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Abuja fuel queues persist as oil hits $66 ahead of OPEC meeting

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The price of crude oil (Brent) itched close to $66 a barrel at the close of business on Monday, the highest since its biggest slump last November.

This is coming ahead of a meeting of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries on Thursday.

But fuel queues have persisted in Abuja and there are fears that it may spread to other parts of the country as many filling stations are not selling the product, following continued increase in crude price at the international market.

The situation has continued to cause traffic snarls in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), including Olusegun Obasanjo Way and Sultan Abubakar Way.

The seeming scarcity of the product in parts of the country is based on the fact that pump price of petrol is tied to the price of crude oil in the international market under the deregulation of the downstream sector of the petroleum industry.

While the US oil price rose by 2.2 per cent to $62.90 a barrel, after opening at $61.53, and hitting a low of $61.53, the Brent crude rose by 2.2 per cent to $65.90 a barrel, after opening at $64.50, and hitting a low of $64.50.

The US crude lost 3.0 per cent on Friday while Brent crude futures fell 3.9 per cent, in their second straight daily loss on profit-taking from a 13-month high.

However, the crude oil rebound came after the commodity took a pause on Friday on profit-taking from a 13-month high, partly due to hopes about the United States stimulus measures and the latest positive updates regarding the COVID-19 vaccines.

Oil prices gained around 17.5 per cent in the fourth consecutive monthly gain, as the oversupply concerns receded after OPEC+ compliance with the agreed supply cuts and Saudi Arabia’s voluntary cut.

The fuel queues may spread to other parts of the country despite assurances by the NNPC that it is not planning any increase in the pump price of petrol this month.

Amid fears that the NNPC may hike the pump price of petrol, retailers have tightened sales on the grounds of supply scarcity from depots where they alleged that ex-depot price has gone up, despite assurances by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation of no price adjustment.

The corporation, in a statement, had said that contrary to speculations of an imminent increase in the price of petrol in the country, the ex-depot price of petrol in March would remain unchanged.

It is not clear how OPEC will act when members gather on Thursday, with the Saudi Arabian Energy Minister, Abdulaziz Bin Salman, calling for producers to remain “extremely cautious.”

Oil’s recovery from the impact of the pandemic has been driven by Asian demand, as well as fiscal and monetary stimulus as data showed most key manufacturing economies gained ground last month, with China staying in expansionary territory.

Positive sentiment in equity markets also aided crude, while President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion relief plan moved closer to realisation after passage at the House of Representatives.

Saudi Arabia’s output curbs, the improving demand outlook as vaccines are rolled out, and the growing popularity of commodities as a hedge against inflation have pushed oil higher this year.

There have been indications in recent weeks that the rally will continue as the producer response trails consumption, while maintenance in North Sea fields is set to reduce supply.

At stake in Thursday’s meeting is how much OPEC+ output gets restored and at what pace, with current reductions amounting to just over seven million barrels a day, or 7 per cent of global supply.

The 23-nation coalition will decide whether to revive a 500,000-barrel tranche in April, and in addition, whether the Saudis confirm an extra one million barrels they have taken offline will return as scheduled.

The freeze-driven shuttering of core sections of the US refining system isn’t all good news for rival plants in Europe because down at the bottom of the barrel, losses are deepening.

Kazakhstan relaxed its oil production restraint in February, allowing output to jump to its highest since the current OPEC+ supply pact came into effect at the start of May.

Reacting to the fuel queues, the Group General Manager of the Public Affairs Division at the NNPC, Dr Kennie Obateru, said the corporation had no plan to raise the price of petrol in March in order not to jeopardise ongoing engagements with organised labour.

It warned petroleum products marketers not to engage in an arbitrary price increase or hoarding of petrol so as not to create artificial scarcity and panic buying.

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Kia gets 30,000 pre-orders for battery-powered EV6 sedan

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Kia Motor Corporation, South Korea’s second-biggest carmaker, has launched an all-electric EV6 sedan in the domestic market ahead of its overseas launches later this year.
Already, the automaker says it has received over 30,000 pre-orders for the EV6 in the domestic market, and a combined 8,800 pre-orders in Europe and the United States, according to a report by Just Autos.
The maker of the K5 sedan and the Sorento SUV aim to sell 13,000 units of the zero-emission model on its home turf and 17,000 units in overseas markets this year.
The EV6 is Kia’s first model embedded with Hyundai Motor Group’s own EV-only electric-global modular platform (E-GMP).

