(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NPR NEWS)
The Turkish Energy Market Regulatory Authority (EPDK) announced Tuesday raising consumer electricity prices by 14.9 percent, knowing that the prices witnessed an equal raise in July.
After the new increase, users would pay starting October TRY71.22 (around USD14) for 100 kilowatt-hours. EPDK said, in a statement, that a key factor for increasing prices was the Electricity Distribution Co. changing its wholesale prices with the unit-cost of electricity inching up to 35 kurus.
The new move caused a withering criticism of the government on social media, with citizens expressing anger expressed anger at the power price rises which would increase burdens on Turkish households.
Earlier, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development issued a report pointing out that the electricity prices in Turkey rose by 307 percent since 2003, when the government of Justice and Development Party became in charge under Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Last August, the government imposed a new increase in natural gas prices for the fourth time in less than one year by 15 percent for houses and 14 percent for industrial usage.
Economists criticized the new roadmap to implement the economic program, adding that the three goals announced by Turkish Finance Minister Berat Albayrak are “unrealistic”.
Albayrak laid out on Monday Turkey’s targets in the New Economic Program (NEP) covering the 2020-2022 period. He stated that they trimmed the inflation forecast for the end of this year to 12 percent, from the current year’s predictions of 15.1 percent, and to 8.5 percent for 2020, 6 percent in 2021 and 4.9 percent in 2022.
“Growth in 2019 will be 0.5 percent…After closing 2019 with an unemployment rate of 12.9 percent, we aim to reduce the figure to 11.8 percent next year, 10.6 percent in 2021 and 9.8 percent in 2022,” the minister said.
Economist Ugur Gurses commented on Albayrak’s roadmap, saying that he presented it to persuade his father-in-law (Erdogan) and not the people. The official target of growth is 5 percent by 2022 but the presented target for inflation is 12 percent for 2019, 8.5 percent, 6 percent and 4.9 percent for the three coming years respectively.
Former Turkish Central Bank Governor Durmus Yilmaz said that the budget deficit estimates in 2020-2022 of 2.9, 2.5, and 1.5 percent are based on taxes collection, which in their turn will be provided by an anticipated growth of 5 percent in the coming three years.
“It is impossible for us to cancel relations with Iran with regards to oil and natural gas. We will continue to buy our natural gas from there,” Erdogan told Turkish reporters before leaving New York where he was attending the UN General Assembly.
Despite this vow, Erdogan admitted Turkey faced difficulty in purchasing oil since the private sector “pulled back because of US threats”, NTV broadcaster reported.
“But on this issue especially and many other issues, we will continue our relations with Iran,” he promised, adding that Ankara still sought to increase trade volume with Tehran.
The United States reimposed sanctions on Iran after pulling out of the landmark 2015 nuclear deal, and says it aims to reduce Tehran’s energy sales to zero.
Erdogan previously criticized the sanctions, insisting that they achieved nothing.
NTV also quoted the Turkish president as saying that preparations by Ankara and Washington on a safe zone for refugees in northeastern Syria are on schedule.
“The schedule is moving along, all our preparations along the border are also complete.”
“Upon returning (to Turkey), we will hold evaluations … on what sort of steps to take and implement them … because Turkey is not a country that can be stalled,” he said.
Turkey and the US started joint land and air patrols along part of Syria’s border with Turkey. Ankara wants Washington to clear the Syrian Kurdish YPG from a 480-km-long border area, and Erdogan warned that Turkey would act unilaterally if the group was not removed.
In an address to the UN Secretary General, Yemeni Deputy Foreign Minister Mohammed Abdullah al-Hadrami stressed the need to get Houthis to grant the international body’s probing technicians access to Safir.
The facility contains more than one million barrels of crude oil pumped before Houthis staged a nationwide coup four years ago. The Iran-backed insurgents refuse allowing the internationally-recognized government from exporting that oil, and threaten blowing up the naval facility if they are not allowed to sell the oil reserves themselves.
Any explosion at Safir will cause a catastrophic oil spill with irreversible environmental damage.
