Oil Updates — Crude up; Petronas taking steps to protect global assets; Venezuela denounces attack on gas pipeline

Update Oil Updates — Crude up; Petronas taking steps to protect global assets; Venezuela denounces attack on gas pipeline
Venezuela’s oil minister denounces attack on gas pipeline. (Shutterstock)
Updated 18 July 2022

Oil Updates — Crude up; Petronas taking steps to protect global assets; Venezuela denounces attack on gas pipeline

Oil Updates — Crude up; Petronas taking steps to protect global assets; Venezuela denounces attack on gas pipeline

RIYADH: Oil prices extended gains on Monday, propped up by a weaker dollar and tight supplies that offset concerns about recession and the prospect of widespread COVID-19 lockdowns in China again reducing fuel demand.

Brent crude futures for September settlement rose 69 cents, or 0.7 percent, to $101.85 a barrel by 0421 GMT, after a 2.1 percent gain on Friday.

US West Texas Intermediate crude futures for August delivery edged up 27 cents, or 0.3 percent, to $97.86 a barrel, after climbing 1.9 percent in the previous session.

The US dollar retreated from multi-year highs on Monday, supporting prices of commodities ranging from gold to oil. A weaker dollar makes dollar-denominated commodities more affordable for holders of other currencies

Petronas says taking steps to protect global assets 

Malaysia’s state energy firm Petronas said it was taking steps to protect the legal position of all its global assets after two Luxembourg-based subsidiaries were served with a seizure notice last week over a dispute with the heirs of a late sultan.

The last sultan of Sulu’s heirs are seeking to seize Malaysian government assets around the world in a bid to enforce an arbitration award handed to them by a French court in February. The subsidiaries were served with a seizure notice by Luxembourg court bailiffs.

Venezuela denounces attack on gas pipeline

Venezuelan Oil Minister Tareck El Aissami said on Twitter on Sunday that technical personnel at Venezuela’s state-run oil company PDVSA and firefighters were putting out a fire on a natural gas pipeline in the country’s east.

In his comments on Twitter, El Aissami called the fire “a new attack” on the gas system.

His comments on Twitter did not specify which pipeline was on fire. However, three industry sources said that he was referring to a fire on a section of a pipeline in the state of Monagas.

That fire began during the late afternoon on Saturday on a section of the pipeline near the Aguasay 5A plant, according to an internal report dated July 16 from PDVSA, as state-owned Petroleos de Venezuela is known, and reviewed by Reuters.

El Aissami attributed the fire to unidentified terrorist groups, saying “It’s the same terrorist groups as always, who have acted against the national interest to affect the lives of our people.”

Libya’s NOC continues to do its job according to the law

Libya’s National Oil Corp. is continuing to do its job according to the law, it said on its social media feeds on Sunday, days after the Government of National Unity sought to replace the NOC chief and its board of directors.

NOC said it will not comply with any “illegal” sacking measures from an “outgoing” government.

Algeria refinery project not progressing as expected

The development of Algeria’s $3.5 billion Hassi Messaoud refinery project is not progressing as expected, amid higher global energy prices and increased demand for refined products, MEED reported citing industry sources.

According to the report, the project is on hold for the moment as the contractors are yet to deploy on the ground. 

“They have done some preliminary engineering work and that is all. Just about 5 percent of the entire project has been completed,” said one source. 

Sasol oil will not meet commitments in July 

South Africa’s largest fuel producer Sasol has declared force majeure on the supply of petroleum products as deliveries to the Natref refinery got delayed, according to a Bloomberg report. 

Natref refinery has a production capacity of 108,000 barrels a day, and the force majeure is expected to drastically increase petroleum imports to the country, the report added. 

“Sasol Oil will not be in a position to fully meet its commitments on the supply of all petroleum products from July 2022,” the company said in a statement. 

US’ talks with India on price cap on Russian oil ‘encouraging’

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen described as “encouraging” talks with India about a proposed price cap on Russian oil that Washington is pushing to drive down oil prices and make it harder for Moscow to fund its war in Ukraine.

Yellen, who arrived in Seoul on Monday evening, told Reuters in an interview en route to the South Korean capital that she was feeling generally positive about the initiative.

“We’ll see where they come out. The conversations I’ve had have generally been encouraging,” Yellen said aboard a military aircraft on her way from Indonesia to South Korea.

(With input from Reuters)


Market value of top 30 banks in Middle East totals $586.6bn

Market value of top 30 banks in Middle East totals $586.6bn
Updated 10 sec ago

Market value of top 30 banks in Middle East totals $586.6bn

Market value of top 30 banks in Middle East totals $586.6bn
  • Gulf banks dominate this year’s ranking, with 25 out of the 30 based in the GCC

LONDON: The Middle East’s top 30 banks have a total market value of $586.6 billion and assets worth $2.5 trillion as of June 28, Forbes Middle East has reported.

