Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Yet more protests. Oman's Oil by the numbers is just 150 rials a month. Grand Mufti calls for complete ban on booze and gyms

Feeling lonely? Hold a strike!
More strikes, more concessions...

And speaking of useless, Omantel subsidiary WorldCall also successfully got their $35 million loan thanks to a guarantee by parent Omantel. Worldcall losses more than tripled to Rs1.51 billion (US$18 million)with revenues falling to just $88mln in 2010, compared with a loss of Rs490 million in the preceding year. It's shares remain priced at less than 10% of what Omantel paid for them 3 years ago. The loan is partially to be used for 'debt consolidation'. I'd love to know who owned the debt that the Omani overnment's money is being used to repay...

It will be interesting to see how the assignment of some legislative power to the Majlis A'Shura will actually work. Note that 7 of the newly appointed Ministers were current or ex- A'Shura members. This is probably the best thing to come out of the protests, if it's done properly, although they haven't had time to update their website yet. It implies massive constitutional change. But what use is an elected legislative body if there can be no public debate of Government policy, and no political parties? And will the elected Majlis be able to over-rule the HM appointed Majlis A'Dawla? It's worth noting that under current law the President of the Majlis is... appointed by HM.

Just say 'No' kids...
On a lighter note. In a further blow to Omani employment opportunities in what was the growing tourist sector, Oman's Grand Mufti Sheikh Ahmed bin Hamad al-Khalili, appearing on Oman's riveting state television channel last Tuesday, called for a total ban on Alcohol.

The announcement was met with delight by the many (Omani!) purveyors of illicit alcohol, who pointed out that they would welcome the opportunity to sell more of their premium 'Clan of the Glen' [note: made-in-India] whiskey flavoured beverage at even higher extortionate prices than they already do. "We're just a phone call away, and we deliver!" mentioned one of the sellers, speaking on condition of anonimity.

Bulk sales of alcohol, currently allowed on Oman's military bases, and over the counter sales in the many dedicated Royal Oman Police bars (yes folks, and even during Ramadan) would not be affected, a spokesman for African and Eastern confirmed. Senior members of the ROP, who would have to enforce any ban, almost spilled their pints on hearing of the call from HE Sh. Al-Khalili.

Photo: His Eminence Shaikh Ahmed bin Hamad al Khalili, Grand Mufti of the Sultanate. No fan of the demon drink or happy endings.

The Grand Mufti also denounced Oman's burgeoning brothel & steroids business gyms as 'dens of vice', which is a fair call. I guess the on-demand massage business in Oman will have to go on-line to facebook and twitter, as the sex trade has done in Dubai. It's progress I guess, and e-commerce is, afterall, seen by the Government as a growth area.

Speaking of growth...

Oman's Oil & Gas by the numbers
PDO staff continued to protest for ridiculous amounts of money and benefits above what are already top notch salaries compared to most Omanis. The prospect of a strike among oil workers in the field is really making foreign investors nervous, but I doubt there will be any significant impact at all on Oman's short term oil exports even if they do.

All these demands, including the new unemployment benefit and lashings of fresh faced ROP officers, will need to be paid for of course. And right now, most Omanis (and expats) seem to assume that Oman makes loads of money from its oil and gas exports, as if we were like Abu Dhabi.

So, how much is Oman's oil and gas worth?

The easy way is to look at the Government's own 2011 budget. You can see an official summary here and a good commercial one by OAB here. The budget assumes an oil price of $58/bbl, and states 'net oil revenue' as $12.8bln. Costs (operational and investment) in the oil sector are counted seperately under expenditure, at around $2.4bln. There are many summaries of the oil production for 2011, and the official estimate is 897,000 bbl/d. Gas adds just $640mln net to the Government coffers, which seems very low.

So according to the Government there's around $11bln in net oil & gas revenue in 2011 assuming $58/bbl.

What I can't make add up are those 3 official numbers: the estimate of 897kb/d, the price assumption of $58 and the net revenue of $12.8bln. This is because 897,000bbl/d * 365 days * $58/bbl = $19bln, vs a net revenue of $12.8 bln (not counting costs remember - they are accounted separately). The Government seems to be 'missing' a whopping $6.2bln! This delta can be mostly explained, give or take a billion, if we try to work it out independently (see below).

