From the rise of China to the fate of crypto, Future Investment Initiative offered glimpses of a world in transition

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experts discussed cryptocurrency at the Future Investment Initiative forum in Riyadh on Oct. 27, 2022. (AN photo)
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experts discussed cryptocurrency at the Future Investment Initiative forum in Riyadh on Oct. 27, 2022. (AN photo)
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Updated 28 October 2022

From the rise of China to the fate of crypto, Future Investment Initiative offered glimpses of a world in transition

  • Experts unpacked Africa’s green energy transition and the unifying power of football on closing day of FII
  • FII panel examined China’s precise place in the “new global order” and how the Middle East might collaborate

RIYADH: The third and final day of the Future Investment Initiative (FII) forum in Riyadh saw experts unpack issues running the gamut from China’s rise to superpower status and the fluctuating fortunes of cryptocurrency to Africa’s green energy transition.

One session, titled “China is back,” sought to figure out China’s precise place in the “new global order” and how the Middle East might collaborate with the Asian power to enhance its own position, and potentially provide a bridge between the East and West.

Earlier this year, the Chinese city of Shanghai went into lockdown following a new outbreak of the omicron variant of COVID-19 Since then, citizens of other major cities across the country have been ordered to stay home, bringing local economies to a standstill.




Security personnel in protective suits stand at the gate of a residential compound that is under lockdown as outbreaks of COVID-19 continue in Beijing. (REUTERS)

While other nations have sought to drive down COVID-19 infections through a mixture of mass vaccination and public awareness campaigns, China has implemented a policy of “zero COVID,” resulting in multiple highly disruptive lockdowns.

Such is the size and far-reaching influence of the modern Chinese economy and its dominant role in global supply chains, as well as manufacturing, that the impact of these lockdowns has been felt around the world.

Despite global stress in the wake of the pandemic and the war in Ukraine, China’s economy has grown apace, while its soft power influence from Central Asia to Africa has continued to spread.




Half of the Africa’s population does not have access to electricity, yet there is immense potential, Marlene Ngoyi (right), CEO of the Fund for Export-Development in Africa (FEDA), told the forum. (Supplied)

Experts on Thursday’s panel agreed that Chinese expertise and success in technology, including artificial intelligence, digitization, robotics and automation, has given it a strategic presence and immense influence in the global economy.

At the same time, China is one of the world’s biggest oil importers, with more than 40 percent of its crude oil imported from the Gulf states. There are also plans to forge closer ties between China and Saudi Arabia in green technologies and digitization.

“Coming here, my first question was what can I do in this region and fulfill demand in this region,” Cathay Capital founder and Chairman Ming-Po Cai, who has many years of experience in developing China-entry strategies for multinational companies, told the panel.




Production of renewable energy is one of the main thrusts of Saudi Arabia's Vision 2030 program. (SPA file photo)

“Within three days, I met dozens of local actors, entrepreneurs in AI, logistics and local funds. I realized that here you have to bring the ecosystem, it’s not just one technology, one deal or one investor here or there, you have to bring the start up with the company.”

One area where many countries are investing heavily in is cryptocurrency — a form of digital currency designed to work as a medium of exchange through a computer network that is not reliant on any central authority, such as a government or bank, to uphold or maintain it.

Although cryptocurrencies have been gaining traction worldwide in recent years, offering the potential to reshape the investment landscape, several of these currencies have suffered extreme volatility, in large part owing to shocks in the real economy.




Cryptocurrencies have been gaining traction worldwide in recent years. (AFP file)

Nevertheless, recent gains in non-traditional crypto investment hubs such as Russia, Spain and France have shown that cryptocurrencies still hold huge appeal for investors.

“A lot of people like to talk about once-in-a-generational opportunities,” Hany Rashwan, co-founder and CEO of 21Shares, told another panel, titled “Building a better crypto economy.”

“If you look at history, reserve currencies in the financial system do not often change once in a generation. And so, crypto, to me, is a world-changing technology and it’s more of a once-in-a-century kind of opportunity.

“We have to really remember that it is possible to innovate outside of central banks and still abide by all the laws and regulations that are put in place, to make our daily lives more comfortable.”




21Shares co-founder and CEO Hany Rashwan speaks during the forum. (@FIIKSA illustration image)

As of September 2021, the total market value of all crypto assets surpassed $2 trillion, having largely weathered the volatile and unpredictable political, economic and technological fluctuations witnessed since it first appeared more than a decade ago.

