Saudi Arabia cuts oil prices for Asia amid China lockdowns

News Network
May 8, 2022

Riyadh, May 8: Saudi Arabia cut oil prices for buyers in Asia as coronavirus lockdowns in China weigh on demand, countering uncertainty around Russia’s supplies as the Ukraine war drags on.

Saudi Aramco is lowering prices for the first time in four months. The state-controlled company dropped its key Arab Light crude grade for next month’s shipments to Asia to $4.40 a barrel above the benchmark it uses, from $9.35 in May. That’s in line with a Bloomberg survey of refiners and traders from late April that forecast a $5 decrease.

Aramco also lowered all grades for the north west Europe region and almost all for the Mediterranean. Prices for US customers were kept unchanged from May.

Saudi Arabia raised its crude to record levels in the past two months after prices surged above $100 a barrel when Russia invaded Ukraine. Russian exports have already fallen and may drop further as the European Union moves closer to formally sanctioning energy supplies from the country.

While the war has tightened the global oil market, Beijing’s Covid Zero strategy has lead to China’s largest demand shock since the early days of the pandemic. Consumption of gasoline, diesel and aviation fuel last month was expected to slide 20% from a year earlier, Bloomberg reported on April 22.

China’s Strategy

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang warned in a statement on Saturday of a “complicated and grave” employment situation as the government tries to contain Covid. China’s leaders doubled down on their strategy last week, warning against any attempts to question the approach even as economic activity contracts amid factory closings and supply-chain disruptions.

Still, the world’s biggest independent oil trader said on Sunday that China’s measures were working as far as stopping the spread of the virus is concerned.

“It’s obviously a terrible situation for citizens of Shanghai and entire parts of Beijing have been told to work from home,” Mike Muller, Vitol Group’s head of Asia, said Sunday on a podcast produced by Dubai-based Gulf Intelligence. “But it hasn’t spiraled or snowballed into something really, really dramatic. Therefore people have not worsened their demand-loss projections from China.”

Aramco’s decision comes days after OPEC+, led by Saudi Arabia and Russia, agreed to continue increasing crude output only gradually, adding 432,000 barrels a day to the market in June. The 23-nation group has struggled to meet even that modest target.

Saudi Arabia sends more than 60% of its crude exports to Asia, with China, Japan, South Korea and India being the biggest buyers.

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News Network
June 20,2022

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New Delhi, June 20: Parts of Delhi witnessed massive traffic jams on Monday as the traffic police closed off several roads in view of a call for Bharat Bandh, and the Congress' protest against the Centre's Agnipath scheme and "vendetta politics" against Rahul Gandhi.

Massive traffic jams were witnessed at the Delhi-Noida-Delhi flyway, Meerut Expressway, Anand Vihar, Sarai Kale Khan, Pragati Maidan and Delhi-Gurugram border.

Long queues of slow-moving vehicles were seen in these areas.

Some commuters took to Twitter to share their plight.

While one commuter said he had been stuck in traffic for almost 30 minutes and was running late for the office, another asked people to avoid the Anand Vihar-Sarai Kale Khan stretch.

The Delhi Traffic Police, however, said their teams have been deployed at various spots to ensure a smooth flow of traffic.

Protests against the Centre's Agnipath scheme for defence recruitment have been going on in several parts of the country. Reportedly, some groups have given a call for a Bharat Bandh in some states to protest the scheme.

The Congress had announced on Sunday that lakhs of party workers will continue peaceful protests on Monday against the "anti-youth" Agnipath scheme and Rahul Gandhi's questioning by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in the National Herald money laundering case.

The Agnipath scheme, announced on June 14, provides for the recruitment of youths in the age bracket of 17-and-half to 21 years in the armed forces for only four years with a provision to retain 25 per cent of them for 15 more years. Later, the government extended the upper age limit to 23 years for recruitment in 2022.

In a series of tweets, the traffic police informed commuters about road closures.

Due to special traffic arrangements, inward movement of buses will be restricted in New Delhi beyond Gol Dak Khana Junction, Patel Chowk, Windsor Place, Teen Murti Chowk and Prithviraj Road, it said.

"Kindly avoid Gol Methi junction, Tughlak Road Junction, Claridges Junction, Q-point Junction, Sunehri Masjid Junction, Maulana Azad Road Junction & Man Singh Road Junction between 0800 hrs & 1200 hrs. Due to special arrangements, there will be heavy traffic movement on these roads," it added.

The traffic police also advised commuters to avoid Motilal Nehru Marg, Akbar Road, Janpath and Man Singh Road between 8 am and 12 pm.

The ED probe against Gandhi, who appeared before the agency for the fourth time on Monday, pertains to alleged financial irregularities in the Congress-promoted Young Indian Private Limited, which owns the National Herald newspaper.

The newspaper is published by the Associated Journals Limited (AJL) and owned by Young Indian Private Limited. 

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News Network
June 25,2022

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Mumbai, June 25: Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, reduced to a minority within the Shiv Sena, the party founded by his father Balasaheb Thackeray, has called a national executive meeting today amid rebellion by his minister Eknath Shinde.

