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US moves forward with tariffs on $50bn of Chinese goods – USA tariffs $50bn Chinese goods

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US moves forward with tariffs on $50bn of Chinese goods

Source:ICIS News

USA tariffs $50bn Chinese goods HOUSTON (ICIS)–US President Donald Trump on Friday moved ahead with plans to impose tariffs on goods from China, causing China’s government to respond that it would seek similar actions.

“In light of China’s theft of intellectual property and technology and its other unfair trade practices, the US will implement a 25% tariff on $50bn of goods from China that contain industrially significant technologies,” Trump said in a White House press release.

US Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer alleged that China has engaged in cyber attacks on US computer networks, in addition to intellectual property theft and the transfer of US technology.

“President Trump has made it clear we must insist on fair and reciprocal trade with China and strictly enforce our laws against unfair trade,” Lighthizer said.

The USTR office created two lists of products from China that consist of the tariff lines.

The first set will come into effect on 6 July, and cover approximately $34bn worth of goods.

The second set covers the remaining $16bn. USTR said a final determination of the list is still in progress.

Trump noted the US will pursue additional tariffs if China engages in retaliatory measures.

China’s foreign ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said measures “of the same scale”  would be taken immediately.

By David Haydon
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Brexit will free the UK from ‘anti science’ EU regulations, says Tory MP – THE European Union held back the booming British biotech industry with its “anti innovation regulations” and prevented the UK from taking its scientific expertise onto a global platform – Brexit UK EU regulations

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Brexit will free the UK from ‘anti science’ EU regulations, says Tory MP

THE European Union held back the booming British biotech industry with its “anti innovation regulations” and prevented the UK from taking its scientific expertise onto a global platform, a Conservative MP said.

By ALICE SCARSI

Arguing that there exists an “anti-science” agenda in Brussels, he said: “The growing hostility of the EU to ‘biotech’ has had a hugely damaging effect on the EU Bioscience Economy over the last five years.

“Just as the genomic revolution has been starting to offer untold opportunities across medicine and agriculture, the EU has been developing an increasingly hostile regulatory framework which has undermined Europe as a hub of biotechnology.”

This trend clipped the UK’s wings, Mr Freeman added, and slowed the possibility for Britain to “take global and commercialise” its groundbreaking discoveries and technologies. 

The BioIndustry Association (BIA), the British trade association for innovative life sciences, said earlier this year that the UK’s pipeline of biotech treatments in 2017 was the strongest in Europe.

The association also revealed that UK biotechs raised more than twice as much money in 2017 than in 2016.

But, Mr Freeman argued, British biotech could be more successful, as its progress has been held back “for too long by anti-innovation EU regulation.”

The sector he believes has been hit the most by these measures is agricultural one, where instead of embracing genetic trait science (GM) that can produce disease-resistant crops has blocked it with regulations.

Brexit UK EU regulations GETTY

Brexit has the potential of freeing the UK from EU anti-science regulations according to a Tory MP

Mr Freeman, who served as the UK’s first ever Minister for Life Sciences from 2014-2016, said: “This regulatory hostility to biotech has had its most serious impact in agricultural research, where the EU’s hostility to GM led German-based BASF to announce their withdrawal from Europe in Agricultural Research and Development.

“That’s a €10 billion disinvestment Europe can ill afford.

“As I warned the Commission at the time in a keynote speech as UK Minister for Life Sciences, unless the EU embraced greater flexibility for member states to ‘go it alone’ in designing appropriate regulatory frameworks for GM crops, Europe risked being consigned to the slow lane of the global bio-economy.”

Brexit has the potential of freeing the UK from these regulations, Mr Freeman said.

Brexit UK EU regulations GETTY

Among the UK biotech innovations praised by Mr Freeman there is genetic trait science

Brexit UK EU regulations GETTY

The UK’s pipeline of biotech treatments in 2017 was the strongest in Europe, BIA reported

But, he argued, to get the best out of this innovative sector, the government must “start leading the way on creating a new regulatory framework for 21st-century innovation.”

He said: “If we get this right, we can make the UK the ‘Gateway Testbed’ for new 21st century technology and appropriate regulation, which the City can then finance to take global.

“Done properly, we could become the global capital for the research, development and financing of the innovations in the core markets of food, medicine and energy (the ‘science of life’) around the world.”

Mr Freeman believes Britain can pride itself of some “stunning innovations”.

Among them he counted studies in tumour genetics, thanks to which “we can now detect and eradicate tumours in people who 20 years ago would have died” and stem cell science, which allows us to “reverse blindness with one injection”.

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‘A death blow’: Tariff threat looms large in the heart of Canada’s auto industry – Mike Malott has survived massive turmoil during his nearly 20 years as an automotive worker here in the heart of the Canadian industry — but now that his livelihood is in the crosshairs of a United States president who appears hell-bent on restricting cross-border trade, he is frightened – Tariff threat Canada auto industry

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‘A death blow’: Tariff threat looms large in the heart of Canada’s auto industry

 Tariff threat Canada auto industry Van Niforos, owner of Windsor’s Penalty Box restaurant prepares food in his kitchen Windsor, Ont. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Robins)

Armina Ligaya, The Canadian Press

WINDSOR, Ont. — Mike Malott has survived massive turmoil during his nearly 20 years as an automotive worker here in the heart of the Canadian industry — but now that his livelihood is in the crosshairs of a United States president who appears hell-bent on restricting cross-border trade, he is frightened.

The 43-year-old assembly line worker and other residents of this Southwestern Ontario city have been on edge for months during strained North American Free Trade Agreement negotiations that have included intense scrutiny of auto production in Canada, the U.S. and Mexico.