Anyway, Oman's population is around 2.45 million (excluding Expats). I think it's quite interesting that dividing $11 billion in net oil and gas income by 2.45 million gives ~US$4500 per annum, which is just about exactly OR 150/month, the unemployment benefit HM just announced. Coincidence?

Photo: It's just a fact - Oman is not oil rich.

Bottom line folks: Oman is NOT oil rich. Your country's imports last year cost $19 billion, more than actual net oil revenue even at $80/bbl. True, your debt level is low at just 4% of GDP (after HM spent the past 12 years paying it down), and you have net positive foreign assets of about $5 billion.

While the headline figures put oil and gas at 80% of Government revenue and around 15% of GDP, almost all of the rest of the foreign-exchange earning exporting economy is re-labled oil and gas: methanol exports (based on free gas); aluminum smelting (based on free gas as Oman produces no bauxite); steel (yep, yet more free gas and no decent domestic iron ore either). And all the industrial activity around servicing the oil and gas sector plus the Government multiplies to make GDP look much better than it really is.

Remember this OR150 per person per month has to pay for everything: the military & ROP*, the free schools & hospitals, all the Government salaries, the infrastructure investments, and the subsidised power (cost: $0.5bln) and petrol (cost: $1.5bln).

Al Jazeera ..."We want to see the benefit of our oil wealth distributed evenly to the population," one protester yelled over a loudhailer near the port.

"We want to see a scale-down of expatriates in Oman so more jobs can be created for Omanis."

I'm afraid these people asking for free stuff, big salaries, leave, etc are misguided: the Omani people are already getting the oil money and then some. It's OR150/mnth. If the country is to survive the current 2%+ population growth rate, the non-oil real economy has to grow exponentially, and this means Omanis working hard in real jobs that create value in the international market place as well as replacing the imported service and construction sector labour markets.

A few dates and fish won't buy very many Lexus.

The Expats are, 95% (?99%?) of them I'd guess, all doing jobs that Omanis:
1/ won't do (house maids, construction, massage)
2/ won't do for anything close to OR100 rial a month (tourism, retail, Ruwi light industrial)
3/ mainly can't do (skilled labour), or might do but generally at a far worse performance level for more money

Wholesale short-term replacement of such people by Omanis will devastate those few parts of the economy that are not oil and gas dominated.

*In 2007 Oman was
ranked #1 in the world
for Military expenditure as a % of GDP. (#2 was Qatar, #3 Saudi, BTW)

Bottom's up Oil revenue estimates
According to Raoul Restucci, Petroleum Development Oman's Managing Director, in his 2011 media brief in February, PDO produced around 650,000 bbls per day in 2010. Adding production from Occidental and a few small payers, Oman in total produces around 870,000 bbls/d, and the Minister of Oil and Gas, Dr. Rumhi recently forecast continued production growth in 2011 to 900k.

But this is gross production, and is not all exported. Oman consumes around 80,000 bbls per day, according to industry analysts Business Monitor International and the CIA factbook. And let's assume 5,000bbl/d is consumed by producers as fuel oil.

So this brings crude exports down to 815k/d.

Plus, it's safe to assume Oman's foreign partners take a piece of the exports too, at least 10% (although they have a 40% shareholding in PDO, and 80% of Oxy's Mukhaisna development, the Government applies heavy additional taxes on this production, probably at a rate of over 80%). So I'll assume a net foreign take for 2011 of 90k/d.

This brings Oman's share to around 725k/d. Of this, around 130,000 bbl/d is refined in Sohar and exported as refined product, but international 'crack spreads' (the difference between crude cost and product prices) are pretty low and the refinery is not working as well as the best, so a $5/bbl spread seems reasonable. This then only 'adds' around 2.5% to the 150k/d, bringing net Omani exports up to 729k/d.

But the oil is not produced for free remember. According to the 2011 Government Budget, RO943mln is budgeted for oil production costs. Assuming a 60% government share, this means 2011 expenditure of $4.1bln. While the foreign interests will pay the remaining 40% in 2011, remember that eventually they will recover these costs, so we may as well assume for our purposes that the entire $4.1bln is the cost to Oman of the oil.

Assuming an average price of $80 this means Oman would get 729k/d * 365 days * $80 per bbl - $4.1bln (costs) = $17.2bln. But at the Government $58 oil price, this = $11.3 bln Still about $1bln more than the net Government figure less costs.