Latest updates

>> The meeting will be held in Shiv Sena Bhavan at 1 pm and Mr Thackeray, who has contracted Covid, will join virtually. On Friday, Mr Thackeray convened a meeting of the district chiefs in which he said that the rebel MLAs wanted to "break the party".

>> "The Sena is not finished" and that people siding with the BJP must be questioned, Mr Thackeray said. "Those who want to leave are free to go openly.... I will create a new Shiv Sena," he added.

>> In a virtual address to party corporators, Mr Thackeray also accused the BJP of trying to finish off the Sena. "Shiv Sena is an ideology... BJP wants to finish it off because they don't want to share the Hindu vote bank with anyone," he said, adding that late Bal Thackeray had initiated the alliance with the BJP only to avoid a split in Hindutva votes.

>> Priyanka Chaturvedi, part of Team Uddhav, hit back at Mr Shinde's claim that the party was diverging from its ideology of Hindutva. "Which Hindutva teaches you to stab your party, which is like a family, in the back?" she said, asserting that ideology is being used as an excuse for the "BJP-backed" rebellion.

>> Sixteen MLAs who have joined rebel leader Eknath Shinde are likely to be served notices by the Deputy Speaker today. The names of these rebel MLAs have already been sent to the Maharashtra Assembly deputy speaker for initiating action of disqualification against them.

>> "We have given notice against 16 MLAs that they should be sacked. Now they will have to answer why action should not be taken against them. Despite issuing a letter to them, none of them attended party meeting on Wednesday in Mumbai," Sena MP Arvind Sawant said.

>> Despite being reduced to a minority, Team Uddhav is confident that it has the powers to issue whip against the MLAs. The party also said that the claims by the Eknath Shinde camp that is "the real Shiv Sena" has no merit. "The Shiv Sena is a registered regional party and Uddhav Thackeray is our chief. We have a Consitution through which party president is selected," Advocate Dharam Mishra from Shiv Sena legal cell said.

>> Mr Shinde, at the centre of rebellion against Mr Thackeray, has said that he has the support of more than 50 MLAs. "Nearly 40 of them are from the Shiv Sena," he told the press in an interview.

>> Mr Shinde, who is camping with the rebels in BJP-ruled Assam, has accused the Sena leadership of being inaccessible to party leaders. On Friday, he put out a video by rebel leader Yamini Jadhav in which she accused the party leadership of not caring for her despite she "suffering from cancer" since October last year. He will chair a meeting with the MLAs today to decide the next strategy.

>> The rebels are camping at a five-star hotel on the outskirts of Assam's main city, Guwahati. A young MP, known to be close to Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, is the pointsman, sources said, adding at least three Assam BJP ministers are closely overseeing logistical matters at the Guwahati hotel.

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News Network
June 17,2022

Secunderabad, June 17: One person has died and over 15 have been injured in Telangana's Secunderabad as violent protests against the new military recruitment policy, Agnipath, spread to the southern state after entering the third consecutive day in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, and Haryana. Protests have also been reported in West Bengal and Madhya Pradesh.

Telangana police resorted to aerial firing to disperse the angry crowd at the Secunderabad railway station as protests escalated into large-scale violence and arson, news agency PTI reported.

Protestors are demonstrating on railway tracks and have halted all train movement for the last three hours. Security forces are outnumbered as the railway station has been overrun by angry youth, who have already set three trains on fire.

Suman Kumar Sharma, an AC Power Car mechanic, narrated the horrifying scenes while the trains were being vandalised. He said there were around 5,000 people at the station and around 40 of them entered the train he was in. 

"They tried setting fire in the coach. They desperately tried to set fire to the power car, but we saved it. The passenger's things have been left behind and broken. Two gates were open, so we let the passengers go from one side. We told them, that the Railway Protection Force will keep them safe. We took the passengers out from here," he said.

Elderly people were also terrified. Some have left behind suitcases, spectacles, Aadhaar cards, and half-eaten packets of mixture strewn around inside the train, he added.

The railways are diverting trains so that they don't go through the Secunderabad station. The disruption began at 9 am when over 350 protestors took over the railway station. 

East Coast Express, Rajkot Express, and Ajanta Express were set on fire by violent mobs. 71 trains - 65 from Hyderabad Multi-Modal Transport System and six express - have been cancelled so far.

In Bihar, where the protests entered the third day, the house of Deputy Chief Minister Renu Devi was attacked as the new recruitment scheme that has set off a firestorm. "Such type of violence is very dangerous for the society. The protesters should remember that this is a loss for the society," Ms Devi, who is currently in Patna, said.

Two coaches of the Jammu Tawi Express train were set on fire in Bihar's Samastipur district, officials told NDTV, adding no one was hurt in the incident. A BJP office was also attacked in the Lakhisarai district. A mob set fire to the Islampur-Hatia express train which was stationed at the Islampur station in Nalanda. Three AC coaches are completely burnt down and several other coaches have been damaged.

In Uttar Pradesh, a mob entered a railway station in Ballia this morning and set a train coach on fire, and also damaged railway station property before the police used force to disperse them.

Over 200 trains have been affected - 35 trains have been cancelled while 13 short-terminated- since the protests erupted on Wednesday, according to the Railways.

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