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Iran eyes release of $1bn in frozen funds from Korea

  • Market: Condensate, Crude oil
  • 23/02/21

Iran said today that it hopes South Korea will release about $1bn of its funds frozen because of US sanctions, following a meeting between officials from both countries earlier this week. But Seoul tempered expectations by saying any movement of those funds would first need to be cleared with Washington.

Iran's Central Bank yesterday said that an "agreement" had been reached with South Korea to both transfer and use part of the Central Bank of Iran's financial resources.

"The governor of the central bank Abdolnaser Hemmati gave promising reports about the meetings and discussions held with Korean and Japanese representatives about the use of the central bank's resources that have been blocked in these countries," government spokesman Ali Rabiei said.

"The governor said that around $1bn of these funds would be released to us in a first step," Rabiei said, adding that Iran was already in discussions with other countries like Iraq and Oman about using the funds "to help meet the country's fundamental needs like basic goods, agricultural goods, medicines and medical equipment." Iran has been battling with the Mideast Gulf's worst and most deadly Covid-19 outbreak, with more than 1.59mn people infected and nearly 60,000 people dead.

But, comments from Seoul shortly after suggested that there is still some way to go before the funds could be released.

"During the meeting… the two sides inched closed on their opinions and the Iranian side expressed consent to the proposals we have made," South Korean foreign ministry spokesman Choi Young-Sam said.

Separately, the ministry said: "The actual unfreezing of the assets will be carried out through consultations with related countries, including the US."

These comments represent the latest chapter in a more-than-year-long dispute between the two countries over around $7bn in revenues that Iran says it is owed by South Korea for past crude sales. The funds have sat frozen in two Korean banks since Seoul stopped all purchases of Iranian oil in 2019, ahead of the expiry of waivers on US sanctions against Iran. Before that, South Korea was one of the biggest buyers of Iranian crude and condensate, importing around 280,000 b/d in the January-April 2019 period.

Iran has called on South Korea to release the funds since last year, but to no avail.

The dispute escalated last month after Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) navy seized a South Korean-flagged chemical tanker, the Hankuk Chemi, as it made its way from Jubail in Saudi Arabia to the UAE's port of Fujairah. Iran said at the time that it detained the tanker because it was causing "environmental pollution" in the Mideast Gulf, and denied that it had any link to the funds Iran was trying to repatriate. The tanker remains in Iranian custody while Iran's judiciary continues its investigation.


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12/07/24

India to offer 25 oil, gas blocks in 10th round: Update

India to offer 25 oil, gas blocks in 10th round: Update

Mumbai, 12 July (Argus) — India will offer a total of 25 oil and gas blocks in the tenth bidding round in August or September, according to a senior Directorate General of Hydrocarbons (DGH) official. The offer will cover 13 sedimentary basins, including six onland blocks with an estimated area of 16,871km², six shallow water blocks covering 41,391km², one deepwater block of 9,991km², and 12 ultra deepwater blocks of 12,3733km², the DGH official said. India offered 136,596.45 km² in 28 upstream oil and gas blocks in the ninth bidding round under the Hydrocarbon Exploration and Licensing Policy's (HELP) Open Acreage Licensing Programme (OALP). The deadline for this round has been extended thrice , with the latest one to 31 August as the government wanted to provide much more granular data about the blocks to help upstream companies make a decision, DGH director-general Pallavi Jain Govil told reporters on the sidelines of an industry conference. India also extended the deadline for bids for a special upstream bidding round to 16 August from 15 July earlier. It had invited bids for two discovered small oil and gas fields located in the Mumbai offshore region and one coal-bed methane (CBM) gas field in West Bengal. The conclusion of the ninth round will have a key role to play in the launch of the tenth round as foreign participants have raised key issues with the oil ministry, including ones related to indemnity and compensation, a government official said. These issues have been holding back foreign firms from investing in India. With bigger blocks on offer, there are expectations that it will elicit interest from foreign participants as the government tries to resolve issues raised by these companies. The move by the government to provide more data to bidders by placing it in the National Data Repository is expected to reverse the tepid response in previous drilling rounds. It is not yet known if this round will elicit interest from foreign participants, as has mostly been the case in previous auctions. India's upstream licensing has largely been dominated by domestic participants. Indian state-controlled refiner ONGC in January bagged seven of the 10 areas in exploration blocks offered under India's eighth open acreage licensing policy drilling round. A private-sector consortium of Reliance Industries (RIL) and BP, state-controlled Oil India and private-sector Sun Petrochemicals received one block each. India's hydrocarbon exploration has been lacking because of slow policy implementation, despite its huge demand for oil and gas. The DGH is working to minimise the approval time to increase domestic production and decrease import dependency on oil and gas. Lackluster discoveries, shrinking exploration capital and a complicated tax regime have also limited foreign interest. The DGH has also started an efficiency department recently to focus on enhanced oil recovery techniques with the use of carbon capture, use and storage technology, Pallavi Jain said during a panel discussion. By Rituparna Ghosh Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

