January 22, 2021

Germany may tax American gas imports in response to US sanctions against Nord Stream 2 pipeline

Klaus Ernst, the chairman of the German parliament’s Committee on Economic Affairs and Energy said that penalties against corporations engaged in the Russian-led gas-provision project are unacceptable.

“The fresh US sanctions against companies that participate in the construction of Nord Stream 2 won’t lead to the expected effect, but despite this, they are unacceptable,” the politician said.

Also on rt.com One more European firm caves to US pressure on Nord Stream 2 project – media

Ernst added that the US had no right to just promote the economic interests of the American gas sector, and at the same time to degrade their so-called allies, turning them into subordinates. The chairman also urged the federal government to summon the acting US ambassador and clearly explain the US position.

“It is also necessary to introduce penal duties on gas imports from the US,” Ernst said, expressing deep concern that the incoming president Joe Biden wouldn’t change the US’ “aggressive economic policy.”

The call comes shortly after the White House announced restrictions against Russian-flagged pipe laying vessel Fortuna over its involvement in the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia to Germany and Central Europe.

Also on rt.com Gazprom warns investors that Nord Stream 2 could be canceled as Trump announces more US sanctions in ‘parting gift’

“Although we do not comment on future sanctions measures, we will continue to exchange ideas with allies and partners on potential sanctions issues,” a spokesperson for the US embassy said, urging the German authorities to reconsider their position on Nord Stream 2.

The move came a day before Joe Biden’s inauguration. The President-elect has previously opposed the project, but it remains unclear whether he’ll follow President Donald Trump’s hard line on the issue.

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Article source: https://www.rt.com/business/512966-germany-us-gas-punitive-tariffs/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=RSS

IEA cuts global energy demand outlook as renewed lockdowns weigh on fuel sales

According to the energy agency, world oil demand is now expected to rise by 5.5 million barrels per day (bpd) to 96.6 million this year, following an unprecedented collapse of 8.8 million bpd in 2020.

“This recovery mainly reflects the impact of fiscal and monetary support packages as well as the effectiveness of steps to resolve the pandemic,” the agency said in a report published on Tuesday.

Also on rt.com Oil demand won’t fully recover until 2022 – IHS Markit

The IEA said that oil demand growth was projected to fall slightly during the first three months of this year but tougher government plans on additional travel restrictions could curb worldwide mobility once again. That has prompted the agency to trim its first-quarter forecast for oil demand growth to 94.1 million barrels per day. The downward revision would see oil demand return to near last year’s levels.

“The global vaccine rollout is putting fundamentals on a stronger trajectory for the year, with both supply and demand shifting back into growth mode following 2020’s unprecedented collapse,” said the report. “But it will take more time for oil demand to recover fully as renewed lockdowns in a number of countries weigh on fuel sales.”

The energy watchdog also said that higher demand will allow supply to start rising this year. “World oil supply is now expected to increase by 1.2 million bpd in 2021 following a record decline of 6.6 million bpd last year. Much more oil is likely to be required, given our forecast for a substantial improvement in demand in the second half of the year.”

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The IEA has assumed that during the second half of 2021, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and allied producers, known as OPEC+, will still withhold 5.8 million bpd of oil from the market as per the group’s April 2020 agreement.

“However, OPEC+ has taken a more flexible approach to market management and will meet monthly to decide on output levels,” it said.

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Article source: https://www.rt.com/business/512954-iea-cuts-global-oil-demand/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=RSS

Canada scrambles to save Keystone XL pipeline expansion before Biden administration scraps it

Earlier, Canadian and US media reported that President-elect Joe Biden would sign an executive order revoking the permit for expanding the Keystone XL pipeline on his first day in office. Works on extending the project had been halted under Barack Obama’s presidency, but restarted when President Donald Trump overturned his predecessor’s decision in 2019.

Also on rt.com The US has a lot of natural gas that may have to stay in the ground due to never-ending legal battles to get pipelines built

The latest news sent the shares of TC Energy, the Canadian energy major that operates the project, lower on Monday. Meanwhile, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney has urged Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to reach out to the incoming US administration before Biden takes the oath of office.