Saudi Arabia leads the ranking with 10 entries, followed by the UAE with seven, Qatar with four, Morocco with three, Kuwait with two, and Egypt, Bahrain, Jordan, and Oman with one each.

Qatar's QNB Group topped the list for the second year in a row, with $300.3 billion in total assets.

The UAE’s FAB, Saudi Arabia's Al-Rajhi Bank, and Saudi National Bank tied for second place.

The UAE-based Emirates NBD was ranked third.

Last year, these five banks combined made $16.8 billion in profit, accounting for 49 percent of the total profit of the 30 banks on the list.

The list “recognizes the region’s resilient banking heavyweights that have emerged stronger from the pandemic crisis.”

Forbes Middle East compiled data from listed stock exchanges in the Arab world and ranked companies based on sales, profits, assets, and market value.


Qatar foreign reserves up 2.79% in July to $58bn

Qatar foreign reserves up 2.79% in July to $58bn
Updated 07 August 2022

Qatar foreign reserves up 2.79% in July to $58bn

Qatar foreign reserves up 2.79% in July to $58bn

DOHA: Qatar’s Central Bank foreign reserves and hard currency liquidity rose 2.79 percent year-on-year in July to 211.325 billion riyals ($57.74 billion), the Gulf state’s official news agency QNA reported on Sunday.

According to FocusEconomics’ report, Qatar’s gross domestic product per capita may exceed $100,000 in 2026 as the national economy is expected to pick up steam in the years ahead.

The country’s GDP per capita in 2026 will be $101,816, it estimated.

National GDP has been estimated by FocusEconomics to reach $217 billion this year.

The Qatar Central Bank hiked rates by 50 basis points in July, diverging from the Federal Reserve’s 75 basis points hike, the researcher said.

Inflation is expected to average almost double its 2021 level this year due to recovering demand and higher commodity prices.


Oman posts $2bn budget surplus for H1

Oman posts $2bn budget surplus for H1
Updated 07 August 2022

Oman posts $2bn budget surplus for H1

Oman posts $2bn budget surplus for H1

MUSCAT: The Omani government posted a budget surplus of 784 million rials ($2.04 billion) at the end of first half of 2022, Oman’s state news agency reported on Sunday.

The Gulf Arab state’s oil revenues increased to 3.187 billion rials by the end of first half, the report added.

Oman’s crude oil and condensate production reached 189.6 million barrels during the first half of 2022, recording a 9.7 percent growth over the same period last year, according to data released by the Ministry of Energy and Minerals.

The oil prices continued to rise throughout June trading, reaching $112.9 per barrel as a consequence of global economic conditions and political escalations around the world, the ministry added. 


Aramco, Saudia’s real estate arm sign MoU to develop fuel service stations

Aramco, Saudia’s real estate arm sign MoU to develop fuel service stations
Updated 07 August 2022

Aramco, Saudia’s real estate arm sign MoU to develop fuel service stations

Aramco, Saudia’s real estate arm sign MoU to develop fuel service stations

RIYADH: Saudi Aramco has signed a memorandum of understanding with Saudi Airlines Real Estate Development Co., to develop fuel service stations.

The MoU envisages evaluation of strategic sites to build and develop Aramco-branded fuel service stations, according to a statement. 

It also includes exploring the possibility of adding special services for Saudia’s guests, as well as the potential for the airline to provide catering services for Aramco-branded convenience stores.
“This cooperation with Saudia aims to expand Aramco’s presence in the fuel sector around the Kingdom, capitalizing on the strategically located sites for Saudia across various regions in the Kingdom,” said Yasser Mufti, Aramco vice president of fuels. 


Mastercard sees rise in digital payment methods across MENA

Mastercard sees rise in digital payment methods across MENA
Updated 07 August 2022

Mastercard sees rise in digital payment methods across MENA

Mastercard sees rise in digital payment methods across MENA
  • Use of digital payments is accelerating at a faster rate amongst younger audiences than older ones

LONDON: A recent report by Mastercard has revealed a rise in the use  of digital payment methods in the Middle East and North Africa. 

Mastercard’s New Payments Index 2022 found that 85 percent of MENA consumers have used at least one emerging payment method in the last year, including tappable smartphone mobile wallets, buy now, pay later schemes, biometrics, and payment-enabled wearable tech devices. 

While traditional payment methods remain popular, 19 percent of MENA consumers reported using less cash in the past year.

According to the report, security is a key factor when deciding what payment methods to use. Other factors are ease of use, rewards and promotions. 

Sustainability is also a key driver in the region, with 31 percent of MENA consumers citing social and environmental benefits as factors.

BNPL instalments are increasingly used as a budgeting tool in the region, the report found. About  45 percent of MENA consumers said they are comfortable using BNPL today.

“Consumers want the flexibility and convenience of BNPL, but with the sense of security associated with a trusted provider like a bank or payment network,” the report noted.

MENA consumers are also turning to fintech, with 73 percent using open banking to meet their daily financial needs.

Furthermore, 64 percent agreed that using biometrics rather than a card or device makes payments easier.