- Steel Industry Capable of Revamping Economy if Properly Harnessed
A member of the House of Representatives, Emmanuel Egwu (APC-Kogi), has called on the Federal Government to revamp Ajaokuta Steel Company Limited (ASCL) in Kogi state.
According to the lawmaker, revamping the company would help in the diversification of the nation’s economy and reduce the country’s over dependence on oil.
He explained that the steel plant in Ajaokuta was designed to be the driving force of Nigeria’s technological advancement.According to Egwu, the need to revamp the nation’s steel sector is now more compelling than ever before as the global oil price continues to drop.
“However, since its inauguration in 1983, the company has been embroiled in managerial ineptitude and controversies. Obsolete machines like outdated blast furnace model are also challenges plaguing the establishment,” he noted.
He further said that in spite of its initial completion, the plant had suffered years of neglect under successive administrations.“Kogi State is endowed with a lot of human resources, but unfortunately have not been able to metamorphose into infrastructural development, which is a serious concern to many. The state is faced with several abandoned federal projects which call for urgent attention.
“Most significant is that of the iron and steel Industry that would have been a hub for development in Africa. The iron ore industry that is supposed to be at Itakpe has not been maximally explored which is not of good Interest for Nigeria and even the international community,” he said.
He added that not much had been done about Iron and steel industry, therefore called on the federal government to intensify efforts at revamping the Iron and steel industry in the country.
He however expressed confidence that if the steel sector is given further attention, it would boost rapid infrastructural development in Nigeria, Africa and would also meet the international needs of the industrialised nations.
“We are talking about diversification to mineral resources. The first significant step should be Iron Ore. At the international level, there is no way you can go into development without iron.
“It is the need of every country, so I think it is another area that the country should have diverted to with significant attention that would boost the economy of the country,” he said.
On efforts made to address the issue on the floor of the House, Egwu said that motions on Iron and steel industry had been raised severally.
Egwu added that the state government’s delegation would be meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari soon on how to address the matter.“We are thinking of how to foster a consolidated forum that will meet with Mr President but of course, I think we would need the governor of the state who has to be a major stakeholder in that delegation.
“I think when that is resolved, we would move to the president to seek for his attention on this noble industry that has been abandoned for many years. When we meet with the President, one of our demands would be on the need for industrialisation of the Iron and steel, another is to see how we can boost the agricultural terrain in Kogi,” he said.
Oil Prices Decline on Rising India COVID-19 Cases, U.S Inflation Concerns
Global oil prices extended a decline on Friday following a 3 percent drop on Thursday as coronavirus cases rose in India, one of the world’s largest oil consumers.
Brent crude oil, against which Nigerian oil is priced, declined by 35 cents or 0.5 percent to $66.70 a barrel at 5 am Nigerian time on Tuesday while the U.S West Texas Intermediate (WTI) fell by 28 cents or 0.4 percent to $63.54 per barrel.
“The commodity super cycle rally just hit a hard stop and the energy market doesn’t know what to make of Wall Street’s fixation over inflation and the slow flattening of the curve in India,” said Edward Moya, senior market analyst at OANDA.
“The crude demand story is still upbeat for the second half of the year and that should prevent any significant dips in oil prices,” he added.
Prices dropped over a series of key economic data that stoke inflation concerns and forced experts to start thinking the Federal Reserve could raise interest rates to curb the surge in inflation.
An increase in interest rates typically boosts the U.S. dollar, which in turn pressures oil prices because it makes crude oil more expensive for holders of other currencies.
This coupled with the fact that India, the world’s third-largest oil consumer, recorded more than 4,000 COVID-19 deaths for a second straight day on Thursday, dragged on the oil outlook in the near term.
Brent Crude Rises to $69 on IEA Report
Oil prices rose after the release of the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) closely-watched Oil Market Report, with WTI Crude trading at above $66 a barrel and Brent Crude surpassing the $69 per barrel mark.
Prices jumped even though the agency revised down its full-year 2021 oil demand growth forecast by 270,000 barrels per day (bpd) from last month’s assessment, expecting now demand to rise by 5.4 million bpd. The downward revision was due to weaker consumption in Europe and North America in the first quarter and expectations of 630,000 bpd lower demand in the second quarter due to India’s COVID crisis.
