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Oil Rises to $48 Ahead of OPEC Meeting

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Silhouette of oil platform in sea against moody sky at sunset

Global oil benchmark, Brent crude, rose on Monday to its highest level in a month on rising speculation that major producers may work out ways to support prices in an oversupplied market.

Brent, against which half of the world’s oil is priced, rose by 2.6 per cent to $48.20 per barrel as of 6:05pm Nigerian time.

This came as indication emerged that the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries could revive talks on freezing oil output levels when it meets non-OPEC nations next month.

Nigeria’s output hit its lowest in over two decades this year due to attacks on oil sites, and Libya is pumping a fraction of the pre-conflict level – raising the question of what level they should limit supplies at.

While Nigeria supported April’s freeze initiative, Libya declined to join the talks.

OPEC members will meet on the sidelines of the International Energy Forum, which groups producers and consumers, in Algeria on September 26-28.

Top exporter, Saudi Arabia, appears to favour higher prices, although Iran, Iraq and Russia present obstacles to a deal, according to Reuters.

Saudi Arabia sharply raised expectations for a global production deal, with its Energy Minister, Khalid al-Falih, saying the country would work with OPEC and non-OPEC members to help stabilise oil markets.

“The comments by the Saudi energy minister give a positive indication that they are willing to go for a freeze deal but the question remains: on what level?” said an OPEC source from a key Middle Eastern producer.

“Will the freeze be at January levels? And what about Iran? And then there is Nigeria, which has lost a lot of production since January,” the source added.

The Russian Energy Minister, Alexander Novak, was quoted as saying that Russia was consulting with Saudi Arabia and other producers to achieve oil market stability, adding that the door was still open for more discussions on output freeze, if needed.

Saudi Arabia boosted output to 10.67 million barrels per day in July from 10.2 million in January, when the freeze idea first emerged.

Since 2014, Saudi Arabia, OPEC’s de facto leader, has been raising output to drive higher cost producers out of the market and win back share from rivals such as the United States, where output soared on the back of the high oil price of the past decade.

As a result, oil prices collapsed to $27 per barrel in January from as high as $115 in mid-2014, capping output of the US but also hitting hard Saudi Arabia’s budget and resulting in a record fiscal deficit for Riyadh.

A previous attempt to freeze output at January levels to support prices collapsed in April after Saudi Arabia said it wanted all producers, including regional rival Iran, to join the initiative.

Iran had argued that it needed to regain market share lost during years of Western sanctions, which have been only softened in January.

Over the past few months, Iran, OPEC’s third biggest producer, has boosted output close to pre-sanctions levels and has repeatedly signalled it has no plans to join the freeze initiative.

But since the collapse of freeze talks in April, Iran is no longer the only obstacle to the deal.

Iraq, OPEC’s second largest producer, which in April was saying it would support the deal, has since agreed with oil majors on new contract terms to develop its massive fields, which will allow output to rise further next year by up to 350,000 bpd.

Nigeria and Libya could present further complicating factors, Reuters quoted delegates as saying.

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

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Merger and Acquisition

Shell to Sell $9.5bn Permian Asset to ConocoPhillips After Announcing Nigeria Onshore Exit

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Shell

Royal Dutch Shell is set to sell its Permian Basin assets to ConocoPhillips for $9.5 billion in cash, an exit from the largest United States oilfield for the energy major, which is now shifting its focus to the clean energy transition.

Earlier in the year, the company likewise said it was launching a major divestment of its Nigerian assets, especially those in the shallow-water and onshore, in a deal which could be one of the hugest in the oil and gas industry in Africa ever.

The Minister of State, Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva and Shell officials have confirmed that talks have been ongoing, although a recent report announced that some glitches were holding up the discussions.
The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), a major party to the ongoing talks, last month pledged to protect the interest of Nigeria in any transaction involving international oil companies, including shell, if they are interested in divesting from the country.

Group Managing Director of the corporation, Mallam Mele Kyari, said that although the NNPC cannot stop any of the oil concerns from deciding to sell off any of their assets, but the rules must be strictly followed.
Against the backdrop of plans by Shell to fully sell off its subsidiary, Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) “because the company’s future plans no longer align with the operations of the Nigerian subsidiary” the NNPC boss noted that having learnt from previous experiences.

He noted that the corporation was developing requisite divestment policies that will provide clear guidelines and criteria for exiting of partners’ interest in all its Joint Venture (JV) and Production Sharing Contracts (PSC) arrangements.

Kyari stated that Nigeria will leverage on its rights of pre-emption as well as evaluating the operational competency and track records of new partners, adding that the corporation will pay particular attention to abandonment and relinquishment costs; severance of operator staff; third party contract liabilities; and competency of the buyer as well as post purchase competence in technical, operational, and financial issues.

In May, Shell’s Chief Executive Officer, Ben van Beurden, while speaking at the company’s annual general meeting, said that Shell could no longer afford to be exposed to the risk of theft and sabotage.

But for ConocoPhillips, it is the second sizable acquisition in a year in the heart of the U.S. shale industry, as American and European producers diverge in whether to focus on hydrocarbons going forward.
Like all of the world’s largest oil companies, Shell is under pressure from investors to reduce fossil-fuel investments to help reduce global carbon emissions and fight climate change.