Although the cryptocurrency space as a whole is still viewed as an unknown territory in finance, several speakers on Thursday’s panel argued that crypto should be allowed in portfolios, be traded and become properly regulated.

For Rashwan, the world may have reached a turning point whereby “it might be time to think of this as another asset class.”

Much of the instability observed in the real economy this past year has been the result of energy price fluctuations, owed in large part to the war in Ukraine and the resulting Western sanctions placed on Russia — a major oil and gas supplier to Europe and beyond.




Inflation, in the form of higher prices for gas, food, and other consumer goods, has set in in many economies of the world as a result of the Russian war on Ukraine. (AFP file) 

However, higher energy prices appear to have accelerated the transition toward renewables, including wind, solar and hydrogen. Nowhere is this rapid adoption perhaps more obvious than in Africa — a continent that has been uniquely vulnerable to the global economic storm.

Experts believe that demand for renewables in Africa could increase by as much as 30 percent over the coming two decades, compared to a 10 percent increase globally. This is due to rapid population growth and industrialization.

Despite the expected increase in energy demand, Africa has 60 percent of the world’s best solar resources but only 1 percent of solar generation capacity, according to the International Energy Agency.




A Nigerian soldier guards a solar plant supplying electricity to an irrigation pumping project in the northern desert of Niger. (AFP)

“When you look at Africa today, it’s home to 1.8 billion people and we’re expected to be 2 billion by 2040,” Marlene Ngoyi, CEO of FEDA, told a panel, titled “Africa focus: Trade and energy.”

At present, half of the continent’s population does not have access to electricity, yet there is immense potential, “as Africa is a key player in energy,” said Ngoyi. “When you think about the green economy and transition to electric vehicles, cobalt is required and more than 60 percent of the mining resource is in the DRC and Zambia.”

Although Africa accounts for the smallest share of global greenhouse emissions, at just 3.8 percent, Ngoyi said many states across the continent are dependent on oil and gas. Governments need to be pragmatic in order to make the transition to alternative forms of energy, she added.




FIFA is the ‘biggest show on earth.’ (AN combo image)

From energy to sports, the diversity of topics at the sixth edition of FII did not disappoint. With the FIFA World Cup just around the corner, the forum’s final panels examined football as a tool for social progress and economic development, transcending generations, cultures and communities.

“Football is much more than a sport and FIFA is the biggest show on earth,” FIFA President Giovanni Infantino told the forum in a video address.

 

 

“This World Cup is not just the World Cup of Qatar. It’s that of the entire Middle East and the Gulf where the entire world will unite itself here. People will get to discover the Gulf, the people, the rich culture and an opportunity for Qatar and the GCC region to represent itself to the world in another light.”

 

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Mideast’s share of renewables in energy mix to double by 2030: SAEE chairman

Updated 05 February 2023

Mideast’s share of renewables in energy mix to double by 2030: SAEE chairman

  • Region plays crucial role as it continues supplying hydrocarbons as the world enters a new energy system

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia is committed to driving energy transition using renewables but not at the cost of traditional fuels as the world needs adequate supply to meet its demand, according to a top official of a Saudi energy body.  

In an exclusive interview with Arab News, the Saudi Association of Energy Economics Chairman Majeed Al-Moneef said that the Kingdom, and the Middle East region as a whole, will be at the forefront of both traditional and renewable energy sources, as it steadily progresses in achieving sustainable goals.  

“We will follow the world trend in increasing the share of renewables in our energy mix. But that will not be done by sacrificing our oil and gas sectors, but along with the development of our oil and gas sectors,” said Al-Moneef.  

The chairman of SAEE which works toward building capabilities in energy economics said the Middle East region is playing a crucial role in the energy transition journey, as it continues supplying hydrocarbons which are pivotal as the world enters a new energy system. 

“We have the Saudi Green Initiative and Middle East Green Initiative. So, we are an important player in traditional energy sources and renewable energy sources. We will be in the forefront of both.”  

He further pointed out that countries in the Middle East region are now heavily investing simultaneously in traditional fuels like oil and gas and renewable energy sources including hydrogen.  

Al-Moneef expects that the share of renewables in the energy mix in almost all regional countries will double or triple by 2030.  