The excess oil inventories of the past year have been all but depleted, and a strong demand rebound in the second half this year could lead to even steeper stock draws, the IEA said yesterday, keeping an upbeat forecast of global oil demand despite the weaker-than-expected first half of 2021.
However, the upbeat outlook for the second half of the year remains unchanged, as vaccination campaigns expand and the pandemic largely comes under control, the IEA said.
Moreover, the global oil glut that was hanging over the market for more than a year is now gone, the agency said.
“After nearly a year of robust supply restraint from OPEC+, bloated world oil inventories that built up during last year’s COVID-19 demand shock have returned to more normal levels,” the IEA said in its report.
In March, industry stocks in the developed economies fell by 25 million barrels to 2.951 billion barrels, reducing the overhang versus the five-year average to only 1.7 million barrels, and stocks continued to fall in April.
“Draws had been almost inevitable as easing mobility restrictions in the United States and Europe, robust industrial activity and coronavirus vaccinations set the stage for a steady rebound in fuel demand while OPEC+ pumped far below the call on its crude,” the IEA said.
The market looks oversupplied in May, but stock draws are set to resume as early as June and accelerate later this year. Under the current OPEC+ policy, oil supply will not catch up fast enough, with a jump in demand expected in the second half, according to the IEA. As vaccination rates rise and mobility restrictions ease, global oil demand is set to soar from 93.1 million bpd in the first quarter of 2021 to 99.6 million bpd by the end of the year.
OPEC Expects Increase In Global Oil Demand Raises Members’ Forecast on Crude Supply
The Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) yesterday lifted its forecast on its members’ crude this year by over 200,000 bpd and now expects demand for its own crude to average 27.65mn bpd in 2021.
This is almost 5.2mn bpd higher than last year and around 2.7mn b/d higher than an earlier estimate of the group’s April production.
According to the highlights of the organisation’s latest Monthly Oil Market Report (MOMR), OPEC crude is projected to rise from 26.48 million bpd in the second quarter to 28.7 million bpd in the third and 29.54 million bpd in the fourth quarter of the year.
The report also indicated a fall in Nigeria’s crude production from 1.477 bpd in February to 1.473, a difference of just about 4,000 bpd before rising again in April to 1.548 million bpd, to add 75,000 bpd last month.
OPEC stated that its upward revision of members’ crude was underpinned by a downgrade in the group’s forecast for non-OPEC supply, which it now expects to grow by 700,000 bpd to 63.6mn b/d against last month’s report’s projection of a 930,000 bpd rise to 63.83mn bpd.
The oil cartel projected that US crude output would drop by 280,000 bpd this year, compared with its previous forecast for a 70,000 bpd decline.
On the demand side, OPEC kept its overall forecast unchanged from last month’s MOMR, stressing that it expects global oil demand to grow by 5.95 million bpd to 96.46 million bpd this year, partly reversing last year’s 9.48mn bpd drop.
Spot crude prices fell in April for the first time in six months, with North Sea Dated and WTI easing month-on-month by 1.7 percent and 1 percent, respectively.
On the global economic projections, the cartel said stimulus measures in the US and accelerating recovery in Asian economies might continue supporting the global economic growth forecast for 2021, now revised up by 0.1 percent to reach 5.5 percent year-on-year.
This comes after a 3.5 percent year-on-year contraction estimated for the global economy in 2020.
However, global economic growth for 2021 remains clouded by uncertainties including, but not limited to the spread of COVID-19 variants and the speed of the global vaccine rollout, OPEC stated.
“World oil demand is assumed to have dropped by 9.5 mb/d in 2020, unchanged from last month’s assessment, now estimated to have reached 90.5 mb/d for the year. For 2021, world oil demand is expected to increase by 6.0 mb/d, unchanged from last month’s estimate, to average 96.5 mb/d,” it said.
The report listed the main drivers for supply growth in 2021 to be Canada, Brazil, China, and Norway, while US liquid supply is expected to decline by 0.1 mb/d year-on-year.
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