“This is the 11th hour and if this really is the top priority, as it should be, then we need the government of Canada to stand up for Canadian workers, for Canadian jobs, for the Canadian-US relationship, right now,” Kenney said, adding that Alberta’s financial exposure alone would exceed $783 million if the expansion doesn’t go ahead.

The official noted that Canada reserves the right to retain legal counsel and seek damages under international free trade agreements if the controversial pipeline project is scrapped.

“We hope President-elect Biden will show respect for Canada and will sit down and at the very least talk to us,” he said.

Also on rt.com Pipeline bottlenecks cost Canadian producers $20 billion

The Keystone XL pipeline is set to carry around 830,000 barrels of crude oil sands per day from the fields in Alberta to Nebraska in the US. Then, the oil would travel via existing routes to refineries at the Gulf of Mexico.

The $8 billion project has been strongly opposed by US landowners, Native American tribes and environmental groups, including Greenpeace. US Senator Bernie Sanders (D-Vermont) has also spoken against the idea of expanding the pipe’s capacities. 

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Article source: https://www.rt.com/business/512927-canada-protect-keystone-biden/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=RSS

EasyJet summer bookings jump 250% on hopes of lockdown restrictions easing

“We know there is pent-up demand – we have seen that every time restrictions have been relaxed – and so we know that people want to go on holiday as soon as they can,” he told the BBC, adding that EasyJet offers confidence for the post-pandemic travel market.

“We have been pleased to see that some customers are making plans for their summer holidays now, with EasyJet holidays bookings for summer ’21 up 250 percent compared to the same time last year, and with May currently proving to be the most popular month for holiday bookings at the moment.”

According to Lundgren, the vaccination program underway in the UK and Europe was “undoubtedly the key to unlocking travel again.” EasyJet was ready to ramp up its flying schedule as soon as customer confidence returned, he said.

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Under the new rules for travelers entering the UK, arrivals are required to produce proof of a negative coronavirus test up to 72 hours before departure and to self-isolate for up to 10 days after entering the country.

EasyJet, like other global airlines, has been struggling due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the associated travel restrictions. International carriers have lately announced thousands of job cuts, scrapping some of their routes. 

Tougher lockdown rules across Europe, the closure of air corridors, and uncertainty about travel post-Brexit have added to pressure on the travel industry at the start of the year.

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Article source: https://www.rt.com/business/512923-easyjet-summer-bookings-growth/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=RSS

Russian gasoline imports surge after lifted moratorium

Last year, after the oil price collapse and the crash in demand in the pandemic, Russia’s government banned between June and October imports of refined oil products, including gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel, to protect its refining industry from cheap imports. The ban on imports of gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, and gasoil was enacted to ensure the energy security of the Russian federation and stabilize the domestic fuel market, the government said in the decree at the time.

Also on rt.com Russia keeps global grain supplies high despite Covid crisis

Russia was considering the measure since early April after oil prices crashed and led to much cheaper refined oil products outside Russia. In Russia, however, the price of fuels didn’t change much because of the nature of its regulations.

Demand for oil products at Russia’s gas stations crashed by 40-50 percent because of the lockdowns in the spring, Alexander Novak, the then Energy Minister and currently Deputy Prime Minister, said at the end of April. 

Gasoline production at Russia’s oil refineries slumped to the lowest level in 15 years in May as the country curtailed crude oil production as part of the OPEC+ deal and as lockdowns slashed demand for fuels.

Read more on Oilprice.com: US shale is gaining influence over oil markets

Back in June, Russia’s independent fuel retailers’ association—which does not include the vertically integrated oil firms in Russia—said that the market shouldn’t expect a return of demand to pre-coronavirus levels in the following six months.

After the ban on fuel imports ended on October 1, Russia’s imports of gasoline jumped eight-fold in November from October in terms of volumes and surged seven-fold in terms of value, with November imports worth $4.9 billion, according to Federal Customs Service’s data cited by news agency TASS.

This article was originally published on Oilprice.com

Article source: https://www.rt.com/business/512922-russian-gasoline-imports-surge/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=RSS

Heathrow no longer Europe’s busiest airport as pandemic cripples travel demand

The key airport received some 22.1 million passengers in 2020 – a steep decline compared to the nearly 81 million travelers it welcomed in the previous, pre-pandemic, year. Due to the 73 percent collapse in passenger traffic, Heathrow is set to fall to third place among other European airports. 

