Rosneft and BP have today signed final binding agreements to
create a new joint venture, Yermak Neftegaz LLC, to conduct exploration in the
West Siberian and Yenisey-Khatanga basins in the Russian Federation. The
document was signed at the XX St. Petersburg International Economic Forum
(SPIEF) by Rosneft CEO Igor Sechin and President of BP Russia David Campbell.
The joint venture will focus on onshore exploration of two Areas of Mutual Interest (AMIs) in the West Siberian and Yenisey-Khatanga basins covering a combined area of about 260,000 square kilometers. Yermak Neftegaz will be owned 51 per cent by Rosneft and 49 per cent by BP. In the initial stage, the joint venture will carry out further appraisal work on the 2009 Rosneft-discovered Baikalovskiy field inside the Yenisey-Khatanga AMI and on exploration of Zapadno-Yarudeiskoye, Kheiginskoye and Anomalnoye licenses in the West Siberian AMI.
Exploration activities in the two AMIs will include regional research, acquisition of seismic data and drilling of exploration wells, with the beginning of field works anticipated in the winter season of 2016 / 2017. The preliminary agreement relating to this project was signed at SPIEF in 2015.
Igor Sechin, Rosneft CEO, said after signing: 'These agreements serve as an example of full scale cooperation with BP, Rosneft's strategic partner and largest minority shareholder. After creation of the Taas-Yuryakh Neftegazodobycha LLC joint venture we are now broadening the geography of our cooperation and creating a precedent which allows us to pursue cooperation in partnership with leading international companies to implement upstream projects at the largest Rosneft greenfield sites in West and East Siberia.'
David Campbell, President BP Russia, said: 'This agreement and creation of a new joint venture reinforces BP's commitment to our strategic investment in Russia and our long term partnership with Rosneft. In the current low oil price environment we continue to look for opportunities for future growth.'
BP has committed to provide up to $300 million in two phases as its contribution to the cost of the JV's activities at the exploration stage. Rosneft will contribute licenses and operational experience in West Siberia and Yenisey-Khatanga with initial drilling to be performed by Rosneft subsidiaries.
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Headline crude prices for the week beginning 10 December 2018 – Brent: US$62/b; WTI: US$52/b
Headlines of the week
The Permian is in desperate need of pipelines. That much is true. There is so much shale liquids sloshing underneath the Permian formation in Texas and New Mexico, that even though it has already upended global crude market and turned the USA into the world’s largest crude producer, there is still so much of it trapped inland, unable to make the 800km journey to the Gulf Coast that would take them to the big wider world.
The stakes are high. Even though the US is poised to reach some 12 mmb/d of crude oil production next year – more than half of that coming from shale oil formations – it could be producing a lot more. This has already caused the Brent-WTI spread to widen to a constant US$10/b since mid-2018 – when the Permian’s pipeline bottlenecks first became critical – from an average of US$4/b prior to that. It is even more dramatic in the Permian itself, where crude is selling at a US$10-16/b discount to Houston WTI, with trends pointing to the spread going as wide as US$20/b soon. Estimates suggest that a record 3,722 wells were drilled in the Permian this year but never opened because the oil could not be brought to market. This is part of the reason why the US active rig count hasn’t increased as much as would have been expected when crude prices were trending towards US$80/b – there’s no point in drilling if you can’t sell.
Assistance is on the way. Between now and 2020, estimates suggest that some 2.6 mmb/d of pipeline capacity across several projects will come onstream, with an additional 1 mmb/d in the planning stages. Add this to the existing 3.1 mmb/d of takeaway capacity (and 300,000 b/d of local refining) and Permian shale oil output currently dammed away by a wall of fixed capacity could double in size when freed to make it to market.
And more pipelines keep getting announced. In the last two weeks, Jupiter Energy Group announced a 90-day open season seeking binding commitments for a planned 1 mmb/d, 1050km long Jupiter Pipeline – which could connect the Permian to all three of Texas’ deepwater ports, Houston, Corpus Christi and Brownsville. Plains All American is launching its 500,000 b/d Sunrise Pipeline, connecting the Permian to Cushing, Oklahoma. Wolf Midstream has also launched an open season, seeking interest for its 120,000 b/d Red Wolf Crude Connector branch, connecting to its existing terminal and infrastructure in Colorado City.
Current estimates suggest that Permian output numbered around 3.5 mmb/d in October. At maximum capacity, that’s still about 100,000 b/d of shale oil trapped inland. As planned pipelines come online over the next two years, that trickle could turn into a flood. Consider this. Even at the current maxing out of Permian infrastructure, the US is already on the cusp on 12 mmb/d crude production. By 2021, it could go as high as 15 mmb/d – crude prices, permitting, of course.
As recently reported in the WSJ; “For years, the companies behind the U.S. oil-and-gas boom, including Noble Energy Inc. and Whiting Petroleum Corp. have promised shareholders they have thousands of prospective wells they can drill profitably even at $40 a barrel. Some have even said they can generate returns on investment of 30%. But most shale drillers haven’t made much, if any, money at those prices. From 2012 to 2017, the 30 biggest shale producers lost more than $50 billion. Last year, when oil prices averaged about $50 a barrel, the group as a whole was barely in the black, with profits of about $1.7 billion, or roughly 1.3% of revenue, according to FactSet.”
The immense growth experienced in the Permian has consequences for the entire oil supply chain, from refining balances – shale oil is more suitable for lighter ends like gasoline, but the world is heading for a gasoline glut and is more interested in cracking gasoil for the IMO’s strict marine fuels sulphur levels coming up in 2020 – to geopolitics, by diminishing OPEC’s power and particularly Saudi Arabia’s role as a swing producer. For now, the walls keeping a Permian flood in are still standing. In two years, they won’t, with new pipeline infrastructure in place. And so the oil world has two years to prepare for the coming tsunami, but only if crude prices stay on course.
Recent Announced Permian Pipeline Projects
Headline crude prices for the week beginning 3 December 2018 – Brent: US$61/b; WTI: US$52/b
Headlines of the week