Shell and BP Plc have set targets to slowly move away from crude production while investing in non-fossil energy sources like solar and wind power, while U.S. producers including Exxon Mobil and Chevron are doubling down on hydrocarbons.

Through the deal, ConocoPhillips sides with the latter, but concurrently announced it would tighten its targets for cutting greenhouse gas emissions, an acknowledgement of heightened focus on climate considerations.

ConocoPhillips is acquiring around 225,000 net acres, as well as over 600 miles of associated infrastructure, according to its statement announcing the transaction. This builds on its existing portfolio of 750,000 net acres in the Permian.

U.S. shale producers have used mergers and acquisitions to boost their size to compete against the largest operators and lower production costs through economies of scale.

To help pay for the deal, ConocoPhillips will hike its own divestment targets by 2023 to between $4 billion and $5 billion, up from between $2 billion and $3 billion.

For Shell, selling the Permian assets will leave its U.S. oil and gas production almost entirely in the offshore Gulf of Mexico, where it is the largest single producer. It sold its Appalachian gas assets last year.

Shell will return $7 billion of the proceeds to shareholders as dividends on top of existing commitments, with the rest going to pay down debt, it said. Conoco also announced it would increase quarterly cash payments to shareholders by 7 per cent from December 1, according to a Reuters report.

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Appointments

deVere Appoints First Chief Diversity Officer

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deVere Group - Investors King

deVere Group, one of the world’s largest independent financial advisory, asset management and fintech organisations, has appointed Beverley Yeomans as its inaugural Chief Diversity Officer (CDO).

Based in Malta, Ms Yeomans, who is also the Chief Operating Officer for the game-changing group, takes up the additional role with immediate effect and reports directly to the founder and CEO, Nigel Green.

Mr Green comments: “deVere is committed to making our globe-spanning organisation even more inclusive, diverse and equitable. To ensure that this critical commitment is successful, we needed someone who knows our culture inside out to lead the charge.

“Beverley has been at the top of her game in a senior executive role and on the Board, for some 22 years in a highly male-dominated sector.  Due to traditional industry biases, it’s a depressing reality that very few women have ever achieved this level, so young, and for this long in international financial services.

“But Beverley tore-up that ‘rule book’, breaking down barriers and leading by example. She was the ideal person to become our first-ever Chief Diversity Officer.”

For her part, Ms Yeomans says: “I’m thrilled to be taking on this extra role and help our group further incorporate diversity and inclusion in the way we operate day-to-day, as well as attracting and retaining the very best diverse talent.

“I’m excited to get going on building on the strong foundations we have already created at deVere, helping to galvanise the culture of inclusion.”

deVere has the most diverse and inclusive staff in the international financial services sector.  This is in no small part due to the tireless work and expertise of Beverley Yeomans.

“But there’s much, much more to do,” she says. “We will continue to lead the drive. Why? Because it is the right, fair thing to do and it makes for a better and stronger organisation.”

Ms Yeomans goes on to say: “I look forward to launching bold, innovative ideas and being a catalyst for promoting an even more inclusive work environment where all our people belong and thrive.”

Nigel Green concludes: “deVere isn’t an organisation that pays lip service to diversity. We’re taking measurable action.”

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Appointments

MarketForce Appoints FMCG Distribution Veteran Arthur Bourekas as Chief Commercial Officer

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Marketforce - Investors King

MarketForce, the Kenya and Nigeria-based B2B platform for retail distribution of consumer goods and digital financial services in Africa, is pleased to announce the appointment of Arthur Bourekas as the Chief Commercial Officer, effective 1st October 2021.

Mr. Arthur has over 25 years of experience executing commercial growth, logistics and distribution in some of the most challenging countries in the world. He worked for A.G. Leventis (Nigeria) PLC and PZ cussons in Nigeria, Indonesia, Malaysia and Australia. He is a veteran FMCG distribution expert in Africa, where he has spent over 17 years supporting conglomerates listed on the NSE to conquer African markets, including running an affiliate company supporting Coca-Cola Hellenic in Nigeria (one of the largest Coca-Cola bottling companies in the world).

Most recently, Arthur was involved –  at a very senior level – with Alerzo, a Nigerian B2B retail-tech startup that also helps retailers stock inventory directly from manufacturers.

“FMCG distribution in Africa is yet to be done effectively. Even multinationals with years of experience often can optimize their distribution and add real sales growth to their business. Innovation and focus is key! I am confident that with the platform MarketForce has built so far, along with the expertise being built within the organisation, we are destined to revolutionise the sector and become a formidable force.” – Arthur Bourekas, New Chief Commercial Officer of MarketForce.

Running sales operations, logistics and distribution in the most populous countries in both South East Asia and Africa brings to MarketForce a multitude of partnerships, commercial, logistics and distribution skill sets. These countries have thousands of islands, regional geo-political complexities and a combined 500M people – the kind of experience that matches MarketForce’s ambitions to be the largest B2B retail distribution company in sub-saharan Africa.

“Arthur aligns to our ambitious growth plans and brings significant expertise into this new, critical role for MarketForce as we empower informal merchants to maximise their profits and grow in a digital age. His extensive emerging market experience, ability to drive commercial growth, and depth of technical distribution knowledge in Nigeria will be valuable in our efforts to deepen our East Africa market reach while expanding into the West African market.” – Tesh Mbaabu, Co-Founder and CEO of MarketForce.

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