Talking about Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030, the SAEE chairman said a massive socioeconomic and institutional transformation is taking place across all sectors including energy as the objective is to diversify the economy. “We have got new energy resources like renewables, hydrogen, carbon sequestration and carbon management. They are the sectors of tomorrow. So, we are investing in future energy.”  

This comes as Saudi Arabia is leapfrogging in sustainable energy generation while setting a net-zero target for 2060. 

Al-Moneef pointed out that the region’s financial institutions including corporates, government financing, and multi-regional financing institutions have a crucial role to play in renewable energy projects to achieve sustainable goals within the stipulated timeline.  

IAEE International Conference 

SAEE which works toward facilitating dialogue among various stakeholders is hosting the International Conference of the International Association for Energy Economics for the first time in the Middle East and North Africa region in Riyadh with the King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center. 

Al-Moneef sounded confident that the IAEE conference which begins on Feb. 4 will witness a record number of participants.  

“This conference will have the largest registration in the history of energy economic conferences. This is the first time that such a conference is being held in the region. So, this is a testament to the importance of Saudi Arabia and the region in the global energy sector,” he said. 

Al-Moneef revealed that regional universities will present scientific papers during the event, and added that events like these hold significance as “they will accelerate the participation of more regional research institutions, individuals and students in the energy sector.”  

Majeed Al-Moneef, chairman of the Saudi Association of Energy Economics. (Supplied)

He disclosed that they had two major meetings involving all the universities in Saudi Arabia to encourage them to submit papers. “We tried to have a wide representation of the region. So, we have good numbers. As a matter of fact, something close to 40 percent of papers is from Saudi Arabia and the region.”   

The SAEE chairman pointed out that the purpose of the conference is to encourage research in energy economics in the region. “That was our main goal. The field of energy economics is of crucial importance to the region, and we should have more researchers in the research institutions, individuals, and students who are engaged in that subject matter.”  

He revealed that the conference will hold special plenary sessions on investment and trade in the energy sector, “as the conflict in Ukraine has changed the trade flows of oil and gas globally.”  

Al-Moneef further pointed out that Saudi Arabia and the region as a whole will host more similar events related to energy economics in the future.  

“As a matter of fact, one of the outcomes of this conference will be to have annual regional conferences in the Middle East. So, one of the outcomes will be to institutionalize a MENA Middle Easy symposium to be held every year,” he said.  

Saudi Arabia is leapfrogging in sustainable energy generation. (SPA)

Al-Moneef noted that Saudi Arabia will be on the organizing committee for the MENA Energy Economics conference that will be held every year, and the Kingdom will make sure that researchers from the institutions in the nation will participate in these upcoming events.  

Regional cooperation  

Talking about the necessity to ramp up power generation and increase the efficiency of energy usage, Al-Moneef stressed that sufficient investments are needed to elevate efficiency “so that the production process will be clean, and efficient with the least cost possible.”  

He also highlighted that international and regional cooperation is very crucial to ensure the growing power demand in the future.  

Al-Moneef who had served in multiple high-profile positions including the Secretary General of the Supreme Economic Council of Saudi Arabia, Governor of Saudi Arabia in the Board of Governors of OPEC, stressed the need to create a common grid that will solve power-generating issues. "It will allow countries with power scarcity to secure help from nations that produce excess power.”  

He added that a common energy market will be soon materialized in the Middle East region, supported by a proper regulatory framework.  

According to him, promoting regional cooperation in the energy field is the key to a new Middle East. “And we have to improve the transportation lines.”  

For Al-Moneef, what the region needs is the proper regulatory framework. “Europe has done it. They have put in place the regulatory framework to see to it that there is a common energy market. We can have someday a common Middle East energy market. We are capable of doing it,” he signed off.  


Almana set to expand network of hospitals outside of the Eastern Province: CEO

Updated 03 February 2023

Almana set to expand network of hospitals outside of the Eastern Province: CEO

RIYADH: As part of its five-year plan, Almana Group of Hospitals, one of the oldest and largest medical groups in Saudi Arabia, is set to expand its network of hospitals, its CEO told Arab News in an exclusive interview. 

Being the first private medical center established in the Eastern Province, the group’s initial focus will be on exploring opportunities for a new hospital outside of the eastern region within the next few years with the view to expanding into other areas following that, Mana Almana informed.

