On Wednesday, oil jumped above $50/bbl for the first time this year. According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), U.S. crude oil stockpiles shrank by 4.23 million barrels last week to total 537.1 million barrels. That was the biggest drop in seven weeks, exceeding an expected decrease of 2 million. Crude stocks at the Cushing, Oklahoma, and the delivery hub for futures fell 649,000 barrels. Supply to US shrank due to lower imports from Canada.
In South East Asia, the volumes of oil stored offshore have increased. In Singapore, a fleet of 40 supertankers is currently anchored in the region's coastal waters for use as floating storage facilities. The tankers are filled with 47.7 million barrels of oil, mostly crude, according to Thomson Reuters Eikon. That means, that output disruptions across the globe did not have significant impact on South East Asia. Crude oil, mainly from the Middle East, continues to flood Asian market.
Global volumes of oil held on tankers grew by 10.3 million barrels to 88.9 million in April, the most since June 2015, the International Energy Agency said. Furthermore, demand for oil storage soars amid supply glut.
Russian state-owned company Rosneft seeks to enter South Asian oil markets, mostly supplied by Middle Eastern producers. In the near term, the company plans to acquire two refineries - in India and Indonesia - and to start crude oil supplies to the new markets. Rosneft have already announced a deal with India's Essar Oil, which owns the refinery and a network of around 2,000 gas stations across the country. This year Russian company plans to purchase 49% stake in Essar Oil and to start sending its first regular deliveries of crude to India.
Rosneft intends to enter Indonesian market in a similar way, investing in the refinery construction. On Thursday, state-owned Indonesian oil company PT Pertamina said it hopes to take a majority share (at least 51% stake) in a near-$14 billion Indonesia-refinery venture with Russian Rosneft. The venture plans to build a refinery in eastern Java, capable of processing 320,000 barrels of oil a day. Russian company would supply crude oil to the refinery, and the deal could also include Pertamina's taking minority stakes in Russian oil fields. Later on Thursday two companies signed the agreement.
$50/bbl Is Pain At The Pump
As oil prices rise some South Asian countries may have to increase their spendings on fuel subsidies. We are talking here about multibillion-dollar burden. India, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand are among big fuel consumers in the region that took advantage of the slump in oil prices to scale back long-standing government assistance for gasoline, diesel and other fuels. According to BMI Research, diesel prices in Delhi have climbed more than 7% this year, while diesel in Thailand is up 17%, hurting motorists and other energy consumers across Asia.
The country is on the way to resume crude production in oil-sands. Last Friday, municipal authorities in Alberta lifted mandatory evacuation orders for seven oil-sands worker camps and production facilities. The threat posed by the wildfire that shut down 1.2 million barrels of daily oil production has not completely passed, but oil-sands companies have begun sending crews back up to northern Alberta to prepare to restart their facilities.
Iran has boosted exports by around 1 million b/d by now after the sanctions were lifted in January. According to Reuters, Iranian crude oil exports in April reached 2.3 million b/d, exceeding forecasts. In May last year Iran was exporting about 1.3 million b/d. Tehran is regaining market share at a faster pace than analysts had projected as it battles with Saudi Arabia for customers by cutting its prices. In the near term, competition may lead to increases of as much as 1 million b/d in Saudi Arabia's output as it struggles for regional supremacy with Iran.
Crude exports resumed from the Libyan port of Hariga after the National Oil Corp. and officials based in the east reached an agreement last week. Since the deal was announced, the tanker Seachance loaded 660,000 barrels of crude and sailed from Hariga on Friday, Tripoli-based National Oil Corp. said in a statement. The cargo was the first international shipment from the port since the regime in the east refused to let the tanker leave port in early May.
Eni reported another attack in the Niger Delta. On Sunday, militants blew up the Tebidaba-Brass pipeline with dynamite. Attacks in the Niger Delta region in the last few weeks have driven the country's oil output to a more than 20-year low.
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Headline crude prices for the week beginning 20 May 2019 – Brent: US$73/b; WTI: US$63/b
Headlines of the week
Midstream & Downstream
At first, it seemed like a done deal. Chevron made a US$33 billion offer to take over US-based upstream independent Anadarko Petroleum. It was a 39% premium to Anadarko’s last traded price at the time and would have been the largest industry deal since Shell’s US$61 billion takeover of the BG Group in 2015. The deal would have given Chevron significant and synergistic acreage in the Permian Basin along with new potential in US midstream, as well as Anadarko’s high potential projects in Africa. Then Occidental Petroleum swooped in at the eleventh hour, making the delicious new bid and pulling the carpet out from under Chevron.
We can thank Warren Buffet for this. Occidental Petroleum, or Oxy, had previously made several quiet approaches to purchase Anadarko. These were rebuffed in favour of Chevron’s. Then Oxy’s CEO Vicki Hollub took the company jet to meet with Buffet. Playing to his reported desire to buy into shale, Hollub returned with a US$10 billion cash infusion from Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway – which was contingent on Oxy’s successful purchase of Anadarko. Hollub also secured a US$8.8 billion commitment from France’s Total to sell off Anadarko’s African assets. With these aces, she then re-approached Anadarko with a new deal – for US$38 billion.
This could have sparked off a price war. After all, the Chevron-Anadarko deal made a lot of sense – securing premium spots in the prolific Permian, creating a 120 sq.km corridor in the sweet spot of the shale basin, the Delaware. But the risk-adverse appetite of Chevron’s CEO Michael Wirth returned, and Chevron declined to increase its offer. By bowing out of the bid, Wirth said ‘Cost and capital discipline always matters…. winning in any environment doesn’t mean winning at any cost… for the sake for doing a deal.” Chevron walks away with a termination fee of US$1 billion and the scuppered dreams of matching ExxonMobil in size.
