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Last Updated: June 6, 2016
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Business Trends

Upstream & Midstream

  • Saudi Arabia has raised its crude prices for Asia, as signs of robust demand emerge; this is despite the Kingdom dropping crude prices for Europe and Iran under-pricing its crude in an attempt to gain Asian market share. 

  • Indonesia, re-admitted to OPEC this year, is in line to hit its production target of 830,000 bd for 2016, a figure that will still leave Indonesia as a net oil importer. Additionally, Pertamina reports that it has produced 83,000 bd from its overseas ventures in Malaysia, Iraq and Algeria over the first five months of the year, up by 10.7% y-o-y.

  • Indonesia is offering 15 oil and gas blocks – 14 conventional and 1 unconventional – in its first tender for 2016. Eight of the blocks are under regular tender, and the remaining seven under direct proposal. Bids have to be submitted by October 20.


  • Weekly onshore fuel oil inventories in Singapore hit an all-time high of 31.2 million barrels, up by 7.7%; the development is symptomatic of the current fuel oil surplus in Singapore, with suppliers moving volumes to cheaper onshore storage from more expensive floating storage.

  • Malaysia has raised its biofuels mandate, to B10 for transport diesel and introducing a B7 mandate for industrial gasoil; the biofuels programme in Malaysia is currently limited to diesel, introduced in 2011 and upgraded incrementally in an attempt to diversify the country’s use of palm oil.
  • Iran’s Parsian Oil & Gas Development Co has signed an MoU with South Korea’s SK Engineering to begin a feasibility study on upgrading the 80 kbd Tabriz refinery, which will focus on gasoline upgrade units.

Natural gas

  • JX Nippon Oil & Energy will be investing some US$550 million in Petronas’ planned LNG plant in Sabah, aiming to tap into the growing Southeast Asian market for LNG, as well as exports to Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. The plant will start up next year.

  • China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) is reporting aiming to boost its natural gas supplies and transportation capacity over the next five years, aiming to satisfy growing domestic demand as well as tap into export markets. CNPC is the largest natural gas producer in China, representing nearly 70% of domestic supply.


  • Thailand’s PTT is reportedly considering an IPO for its fuel retail business, which if launched, would possibly rank among Thailand’s largest IPOs. PTT’s retail fuel network represents some 40% of the total Thai network, and the IPO will also include the marketing and convenience store businesses.

Key international developments


  • Crude oil prices hovered just under US$50/barrel, propped up by eyes on the OPEC Vienna summit, then by reports of falling US stockpiles and a sharp drop in the US dollar Friday; expect prices to stay in this range this week.

  • OPEC met in Vienna on Thursday, and once again failed to agree on a collective output ceiling, with Iran being the outlier. Saudi Arabia moved to sooth worries that it would raise output even more, and instead seems to be engaging Iran on the price front, cutting crude prices to Europe.

Upstream & Midstream

  • The Niger Delta Avengers continue to run riot in Nigeria, continuing a four-month campaign to destroy infrastructure – more pipelines, including one owned by Shell and one by Eni, were bombed, with the aim of the campaign seemingly being to oust President Muhammadu Buhari.

  • Oil rig count in the US rose by 9 to 325 last week; though a far cry from four-digit peak figures, it does illustrate the elasticity of US oil producers, nimble enough to react to upswings in crude prices. Natural gas rigs fell by 5 to 82.

  • A train carrying crude derailed in Oregon, sparking concerns over railroad transport from the shale fields of the north down south; the surprising shift to trains comes as existing pipeline infrastructure is insufficient to move the volumes coming from Bakken.

  • Colombia’s upstream industry reportedly requires US$70 billion of investment to avoid running dry within the next six years; dwindling reserves amid scant investment over the last decade has made this a crisis waiting to happen.


  • Industrial labour action that have shut down the French refining industry continued last week, joined by strikes in other industries; the action appears to be coming to an end, as workers in two refineries have voted to end the strike and pipeline distribution of product has resumed.

  • Norway’s government has proposed a move to ban all the sale of new gasoline- and diesel-powered cars by 2025, in an ambitious move to accelerate adoption of zero emissions, electric vehicles; commercial vehicles would follow over a longer implementation period.

Natural gas

  • US inventory data showed a smaller-than-expected rise in natural gas stockpiles, up by only 82 billion cubic feet against the 86 bcf expected in an analyst survey, driving US natural gas prices to their highest levels since January.

