Posts belonging to Category Russia



Coronavirus: Russian vaccine shows signs of immune response

All of the patients developed antibodies within three weeks

Russian scientists have published the first report on their coronavirus vaccine, saying early tests showed signs of an immune response.
The report published by medical journal The Lancet said every participant developed antibodies to fight the virus and had no serious side effects. Russia licensed the vaccine for local use in August, the first country to do so and before data had been published.

Experts say the trials were too small to prove effectiveness and safety. But Moscow has hailed the results as an answer to critics. Some Western experts have raised concerns about the speed of Russia’s work, suggesting that researchers might be cutting corners. Last month, President Vladimir Putin said the vaccine had passed all the required checks and that one of his own daughters had been given it. Two trials of the vaccine, named Sputnik-V, were conducted between June and July, The Lancet paper said. Each involved 38 healthy volunteers who were given a dose of the vaccine and then a booster vaccine three weeks later.
The participants – aged between 18 and 60 – were monitored for 42 days and all of them developed antibodies within three weeks. Among the most common side effects were headaches and joint pain. The trials were open label and not randomised, meaning there was no placebo and the volunteers were aware they were receiving the vaccine.

https://www.bbc.com/

Coronavirus: Putin says vaccine has been approved for use

Sputnik-V is launched

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said a locally developed vaccine for Covid-19 has been given regulatory approval after less than two months of testing on humans. Mr Putin said the vaccine had passed all the required checks, adding that his daughter had already been given it. Officials have said they plan to start mass vaccination in October.

Experts have raised concerns about the speed of Russia’s work, suggesting that researchers might be cutting corners.Amid fears that safety could have been compromised, the World Health Organization (WHO) urged Russia last week to follow international guidelines for producing a vaccine against Covid-19. On Tuesday, the WHO said it had been in talks with Russian authorities about undertaking a review of the vaccine, which has been named Sputnik-V.

https://www.bbc.com/

Russian COVID-19 vaccine approval imminent

Health workers treating COVID-19 patients will be offered the chance of volunteering to be vaccinated

Russia’s first potential COVID-19 vaccine will win local regulatory approval in the first half of August and be administered to frontline health workers soon afterwards, a development source close to the matter told Reuters. A state research facility in Moscow – the Gamaleya Institute – completed early human trials of the adenovirus-based vaccine this month and expects to begin large-scale trials in August.

The vaccine will win regulatory approval from authorities in Russia while that large-scale trial continues, the source said, highlighting Moscow’s determination to be the first country in the world to approve a vaccine. The speed at which Russia is moving to roll out the vaccine has prompted some Western media to question whether Moscow is putting national prestige before solid science and safety.

(Regulatory) approval will be in the first two weeks of August,” the development source said. “August 10 is the expected date, but it will definitely be before August 15. All (trial) results so far are highly positive.”

The source added that Russian health workers treating COVID-19 patients will be offered the chance of volunteering to be vaccinated soon after the vaccine receives the regulatory approval. Separately, Russia’s Interfax news agency cited “an informed source” as saying the vaccine would be registered from Aug. 10-12 and be administered from Aug. 15 onwards.

https://reuters.com/

Coronavirus: EU considers barring Americans from travel list

Pompeo said he was “very confident” a solution could be found.

EU ambassadors are to continue talks on Friday to plan reopening external borders on 1 July, and travellers from the US could be among those not allowed in. Some European countries are keen to open up to tourists but others are wary of the continued spread of the virus.

On Wednesday US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he expected a solution “in the coming weeks”. The virus is spreading in the US, so it is likely Americans would be barred. The 27-member bloc must first agree the measures that non-EU countries should meet before deciding on a safe list.