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Biden brushes aside calls to end candidacy


12/07/24
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12/07/24

Biden brushes aside calls to end candidacy

Washington, 12 July (Argus) — President Joe Biden said on Thursday he will not end his re-election bid despite calls from Democratic lawmakers and donors who have raised doubts about his ability to defeat former president and Republican nominee Donald Trump. "I believe I'm the best qualified to govern, and I think I'm the best qualified to win," Biden told reporters following the conclusion of a three-day NATO summit in Washington. "I beat [Trump] once, and I will beat him again." Biden's televised debate with Trump last month led some Democratic lawmakers to urge him to end his campaign, and even senior Democrats like former House of Representatives speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) suggested that Biden should decide soon whether to remain in the race. Biden in his debate, which he called a "stupid mistake," often appeared feeble and confused and struggled to clearly articulate his policy positions. But Biden appeared stronger and more coherent in his solo press conference on Thursday — the first since November — in part because he talked about his international initiatives, which he considers among his strongest policy strengths. Biden cited NATO's security support for Ukraine and his administration's efforts to achieve a ceasefire in Gaza among his accomplishments. During the NATO summit this week fellow leaders "made it a point in their statements to thank the US and to thank me personally for all that NATO has achieved," Biden said, as a counterpoint to Trump's frequent criticism of the military alliance. Biden acknowledged that his age and medical conditions have led him to curtail his work schedule, with no engagements after 8pm, even though several late evening events were on his agenda during the NATO summit. He appeared to blame his staff for putting too many events on his schedule. Biden earlier attributed his poor performance during the debate to two transatlantic trips in June, to attend the 80th anniversary of the Normandy landing in France and to participate in the G7 summit in Italy. Even with a clearly stronger performance today — Biden took multiple questions during an hour-long press conference that ended at 8:30pm ET — his tendency to misspeak will continue to fuel his critics. At a NATO event earlier today, Biden mistakenly introduced Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy as Russian president Vladimir Putin, while NATO leaders watched uncomfortably. "I am better [than Putin]," Zelenskiy jokingly retorted, while Biden said he thought too much about how to "beat Putin." And Biden referred to vice president Kamala Harris as "vice president Trump" during the press conference. Harris is qualified to serve as president but "I am the most qualified person to run," Biden repeatedly said. "I am the qualified person to do the job to make sure that Ukraine will not fall, that Ukraine succeeds, that the European alliance stays strong." Biden said he would only drop out of the race if his staff told him polls "showed there's no way you can win." At the summit, NATO members decided to establish an organization formally tasked with coordinating military assistance and training for Ukraine's armed forces, rather than have the US alone lead the effort. Referencing Trump's criticism of NATO and frequent adoration of Putin, Biden said that the election "is much more than the political question — it's a national security issue." Biden referred to several unnamed NATO leaders who told him: "You've got to win. You can't let this guy come forward. It'd be a disaster." The NATO summit declaration also accused China of covertly assisting the Russian war effort by providing key components for weapons. The US previously threatened to impose sanctions against Chinese companies allegedly helping the Russian defense industry. "I'm not prepared to talk about the details of [potential new sanctions] in public," Biden said. "I think you'll see that some of our European friends are going to be curtailing their involvement" in China. Biden said he would not sit down to negotiate with Putin over Ukraine "unless Putin's ready to change his behavior." Hungary's prime minister Victor Orban met with Zelenskiy, Putin and Chinese president Xi Jinping earlier this month to discuss a possible Ukraine peace deal, and he plans to meet with Trump on Friday. The Biden administration has dismissed Orban's mediation as unhelpful. By Haik Gugarats Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

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China oil demand growth ground to a halt in 2Q: IEA