“We are strongly aligned with the vision of our great leaders and stand ready to support the government to build capacity within the sector due to our expanding facilities and offerings tailored to the evolving needs of our communities,” he said.

Almana added: “We recognize that to meet the future needs of the medical sector, we need to partner with world-renowned healthcare institutions to help us accelerate and further develop the Kingdom’s healthcare system.” 

Not surprisingly, the group is also seeking to partner with the Ministry of Health under public-private partnerships to deliver advanced and specialist services.

As the only dedicated oncology unit in eastern Saudi Arabia, the group has recently expanded its specialists department in Dammam to cater to cancer patients’ mounting needs in the region. 

CEO Mana Almana. (Supplied)

“When it comes to oncology, Almana’s goal is to provide cancer patients with the highest international standard of care and cater to the growing need for cancer care in the Kingdom,” Almana said. 

“As such, in addition to our existing seven hospitals and clinics, we decided to create a dedicated space where patients could receive individualized and tailored treatment within a centralized and fully-fledged unit.” 

The new oncology center has been designed with the complexity of cancer in mind. By bringing the group’s 70 specialized oncologists under one roof, it can provide personalized treatments and precision fit for specific types of cancer. 

The new unit will include four new clinics specializing in medical oncology, radiation and surgical oncology in addition to four chemotherapy treatment rooms. 

“Besides providing exceptional treatment for patients, we also focus our efforts on preventive cancer care measures,” Almana explained. 

“Our efforts include free year-round breast-cancer screenings at all branches of Almana hospitals in Dammam, Alkhobar, Ahsa, Jubail and Rakah,” he continued. “Over the years, our free screening has touched the lives of over 10,000 patients, potentially helping to save even more lives.” 

In line with the ambition of Saudi Vision 2030 to unify patient care records and improve health information exchange, the group is investing heavily in technology within its hospitals to ensure all services will be automated while providing seamless service for its patients.

“We are also establishing a new central command center to improve patient outcomes by coordinating care between our hospital locations,” Almana informed. 

“As a group of hospitals, we continuously foster a culture of innovation to create value in areas of high unmet medical need across the Kingdom. For example, we’ve created unique offerings where they currently don’t exist such as our foot disease and diabetes center, the only one in the region,” he continued.

In addition, the group is also taking several steps to train and recruit medical professionals. 

“We also share the ambition of Saudi Vision 2030 to increase the number of females within the workforce,” Almana said. “Already, we have females leading our medical departments and are looking to increase this even further by 20 percent over the next five years.” 

“Over the last 10 years, we’ve also helped develop the next generation of doctors and nurses in the Kingdom through our official healthcare training academy, Mohammed Almana College for Medical Science, which contributes to over 180 Saudi graduate nurses each year,” he pointed out.

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Who is Hindenburg, the firm targeting India’s Adani?

Updated 03 February 2023

Who is Hindenburg, the firm targeting India’s Adani?

  • Hindenburg is an investment research firm with a focus on activist short-selling. It looks for corruption or fraud in the business world, such as accounting irregularities and bad actors in management, and It can make money out of its work