End Note for dedicated readers:

Photo: His Majesty Sultan Qaboos.

I'm told His Majesty gets a % of oil from the foreign take, rumoured to be around 15% of the 90kb/d, so a nice $400mln or so per annum at $80/bbl, from which he pays most of his own expenses. That's just OR5 rial per person per month, which I think most Omanis would say is a bargain.

Coming soon: Oman's Industrial-lead growth strategy


  1. Lots of topics in one post
    – look at total GDP – probably around 60billion dollars in 2011 – and work that out per person and do some number crunching based on that .

    There is always a black hole in Omans budget of unexplained discrepancies.

    Makki felt that a difference in the foreign workers that the ministry of Manpower had registered (1,065,158 as of end-March 2010 with total number of foreigners his own ministry census figures shows 742,994 ( this of course is working men & women, non working spouses and any children)

    was in effect immaterial

    (I believe he said that the difference was because the missing workers were on holiday! – some half a million all on holiday when the census was done ).

    If that was his attitude to money – its not surprising there is a big black hole .

  2. TWIS

    Like I said, GDP doesn't really count in this analysis - most of it is simply recirculated oil and gas money.

    It doesn't contribute to balance of payments or represent the sort of activity that can support the demands being asked, especially with the rial fixed to the US dollar and no capital export controls.

  3. Fantastic Analysis. Very interesting.

    Unfortunately, the future looks very bleak. On the one hand current generation that is looking for a handout and bankrupting the country on the other hand the religious fanatics are trying to take this land back to the stone ages. Either ways we are screwed.

    As an educated Omani, perhaps now is the time to move to another country and call it my own.

  4. UD - the root of these protests is 'It's all about me' - the Grand Mufti is looking for an opportunity to commence his campaign to take over.

    I wonder why there has been no announcement about Omani's taking responsibility for their lives.

    In Qaboos's place, as I watch the work I've undertaken destroyed. I'd be tempted to give them all 1000 a month even unemployed)as I abdicate and then move abroad and relax.

  5. Ref: Grand Mufti Sheikh Hamed Al Khalili's broadcast re: liquor in Oman. Am I the only one who sees possible connection between his public comments re: liquor in Oman AND the very recently announced $10 or $20 Billion grant from GCC (mostly Saudi) to benefit Oman and Bahrain?? Could this be like Sharjah in the past: Saudi money for mosque provided that Sharjah go dry -- i.e. no legal alcohol??? So: Saudi's grant $ to Oman, but Oman must agree to go dry in order to receive this money????

  6. Wow. I feel like I'm reading an Omani version of The White Man's Burden by William Easterly.

    Those Omanis are not aware of these facts so maybe a small lesson in a school book might be a good idea to enlighten them about Oman's reality and calm them down? We've been taught everything about Oman in school but why are we still so ignorant about such important facts that came out of such an analysis? Children here learn about Oman as the country with the best history, economy, etc, etc. They are taught Oman grows banana and mango trees. Sweet facts. I feel that learning 'sad' facts can make some Omani children grow into better Omanis with better understanding of what Oman needs, and when it is the right time to protest!

  7. Good connection MET Office - but Bahrain would never go dry - it makes so much money from the visitors from KSA.

  8. Well written piece, and eye opening as always.

    What I find interesting and more like a shot-on-your-own-foot is the situation with the small grocery stores in every locality and when they decided to 'Omanize' them, here's why:

    1. As a sponsor, an Omani would give a atleast one visa for the shop keeper(mostly Asians be it Indian or Pakistani etc)and would get some income from that. That stopped once grocery stores were Omanized.

    2. Each store would employ atleast one helper, so additional income from that again for the sponsor. Also stopped just like above.

    3. The small-shop keepers would rent out houses, thus generating rent to the home-owners. 50-60 rials min. That stopped as well once stores were Omanized. I've come across many stores in the old days, where the shop keepers generally had their small homes in the same building as the shop. Could say that the sponsor himself would rent out a house to them, therefore shop rent + home rent would go directly to the sponsors pocket.

    4. A part of the income from the shop went to sponsors, stopped as well.

    5. Local people could have small credit dealings with the shop keepers, something like a buy now pay later thing. That stopped, and now people have to shop at the bigger stores, where this just wont happen.

