Political representatives said on Friday that the projects under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) will bring peace, prosperity and development in Pakistan’s southwest Balochistan province.
The webinar, convened by prominent Islamabad-based think tank, the Emerging Policymakers’ Institute, was attended by the representatives of Balochistan’s mainstream political parties, the Chinese ambassador and Chinese companies undertaking development projects in the province.
Speaking at the video conference, Balochistan Governor, Amanullah Khan Yasinzai, termed the multi-billion-dollar project a game changer for the entire region, which he said, would bring economic development in Pakistan, particularly in Balochistan.
Chinese Ambassador, Yao Jing, said CPEC will change the fortune of the province while highlighting the importance of Balochistan to Pakistan.
Many projects under CPEC are under construction and the Pakistani people will reap the benefits in years to come, Jing said.
Jing added that China and Pakistan have a close friendship and China will stand besides Pakistan through thick and thin.
The political parties’ representatives reiterated their commitment to making CPEC a success and pledged to expand the role of Balochistan and increase opportunities for the province in CPEC.
They thanked the Chinese government for the help it has extended to Pakistan to fight against the pandemic.
Edited By: Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)
Oil prices fall as rising coronavirus case numbers cast shadow over fuel demand pickup
This is just as major producers ramp up output.
The slide comes after WTI rose 1.8 per cent and Brent climbed 1.5 per cent on Monday on better-than-expected data on manufacturing activity in Asia, Europe and the United States.
“On the demand side, we had quite encouraging global manufacturing (data) … but there’s still quite a bit of evidence of the oil demand recovery stalling in quite a few markets with a resurgence of COVID-19,’’ said Lachlan Shaw, Head of commodity research at National Australia Bank (NAB).
Denting fuel demand, cities from Manila to Melbourne are tightening lockdowns to battle new infections, while Norway has stopped cruise ship traffic in the latest European travel alarm.
In a further sign of a patchy rebound in demand, analysts estimate United States refined product stockpiles rose last week, according to a preliminary Reuters’ poll ahead of data due from the American Petroleum Institute industry group later on Tuesday and the United States government on Wednesday.
Five analysts estimated, on average, that United States inventories of gasoline rose by 600,000 barrels.
Distillate stockpiles, which include diesel and heating oil, likely grew by 800,000 barrels, while crude stocks fell by 3.3 million barrels in the week to July 31.
At the same time producers in the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies, together known as OPEC+, are stepping up output this month, adding around 1.5 million barrels a day of supply.
United States producers also plan to restart shut-in production and inventories remain near historical highs.
“I think it is fair to say that most oil market participants expected more downward pressure on oil to start the week with COVID-19 ravaging the landscape and OPEC+ adding more barrels into play,’’ said Stephen Innes, Chief Global Markets Strategist at AxiCorp, in a daily note.
Edited By: Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)
Oil production cut: OPEC+ tasks JTC on monitoring implementation
The Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies called OPEC+ has requested the Joint Technical Committee (JTC) to closely monitor the implementation of the required compensation of oil production cut by the underperforming participating countries.
OPEC+ disclosed this at the end of its 20th virtual meeting of the Joint Ministerial Monitoring Committee (JMMC) under the Declaration of Cooperation (DoC), in Vienna.
A statement by the committee on its website also requested the OPEC secretariat to join in monitoring the performance and report to the JMMC.
The committee urged underperforming participating countries to submit their plan for implementation of the required compensation for June to the OPEC secretariat by the end of July 2020.
The body welcomed the participation of Angola, Gabon, South Sudan and Congo and noted that they had pledged their commitment to the DoC production adjustments and compensation plans.
It noted that conformity to the production cut deal by participating countries stood at 107 per in June and commended Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait for their additional voluntary contributions made in June.
The committee noted that removing the credit for over conformity resulted in a conformity level of 95 per cent in June, the highest since the inception of the DoC in January 2017.
It highlighted the importance of the DoC in supporting oil market stability and reiterated the historic decision taken by all participating countries in the DoC.
The committee reviewed and reaffirmed the commitment of all participating countries to achieve full conformity and make up for any shortfall under compensation plans, presented to it.
The body stated that achieving 100 per cent conformity from all participating countries was not only fair, but vital for the ongoing rebalancing efforts and to help deliver long term oil market stability.
The OPEC+ committee observed that there were encouraging signs of improvement as economies around the world opened up.
“While there could be localised or partial lockdowns re-imposed in some places, the recovery signs were clear, both in physical and futures markets.
“Moving to the next phase of the agreement, the extra supply resulting from the scheduled easing of the production adjustment would be consumed as demand recovers, it noted.
The committee said that the seasonality was more pronounced this year, due to the pandemic, noting that for many DoC participants, there would be an increase in demand for utilities, as well as changes in travel patterns.
This, it said, would boost domestic demand for gasoline and diesel and as a result the impact on DoC participating countries’ exports that would be limited.
The committee maintained that the compensation schedule that had been agreed by participating countries would mean that the effective level of adjustments would be deeper.
Edited By: Folorunso Poroye/Obike Ukoh (NAN)
Oil prices ease after OPEC, allies agree to taper oil supply curbs
Oil prices eased on Thursday after OPEC and allies, such as Russia, agreed to taper record supply curbs from August, though the drop was cushioned by hopes for a swift United States demand pick-up after a big drawdown from the country’s crude stocks.
