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Warri refinery to resume production November

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Dr Emmanuel Kachikwu, Group Managing Director, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), on Thrusday said Warri Refining and Petrochemical Company (WRPC) would resume production in November, 2015.
He disclosed this during his official visit to the WRPC in Ekpan, near Warri in Delta.
Kachikwu, who assumed duty in August 2015, said that the refinery stopped production temporarily to enable the authorities to carry out maintenance on some of its facilities.

The production of petroleum products resumed at the refinery about a month ago after it was shut down for more than one year but was stopped two weeks ago for the maintenance.

The GMD said that there had been no serious maintenance on the plants for about 15 years, adding that it had adversely affected the efficiency of the refinery.
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`WRPC was not shut down because of lack of crude oil supply nor was crude oil not supplied because the refinery was down; the two are different things altogether.

“It makes no sense to supply crude oil that will be sold in the international market to refinery when it is idle.

“The Fluid Catalytic Cracking (FCC) unit had problem and that is why it was shut down. However, they are working assiduously on it.

“The reality is that for over 10 and 15 years, no serious maintenance has been done on the plants,’’ he said.
He said that refineries in the country would henceforth be given serious attention, especially in the area of consistent maintenance to enhance productivity, adding that the facilities had ‘’funding, contracting time and emergency proceedings’’ challenges’.

“There is a clear cut focus on the refineries to ensure that they run consistently; we are beginning to take the refineries seriously to bring them to reliability platforms.

“By the end of first week of November, the WRPC will be back,’’ he said.

Kachickwu also said that most of the pipelines were weak because they were over 40 years old, coupled with frequent vandalism on them.

He said aggressive security approach would be adopted in tackling security challenges in the corporation’s operations, remarking that “we will increase internal and external patrol where we have long distance pipelines like the Warri/Escravos route.

“In the next couple of weeks, we are also going to have tracking device that can track whatever is happening to the pipelines.

“My major goal is that by October, I like to see crude oil pumped by pipelines, rather than marine vessels transferring products into the refinery.’’

Kachickwu also said that faulty transmission lines were responsible for the gas supply into the national grid, assuring that there was enough gas in the system.

He explained that the various ongoing projects on the transmission line would boost electricity when completed.

“What we are doing right now is to try and maximise the volume of quantity of gas we can get through the existing transmission lines,’’ he stated.

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BUSINESS

Stock futures fall ahead of a big week of retail earnings

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Stock futures fell early on Monday after a week of steep losses that ended on a high note, and ahead of a big earnings week for retailers.

Futures tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped by 31 points, or 0.1%, while S&P 500 futures fell 0.47%. Nasdaq 100 futures were down 0.71%.

On Friday, the Dow rose 466.36 points, or 1.47%, while the S&P 500 climbed 2.39%. The Nasdaq Composite jumped 3.82% and posted its strongest one-day gain since November 2020. Still, all three averages posted losing weeks.

The gains came as investors went into relief rally mode to cap off a bad week for stocks in which the S&P 500 nearly descended into bear market territory.

It remains to be seen, however, how long the rally will last or how much further stocks have to fall before this year’s downtrend bottoms.

“Given the history of bear markets, coupled with the fact that the Fed has just begun its rate hike cycle and would like to see financial conditions continue to tighten so that demand pulls back further, this rally will most likely weaken,” said Quincy Krosby, chief equity strategist for LPL Financial.

Still, some investors and analysts say, whether or not the bottom is in, there are good buying opportunities at the market’s current lows.

“I’m not calling the bottom here, but there’s some opportunity here to dollar cost average,” said Sylvia Jablonski, CEO and chief investment officer at Defiance ETFs, told CNBC. “If you’re sitting on a bunch of cash, you’re locking in losses because of inflation. Investing in equities or asset classes that you believe in… it is the lesser evil. The selling fatigue will wane, the market will reset. It’s unlikely the Dow and the S&P are going to be in correction territory six months to a year from now.”

Retail earnings season kicks off this week with several big-box retailers set to report results for the first quarter, including Walmart, Target and Home Depot. Elsewhere, Deere is also on deck, along with a handful of technology companies.

Investors will also have their eye on retail sales data this week, which could give them insight into how retailers are managing inflation, which remains near 40-year highs.

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Nigeria issues new guidelines on cryptocurrencies 

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The Nigerian government has released new guidelines aimed at protecting investors in digital assets as trades in cryptocurrencies get boost in Africa’s most populous nation.

The rules issued by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) offers more clarity on trading in cryptocurrencies, it was learnt.

The rules cover “issuance, offering platforms and custody of digital assets” for virtual technologies, according to a statement on its website.

This is coming amidst controversy over the acceptability of cryptocurrencies in Nigerian financial ecosystem.

Despite order by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to commercial banks to stop transactions in cryptocurrencies, Nigeria is said to account for the largest volume of cryptocurrency transactions outside the U.S., as data from Paxful, a Bitcoin marketplace reveals.

Experts however believe this would go a long way in boosting trading in cryptocurrencies which is gaining global traction.

The new rules cover the issuance of digital assets as securities, the registration of platforms and digital asset custodians, exchanges and virtual assets service providers.

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BUSINESS

Apple is no longer the world’s most valuable company

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Oil giant Saudi Aramco on Wednesday surpassed Apple as the world’s most valuable firm.

Aramco’s market valuation was just under $2.43 trillion on Wednesday, according to FactSet, which converted its market cap to dollars. Apple, which fell more than 5% during trading in the U.S. on Wednesday, is now worth $2.37 trillion.

Energy stocks and prices have been rising as investors sell off equities in several industries, including technology, on fears of a deteriorating economic environment. Apple has fallen nearly 20% since its $182.94 peak on Jan. 4.

The move is mostly symbolic, but it shows how markets are shifting as the global economy grapples with rising interest rates, inflation, and supply chain problems.

Aramco stock is up over 27% so far in 2022. In March, the oil giant reported that its full-year profit last year more than doubled due to soaring oil prices.

Apple passed Saudi Aramco to become the world’s most valuable publicly traded company in 2020.

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