Apart from Houthi threats of attack, Hadrami warned against the Houthis’ continued blocking of assessment teams from examining the reservoir, which he said was in a corrosive condition that could lead up to a shocking environmental disaster that would contaminate Red Sea and regional waters.
Mohammed Ali al-Houthi, President of the Revolutionary Council, a body formed by the militants, had tabled an offer previously to sell the oil reserves stored in Safir and have the freely-elected government and insurgents split revenues.
Hadrami, for his part, stressed the government’s keenness to its long-standing demand for solutions on this particular issue. He underscored that the government has cooperated fully with the UN in this regard and is waiting for experts to evaluate the development of an effective strategy.
The Yemeni deputy foreign minister also placed blame on the militias for causing an environmental disaster in the Red Sea.
According to official sources, Hadrami stressed during a high-level meeting that the Yemeni government was – and still is – very keen on peace, and the full implementation of the UN-brokered peace agreement inked in the Swedish capital, Stockholm, last December.
“The government has made a lot of concessions to this end, despite the continued intransigence of the Houthi militias, their maneuvering to buy time at the expense of suffering Yemenis and the failure of the Swedish agreement,” he said.
Hadrami renewed the government’s condemnation of Houthis’ continued blackmailing of international organizations operating in Yemen and their militias looting of food aid and humanitarian relief.
He also appreciated the efforts and positions undertaken by the World Food Program (WFP) to put an end to such violations.
Updated: Jun 25, 2019 05:28 IST
India may discuss with US secretary of state Mike Pompeo a host of issues crucial for its energy security, including oil price volatility due to rising tensions between Tehran and Washington, disadvantages in purchasing American crude and technical issues arising due to sanctions that threaten India’s strategic projects, said officials aware of the developments.
During Pompeo’s visit, New Delhi will seek Washington’s cooperation in getting reliable and affordable energy supply, especially after US sanctions that prohibited the import of Iranian crude from May, two government officials said. India, which is a net importer of energy, is a victim of volatility in crude prices that is often caused because of geo-political reasons.
The recent tussle between the US and Iran has further aggravated the situation that could adversely impact major oil consumers such as India, said the officials cited above.
Petroleum minister Dharmendra Pradhan recently spoke to US secretary of energy Rick Perry and raised these issues. During the telephonic conversation, Pradhan emphasised the impact of price volatility on Indian consumers and stressed the important role that the US could play in bringing global price stability, officials said. International crude oil prices soared after Tehran allegedly shot down an American drone on Thursday, which deepened tensions US-Iran tensions.
Traditionally, Iran has been a major crude oil supplier for India to meet almost 10% of its annual requirements. India, which has already stopped purchasing Iranian crude due to the sanction, is facing problems in meeting the shortfall. “We are yet to get suitable alternative. Iranian crude is not only of good quality but also cheaper as Tehran always supplied crude on lucrative commercial terms,” said one of the officials quoted above. Unhindered crude oil imports on economic terms are crucial for India’s energy security as it imports more than 80% crude it processes.
Rajnish Gupta, EY India associate partner (tax and economic policy group), said, “Threat of reduction in supply of crude oil from any significant producer of oil will tighten the markets and is likely to cause price volatility, as it happened last week…any reduction in supplies from any country needs to be made up by increased production elsewhere. Increase in production or change in source requires time. Therefore from India’s perspective, a transition period is required.”
The other issue that is expected to be discussed is the possibility of crude oil supply from the US as an alternative to Iranian crude, the officials said.
India’s state-run and private refiners said no government could force them to buy oil from the US on terms that are uneconomical. “Each crude or shale oil have different assay, based on that refiners extract value. One would buy crude oil or shale oil depending on the value one would get. It is purely commercial consideration,” chief executive of one refinery said.
First Published: Jun 25, 2019 05:25 IST
LONDON — Oil tankers came under attack on Thursday in the Gulf of Oman, the Iranian news media and a shipping industry official said on Thursday, a month after four tankers were damaged in the same waterway, a vital thoroughfare for much of the world’s oil.
