oil company Eni SpA and Spain’s Repsol SA could begin shipping Venezuelan oil to Europe as soon as next month to make up for Russian crude, five people familiar with the matter said, resuming oil-for-debt swaps halted two years ago when Washington stepped up sanctions on Venezuela.

The volume of oil Eni and Repsol are expected to receive is not large, one of the people said, and any impact on global oil prices will be modest. But Washington’s greenlight to resume Venezuela’s long-frozen oil flows to Europe could provide a symbolic boost for Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.

The US State Department gave the nod to the two companies to resume shipments in a letter, the people said. US President Joe Biden’s administration hopes the Venezuelan crude can help Europe cut dependence on Russia and re-direct some of Venezuela’s cargoes from China. Coaxing Maduro into restarting political talks with Venezuela’s opposition is another aim, two of the people told Reuters.

The two European energy companies, which have joint ventures with Venezuelan state-run oil company PDVSA, can count the crude cargoes toward unpaid debts and late dividends, the people said.

A key condition, one of the people said, was that the oil received “has to go to Europe. It cannot be resold elsewhere.”

Oil production resumed at Libya’s Sharara field

Oil production has resumed at Libya’s Sharara field, two oil engineers working there told Reuters on Sunday.

There was no immediate confirmation from the state-owned National Oil Corporation.

(With input from Reuters) 


Bitcoin falls below $19,000, further shaking crypto markets

Bitcoin falls below $19,000, further shaking crypto markets
Updated 7 sec ago

Bitcoin falls below $19,000, further shaking crypto markets

Bitcoin falls below $19,000, further shaking crypto markets

Bitcoin dropped 6.1% to $18,866.77 at 2004 GMT on Thursday, putting the biggest and best-known cryptocurrency down $1,226.41 from its previous close and down 60.9% from the year's high of $48,234 on March 28.
Several big players in the cryptocurrency markets have had difficulties, and further declines could force other crypto investors to sell holdings to meet margin calls and cover losses.
Ether, the coin linked to the ethereum blockchain network, dropped 7.5% to $1,016.08 on Thursday, losing $82.38 from its previous close.
Both digital assets have struggled since U.S. based lender Celsius Network this month said it would suspend withdrawals. Bitcoin and ether were further rattled by the apparent insolvency of crypto hedge fund Three Arrows Capital, which a person familiar with the matter told Reuters has entered liquidation.
Many of the industry's recent problems can be traced back to the spectacular collapse of so-called stablecoin TerraUSD in May, which saw the stablecoin lose almost all its value, along with its paired token. (Reporting by Mrinmay Dey in Bengaluru and Hannah Lang in Washington; Editing by David Gregorio)


Crypto rules to make Europe global leader as prices plunge

Crypto rules to make Europe global leader as prices plunge
Updated 01 July 2022

Crypto rules to make Europe global leader as prices plunge

Crypto rules to make Europe global leader as prices plunge
  • EU to subject cryptocurrency transfers to money laundering rules

RIYADH: Europe prepares to lead the world in regulating the cryptocurrency industry at a time when prices have plunged, wiping out fortunes, fueling skepticism and sparking calls for tighter scrutiny.

The EU took a first step late Wednesday by agreeing on new rules subjecting cryptocurrency transfers to the same money laundering rules as traditional banking transfers.

A much bigger move was expected as EU negotiators hammer out the final details late Thursday on a separate deal for a sweeping package of crypto regulations for the bloc’s 27 nations, known as Markets in Crypto Assets, or MiCA.

Like the EU’s trendsetting data privacy policy, which became the de facto global standard, the crypto regulations are expected to be highly influential worldwide.

The EU rules are “really the first comprehensive piece of crypto regulation in the world,” said Patrick Hansen, crypto venture adviser at Presight Capital, a venture capital firm.

Patrick Hansen, analyst

“I think there will be a lot of jurisdictions that will look closely into how the EU has dealt with it since the EU is first here,” Hansen said.

He expected authorities in other places, especially smaller countries that don’t have the resources to draw up their own rules from scratch, to adopt ones similar to the EU’s, though “they might change a few details.”

Companies issuing or trading crypto assets such as stablecoins face tough transparency requirements requiring them to provide detailed information on the risks, costs and charges that consumers face.

Providers of bitcoin-related services would fall under the regulations, but not bitcoin itself, the world’s most popular cryptocurrency that has lost more than 70 percent of its value from its November peak.

Russia probes 400 cases

The Federal Financial Monitoring Service of the Russian Federation is trying to detect around 400 cases in which cryptocurrencies are involved, the agency’s director, Yury Chikhanchin, revealed the number during a meeting with President Vladimir Putin.

Russian law enforcement authorities have already initiated 20 criminal cases related to digital assets, Bitcoin.com reported.

Chikhanchin acknowledged that Russians continue to actively use cryptocurrency platforms located outside the country.

“This phenomenon continues to exist. And only on two foreign sites, two exchanges, several hundred thousand Russian citizens participate in transactions worth tens of billions,” he said.

According to official data released earlier this year, the number of lawsuits related to cryptocurrency mining in Russia exceeded 1,500 in 2021.

$100 million crypto hack

Digital investigative firms have concluded that North Korean hackers are most likely responsible for an attack last week that took as much as $100 million in cryptocurrency from a US company, according to Reuters.