    6. The shops used to actually remain open and you could run up there and buy all your grocery needs without having to fire up the car and travel to Lulu / Al Fair etc to buy a packet of salt.

    7. Company distributors networks reduced significantly after the stores began closing down as Omanis would just not run them as efficiently as the expats.

    As an eg. Muscat (old Muscat, Takiya, Touyan and Miyabeen) had easily 20-25 odd grocers combined. Now, slowly all have closed down due to the owners being a lazy bunch, and not wanting to run them (thinking they're too menial)The situation is quite similar away from the capital area too (interior villages etc.)

    I feel an Omani sponsor who gave licenses to grocery stores would easily make a neat 150-200 RO without doing anything! And the economy, in however a small way, would keep running. People would get what they wanted at any time, conveniently, and money kept rolling. You could say there was a decent 'distribution' of income for even the 'poorer' families (where members would be many and unemployment would be present)

    It's all stopped now. The advent of mall culture, combined with in-efficiency and laziness of some of the people, have made a slow, but noticeable change to the retail landscape in Oman.

    In the case of mall culture with relation to the the smaller 'neighborhood store' concept, it truly looks like a classic case of big fish eating up all the smaller ones, leading to imbalance.

    Just my pence :D

  9. Very interesting, thanks. So what sort of future are we looking at in Oman? I'll be outta here soon, but I worry for my friends and colleagues (Omani and Expat).

  10. Thanks UD for a simple and clean calculation of how much oil money (and gas ???) Oman is making, how much Omanis can expect to get for free and the best thing is that you have entered the non-man's area and proved that that HM is taking a very reasonable share only.
    We need good guys like you to educate the people to get their basic numbers before they protest.

  11. Blue Collar - IndianMarch 19, 2011 at 2:38 PM

    Excellent Analysis.

    I would love to see Omani Teachers in the Indian Schools and also in our good ol ABA, TAISM and the British.

  12. Getting near time to goMarch 19, 2011 at 11:01 PM

    The Sultan needs to speak about the reality of the situation. The 'strikes' and 'protests' are becoming methods by which immature, young men can inject a bit of excitement into their lives or social gatherings for grumbling.

    The student protests are pathetic and should be loudly denounced by the Sultan, the religious authorities and the captains of industry.

    I understand waiting them out as the summer will be too hot for the delicate flowers to be outside but the sooner the unemployed youth stop getting their unemployment benefit and start square bashing for an extended period the better.

    National Service (for men and women) would be a good idea too.

    For a country that declares its love for the Sultan, there is little respect being shown.

    Omani's, please note, your reputation is now of greedy, unrealistic, arrogant fools - you've probably lost yourself a lot of goodwill, tourists and potential businesses.

  13. "Anyway, Oman's population is around 2.45 million (excluding Expats)" this is a big mistake... we r 2.45 including the the expats out of this omanis are only 1.951 m... we didn't even reach 2 m... u need to do some recalculation out there...

  14. Very great presentation but I have few points in which it may make little difference in the conclusion:
    1. Oil prices estimated to be & $58/bbl and we all know normally estimations are made on average of the worst scenarios to budget for any losses. But the facts are different
    For example, 2010 estimated price was $ 50/bbl but the actual were much higher

    And you can calculate the difference / profit
    And the same for 2011! You can see the actual prices from the same table (Source ministry of Oil & Gas)

    2. methanol exports are not based on free gas I can’t give you the rate coz it will be in-professional as I have an excess over some data 
    3. Hospitals and medical expenses are not giving for free (sure am mentioning Omanis as foreigners have to pay), we all know PASI deduct 1% every month for medical insurance. Yes it is retention money but they are not freezing the money aren’t they!! That’s investments fund will be sufficient to reduce some costs comparing to the persons killed in these hospitals, so they are not using much money to keep them alive  -joking
    Anyhow what I want to say that – they should stop humiliating us with the free things, yes the government pays a lot but let us not forget that those people are there because of their expertise in making money if they cannot than!!
    Add to that, these protests will be much less if unemployment rate decrease. Yes I know also they are not rich to hire everyone as seemed to be. But let us say some fact. Many teacher for around three batches cant retire for a simple thing. That 1% medical insurance they pay + 5.5 from their own salary for their full employment life + 10.5% employer portion suddenly disappear
    Now what’s the effect! They can’t retire simply and they have to TEACH more. Students will suffer more from the bad education resulted from forced teachers to stay at work + the new graduated batched can’t find a job

