Oil Updates – crude rises on slim progress in Gaza peace talks, weaker dollar

Oil Updates – crude rises on slim progress in Gaza peace talks, weaker dollar
Brent crude futures rose 35 cents, or 0.4 percent, at $79.56 a barrel at 10:30 a.m. Saudi time. Shutterstock
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Updated 08 February 2024
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Oil Updates – crude rises on slim progress in Gaza peace talks, weaker dollar

Oil Updates – crude rises on slim progress in Gaza peace talks, weaker dollar

SINGAPORE: Oil extended gains on Thursday after Israel rejected a ceasefire offer from Hamas, while a weaker dollar also supported prices, according to Reuters.

Brent crude futures rose 35 cents, or 0.4 percent, at $79.56 a barrel at 10:30 a.m. Saudi time. US West Texas Intermediate crude futures climbed 31 cents, or 0.4 percent to $74.17 a barrel.

Wider Middle East tensions have kept the market on edge since October, with limited progress in talks to end the Gaza conflict.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected Hamas’ latest offer for a ceasefire and return of hostages held in the Gaza Strip, but US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said there was still room for negotiation toward an agreement.

A Palestinian Hamas delegation led by senior official Khalil Al-Hayya was due to travel on Thursday to Cairo for ceasefire talks with Egypt and Qatar.

A weaker dollar also supported oil prices on Thursday as it makes crude less expensive for traders holding other currencies.

The dollar index, which measures the greenback against six major peers, fell to 104.00 at 10:30 a.m. Saudi time.

On the demand side, a stronger-than-expected drawdown in US gasoline and middle distillate stocks also buoyed the oil market.

Distillate stockpiles fell by 3.2 million barrels to 127.6 million barrels, Energy Information Administration data showed, versus expectations for a 1 million-barrel drop. Gasoline stocks fell by 3.15 million barrels, compared with analysts’ estimates for a build of 140,000 barrels.

On the back of those falling inventories, US refinery margins continued to strengthen, said ING analysts in a note.

“The strength in refinery margins should provide some support to crude oil, by driving stronger crude demand as refineries look to increase run rates and take advantage of stronger margins,” the ING analysts said.

The drop in gasoline stocks and a 13 percent year-on-year rise in US oil exports to a record 4.06 million barrels per day in 2023 “both indicate stronger demand for crude,” ANZ Research said in a note.


Turkiye will take steps to strengthen economic program, Erdogan says 

Turkiye will take steps to strengthen economic program, Erdogan says 
Updated 6 sec ago
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Turkiye will take steps to strengthen economic program, Erdogan says 

Turkiye will take steps to strengthen economic program, Erdogan says 

ANKARA: Turkiye will take steps to strengthen its medium-term economic program and the three main priorities are to increase public savings, prioritize investments and accelerate structural reforms, President Tayyip Erdogan said. 

Speaking on Tuesday evening after a cabinet meeting, Erdogan said his economic team had made preparations for such steps to strengthen the program, MTP, and, “hopefully we will share them with the public very soon.” 

“We have three main priorities in strengthening the MTP. These are to increase public sector savings, prioritize investments, and accelerate structural reforms.” 

Speaking to reporters after the cabinet meeting, Vice President Cevdet Yilmaz said both the finance ministry and the budget authority were carrying out studies on public sector savings, with more than 15 articles being worked upon. 

“We mean not only reducing expenditures, but making existing expenditures more efficient, prioritizing them, and making them contribute more to the economy’s competitiveness, efficiency and social welfare,” state broadcaster TRT reported him as saying. 

Erdogan also said on Tuesday evening that economic growth will approach 4 percent this year with a positive impact from exports, and forecast that the current account deficit will be 2.5 percent of gross domestic product at the end of the year. 

Official data on Wednesday showed that Turkiye’s current account deficit stood at $3.265 billion in February, less than a Reuters forecast for a deficit of $3.7 billion. 

Central Bank Governor Fatih Karahan told a panel in Washington on Tuesday that Turkiye is on track to reach its 36 percent inflation target by the end of the year after peaking at around 75 percent in the coming months. 


