HSBC Names Head of Commercial Banking in Qatar



Elie El Asmar has been appointed Head of Commercial Banking for HSBC in Qatar in a move bringing more than 20 years of corporate banking experience to clients in the country. “We are delighted to welcome Elie to the senior leadership team in Qatar where he will add great value to our customers thanks to his extensive experience in Commercial Banking across the region,” said Abdul Hakeem Mostafawi, CEO of HSBC in Qatar.

HSBC Commercial Banking serves large- and medium-sized corporates in Qatar, with particular focus in helping customers make the most of the new economic ecosystems created in tandem with the country’s substantial infrastructure building program.

Elie Al Asmar said: “Qatar is an exciting market, with local clients expanding their businesses internationally and overseas clients establishing a presence or strengthening operations in the country.” HSBC has been present in Qatar since 1954 and is one of the oldest banks operating in the country.


17/04/2018




MG Motor Opens New Showroom in Dubai



British automotive brand MG Motor, along with its new UAE distributor - Al Yousuf Motors, has opened its new showroom in Dubai, UAE.

MG, established in 1924 and renowned globally for its historic models, awards and achievements. MG is benefiting from substantial investment from its parent company, SAIC Motor.

Located on Sheikh Zayed Road, the showroom will showcase the MG ZS, and, the MG RX5 SUVs, as well as the MG 360 compact sedan, said a statement from the company.

As the recently appointed UAE distributor of MG Motor, Al Yousuf Motors will provide a range of services for new and existing customers of the rejuvenated MG brand, including new car sales, servicing, finance packages and leasing deals, it said.

In addition to the Sheikh Zayed Road showroom, MG Motors models will be available from four other locations across the UAE (Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Ras Al-Khaimah and Fujairah), it added.

Tom Lee, managing director, SAIC Motor Middle East, said: “We are experiencing positive growth in the GCC and view the UAE as a very important market as a hub in the Middle East.”

“The new MG ZS’s expressive design language highlights the premium nature of the MG brand and will feature across all upcoming models, including the brand-new SUV the MG RX 5 and the fully refreshed GS model, which will be introduced to the region later this year,” he said.

“Together with Al Yousuf Motors, we are looking forward to introducing new and existing customers to our exciting line up,” he added.

Mohamed Iqbal Yousuf, deputy president and head of marketing, Al Yousuf Group, added: “The opening of the Dubai showroom is a major step for us and MG Motor.”

“MG has an exciting model line-up and even more so following the introduction of the MG RX5 and MG ZS. The brand is in a strong position to build its presence in the Middle East market and we are looking forward to a fruitful and extensive partnership,” he added. 


17/04/2018




Mobily Launches 5G Trial at Riyadh Mall



Etihad Etisalat Mobily, a leading telecom service provider in Saudi Arabia, has launched 5G technology trial at a special stand in Riyadh Gallery mall.

Ahmed Aboudoma, Mobily chief executive officer, said: “The 5G technology trial, which is the first in the Kingdom, comes in line with the company’s strategy to support and develop its technical capabilities and implement the best and latest international Telecom technologies in order to place the Saudi market at the forefront worldwide in adapting such technologies in line with Kingdom Vision 2030.”

Mobily is the first company in the Middle East that allowed smart-devices users the opportunity to experience 5G speeds in a very distinguished trial, a statement said. 


17/04/2018




Malaysia Launches New Visa Services Centers in Saudi Arabia



VFS Global, a leading outsourcing and technology services specialist for diplomatic missions worldwide, has announced the opening of two one-stop Malaysia visa centers in Saudi Arabia. The one-stop centers - in Riyadh and Jeddah - have been launched in cooperation with the Embassy of Malaysia in Saudi Arabia and in partnership with S5 Systems and Megan Gayabina and the facilities management provider of VFS Global, Al Etimad Modern Business Solutions.

