Friday, May 19, 2017

The oil glut persists; Impending end of manned air traffic control; First female ref in Bundesliga

1 The oil glut persists (Gulf News) After the first Opec oil production cut in eight years took effect in January, oil traders from Houston to Singapore started emptying millions of barrels of crude from storage tanks. Investors hailed the drawdowns as the beginning of the end of a two-year supply glut — raising hopes for steadily rising per-barrel prices. It hasn’t worked out that way.

Now, many of those same storage tanks are filling back up or draining more slowly than investors and oil firms had expected, according to global inventory estimates and more than a dozen oil traders and shipping sources who told Reuters about storage in facilities that do not make their oil volumes public.

The stalled drawdowns shed light on the broader challenge facing Opec — the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries — as it struggles to steer the industry out of the downturn caused by oversupply. With US shale oil production surging, inventories remain stubbornly high and prices appear stuck in the low-$50s per-barrel range.

Estimated inventories in industrialised nations totalled 3.025 billion barrels at the end of March — about 300 million barrels above the five-year average, according to the International Energy Agency’s latest monthly report. Preliminary April data indicated stocks would rise further, the IEA said. Crude stocks stood at a record 1.235 billion barrels.

2 Impending end of manned air traffic control (Gwyn Topham in The Guardian) Manned air traffic control towers, a reassuring fixture at airports since the dawn of civil aviation nearly a century ago, could soon be made obsolete by technological advances allowing arrivals and departures to be monitored from miles away using live streams of high-definition video.

A 50-metre control tower is being built at London City airport but it will be populated by a suite of HD cameras instead of humans, as it vies to become the first major hub in the world to manage its traffic remotely.

From 2019, the controllers’ window over the Docklands’ skyline in east London will be a bank of HD screens, joined in a seamless panorama in a digital control room at Nats, the UK’s national air traffic control service, in Swanwick, Hampshire. They will monitor a live feed from 14 cameras at London City, 80 miles away – and for now, a week’s worth of recorded action shot from a crane before the tower is built.

The airport believes it will allow staff to monitor aircraft on the runway and track the skies better than before. The complete 360-degree view has been condensed into a 225-degree arc, meaning the controller can in effect have eyes in the back of their heads – even if they peruse what appears to be a banana-shaped runway. From this room, the controller can pan and zoom cameras for a detailed view, sharper than the binoculars of old.

3 First female ref in Bundesliga (BBC) Bibiana Steinhaus will become the first female to referee in the Bundesliga. The 38-year-old police officer has been named as one of four new referees in Germany's top flight for 2017-18.

Steinhaus - the partner of English ex-Premier League and World Cup referee Howard Webb - has refereed second-tier games for six years. Webb, who is now leading efforts to introduce video technology to Major League Soccer, said he was "absolutely thrilled to bits" and believes it could help to inspire more women to reach the top level.

Steinhaus has faced scrutiny already in German football and admitted: "I have worked very hard for this in the last few years and suffered a few setbacks." When fourth official at a Bayern Munich match in October 2014, then Bayern coach Pep Guardiola put his arm around her shoulders as he argued about a refereeing decision. She brushed his arm off but the Spaniard was subsequently criticised in the media.

Fortuna Dusseldorf midfielder Kerem Demirbay was banned for five games in 2015 for saying "women have no place in men's football" after Steinhaus sent him off for a second bookable offence. He later apologised but was ordered by his club to referee a girls' football match as punishment.

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