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Ukraine Conflict Causing Huge Volatility in Energy Market -OPEC

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The Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) has stated that the ongoing war by Russia in Ukraine was causing huge volatility for the global energy market. Mr Mohammad Barkindo, OPEC Secretary-General, made the assertion while speaking at the virtual 62nd Meeting of the Joint Technical Committee (JTC) on Wednesday.

Barkindo noted that there were implications and possible far-reaching consequences of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.

He said: “As highlighted at our last meeting, the conflict has compounded the uncertainties related to the pandemic.

“It has heralded in further economic volatility, elevated risk premiums for oil, as well as many other essential commodities, given that both the Russian Federation and Ukraine are key global exporters, including of essential agricultural goods. “From the oil market perspective, however, what is clear is that Russia’s oil and other liquids exports of more than seven million barrels per day cannot be made up from elsewhere.

The spare capacity just does not exist.”

According to him, its potential loss, through either sanctions or voluntary actions, is clearly rippling through energy markets. “The crises we face are causing huge volatility, with daily price swings of more than $5 per barrel occurring on 13 occasions across March and April,” Barkindo said.

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He also recalled that April 2020 was the darkest and most sudden downturn in the history of the oil industry due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Barkindo said April 2020 saw global oil demand drop by more than 20mbpd with industries and businesses shuttered-in and populations locked down.

“None of us will ever forget April 20, 2020. On that day, the price of NYMEX WTI in the futures market plunged by 56 dollars/b to minus-37.6 dollars/b, the first ever drop into negative territory. “The markets were reacting to the situation with an unheralded bearish ferocity.

“It was a visceral moment for us all. I do not think any of us here ever envisaged a moment where sellers were literally paying buyers!

“However, the uncontrolled chaos over the month was also met by a landmark decision from OPEC and non-OPEC countries in the Declaration of Cooperation (DoC) on April 12,” Barkindo said.

He said the move was key to rescuing the industry from the precipice on which it stood, and in turn, assist with the resuscitation of the global economy. Barkindo said what recent events and developments imply was the continuing shift among policymakers to better understanding what was required in the energy transition.

He said: “It is not about moving from one energy to another; it is about utilising all available energies and understanding the energy security dimension of our future to enable the necessary investments.

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“This was clearly highlighted last month by U.S. investment bank, JP Morgan in its first annual energy outlook. “It said the world needs to find 1.3 trillion dollars of incremental investment by 2030 to boost all types of energy output and infrastructure from renewables to oil and gas to avoid an energy crunch.

“What we are seeing is a wake-up call to all stakeholders. We need to ensure there is a clear pathway for all energy investments.” Sustained investment in oil is required if we are to expand production and ensure adequate spare capacity, a vital cog in the oil market landscape.” (NAN)

Foreign News

Husband of Slain Kenyan Runner Tirop Seeks Plea Bargain

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The husband of slain Kenyan distance runner Agnes Tirop is seeking a plea bargain after initially denying a charge of murder, his lawyer said yesterday.

Tirop, a rising star in the world of athletics, was killed last October in her home in Iten, a high-altitude training hub in western Kenya for top runners.

Emmanuel Ibrahim Rotich was arrested after a dramatic late-night chase the day after Tirop’s body was found with stab wounds, and has been in custody ever since.

The 41-year-old denied a charge of murder at a November court appearance.

But in the latest twist in the legal saga, his lawyer Ngigi Mbugua told the Eldoret High Court that Rotich was willing to plead guilty to a lesser charge in the hope of attracting a more lenient sentence.

The prosecution said it was not against the idea of a plea bargain but wanted Tirop’s family to be involved in the process.

A hearing on Rotich’s request will take place on 22 September.

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US Beach Returned to Black Owners after 98 Years

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A prime beachfront resort seized from its black owners nearly 100 years ago has been returned to their descendants by officials in Los Angeles.

Bruce’s Beach was purchased in 1912 to create a beach resort for black people at a time of racial segregation in southern California.