In a statement, VFS Global said that both Riyadh and Jeddah centers started functioning from April 10. Both the centers are located in main commercial districts of the cities to ensure easy access for the applicants.

Speaking at the official opening of the Jeddah center, Mohammad Ali Bin Selamat, consul general of Malaysia in Jeddah, said: "Well-coordinated models such as the OSC seeks to optimize a multi-dimensional approach and ensure consistency in the application to provide the best, streamlined and efficient visa service. The OSC is also flexible with its visa submission time to allow more applications to be submitted as part of the new customer-friendly initiative."

The inauguration was held in the presence of senior officials from the Malaysian Consulate and VFS Global, including the Malaysian Consul General of Jeddah, together with Marita Bachhav, head of operations - Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Lebanon & Jordan, VFS Global, amongst others. The VFS Global one-stop center in Riyadh is located on the first floor of Dove Plaza, Omm Al Hamam Street while in Jeddah it is on the ground floor of TasHeel Commercial Plaza, Suwaid Bin Sakher Street, Off Jundub Bin Kaab Street (Off Prince Sultan Street) in Al Mohammadiyah District 1.

Commenting on the launch, Vinay Malhotra, regional group COO for Middle East, South Asia & China, VFS Global, said: "It is an honor to launch two new one-stop centers that will provide travelers to Malaysia from Saudi Arabia an all-encompassing and professionally managed visa processing services. With the growth in trade and tourism between Malaysia and Saudi Arabia, we are confident that the new centers will be able to meet the rising volumes of applicants aspiring to travel to Malaysia."

In the kingdom, VFS Global currently provides visa application processing services on behalf of 21 client governments, since commencing operations in the country in 2007. Services at the new Malaysia one-stop centers are intuitively designed to facilitate quicker and more streamlined visa application submission processes. The centers, managed by professionally trained and courteous staff, will provide services for extended working hours as compared to the previous ones, ensuring an enhanced customer experience.

Some of the key features of the centers include convenience in terms of location, automated queue governance for smooth flow of applicants, photo copy and photo booth facilities, SMS and courier return delivery services, helpline and email support and a dedicated website for easy access to information including visa categories, requirements, check-list and applicable fees. Apart from these, VFS Global staff is well trained in 100% secure handling of passports, documents and personal information.


17/04/2018




UAE's Aldar Unveils Masterplan for Sustainable Living Project



Aldar, a leading property developer in Abu Dhabi, UAE, has launched a Dh10-billion (US$2.72 billion) masterplan that will incorporate and greatly enhance one of its already established destinations – Alghadeer located near the border of Abu Dhabi and Dubai within its Seih Al Sdeirah landbank.

Alghadeer will feature 14,408 residential units, including villas, townhouses, and maisonettes, which will be delivered over the next 15 years, said the Abu Dhabi developer in a statement.

Spread over a residential GFA (gross floor area) of 1.3 million sq m, the project will be complemented by office space, retail space, hospitality, education and community amenities, it added.

Unveiling the masterplan, CEO Talal Al Dhiyebi said: "The launch of Alghadeer is clear statement of Aldar’s ambition. From its strategic location to its sustainable living initiatives, Alghadeer signals the creation of a new way of living for UAE residents, now and in the future."

"We are confident of the demand for a community which offers a distinct lifestyle - peaceful residential neighborhoods, within close proximity to the bustling cities of Abu Dhabi and Dubai," he stated.

Al Dhiyebi pointed out that the Alghadeer launch further underlined how Aldar was expanding its successful destination-led strategy to additional areas of Abu Dhabi, capitalising on the UAE’s flourishing population as well as its reputation as Abu Dhabi’s leading developer.

"The scale and 15-year timeframe of the development underlines Aldar’s confidence in the Abu Dhabi residential market," he noted.

According to him, Alghadeer is designed to benefit from the significant growth being experienced in the north of Abu Dhabi and the south of Dubai.

