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Friday, 15 June 2012

Why Venezuela won’t pass Saudi Arabia as the world’s biggest oil power anytime soon - The Washington Post

Venezuela has 18 percent of the world’s proven oil reserves, according to BP’s 2012 Statistical Review of World Energy, out this week. That’s more than Saudi Arabia (16 percent) and Canada (11 percent). So does this mean Venezuela is now the world’s biggest oil power?

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, still not the king of oil. (HANDOUT - REUTERS) No — far from it. As Steve LeVine points out in Foreign Policy, there’s a huge difference between having gargantuan oil reserves underground and actually pumping out that oil. Saudi Arabia still exports more oil to the rest of the world than anyone else, sending out 10.1 million barrels per day in April. Venezuela pumped out only 2.1 million barrels of oil per day. Even if the country doubles production in the next decade, as President Hugo Chavez has planned, Venezuela will still lag well behind the Saudis.

FT Alphaville » Cyprus Popular Bank: ‘Money is gone’ (allegedly)

We must return to Cyprus Popular Bank, the bank that’s essentially forcing Cyprus to seek a bailout – something that may well be announced some time this weekend. Most reports say that it’s problems are down to write-downs following the Greek restructuring. True, the value of Popular Bank’s investment in Greek sovereign debt was written down to €710m from €3.05bn. But there’s more to the story, which involves inter alia speculating monks, unusual lending practices and a man called Andreas Vgenopoulos.

Crucially, it suggests that concerns about the quality of the bank’s assets could be an important reason for why private sources cannot be found to fund the €2bn capital shortfall.

Reuters has a fascinating report looking into the history of the bank, which used to be called Marfin Popular Bank until the government took over managing it in May.

Erdogan’s gambit, Turkey’s future | beyondbrics

Amid the confusion of the eurozone crisis and the convulsions of the Arab world, Turkey has stood apart for several reasons, notably its robust record of economic growth and its active foreign policy role, in the Middle East and beyond.

But Turkey is a country of internal divisions too – and how such tensions play out will do much to determine its economic prospects as well as its status as a rising world power.

In recent months, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, prime minister, has begun a virtual campaign to create the post of an executive or semi-executive president for Turkey, who would not just be the head of state, but head the government or at least direct the prime minister.

FT Alphaville » Cyprus Popular Bank: ‘Money is gone’ (allegedly)

We must return to Cyprus Popular Bank, the bank that’s essentially forcing Cyprus to seek a bailout – something that may well be announced some time this weekend. Most reports say that it’s problems are down to write-downs following the Greek restructuring. True, the value of Popular Bank’s investment in Greek sovereign debt was written down to €710m from €3.05bn. But there’s more to the story, which involves inter alia speculating monks, unusual lending practices and a man called Andreas Vgenopoulos.

Crucially, it suggests that concerns about the quality of the bank’s assets could be an important reason for why private sources cannot be found to fund the €2bn capital shortfall.

Reuters has a fascinating report looking into the history of the bank, which used to be called Marfin Popular Bank until the government took over managing it in May.

Egypt: refinery deal amid the turmoil | beyondbrics

Egypt is in political turmoil, with the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces dissolving the recently-elected assembly and throwing the presidential elections into chaos. But it seems it is still possible to do a big deal.

Citadel Capital has announced the completion of a $3.7bn agreement to build a refinery near Cairo that will help the country reduce its dependency on oil imports – a crucial issue for Egypt given its low level of foreign exchange reserves.

The central bank’s foreign reserves have risen by around $400m over the past two months after 15 months of consecutive falls. Having got dangerously close to the three-months’-worth of imports level that can trigger alarm, this is something of a relief.

Cayman Islands court issues interim award in Algosaibi fraud case, orders Maan Al Sanea to pay US$2.5 billion - bi-me.com

The Grand Court of the Cayman Islands issued a ruling in favor of Ahmad Hamad Algosaibi & Brothers (AHAB) requiring Maan Al Sanea to pay AHAB US$2.5 billion, the amount requested by AHAB as an interim payment.

In a 35-page ruling the Chief Justice found that AHAB would be entitled to recover at least 2.5 billion.

The Court's award was based on what it termed "compelling" evidence of "a pattern of massive payments to [Al Sanea's] Saad Group (at times running at an average of well over US$1 million per day)."   The Court found these payments, which were directed by Al-Sanea, to be "inexplicable having regard to the nature of AHAB's business" and declared that AHAB's allegations that Al-Sanea misappropriated billions of dollars were "now deemed proven against Mr. Al Sanea."

FT Alphaville » Opec compromised; Saudi Arabia becomes lone player

JBC Energy sums up the thrust of Thursday’s Opec meeting in one handy paragraph:
As expected, OPEC members decided to keep the current overall production ceiling of 30 million b/d unchanged during yesterday’s meeting. Lowering the ceiling was not an option as the group is currently producing at around 1.6 million b/d above the target. On the other hand, an increase would not have been accepted by the price hawks. Saudi Arabia was allegedly asked by other members to cut production and adhere to the overall ceiling. Due to the lower prices and the massive global stockbuild, we forecast that Saudi Arabia will decrease production in H2 to 9.5 million b/d, bringing the 2012 annual average down to 9.7 million b/d.
What was interesting, of course, was Saudi Arabia’s unenthusiastic response to being asked to cut production for the purpose of ensuring the group’s overall adherence to the Opec ceiling.

China and Abu Dhabi keen on oil exploration partnership - The National

Abu Dhabi and China are moving towards a closer partnership in oil exploration as plans take shape for a drilling campaign in the emirate as soon as next year, officials said.

Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc) and China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) are expected to start detailed talks next month building on a strategic cooperation agreement signed in January during a visit by Wen Jiabao, the Chinese premier.

"China is like many countries in the Far East," said Mohammed Al Hamli, the UAE Energy Minister. "It's one of the major importers of our crude, and it's natural that we strengthen our relationship with the Chinese and with all the countries of the world who have been doing business with us."

UPDATE: Qatar Cntrl Bk Governor Highlights Dlr Peg Challenges - Zawya

Qatar's central bank has broken ranks with other monetary authorities in the oil-rich Gulf region to express its first public concern about the longstanding policy of linking its currency to the U.S. dollar.
While reaffirming that the central bank intends to maintain the Qatari riyal's peg to the dollar, Qatari central bank governor Abdullah Saud Al Thani departed from his previous outright endorsement of the peg by highlighting some of the problems it has caused for Qatari policy-making.
"There are some challenges while operating under fixed exchange rates," Mr. Al Thani said in an emailed response to questions from Zawya Dow Jones. "With the fixed anchor, we have to maintain our stance of policy consistent with that of the US which may not be always justified based on our own domestic considerations."