Saudi Arabia launches new program to boost wheat, barley productivity 

Saudi Arabia launches new program to boost wheat, barley productivity 
Updated 29 min 20 sec ago
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Saudi Arabia launches new program to boost wheat, barley productivity 

Saudi Arabia launches new program to boost wheat, barley productivity 

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s wheat and barley production is set to strengthen, thanks to a new program aimed at inventorying 903 plant genetic resources from fruit trees.

The process of PGR entails collecting and documenting the genetic material of plants valuable for both present and future generations. 

It is integral to agro-biodiversity, covering crops, livestock, and related species, and serves as the cornerstone of food, agriculture, and nutritional security.

Launched by the Kingdom’s Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture, the implementation of the new program is based on three axes, according to a statement.

The first includes inventory, purification, and evaluation of local varieties, while the second entails cooperation with international bodies. Meanwhile, the third axis includes implementing a regional breeding program.

This move falls in line with the ministry’s vision to achieve sustainability of the environment and natural resources, ensuring water security, contributing to food protection, and improving the quality of life in the Kingdom.


Renewable energy continues to gain momentum in Saudi Arabia, says report

Renewable energy continues to gain momentum in Saudi Arabia, says report
Updated 35 min 32 sec ago
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Renewable energy continues to gain momentum in Saudi Arabia, says report

Renewable energy continues to gain momentum in Saudi Arabia, says report
  • Kingdom makes significant strides in sustainability journey with effective green policies: report

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia could achieve its 2030 renewable target of 130 gigawatts by strengthening existing green policies and ensuring their effective implementation, a new study showed.  

According to a report by the data consulting company GlobalData, the growth of renewable energy sources in Saudi Arabia has gained pace recently as the Kingdom eyes ensuring a secure power supply for the future. 

The London-based firm highlighted that the country has made significant strides in its sustainability journey, with the Kingdom adding 2.1 GW of renewable power capacity since 2022. 

“Introduced in 2016, the Saudi Arabia Vision 2030 had an initial target of deploying 9.5 GW of green energy by 2030. Since inception, it has undergone many revisions, with the latest being made in 2023, revising the target to 130 GW of renewable power capacity by 2030,” said GlobalData.  

It added: “With the strengthening of policies, a consistent call for competitive auctions, and other financial measures, the Kingdom can meet its 2030 renewable energy target.”  

The report added that the abundance of sunlight and wind resources makes solar and wind power the key renewable technologies for the Kingdom in the future.  

According to GlobalData, Saudi Arabia’s renewable power capacity has increased at a compound annual growth rate of 82.4 percent from 0.02 GW to 3 GW from 2015 to 2023.  

In 2023, solar energy constituted 82.6 percent of the total green power capacity of Saudi Arabia, followed by onshore wind accounting for nearly 14.1 percent and thermal accounting for 3.1 percent share.  

The report also revealed that the share of renewable power capacity in Saudi Arabia’s total energy mix is estimated to reach 35.4 percent in 2035 from 3.2 percent in 2023.  

“With persistent efforts by the policymakers and strict policy implementation, the Kingdom has a good chance of reaching close to its set target. As per the expected trend, the country would add over 20 GW every year making its target plausible,” added the report.  

Speaking at the Future Minerals Forum in January, Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Economy and Planning Faisal Al-Ibrahim had expressed his confidence that the Kingdom would derive 50 percent of its energy needs from renewable sources by 2030.  

“This is the time to try to think sustainably and environmentally without affecting certain local communities,” said the minister at the time.  

In March, a report by the International Renewable Energy Agency said that renewable energy capacity in the Middle East reached 35.54 GW by the end of 2023, with Saudi Arabia accounting for 2.68 GW. 

In the same month, Saudi Arabia launched the Green Finance Framework aimed at enhancing public and private participation in climate financing.  

The initiative launched by the Ministry of Finance is expected to help the Kingdom achieve its net-zero targets by 2060, along with reducing emissions through a circular carbon economy, the Saudi Press Agency reported. 


Masdar City to lead $1.08bn innovation drive in energy and AI: CEO 

Masdar City to lead $1.08bn innovation drive in energy and AI: CEO 
Updated 17 April 2024
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Masdar City to lead $1.08bn innovation drive in energy and AI: CEO 

Masdar City to lead $1.08bn innovation drive in energy and AI: CEO 

RIYADH: Abu Dhabi’s Masdar City is gearing up to deliver energy and artificial intelligence projects with 4 billion dirhams ($1.08 billion) in investments, according to its CEO.