This area of the UAE includes major job creating projects such as Dubai Expo 2020, Kizad, Dubai World Central incorporating Dubai South, the Al Maktoum Airport, as well as Dubai Industrial and Wholesale Cities, which will further boost the demand for high quality living spaces on the border of the two emirates.

With easy access to the UAE’s arterial highways, Alghadeer will become home to those seeking both connectivity, and an escape from city life.

At the heart of Alghadeer is Harvest, a multi-use agricultural led space featuring allotments, as well as The Hub – a F&B (food and beveraages) outlet, The Studio – an educational area for training and workshops, The Shed – a dedicated area for purchasing farming tools and supplies, and The Market – a retail area for freshly grown produce, and The Field - where people can rent plots and grow their own produce.

Appealing to those who prefer wide-open spaces and unique recreational amenities, the destination will also feature lakes, running and cycle tracks, gym, camping and BBQ sites and a network of walkable gardens and parks lit entirely by solar powered lights, said the Abu Dhabi developer.

The new Alghadeer masterplan also includes schools, a hotel, public garden areas, community swimming pools, multi-use sports areas, and community centers, it added.

Aldar said it will initially launch the first neighborhood of 611 homes for sale during the Cityscape Abu Dhabi which runs 17-19 April 2018.

The entire Alghadeer masterplan, development model and floorplans will be on display at the expo. Also customers will have the opportunity to purchase maisonettes, townhouses and villas.

This neighborhood is located to the north west of the masterplan, and near Alghadeer’s central amenities such as Harvest, it stated.

Prices within this first release will start from Dh290,000 (US$789,55) for maisonettes, with townhouses starting at Dh899,900 (US$245,006), said the statement from Aldar.

Construction of this first neighborhood is scheduled to commence in 2018 and be completed during 2021, it added.

The new Alghadeer masterplan incorporates Aldar’s existing community of the same name which boasts over 2,000 homes and is a thriving destination for many families.

Alghadeer’s key success factor is its proximity to major growth areas within Abu Dhabi and Dubai which enables residents of Alghadeer to have greater choice over where they work, shop, travel, and educate their children.


17/04/2018




Omani Minister Calls On OPEC, Non-OPEC to Continue Cooperation



Oman’s oil minister Mohammed bin Hamad al-Rumhi called on all OPEC and non-OPEC producers who took part in the global supply cut pact to continue their cooperation to maintain suitable oil market conditions that encourage oil investments.

“Definitely now is better than yesterday, but the monkey is still on our shoulder,” Rumhi told a news conference in Kuwait City on Monday. “It is not over yet.”


17/04/2018




APM Terminals Bahrain Names New Chief Operating Officer



APM Terminals Bahrain, the operator of Khalifa Bin Salman Port (KBSP) has announced the appointment of Bo Lange as the new chief operating officer (COO).

Lange brings to APM Terminals Bahrain 12 years of port and logistics industry experience. As the chief operating officer, Lange will be responsible for providing strategic leadership and direction for KBSP port operations including technical, marine and IT services with a focus on achieving highest levels of productivity and customer satisfaction.

Prior to joining the team in Bahrain, Lange has held senior executive positions with the Maersk Group within the Operations and Management departments. As the Regional COO with APM Terminals in Africa from 2015 – 2018, Lange was instrumental in driving the APM Inland transformation process with emphasis on enhancing business relationships with customers and other stakeholders.

“We welcome Lange who is an experienced professional in the global logistics industry with proven expertise in the port operations business. His extensive knowledge will be an asset to our operations in Bahrain that will enable us to drive new operational efficiencies for KBSP and explore new continuous improvement levels and methods to help achieve greater competitiveness and higher standards of performance. We wish him all the success in his new role,” said Mark Hardiman, CEO/managing director of APM Terminals Bahrain.

