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U.K. Retail Sales Surge as Sunshine Overpowers Brexit Concern

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U.K. retail sales unexpectedly surged in the month after Britain voted to quit the European Union, as hot weather bolstered sales of clothing and footwear and a drop in the pound encouraged tourists to snap up watches and jewelry.

The volume of goods sold in stores and online jumped 1.4 percent, after dropping 0.9 percent in June, figures from the Office for National Statistics showed on Thursday, exceeding a prediction of 0.1 percent. Sales excluding auto fuel advanced 1.5 percent.

The report suggests the economy started the third quarter on a strong footing, even after the Brexit referendum knocked confidence and prompted the Bank of England to revise down its growth forecasts. The ONS collected the data between July 3 and July 30, making this the first full report since the vote.

“This relative resilience in spending is not too surprising since the fundamentals — such as low interest rates, inflation and a strong jobs market — remain supportive,” said Ruth Gregory, an economist at Capital Economics in London. “But we would be wary about reading too much into the jump” because the figures can be volatile and the weather effect may prove temporary, she said.

Warm days and promotions at department stores helped propel sales in so-called non-specialized shops by 3.9 percent, the most since December 2013. Food sales were up 0.6 percent, after sliding 1 percent in June. Textiles, clothing and footwear increased 3.5 percent.

Visitor Splurge

“Better weather this year could be a major factor,” said Joe Grice, the ONS’s chief economic adviser. “There is also anecdotal evidence from respondents suggesting the weaker pound has encouraged overseas visitors to spend.”

The pound has dropped more than 12 percent against the dollar since the Brexit vote, making goods cheaper for overseas buyers. Sales of watches and jewelry climbed 3.1 percent on the month and 16.6 percent from a year earlier, the most since November 2014.

Sterling jumped 0.8 percent after the data, rising to $1.3152 at 9:37 a.m. London time.

Thursday’s data may provide a fillip to the outlook, with consumer spending being a key driver of growth since the financial crisis. Even with confidence slumping in the aftermath of the referendum, the British Retail Consortium said its gauge of retail sales rose the most in five months in July.

Still, some economists say it will take time for the full effects of the decision to leave the EU to be fully felt. The BOE unveiled a package of stimulus earlier this month to cushion any slowdown. The measures included cutting interest rates to a record low 0.25 percent and fresh asset purchases.

Measured by the deflator, prices at stores — including petrol stations — fell an annual 2 percent in July, marking the 25th month in which retailers cut prices.

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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NNPC Plans Divestment Pathway For Joint Ventures Partnership

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The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has said it would outline policies to guide its joint venture partners (JVC) that wish to divest from joint ventures or the Nigerian oil and gas industry.

NNPC Group Managing Director, Mele Kyari on Monday said that Nigeria, as a key player in global energy security, was addressing its challenges, mainly fiscal, security and cost competitiveness, to stimulate investments in the oil and gas industry.

Kyari, who spoke in Lagos while delivering an address at the opening ceremony of the Nigeria Annual International Conference and Exhibition said, “NNPC, as a national oil company, is leading multiple initiatives to address this and other issues.

“As we celebrate the passage of the PIB, we have moved our focus to improve security architecture through collaboration with major stakeholders.”

According to him, the Nigerian Upstream Cost Optimisation Programme is working with operators and service contractors to challenge the cost of operations and increase profitability and growth in the industry.

“On the other hand, we are seeing a wave of divestment by oil majors operating in Nigeria. NNPC as a national oil company cannot stop partners from divesting their interest, even though it creates challenges for us in ensuring that we get the right and competent investors to take a position and add value to the assets.

“The NNPC will ensure that Nigeria’s national strategic interest is safeguarded by developing a comprehensive divestment policy that will provide clear guidelines and criteria for divestment of partners’ interest,” Kyari said.

He said the corporation would make clear distinctions between divestment of shares and operatorship agreements under various joint operating agreements while leveraging its rights of pre-emption and evaluating the operational competence and tract records of new partners.