The Iranian state news media reported that multiple tankers had been seriously damaged. A shipping industry official, who was not authorized to speak publicly to the news media, said that at least two tankers had been hit. The nature of the attack was not clear.
“We are aware of the reported attack on tankers in the Gulf of Oman,” the United States Fifth Fleet said in a brief statement. “U.S. Naval Forces in the region received two separate distress calls at 6:12 a.m. local time and a second one at 7 a.m. U.S. Navy ships are in the area and are rendering assistance.”
An arm of the British Navy, United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations, reported that “U.K. and its partners are currently investigating” an incident in the gulf, about 40 miles east of the United Arab Emirates port of Fujairah, but offered no details.
Oil prices spiked early Thursday on the news.
In the region, Iran, on the northern side of the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman, has long been at odds with its adversaries and neighbors to the south, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. They support opposing sides in the civil war in Yemen.
The attacks in May worsened those tensions, raising concerns that they might lead to a violent clash between regional powers.
One of the tankers involved in the latest attack, M. T. Front Altair, was on fire, and the crew had abandoned ship and been rescued, according to the industry official. The ship, registered in the Marshall Islands, was carrying naphtha, a petroleum product, he said.
He said that contact had been lost with another tanker, the Panamanian-flagged Kokuka Courageous. There were news reports that it, too, was on fire and had been abandoned.
“Electricity is a national security issue,” Luay al-Khateeb told AFP in a wide-ranging interview at the ministry’s headquarters in Baghdad.
“In the end, any political, economic or security crisis in Iraq will affect the whole region — and the global economy will be open to threat.”
“We’re urging for this file not to be politicized.”
Khateeb, a 51-year-old energy expert, was appointed minister in October with a mandate to revamp Iraq’s grid, which was already ailing before it was further crippled by the ISIS group.
But he faces a pair of formidable political challenges to a typically dry, technical portfolio: the threat of renewed protests and escalating US pressure on energy-supplier Iran.
Demonstrations erupted in 2018 across Iraq against poor services, including the measly few hours of state-provided electricity per day.
This summer will be a de facto referendum on the government´s progress.
Khateeb, optimistic, said his ministry had revived out-of-service stations, fixed transmission lines, and brought temporary generators to battered areas including Mosul that ISIS held in the north.
“On October 25, the week I took office, electricity generation sat at between 9.5 to 10 GW. It is now at 15 GW,” Khateeb said.
Most Iraqi provinces, he added, “will receive no less than 20 hours of electricity per day. This, to be honest, is a level of production the country hasn’t seen in years.”
In the medium term, the ministry is developing solar power, gas-capturing capabilities, and energy deals with neighbors.
It signed contracts worth 700 million euro ($785 million) with Germany’s Siemens last month, amid expectations of similar deals with American rival General Electric.
Around a third of Iraq’s electricity relies on Iran, through 28 million cubic meters (990 cubic feet) of gas piped in to feed stations or the direct import of up to 1,300 megawatts of Iranian-produced electricity.
When Washington reimposed sanctions on Iran last year, it granted Iraq temporary exemptions until late June.
Khateeb declined to say what would happen if the waiver was not again extended.
“I’m not in the business of making predictions, but what I ask for from world powers is a little reasonableness so we can live in peace on this planet,” he told AFP.
Tensions have ramped up between Washington and Tehran, with Baghdad often caught in the middle.
Iraqi government sources say the US is pressuring Baghdad to partner with American companies including General Electric, ExxonMobil and Honeywell as it weans off Iranian energy.
Khateeb acknowledged foreign embassies were pushing for their interests in Iraq’s power sector, but said Baghdad would try to steer clear of the politics.
“The truth is we don’t want to be a scapegoat in conflicts that will negatively affect regional security, and in turn the global economy,” he said.
Besides the ticking clocks of the Iraqi street and geopolitical tensions, Khateeb admitted pressure from within the government itself.
He said he had “inherited a bureaucracy” and was often asked for favors or employment opportunities.
