WEEKLY ENERGY RECAP: All eyes on OPEC’s meet next week

OPEC’s own forecast for global oil demand growth remains unchanged in 2020 at 1.08 million bpd. (AFP)
Updated 30 November 2019

WEEKLY ENERGY RECAP: All eyes on OPEC’s meet next week

  • OPEC will meet next week on Dec. 5-6

Although Brent crude dropped below $63 per barrel by the week closing, oil prices are still very close to the levels that prevailed around OPEC’s meeting six months ago when an output cut rollover was suggested till March 2020.

OPEC will meet next week on Dec. 5-6 and so far the efforts of the OPEC+ group of producers have been successful in absorbing the market surplus.

At the end of 2016 OECD stocks were 299 million barrels above the latest five-year average, which was OPEC’s key measure for its oil output strategy for those three years.

OECD commercial oil stocks for March 2018 were 40 million barrels below the latest five-year average, which meant that the OPEC+ output cuts of 1.8 million barrels per day (bpd) since January 2017 were successful in driving OECD commercial oil stocks below the five-year average within just 15 months of the new  production cut strategy.

The continuing efforts in the past three years have ensured that the market is in balance and preventing any surplus building up.

By January this year OECD commercial oil stocks were at 19 million barrels above the latest five-year average — which coincided with the latest OPEC+ output cuts of 1.2 million bpd.

According to the OPEC monthly oil market report  of November 2019, OECD commercial oil stocks stand at 28.2 million barrels above the latest five-year average. This means that OECD commercial crude stocks have been increasing regardless of OPEC+ output cuts. However, OPEC monthly reports forecast a sharp fall in calls on its crude in the first half of next year, while non-OPEC supply is set to increase ahead of weak global demand growth.

OPEC’s own forecast for global oil demand growth remains unchanged in 2020 at 1.08 million bpd, but demand is projected to be flat in the first and second quarter, when non-OPEC supply is set to rise by 1.79 million bpd.

However, there are many non-OPEC supply uncertainties in 2020. 

According to OPEC’s own outlook, a rollover remains the most likely outcome of the 177th meeting.

• Faisal Faeq is an energy and oil marketing adviser. He was formerly with OPEC and Saudi Aramco. Twitter:@faisalfaeq


A Jordan startup delivers eco-friendly alternative to dry cleaning

Updated 05 December 2019

A Jordan startup delivers eco-friendly alternative to dry cleaning

  • Products used by WashyWash are non-carcinogenic and environmentally neutral
  • Amman-based laundry service aims to relocate to a larger facility in mid-2020

AMMAN: A persistent sinus problem prompted a Jordanian entrepreneur to launch an eco-friendly dry-cleaning service that could help end the widespread use of a dangerous chemical.

“Dry cleaning” is somewhat of a misnomer because it is not really dry. It is true that no water is involved in the process, but the main cleaning agent is perchloroethylene (PERC), a chemical that experts consider likely to cause cancer, as well as brain and nervous system damage.

Kamel Almani, 33, knew little of these dangers when he began suffering from sinus irritation while working as regional sales director at Eon Aligner, a medical equipment startup he co-founded.

The problem would disappear when he went on vacation, so he assumed it was stress related.

However, when Mazen Darwish, a chemical engineer, revealed he wanted to start an eco-laundry and warned about toxic chemicals used in conventional dry cleaning, Almani had an epiphany.

“He began to tell me how PERC affects the respiratory system, and I suddenly realized that it was the suits I wore for work — and which I would get dry cleaned — that were the cause of my sinus problems,” said Almani, co-founder of Amman-based WashyWash.

“That was the eureka moment. We immediately wanted to launch the business.”

WashyWash began operations in early 2018 with five staff, including the three co-founders: Almani, Darwish and Kayed Qunibi. The business now has 19 employees and became cash flow-positive in July this year.

“We’re very happy to achieve that in under two years,” Almani said.

The service uses EcoClean products that are certified as toxin-free, are biodegradable and cause no air, water or soil pollution.

Customers place orders through an app built in-house by the company’s technology team.

WashyWash collects customers’ dirty clothes, and cleans, irons and returns them. Services range from the standard wash-and-fold to specialized dry cleaning for garments and cleaning of carpets, curtains, duvets and leather goods.

“For wet cleaning, we use environmentally friendly detergents that are biodegradable, so the wastewater doesn’t contain any toxic chemicals,” Almani said.

For dry cleaning, WashyWash uses a modified hydrocarbon manufactured by Germany’s Seitz, whose product is non-carcinogenic and environmentally neutral.

A specialized company collects the waste and disposes of it safely.

The company has big ambitions, planning to expand its domestic operations and go international. Its Amman site can process about 1,000 items daily, but WashyWash will relocate to larger premises in mid-2020, which should treble its capacity.

“We’ve built a front-end app, a back-end system and a driver app along with a full facility management system. We plan to franchise that and have received interest from many countries,” Almani said.

“People visiting Amman used our service, loved it, and wanted an opportunity to launch in their countries.”

WashyWash has received financial backing from angel investors and is targeting major European cities initially.

“An eco-friendly, on-demand dry-cleaning app isn’t available worldwide, so good markets might be London, Paris or Frankfurt,” Almani said.

 

• The Middle East Exchange is one of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum Global Initiatives that was launched to reflect the vision of the UAE prime minister and ruler of Dubai in the field of humanitarian
and global development, to explore the possibility of changing the status of the Arab region. The initiative offers the press a series of articles on issues affecting Arab societies.