11/07/24
News
11/07/24

China oil demand growth ground to a halt in 2Q: IEA

London, 11 July (Argus) — The IEA said today that China's oil demand growth came to a standstill in the second quarter, driven down by weak industrial fuels and petrochemical feedstock demand. "Oil consumption in China, long the engine of global oil demand growth, contracted in both April and May, and is now assessed marginally below year earlier levels in [the second quarter]," the Paris-based agency said in its latest Oil Market Report (OMR). The agency now sees China's oil demand growing by 410,000 b/d in 2024, compared with its forecast for 480,000 b/d in last month's OMR. But the IEA's global oil demand growth forecast for 2024 remained broadly unchanged, rising by 10,000 b/d to 970,000 b/d as the downgrade from China was offset by better-than-expected consumption in OECD economies. It said global growth at 710,000 b/d in the April-June period was the slowest quarterly increase since the final three months of 2022 when China was in lockdown. For next year, the agency cut its demand growth forecast by 50,000 b/d to 980,000 b/d — its lowest 2025 estimate so far. Lower Chinese consumption data feed into the IEA's narrative that the country's pre-eminence as a source of global demand growth is fading. "Last year the country accounted for 70pc of global demand gains — this will decline to around 40pc in 2024 and 2025, with other emerging economies such as India and Brazil capturing greater prominence," it said. While the IEA said much of China's deceleration was due to consumption growth normalising following a post-Covid rebound in 2023, it also noted an "intrinsic slowdown" related to LPG/ethane and naphtha use in petrochemicals production. On global oil supply, the IEA increased its growth estimate from around 700,000 b/d to 770,000 b/d on the back of strong production from the US in the second quarter. It also noted a 150,000 b/d rise to 102.9mn b/d in June after Brazil, Canada and Kazakhstan bounced back from oil field maintenance and as biofuels output rose seasonally to offset a significant output decline from Saudi Arabia. The IEA forecasts non-Opec+ supply growth of 1.5mn b/d this year and a 740,000 b/d fall from Opec+ because of its production cuts. The agency has not yet incorporated the Opec+ plan to start unwinding some of its from October this year, noting the alliance said this decision could be paused or reversed. For 2025, the IEA sees global oil supply growing by 1.8mn b/d to a record 104.8mn b/d. The IEA also highlighted a rise in global oil inventories. These increased for a fourth consecutive month in May, by 23.9mn bl to the highest since August 2021. Preliminary data for June show a stock fall of 18.1mn bl, the IEA said. By Aydin Calik IEA global supply-demand balance mn b/d Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

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Venezuela opposition harassment builds before elections


10/07/24
News
10/07/24

Venezuela opposition harassment builds before elections

Caracas, 10 July (Argus) — The Venezuelan government under President Nicolas Maduro continues to threaten and harass opposition candidates ahead of 28 July national elections, where it trails in polls by as much as 60 percentage points. Since late June dozens of opposition campaign workers have been arrested under unclear charges, with many of them being released, according to figures compiled by non-governmental organisation (NGO) Acceso a la Justicia. A motorcade for opposition candidate Maria Corina Machado, who has been blocked from registering for the election, was stopped by police in Trujillo state in late June as well. Machado was detained for about an hour but said she was not told why she was held. Last week Unitary Platform party (PUD) presidential candidate Edmundo Gonzalez said he was harassed by government workers when boarding a flight on nationally-owned airline Conviasa, who blamed him for the imposition of US sanctions. In a webcast after the incident he said he received a letter from airline employees explaining how they are directed to harass the opposition ahead of time, using government-approved scripts. On Monday, attorney general Tarek William Saab ratcheted-up tensions even further, claiming in a televised address that the political opposition was trying to hire right-wing paramilitaries in Colombia to assassinate Maduro and attack power infrastructure in Zulia state. The harassment comes as national polls continue to show Maduro trailing Gonzalez by double-digits. A new poll released Wednesday by Meganalisis has Gonzalez garnering nearly 72pc of the votes to about 12pc for Maduro. The opposition and Venezuelan human rights NGO Laboratorio de Paz say the tactics violate the Barbados-Qatar agreements Maduro signed with PUD and the US to insure a partial lifting of oil sanctions in exchange of "free and fair" elections. The US has since reimposed sanctions. Maduro has already denied the right to vote to 5mn voting-age Venezuelans living abroad and disinvited the EU's electoral observation team for the elections. By Carlos Camacho Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

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BP's scenarios see more room for gas to 2050


