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Oil slips but seen ending week little changed on supply tightness

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Oil prices eased on Friday but were poised to end the week largely steady after rebounding from a sharp drop earlier in the week, underpinned by expectations that supply will remain tight as demand recovers.

Brent crude futures fell 23 cents, or 0.3 percent, to $73.56 a barrel by 5:42 a.m. GMT, after jumping 2.2 percent on Thursday. For the week, Brent was set to end the week flat.

US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures fell 23 cents, or 0.3 percent, to $71.68 a barrel, following a 2.3 percent gain on Thursday. WTI was headed for a 0.2 percent weekly loss.

Prices of oil and other riskier assets tumbled earlier in the week on concerns about the economic impact of surging COVID-19 cases of the Delta variant in the United States, Britain, Japan and elsewhere.

Benchmark contracts fell as much as $6 on Monday but have recouped all of those losses as investors expect overall crude demand to stay strong, driven by a continued fall in oil stockpiles and rising rates of vaccinations.

However,“the threat of the Delta variant slowing down global economic recovery is far from gone,” said Vandana Hari, energy analyst at Vanda Insights.

“At the very least, the lingering concern will limit the upside in crude prices beyond current levels. At its worst, it could return to batter prices again,” said Hari.

Demand growth is expected to outpace new supply, following the agreement by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies, known as OPEC+, to add back 400,000 barrels per day each month from August through December.

“With demand holding up, the market is starting to sense the 400kb/d increase in OPEC (OPEC+) will not be enough to keep the market balanced. Inventories continue to fall, both in the US and across the OECD,” ANZ Research analysts said in a note.

Analysts who have been raising price forecasts for the rest of the year said they see rising vaccination rates limiting the impact of surging infections of the Delta variant.

“We continue to see oil prices tracking higher in H2 2021 as oil demand growth outpaces supply growth,” Commonwealth Bank commodities analyst Vivek Dhar said in a note. CBA sees Brent rising to $85 by the fourth quarter.

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Aramco, Schlumberger lead a financing round for a hydrogen battery company

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EnerVenue, the first company to offer metallic hydrogen batteries, announced that it has raised $100 million in Series A funding, led by Schlumberger New Energy and Saudi Aramco Energy Ventures (SAEV)- Aramco Ventures’ capital programme, the company said in a statement.

EnerVenue has established a framework for a major distribution and manufacturing agreement with Schlumberger, which will contribute to the wider availability of its batteries in global markets.

The company develops robust, flexible, and secure battery energy storage solutions based on technology proven over decades of use under the most extreme flight conditions, including operating the International Space Station and the Hubble Space Telescope.

Enervenue was created in 2020 to bring the proven advantages of the metallic hydrogen battery into the electrical grid and other power applications, after a series of developments to significantly reduce cost and increase the availability of raw materials for the technology created by NASA in this field.

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Dubai’s DP World to invest $414.8m in London Gateway port

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Logistics operator DP World is investing £300 million ($414.8 million) to build a fourth berth at its London Gateway hub.

Construction will begin in October, the Dubai company said in a statement, as it aims to boost capacity for large vessels.

“As a central pillar of Thames Freeport, London Gateway’s new fourth berth will allow even more customers to benefit from world class ports and logistics,” said Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem, the chairman of DP World.

Operated by DP World, the London Gateway is a port within the wider Port of London. It was opened in 2013.

British chancellor Rishi Sunak said the Thames Freeport will “create national hubs of trade, innovation and commerce, and attract investment” for the UK.

The investment will support this goal, he added, saying it will create new trade opportunities and support local jobs.

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SoftBank makes first Saudi startup investment in $125m deal with PIF-owned Sanabil

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Customer engagement startup Unifonic has raised $125 million in its latest funding round led by SoftBank and a unit of the Public Investment Fund.

News of the deal first came out in June, but was only officially announced on Wednesday, making it the first investment of SoftBank in a Saudi startup.

The Riyadh-based startup provides messaging, voice, and WhatsApp communication services to companies who want to engage with customers.

“From SMS for online banking to WhatsApp vaccination requests, Unifonic empowers organizations to transform customer experiences,” it said in a statement.

It claims to support businesses by providing a cost-effective communication infrastructure.

The Series B funds will be used to grow Unifonic’s platform in the Middle East, and further expand to Africa and Asia. It also plans to acquire companies in these markets.

“This raise is an important milestone in our journey, it will allow us to scale our offerings and expand our reach to enable more organizations to connect with customers reliably and effectively,” its founder Ahmed Hamdan said.

PIF unit Sanabil also took part in the funding round.

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