Bo Lange said: “I am really excited to take on the new role at APM Terminals Bahrain at a time when customer-centricity is the focus area for KBSP. As a vital contributor to Bahrain’s national economy and noted for its world-class facilities and operational excellence, KBSP has been one of the top performing terminals in the APM Terminals network. Hence, the focus will be to maintain its leading position on productivity at the same time increase the traffic through KBSP by attracting transshipment to key upper GCC markets as per the local strategy.”

“I also look forward to working with my team and I am confident that together, we will continue to achieve greater milestones for KBSP and Bahrain as a whole," he added Lange.


17/04/2018




Microsoft Names President for Saudi Operations



Microsoft has announced the appointment of Thamer Alharbi as president for Microsoft Arabia in Saudi Arabia.

In his new role, Alharbi will spearhead Microsoft’s efforts in accelerating digital transformation and innovation across industries, leveraging his over fifteen years of professional experience and industry knowledge in Saudi and Middle East.

“Thamer is joining Microsoft at a time where our technologies are translating the Saudi Vision 2030 into a reality, and we are delighted to have Thamer Alharbi leading Microsoft in Saudi Arabia,” said Samer Abu-Ltaif, president Microsoft Middle East & Africa.

“He is a tremendous asset to building and driving our business in the Saudi market, as the Kingdom advances towards becoming a technology hub for the region. We believe he is the perfect leader to strengthen Microsoft’s business with the government, our customers and our partners, as well as building on our commitment to prepare the workforce with the IT skills required for future success.”

“Microsoft, with its solutions from the intelligent cloud to the intelligent edge, will be an enabler and driver of the Saudi vision 2030,” said Alharbi. “I am excited to take the responsibility that is entrusted to me to lead Microsoft in The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and to drive our customers’ digital transformation powered by Microsoft intelligent cloud and bringing our best expertise to a secure and modern workplace. I have had the blessing to partner with some of the best minds in the IT sector to encourage the spirit of innovation and creativity across public and private sectors.”

Alharbi’s areas of expertise cover business transformation, consultancy, and information technology services. He successfully managed and led initiatives for organizations to optimize operations and enhance efficiency. Prior to joining Microsoft, Alharbi held key positions in Saudi Arabia and Middle East; where he drove the business and growth agendas for number of global companies.

Alharbi holds a Bachelor of Systems Engineering degree from King Fahad University of Petroleum & Minerals and studied in Stephen M Ross Business School of the University of Michigan.


17/04/2018




Bahrain to Push Ahead with Strategy to Harness Renewable Energy



Wind turbines could soon be springing up across Bahrain, as authorities push ahead with a strategy to harness renewable energy. A new study says conditions here are “moderate yet suitable” for such technology. It identifies the best locations for wind turbines as being along the coastline, in the south, outside urban areas in the north and offshore – with stronger winds to the north of the mainland.

In addition, it recommends the establishment of both onshore and offshore wind farms, which would help Bahrain achieve its aim of producing more alternative energy. The country plans to ensure 5% of its total energy consumption is met through renewables by 2025, increasing to 10% by 2035. Two wind turbines already installed at the Al Dur Power and Water Plant will be operating in a matter of months, revealed Electricity and Water Affairs Minister Dr Abdulhussain Mirza.

He said studies had shown that wind technology was “commercially viable” in Bahrain. “We have enough wind velocity to make it commercially viable to install turbines and generate electricity from wind,” he said.

“We have already installed two turbines at Al Dur Power and Water Plant, which will be functional within a few months. “What we hope will happen is the private sector will invest in this technology, as the consultants now show it is possible to have different types of turbines for different velocities – and it is becoming cost-effective to do that.” He made his comments during an event to mark the launch of the Wind Atlas, which contains data on wind speeds and directions in Bahrain.

It was commissioned by Bahrain’s Sustainable Energy Unit and compiled by EMD International, a Danish firm that consults on wind energy projects. The company’s wind research and development department manager, Morten Thøgersen, said research showed that one wind turbine could power 500 homes in Bahrain.