  • The second stage of Chilean natural gas exports to Argentina has commenced with the startup of the 450km GasAndes pipeline, supplying 3 million cubic meters/day of gas. The gas is supplied by the BG Group, delivered at the Quintero LNG import terminal


  • Abu Dhabi’s state oil company is planning an ambitious downstream expansion, focusing on growing its domestic refining and petrochemicals industry to supply its burgeoning export business to Asia.


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U.S. renewable electricity generation has doubled since 2008

U.S. annual renewable generation

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Electric Power Monthly

Renewable generation provided a new record of 742 million megawatthours (MWh) of electricity in 2018, nearly double the 382 million MWh produced in 2008. Renewables provided 17.6% of electricity generation in the United States in 2018.

Nearly 90% of the increase in U.S. renewable electricity between 2008 and 2018 came from wind and solar generation. Wind generation rose from 55 million MWh in 2008 to 275 million MWh in 2018 (6.5% of total electricity generation), exceeded only by conventional hydroelectric at 292 million MWh (6.9% of total generation).

U.S. solar generation has increased from 2 million MWh in 2008 to 96 million MWh in 2018. Solar generation accounted for 2.3% of electricity generation in 2018. Solar generation is generally categorized as small-scale (customer-sited or rooftop) solar installations or utility-scale installations. In 2018, 69% of solar generation, or 67 million MWh, was utility-scale solar.

U.S. annual net generation, wind and solar

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Electric Power Monthly

Increases in U.S. wind and solar generation are driven largely by capacity additions. In 2008, the United States had 25 gigawatts (GW) of wind generating capacity. By the end of 2018, 94 GW of wind generating capacity was operating on the electric grid. Almost all of this capacity is onshore; one offshore wind plant, located on Block Island, off the coast of Rhode Island, has a capacity of 30 megawatts. Similarly, installed solar capacity grew from an estimated less than 1 GW in 2008 to 51 GW in 2018. In 2018, 1.8 GW of this solar capacity was solar thermal, 30 GW was utility-scale solar photovoltaics (PV), and the remaining 20 GW was small-scale solar PV.

Growth in renewable technologies in the United States, particularly in wind and solar, has been driven by federal and state policies and declining costs. Federal policies such as the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act of 2009 and the Production Tax Credit and Investment Tax Credits for wind and solar have spurred project development.

In addition, state-level policies, such as renewable portfolio standards, which require a certain share of electricity to come from renewable sources, have increasing targets over time. As more wind and solar projects have come online, economies of scale have led to more efficient project development and financing mechanisms, which has led to continued cost declines.

Conventional hydroelectric capacity has remained relatively unchanged in the United States, increasing by 2% since 2008. Changes in hydroelectric generation year-over-year typically reflect changes in precipitation and drought conditions. Between 2008 and 2018, annual U.S. hydroelectric generation was as low as 249 million MWh and as high as 319 million MWh, with hydroelectric generation in 2018 totaling 292 million MWh. Generation from other renewable resources, including biomass and geothermal, increased from 70 million MWh to 79 million MWh in the United States between 2008 and 2018, and it collectively represented 1.9% of total generation in 2018.

March, 20 2019
Your Weekly Update: 11 - 15 March 2019

Market Watch

Headline crude prices for the week beginning 11 March 2019 – Brent: US$66/b; WTI: US$56/b

  • Global crude oil prices continue to remain rangebound despite bearish factors emerging
  • News that Libya was restarting its 300,000 b/d Sharara field could weaken the ability of OPEC to control supply, while a report from the US EIA hints that the market was moving into a glut
  • The EIA report showed that commercial crude inventories in the US rose by 7.1 million barrels, far higher than the 1.6 million barrel increase predicted, with a 873,000 barrel increase at Cushing and a 12% y-o-y drop in crude imports
  • By the end of 2019, with American output surging and Saudi Arabia curtailing production, the US could export more oil and liquids than the world’s largest exporter
  • Meanwhile in OPEC, PDVSA has received some aid from Russia with Rosneft agreeing to send heavy naphtha to Venezuela – a product necessary to thin heavy Venezuela crude to move by pipeline to the coast that have been affected by the American sanctions
  • On the demand side, Morgan Stanley has predicted that China’s oil consumption will peak in 2025, some 5-8 years earlier than most expectations, driven by a shift in cars towards electric vehicles and high-speed rail
  • The US active rig count fell for a third consecutive week, following a 9 rig fall with an 11 rig drop last week, with nine oil sites and two gas sites scrapped
  • Despite the bearish factors, it looks like crude has found a new comfortable range with Brent at US$65-67/b and WTI at US$56-58/b for the week