NEW YORK: Hindenburg Research, the financial research firm with an explosive name and a track record of sending the stock prices of its targets tumbling, is taking on one of the world’s richest men.
Hindenburg is back in the headlines after last week accusing Indian conglomerate Adani Group of “a brazen stock manipulation and accounting fraud scheme.” It cited two years of research, including talks with former Adani senior executives and reviews of thousands of documents.
The Adani Group has blasted the accusations, calling them “a malicious combination of selective misinformation and stale, baseless and discredited allegations that have been tested and rejected by India’s highest courts.”
Nevertheless, Hindenburg’s scorching allegations have caused the fortune of Adani Group’s founder, Gautam Adani, to slide by nearly $47 billion in just over a week, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires index. Here’s a look at the firm behind all the movement:
What is it?
Hindenburg says it specializes in “forensic financial research.” In layman’s terms, it looks for corruption or fraud in the business world, such as accounting irregularities and bad actors in management.
Hindenburg has even come to be known as Ponzi hunters in some circles, according to the Washington Post, which detailed how it helped bring down an alleged $500 million scheme that targeted Mormons.
Where did its name come from?
The firm says it sees the Hindenburg, the airship that famously caught fire in the 1930s to the cry of “Oh, the humanity,” as the “epitome of a totally man-made, totally avoidable disaster.” It says it looks for similar disasters in financial markets “before they lure in more unsuspecting victims.”
Who else has Hindenburg gone after?
It’s perhaps most famous for a 2020 report on Nikola, a company in the electric-vehicle industry whose founder Hindenburg said made misleading claims to ink partnerships with top auto companies hungry to catch up to Tesla.
Among its allegations, Hindenburg accused Nikola of staging a video to calm skepticism about its truck, one that showed the vehicle cruising on a road. Hindenburg said the video was actually just showing the truck rolling down a hill after getting towed to the top.
What has come of such accusations?
For Nikola, quick scrutiny from the government and investors.
The company and its founder, Trevor Milton, received grand jury subpoenas from the US Attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York and the N.Y. County District Attorney’s Office shortly after Hindenburg released its report.
The Securities and Exchange Commission also soon issued subpoenas to Nikola’s directors.
Milton was convicted this past October of charges he deceived investors with exaggerated claims about his company’s progress in producing zero-emission 18-wheel trucks fueled by electricity or hydrogen.
And Nikola in late 2021 agreed to pay $125 million to settle SEC charges that it defrauded investors by misleading them about its products, technical advancements, and commercial prospects.
What does Hindenburg get out of this?
It can make money. In its Adani report, it said that it had taken a “short position in Adani Group Companies” through bonds that trade in the US and other investments that trade outside India.
It has made similar “short” bets against other companies it published unflattering reports on. A “short” trade is a way for someone to make money if an investment’s price falls. Afterward, if the price of a company’s stock or bonds falls because of the negative attention from the report, Hindenburg can profit.
Such short sellers have been criticized for unfairly pushing down prices of stocks with potentially unfounded allegations. But proponents also call them a healthy part of a stock market, keeping stock prices in check and preventing them from running too high.


Adani’s market losses top $100 billion as crisis shockwaves spread

Updated 03 February 2023

Adani’s market losses top $100 billion as crisis shockwaves spread

  • Mukesh Ambani of Reliance Industries is now Asia’s richest person as Adani Group chairman's net worth plunges
  • S&P Dow Jones Indices said it would remove Adani Enterprises from widely used sustainability indices

NEW DELHI/MUMBAI: Adani’s market losses swelled above $100 billion on Thursday, sparking worries about a potential systemic impact a day after the Indian group’s flagship firm abandoned its $2.5 billion stock offering.
Another challenge for Adani on Thursday came when S&P Dow Jones Indices said it would remove Adani Enterprises from widely used sustainability indices, effective Feb. 7, which would make the shares less appealing to sustainability-minded funds.
In addition, India’s National Stock Exchange said it has placed on additional surveillance shares of Adani Enterprises , Adani Ports and Ambuja Cements .
However, Adani Group Chairman Gautam Adani is in talks with lenders to prepay and release pledged shares as he seeks to restore confidence in the financial health of his conglomerate, Bloomberg News reported on Thursday.
The shock withdrawal of Adani Enterprises’ share sale marks a dramatic setback for founder Adani, the school dropout-turned-billionaire whose fortunes rose rapidly in recent years but have plunged in just a week after a critical research report by US-based short-seller Hindenburg Research.


ALSO READ: Who is Hindenburg, the firm targeting India’s Adani?


Aborting the share sale sent shockwaves across markets, politics and business. Adani stocks plunged, opposition lawmakers called for a wider probe and India’s central bank sprang into action to check on the exposure of banks to the group. Meanwhile, Citigroup’s wealth unit stopped making margin loans to clients against Adani Group securities.

The crisis marks an dramatic turn of fortune for Adani, who has in recent years forged partnerships with foreign giants such as France’s TotalEnergies and attracted investors such as Abu Dhabi’s International Holding Company as he pursues a global expansion stretching from ports to the power sector.
In a shock move late on Wednesday, Adani called off the share sale as a stocks rout sparked by Hindenburg’s criticisms intensified, despite it being fully subscribed a day earlier.
“Adani may have started a confidence crisis in Indian shares and that could have broader market implications,” said Ipek Ozkardeskaya, senior market analyst at Swissquote Bank.
Adani Enterprises shares tumbled 27 percent on Thursday, closing at their lowest level since March 2022.