Resource

He claimed that with careful planning and research, it would be possible to ensure the turbines would have no detrimental impact on bird migration patterns or marine life. However, he added the turbine would have to be “very tall” to be most effective.

“One turbine can generate enough energy for 500 homes,” he said. “Of course, the potential is much bigger because you can have hundreds of wind turbines in locations all over the country. “You must select the turbine that gets the best wind resource available for it to be financially feasible. “Bahrain is a moderate wind energy country, so you must be more careful because of the variation in the wind resource. “We see the next steps are generating the planning framework and researching the areas for wind energy expectations and allowing for very tall wind turbines.”

Bahrain has already embraced solar solutions and a tender was last month issued for a 100MW solar power plant, which will be functional by December 2019. All new buildings will also be required to be designed with solar panels in mind, while the country’s first solar-powered homes were unveiled last month – with solar panels providing a third of each household’s annual energy consumption.

The launch of the Wind Atlas was organized in co-operation with the United Nations Development Program under the patronage of Dr Mirza. Its findings can be accessed online at www.seu.gov.bh.


17/04/2018




Saudi Port among World's Fastest Growing



King Abdullah Port landed the eighth spot among the world’s fastest growing ports for 2017, according to Alphaliner, the global leader in analyzing maritime transport data, port capabilities and the future of vessels and shipping route development. The new ranking comes after King Abdullah Port had previously announced a 21% increase in its annual throughput in 2017, making it the second largest port in the Kingdom in terms of container handling.

In a related context, King Abdullah Port moved up to 87th place among the world’s 100 biggest container ports for 2017, after ranking 98th in 2016.

“The new ranking is testament to our achievements in logistics as part of our contribution to Vision 2030,” said Rayan Qutub, CEO of King Abdullah Port. “It also highlights King Abdullah Port’s steady growth thanks to the unlimited support the port receives from its partners in the public and private sectors, such as the outstanding efforts of the Saudi Customs, the General Directorate of Border Guards, the Economic Cities Authority and other government sectors operating in the port, which are undoubtedly key players in the honorable achievements accomplished in a short period of time. Their support significantly enhances King Abdullah Port’s role in driving the national economy through the provision of integrated logistics that contribute to the Kingdom’s competitiveness and its aim to become a leading logistics platform in the world.”

Qutub further said: “We definitely take pride in the position we are occupying, which adds to the Kingdom's achievements and mirrors the Kingdom's outstanding position in the global maritime transportation industry and the increasing volume of sea freight to and from Saudi ports, which aligns with the objectives of Vision 2030.”

King Abdullah Port has achieved significant development and growth over the last few years, making the port a pioneer in activating a 24-hour container inspection initiative and reducing the dwell time of incoming containers to 4.5 days in a clear indication of the port’s high efficiency.

King Abdullah Port features the world’s deepest 18-meter water berths and state-of-the-art processing facilities. Its container terminals feature the largest cranes in the world, using the latest technology, with a span of 25 containers and a capacity of 65 tons, enabling the port to serve mega cargo ships now and in the future.


17/04/2018




Bahraini Port to Double Size of Operations



Khalifa Bin Salman Port (KBSP) is currently working at 45% of its capacity, said Mark Hardiman, chief executive and managing director of APM Terminals (APMT) Bahrain, which manages the port.

He told the GDN the aim was to tap into the transshipment cargo market to increase the amount of goods passing through the facility.

“In the coming years we aim to make the full use of the port facility,” he said. “We already have four warehouses in the port, two of which are utilized a lot, while the others are not sufficiently utilized.

“So we have spare capacity at the moment and if the demand grows as we expect there could be an expansion, but first we have to make full use of the unused capacity as of now, before we invest further.

“Now the port utility is 45%. The container side is currently designed for around one million tons capacity use.

“We are doing around 400,000 to 450,000 containers, which is 45% and that is mainly at the moment gateway cargo for Bahrain.