Cryptocurrency assets were stolen on June 23 from Horizon Bridge, a service provided by Harmony blockchain that transfers assets between blockchains. The hackers’ activity since then suggests they may be affiliated with North Korea, which experts say is among the most prolific cyberattackers.

The UN sanctions monitors say Pyongyang uses the stolen funds to finance its nuclear and missile programs.


Fitch cuts view on global sovereign debt over rise in borrowing costs

Fitch cuts view on global sovereign debt over rise in borrowing costs
Updated 23 min 10 sec ago

Fitch cuts view on global sovereign debt over rise in borrowing costs

Fitch cuts view on global sovereign debt over rise in borrowing costs

LONDON: Credit rating agency Fitch downgraded its view on sovereign debt on Thursday on concerns about the rise in global borrowing costs and the potential for a flurry of new defaults.

Fitch, which monitors over 100 countries, said the Ukraine-Russia war was stoking problems such as higher inflation, trade disruptions and weaker economies which are all now hurting sovereign credit conditions.

“Rising interest rates are increasing government debt-servicing costs,” Fitch’s Global Head of Sovereigns, James McCormack, said, cutting the firm’s view on the sovereign sector to “neutral” from “improving.”

“Most exposed are emerging market (EM) sovereigns, but some highly indebted developed markets are at risk as well, including in the eurozone.” The number of countries seeing their credit ratings cut has begun to rise again this year as the pressures have built.

Most of the governments Fitch covers have either brought in subsidies or cut tax cuts to try to cushion the impact of surging inflation. But that carries costs.

“While modest fiscal deteriorations can be absorbed by the positive effects inflation has on government debt dynamics, such effects depend on the retention of low interest rates, which are now less certain,” McCormack said.

While commodity exporters will benefit from higher prices, those who have to import the bulk of their energy or food will suffer.

Gross external funding needs will be highest this year in both nominal terms and relative to foreign exchange reserves for EM sovereigns that are net importers of commodities, McCormack added.

“They now face tighter global funding conditions, and with a record-high share of sovereigns rated in the ‘B’ category or lower, it is likely there will be additional defaults.”

The list of countries either in default or whose financial market bond yields suggest they will be currently stands at a record 17.

Those 17 are Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Zambia, Lebanon, Tunisia, Ghana, Ethiopia, Ukraine, Tajikistan, El Salvador, Suriname, Ecuador, Belize, Argentina, Russia, Belarus and Venezuela.


Saudis reportedly in talks over stake in luxury car manufacturer Aston Martin

Saudis reportedly in talks over stake in luxury car manufacturer Aston Martin
Updated 30 June 2022

Saudis reportedly in talks over stake in luxury car manufacturer Aston Martin

Saudis reportedly in talks over stake in luxury car manufacturer Aston Martin
  • The Kingdom’s Public Investment Fund is said to be considering taking a $243.5m stake in the British company that make the vehicles favored by movie spy James Bond

LONDON: Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund is reportedly in talks with Aston Martin over acquiring what the Financial Times newspaper said would be a $243.5 million stake in the luxury carmaker.

The British manufacturer refused to confirm or deny the reports but following the news on Thursday, a fall in the company’s share price was reduced to nine percent from a 20 percent drop earlier in the day.

Since its initial public offering in 2018, the carmaker — whose vehicles frequently appear in James Bond movies — has struggled, with the share price falling by nearly 68 percent this year alone.

In January, Aston Martin blamed lower-than-expected profits on delays in shipments of its limited edition Valkyrie sports car, but the company said on Thursday that production of the model has started to pick up pace.

In a further effort to reassure investors, it added that its management team, led by new boss Amedeo Felisa, is increasingly focusing on the launch of new models beginning in 2023.

Citing four sources said to be close to the PIF investment talks, the FT said Aston Martin is seeking to raise additional funding for its new range of cars. Autocar magazine reported that the manufacturer is also in talks with a US-based investment fund as it looks to raise capital.


Nearly 60% of Saudi, UAE businesses lack ESG framework, survey shows

Nearly 60% of Saudi, UAE businesses lack ESG framework, survey shows
Updated 30 June 2022

Nearly 60% of Saudi, UAE businesses lack ESG framework, survey shows

Nearly 60% of Saudi, UAE businesses lack ESG framework, survey shows

RIYADH: Nearly 60 percent of businesses in Saudi Arabia and the UAE do not have an environmental, social and governance framework, a survey by ASDA’A BCW’s unit showed. 

Conducted by PSB Middle East, the survey also revealed that around half of those who have an ESG framework, are not sure their employees fully understand it. 

The survey marked the launch of OnePoint5, its new ESG advisory dedicated to the Middle East and North Africa region.

Out of the 200 respondents interviewed, 41 percent said their business already had an ESG framework in place, while 33 percent said they were developing one, while 26 percent admitted their company had no ESG policy. 

Around 52 percent of the respondents said their company had introduced an ESG framework and they did not fully understand it, which shows the need for raising awareness of the benefits of ESG standards. 

The research indicated that the Middle East’s business community had work to do to meet the high expectations of their governments on sustainability, Sunil John, president MENA of BCW, said.