The EV6 is priced at 47 million won-57 million won (US$40,800-$49,500) in Korea. With government subsidies, it can be purchased for under 40 million won.
The model is available with two kinds of battery packs — a standard 58-kilowatt-hour (kWh) battery pack and a long-range 77.4-kWh one. The 58-kWh and 77.4-kWh models can travel up to 370 kilometres and 475 km, respectively, on a single charge.
Kia also plans to introduce sedans, SUVs and multipurpose vehicles based on the new EV platform for the next seven years.
It plans to beef up its EV lineup with 11 models, including the seven E-GMP-based ones, by 2025.
With its strengthened EV lineup, it aims to achieve a 6.6 percent share of the global battery-powered EV market by 2025 and global annual sales of 500,000 units by 2026.
Kia’s current EV market share is not available as its EV sales accounted for only 1 percent of its overall sales in 2019.
In April, Kia’s bigger affiliate Hyundai Motor Co. launched the IONIQ 5 all-electric model equipped with the E-GMP platform.
Hyundai plans to introduce the IONIQ 6 next year and the IONIQ 7 large SUV in 2024. It will begin using alphanumeric names like its bigger rivals, such as BMW, whose models are named Series No. 1-8.

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Auto

GAC, Huawei plan smart electric SUV

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China-based auto firm, GAC Motors has sealed a deal with high-tech giant, Huawei, to produce a smart electric sport utility vehicle.
The GAC Group said its first joint project with Huawei would be a “smart SUV” with mass production targeted by the end of 2023.
GAC Motor aims to produce an entirely electrified lineup of vehicles by 2025.
GAC and Huawei said they planned to produce eight models together.
The medium to large size, pure electric SUV would have Level four autonomous driving capabilities, it added.
“GAC Group embraces and encourages extensive technological innovation in its vehicles, and Huawei is a global leader in many types of technology. This strategic cooperation will allow them to build a new generation of intelligent vehicles and digital platforms,” the pair said in a joint statement.
They also said, “This SUV and multiple other future models will utilise GAC’s GEP.30 chassis platform and Huawei’s computing and communication architecture as well as carrying Huawei’s full stack of intelligent vehicle solutions.”
Since signing a strategic cooperation agreement in 2017, GAC and Huawei have worked together on intelligent connected electric vehicle technology.
In September 2020 in Guangzhou, the two firms signed an agreement to further deepen cooperation, with a focus on computing and communication architecture in accordance with the trend in ‘software-heavy’ vehicles.

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Aviation

Enugu governor to meet with aircraft inventor today

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Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State has invited to a meeting today a young inventor, Master Emmanuel Maduabuchi Chukwu, an indigene of the state and student of Government Technical College (GTC), Nsukka, who manufactured a hand-made aircraft.
A statement by the state Commissioner for Information, Nnanyelugo Chidi Aroh, said the governor’s decision to meet with the young aircraft inventor was “in pursuit of his administration’s commitment to encouraging scientific and technological innovation in Enugu State”.
He said parents of the student, the principal of the GTC, Nsukka, the Commissioner for Education, and the Chairman of the Science, Technical and Vocational Education Management Board were among other invited guests for the meeting at the Executive Council Chambers.
Aroh also said the governor would today at the Government House, Enugu, by 2pm, swear in all the 68 Development Centre Administrators whose nominations were recently confirmed by the Enugu State House of Assembly.
Those invited for the swearing-in ceremony, according to the statement, are the 68 administrators of the development centres; the speaker and members of Enugu State House of Assembly; members of the State Executive Council; chairmen of the 17 local government areas; and special advisers to the governor.
Others are chairman and members of the state working committee of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP); Chairmen of PDP in the 17 local government areas; state chairman of the Traditional Rulers’ Council and local government chairmen of the Traditional Rulers’ Council.

 

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