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Iran JCPOA talks adjourn ahead of final push for deal

  • Market: Crude oil
  • 20/06/21

A sixth round of talks aimed at reviving the 2015 Iran nuclear deal concluded in Vienna today with a breakthrough still elusive. But Iran's deputy foreign minister, who has been leading the Iranian delegation, says the headway made to date gives him hope that an agreement can be reached when they reconvene for the next round of talks.

"In every round of talks we have made progress. Even in this round I think we made good progress," Abbas Araqchi said in the Austrian capital today. "And today, we are closer than ever to an agreement. But gaps still remain and closing those gaps will not be easy."

The negotiations began in the first week of April and have been aimed at reviving the nuclear deal, known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), by bringing both Iran and the US back into full compliance with their respective commitments.

Former US president Donald Trump pulled Washington out of the JCPOA in 2018, and reimposed crippling sanctions on Iran's key banking and oil sectors. Tehran has since responded by scaling back its compliance under the deal.

Araqchi said the delegations participating in the talks – Iran, the UK, France, Germany, Russia, China and the US – would all now return to their respective capitals to allow for more time to consult and "take decisions" before returning to Vienna for a new round of talks.

He did not say when he expected that seventh round would begin but did say that he hoped it would be the last.

"It is now clear what things are possible and what are not — so I think it is now time for all sides…to take their final decisions," he said. "And I hope that in the next round we will be able to close the remaining gaps, however difficult it might be, and reach a final conclusion."

Russia's top envoy to the talks, Mikhail Ulyanov, was equally optimistic saying an agreement was now "within reach" and that the next round "is supposed to be the final round."

New president

The next round, whenever it may come, will be the first to take place since Iran's 18 June presidential election which, as many expected, saw hardline judiciary chief Ebrahim Raisi secure a landslide win.

Of the total 28.9mn ballots cast, 61.9pc were for Raisi, according to the interior ministry — enough to see him avoid a second-round runoff. Mohsen Rezaei, his closest rival, secured just 3.4mn votes, or 11.7pc of the total.

With Raisi not set to formally take office until early August, the outgoing administration of Hassan Rohani still has more than a month to get an agreement on the JCPOA over the line.

But even if the negotiations were to require more time and spill over into beginning of Raisi's term, this should not have too much of an impact on the talks because in Iran, the president does not dictate nuclear policy. That is left to the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the country's ultimate decision-maker, who has made clear on numerous occasions his tacit support for the talks.

Raisi, too, has previously signaled his position, saying one of the new administration's "most important duties" would without a doubt be "to lift the oppressive sanctions."


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22/07/24

Iraq begins importing Turkish power to cut crude burn

Iraq begins importing Turkish power to cut crude burn

Dubai, 22 July (Argus) — Iraq's prime minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani on Sunday inaugurated a power transmission line connecting the country's northern region with Turkey, one of several steps Baghdad is taking to tackle its gruelling electricty outages and to reduce its dependence on burning crude in its power plants. The 115km line connects to a power station west of Mosul and will supply 300MW to the northern provinces of Nineveh, Salahuddin and Kirkuk during peak loads. Delayed for two decades, the project is part of Iraq's strategy to connect to neighbouring grids and "integrate into the regional energy system, allowing for diversity and exchange under various peak load conditions", al-Sudani said. Iraq's electricity minister Ziad Ali Fadel clarified today that the agreement stipulates "Turkey supplies Iraq with 300MW during summer season, while Iraq supplies Turkey with 150MW during the remainder of the year from the surplus of its electricity production". Iraq sits on massive oil reserves and is Opec's second-largest producer but it remains heavily reliant on electricity and gas imports from neighbouring countries. The US-led military invasion in 2003, the emergence of the Islamic State and record levels of corruption have all contributed to the underdevelopment of vital infrastructure in Iraq. Power outages during the summer have been a source of political turmoil often causing massive protests. Data provided by Iraq's oil ministry indicate the country burned an average of 120,000 b/d of crude in its power plants in the first half of this year. Figures from the Joint Organisations Data Initiative (Jodi) suggest Iraq's direct crude burn averaged 185,000 b/d in 2023. Earlier this year, Iraq agreed a five-year gas supply agreement with Iran for up to 50mn m³/d. Baghdad also began benefitting from 40MW of electricity supply from Jordan through a newly-established power line that became operational at the beginning of April. And it aims to "complete the connection with the Gulf Co-operation Council electric grid by the end of this year", al-Sudani said. Iraq's oil ministry said the plan is to reduce crude burn at its power stations. Baghdad said the measures will also help it to adhere to its Opec+ crude production commitments . Iraq has exceeded its Opec+ output target every month this year, and as the group's least compliant member it agreed in May to make additional cuts to compensate for prior overproduction. By Bachar Halabi Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