In an interview with the Emirates News Agency on the sidelines of the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi, Ahmed Baghoum unveiled ambitious plans for the development.

The conference, hosted by Abu Dhabi Future Energy Co., also known as Masdar, is taking place from April 16 to 18, bringing together global experts to devise sustainable solutions for tomorrow.

Baghoum said there are projects under the design phase with an investment cost ranging between 3 to 4 billion dirhams that target critical sectors like energy, artificial intelligence, and space, as well as life sciences and agriculture, according to WAM.

The CEO also outlined the current landscape of development at Masdar City. The ongoing construction projects, valued at approximately 1 billion dirhams, include the iconic Masdar City Complex and The Link, set to be completed by mid-2025.

According to Masdar City, The Link is an innovative 30,000 sq. m. development featuring the region’s first net-zero energy shared working and living facility.

“The Link will model a new kind of sustainable community by connecting shared working and living space with other elements of a thriving neighborhood, including places to shop, play, and relax, and local transportation,” the CEO said in a press release earlier last year.

He pointed out that it serves as a vital element in Masdar City’s blueprint for sustainable urban development.

Highlighting the strategic focus of Masdar City, Baghoum emphasized to WAM the significance of vital sectors, including energy and AI for Abu Dhabi and the broader UAE. 

The CEO also underscored the commitment to bolstering these industries by attracting top talent and fostering partnerships and discussed ongoing talks with foreign companies interested in relocating and setting up their research centers in Masdar City.

Additionally, Baghoum outlined the attractive incentives for companies considering relocation to Masdar City, saying: “Masdar City is a world-class business and technology hub, operating at the highest international standards. It offers companies a compelling package of advantages and incentives, including full foreign ownership, exemption from income tax, and unrestricted currency exchange.”


Egypt’s finance minister says cutting inflation is priority

Egypt’s finance minister says cutting inflation is priority
Updated 17 April 2024
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Egypt’s finance minister says cutting inflation is priority

Egypt’s finance minister says cutting inflation is priority

CAIRO: The Egyptian government’s main priority is to reduce inflation to within the central bank’s target, Finance Minister Mohamed Maait said on Tuesday, adding that economic growth was expected to rise in the financial year starting in July to 4.2 percent, from 2.8 percent this year, according to Reuters.

Maait also said the government aimed to sell more state assets, which would reduce the state’s role in the economy, allow the private sector more ownership, increase productivity and generate revenue to reduce Egypt’s debt.

Egypt’s economy has been hurt over the last half year by the crisis in Gaza, which has slowed tourism growth and cut into Suez Canal revenue, two of the country’s biggest sources of foreign currency.

Revenue from the waterway has fallen by more than 60 percent, Maait said, speaking during the IMF Governor Talks series in Washington.

The challenges prompted the IMF to expand financial support to Egypt to $8 billion, while Egypt sharply devalued its currency, made its latest pledge to move to a flexible exchange rate, and struck a record $35 billion investment deal with a UAE sovereign wealth fund.

Inflation dipped to 33.3 percent in March from a record 38 percent in September, far higher than the central bank’s long-standing target of between 5 percent and 9 percent.

Egypt generated growth over the last decade by financing giant state projects, including a new $58 billion capital in the desert, through a borrowing spree abroad that quadrupled its foreign debt.

The government hopes to lower interest rates to reduce interest payments on debt, Maait said. The central bank so far this year has raised its overnight interest rates by 800 basis points.

The government has put a limit of 1 trillion Egyptian pounds ($20.6 billion) on all public investment, including that of the military, Maait said. The private sector should make up at least 65-70 percent of the economy, he added.

“Giving the main role to the private sector to lead the country is in the benefit of the state. Why? Because we have close to 1 million young people coming to the labor market looking for jobs every year,” Maait said.

“Who will be able to create that? The government cannot create more than 100,000 new jobs. An economy led by the private sector can create 900,000 — even more — jobs, but we have to give them the opportunity.”