But Trump’s post-G7 Twitter tirade about imposing a 25 per cent tariff on auto imports from Canada could have potentially devastating consequences for the integrated supply chain that has been built over decades and cause job losses on both sides of the border.

Some fear the penalties could drive the city’s auto plants, including the Fiat Chrysler Automotive factory where Malott has spent the majority of his career, out of Windsor and the country altogether.

“I can’t even imagine what the city would look like without Chrysler in it,” Malott said in an interview on Tuesday at the suburban Windsor home he shares with his wife, three children and a chocolate lab.

“This city would become a ghost town.”

Malott is one of the roughly 6,000 people employed at the assembly plant, the largest manufacturing workplace in Canada, according to a 2017 report from the Automotive Policy Research Centre at McMaster University in Hamilton.

He worries he’d have difficulty finding an equivalent job in the city with his skill set if he were to lose his job at the assembly plant, which typically pays upwards of $30 an hour.

“If I don’t have a Chrysler job, I don’t have what I have today.”

Windsor would be the epicentre of a tariff fallout that could impact Ontario’s entire economically important manufacturing base and reverberate across the country. Canada’s auto sector, the country’s leading exporter, delivers roughly $80 billion in economic activity annually. It employs some 500,000 Canadians through direct and indirect jobs.

The city has long been synonymous with the auto industry — during the early 20th century, Ford, General Motors and Chrysler all had operations here.

But the industry was decimated in the wake of 2008’s Great Recession, which saw both the Ontario and Federal government in 2009 step in to contribute $10.6 billion to Chrysler Canada and GM Canada to keep them afloat.

GM closed its remaining manufacturing plant in Windsor in 2010, ending its 90-year-relationship in the city. Ford still has two engine plants in Windsor, employing roughly 2,330 people between them — far from the as many as six plants the automaker had at one point.

But the city still wears its automotive credentials with pride. Posted outside of the FCA Windsor assembly plant is a sign that reads: “Made. Right. Here. Chrysler Pacifica. Windsor Proud.”

The sector’s health, however, remains heavily reliant on the United States.

Canada exported some $63 billion worth of automobiles in 2016, 96 per cent of which was to the U.S., according to Statistics Canada and the U.S. Census Bureau. On top of that, the country exported roughly $21 billion in auto parts in 2016 — 90 per cent of which was shipped south of the border, according to the APRC.

Every Canadian auto assembly job creates nine spinoff jobs — ranging from parts suppliers to restaurants — according to the Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers’ Association.

The automotive industry and the ancillary businesses are still the “bread and butter” of Windsor, but the city has been making efforts to diversify into other industries and skills in areas such as Information Technology, said Mayor Drew Dilkens.

“Nothing changes quickly, but we’re committed to diversification,” he said.

Auto parts makers have also tried to diversify into other industries and markets, said Jonathon Azzopardi, chief executive of Windsor-area tool and mould company Laval International and a board member of the Automotive Parts Manufacturers’ Association.

Yet, roughly 70 per cent of the association’s members send their wares due south and many products cross the border roughly seven times in the process, he said.

The recent U.S. imposition of steel and aluminum tariffs will already constrain their profitability, which would be exacerbated by an auto tariff.

“Those who still rely heavily on the U.S. and the auto industry should be pretty concerned,” Azzopardi said.

“It could deal a death blow to the automotive industry for Canada.”

The tariff threat looms at a time when the automotive industry has just recovered from the 2008 recession. The sector employed an estimated 140,404 people in 2016, after adding roughly 14,700 jobs over the preceding four years, according to a recent report from McMaster’s auto centre.

Trump’s comments have also cast uncertainty on planning in an industry that makes decisions on new vehicles five years in advance, said Ken Lewenza, the former national president of the Canadian Auto Workers union, who now works as an adviser for the union’s latest iteration, Unifor, in Windsor.

Many corporate board rooms in the auto industry are likely hitting the brakes on their plans as a result, he said, as the deeply integrated North American automotive supply chain operates “almost without borders.”

Detroit, or Motor City, sits just across the river from Windsor — and the GM and Chevrolet logos emblazoned on the tallest tower of the American city’s skyline serves as a perennial reminder of their mutual ties to the automotive industry.

“You can’t shut down the Canadian operations without affecting U.S. operations. And vice versa,” Lewenza said.

“This, quite frankly, would be a real challenge for the auto industry and be a longer type problem.”

Ontario’s auto sector employs an estimated 124,000 people. A blow to the thousands of jobs at factories in auto towns across the province, including in Alliston, Brampton, and Oshawa, would also have a ripple effect on the restaurants, cafes, stores and other businesses that rely on autoworkers’ patronage.

Auto manufacturing is still a crucial part of local economies even in cities such as affluent Oakville, often regarded as a bedroom community for commuters to Canada’s financial heart in Toronto.

In an industrial section of the tony Greater Toronto Area community, dozens of 18-wheelers passed through the gates on Tuesday morning at the Ford Assembly Complex, which employs about 4,600 people. The plant’s staff parking lot was packed with the same types of Fords and Lincolns pieced together by workers at the plant.

Peter Giannopoulos, owner of the nearby Sunlight Grill is one of the entrepreneurs operating in a nearby plaza who is praying that Ford stays in the area. The thousands of workers it employs are a boon for his business.

“We get a lot of Ford traffic here. You come here on a Friday and you see the chits that we have for take-out or deliveries, you’d be shocked,” Giannopoulos said, adding that several of his neighbours work at the plant.

“Even though Oakville has its rich side, there’s a lot of middle class people here who have been working at Ford 20 or 30 years.”

