- OPEC+ producers agree to nearly 2 million bpd of voluntary cuts
- Saudi Arabia will extend a voluntary cut of 1 million bpd
- Oil prices fell sharply on output cut compliance skepticism
Leonard Ncube, [email protected]
GOVERNMENT is considering concessioning out major highways to private sector players to unlock sustainable financing of road construction and rehabilitation projects with the participating investors expected to recoup their money through tolling fees over a period of up to 30 years.
Private contractors have welcomed the idea saying this would afford them an opportunity to contribute meaningfully to national development while helping the Treasury ease the burden and create considerable fiscal space for other key interventions.
While Government has been driving robust infrastructure development under the Second Republic, the financing gap remains wider and unsustainable for a country reeling under the yoke of sanctions. Most roads have outlived their lifespan resulting in some sections of the highways being littered with potholes that make driving a nightmare.
The Beitbridge-Bulawayo-Victoria Falls Highway, an important route connecting Zimbabwe with other Sadc countries via Beitbridge Border, is one of the affected. With the onset of rains, and over-usage by haulage trucks overloaded with coal and copper, these have taken a toll on roads.
Speaking at the inaugural Matabeleland North Diaspora Investment Conference, which ended on Saturday, Finance, Economic Development and Investment Promotion Minister, Professor Mthuli Ncube, said going forward, the ideal situation was to concession trunk roads to the private sector who should build them and recover their money through the toll system.
He was giving an update on the state of the road network and responding to a proposal made by participants for Government to consider allocating sections of the road to some coal mining companies to repair and use that as a condition for renewal of their licences.
The concern comes on the back of observations that haulage trucks are largely blamed for damaging major roads, especially the Victoria Falls-Bulawayo-Beitbridge Road.
Prof Mthuli acknowledged that highways like this one could only be sustainably rehabilitated through private-public partnerships (PPPs), which should augment initiatives such as the Government’s Emergency Road Rehabilitation Programme.
He noted that limited fiscal space has hindered desired progress on major projects across the country hence the move to embrace the concession model, which could be on a build-operate and transfer (BOT) arrangement.
“There is no reason why this road (Beitbridge/Bulawayo/Victoria Falls) cannot be concessioned out. We are concessioning out trunk roads, which are profitable,” said Prof Ncube.
“What will be viable is that the whole road from Beitbridge to Victoria Falls should be in private hands. It should be in PPPs. We should give investors 25-to-30-year concessions so that they invest in the road further, manage it and do enough tolls to recoup their money and surrender it to Government.”
The minister said developing a sound road network was a critical investment opportunity in its own right hence a similar concession model was being considered for key road projects such as Fighting Road, which connects Lupane to Kwekwe via Nkayi.
Government has successfully rehabilitated the Harare-Masvingo-Beitbridge Highway, which is about 80 percent complete with 470km out of the total 580km of the road now opened to traffic.
The road and modernisation of the Beitbridge Border Post to bring in efficient systems aimed at reducing or eliminating delays, are some of the signature projects of President Mnangagwa’s administration through private sector partnerships.
Government is on record saying the Beitbridge-Bulawayo-Victoria Falls highway will be rehabilitated fully next year after completion of the Beitbridge-Masvingo-Harare-Chirundu, which is underway and contractors are being engaged. The Plumtree-Mutare Highway was financed through a similar model during the Inclusive Government.
The entire north-south corridor has been divided into three sections: the 580km Harare-Masvingo-Beitbridge highway together with eight toll plazas, the 342km Harare-Chirundu highway with six toll plazas, and the 59km Harare Ring Road with three toll plazas. These tolls are aimed at paying for the rehabilitation and maintenance of roads.
Government contracted five different and local contractors to repair the road which is a key connector to the north-south corridor.
Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister Felix Mhona is also on record saying the Government would also work on other feeder roads linking various towns and ease pressure from the trunk roads.
Commenting on the concession model, private contractors said the model was welcome and demanded clarity on how potential investors would recover their monies. The president of Zimbabwe Building Contractors Association, Mr Petros Kagwere, said the concession model was workable as it enhances partnerships between Government the private sector. He said most infrastructure projects in other countries are private sector driven.
“It’s a workable model and I think what Government is saying is that let’s have a win-win situation giving the private sector an opportunity to use its money and recover it through toll fees and then hand over to Government after recovering the money for further maintenance,” he said.
“It is every citizen and private sector’s role to participate in the growth of infrastructure and develop their countries and benefit citizens.”
Mr Kagwere said private sector players have the capacity to drive the projects as they have financial resources and skilled human resources and equipment .
By roping in the private sector, he said this will unlock higher economic transformation for the country and enhance attainment of Vision 2030.