Brazil, Russia and other countries with high infection rates would also be left off a safe list, according to reports from Brussels. The EU is not yet thought to have agreed how they will assess which countries meet health standards – one of the criteria for entry. Part of the problem is assessing reliable health data, reports say.

https://www.bbc.com/

Trump told Saudi: Cut oil supply or lose U.S. military support

Threat to upend a 75-year strategic alliance

As the United States pressed Saudi Arabia to end its oil price war with Russia, President Donald Trump gave Saudi leaders an ultimatum. In an April 2 phone call, Trump told Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman that unless the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) started cutting oil production, he would be powerless to stop lawmakers from passing legislation to withdraw U.S. troops from the kingdom, four sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.

The threat to upend a 75-year strategic alliance, which has not been previously reported, was central to the U.S. pressure campaign that led to a landmark global deal to slash oil supply as demand collapsed in the coronavirus pandemic – scoring a diplomatic victory for the White House.

Trump delivered the message to the crown prince 10 days before the announcement of production cuts. The kingdom’s de facto leader was so taken aback by the threat that he ordered his aides out of the room so he could continue the discussion in private, according to a U.S. source who was briefed on the discussion by senior administration officials.

https://www.reuters.com

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What’s Next For Oil ?

Prices Go Negative

Oil prices crashed through zero, closing out the day at -$37 per barrel, an unprecedented meltdown.

There are mitigating circumstances to these insane numbers. The prices for WTI reflect the contract for May, which expires this week. The collapse is a reflection of traders abandoning the May contract, and moving on to June. The thinly-traded May contract loses some relevance, and analysts say that the June contract – trading at $20 per barrel as of Monday – now becomes the important number to watch.

Nevertheless, it is hard to ignore the historic numbers flashing across the screen. As futures contracts expire, they tend to converge with the realities of the physical market. Prices went negative because the physical market in Oklahoma and Texas is so overwhelmed. OPEC+ did agree to historic production cuts, but not for April. In any event, the cuts pale in comparison to the decline in demand. But taken together, the effects of the price war on the supply side are colliding against the depths of demand destruction at the same time.

The result is really ugly. Nobody wants physical delivery of WTI for May, and with storage options dwindling in some places, traders liquidated their positions, selling contracts at crazy discounts. With the contract expiring on Tuesday, nobody wanted to be left holding the bag. Unable to actually accept physical delivery, traders ended up paying someone to take oil off of their hands. Surely, some fascinating reportage will be written about the last guy that got stuck with an unwanted May contract

http://oilprice.com

OPEC, Russia approve biggest-ever oil cut to support prices

Curb the global oil supply

OPEC and allies led by Russia agreed on Sunday to a record cut in output to prop up oil prices amid the coronavirus pandemic in an unprecedented deal with fellow oil nations, including the United States, that could curb global oil supply by 20%. Measures to slow the spread of the coronavirus have destroyed demand for fuel and driven down oil prices, straining budgets of oil producers and hammering the U.S. shale industry, which is more vulnerable to low prices due to its higher costs.

The group, known as OPEC+, said it had agreed to reduce output by 9.7 million barrels per day (bpd) for May and June, after four days of talks and following pressure from U.S. President Donald Trump to arrest the price decline. OPEC+ sources said they expected total global oil cuts to amount to more than 20 million bpd, or 20 percent of global supply, effective May 1. OPEC had the same figure in its draft statement but removed it from the final version.

https://www.reuters.com/

Trump threatens imposing tariffs on ‘oil coming from outside’

“I have to do something to protect our tens of thousands of energy workers”

U.S. President Donald Trump has threatened imposing tariffs on crude imports “coming from outside” amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and the price war between Russia and Saudi Arabia.

“If I have to do tariffs on oil coming from outside or if I have to do something to protect our — tens of thousands of energy workers and our great companies that produce all these jobs, I’ll do whatever I have to do,” Trump told reporters during a COVID-19 briefing held Saturday.

Trump’s comments come a little more than a week after Alberta Premier Jason Kenney called for an aggressive approach from governments across North America, floating the possibility of imposing tariffs on foreign oil exports.

https://www.cbc.ca/

Could Oil Really Fall To $0?