Back in Windsor, a stone’s throw away from the FCA plant, the Penalty Box restaurant is filled with diners. The autoworkers’ breaks, at less than 30 minutes, don’t offer enough time to stop in for a sit-down meal, but they come on their down time, said the restaurant’s owner, Van Niforos.

“The plant means a lot to us here…. Everyone in town profits from them being here.”

At just 14-years-old, Windsor autoworker Mike Malott’s daughter Jada is already concerned about her economic future in a hometown where generations have relied on the auto sector.

“I’m scared I’m going to have to leave my city to find work,” she said.

“That’s my biggest fear.”

With a file from Peter Goffin in Oakville

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It’s Trump Sanctions, Not OPEC, That’s Boosting Oil – Trump Sanctions OPEC Boosting crude Oil

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It’s Trump Sanctions, Not OPEC, That’s Boosting Oil

The threat of Iran’s oil output disappearing is driving up prices.

Trump Sanctions OPEC Boosting crude Oil
A support vessel flying an Iranian national flag sails alongside the oil tanker Devon.Photographer: Ali Mohammadi/Bloomberg

As OPEC oil ministers prepared to meet in Vienna later this week, President Trump fired another twitter-shot across their bows. But it is his decision to slap sanctions back on Iran that is the real driving force behind the rising price of oil.

The U.S. president has accused OPEC of being “at it again” for the second time in as many months through his favored 280-character diplomatic channel. Quite what “it” is, he has never specified.

I am always a bit confused about what people actually mean when they accuse the group of artificially raising the price of oil. OPEC doesn’t set it — and hasn’t done so for more than 30 years.

Perhaps the president is railing at the fact that some members of the group have spent millions of dollars creating production capacity that they aren’t using. Seen in another light, that surplus is a vital safety valve in the event of a sudden loss of supply — such as the one that occurred when U.S.-led forces invaded Iraq in 2003, or when Western-backed rebels overthrew Libya’s Moammar Al Qaddafi in 2011. OPEC’s spare capacity has been used to compensate for sudden supply disruptions more often than America’s strategic petroleum reserve.

There is no reason that OPEC should pump as much oil as President Trump, or anyone else, wants. The organization exists to look after the interests of its members. Some of them might see appeasing the United States as being in their best interests. Others clearly do not.

It was less than two years ago that candidate Trump’s energy adviser Harold Hamm told Bloomberg Businessweek that OPEC was “irrelevant.” A little over a month later the same Harold Hamm said it was “high-time” for the irrelevant OPEC to agree on a production freeze to raise prices.

No-one expects politicians, or their advisors, to be consistent. And oil at $67 a barrel is very different to oil at $46. Back then, U.S. shale oil production was on the slide and needed a savior. It found one in Saudi Arabia’s then Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman and oil minister Khalid Al-Falih, who reversed the kingdom’s “pump-at-will” policy and began to set oil prices on the path to recovery.

Now Saudi Arabia is once again at the forefront of a group of OPEC countries urging other members to do as America wishes — this time by raising output. The about-face comes hard on the heels of Al-Falih’s assertion just eight weeks ago that OPEC’s market-balancing job wasn’t yet done and that output restraint needed to be prolonged.

Buyers Beware

Buyers of Iranian crude are firmly in Donald Trump’s sights as sanctions may be starting to bite

Source: Bloomberg tanker tracking

Note: Figures include crude and condensate. Europe includes Turkey. June 2018 data are for first two weeks.

What changed in that eight weeks? The outlook for the availability of Iranian oil. Trump’s decision to pull out of the nuclear deal and re-impose sanctions will reduce the volume of crude available from the country by an unknown amount.

Getting Deeper

Some analysts have been increasing their forecasts of the volume of Iranian crude likely to be lost to renewed sanctions

Source: Bloomberg

Note: Initial forecasts were made during the first week after President Trump announced the U.S. withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal.

I have said from the outset that the amount of Iranian oil that will be forced off the market will be more than when sanctions were previously in force — even without the EU bans on purchases that accompanied U.S. curbs last time around. Analysts are now starting to ratchet up their forecasts of the volume that could be lost.

Hitting Iran

Obama’s sanctions cut Iran’s oil output by over a million barrels a day. Expect more this time.

Source: Bloomberg

The curbs will be more extensive than under President Obama — targeting Iran’s exports of condensates as well as crude oil — and waivers will be harder to come by. Tanker owners and insurers may already be reacting to the imposition of sanctions, even before they come into effect.

It is the fear that the world is about to lose as much a million barrels a day of Iranian crude oil exports by the end of the year, and possibly another 500,000 barrels from Venezuela, that has really driven oil prices higher — not OPEC.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.

To contact the author of this story:
Julian Lee at jlee1627@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Edward Evans at eevans3@bloomberg.net

Before it’s here, it’s on the Bloomberg Terminal.

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Faurecia to set up new interiors plant – Faurecia, a leading automotive technology company, is expanding its presence in India with a new interiors plant in Anantapur district – Faurecia interiors plant automotive

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Faurecia to set up new interiors plant

V RISHI KUMAR

Faurecia interiors plant  automotiveFaurecia, a leading automotive technology company, is expanding its presence in India with a new interiors plant in Anantapur district of Andhra Pradesh. The plant will come up in the Kia Motors supplier park. The ground-breaking ceremony was attended by executives from Mobis and Faurecia. Faurecia will invest 50 crore (€6.25 million) in the new 15,000 sq m site, leading to the creation of 400 jobs. The plant is scheduled to be commissioned in the first quarter of 2019 and will have a daily production of above 1,000 instrument panels for Mobis (Kia Motors), according to a company statement.