Located in the desirable city of Manhattan Beach, it was forcibly taken by the local council in 1924.

But on Tuesday, Los Angeles officials voted to return the land to the family.

Willa and Charles Bruce bought the two lots of land for $1,225 in 1912. The beach is now worth an estimated $20m (£16.45m).

Willa told a reporter at the time: “Wherever we have tried to buy land for a beach resort, we have been refused, but I own this land and I am going to keep it.”

Over the next decade, Bruce’s Beach became a “citadel for African Americans coming there for leisure from all over the rest of southern California,” family spokesman Chief Duane “Yellow Feather” Shepard told the BBC last year.

But the local police department put up signs limiting parking to 10 minutes, and another local landowner put up no trespassing signs, forcing people to walk half a mile to reach the water, he said.

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When those measures failed to deter visitors, the local authorities seized the land under eminent domain laws – designed to let the government forcibly buy land needed for roads and other public buildings.

Officials claimed they planned to build a park. That did not happen until many decades later, and the area remained vacant in the interim.

On Tuesday, the motion to return the land acknowledged, “it is well documented that this move was a racially motivated attempt to drive out the successful black business and its patrons”.

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NATO to Agree on Biggest Defence Policy Changes since End of Cold War

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NATO leaders are expected to sign off on a major reinforcement of the alliance’s Eastern European members on Wednesday when they meet in Madrid to project a united stance amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The decision is a fundamental shift of deterrence and defence in the alliance, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said as the three-day summit began on Tuesday.

Stoltenberg was echoing previous comments ahead of the summit that described the move as “the biggest overhaul of (NATO’s) collective deterrence and defence since the Cold War.

The war in Ukraine has breathed new purpose into the Western alliance after years of internal discord as tensions grew between Europe and the U.S. under former U.S president Donald Trump.

French President Emmanuel Macron even remarked in 2019 that NATO was experiencing brain death as doubts grew about the alliance’s direction over trans-Atlantic tensions.

The chaotic end to the U.S. and NATO’s 20-year intervention in Afghanistan helped little until the Ukraine war underlined the alliance’s central aim: collective defence.

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has made even clearer how important NATO is for the future, Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said at the start of the summit.

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As well as new confidence, NATO is also attracting new members with Sweden and Finland deciding to abandon neutrality and pursue membership in view of the Russian invasion.

In an early boost to proceedings, Turkey agreed on Tuesday to drop its veto of Sweden and Finland’s entry to the alliance after significant pledges from both countries to combat terrorism.

Ankara had opposed both countries’ entry for weeks, charging both nations with supporting the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the YPG.

A Kurdish militia based in Syria, both of which Ankara classified as terrorist groups. Sweden and Finland refuted this.

On Wednesday the trans-Atlantic alliance is set to agree to position more equipment near Russia, including heavy weaponry; to boost troop numbers in multinational NATO battlegroups in Eastern Europe.

It will also expand rapid reaction forces from 40,000 to 300,000 soldiers.

The NATO Response Force (NRF) is usually under national command but can be requested for deployment to another ally by NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR).

NATO allies are still finalising details of the exact composition of the expanded battle groups in Eastern Europe, with some alliance members seeking to avoid costly permanent bases.

The Baltics, especially Estonia, have pushed NATO hard to shift tactics in light of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and move to the fully-fledged defence of alliance territory in Eastern Europe.

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This would replace a model to relinquish and later recapture lost ground.

The 30-strong Western defensive alliance was to also agree on a new strategic concept outlining NATO’s security tasks and missions, the first update since 2010.

The alliance’s security blueprint for the next 10 years is expected to categorise Russia as the most direct threat to NATO as well as address China for the first time.

NATO partner countries in the Indo-Pacific region Australia, New Zealand, Japan and South Korea were also taking part, a sign that the war in Ukraine has not completely occupied the alliance’s attention.

NATO members also planned to commit to providing Ukraine with long-term support including more equipment, supplies, training and help to transition away from Soviet-era military equipment.

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