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NEWS - ASIA, MIDDLE EAST & AFRICA India drops plans FOR transaction fees at fuel outletS In what will come as a relief for both consumers and fuel retail outlet operators, the ministry of petroleum and natural gas has announced that neither will have to bear the cost of digital transactions. “The petrol pump transaction fee is a business model between the banks and oil marketing companies which they will resolve,” oil minister Dharmendra Pradhan said in a release. In January, the All India Petroleum Dealers Association announced that fuel retailers would not accept card payments from midnight given some banks said they would charge up to 1% for every credit and debit card transaction. However, the National Democratic Alliance government stepped in to negotiate and the decision was initially deferred. There are around 53,000 fuel retail outlets in the country and post demonetisation, the digital transactions at fuel stations have gone up from 8-10% to around 35% of the total sales, M K Surana, chairman and managing director of state-run Hindustan Petroleum Corp said. The move to not accept card payments could have potentially affected the government’s move to push the economy towards becoming less cash-dependent. To promote cashless transactions, the fee—also known as merchant discount rate—was not being levied on buying fuel through debit or credit cards which was the norm pre-demonetisation. Though according to reports, some banks informed fuel retailers that the charge will be restored. Nepal fuel shortage eases after fuel supply doubled Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) was forced increased petrol deliveries in the Kathmandu Valley by almost double to 725 kilolitres to ease a shortage caused by a strike by oil tanker operators. The state-owned oil monopoly said it had issued 820 kilolitres of petrol, leading to queues at gasoline stations becoming shorter as the supply improved. NOC Spokesperson Bhanubhakta Khanal said the corporation had increased fuel deliveries significantly on the first two days of the week. “Despite the protest by tanker operators, we have increased supplies by dipping into our reserve stocks,” Khanal said. Lines started forming outside fuel stations after tanker operators refused to load oil at Indian Oil Corporation depots in India to press their 15-point demand. The news then triggered panic buying. Tanker operators have been staging a protest demanding that the rule in the Petroleum Products Transportation Bylaw requiring them to maintain a minimum fleet size of five tankers be removed. They have also been asking NOC to revise the range of claimable loss and set the temperature shrinkage coefficient as per the international standard. The operators have warned NOC that they will completely halt the supply from February 27 if their demands are not fulfilled by then. Saudi Arabia Considers Rise in Retail Fuel Prices in 2017 Saudi Arabia is considering increasing retail gasoline and diesel prices in 2017 for the second year in a row, as the world’s top crude exporter pursues a plan to cut its dependence on oil revenue, according to a person familiar with the matter. The rise in domestic fuel prices is expected to be announced before the end of the year, according to a source. The government is looking into two scenarios for the hike: either linking local fuel prices to benchmark oil prices or to the average of gasoline and diesel fuel prices on the international market, the person said. Saudi Arabia, the Middle East’s biggest economy, is pursuing a plan to rein in spending and reduce dependence on energy after a two-year slump in oil prices. Last year, it took the unprecedented step of reducing fuel subsidies and raising retail gasoline prices by about 50 percent. The kingdom, which led a global effort to curb crude output to shore up oil prices, has also said it expects to sell stakes in state-owned entities, including Saudi Arabian Oil Co., known as Aramco. On Dec. 28, 2015, Saudi Arabia announced a raise in retail gasoline prices The government also increased diesel, natural gas, ethane, diesel, kerosene, electricity and water prices as part of the government’s five-year plan. China’s CNPC Joins BP, Total In Abu Dhabi Oil Venture Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) has signed a deal to award to the China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) an 8-percent stake in Abu Dhabi’s onshore oil concession in exchange for a signing bonus of US$1.77 billion. By striking the deal with ADNOC, the Chinese company joins oil majors BP and Total, each of whom has a 10-percent stake in the onshore concession operated by the Abu Dhabi Company for Onshore Petroleum Operations (ADCO). The other foreign shareholders in the venture are Japan’s Inpex Corporation with a 5 percent interest and South Korea’s GS Energy with a 3 percent stake. ADNOC will continue to explore opportunities to attract partners for the remaining 4-percent interest of the 40-percent stake in the onshore concession it has slated to assign to foreign oil and gas firms, the Abu Dhabi company said in a statement. The agreement with the Chinese firm is for a 40-year term backdated to January 1, 2015. The other shareholders have also committed to a 40-year deal. Computer glitch leaves 900 stations unable to dispense fuel A computer glitch at Shell Malaysia’s centralised monitoring system on 15 January ceased the operation of 900 of its petrol stations nationwide as motorists were unable to fill up their tanks. The glitch started at midnight resulting in the petrol pumps, which are linked to the system, to stop dispensing fuel. Only petrol stations with the older version of the pumps, which are not linked directly to the system, were able to dispense the fuel. But, only a handful of these stations remain and only cash payments could be accepted as the credit card readers attached to these machines were unable to connect to the system. Shell quickly issued a statement on their website and the issue was rectified. Adnoc to open Xpress stations for congested areas Adnoc is opening a new type of fuel station for congested areas in Abu Dhabi emirate, aimed at helping customers refuel faster and with more convenience. The Xpress stations feature one island with two or three dispensers offering two varieties of fuel, Special 95 and E-Plus 91. The first Adnoc Xpress is located in Al Maqta station, with eight other stations planned for Abu Dhabi Island and the mainland. erpecnews is published by McLean Events, Conferences and Media Ltd. 13


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