And so Oxy was victorious, capping off a two-year pursuit by Hollub for Anadarko – which only went public after the Chevron bid. This new ‘global energy leader’ has a combined 1.3 mmb/d boe production, but instead of leveraging Anadarko’s more international spread of operations, Oxy is looking for a future that is significantly more domestic.
The Oxy-Anadarko marriage will make Occidental the undisputed top producer in the Permian Basin, the hottest of all current oil and gas hotspots. Oxy was once a more international player, under former CEO Armand Hammer, who took Occidental to Libya, Peru, Venezuela, Bolivia, the Congo and other developing markets. A downturn in the 1990s led to a refocusing of operations on the US, with Oxy being one of the first companies to research extracting shale oil. And so, as the deal was done, Anadarko’s promising projects in Africa – Area 1 and the Mozambique LNG project, as well as interest in Ghana, Algeria and South Africa – go to Total, which has plenty of synergies to exploit. The retreat back to the US makes sense; Anadarko’s 600,000 acres in the Permian are reportedly the most ‘potentially profitable’ and it also has a major presence in Gulf of Mexico deepwater. Occidental has already identified 10,000 drilling locations in Anadarko areas that are near existing Oxy operations.
While Chevron licks its wounds, it can comfort itself with the fact that it is still the largest current supermajor presence in the Permian, with output there surging 70% in 2018 y-o-y. There could be other targets for acquisitions – Pioneer Natural Resources, Concho Resources or Diamondback Energy – but Chevron’s hunger for takeover seems to have diminished. And with it, the promises of an M&A bonanza in the Permian over 2019.
The Occidental-Anadarko deal:
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Short-Term Energy Outlook
In April 2019, Venezuela's crude oil production averaged 830,000 barrels per day (b/d), down from 1.2 million b/d at the beginning of the year, according to EIA’s May 2019 Short-Term Energy Outlook. This average is the lowest level since January 2003, when a nationwide strike and civil unrest largely brought the operations of Venezuela's state oil company, Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PdVSA), to a halt. Widespread power outages, mismanagement of the country's oil industry, and U.S. sanctions directed at Venezuela's energy sector and PdVSA have all contributed to the recent declines.
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, based on Baker Hughes
Venezuela’s oil production has decreased significantly over the last three years. Production declines accelerated in 2018, decreasing by an average of 33,000 b/d each month in 2018, and the rate of decline increased to an average of over 135,000 b/d per month in the first quarter of 2019. The number of active oil rigs—an indicator of future oil production—also fell from nearly 70 rigs in the first quarter of 2016 to 24 rigs in the first quarter of 2019. The declines in Venezuelan crude oil production will have limited effects on the United States, as U.S. imports of Venezuelan crude oil have decreased over the last several years. EIA estimates that U.S. crude oil imports from Venezuela in 2018 averaged 505,000 b/d and were the lowest since 1989.
EIA expects Venezuela's crude oil production to continue decreasing in 2019, and declines may accelerate as sanctions-related deadlines pass. These deadlines include provisions that third-party entities using the U.S. financial system stop transactions with PdVSA by April 28 and that U.S. companies, including oil service companies, involved in the oil sector must cease operations in Venezuela by July 27. Venezuela's chronic shortage of workers across the industry and the departure of U.S. oilfield service companies, among other factors, will contribute to a further decrease in production.
Additionally, U.S. sanctions, as outlined in the January 25, 2019 Executive Order 13857, immediately banned U.S. exports of petroleum products—including unfinished oils that are blended with Venezuela's heavy crude oil for processing—to Venezuela. The Executive Order also required payments for PdVSA-owned petroleum and petroleum products to be placed into an escrow account inaccessible by the company. Preliminary weekly estimates indicate a significant decline in U.S. crude oil imports from Venezuela in February and March, as without direct access to cash payments, PdVSA had little reason to export crude oil to the United States.
India, China, and some European countries continued to receive Venezuela's crude oil, according to data published by ClipperData Inc. Venezuela is likely keeping some crude oil cargoes intended for exports in floating storageuntil it finds buyers for the cargoes.
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Short-Term Energy Outlook, and Clipper Data Inc.
A series of ongoing nationwide power outages in Venezuela that began on March 7 cut electricity to the country's oil-producing areas, likely damaging the reservoirs and associated infrastructure. In the Orinoco Oil Belt area, Venezuela produces extra-heavy crude oil that requires dilution with condensate or other light oils before the oil is sent by pipeline to domestic refineries or export terminals. Venezuela’s upgraders, complex processing units that upgrade the extra-heavy crude oil to help facilitate transport, were shut down in March during the power outages.
If Venezuelan crude or upgraded oil cannot flow as a result of a lack of power to the pumping infrastructure, heavier molecules sink and form a tar-like layer in the pipelines that can hinder the flow from resuming even after the power outages are resolved. However, according to tanker tracking data, Venezuela's main export terminal at Puerto José was apparently able to load crude oil onto vessels between power outages, possibly indicating that the loaded crude oil was taken from onshore storage. For this reason, EIA estimates that Venezuela's production fell at a faster rate than its exports.
EIA forecasts that Venezuela's crude oil production will continue to fall through at least the end of 2020, reflecting further declines in crude oil production capacity. Although EIA does not publish forecasts for individual OPEC countries, it does publish total OPEC crude oil and other liquids production. Further disruptions to Venezuela's production beyond what EIA currently assumes would change this forecast.