Other group companies also lost further ground, with 10 percent losses at Adani Total Gas, Adani Green Energy and Adani Transmission, while Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone shed nearly 7 percent.
Since Hindenburg’s report on Jan. 24, group companies have lost nearly half their combined market value. Adani Enterprises — described as an incubator of Adani’s businesses — has lost $26 billion in market capitalization.
Adani is also no longer Asia’s richest person, having slid to 16th in the Forbes rankings of the world’s wealthiest people, with his net worth almost halved to $64.6 billion in a week.
The 60-year-old had been third on the list, behind billionaires Elon Musk and Bernard Arnault.
His rival Mukesh Ambani of Reliance Industries is now Asia’s richest person.

Mukesh Ambani, chairman oil-to-telecom conglomerate Reliance Industries, is now Asia''s richest person. (AFP) file)


Broader concerns
Adani’s plummeting stock and bond prices have raised concerns about the likelihood of a wider impact on India’s financial system.
India’s central bank has asked local banks for details of their exposure to the Adani Group, government and banking sources told Reuters on Thursday.
CLSA estimates that Indian banks were exposed to about 40 percent of the $24.5 billion of Adani Group debt in the fiscal year to March 2022.
Dollar bonds issued by entities of Adani Group extended losses on Thursday, with notes of Adani Green Energy crashing to a record low. Adani Group entities made scheduled coupon payments on outstanding US dollar-denominated bonds on Thursday, Reuters reported citing sources.
“We see the market is losing confidence on how to gauge where the bottom can be and although there will be short-covering rebounds, we expect more fundamental downside risks given more private banks (are) likely to cut or reduce margin,” said Monica Hsiao, chief investment officer of Hong Kong-based credit fund Triada Capital.
In New Delhi, opposition lawmakers submitted notices in parliament demanding discussion of the short-seller’s report.
The Congress Party called for a Joint Parliamentary Committee be set up or a Supreme Court monitored investigation, while some lawmakers shouted anti-Adani slogans inside parliament, which was adjourned for the day.
Adani vs Hindenburg
Adani made acquisitions worth $13.8 billion in 2022, Dealogic data showed, its highest ever and more than double the previous year.
The canceled fundraising was critical for Adani, which had said it would use $1.33 billion to fund green hydrogen projects, airports facilities and greenfield expressways, and $508 million to repay debt at some units.
Hindenburg’s report alleged an improper use of offshore tax havens and stock manipulation by the Adani Group. It also raised concerns about high debt and the valuations of seven listed Adani companies.
The Adani Group has denied the accusations, saying the allegation of stock manipulation had “no basis” and stemmed from an ignorance of Indian law. It said it has always made the necessary regulatory disclosures.
Adani had managed to secure share sale subscriptions on Tuesday even though the stock’s market price was below the issue’s offer price. Maybank Securities and Abu Dhabi Investment Authority had bid for the anchor portion of the issue, investments which will now be reimbursed by Adani.
Late on Wednesday, the group’s founder said he was withdrawing the sale given the share price fall, adding his board felt going ahead with it “will not be morally correct.”

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Oil steady as Russian crude products ban looms

Updated 02 February 2023

Oil steady as Russian crude products ban looms

  • A EU ban on Russian refined products is set to take effect on Feb. 5, potentially dealing a blow to global supply

LONDON: Oil prices were steady on Thursday as looming sanctions on Russian oil products added uncertainty over supply but the dollar lost value in a boost to the oil trade.

Brent crude futures fell 18 cents, or 0.2 percent, to $82.66 a barrel by 1415 GMT while West Texas Intermediate US crude futures lost 3 cents to $76.38.

Both benchmarks plunged more than 3 percent overnight after US government data showed a large build in oil stocks. A EU ban on Russian refined products is set to take effect on Feb. 5, potentially dealing a blow to global supply.

EU countries will seek a deal on Friday on a European Commission proposal to set price caps on Russian oil products after postponing a decision on Wednesday because of divisions among member states, diplomats said. The European Commission proposed last week that from Feb. 5 the EU apply a price cap of $100 a barrel on premium Russian oil products such as diesel and a $45 per barrel cap on discounted products such as fuel oil.

Meanwhile an OPEC+ panel endorsed the producer group’s current output policy at a meeting on Wednesday, leaving production cuts agreed last year unchanged amid hopes of higher Chinese demand and uncertain prospects for Russian supply.

OPEC+ agreed to cut its production target by 2 million barrels per day — about 2 percent of global demand — from November last year until the end of 2023 to support the market.

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