Analysts are now watching global storage capacity

The outlook for U.S. shale continues to darken with WTI testing sub-$20 territory. The supply glut could grow worse as the contraction in demand continues to deepen. On Sunday, President Trump extended the social distancing guidelines through the end of April, retreating from his plan to “open up” the economy by Easter. And before the ink was even dry on the $2 trillion stimulus, Congress has already started preparing the fourth emergency coronavirus legislation.   As of now, 193 million people in the U.S. and a staggering 2.3 billion people worldwide are living under some sort of lockdown order, according to Raymond James.

In early March, a few forecasters suggested that oil demand may be slightly negative in 2020, dipping by a mere 220,000 bpd. The call was somewhat provocative at the time. By the middle of the month, some forecasters said the demand hit could be as large as 10 million barrels per day (mb/d) in the second quarter. A few days later, another set of analysts put it at 13-14 mb/d. By last week, the IEA warned demand could fall by 20 mb/d. The negative revisions could keep on coming. Oil prices dropped sharply during midday trading on Monday. “For us, this is simply reflecting the increasing awareness that oil demand is breaking away, probably by much more than the 20% we have currently in our books for April/May,” JBC Energy said.

The market has fallen apart rather quickly. Some areas are seeing catastrophically low pricing, including prices dipping into negative territory in areas far from takeaway infrastructure. “Estimates for the demand side are being revised downwards on an almost daily basis, while on the supply side there is still no sign of any reconciliation between Saudi Arabia and Russia,” Commerzbank said in a note on Monday. Analysts are now watching global storage capacity, which could fill up in weeks or months at most. The contango for Brent between May and November has widened to a record $13.45 per barrel, a reflection of the massive short-term glut.

https://www.oilprice.com/

Oil Prices Crash 25%

Oil War Begins

Russian President Vladimir Putin announced on Sunday that present oil prices were sustainable for the Russian economy. Adding that Russia had the tools to react to any adverse results of the spread of the coronavirus on the global financial climate.

“I want to stress that for the Russian budget, for our economy, the current oil prices level is acceptable,” Putin explained in a meeting with Russian energy officials.

Now some oil analysts are anticipating barrel prices as low as $20 within the year. Some experts have suggested that Russia’s move is intended to counter U.S. shale producers and hit back against the U.S. for targeting the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline connecting Russia and Germany.

Saudi Arabia blasted back, in kind. Sunday morning, Saudi Arabia dropped its own oil weapon. Its latest plans will not only reduce its unrefined price to Chinese consumers by as much as $6 or $7 per barrel, but it is also reportedly looking to increase its daily unrefined output by as much of as 2 million barrels per day into an increasingly oversupplied international market.

The shocking move by the Saudis is both a market share grab as well as a loud signal to Moscow that it is finished playing games.

https://oilprice.com/

Saudi Arabia Threatens To Flood Oil Markets If OPEC Members Don’t Cut Output

Individual member states ignore self-imposed production limits

Three days after oil tumbled following a Bloomberg report that Saudi Arabia was angry at its (N)OPEC co-members for not complying with production quotas, and was no longer willing to compensate for excessive production by other members of the cartel, the WSJ reports that Riyadh, furious that the price of oil refuses to rise, is threatening to boost oil production and unilaterally flood the market if “some” OPEC nations continue to defy the group’s output curbs, cartel officials say. The surprising ultimatum which reeks of what Saudi Arabia did in November 2014 when it effectively dissolved the cartel, and flooded the world with oil in hopes of putting shale producers out of business only to fail miserably as it never accounted for cheap money and the stupidity of US junk bond investors, comes one day ahead of a gathering between OPEC and non-OPEC nations including Russia on Thursday and Friday in Vienna.

Saudi Arabia, the argument goes, is contending with weak oil prices and members of the cartel who aren’t complying with the collective output cut they agreed to last summer. As a result, the Saudis are considering radical measures, including a new pact that would deepen production cuts although if there is one thing the cartel is notorious for, it is ignoring self-imposed production limits when it suits the individual member states as the Crown Prince is finding out now.

