LONDON — A group of some of the world’s most powerful oil producers will likely agree to continue increasing their output at a meeting on Tuesday, analysts say, as oil prices climb amid growing optimism over the fuel demand outlook.
OPEC and its non-OPEC partners, an alliance often referred to as OPEC+, will meet via videoconference to discuss the next phase of production policy.
It comes as the Middle East-dominated group, which is responsible for over one-third of global oil production, seeks to balance an expected upswing in demand with the potential for an increase in Iranian output.
OPEC+ announced massive crude production cuts in 2020 in an effort to support prices when the coronavirus pandemic coincided with a historic demand shock.
In April, the group opted to return 2.1 million barrels per day of supply back to the market over the May to July period, reflecting an optimistic outlook for improved mobility despite ongoing concerns about Covid worldwide.
OPEC+ is expected to reiterate this decision to gradually increase output during this week’s meeting.
“I think the event itself is going to be a non-event. We expect them to basically re-confirm the plan that they laid out on April 1,” Jeffrey Currie, global head of commodities research at Goldman Sachs, told CNBC’s “Street Signs Europe” on Tuesday. “I think the bigger issue underlying this is: How are they going to deal with Iran?”
Iran is currently in discussion with six world powers to revive its 2015 nuclear deal. The restoration of a deal could lead to more oil on the global market in the coming months.
“It’s too early to give specific numbers around Iran … So, I think the best you can hope for in terms of how they are going to deal with Iran is the indication that they are willing to offset any increases in Iran. That could be the positive upside surprise coming out of this meeting,” Currie added.
OPEC Secretary-General Mohammad Barkindo on Monday said in a statement that he did not believe higher Iranian supply would be a cause for concern.
“We anticipate that the expected return of Iranian production and exports to the global market will occur in an orderly and transparent fashion,” Barkindo said.
International benchmark Brent crude futures traded at $70.75 a barrel on Tuesday morning in London, up around 2%, while West Texas Intermediate crude futures stood at $68.11, more than 2.7% higher from Friday’s close — with no settlement price on Monday due to a U.S. public holiday.
Oil prices have climbed more than 30% since the start of the year.
Iran likely to act ‘constructively’
“I think everybody is expecting Iran to add a lot of volume. So, beyond the July increase, they aren’t likely to come out with any commitment,” Amrita Sen, chief oil analyst at Energy Aspects, told CNBC’s “Squawk Box Europe” on Tuesday.
“We know that as demand rises, we will need more OPEC barrels, but I think Iran is going to be the big question mark for them,” Sen said.
OPEC+ initially agreed to cut oil production by a record of 9.7 million barrels per day last year as global fuel demand collapsed, before easing cuts to 7.7 million and eventually 7.2 million from January. As of July, the group’s production cuts are on track to stand at 5.8 million.
“The most consequential issue for OPEC+ over the short term relates to the potential rise of Iranian production as a result of the US and Iran returning to JCPOA compliance,” analysts at Eurasia Group said in a research note, referring to the acronym for the nuclear deal: the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
Analysts at the risk consultancy said it believed progress in successive rounds of talks made a return to the deal likely in the third quarter of 2021.
“Over the medium term, OPEC+ will most likely adjust its policy to prevent the addition of Iranian barrels from derailing its market balancing strategy,” they continued. “Saudi Arabia will likely lean on Russia to better understand the scope of Iranian policy to work on adjustment plans. Iran would also probably act constructively as higher oil prices serve its own interests.”
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After Paris banned electric scooters, something surprising happened in the city
Paris raised eyebrows earlier this year when the city voted to ban shared electric scooters. While privately owned electric scooters were still allowed, the thousands of shared electric scooters that were commonly used by locals and tourists were forced to vacate the city, with unexpected results.
The idea for a shared electric scooter ban was originally floated late last year in response to the growing complaints by a vocal minority of citizens who objected to their widespread use around the city. Earlier this year, the referendum went up for a vote. Ultimately, the majority of voters on the day supported the proposed ban, though extremely low turnout meant that the measure passed despite garnering ‘yes’ votes from just 7% of registered voters in Paris.
Shared electric scooters were often seen as a way for commuters to avoid driving cars and for tourists to eschew rental vehicles in favor of smaller shared e-scooters. Because the scooters weren’t privately owned, they were ideal for both groups as an on-demand transportation solution.
At their peak, 15,000 electric scooters helped riders navigate the capital city.
While many predicted that a shared electric scooter ban could have a knee-jerk reaction to return to larger vehicles, a new study has shown that the effect may have bolstered dockless bike-sharing instead.
An interesting trend has emerged comparing September 2022 and October 2022 ridership levels of dockless bikes and scooters. The total number of rides has slightly decreased this year due to the expulsion of shared electric scooter companies. However, the number of dockless bike rides skyrocketed, more than doubling in just one year.
September 2022’s roughly 750,000 dockless bike trips became nearly 2 million trips in September 2023. Similarly, October 2022 saw a nearly identical jump in ridership.
The results seem to show that despite Paris banning shared electric scooters, Parisians still seek out and use shared mobility devices. Now, they appear to have merely shifted to shared bikes instead of shared scooters.
Less than a year after the shared electric scooter ban was enacted, a modal shift towards alternative shared mobility is clearly visible in the city.
Shared electric scooters are out, but shared micromobility seems to be going strong.
Whether Parisians will take a similarly hardline approach against a new growing ridership of dockless mobility devices has yet to be seen, but could also determine the fate of dockless bikes in the city.
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Chinese EV maker Nio to spin off battery unit: report
For years, Chinese EV maker Nio has essentially done it all, delving into high-end EV manufacturing, in-house batteries, autonomous driving, and chips, as well as innovative battery-swapping tech and even making smartphones, all while pulling in huge investments and talent to make that happen. Now, according to a new report, it’s looking to lighten the load.
As reported by Reuters, Nio now plans to spin off its battery unit in hopes of turning a profit, cutting costs, and improving efficiency – and offloading some of its ambitions to pursue end-to-end strategies in EV tech. The move could take place as early as the end of this month, after which the battery unit will seek outside investors, followed by a valuation, according to two people familiar with the matter who spoke to Reuters.
Nio’s current battery unit is headed by senior engineers who worked previously at Apple and Panasonic. During last year’s earnings report, CEO William Li said that the battery team comprised 400 people researching battery materials, cells, and battery management systems. In terms of the new company, the top engineers will presumably join the spin-off, while other employees will be merged into Nio’s other divisions, the report said.
Nio brought on a team of engineers “to mass-produce large cylindrical batteries similar to the Tesla 4680 in a planned plant in China’s eastern Anhui province in 2025 at the earliest,” Reuters writes. In February, reports stated that the plant would have an annual capacity to produce 40 GWh of batteries to power about 400,000 long-range EVs.
Nio of course hasn’t been immune to market pressures on EV makers, with a reported third-quarter loss of 4.56 billion yuan ($637.06 million) on Tuesday, a 10.8% increase from the same period a year ago. CEO Li, who has not mentioned any plans for a spin-off, is focusing on reassuring investors that the company isn’t in over its head, saying that they’ll cut staff by 10% and defer long-term investors to save up to 2 billion yuan in costs this year.
Nio has also partnered with Geely and state-owned Changan Automobile to develop EVs capable of battery swaps, making Nio the only passenger vehicle manufacturer advancing this potential. Nio, which already sells in Europe, is also looking to build a dealer network in the region to accelerate sales. It also has targeted 2025 as a goal for expanding to the US – no small ambition.
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