“What we are trying to do is to secure more transshipment cargo, which is really the way to grow to bring more volumes into Bahrain.

“So that is mostly targeting the upper Persian Gulf, which is Kuwait and Iraq, and it is part of our commercial strategy.”

Planned upgrades at the port include the launch of a dedicated online portal, which will allow customers to do business from their desks.

It is now in the test phase and is expected to be functional by the middle of next year.

“This year, with customer centricity as one of the key focus areas for KBSP, APMT Bahrain will be actively working on offering a range of transport and logistical solutions or value-added services to its customers in Bahrain,” Mr Hardiman added.

“This includes end-user services, which include cargo stuffing and stripping and bonded storage of the goods at KBSP.

“This will help create an effective supply chain which will directly increase savings and eliminate wastage for companies, further enabling them to focus on their core business areas.

“Additionally, the port is also working on launching a dedicated IT self-service portal that will allow customers to track shipments, book appointments and make payments online.”

The portal is in line with the new maritime code, which aims to enhance the transportation and logistics sector in Bahrain.

The GDN reported last month that the revised code, according to Transportation and Telecommunications Ministry Port and Maritime Affairs (PMA) Under-Secretary Hassan Ali AlMajed, would amend or add regulations to existing legislation to support businesses in the sector.

“Currently (the IT portal) is under testing and we expect it to go live by the second quarter of 2018, latest,” added Mr Hardiman.

“The initial features of the portal include tracking and tracing the containers, following specific vessels or containers, scheduling appointments for services, ordering services (like stripping or unloading of containers), paying for services, checking for terminal announcements and user management.

“The portal will highly benefit customers as well as improve the performance of the port.

“It will reflect on the ease of doing business through enabling online transaction.

“We aim to work on the functionalities and an app designed to cater to Bahrain-specific customer needs.

“This helps customers as it avoids them the hassle of having to visit the port.

“Moreover, the processes will be more streamlined and transparent, which will help the port and the operator (APMT) to plan better and in turn improve efficiency.”

The GDN also reported earlier this year that KBSP had stepped up contingency plans following a cyber attack last year.

APMT, along with logistics firm TNT Express, were among the firms that fell victim to a ransomware worm attack last June.

Transportation and Telecommunications Ministry port affairs assistant under-secretary Bader Al Mahmood it set up a two-fold emergency plan after operations of APMT were severely disrupted.

A joint team from KBSP and APMT is also working on a back-up of its inventory details, according to Mr Al Mahmood.


17/04/2018




HSE Practices Must be at Center of Energy Company Operations: UAE Official



As global exploration, development and production of oil and gas resources shifts to more complex, remote and challenging fields, the need to rigorously safeguard people and the environment, as well as asset integrity, becomes ever more critical, according to Abdulmunim Al Kindi, Upstream Director at the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, ADNOC.

Delivering the keynote address at the 2018 Society of Petroleum Engineers International Conference and Exhibition on Health, Safety, Security, Environment and Social Responsibility, being held in Abu Dhabi, Al Kindi said fundamental working practice changes, along with heightened stakeholder awareness, make it imperative the oil and gas industry continues to ensure effective health, safety and environment, HSE, protection measures are at the center of operations.

Al Kindi said, "Working in partnership is key to safeguarding people, communities and the environment. Partnership among our people, to proactively address and mitigate HSE risks, partnership with our industry peers, to learn from incidents and continuously advance HSE standards and partnership with our contractors, to ensure people, across sites and operations, live and breathe a culture of HSE first. "At ADNOC, being serious about our ambition of 100% HSE is not only the right thing to do but the smart thing, as it makes solid business sense. We expect and empower our staff and contractors to speak up, intervene and ensure compliance whenever safety is at risk, as it is our firm conviction that HSE is the fundamental platform that enables People, Performance, Profitability and Efficiency, the cornerstones of ADNOC’s success."