Asked whether he, like Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi, kept his resignation letter close at hand, Khateeb sounded determined.
“One needs to have a thick skin,” he said.
“Either I focus on the politicians, or I focus on the work.”
Updated: May 14, 2019 23:46 IST
External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj informed her Iranian counterpart Javad Zarif on Tuesday that a decision on purchasing Iranian oil in the face of US sanctions will be made after the conclusion of India’s general election, people familiar with developments said.
Iranian oil exports and Tehran’s approach to recent developments in the region, including tensions between Iran and the US over the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), or the Iranian nuclear deal, figured in the discussions between Zarif and Swaraj.
Zarif arrived in New Delhi late on Monday for a previously unscheduled visit to lobby for India’s support against the backdrop of the Iran-US tensions. He last visited India in January, and the current trip was organised at short notice at Zarif’s request, the people cited above said.
When Zarif raised the purchase of oil from Iran, Swaraj reiterated India’s position that a decision will be made after the general elections while keeping in mind the country’s “commercial considerations, energy security and economic interests”, the people said.
The US decision to end exemptions to sanctions on Iranian oil imports on May 2 has hit India. Tehran was among New Delhi’s top three energy suppliers, providing 23.6 million tonnes of oil last year, or about 10% of the country’s energy needs.
The sanctions were imposed after President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew the US from the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers.
Zarif briefed the Indian side on Iran’s approach to developments in the region, including on JCPOA, and also reviewed bilateral cooperation.
The outreach to India, he explained, was part of Iran’s consultations with key countries, including Russia, China, Turkmenistan and Iraq, over the past few days.
The impact of the sanctions on Iranian oil exports, the country’s main revenue earner, prompted Tehran to threaten last week that it would roll back its compliance with the nuclear deal.
Zarif referred to President Hassan Rouhani’s announcement on May 8 about Iran keeping larger amounts of enriched uranium and heavy water, instead of exporting the excess as required under the JCPOA. He also mentioned the 60-day timeline given to the EU3 (France, Germany, the UK) and other parties to the JCPOA (China and Russia) for restoring oil exports and banking channels.
The Indian side, the people said, reiterated its position that New Delhi would like all parties to the JCPOA to continue to fulfil their commitments and engage constructively and resolve issues peacefully through dialogue.
Both sides expressed satisfaction at the operationalisation of an interim contract between India Ports Global Limited (IPGL) and Iran’s Ports and Maritime Organization (PMO) for the development Chabahar port. They also discussed Afghanistan and agreed to “maintain close coordination on the evolving situation”, the people said.
First Published: May 14, 2019 22:32 IST
China saw an optimized energy consumption structure last year with an increase of clean energy, an industry report showed.
Consumption of clean energy, including natural gas, hydropower, nuclear power and wind power, accounted for 22.1 percent of energy consumed last year, up 1.3 percentage points from 2017, China Electric Power Planning & Engineering Institute said in a report.
Coal consumption accounted for 59 percent of the total energy consumption in 2018, down 1.4 percentage points year on year, according to the report.
Total energy consumption reached 4.64 billion tonnes of standard coal, a year-on-year growth of 3.3 percent, the fastest growth since 2014, the report said.
The report also predicted that China’s energy consumption will continue the clean and efficient trend in 2019.
The signing of the gas agreement between Jordan National Electricity Company and the US Noble Energy for the transfer of Israeli gas has sparked a wide internal debate in the past months, after popular movements organized a series of events denouncing economic normalization with Israel.
The government said it is obliged to comply with the agreement, under a penalty clause of one billion dollars.
It added that the project was in progress and some gas pipelines are already installed in a number of northern villages adjacent to the border with the occupied Palestinian territories.
In remarks to Asharq Al-Awsat, Khaled Bakkar, the head of the finance committee in the Jordanian parliament, said that the deal, in addition to being “blatant normalization” with Israel, is “economically weak” based on the feasibility studies.
He stressed that Jordan’s energy production surpassed the country’s needs, noting that the import of Israeli gas, through Jordan, was only for the benefit of Israel.
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