Gas accretion by a galaxy’s central supermassive black hole (SMBH) and the resultant energetic feedback by the accreting active galactic nucleus (AGN) on the gas in and around a galaxy are two tightly intertwined but competing processes that play a crucial role in the evolution of galaxies. Observations of galaxy clusters have shown how the plasma jets emitted by an AGN heat the intracluster medium, preventing cooling of the cluster gas and thereby the infall of this gas onto the central galaxy. On the other hand, outflows of multiphase gas, driven by the jets, can cool as they rise into the intracluster medium, leading to filaments of colder gas. The fate of this cold gas is unclear, but it has been suggested that it plays a role in feeding the central SMBH. We present the results of reprocessed CO(2-1) Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array observations of the cold molecular gas in the central regions of NGC 1275, the central galaxy of the Perseus cluster and which hosts the radio-loud AGN 3C 84 (Perseus A). These data show in detail how kiloparsec-sized cold gas filaments resulting from the jet-induced cooling of cluster gas are flowing towards the galaxy centre and how they feed the circum-nuclear accretion disk (100 pc diameter) of the SMBH. Thus, cooled gas can, in this way, play a role in feeding the AGN. These results complete our view of the feedback loop of how an AGN can impact its surroundings and how the effects of this impact maintain the AGN activity.
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The calibrated data cube is available from https://astrodrive.astro.rug.nl/index.php/s/g1y6QlCeGFd5XiG, or from the corresponding author on reasonable request.
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This work is based on reprocessing of the ALMA observations carried out under project number 2017.0.01257.S and which were published in original form by Nagai et al.16.
The authors declare no competing interests.
Nature Astronomy thanks Alastair Edge and Jeremy Lim for their contribution to the peer review of this work.
Publisher’s note Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
Oosterloo, T., Morganti, R. & Murthy, S. Closing the feedback-feeding loop of the radio galaxy 3C 84.
Nat Astron (2023). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41550-023-02138-y
Received: 31 March 2023
Accepted: 19 October 2023
Published: 30 November 2023
Nov 30 (Reuters) – Oil prices fell on Thursday after rising by more than 1% earlier in the session after OPEC+ oil producers agreed to voluntary output cuts approaching 2 million barrels per day (bpd) for early next year, with each country announcing separately its voluntary cut.
Brent crude futures for January fell by 50 cents, or 0.6%, to $82.60 a barrel by 11:30 a.m. EDT (1630 GMT). The front-month Brent contract, down about 6% on the month, expires later on Thursday.
The more liquid February contract was down $2.54, or 3.1%, at $80.34.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures fell by $2.63, or 3.4%, to $75.24, and is down about 9% on the month.
Brent’s premium to U.S. WTI futures hit its highest since January in the session.
Saudi Arabia, Russia and other members of OPEC+, who pump more than 40% of the world’s oil, held a virtual meeting on Thursday to discuss 2024 output amid concerns the market faces a potential surplus.
OPEC+ said the latest agreement would involve cuts approaching 2 million bpd, including Saudi Arabia extending a voluntary cut of 1 million bpd it has had in place since July.
Their output of some 43 million bpd already reflects cuts of about 5 million bpd aimed at supporting prices and stabilising the market.
The additional OPEC+ cuts for the first quarter of 2024 are set to be voluntary, a delegate said. Each country will announce separately its voluntary cut, according to a source familiar with the matter.
But there is a large degree of skepticism on how individual OPEC members will reach those cuts, according to Bob Yawger, director of energy futures at Mizuho.
“This is a very sketchy report – there is a huge question of their credibility in how these cuts will happen,” Yawger said, adding that the UAE is supposed to be increasing production by 200,000 bpd by 2024.
Nigeria has been given a 2024 output quota of 1.5 million barrels per day (bpd), Angola 1.11 million bpd and Congo 0.277 million bpd, a draft statement from OPEC+ seen by Reuters showed.
Russia will cut 500,000 bpd and others will also contribute cuts, one source said.
Algeria’s energy minister told Reuters his country had agreed to curb its output by 50,000 bpd.
OPEC+ oil-producing countries meeting on Thursday to discuss 2024 output levels will convene again next June on 2024 output levels, according to a source familiar with the matter.
The meeting, being held on the same day as global leaders gather in Dubai for the U.N. climate conference, was originally scheduled for last week but was deferred because of disagreements over output quotas for African producers.
The OPEC+ Joint Ministerial Monitoring Committee (JMMC) ended its meeting on Thursday without making a recommendation regarding 2024 output levels, three delegates told Reuters.
The committee met ahead of the wider meeting of ministers from the OPEC+ group of oil-producing nations.
Implementing additional cuts will send prices higher in the immediate future, but the long-term impact is harder to predict, said Tamas Varga of oil broker PVM.
Compliance will be an issue and the global oil balance is probably much less tight than OPEC estimates, he said, citing the latest commercial inventory data out of the United States and the effect on demand from stubbornly high interest rates in many major economies.
Reporting by Laura Sanicola in Washington, Robert Harvey and Natalie Grover in London and Jeslyn Lerh in Singapore
Additional reporting by Laura Sanicola in Washington
Editing by David Goodman, Kirsten Donovan and Lisa Shumaker
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
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