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Bitcoin Community Cheers as Miners Back New Scaling Framework

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  • Bitcoin Community Cheers as Miners Back New Scaling Framework

Bitcoin backers celebrated as the community embraced a new mechanism to improve usage and allow it to scale, boosting confidence in the virtual currency and sending prices back near record highs.

The community, which had been split on how best to make the cryptocurrency more manageable, rallied behind a code upgrade known as SegWit2x, which aims to increase the network’s transaction capacity. That fueled a rally on Thursday in bitcoin’s price against the dollar, which had plummeted from a peak in June as concerns grew about its future.

“We’re thrilled to get past this impasse,” said Andrew Lee, head of bitcoin-shopping startup purse.io, whose team celebrated with beers at their San Francisco office. The development opens “the doors to much-awaited innovations,” he said.

Bitcoin enthusiasts in New York and San Francisco, to Hong Kong and Tokyo, gathered in bars and offices to hold impromptu parties, while others took to Twitter and social media to cheer the move, as well as the price rally.

The impasse arose from a limit placed on the size of blocks underpinning the network in bitcoin’s early days, in order to prevent hacker attacks. As the virtual currency grew in popularity over the past nine years, transaction times and processing fees soared, curtailing the community’s ability to process payments with the same efficiency as services like Visa Inc. Miners and developers were locked in a heated debate for years on how best to upgrade the software, culminating in the recent clash.

More than 93 percent of miners who function as the backbone of the digital tokens network locked in support for BIP91, the first necessary step in implementing SegWit2x, according to Coin Dance, a website tracking adoption. Bitcoin’s miners are independent groups that verify and process bitcoin’s transactions by solving complex computational problems, in order to be rewarded by fees and creation of the digital currency.

SegWit2x is essentially a compromise between two main competing camps. One proposed a direct approach, seeking to increase the block size. The other, a group of developers known collectively as Core, pushed for a long-term solution by moving some data outside of the main network, a scheme called SegWit that had been resisted by miners because it also could diminish their influence. In the end, the miners agreed to adopt SegWit, but also increase the block size to 2 megabytes.

The upgrade isn’t final. The BIP91 lock-in has a grace period of about two days, during which miners will prepare to activate the software. It will then take about two weeks for SegWit to be fully adopted. Developers still warn about potential hacker attacks that could disrupt the process.

Then, three months from now, the community will face another challenge when some of the world’s biggest miners move to adopt the second phase of the proposal, the doubling of the blocksize. Still, many in the community agrees that the hard part is over, with prices seen stabilizing and strengthening.

“We do believe it will continue, now that we’ve gotten over this hump,” said Ryan Rabaglia, head trader at digital-trading company Octagon Strategy in Hong Kong.

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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Energy

Egbin Decries N388B NBET Debt, Idle Capacity

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Egbin-Power-Plant - Investors King

Egbin Power Plc, the biggest power station in Nigeria, has said it is owed N388bn by the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading Plc for electricity generated and fed into the national grid.

The company disclosed this on Tuesday during an oversight visit by the Senate Committee on Privatisation, led by its Chairman, Senator Theodore Orji, to the power station, located in Ikorodu, Lagos.

The government-owned NBET buys electricity in bulk from generation companies through Power Purchase Agreements and sells it to the distribution companies, which then supply it to the consumers.

The Group Managing Director, Sahara Power Group, Mr. Kola Adesina, told the lawmakers that the total amount owed to Egbin by NBET included money for actual energy wheeled out, interest for late payments and available capacity payments.

Egbin is one of the operating entities of Sahara Power Group, which is an affiliate of Sahara Group. The plant has an installed capacity of 1,320MW consisting of six turbines of 220 megawatts each.

The company said from 2020 till date, the plant had been unable to utilize 175MW of its available capacity due to gas and transmission constraints.

Adesina said, “At the time when we took over this asset, we were generating averagely 400MW of electricity; today, we are averaging about 800MW. At a point in time, we went as high as 1,100MW. Invariably, this is an asset of strategic importance to Nigeria.

“The plant needs to be nurtured and maintained. If you don’t give this plant gas, there won’t be electricity. Gas is not within our control.