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Istanbul Airport has already outpaced Heathrow by passenger numbers, welcoming around 23.4 million people last year, and is likely to become Europe’s number one airport for 2020. Heathrow is also set to fall behind Paris Charles de Gaulle. France’s main airport served some 21.1 million passengers in the January-November period, one million less than Heathrow had for the whole year.  

Global air hubs saw annual passenger numbers plummet between 70 and 80 percent for the pandemic year, but some hubs logged smaller declines, allowing them to rise in the rankings. For example, the largest Russian airport in terms of passenger and cargo traffic, Sheremetyevo International Airport, climbed three spots in the list of busiest European air hubs and now sits in fifth place. Sheremetyevo served 19.8 million passengers last year. 

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The new strain of Covid-19 threatens to deepen the crisis in the British aviation industry after dozens of countries halted travel to and from the country and the British government introduced new restrictions. Heathrow boss John Holland-Kaye previously noted that the current government measures, such as testing rules for people arriving in England, cannot be maintained in the long-term. He said “aviation is vital to us as a small island trading nation,” adding that he hopes that vaccines could facilitate a travel recovery later this year.

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Article source: https://www.rt.com/business/512865-heathrow-airport-travel-covid/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=RSS

Russia plans earliest-ever shipment of Arctic LNG to Asia

The cargo would become the earliest-ever shipment of liquefied natural gas to Asia, beating last year’s record by almost two weeks and paving the way for a record navigation season this year.

The exact timing of the LNG shipment will depend on weather conditions and the thickness of the ice, according to officials. “The possibility of such a voyage in May is under discussion,” said Nikita Sekretarev, spokesperson for Russia’s Sovcomflot shipping company. 

Stretching more than 5,000km between the Barents Sea and the Bering Strait, the NSR is the shortest passage between Europe and Asia. Its eastern part is usually shut for navigation for several months at the start of the year due to thick ice, which limits shipment potential. 

Also on rt.com Russian Arctic sea route shipping tops 33 million tons in 2020

Novatek sent an eastbound LNG cargo via the NSR with ice-breaker support in late May in 2020, which was the earliest start to the navigation season in the area to date. Shipments continued to Asia through January, making it a record long navigation season in the eastern Arctic.

Earlier this month, Novatek sent two LNG tankers (‘Christophe de Margerie’ and ‘Nikolay Yevgenov’) to China through the NSR. Industry officials said that the vessels don’t need ice-breaker support as the current conditions in the eastern Arctic are mild. Nevertheless, the tankers will use an ice-breaker on their return to Russia across the passage in February. 

According to Sovcomflot, which owns the ‘Christophe de Margerie’, a cargo ship has never made a February voyage in the eastern Arctic. The planned February return voyage is part of “the systemic efforts to gradually extend transit navigation in the eastern sector of the Arctic,” said Sekretarev, adding: “In the future, the goal is to set up safe year-round navigation” across the Northern Route.

Russia wants to turn the NSR into a major trade artery between Europe and Asia. Last year, 33 million tons of freight were transported using the Arctic route.

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Article source: https://www.rt.com/business/512851-russia-arctic-lng-shipment-asia/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=RSS

Beijing urges US to stop ‘baseless’ crackdown on its firms after Trump reportedly tightens supplies to Huawei

Some companies, which had earlier been cleared to continue doing business with Huawei, now face the revocation of their licenses for exports to the Chinese firm, Reuters reported, citing sources. According to the report, a total of eight licenses from four companies were annulled, including those in respect of key chip supplier, Intel, and Japanese flash memory chip maker Kioxia Corp.

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The Commerce Department also signaled that “a significant number” of license requests for exports to Huawei, some of which were pending approval for months, are likely to be denied, Reuters said. It is believed that US government agencies were still debating whether more than 150 licenses for $120 billion worth of goods and technology should be granted, while another $280 billion of license applications for Huawei have yet to be processed. 