Luis Navarro-Llacer, Vice President (Interiors IJKT Division) and Vidyadhar Limaye, Director Faurecia Interiors India, declared: “Today’s event is a milestone in Faurecia’s history in India, where we have been operating since 2004. India represents the 4th biggest automotive market and it is an ideal base for the development of our business.”

“Our new facility will provide near-term capacity improvements and allow Faurecia to bring forth a renewed commitment to India’s automotive OEM segment. Faurecia is pleased to accompany KIA Motors in their exciting journey in India starting 2019,” they said.

Present through its three activities, Clean Mobility, Interiors and Seating, Faurecia employs 3,600 people and has two technical centres and 11 production facilities in India. The Group serves locally leading OEMs like FCA, Renault-Nissan, ISUZU, Ford, Hyundai, Maruti- Suzuki, Tata, Toyota and Volkswagen.

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Pretium Packaging to expand US manufacturing facilities – Pretium Packaging USA manufacturing facilities

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Pretium Packaging to expand US manufacturing facilities

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Dhanuka-Lohia JV travels to Egypt – Dhunseri Petrochem Ltd has signed a definitive agreement with Thailand’s Indorama Ventures (IVL) to sell a 35 per cent stake in its Egyptian PET resin business, capping a series of recent transactions to restart the mothballed plant – Dhanuka Lohia JV EIPET Egypt

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Dhanuka-Lohia JV travels to Egypt

 

Dhanuka Lohia JV EIPET Egypt Calcutta: Dhunseri Petrochem Ltd has signed a definitive agreement with Thailand’s Indorama Ventures (IVL) to sell a 35 per cent stake in its Egyptian PET resin business, capping a series of recent transactions to restart the mothballed plant.

The two companies, who are already equal partners operating Indian businesses, including a similar plant at Haldia in Bengal, will eventually hold 50 per cent each in EIPET (Egyptian Indian Polyester Company SAE).

Indorama, promoted by Indian-born billionaire Alok Lohia, will immediately pump $25 million into EIPET, which plans to start production by the middle of August.

Indorama’s investment will match a similar amount already put in by Dhunseri, promoted by Calcutta-based Chandra Kumar Dhanuka.

Located in the Ain Sukhna free trade zone, north-west of the Gulf of Suez in Egypt, the plant is capable of producing 540,000 tonnes of PET resin which finds use in the manufacturing of plastic packaging products.

The key raw material for the plant, PTA, will be shipped from IVL Portugal, thereby saving a significant amount in logistics cost.

Dhanuka said the business should generate at least $20 million EBIDTA in 2019, the first full year of commercial operations after restart.

Aloke Lohia, the group CEO of IVL, which earned $8.4 billion in revenue in 2017, said: “I’m delighted to extend our strategic partnership with Dhunseri through this acquisition. EIPET is a good fit with Indorama Ventures…It also marks Indorama Ventures’ maiden entry into Egypt.”

Dhanuka pointed out that the Indian JV is operating “extremely smoothly”.

“We are very upbeat on entering the same in Egypt, which will be again an equal ownership JV,” he added.

The joint venture with Indorama culminates a series of back-to-back deals Dhanuka made to resolve the Egyptian puzzle which was draining the consolidated balance sheet of listed Dhunseri Petrochem because of sustained losses. The plant was closed for two years because of financial woes.

On May 21, it reached an agreement to buy out a 23 per cent stake from the local partner in phases.

Dhunseri, which had a 70 per cent stake before the transaction, will eventually buy the residual 7 per cent from another local company.

Four days later, it reached a final settlement with a clutch of overseas lenders by paying them $87 million. The lenders cumulatively had an exposure of $197 million.

While $25 million went from Dhunseri, the rest $62 million was arranged as a bridge loan from ICICI Bank.

EIPET will now raise $50 million fresh debt on its balance sheet and use $25 million that Lohia’s IVL plans to inject to pay off ICICI Bank.

Consequently, EIPET will initially have $13 million as working capital on the books.

While Lohia will pay a token consideration of $1 million for the 35 per cent stake, half of what Dhunseri owns at present, IVL will share the cost of acquisition from the overseas partner equally.

As the Egyptian partners, who are government entities, are exiting at the par value of shares ($100 share a piece), the cost of their shares would be $17 million. With IVL now coming on board, it plans to pick up the tab equally with Dhunseri and eventually become 50:50 partners, just like the Indian business.

Dhunseri shares closed at Rs 125 on the BSE, up Rs 5.70, or 4.78 per cent, even as the benchmark index closed flat (up by a meagre 0.06 per cent).

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The Fourth Industrial Revolution Is On The Horizon – Fourth Industrial Revolution

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The Fourth Industrial Revolution Is On The Horizon

Fourth Industrial Revolution

Just a few short years after economists and social theorists declared that we had entered the Third Industrial Revolution, the next revolution is already on the horizon. Fueled by artificial intelligence, 5G, the internet of things and augmented reality, these next steps might be the biggest leap forward humanity has ever made. And make no mistake, this revolution will be built on data.

Increasingly, data is being harvested from every aspect of our day-to-day lives. From our purchases to the number of steps we take to our sleep habits or Facebook rants, it’s all being recorded. The information is then being used to advertise to us, to map our neighborhoods and even to sway elections. And this process of data extraction is only accelerating. It is the backbone of new world being built around us.

While the implications are far reaching, at least there is some hope in protecting all of this data. Blockchain technology offers not only a means of privacy in this ever-more-connected world, it presents a compromise. Data is now able to be extracted, stored, utilized and understood without a specific person being identified in the process.