Brent crude fell 27 cents, or 0.6 per cent, to $43.52 a barrel by 0439 GMT, and United States West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude dropped 32 cents, or 0.8 per cent, to $40.88 a barrel.
They rose two per cent the previous day, helped by the United States crude inventories drop.
The Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies, known as OPEC+, agreed on Wednesday to scale back oil production cuts from August as the global economy slowly recovers from the coronavirus pandemic.
OPEC+ has been cutting output since May by 9.7 million barrels per day, or 10 per cent of global supply, but from August, cuts will officially taper to 7.7 million bpd until December.
“Some investors took profits after the OPEC+ decision, but a big draw in United States crude provided some support,’’ Kazuhiko Saito, Chief Analyst at Fujitomi Co said.
Data from the Energy Information Administration showed United States crude inventories fell 7.5 million barrels last week, shrinking much more than the 2.1 million-barrel drop expected by analysts in a Reuters’ poll.
Despite the official OPEC+ accord, Saudi Arabian Energy Minister, Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, said production cuts in August and September would end up amounting to about 8.3 million bpd, more than the headline number.
That’s because countries in the grouping which over-produced earlier this year would compensate by making extra August-September cuts, the minister said.
Oil prices are expected to remain boxed in as more supply from OPEC+ countries will likely be absorbed by recovering demand, said Tsutomu Kosuge, president of the commodity research firm, Marketedge Co.
“I expect Brent will stick to the tight range between $40.50 and $46.50 for the next month or so,’’ he said, adding rising tensions between China and the United States may weigh on market sentiment.
United States Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, took fresh aim at China on Wednesday, saying the United States would impose visa restrictions on Chinese firms like Huawei Technologies that he accused of facilitating human-rights violations.
Rystad Energy also predicted that oil prices will stay where they are for the rest of 2020 as any uptick will hurt already struggling refining margins and negatively impact the most-needed recovery in refinery runs, it said in a note.
Elsewhere, International Energy Agency Executive Director, Fatih Birol, said on Wednesday that global oil markets are slowly rebalancing after the shocks seen during the coronavirus lockdown, with prices expected at about $40/barrel in the coming months.
Edited By: Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)
FEC approves revised 2021-2023 MTEF/FSP
The Federal Executive Council (FEC) on Wednesday approved the revised 2021 to 2023 Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper () at its virtual meeting.
The meeting that was presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari at the Council Chamber of the State House approved a N12.66 trillion budget for each of the three fiscal years.
The Minister of State for Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mr Clement Agba, disclosed this while addressing State House correspondents at the end of the Council meeting in Abuja.
Agba listed other projections in the budget as 40 dollars per barrel oil benchmark, oil production volume of 1.6 million barrel per day, inflation rate of 11.9 per cent, projected gross domestic growth rate of three per cent and revenue target of N7.50 trillion.
On projected revenue for 2021, the minister said: “Yes, I spoke of the various assumptions that has been made in terms of parameters and those assumptions are what drives revenues that we get and in terms of how you are able to reflate the economy and spend helps your GDP.
“For Nigeria, it was projected that by the end of this year we should have the GDP top at -4.42 per cent. However, with the stimulus if properly done and executed, we expect that the GDP will improve to about negative -1.8 per cent.
“So in terms of the revenue projection, for 2020 it was N5.84 trillion but for 2021 we expect that it will be N7.50 trillion.
“Even though the oil production is much lower than our capacity, because we are restricted by the OPEC Plus quota in order to get the prices at par, we have brought in 63 Government Owned Enterprises (GOE).
“We are bringing them into the budget in order to be able to bring up additional N2.17 trillion into the budget, hence we are saying we are projecting a larger budget size for 2021 over and above the N10.84 trillion for the revised 2020 budget.
“When you look at the N7.5 trillion and the expectations to spend N12 trillion, yes definitely there will be gap and that gap has to be financed.
“Even in the 2020 budget we had provisions to repay debt and in the 2021 there is provision to repay debt. There is a sinking fund, we look at the ratio and ensure that we are able to pay our debts.
“Of course that is why we have the debt management office to run those numbers and advise us.”
The Minister of State for Education, Mr Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba also disclosed that the Council approved N136 million for the procurement of theatre seats and computers for the University of Benin in Edo State.
He said: “We submitted a memo on behalf of the University of Benin, for the procurement and installation of theatre seats and computers for work in the auditorium of the University of Benin.
“The project is being funded by the 2019 Tertiary Education funds allocated to the school in the sum of N136 million and the contract was approved by FEC as proposed by the University of Benin and they will now proceed with the procurement.”
On the federal government’s position on the resumption of schools, the minister said the decision not to reopen schools remained the same.
According to him, government is still meeting with stakeholders in the education sector to chart the way forward.
He said: “We are still meeting with parents over that; we are not confident yet that everywhere is safe, the number of COVID-19 infections from the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) are still very alarming and we have presented this to parents and all stakeholders in the education system.
“We are still meeting with them; in fact, there is a stakeholder meeting slated for Monday next week.’’
The minister revealed that the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) was also consulting and looking at a possible change of date for final year exams for graduating secondary school students.
“WAEC on its own part is also negotiating with other West African countries to look at possible shift in date and once they are through with that meeting and hopefully when we are also through with the consultations, if there is any change in the ministry’s position, we will communicate,” he added.
Edited By: Ismail Abdulaziz (NAN)