American suppliers to Huawei are meant to receive special approval from the US government to continue doing business with Huawei after the company was added to the US blacklist, officially known as the Entity List. 

China hits back at ‘unjustified’ foreign laws that hurt its businesses China hits back at ‘unjustified’ foreign laws that hurt its businesses

“We urge US to repeal the decision and stop baselessly cracking down on foreign businesses,” China’s Foreign Ministry said in response to the possible ban, according to the Global Times. Beijing also vowed to continue “to safeguard legitimate rights of Chinese businesses.”

Neither US officials nor any of the affected companies have officially confirmed the license revocation so far.

Huawei’s laptop business could be hit hard if Intel is unable to continue chip supplies to the company, the Global Times reported, citing analysts. However, the firm has enough chip inventories to keep its business running for up to two months, industry analyst Ma Jihua told the state-linked newspaper.

The Trump administration has been ramping up pressure on Chinese businesses in recent months, adding more and more companies to the trade and investment blacklists over alleged security threats. Earlier this month, the Pentagon claimed that nine more Chinese firms have links to the Chinese military, including major smartphone maker Xiaomi and the Commercial Aircraft Corp of China (COMAC), meaning that US investors will be prohibited from owning their stock.

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Article source: https://www.rt.com/business/512840-us-revokes-huawei-license/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=RSS

Russia keeps global grain supplies high despite Covid crisis

That’s in line with pre-pandemic projections from industry experts, who said deliveries could be in the range of 32-to-42 million tons. In the previous 2018-2019 agricultural season, Russia exported 35.2 million tons of wheat to the global market, after delivering a record 40.449 million tons in the previous season.

In April, Russia capped grain shipments until July, to avoid domestic price spikes amid the global coronavirus crisis. Moscow introduced export limits for certain grains, including wheat, rye, barley, and corn, saying that the supplies should not exceed seven million tons.

Also on rt.com Russia considers grain export quota to stabilize domestic food prices

In December, Russian authorities introduced an export limit of 17.5 million tons for certain grains for the remainder of the marketing year during the current season. Last week, they approved raising the wheat export duty to €50 ($60) per ton from March 1. The country will also introduce export duties for corn and barley, of €25 and €10 per ton respectively, from March 15.

The step is expected to protect domestic supply and stabilize the prices of several commodities, such as flour and bread, amid the economic upheaval from the Covid-19 pandemic and a plunge in oil prices.

Booming agricultural production in recent years has enabled Russia to capture more than half of the global wheat market, becoming the world’s biggest exporter of grain, thanks to bumper harvests and attractive pricing. Since the early 2000s, this share of the global wheat market has quadrupled.

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Article source: https://www.rt.com/business/512835-russia-wheat-exports-growth/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=RSS

China becomes only major economy to record growth during pandemic

In a dramatic turnaround since the deadly virus rattled the world’s second-largest economy at the start of 2020, China’s gross domestic product (GDP) jumped 6.5 percent in the final quarter compared to a year earlier, according to official data released by the National Bureau of Statistics on Monday. The result is higher than in the last full quarter before the pandemic hit, when its economy rose by six percent.

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The strong finish brought its GDP to 101.6 trillion yuan ($15.7 trillion) last year, according to the statistics agency.

Although the annual growth rate was the slowest since the end of the Cultural Revolution in 1976, it is still better than most analysts had predicted. It also makes China the only major economy to avoid contraction in 2020, when most nations are still struggling to overcome the economic impact of the outbreak.  

The Chinese economy roared back to growth in the second quarter, after a historic 6.8-percent contraction at the beginning of the year. As factories started to get back online, China’s GDP rose by 3.2 percent in the April-June period and by 4.9 percent in the next three months. 

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China’s fast recovery was powered by positive dynamics in the industrial sector and trade, but domestic consumption, one of its key economic drivers, is still considered a weak spot. According to Monday’s data, the growth of retail sales slowed to 4.6 percent in December, and fell 3.9 percent for the full year. The lockdowns affected restaurant revenues the most, as they fell almost 17 percent, while online sales, as well as sales of telecommunications equipment, cosmetics, and jewelry posted double-digit growth.

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Article source: https://www.rt.com/business/512828-china-gdp-growth-2020/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=RSS