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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.

Is the CEO/Founder of Investors King Limited. A proven foreign exchange research analyst and a published author on Yahoo Finance, Nasdaq, Entrepreneur.com, Investorplace, and many more. He has over two decades of experience in global financial markets.

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Energy

Refining Sector Accounts For 3% of Global Emission – ARDA

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The African Refiners and Distributors Association (ARDA) has revealed that the refining sector only accounts for 3% of the global energy sector emission. 

Oil and Refining Research Analyst, Maryro Mendez, stated this at the second Refining and Specifications Virtual Workshop organised by the ARDA and monitored by Investors King.

According to Mendez, “the refining sector accounts for only three percent of the global energy sector emissions. While refineries’ contribution to global energy sector emissions is low, the opportunities for reducing them are significant.

“Refineries globally have started thinking about measuring, monitoring and reducing carbon emissions and environmental sustainability has to be a priority for refiners and Africa is no exception.”

According to her, because fuel combustion accounts for 80% of refinery carbon emissions, fuel source and energy optimization would provide the greatest chance to minimize emissions.

“The challenge is not technical but is commercial with facilities requiring sufficient incentive and capital to invest without impacting on their competitive position”, she added.

The association further revealed that Nigeria and other African countries would need to minimize sulphur levels while noting that upgrading their existing refineries would require at least $15.7 billion.

Anibor Kragha, ARDA’s Executive Secretary stated that adopting a standardized specification will prevent the importation of fuels that do not match AFRI specifications into Africa.

“New process units required are to improve key fuel specifications, especially Naptha Hydrotreater (NHdT), Diesel Hydro-desulph. (DHDS), Benzene Extraction, Sulphur, and Hydrogen Plants.

“Another key focus area is for African countries, especially those sharing common fuel supply chains to develop an integrated policy covering both fuel quality and vehicle exhaust emissions.

“This is to achieve the ultimate objective of clean air in our African cities. Without this integrated and coordinated policy, the objective of clean air will not be realized whether by imports or local production,” he said.

The idea for an African refinery association was conceived in the late 1970s, and the first sub-Saharan African initiative – the Association of Refiners and Distributors of Oil Products (ARDIP) – was launched in September 1980, led by the SIR refinery in Cote D’Ivoire, with counterpart refineries in Senegal, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ghana, and Gabon.

Mr Joel Dervain, the then Managing Director of SIR, re-activated the campaign for an association to promote technical and commercial best practices among African refiners and their stakeholders in 2006. The African Refiners Association (ARDA) was then created on March 23, 2006 in Cape Town, South Africa, with the help of his colleagues at SONARA, SAR, TOR, SOGARA, and NATREF.

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African Energy Chamber to Host Energy Transition Forum at The 2022 Energy Week  

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African Energy Chamber (AEC) says it will host the Energy Transition Forum, in partnership with public and private sector organisations, government representatives, energy stakeholders and investors in October. 

In a statement made available to Investors King AEC stated that “The Energy Transition Forum will address critical issues such as the lack of adequate funding, the diversification of the energy mix, workforce development, and regulatory reforms necessary to enable Africa to expand its energy sector to address energy security, affordability, access, and sustainability matters”.

“With some 600 million people across the continent living in energy poverty and over 900 million without access to clean cooking, Africa needs to exploit all of its vast natural resources in order to make energy poverty history by 2030. In this respect, stakeholders across the continent are opting for an integrated approach to developing energy resources whereby every resource is utilized in order to kickstart economic growth and electrification. With over 125.3 billion barrels of crude oil, 620 trillion cubic feet of gas, and nearly 16.4 billion short tons of coal, the continent is well-positioned to drive economic growth,” it added. 

Executive Chairman of the AEC, NJ Ayuk, said: “With nearly 66 per cent of the world’s population living without electricity access based in Africa, the continent needs to ramp up the production of all its energy resources including gas, oil, wind and solar to ensure energy poverty is history by 2030. The AEC is honored to host the Energy Transition Forum at AEW 2022 where an African narrative of a just and inclusive energy transition that is fit for Africa will be developed. We will go from Cape to Cairo with a well-defined African message. Africans and the energy sector have a rare chance to define the narrative and we must.” 

The Energy Transition Forum is bringing together investors, regulatory authorities and energy market players to discuss the role of gas in Africa’s energy future and energy transition. The challenges of limited investments in gas exploration, production, and infrastructure development in gas-rich countries such as Nigeria, Algeria, Egypt, Niger, and Mozambique will also be addressed.

According to the AEC, climate change continues to impact Africa, leading to an increasing number of African countries such as Nigeria, Namibia, Morocco, South Africa, Uganda, and Kenya introducing policy reforms and initiatives to scale up renewable energy penetration in Africa. 

Investors King gathered that Nigeria has vowed to achieve climate neutrality by 2060 by increasing the share of natural gas and renewables in its energy mix while Namibia aims to make the development of hydrogen central to its energy policy. At the same time, South Africa has introduced its Hydrogen Society Roadmap to fast-forward the development of local content and hydrogen infrastructure whilst Morocco’s Law 13-09 and Egypt’s net metering scheme aims to expand distributed renewables development.

The chamber added that the AEW 2022, under the theme – “Exploring and Investing in Africa’s Energy Future while Driving an Enabling Environment” will feature high-level meetings and panel discussions where government ministers, investors, academia, and energy market stakeholders will discuss how Africa can attract funding to boost exploration, production and infrastructure development to ensure secure supply while remaining a climate champion. 

The African Energy Week is scheduled to take place from 18th – 21st October 2022 in South Africa at Africa’s premier event for the oil and gas sector.

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Siemens Announces Plan to Transit From Fossil to Sustainable Energy

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Technology giant, Siemens Energy has announced a transit from fossil to sustainable energy through a management restructuring and shares evaluation.

This comes after the company launched a voluntary cash tender offer to acquire all outstanding shares in Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy, or approximately 32.9 percent of Siemens Gamesa’s share capital which it does not already own.

Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Siemens Energy AG, Joe Kaeser, said: “The full integration of SGRE is an important milestone for Siemens Energy’s positioning as a driver of the energy transition from fossil to sustainable energy solutions.

“This will benefit customers, employees, shareholders, and ultimately society. It is critical that the deteriorating situation at SGRE is being stopped as soon as possible, and the value-creating repositioning starts quickly. The Supervisory Board strongly supports the Executive Boards plans for the integration of SGRE”.

According to a statement from the company, starting from October, the former gas and power segment will be divided into three business areas.

The largest of the new business areas, with sales of around 9 billion euros (9.6 billion dollars), is gas services. This included the gas and large steam turbine business and associated services.

It is followed by grid technologies with sales of 5.8 billion euros in the areas of power transmission and energy storage. The smallest business area is the transformation of the industry with sales of 3.9 billion euros.

Here, the focus was on reducing energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions in industrial processes from hydrogen to automation and industrial steam turbines to compressors. Logistics, IT and procurement divisions were to be bundled together.

The removal of some levels of management at Siemens Energy was expected to bring faster decision-making processes. Where there were previously up to 11 levels in the firm’s hierarchy, there would be a maximum of six in the future. This would eliminate around 30 per cent of the previous management positions, Siemens Energy said. The employees affected would be given other tasks within the business, according to the statement.

Siemens Energy claims that after full integration, the combined group could see cost synergies of up to EUR 300 million within three years, owing to lower supply chain and logistics costs, aligned project execution, joint and integrated R&D efforts, and cost savings through an optimized administrative setup.

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