10/07/24
News
10/07/24

BP's scenarios see more room for gas to 2050

London, 10 July (Argus) — BP's latest scenarios for gas demand out to 2050 put consumption higher mid-century than it previously anticipated. This year's BP Energy Outlook , published on Wednesday, focuses on two scenarios, both at the extreme of transition outcomes. The 'Current Trajectory' scenario — which is not consistent with a 2°C carbon budget — places weight on climate policies already in force. The 'Paris-consistent' Net Zero scenario assumes there is a significant tightening in those policies. The Current Trajectory has gas demand increasing from 3.99 trillion m³/yr in 2022 to 4.73 trillion m³/yr in 2050 ( see demand graph ), slightly up on the 4.62 trillion m³/yr estimate in last year's similar New Momentum scenario. While the Net Zero scenario has demand increasing slightly to 4.02 trillion m³/yr by 2030, it sees 1.8 trillion m³/yr by mid-century, against 1.66 trillion m³/yr projected last year. And roughly 80pc of gas demand is used with carbon capture, use and storage (CCUS) by 2050. The difference between the two scenarios when it comes to gas demand is stark — a gap of almost 850bn m³/yr by 2035, or a fifth of potential demand by then. The wide gap between scenario outcomes for gas — with gas demand growing by 19pc under the Current Trajectory and plummeting by 58pc under Net Zero by mid-century — reflects two significant opposing trends, BP said. The first is increasing demand in emerging economies as they grow and industrialise. The second is a shift away from natural gas to greater electrification and lower-carbon fuels. But the net effect of these depends on the speed of the energy transition. Also underpinning BP's projections are trends common to both scenarios. One is that energy demand grows more strongly in emerging economies, driven by rising prosperity and living standards. Another is that the structure of this demand will change as fossil fuels are replaced by a growing share of low-carbon energy. LNG demand will rise by 2040 Growing consumption in emerging economies will drive LNG demand higher by 2040 compared with 2022 under both BP's scenarios, but under the Current Trajectory it will rise until 2050 while under Net Zero it will peak by 2030. BP estimates that LNG demand will steadily rise to 988bn m³/yr by 2050 under the Current Trajectory scenario from 543bn m³/d of traded volumes in 2022 ( see LNG graph ). But the firm sees LNG demand growing until 2030, rising to 718bn m³/yr before falling to 586bn m³/yr and 311bn m³/yr in 2040 and 2050, respectively. The differential of 60bn m³/yr between the two scenarios in 2030 depends largely on whether the EU and UK continue to use LNG as a substitute for imports of pipeline Russian gas, or they turn to alternative energy sources "combined with faster gains in energy efficiency", BP said. Russian gas exports set to fall by 2030 BP estimates that Russian exports will fall by 30-40pc by 2030 from pre-2022 levels because sanctions against Russia will limit the expansion of LNG exports. But from then, exports from Russia could increase slightly by 2040 and further by 2050 to 252bn m³/yr under the Current Trajectory scenario from 227bn m³/yr in 2021 ( see Russian exports graph ). Growth in LNG exports will drive the overall increase, which would more than double to 104bn m³/yr by mid-century from 2021. On the contrary, the Net Zero scenario has Russian exports falling to 83bn m³/yr by 2050, with pipeline exports to China accounting for the greatest share at 34bn m³/yr that year. Pipeline deliveries to countries excluding China are forecast never to recover to pre-2022 levels and could reach a maximum of 70bn m³/yr by 2050 under the Current Trajectory scenario. US and Middle East to remain main producers Gas production will largely depend on demand for LNG exports in the coming years, but will later depend on the speed of the energy transition, BP said. While global gas production is forecast to increase to 4.73 trillion m³/yr by 2050 to meet demand from emerging economies under the Current Trajectory, BP estimates that the regional distribution of production will remain roughly the same — the US and the Middle East covering 43pc of production by 2050. Gas production was 4.04 trillion m³/yr in 2022 and the US and the Middle East accounted for 42pc of total output that year. The Net Zero scenario has production remaining roughly the same by 2030, but then falling, especially in 2040-50, and running at 1.8 trillion m³/yr by 2050, corresponding with falling gas demand under the scenario. And combined output from the US and the Middle East would still cover 57pc of global gas production. By Jon Mainwaring and Jana Cervinkova Actual and forecast gas demand in 2000-50 trillion m³/yr in Actual and forecast LNG traded volumes in 2000-50 bn m³/yr Russian exports based on BP's scenarios Current Trajector (CT) and Net Zero (NZ) bn m³/yr Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

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