To unlock greater value from the nation’s resources, ADNOC plans to tap into Abu Dhabi’s sour gas reserves and has embarked on the exploration and appraisal of challenging unconventional resources, while at the same time driving efficiencies to preserve value. Al Kindy said ADNOC’s reinvigorated and uncompromising focus on HSE is a commitment to protect people and the environment in ever more challenging situations.

Stressing ADNOC’s focus on 100% HSE is fundamental to the success of its 2030 smart growth strategy, Al Kindy went on to say that an effective safety culture, that proactively empowers people to intervene when safety or the environment are at risk, is key to ADNOC’s successful transformation into a more resilient, commercially minded and performance driven company. "We expect the same level of commitment to HSE from everyone, including each and every partner, service provider and contractor, who make up for 60% to 70% of the work executed across the ADNOC Group. For ADNOC, HSE this is an investment for the better, an investment in our people, in our businesses, and in our nation," he continued.


17/04/2018




FDI Attraction to Petchem Sector, Priority for Iranian Firms: MP



A member of the Iran Majlis said that attraction of foreign direct investment (FDI) in the petrochemical sector must be a priority for the companies operating in the sector to develop the industry. Speaking to Shana, the spokesman of the Majlis Energy Commission, Asadollah Gharehkhani said investment in petroleum projects is a priority for the Iranian Ministry of Petroleum in the current year (March 2018-19).

He also called on the ministry to prioritize attraction of foreign finances for funding petrochemical projects during the year. "Luring foreign investors into petroleum projects especially those concerning development of joint oil and gas fields must be among the Iranian Ministry of Petroleum's priorities in the new year," the MP said.

Moreover, he stressed, inviting oil and petrochemical majors into projects in the industry must also be further pursued in the country.

"Iran's gas production is currently at its best, so we should use this capacity to export the item while helping to increase the export of petrochemical products," Gharehkhani said. - Shana


17/04/2018




Oil Prices Rise Amid Risk of Supply Disruptions



Oil prices rose on Tuesday amid worries there could be a high risk of disruptions to supply, especially in the Middle East. Brent crude oil futures LCOc1 were at US$71.69 per barrel at 0326 GMT, up 27 cents, or 0.4%, from their last close. US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures CLc1 were up 32 cents, or 0.5%, at US$66.54 a barrel.

Traders said oil markets were receiving general support due to a sense that there were high risks of supply disruptions, including a potentially spreading conflict in the Middle East, renewed US sanctions against Iran and falling output as a result of political and economic crisis in Venezuela.

“With so many potential supply disruptors in play and few signs that the current market upheaval will end any time soon, traders continue to pay the geopolitical risk premium,” said Stephen Innes, head of trading for Asia-Pacific at futures brokerage OANDA in Singapore.

“Oil prices should remain bid ... at least through the Iran nuclear deal deadline (May 12) if not for the remainder of 2018,” he added.

Oil markets have generally been well supported this year, with Brent up by around 16% from its 2018-low in February, due to healthy demand which comes as the producer cartel of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) leads supply cuts aimed at tightening the market and propping up prices.

US OUTPUT SOARS

Beyond OPEC’s production restraint and concerns about supply disruptions, the main market driver in oil has been the United States, where crude production C-OUT-T-EIA has soared by almost a quarter since mid-2016 to 10.53 million barrels per day (bpd), largely thanks to a booming shale industry. Only Russia pumps out more oil currently at almost 11 million bpd.

“US shale producers have been quietly capitalizing on higher oil prices with increasing rig counts seen. A staggering amount of 73 rotary rigs have been placed since January 2018,” said Benjamin Lu of Phillip Futures in a note on Tuesday. “As such, we expect a softening in crude oil prices as markets adjust from a bullish streak,” he added.

The American Petroleum Institute (API) is due to publish weekly US fuel inventory data later on Tuesday while official government data, including on production, is due from the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) on Wednesday.


17/04/2018