As the WSJ reports, at a technical meeting Tuesday, a Saudi delegate said his government is growing tired of indirectly benefiting the budgets of countries that are flouting the OPEC pact by overproducing oil, said a person who was present. If the noncompliance continues, “the Saudi official signaled that the kingdom would begin merely complying with its commitment—rather than overcutting to make up for laggards in the group.”

https://oilprice.com/

OPEC is no more a pricemaker

Forget OPEC: China Now Moves The Oil Markets

Not so long ago, oil prices would surge or plummet on just a whisper from OPEC, who at the time held all the supply cards. The mere hint that the world’s most powerful oil cartel was going to cut production could send oil prices up dramatically. Those days are over.

When the cartel announced on November 30, 2016, that it would cut production for the first time in eight years amid a major oil-price crisis, the market cheered. Before any cuts even happened, the sentiment alone boosted prices from a $50.74 close on that day to $54.94 at the close on December 5th, 2016. From that point on, at least up until recently, OPEC could drop the vaguest hint about production, or even think about production, and it would move the market–no fundamentals necessary.

This phenomenon was still going strong in the last quarter of 2018. On December 7, 2018, OPEC and its allies announced that they would do what they do best: rally together and withhold oil production from the market. OPEC promised to take 1.2 million barrels of oil daily off the market, sending oil prices up from $57.83 at the close on December 6th to $61.71 at the close on December 7th.

By July 1, 2019, when OPEC and allies agreed to extend production cuts for another nine months, the bling in cartel announcements had already been dulled. Not only did oil prices fail to jump, they moved in the opposite direction–not because of the OPEC cuts; rather, because the market was no longer that interested. From a closing price of $67.52 on June 28th, Brent dropped to $65.01 on July 1st, and then plummeted to $62.72 the following day.

Since then, it’s managed to move the needle only slightly, one way or another.

https://oilprice.com/

UK: Russian Tory donors ‘named’ in report

‘Sordidly covered up’ by No10

Nine Russian businesspeople who gave money to the Tories have been named in a report that was “sordidly covered up” by 10 Downing Street, it is claimed today. The Sunday Times reported several donors are identified in a report by the Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament (ISC) on alleged Russian interference in UK elections.

The report is still under wraps, despite pleas by ISC chair Dominic Grieve for its release, after Downing Street failed to approve its publication before Parliament dissolved for the election. The Sunday Times did not make clear who the donors named in the report are, or whether they would have actually been named publicly in the report or been in its confidential annexe.

https://www.mirror.co.uk/

Oil slumps 4% on U.S. crude build

Slowing demand fears

Oil prices tumbled 4% on Wednesday to their lowest settlements in nearly five months, weakened by another unexpected rise in U.S. crude stockpiles and by a dimming outlook for global oil demand. Brent crude futures fell $2.32, or 3.7%, to settle at $59.97 a barrel, the international benchmark’s lowest close since Jan. 28. U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures ended $2.13, or 4.0%, lower at $51.14 a barrel, its lowest settlement since Jan. 14.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported domestic crude stockpiles rose unexpectedly for the second week in a row, climbing 2.2 million barrels last week after analysts had forecast a decrease of 481,000 barrels.

Russia manipulates GPS signals

Protecting Putin from rogue drones

Russia has been manipulating global satellite positioning (GPS) locations on a vast scale in order to protect Vladimir Putin from drones, according to a report. The Center for Advanced Defense Studies (C4ADS), a Washington-based research organisation, undertook a year-long investigation ending in November 2018 into the manipulation of GPS and other global navigation satellite systems (GNSS).

Their report, which drew upon publicly available satellite data, found that the tactic was used in Russia, the Ukraine and Syria, with some incidents of spoofing, correlating closely with the movements of Putin. The reason for this, the report speculates, was to prevent unauthorised civilian drone activity within the vicinity of the Russian president.

https://www.independant.co.uk/