“Our availability is limited to the regularity of gas that we receive. The more irregular the gas supply, the less likely there will be electricity.”

He noted that if the power generated at the station was not evacuated by the Transmission Company of Nigeria, it would be useless.

Adesina said, “Unfortunately, as of today, technology has not allowed the power of this size to be stored; so, we can’t keep it anywhere.

“So, invariably, we will have to switch off the plant, and when we switch off the plant, we have to pay our workers irrespective of whether there is gas or transmission.

“Sadly, the plant is aging. So, this plant requires more nurturing and maintenance for it to remain readily available for Nigerians.

“Now, where you have exchange rate move from N157/$1 during acquisition in 2013 to N502-N505/$1 in 2021, and the revenue profile is not in any way commensurate to that significant change, then we have a very serious problem.”

He said at the meeting of the Association of Power Generation Companies on Monday, members raised concern about the debts owed to them.

He added, “All the owners were there, and the concern that was expressed was that this money that is being owed, when are we going to get paid?

“The longer it takes us to be paid, the more detrimental to the health and wellbeing our machines and more importantly, to our staff.”

Adesina lamented that the country’s power generation had been hovering around 4,000MW in recent years.

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Crude Oil

Oil Rises on U.S. Fuel Drawdowns Despite Surging Coronavirus Cases

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U.S. Crude Oil - Investors King

Oil prices climbed on Wednesday after industry data showed U.S. crude and product inventories fell more sharply than expected last week, reinforcing expectations that demand will outstrip supply growth even amid a surge in Covid-19 cases.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures rose 48 cents, or 0.7%, to $72.13 a barrel, reversing Tuesday’s 0.4% decline.

Brent crude futures rose 34 cents, or 0.5%, to $74.82 a barrel, after shedding 2 cents on Tuesday in the first decline in six days.

Data from the American Petroleum Institute industry group showed U.S. crude stocks fell by 4.7 million barrels for the week ended July 23, gasoline inventories dropped by 6.2 million barrels and distillate stocks were down 1.9 million barrels, according to two market sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

That compared with analysts’ expectations for a 2.9 million fall in crude stocks, following a surprise rise in crude inventories the previous week in what was the first increase since May.

Traders are awaiting data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) on Wednesday to confirm the drop in stocks.

“Most energy traders were unfazed by last week’s build, so expectations should be high for the EIA crude oil inventory data to confirm inventories resumed their declining trend,” OANDA analyst Edward Moya said in a research note.

On gasoline stocks, analysts had expected a 900,000 barrel decline drop in the week to July 23.

“The U.S. is still in peak driving season and everyone is trying to make the most of this summer,” Moya said.

Fuel demand expectations are undented by soaring cases of the highly infectious delta variant of the coronavirus in the United States, where the seven-day average for new cases has risen to 57,126. That is about a quarter of the pandemic peak.

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Oil Price Rises To $74.70 Despite Delta Variant

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Oil prices - Investors King

Oil price inched higher on Tuesday despite the fast spreading COVID-19 Delta variant. Brent crude oil, against which Nigerian oil is priced gained, $0.20 or 0.27 percent to $74.70 per barrel on Tuesday at 12:05 am Nigerian time.

Delta variant is spreading in China, the world’s largest importer of crude oil, forcing crude oil investors to start cutting down on their oil demand projections.

The Delta variant is still spreading and China has started to clamp down on teapots, so their import growth would not be that much,” said Avtar Sandu, a senior commodities manager at Singapore’s Phillips Futures, referring to independent refiners.

Strong U.S. demand and expectations of tight supplies have helped crude oil to recover from a 7 percent slump recorded last Monday to mark their first gains in two to three weeks last week.

Global oil markets are expected to remain in deficit despite a decision by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and allies, collectively known as OPEC+, to raise production through the rest of the year.

There is seemingly a battle within the energy complex between the prevailing supply deficit engineered by OPEC+ and the threat of the COVID-19 Delta variant in regions with low vaccination rates,” said StoneX analyst Kevin Solomon.

The slow take-up of vaccinations will continue to limit some upside in oil demand in those regions, and there will be intermittent spells in the recovery in the coming months.

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