Artificial Intelligence and Blockchain Technology

AI and blockchain technology are a match made in heaven. Blockchains can feed AI data safely and securely. Sensitive and personal data can be used to improve our lives and the lives of future generations, and with blockchain tech’s encryption, the information will remain anonymous and immutable.

Not only will our information remain safe, the technology will help us better understand decisions made by AI, something that even the brightest programmers on the planet have had trouble with in recent years. Blockchain tech offers a certain transparency and trust in AI functions. If all actions are recorded, the information is auditable and palatable, allowing humans to gain more insight into the robotic minds that are essentially building themselves.

One of the most exciting applications of blockchain technology and AI, however, is in the idea of decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs). With a growing data set and a secure means of transferring data, smart contracts can be built in order to allow entire companies to operate, grow and learn without human interference.

Imagine Uber as a DAO, for example. Driverless cars, automatic cryptocurrency payments, and a system of system of governance, from the purchase of new cars to tax payments, built with smart contracts. At this point, besides the initial programming, are humans even necessary? Soon, these organizations will become a reality – entire companies will be built, generate income, and pay taxes without a president, CEO, or board of directors running the show.

The Internet of Things and Blockchain Technology

Renewable energy and driverless technology were key features in the Third Industrial Revolution, but now, the Internet of Things is taking energy distribution and transportation to the next level. Smart grids, supply chains and even virtual highways are being built with the help of IoT and blockchain tech.

The 5G revolution promising to usher in a new era of interconnectivity, and blockchain technology will become an increasingly valuable piece of the new digital infrastructure accompanying traditional brick and mortar foundations. The tech will allow companies, governments and individuals to store and digest the tremendous amount of being pulled from the various devices connected to each particular grid.

And with our most critical infrastructure connecting to the web, blockchain tech offers the level of security needed to ensure that all of these systems will remain online and safe from malicious actors.

Cryptocurrencies and the Fourth Industrial Revolution

As the world becomes more digital, and in turn, privacy and security grow in priority, bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies will have a vital role in the Fourth Industrial revolution.

In a world built on blockchain, hundreds of millions of transactions will be taking place every minute, each with their own purpose and value. From energy trades to taxes paid by DAOs, it’s likely these exchanges will be made on a blockchain with cryptocurrencies. And governments and corporations around the world are beginning to wake up to this notion.

There is a race unfolding across the planet to develop blockchain applications, and the cryptocurrencies to fund them. The real question, however, is how to bring these all together under an easy-to-use umbrella.

One of the biggest debates unfolding in the crypto world involves the sheer number of altcoins in play, each with their own use-case and limited ecosystem. Though the future of bitcoin is bright, and it could very well function as the sole blockchain and cryptocurrency at the center of this new revolution, it’s unlikely that the growth of the altcoin space will slow anytime soon.

Currently, the process to exchange one crypto for another is clunky and costly, but with the addition of a relatively new technology in the blockchain world, atomic swaps, users will be able to instantly exchange any altcoin for bitcoin and vice-versa. This becomes useful in a world awash with cryptos, allowing users to hold bitcoin but buy a coffee with StarbucksCoin without actually having to own StarbucksCoin.

Atomic swaps are only a piece of off-chain, side-chain, and layered network technology currently being developed, and while critics of the crypto-space may be quick to dismiss this new asset class, it’s important to remember that the tech and its potential is still being realized.

By Michael Kern via Cryptoinsider.com

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Why it matters if fracking companies are overestimating their ‘proved’ oil and gas reserves – The New York Times first raised concerns about the reliability of America’s proved shale gas reserves – Shale fracking companies oil gas reserves

Shale fracking companies oil gas reserves Shale fracking companies oil gas reserves  Shale fracking companies oil gas reserves  Shale fracking companies oil gas reserves  Shale fracking companies oil gas reserves  Shale fracking companies oil gas reserves  Shale fracking companies oil gas reserves  Shale fracking companies oil gas reserves  

Why it matters if fracking companies are overestimating their ‘proved’ oil and gas reserves

“We don’t know what we’re doing.”

Shale fracking companies oil gas reserves
Image credit: Laura Evangelisto

Back in 2011, The New York Times first raised concerns about the reliability of America’s proved shale gas reserves. Proved reserves are the estimates of supplies of oil and gas that drillers tell investors they will be able to tap. The Times suggested that a recent Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) rule change allowed drillers to potentially overbook their “proved” reserves of natural gas from shale formations, which horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) were rapidly opening up.

“Welcome back to Alice in Wonderland,” energy analyst John E. Olson told The Times, commenting on the reliability of these reserves after the rule change. Olson, a former Merril Lynch analyst, is best known for seeing the coming Enron scandal 10 years before the infamous energy company imploded in 2000.

Today, those same rules have allowed shale drillers to boost their reserves of oil, as well as natural gas. As a result, these “proved” reserves, which investors and pipeline companies are banking on, could potentially be much less proven than they appear.

And the unprecented degree to which this is happening in the shale industry casts a shadow of doubt on the purportedly bright future of America’s booming oil and gas industry.

Under the updated SEC rules, which went into effect in 2009, drillers can count oil and gas from wells that won’t be drilled or fracked for up to five years as part of their proved reserves. Those as-yet-untapped wells can be put on a company’s books as a subset of their “proved” reserves, listed under the label “proved undeveloped” reserves.

And drillers can count all of the oil and gas they expect to pump out over the well’s entire lifetime — before they’ve found out how fast that well flows or seen a single drop of oil from it.