    4. Plus ministry of national economy data proved to be misleading by a member of CBO board. Dr. Hatem Al Shanfari. And you can go throw the study to see how clearly it is mentioned that the National Economy are not Accurate
    5. Going back to making money. One of the reasons why we spent more than we make because we are building the infrastructure and big tourism projects as we still need. Which assume will generate us money in the future. And for that to happen we need to focus on projects that will really bring the big sharks. But unfortunately we either spent to unreasonable on non-profitable projects or we simply pick the wrong bid. I can give an example which is the Wave and the limestone project in Salalah.
    6. Last point to add, most protests are going for simple reason which I faced myself at some period. Most companies will give much lower salary than an expatriate because you’re just an Omani. I was getting around 450 OMR which around $ 1,170 whereas an expect with same professional as mine will get OMR 1,500 around $ 3,896 and I’ll hear my manager directly give me a simple reason of YOU ARE AN OMANI. And off course the registers will be faulty at the manpower with the help of the employer bank

  15. There is talk of Indian naval ships deployed in Wudam next to royal yachts.... Any truth?

  16. @ Blue Collar Indian - thanks for your trolling - you bored?

  17. I've been shopping today, out and about in Qurum, MSQ, Al Khuwair. Have been doing this for several years now but never before really encountered surly unhelpful and basically inhospitable youth on the streets and in the stores.

    Homecentre they were just gathering about in groups in the store completely disinterested in customers. Al Fair none of the usual chat and banter and smiling faces. Qurum the same. A general feeling of unrest and we just can't be bothered. Unwelcoming and unfriendly. They appear to have lost the pride in their country and their leader.

    Arrogant, ignorant, greedy and unrealistic is right 'getting ready to go' and I think there will be many following your example.

    How can this happen so quickly it seems only days ago we were caught in traffic jams full of happy exhilarated kids hanging out of their cars emblazoned with pictures of their Sultan enjoying the prosperity gained over the past 40 years. Such short memories. Such sad regression.

    Getting ready to go, yes I think so, there are still plenty of places that need and want our expertise and where it is pleasant to live, we don't have to suffer the rudeness and arrogance of the rising ignorant majority. Perhaps when there is no-one able to support the malls and the supermarkets, the tourist developments, the hotels, the businesses, then they will realise what a catastrophic error they are making in the name of greed and avarice.

  18. Omani's cannot officially study at the British School or ABA as they do not teach religious studies, so wouldn't it be best to leave the expats to teach the expat kids?

    Who even knows if the schools will remain open once full Omanization (ha!) comes into force (HAHAH!)

  19. UD

    can you please stop the repeated attempts to paint Omanis current situation as simply "niggers looking for free money attitude"

    If you dont understand arabic and have gaps in understanding situation in Oman then shut up. Its making you look really stupid.


  20. "Perhaps when there is no-one able to support the malls and the supermarkets, the tourist developments, the hotels, the businesses, then they will realise what a catastrophic error they are making in the name of greed and avarice. "

    by Sally.


    It's inevitable isnt it? Shot-on-the-foot.

  21. Your blog is now blocked in the UAE it seems.

  22. Blue Collar IndianMarch 21, 2011 at 2:00 PM

    Dear Folks and dear @Anonymous - I was just coming up with a Joke !! in my previous post ----------I would love to see Omani Teachers in the Indian Schools and also in our good ol ABA, TAISM and the British-----------------

    In reality,I would be the last one to see these bedouins teach our little ones. I would rather give them some education abroad. in a worst case, I would teach them stuff on my own. Atleast show them what you guys should not be once you grow up.

    Well I am bored but you should be glad that I ain't protesting for that and asking for a pay raise.

  23. A couple of 'Anonymous' above me said that Omanis can't go the British School etc- this is not true. if it is, i shall let the Omani parents at my kids' school know!
    AA- your comments are ridiculous and ironically make you look stupid.

