Aramco chief sees demand for oil staying above 100m barrels

Aramco CEO Amin Nasser said he expected global oil demand to stay above the 100 million barrels threshold as the rise of the global middle class spurred demand for energy. (File/AFP)
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Updated 23 January 2020

Aramco chief sees demand for oil staying above 100m barrels

  • A panel on the global energy outlook at the WEF in Davos heard that renewable energy alone would not be able to meet rising demand for power as more people moved into the middle class
  • The panel also heard that coal, not oil, remained the biggest source of carbon emissions

DAVOS: Aramco CEO Amin Nasser said he expected global oil demand to stay above the 100 million barrels threshold as the rise of the global middle class spurred demand for energy.
A panel on the global energy outlook at the World Economic Forum in Davos heard that renewable energy alone would not be able to meet rising demand for power as more people moved into the middle class.
“There will be additional demand and the only way to meet it is if you continue to provide affordable, reliable and viable energy to the rest of the world,” said the Aramco CEO.
“There is good penetration from renewables and electric cars are picking up however you need to consider what is happening in the world. There are still an additional 2 billion people coming. There are currently 3 billion people using biomass, animal dung, kerosene for cooking and there are 1 billion people today without electricity and almost 50 percent of people have never flown in an aeroplane.”
The panel heard that coal, not oil, remained the biggest source of carbon emissions but that the location of many coal-fired power plants in developing Asian economies meant that reducing its impact was a major challenge.
“The number one source of emissions by far is the coal fire power plants – they alone are responsible for one third of emissions,” said International Energy Agency Executive Director Fatih Birol. “But they are in many cases the number one source of electricity generation in low income countries - so this is not a black and white issue.”


Oil-rich wealth funds seen shedding up to $225 billion in stocks

Updated 30 March 2020

Oil-rich wealth funds seen shedding up to $225 billion in stocks

  • Risking more losses is not an option for some funds from oil-producing nations

LONDON: Sovereign wealth funds from oil-producing countries mainly in the Middle East and Africa are on course to dump up to $225 billion in equities, a senior banker estimates, as plummeting oil prices and the coronavirus pandemic hit state finances.

The rapid spread of the virus has ravaged the global economy, sending markets into a tailspin and costing both oil and non-oil based sovereign wealth funds around $1 trillion in equity losses, according to JPMorgan strategist Nikolaos Panigirtzoglou.

His estimates are based on data from sovereign wealth funds and figures from the Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute, a research group.

Sticking with equity investments and risking more losses is not an option for some funds from oil-producing nations. Their governments are facing a financial double-whammy — falling revenues due to the spiraling oil price and rocketing spending as administrations rush out emergency budgets.

Around $100-$150 billion in stocks have likely been offloaded by oil-producer sovereign wealth funds, excluding Norway’s fund, in recent weeks, Panigirtzoglou said, and a further $50-$75 billion will likely be sold in the coming months.

“It makes sense for sovereign funds to frontload their selling, as you don’t want to be selling your assets at a later stage when it is more likely to have distressed valuations,” he said.

Most oil-based funds are required to keep substantial cash-buffers in place in case a collapse in oil prices triggers a request from the government for funding.

A source at an oil-based sovereign fund said it had been gradually raising its liquidity position since oil prices began drifting lower from their most recent peak above $70 a barrel in October 2018.

In addition to the cash reserves, additional liquidity was typically drawn firstly from short-term money market instruments like treasury bills and then from passively invested equity as a last resort, the source said.

It’s generally a similar trend for other funds.

“Our investor flows broadly show more resilience than market pricing would suggest,” said Elliot Hentov, head of policy research at State Street Global Advisers. “There has been a shift toward cash since the crisis started, but it’s not a panic move but rather gradual.”

The sovereign fund source said the fund had made adjustments to its actively managed equity investments due to the market rout, both to stem losses and position for the recovery, when it comes.

Exactly how much sovereign wealth funds invest and with whom remain undisclosed. Many don’t even report the value of the assets they manage.

On Thursday, the Norwegian sovereign wealth fund said it had lost $124 billion so far this year as equity markets sunk but its outgoing CEO Yngve Slyngstad said it would, at some point, start buying stocks to get its portfolio back to its target equity allocation of 70 percent from 65 percent currently.

Slyngstad also said that any fiscal spending by the government this year would be financed by selling bonds in its portfolio.