Those “proved undeveloped reserves” (PUDs) now make up an average of just over half of the proved oil reserves at 40 drilling companies active in shale gas basins nationwide, according to SEC filings reviewed by DeSmog. For drilling companies that are less heavily involved in shale drilling, the average mix is roughly 30 percent PUDs — similar to the industry’s average before the SEC rule change.

At Bakken shale driller Abraxas Petroleum, approximately 70 percent of oil reserves fall into the proved undeveloped category, SEC filings for 2017 show. That figure is the same for Permian basin driller Halcón Resources. For Marcellus/Utica operator Southwestern Energy, it’s a stunning 78 percent.

Forty-seven percent of the proved oil reserves in Texas’ and New Mexico’s Permian Basin — recently touted as potentially the largest oil basin in the world — now fall into the proved undeveloped category, a review of SEC filings from thirteen of the largest Permian operators reveals.

Proved reserves are the foundation of the oil industry’s assets, the gold-standard for oil supply figures.

When they book a barrel of proved reserves, companies vouch that they are at least 90 percent confident that they can produce that barrel at today’s oil prices.

And shale proved reserves are hugely important — not just for the oil markets, but for U.S.energy policy.

Shale reserves are a major part of the reason politicians like President Donald Trump now speak not just about American energy security but “energy dominance.” Lenders accept proved reserves as collateral underpinning hundreds of billions of dollars in debt. And investors use proved reserves as one of the key metrics for measuring a driller’s prospects against its peers.

Changing rules for ‘proved reserves’

The old SEC rules were designed with conventional oil reserves in mind, the iconic gushers of the first oil rushes. Very roughly speaking, you could reliably estimate how much oil could be pumped from a new find once you struck oil and then did some testing to measure your find.

The hard part was finding those pools of oil to begin with. Once you did, figuring out how much was underground (and then what percentage of that could be pumped from the ground) became relatively straightforward for petroleum engineers.

But shale oil and gas are different — everyone in the industry knows where the shale rock layers containing oil and gas are. The question has become how much trapped fossil fuel can you afford to free up by using the expensive process of hydraulic fracturing to shatter that shale.

The SEC’s 2008 decision to change this rule, one of the last acts of the outgoing George W. Bush administration, scrapped the “flow test.” This long-standing requirement had obligated a company to first flow oil or gas from a well or ones nearby in the same formation before counting that well’s oil as “proved.”

But after 2009, companies were allowed to use new methods to establish oil supplies as proved, replacing the old flow test with a range of technologies, including secret proprietary methods. As long as a company considered those technologies reliably able to predict whether oil and gas could be pumped, the SEC would be satisfied.

The rule change also allowed shale drillers more freedom to assume that an as-yet-undrilled well will produce about the same amount of oil and gas as their other wells nearby.

This shift in SEC policy landed right at the dawn of the shale rush, allowing shale drillers to count oil and gas from all of the wells they planned to start flowing within the next five years as proved reserves.

It’s a setup that implicitly assumes drillers will act rationally — only making plans to drill wells from which oil can be sold profitably. But it coincided with an unprecedented journey into deep debt for the historically cash-rich oil and gas industry, which in a single decade burned through over $280 billion more than it has earned from shale oil and gas, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Regulators also considered — but ultimately rejected — a proposal that would have required third-party audits of booked reserves.

The SEC’s enforcement agents have instead focused heavily on enforcing the five-year rule, challenging companies whose numbers don’t add up.

“I believe that everyone is satisfied that the 5-year rule on PUDs will resolve any insecurity about these reserves. (I am not),” Arthur Berman, a petroleum geologist who since the very early days of shale drilling has warned about the reliability of shale reserves estimates, told DeSmog via email.

“I don’t trust the proved producing reserve numbers because I cannot replicate them on a per-well or company basis by my own technical estimates based on production history. The PUD component is, therefore, highly suspect.”

House of cards

For years, the problem of reserves overbooking has been known in the oil industry as “the problem no one wants to talk about.”

Oil companies have plenty of reasons to present the rosiest possible picture of their future prospects, while Wall Street investment analysts often focus on short-term prospects or compare companies against their peers rather than scouting for industry-wide issues. And once a loan is made, lenders have little incentive to question whether collateral is as valuable as it was expected to be.

The SEC rule revision also aimed to provide investors with better ways to assess the uncertainty associated with oil and gas wells.

It enabled drillers to talk about a range of likely outcomes by allowing them to describe reserves as “probable” (at least 50 percent likelihood) and “possible” (at least 10 percent likelihood) to their investors, in addition to “proved” (90 percent likelihood) reserves.

By letting drillers convey a range of numbers and the levels of risk associated with them, investors would be better informed, the SEC reasoned.

The “possible” reserves category never really caught on in the industry. Instead, after the rule change the category that grew significantly, at least among shale drillers, was proved reserves — and particularly proved undeveloped reserves.

And because the rules closely link drillers’ five-year plans to the price of oil, the shale industry has already gone through one massive wave of reserves write-downs.

To be sure, if oil prices rise, drillers will have plenty of cash on hand to pay off their debts and keep production flowing. Figuring out exactly where that break-even line lies has long been the subject of heated debate.

But while many have viewed the shale industry’s tenacity during the price slump as evidence that shale can offer decades more of cheap oil, the picture that emerges on closer inspection suggests that shale drillers have struggled far more than generally understood.

In other words, American oil might be far more expensive than the relatively cheap gasoline prices of the past few years would suggest.

Oil prices go down while percentage of ‘proved undeveloped’ reserves goes up

When oil prices collapsed from over $90 per barrel (of West Texas Intermediate crude) in 2014 to less than $50 in 2015, drillers had to write down billions of barrels of proved reserves in what Bloomberg called “a puff of accounting smoke.”