  24. BigManinOman - re Omanis not being allowed to go to ABA etc. I know of one family where father is Omani and mother is Phillipina, whose son went to ABA. They had to get some kind of special circumstances exemption from the school first. Maybe it is like many other things in this country which are officially banned but the ban is not enforced. On a number of occassions I have found that people just dont bother to ask when there is a grey area as they know that the answer will be 'no' if they do, yet the authorities are well aware of what is happening and still turn a blind eye to what is going on.
    Please dont think that I am being critical of the way things happen here - I like the amount of discretion this brings to daily life.

  25. Blue Collar Indian said...

    That’s why we are struggling for Omanization, because we 100% sure you are faithfulness for the country that you are making money from. In fact, there is Arabic say "اللي مافيه خير لأهله، ما في خير لغيره"
    I can translate it by “if you has no good for your family, you’ll have non for the others” in your situation!! If you don’t like it here, simply leave… and you can teach your children in the British school just 5 mints. From your luxuries street you live in>>> which is the reason why you came here

  26. BigManInOman - re-read the comment. It says officially which means it is possible when eyes are averted.

    Since education is not compulsory in Oman, then no one is tracking where children go to school.

  27. All we are doing, is creating more inflation, the super markets have started to increase prices of food in order to pay for there more expensive omani employees. In the end of the day, Oman is no longer competitive as an export base. The instability has made oman an unattractive foreign investment option, and an unpleasant tourist destination.
    This policy of lets just give them what they want, is unsustainable. We as a nation live in a global economy. Omanis are worried about indians in Oman, ha!. You really should worry about the indians in india, they are the ones who are working/studying really hard and willing to take any job opportunity at any price, in the global world they will succeed.
    If we keep acting like a bunch of spoilt brats crying at our parents to feed us, once our parent can not feed us we will just starve, for we have not developed the skills to survive outside our hand me down system.

  28. Excellent analysis by UD... Kapil's take on the local grocery store was interesting and true... Blue collar commented well...

    I am an expat. i have been in oman since last 25 years... such a wonderful and peaceful country... back home nobody knew oman or muscat... everybody is familiar with dubai and "saudi" in the GCC.

    but i would explain to them saying that oman is a peaceful place with nice and friendly people.
    i would further say that although oman does not have skyscrappers and bustling goldsouqs and markets... oman had its own charm and peace... a nice place to work and live... and a good place to invest...

    all this changed.. the protest, the sit-in and burning of property and unending, unrealistic demands all changed the perception about oman.

    seriously, now the reputation of omani, is now of greedy, unrealistic, arrogant fools - forget tourism.... who would want to come to a country were the tourist are held up in hotels by protesters.

    who would want to invest in a country, where trade unions pose unrealistic demands....10000000000 rial salary and 3 day a week job... with compulsory omani employees, who are neither fit for the job, or punctual... plain unemployable, i would say

    one more new way to shoo off potential businesses, planning to set up shop in oman.

    oman has such a visionary leader like His Majesty sultan Qaboos. oman is fortunate to have such a wise and able leader. HM has transformed oman into a modern nation within the last 40 years...

    why spoil that reputation... be grateful to what you have... show gratefulness to his majesty atleast. dont spoil the global reputation of oman...

    Omani's, look at yourself... do you deserve what you are demanding... have you achieved that level of competence... are you worth what you are asking...

    Oman is no USA or Japan. you cant have american salaries... try to understand... think... think omani's...think...

    plain example of greed

    and 5 day week of work, shows how lazy you are...

    learn from the Chinese, Japanese... you should work... work real hard.. then demand your pay. thats the right way.\\\\

    and do you think, increasing salaries will help you handle the rising prices... prices will go up even more... the shops will have to employ inefficient and highly paid omani's as workers... ultimately this will be transfered to the customer...

    Tunisia, Egypt and Libya have real major problems... thats why they protested... Oman does not have any major problems. understand this... you dont have problems serious enough to protest... you have a wonderful leader, a visionary in his majesty Sultan Qaboos. Oman has minimal problems... you dont have to protest for the sake of protesting... think omani's, think....

    all these protest are doing you no good...

    it is counter productive for oman..

    Support your leader in making this a better place.

    although an expat, these incidents saddened me a lot.. oman is second home to me... i felt angry toward these protesters.. although an expat, i love this country.

    Long live sahib jalala

    understand Omani's... sit calmly and think...

  29. You are ridiculously funny, you know that? I was laughing my a** off at work reading the part about gyms.


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