Kyari said in order to sustain a prosperous business environment, particular attention would be paid to abandonment and relinquishment costs, severance of operator staff, third party contract liabilities, competency of the buyer, and post purchased technical, operational and financial capabilities.

He said the NNPC would declare its first dividend to Nigerians as it prepares to release its 2020 financial statements in the third quarter of this year.

The local unit of the Royal Dutch Shell had in May said that its onshore oil portfolio in Nigeria was ‘no longer compatible with its strategic ambitions.

“We have reduced the total number of licenses in onshore Nigeria by half. But unfortunately, our remaining onshore operations continue to be subject to sabotage and theft,” Chief Executive Officer, Ben van Beurden, told investors at the company’s AGM.

Early this year, Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited, Total E&P Nigeria Limited and Nigerian Agip Oil Company Limited concluded the sale of their combined 45 percent interest in Oil Mining Lease 17 and related assets in the Eastern Niger Delta to TNOG Oil and Gas Limited.

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Petrol Subsidy Likely to Gulp N2T This Year –Rainoil GMD

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Nigeria may end up spending N2 trillion on petrol subsidy this year if the current situation persists, the Group Managing Director, Rainoil Limited, Dr Gabriel Ogbechie, has said.

Ogbechie said this on Sunday at the Nigeria History Series of the Centre for Values in Leadership, themed ‘Indigenous participation in the downstream oil and gas sector’ moderated by Prof. Pat Utomi.

While lamenting the lack of deregulation in the downstream sector, he said the government was spending about N8m daily on petrol subsidy.

He described the sector as highly regulated, saying, “I wonder if there is any other sector of the economy that is as regulated as the downstream.”

He said, “The biggest elephant in the room today as far as the downstream is concerned is the failure, so to speak, of the government to deregulate the downstream – fixing the price at which petroleum products are sold, I believe, is very seriously harmful to this economy.”

According to him, the landing cost of the petrol imported into the country is about N300 per litre, based on the current naira-dollar exchange rate.

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Sirius Petroleum and Baker Hughes Collaborate on OML 65 Drilling in Nigeria

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Sirius Petroleum, the Africa-focused oil and gas production and development company, has signed a memorandum of understanding with Baker Hughes. The MoU names Baker Hughes as the approved service provider for Phase 1 of the Approved Work Program (AWP) of the OML 65 permit, a large onshore block in the western Niger Delta, Nigeria. Baker Hughes will provide a range of drilling and related services at a mutually agreed upon pricing structure to deliver the initial nine-well program.

Sirius has signed various legal agreements with COPDC, a Nigerian joint venture, to implement this program. COPDC has signed a Financial and Technical Services Agreement (FTSA) with the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC) for the development and production of petroleum reserves and resources on OML 65. The FTSA includes an AWP which provides for development in three phases of the block. and Sirius has entered into an agreement with the joint venture to provide financing and technical services for the execution of the PTA.

The joint venture will initially focus on the redevelopment of the Abura field, involving the drilling and completion of up to nine development wells, intended to produce the remaining 2P reserves of 16.2 Mbbl, as certified by Gaffney Cline and Associates (GCA) in a CPR dated June 2021.

Commenting, Toks Azeez, Sales & Commercial Executive of Baker Hughes, said: “We are extremely happy to have been selected for this project with Sirius and their JV partners. This project represents an important step towards providing our world-class integrated well-service solutions in one of the most prolific fields in the Niger Delta. Baker Hughes’ technological efficiency and execution excellence will help Sirius improve its profitability and competitiveness in the energy market.”

Bobo Kuti, CEO of Sirius, commented: “We are delighted to have secured the services of one of the world’s leading energy technology companies to work with our joint venture team to deliver the approved work program on the block. OML 65. We look forward to building a long and mutually beneficial partnership with Baker Hughes.”

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