At that point, lenders faced an expensive dilemma — if they foreclosed on loans to drillers, they would have to shoulder the burden of actually drilling that oil or selling the acreage to someone who could, all in a market where oil prices had plunged.

The Oil and Gas Financial Journal took a close look at what happened next in a September 2017 article — and what they found deserves an in-depth review.

In 2015, after oil prices slumped, drillers started claiming that their as-yet-undrilled wells (those in the proved undeveloped reserves category) would have higher initial production rates and last longer, resulting in higher total production — even though nothing changed about the physical assets — which let them add proved reserves to their books, the Journal reported.

“Some of these changes may be justified, but, in many cases, reserves values were already inflated as borrowers levered up with the ultra-low interest rates to boost returns and fund the large unconventional [shale] programs prior to 2014,” reservoir engineer and finance consultant Laura Freeman wrote.

What’s worse? Instead of cracking down on companies for nudging their numbers upwards, banks turned a blind eye.

“For many companies, if not all, the changes [to proved undeveloped reserves on the books] weren’t enough to cover billions of dollars in gaps, but borrowing bases still didn’t contract,” Freeman wrote.

Banks routinely review the “borrowing base” for their loans, making sure that a loan is covered by enough collateral.

“However, despite a 75 percent contraction in oil prices from 2014 to 2016,” Freedman found, “many of these loans were not reduced in 2015, 2016, or 2017.”

She gave the example of Chesapeake Energy, one of the nation’s largest oil and gas drillers, which was heavily involved in the shale rush.

“In plain terms, in 2016 Chesapeake no longer had sufficient collateral to back its loans … but the losses associated with foreclosing were so high that the lenders cut the interest rate coverage in half” and took other steps to bail Chesapeake out. “Unfortunately, they are only one example of many in the industry and many others have a much higher draw on borrowing bases that are now not sufficiently collateralized.”

The oil and gas sector currently owes over $833 billion to lenders, a May 31 analysis by Reuters found, and nearly half of that — roughly $400 billion — is due to be paid off or refinanced by the end of 2019.

That means banks and drillers will be re-negotiating hundreds of billions of dollars in loans relatively soon.

Overbooking and overbuilding

For pipeline companies, one of the hardest challenges is finding the balance between what their ever-optimistic customers expect to be able to pump from an oil or gas field and how much pipe they can actually afford to lay.

Shale plays are notorious for having concentrated sweet spots, where the best wells can be drilled, surrounded by larger areas that give less bang for drillers’ buck.

That’s why it caught a lot of attention when Mark Papa, ex-CEO of EOG Resources (originally Enron Oil and Gas) and founder of Centennial Resource Development, told a crowd in November 2017 that in two of the country’s biggest shale plays, North Dakota’s Bakken and Texas’ Eagle Ford, the sweet spots are already 70 percent drilled out.

And, he warned, the nation’s most prolific shale field, the Permian basin in Texas, might not be far behind.

“The Permian has the same rock quality and phase issues as the Bakken and Eagle Ford — it’s just less developed to date,” a November 16 presentation by Papa notes.

One of the biggest vulnerabilities of the revised SEC rule is that companies can predict that their as-yet-undrilled wells will be in the sweet spots, without having a full and clear understanding of exactly how big those sweet spots are (or having initial production readings to find out for sure) — and the difference between a well in a sweet spot and a well outside one can be significant.

‘We don’t know what we’re doing’

For Permian pipeline builders already worried about their industry’s habit of building more pipe than needed and then struggling to pay the bills when there’s not as much oil or gas to ship as expected, questions about the reliability of proved reserves numbers add an extra layer of uncertainty to an already difficult calculus.

“If we don’t overbuild this time, it will be the first time in the history of the industry. There’s absolutely, we will overbuild, there’s no doubt about it,” Wouter van Kempen, Chairman, President, and CEO of DCP Midstream, said at an April 16 executive roundtable at the GPA Midstream 2018 Convention.

“The question is when, and by how much, and I think what you heard earlier from all of us here, none of us want to own that last gas project, none of us want to own that last pipe because those are not the ones you want to own.”

“We don’t know a lot of the time,” Bill Ordemann, Executive Vice President of Enterprise Products, added, as the executives discussed the possibility of overbuilding pipelines, according to materials from that conference provided to DeSmog.

“We don’t know what we’re doing.”

Instead, the pipeline industry has sought to pass some of the risk back to drillers through contracts that require payment even if pipes go unused, explained Terry Spencer, President and CEO of ONEOK, a natural gas infrastructure company.

That strategy puts the hot potato right back into the hands of shale drillers — and it turns out the drilling industry may be far less prepared to handle that risk than their proved reserves figures suggest.

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BRICS Summit 2018: Foreign Ministers Oppose ‘New Wave Protectionism’, US Decision To Impose Tariffs On Its Allies – BRICS Summit 2018 Protectionism US Tariffs

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BRICS Summit 2018: Foreign Ministers Oppose ‘New Wave Protectionism’, US Decision To Impose Tariffs On Its Allies

Pretoria (South Africa): India and other members of the BRICS grouping have said they oppose the “new wave of protectionism” and the systematic impact of unilateral measures that are incompatible with WTO rules, apparently referring to US President Donald Trump’s tough trade policies.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, who is on a five-day trip to South Africa, attended the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) Foreign Ministers’ meeting in Pretoria on Monday.

After the meeting, the foreign affairs ministers of BRICS nations reiterated their commitment to multilateralism and a rules-based international order and reaffirmed the centrality of the UN, the WTO and international law.

