Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen told lawmakers that the U.S. will continue to add jobs at a solid rate, though the recent average pace is probably higher than what’s sustainable over the long term and would eventually cause the economy to overheat.
The current course of the economy calls for a gradual increase in interest rates, something that doesn’t have a fixed timetable, Yellen said Wednesday, speaking before the House Financial Services Committee in an appearance focused mainly on regulation. “If we allow the economy to overheat, we could be faced with having to raise interest rates more rapidly than we would want,” she said.
The Fed, under former Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke and later Yellen, left rates near zero from the end of 2008 through December 2015 as it tried to stoke job growth in the wake of the Great Recession. The central bank raised rates late last year, but it’s delayed a follow-up increase amid overseas risks and as it waited for further evidence that the U.S. economy has healed.
Yellen last week argued that it made sense to put off a move for now amid signs that discouraged Americans who dropped out of the labor market are returning and looking for work, though she also agreed that the case for a rate rise has strengthened.
She reiterated on Wednesday that most members of the policy-setting Federal Open Market Committee expect a rate increase this year. That has economists looking to the Fed’s December meeting — the November gathering comes within a week of the U.S. election and isn’t followed by a press conference.
Nigeria Takes Bold Step to Energize Oil Sector: Plans to Revoke Dormant Exploration Leases
The Nigerian Upstream Petroleum and Regulatory Commission (NUPRC) has announced that the Federal Government is considering revoking inactive oil exploration leases granted to companies unable to conduct exploration activities.
Gbenga Komolafe, CEO of NUPRC, conveyed that only companies demonstrating robust technical and financial capabilities would retain their leases under the guidelines of the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA).
“Based on PIA, the commission is focused on delivering value for the nation, so only firms that are technically and financially viable will keep their leases,” affirmed Komolafe in a statement to Reuters.
He outlined that the commission plans to review existing leases, and the allocation of new leases will be contingent upon specific terms and conditions.
Current data from NUPRC reveals that over 60% of prospecting licenses, comprising 53 exploration leases issued since 2003, have expired. Of these, 33 licenses, including four entangled in contract disputes, have not been renewed.
While automatic revocation has not been exercised, the regulator signals a departure from allowing companies to indefinitely retain leases without meaningful exploration activities.
The enactment of the PIA in 2021 empowers the regulator to assess the technical and financial capabilities of companies holding oil exploration leases.
The Nigerian oil and gas sector has faced challenges, witnessing dwindling investments as major players exit onshore and shallow water assets due to security concerns, infrastructure sabotage, and legal disputes in the Niger Delta.
The proposed move aims to incentivize active exploration, addressing the sector’s stagnation and fostering renewed investor confidence.
Nigeria Eyes Oil Production Surpassing OPEC Quota Amidst Positive Projections and Global Collaborations
In a strategic move to exceed the OPEC-imposed oil production quotas, Nigeria, led by the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources (Oil), Senator Heineken Lokpobiri, is on a trajectory to outperform expectations.
The recent 36th OPEC and non-OPEC ministerial meeting projected Nigeria’s oil production quota at 1.5 million barrels per day (bpd) in 2024.
However, Lokpobiri revealed in a Twitter post that Nigeria currently produces 1.5 million bpd for crude and 300,000 bpd for condensate.
Addressing concerns about Nigeria’s ability to meet these targets, Lokpobiri assured, “What we are producing is much more than what is projected in the 2024 budget estimate.”
Despite discrepancies between OPEC’s projections and Nigeria’s budget estimates, the minister expressed confidence that the country would surpass the outlined targets.
Furthermore, to fortify Nigeria’s position in the global energy landscape, Lokpobiri engaged in a pivotal meeting with Baker Hughes Chairman, Lorenzo Simonelli, on the sidelines of the ongoing 28th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28).
Baker Hughes, a global energy technology company, expressed keen interest in sustaining and enhancing its investment in Nigeria’s oil and gas industry. Simonelli emphasized the company’s commitment to contributing to Nigeria’s energy transformation agenda and collaborating on sustainable energy practices.
Lokpobiri commended Baker Hughes for its longstanding partnership with Nigeria and affirmed the government’s commitment to creating an enabling environment for investments in the refinery sector.
The meeting set the stage for a promising collaboration that aligns with Nigeria’s objectives and contributes to global sustainable energy goals.
Oil Prices Face Downward Pressure Amid OPEC+ Uncertainty and Middle East Tensions
Oil prices find themselves caught in the crossfire of geopolitical tensions and the aftermath of the recent OPEC+ decision on Monday.
Brent crude oil, against which Nigeran oil is priced, shed 0.9% or 73 cents settled at $78.15 per barrel at about 7 am Nigerian time while the U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude oil experienced an 0.8% decline or 64 cents to $73.43 a barrel.
“Crude seems to be under continued pressure from the OPEC+ decision. Some degree of discounting of the deeper OPEC+ cuts is justified, but as of now, the crude complex has completely disregarded them,” stated Vandana Hari, the founder of Vanda Insights, an oil market analysis provider.
Last week, oil prices suffered a slump of over 2%, fueled by investor skepticism regarding the depth of supply cuts committed to by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies, collectively known as OPEC+.
Lingering concerns about sluggish global manufacturing activity added to the pessimism.
The OPEC+ cuts, declared as voluntary on Thursday, have raised doubts about the full implementation of the proposed reductions and left investors questioning the metrics for measurement.
As the global focus shifts to the Middle East, geopolitical tensions resurface with renewed hostilities in Gaza.
Against this backdrop, three commercial vessels faced attacks in international waters in the southern Red Sea, leading to heightened concerns over potential supply disruptions.
While the resumption of the Israel-Hamas conflict injected a bullish momentum into oil prices, analysts, including CMC Markets’ Tina Teng, remain cautious.
“However, oil prices may continue to be under pressure for the time being due to China’s disappointing economic recovery and the ramp-up of U.S. production”, Teng stated.
Amid this intricate web of challenges, the specter of additional sanctions on Russia and a potential pause in sanctions relief for OPEC member Venezuela by the White House further add layers of complexity to the already delicate global oil market.
As the world watches, uncertainties persist, shaping the future trajectory of oil prices in an intricate dance of geopolitics and market dynamics.
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