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A Japanese-Australian venture producing hydrogen from brown coal is set to start loading its maiden cargo on the world’s first liquid hydrogen carrier on Friday, in a test delayed by nearly a year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Suiso Frontier, built by Japan’s Kawasaki Heavy Industries (KHI), arrived Australia this week from Kobe, following a longer trip than the expected 16 days as the ship dodged bad weather and rough seas, said a spokesperson for the Hydrogen Energy Supply Chain (HESC) venture. The ship is scheduled to head back to Japan in about a week.

Led by KHI, HESC is a A$500 million ($360 million) coal-to-hydrogen project backed by Japan and Australia as a way to switch to cleaner energy and cut carbon emissions.

Hydrogen, seen as a path to decarbonizing industries that rely on coal, gas and oil, is key to Japan’s goal to achieving net-zero emissions by 2050. Australia aims to become a major exporter of the fuel.

The Australian government on Friday committed a further A$7.5 million for HESC’s A$184 million pre-commercialization phase, and A$20 million for testing a capture and storage project for carbon dioxide released in the coal-to-hydrogen process to create a carbon neutral product.

Last year, HESC started extracting 70 kg of hydrogen a day from brown coal in the Latrobe Valley, about 135 km (84 miles) east of Melbourne, where brown coal mines have long fueled some of Australia’s most polluting power stations.

The hydrogen is produced by reacting coal with oxygen and steam under high heat and pressure. It is then trucked to a port site where it is cooled to minus 253 degrees Celsius (minus 423 Fahrenheit), liquefying it for export.
The partners are looking to produce up to 225,000 tons of hydrogen a year.

They will need to make a final investment decision by 2025, with Australia racing against countries in the Middle East and elsewhere to produce carbon neutral hydrogen, said Jeremy Stone, a director of J-Power, one of the HESC partners.

Partners in the project include Japan’s Electric Power Development Co, Iwatani Corp, Marubeni Corp., Sumitomo Corp. and Australia’s AGL Energy Ltd., whose mine is supplying the brown coal.


Iran and Oman agree to jointly develop shared oilfield

Iran and Oman have agreed to form a committee to jointly develop the Hengam oilfield, which straddles both countries’ sea border, Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency reported its oil minister Javad Owji as saying on Monday.

In 2005, both countries signed a memorandum of understanding to jointly develop the Hengam oil field but the agreement did not materialize and Iran decided to develop the field independently in 2012.

“As the first basis of my talks with Omani Oil Minister Mohammed bin Hamad Al-Rumhi, it was agreed to form a joint technical committee to develop the next phases of the Hengam oil field in a seamless manner between Iran and Oman,” Owji said.

“Joint exploitation, in contrast to competitive exploitation, will be mutually beneficial to both countries as this method leads to less damage to the reservoir and allows for more extraction,” the oil minister added.

Last week, Iran’s state news agency IRNA reported that Owji had agreed to revive a long-stalled project to lay an undersea pipeline to carry gas to Oman.

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Gold edges up; Wheat falls, soybean firm; UK to impose duties of up to 29% on Chinese aluminum extrusions

Gold edged up on Friday, heading for its first week of gains in five on persistent worries over economic growth and a weekly decline in the dollar.

A slide in US Treasury yields supported the safe-haven metal on the day, sending spot gold up 0.1 percent to $1,843.29 per ounce. Prices hit a one-week high earlier in the session.

US gold futures settled up 0.1 percent at $1,842.10.

Platinum falls

Silver fell 0.1 percent to $21.69 per ounce, but was up about 2.9 percent for the week.

Platinum fell 1.4 percent to $948.77, while palladium eased 2.4 percent to $1,958.81.

Wheat, corn ease

Chicago wheat fell for a third straight session on Friday, retreating further from a two-month high it hit earlier this week as technical selling pressured the market, traders said.

Corn also eased, as accelerated US planting and news that Argentina may expand an export volume cap weighed.

Soybeans gained on strong export demand, amid tight supplies.

The most-active wheat contract on the Chicago Board of Trade lost 31-3/4 cents at $11.68-3/4 a bushel, a 0.7 percent weekly decline.

CBOT corn ended 4-1/2 cents lower at $7.78-3/4 a bushel, ending lower for a third consecutive week.

Soybeans firmed 14-3/4 cents to $17.05-1/4 a bushel, logging a weekly gain of 58-3/4 cents, a 3.6 percent increase.

UK to impose duties on Chinese aluminum extrusions

Britain may impose anti-dumping duties of up to 29 percent on aluminum extrusions from China to protect domestic producers, a trade agency said on Friday.

Aluminium extrusions — widely used in the transport, construction and electronics industries — are being dumped in Britain at lower prices than they are sold in China, the Trade Remedies Authority said in an interim report.

“The TRA determined that there is already damage to the UK industry, having found clear evidence of price undercutting, indicating that UK businesses are struggling to compete with the dumped imports,” a statement said.

Provisional measures will be imposed as the TRA completes its investigation, requiring Chinese companies exporting to Britain to provide a bank guarantee beginning on May 28, it added.

Duties ranging from 7.3 percent to 29.1 percent were recommended, depending on the company and the level of dumping margin, the interim report said.

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“Artful Putin”… The rise in the ruble price to a record level against the dollar is causing an uproar on the communication sites

On Friday, the Russian currency recorded significant gains against its American and European counterparts, despite Western sanctions imposed on Moscow, causing an uproar on social media.

On Friday, the Russian currency hit two record levels in about an hour against the American and European currencies, and the dollar exchange rate fell, during trading, to below the level of 57 rubles, for the first time since April 2018, while the euro exchange rate fell below the level 60 rubles for the first time since April 2017.

In this context, social media sites were abuzz with this news, in reference to the reverse course of the sanctions imposed on Russia, while Russian measures prove their strength in the face of the West.

A number of social media pioneers and media professionals circulated this news, as the Egyptian media, Amr Adib, described the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, as “shitty”, as a result of the measures he took.

And one of the accounts commented, saying: “Putin is currently surrounded by a man against a man, and he is laughing at the whole West… and frankly… his right.”

The rise of the Russian currency comes after it had fallen in the second half of last March to historical levels, as it exceeded the level of 140 rubles to the dollar.

At the beginning of last March, the Russian Central Bank announced a set of measures to achieve financial and economic stability in Russia, the most prominent of which is obligating exporters in Russia to sell 80% of foreign exchange earnings on the Moscow Stock Exchange.

Experts believe that the Russian ruble is receiving support from the surplus in the trade balance, as imports in Russia fell by about 50%, which reduced the demand for the US currency.

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