The ministers pledged their support to efforts towards making global governance more representative with greater participation of emerging markets and developing countries in global decision making. The ministers emphasised the importance of an open and inclusive world economy enabling all countries and peoples to share the benefits of globalisation, a statement released after the meeting said.

They underlined their firm commitment to free trade, and the centrality of a rules-based, transparent, non-discriminatory, multilateral trading system as embodied in the World Trade Organisation (WTO), the statement said.

BRICS Summit 2018 Protectionism US Tariffs

File image of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. AP

They opposed the new wave of protectionism and the systematic impact of unilateral measures that are incompatible with WTO rules, and undermines global trade, and economic growth. “They reiterated that the WTO Dispute Settlement System is a cornerstone of the multilateral trading system (MTS) as it is designed to enhance security and predictability in international trade,” the statement said.

The statement came as Trump imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from top US trading partners, including Canada, Mexico and the European Union. He has threatened tariffs on up to $200 billion in Chinese imports, raising the potential of a trade war.

The BRICS ministers reaffirmed their resolve to foster a global economic governance architecture that is more effective and reflective of current global economic landscape, increasing the voice and representation of emerging markets and developing economies, it said.

They reaffirmed their commitment to conclude the   International Monetary Fund’s 15th General Review of Quotas, including a new quota formula, by the 2019 Spring Meetings. The emerging counties, like India, China, Brazil and Russia, has been asking for increased voting rights in IMF, which would reflect their growing share in world economy.

They also deplored the continued terrorist attacks, including in some BRICS countries. They condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations wherever committed and by whomsoever.

“They urged concerted efforts to counter terrorism under the UN auspices on a firm international legal basis, and expressed their conviction that a comprehensive approach was necessary to ensure effective fight against terrorism,” the statement said. “They recalled the responsibility of all States to prevent financing of terrorist networks and terrorist actions from their territories,” it added.

They expressed concern over the ongoing conflict and heightened tensions in the West Asia region, especially with regard to the Israel-Palestinian situation.

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EIA expects Brent crude prices will average $71 per barrel in 2018, $68 per barrel in 2019 – EIA Brent crude prices forecast 2018 2019

EIA Brent crude prices forecast 2018 2019 EIA Brent crude prices forecast 2018 2019   EIA Brent crude prices forecast 2018 2019   EIA Brent crude prices forecast 2018 2019   EIA Brent crude prices forecast 2018 2019   EIA Brent crude prices forecast 2018 2019   EIA Brent crude prices forecast 2018 2019   EIA Brent crude prices forecast 2018 2019  

EIA expects Brent crude prices will average $71 per barrel in 2018, $68 per barrel in 2019

er barrel in 2019 - EIA Brent crude prices forecast 2018 2019 In the June 2018 update of its Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO), EIA forecasts Brent crude oil prices will average $71 per barrel (b) in 2018 and $68/b in 2019. The updated 2019 forecast price is $2/b higher than in the May STEO. Brent crude oil spot prices averaged $77/b in May, an increase of $5/b from April and the highest monthly average price since November 2014. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) prices are forecast to average almost $7/b lower than Brent prices in 2018 and $6/b lower in 2019.

Crude oil prices have reached high levels as global oil inventories have generally declined from January 2017 through April 2018. Even though the 2019 oil price forecast is higher than it was in the May STEO, EIA expects oil prices to decline in the coming months because global oil inventories are expected to rise slightly during the second half of 2018 and in 2019.

er barrel in 2019 - EIA Brent crude prices forecast 2018 2019

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Short-Term Energy Outlook

Expected inventory growth results from forecast oil supply growth outpacing forecast oil demand growth in 2019. EIA currently forecasts global petroleum and other liquids inventories will increase by 210,000 barrels per day (b/d) next year, a factor that, all else being equal, typically puts downward pressure on oil prices.

Most of the growth in global oil production in the coming months is expected to come from the United States. EIA projects that U.S. crude oil production will average 10.8 million b/d for full-year 2018, up from 9.4 million b/d in 2017, and will average 11.8 million b/d in 2019. If the 2018 and 2019 forecast annual averages materialize, they would be the highest levels of production on record, surpassing the previous record set in 1970.

Tight oil production in the Permian region of West Texas and New Mexico is the main driver of rising U.S. production. Among other countries outside of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), Canada and Brazil are also expected to experience significant growth in oil production in 2019.

EIA expects that OPEC crude oil production will average 32.0 million b/d in 2018, a decrease of about 0.4 million b/d from the 2017 level. Total OPEC crude oil output is expected to increase slightly in 2019 to an average of 32.1 million b/d. The 2018 and 2019 levels are 0.2 million b/d and 0.3 million b/d lower, respectively, than forecast in the May STEO, reflecting revised expectations of crude oil production in Venezuela and Iran. The lower OPEC forecast is one of the main reasons EIA expects oil prices to be slightly higher in 2019 compared with last month’s forecast.

OPEC, Russia, and other non-OPEC countries will meet on June 22 to assess current oil market conditions associated with their existing crude oil production reductions. Current reductions are scheduled to continue through the end of 2018. Oil ministers from Saudi Arabia and Russia have announced that they will re-evaluate the production reduction agreement given accelerated output declines from Venezuela and uncertainty surrounding Iran’s production levels.

In the June STEO, EIA assumes declining Venezuelan and Iranian crude oil production in 2019 will be offset by increasing production from Persian Gulf producers, primarily Saudi Arabia. Depending on the outcome of the June 22 meeting, however, the magnitude of any supply response is uncertain. Overall, EIA expects global oil production to increase by almost 2.0 million b/d in 2019 compared with forecast oil demand growth of 1.7 million b/d.
Source: EIA

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