Headlines of the week


  • Despite security concerns, Libya has restarted its largest oil field, with output at 300,000 b/d Sharara expected to reach 80,000 b/d initially, throwing a new spanner in the OPEC goal of controlling supply
  • A one-year delay to Enbridge’s Line 3 conduit in Canada due to regulatory issues has thrown new troubles onto Alberta’s beleaguered crude industry
  • ExxonMobil is planning a major acceleration of its Permian assets, aiming to produce more than 1 mmboe/d by 2024, an increase of nearly 80%
  • China has announced plans to form a national oil and pipeline company, part of a natural energy industry overhaul that will give the new firm control over at least 112,000 km of oil, gas and fuel pipelines currently held by other state firms
  • Equinor, with Petoro, ConocoPhillips and Repsol, have announced a new oil discovery in the North Sea, with the Telesto well on the Visund A platform potentially yielding 12-28 million barrels of recoverable oil
  • Aker Energy has reported a new oil discovery at the Pecan South-1A well offshore Ghana, with the Pecan field expected to hold 450-550 mboe of oil
  • Production declines at Kazakhstan’s three main oil fields will see the country slash crude exports by 2% to 71 million tons this year, with cuts mostly to China

Midstream & Downstream

  • Canadian Natural Resources is looking to ease pressure on the Alberta crude complex by bringing its 80 kb/d North West Redwater refinery online this year
  • Work has begun on the upgrade and expansion of Egypt’s Middle East Oil Refinery near Alexandria, with the project expected to boost capacity to 160 kb/d and quality to Euro V through the installation of a new CDU and VDU
  • Bahrain’s BAPCO has announced plans to expand its Sitra oil refinery by early 2023, growing capacity from 267 kb/d to 360 kb/d

Natural Gas/LNG

  • India has started up its first LNG regasification facility on the east coast, with the Ennore terminal expected to service the major cities of Chennai and Madurai
  • Total has signed an agreement with Russia’s Novatek for the formal acquisition of a 10% stake in the Arctic LNG 2 project, bringing its total economic interest in the 19.8 mtpa project in the Yamal and Gydan peninsuals to 21.6%
  • Thailand’s PTTEP has announced a new offshore gas find in Australia’s portion of the Timor Sea, with the Orchid-1 well striking gas and expected to be incorporated into the Cash-Maple field with 3.5 tcf of resources
  • Crescent Petroleum and Dana Gas’s joint venture Pearl Petroleum Company is aiming to boost gas production at Khor Mor block in Iraq’s Kurdistan region by 63% with an additional 250 mmscf/d of output
  • Petronas’ 1.2 mtpa PFLNG Satu – the world’s first floating LNG vessel – has completed its stint at the Kanowit field and will now head to its second destination, the Kebabangan gas field offshore Sabah
  • Chevron is looking to revisit its Ubon wet gas project in Thailand after a period of hiatus as the supermajor recalibrated its development costs
  • Nigeria’s NLNG Train 7 LNG project is expected to reach FID in the third quarter of the year after multiple delays
  • ExxonMobil and BP have agreed to collaborate with the Alaska Gasline Development Corporation to advance the Alaska LNG project
  • Energean Oil and Gas has started its 2019 drilling programme in Israel, focusing on four wells, including one in Karish North near the Karish discovery
March, 15 2019
Latest issue of GEO ExPro magazine covers New Technologies and Training Geoscientists, with a geographical focus on Australasia and South East Asia

GEO ExPro Vol. 16, No. 1 was published on 4th March 2019 bringing light to the latest science and technology activity in the global geoscience community within the oil, gas and energy sector.

This issue focuses on new technologies available to the oil and gas industry and how they can be adapted to improve hydrocarbon exploration workflows and understanding around the world. The latest issue of GEO ExPro magazine also covers current training methods for educating geoscientists, with articles highlighting the essential pre-drill ‘toolbox’ and how we can harness virtual reality to bring world class geological locations to the classroom.

You can download the PDF of GEO ExPro magazine for FREE and sign up to GEO ExPro’s weekly updates and online exclusives to receive the latest articles direct to your inbox.

Download GEO ExPro Vol. 16, No. 1

March, 14 2019