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Biden abandons bid for re-election: Update


21/07/24
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21/07/24

Biden abandons bid for re-election: Update

Updates with reaction Washington, 21 July (Argus) — President Joe Biden has dropped his bid for a second term and is endorsing vice president Kamala Harris to serve as his party's presidential nominee, bowing to pressure from top Democrats who no longer saw a viable path for him to defeat former president Donald Trump in the November election. Biden committed to serve out the remainder of his term, which ends on 20 January 2025. Biden's abrupt withdrawal from the presidential race will leave it up to Democratic delegates to decide who will become their nominee by no later than the Democratic National Convention on 19-22 August. "While it has been my intention to seek re-election, I believe it is in the best interest of my party and the country for me to stand down and to focus solely on fulfilling my duties as president for the remainder of my term," Biden wrote in a letter posted on the social media site X. In calling for Democrats to rally around Harris as the nominee, Biden said he was giving his "full support and endorsement" of Harris and urged Democrats to "come together and beat Trump". Other top voices in the Democratic Party have called for a "mini-primary" to allow a new candidate to emerge, but doing so could run the risk of a protracted and politically risky intraparty fight. Trump, who has spent years attacking Biden's mental competency and age, said in a post today on Truth Social that Biden is not "fit to run for President" and had never been capable to lead the country. Other Republican leaders urged Biden to resign from the White House, which would lead to Harris being sworn in as president. "If Joe Biden is not fit to run for president, he is not fit to serve as president," US House of Representatives speaker Mike Johnson (R-Louisiana) said in a post on X. "He must resign the office immediately." House minority leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-New York) called Biden "one of the most accomplished and consequential leaders in American history". Jeffries did not explicitly endorse Harris. The Democratic revolt against Biden staying in the race followed the first presidential debate last month, when Biden often appeared feeble and confused and struggled to clearly articulate his policy positions. Biden called the debate "a stupid mistake" and blamed it on his busy travel and work schedule. But efforts by Biden and his campaign to reach out to Democratic lawmakers and donors have failed to assuage their concerns. Trump has also made polling gains in must-win battleground states such as Pennsylvania and Michigan, and even threatened to be competitive in typically Democratic strongholds such as New Jersey. Biden is the first sitting US president since Lyndon Johnson in 1968 to prematurely end his re-election campaign. Biden said he would speak "in more detail" later this week about his decision. The Trump campaign had already started preparing for the possibility that Biden would drop out of the race after the presidential debate last month. Last week, a senior adviser for the Trump campaign declined to set a date for the vice presidential debate, saying it would be "unfair" to "whoever Kamala Harris picks as her running mate", in a taunting reference to the uncertainty of Biden's candidacy. By Chris Knight and Haik Gugarats Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

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Israel strikes Yemen’s Houthi-held Red Sea port city


21/07/24
News
21/07/24

Israel strikes Yemen’s Houthi-held Red Sea port city

Dubai, 21 July (Argus) — Israel's military on Saturday struck Houthi-controlled Red Sea port of Hodeidah in Yemen, in retaliation for a drone attack by the Iran-backed militant group on Tel Aviv a day earlier, further stoking heightened geopolitical tensions in a key shipping lane for the global economy. Israel's airstrikes targeted "the power station that supplies the coastal city of Hodeidah" and also "the Hodeidah port and fuel tanks," Houthi spokesperson Yahya Saree said. The Houthi-run Al Masirah TV broadcast live footage of flames and smoke raging in the port's oil storage facilities that it said were hit. Saree vowed an "inevitable" and "huge" retaliation to Israel's assault. Saree also claimed on Sunday that the group fired ballistic missiles targeting Eilat in southern Israel. Israel's Defence Forces (IDF) said on Sunday it intercepted a "surface-to-surface missile that approached Israeli territory from Yemen." The IDF on 20 July officially claimed the attack on Houthi-controlled Yemeni territory. "After 9 months of continuous aerial attacks by the Houthis in Yemen toward Israel, IAF [Israeli air force] fighter jets conducted an extensive operational strike over 1,800km away against Houthi terrorist military targets in the area of Al Hudaydah Port in Yemen," the IDF said. "This port serves as an entryway for Iranian weapons for the Houthi terrorist regime," the IDF said, and Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu made similar remarks in a televised speech. Houthi spokesperson and chairman of Al Masirah media network Mohammed Abdulsalam in a statement on social media platform X said that the Israeli attack targeted "civilian facilities." He also vowed that the attacks will only "increase the determination of the Houthis to ramp up their support for Gaza." Yemen's crude production collapsed soon after the start of the country's civil war, from around 170,000 b/d in 2011-13. The Houthi group uses Hodeidah's port to import some needed fuel oil shipments, with data from analytics firm Kpler suggesting the port received two shipments totalling 156,000 bls between June and July. Hodeidah is also an entry port for humanitarian fuel and food deliveries under the UN auspices, which are then distributed both to the internationally-recognized government of Yemen and to the Houthi authorities. Video footage posted on social media appear to show long queues in front of gas stations in Houthi-controlled areas, in anticipation of a possible fuel shortage closing in. Yemen's internationally recognized and Saudi-backed governing body condemned Israel's attack in a statement. It also renewed its warning to "the terrorist Houthi militias against continuing to tie Yemenis' fate in service of the Iranian regime's interests and its expansionist project in the region." Saudi Arabia's defense ministry on Sunday denied any relation or involvement in the targeting of Hodeidah, adding that the country will not allow any entity to violate its airspace. Yemen's Houthis on 19 July claimed responsibility for a drone attack in central Tel Aviv in Israel that claimed the life of one citizen and injured eight, according to the IDF. It marked a significant escalation that risked a regional spillover of the 10-month conflict between Israel and Palestinian group Hamas, especially with Israel highlighting the Iranian origin of the UAV. Israel and Iran avoided a full-blown war in April after a significant escalation led to exchanging direct aerial strikes against each other's territory. But the IDF attack opens yet another area of confrontation for Israel in the region in the aftermath of the 10-month conflict between between Israel and Palestinian group Hamas. Iran-backed Houthis began attacking commercial ships in and around the Red Sea six weeks after the Israel-Hamas war broke out in October last year in what they claim is an act of solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza. Houthis are part of Tehran's so-called 'Axis of Resistance,' a regional proxy network that includes the Gaza-based Hamas militant group, Lebanon's Hezbollah and Iraqi Shia militias. By Bachar Halabi Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

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Biden abandons bid for re-election


21/07/24
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21/07/24

Biden abandons bid for re-election

Washington, 21 July (Argus) — President Joe Biden has dropped his bid for a second term and is endorsing vice president Kamala Harris to serve as his party's presidential nominee, bowing to pressure from top Democrats who no longer saw a viable path for him to defeat former president Donald Trump in the November election. Biden committed to serve out the remainder of his term, which ends on 20 January 2025. Biden's abrupt withdrawal from the presidential race will leave it up to Democratic delegates to decide who will become their nominee by no later than the Democratic National Convention on 19-22 August. "While it has been my intention to seek re-election, I believe it is in the best interest of my party and the country for me to stand down and to focus solely on fulfilling my duties as president for the remainder of my term," Biden wrote in a letter posted on the social media site X. In calling for Democrats to rally around Harris as the nominee, Biden said he was giving his "full support and endorsement" of Harris and urged Democrats to "come together and beat Trump". Other top voices in the Democratic Party have called for a "mini-primary" to allow a new candidate to emerge, but doing so could run the risk of a protracted and politically risky intraparty fight. The Democratic revolt against Biden staying in the race followed the first presidential debate last month, when Biden often appeared feeble and confused and struggled to clearly articulate his policy positions. Biden called the debate "a stupid mistake" and blamed it on his busy travel and work schedule. But efforts by Biden and his campaign to reach out to Democratic lawmakers and donors have failed to assuage their concerns. Trump has also made polling gains in must-win battleground states such as Pennsylvania and Michigan, and even threatened to be competitive in typically Democratic strongholds such as New Jersey. Biden is the first sitting US president since Lyndon Johnson in 1968 to prematurely end his re-election campaign. Biden said he would speak "in more detail" later this week about his decision. The Trump campaign had already started preparing for the possibility that Biden would drop out of the race after the presidential debate last month. Last week, a senior adviser for the Trump campaign declined to set a date for the vice presidential debate, saying it would be "unfair" to "whoever Kamala Harris picks as her running mate", in a taunting reference to the uncertainty of Biden's candidacy. By Chris Knight and Haik Gugarats Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

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ExxonMobil Joliet refinery may be limited for 3 weeks


19/07/24
News
19/07/24

ExxonMobil Joliet refinery may be limited for 3 weeks

Houston, 19 July (Argus) — It could take up to three weeks for ExxonMobil's 252,000 b/d Joliet refinery in Channahon, Illinois, to resume normal operations after severe weather caused a facility-wide shutdown Monday . The company has limited its unbranded fuel supply in the region and placed customers on allocation, according to buyers. Restoring power and ramping-up the refinery to full operations could take up to three weeks, lasting well into August. ExxonMobil confirmed this afternoon that power has not been restored to the plant and previously declined to comment on a time line for a return to normal operations as it assesses damage at the plant. Channahon's emergency management director told Argus that Monday's tornado skirted the refinery and it faced no direct damage. US Interstate 55 which borders Exxon's refinery was closed due to downed power lines, but these have since been cleared and the road re-opened. By Nathan Risser Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

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