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Last Updated: August 10, 2016
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Oil Prices

Rumblings among OPEC members of restricting output rallied prices lifted oil prices slightly, but weak fundamentals particularly in demand outpacing supply kept prices in the low US$40/b level.

 

After reporting a net loss in Q2, Chevron is accelerating its plan to raise as much as US$10 billion by 2017 through the sale of Asia assets. The US giant is aiming to sell its stake in its offshore venture with CNOOC, which could raise as much as US$1 billion, as well as geothermal assets in Indonesia and natural gas assets in Thailand, which will be eyed by PTT.

India has poured cold water on recent reports that the government was planning to merge the 13 state energy firms into one giant conglomerate. The Petroleum Ministry has clarified that instead of a concrete idea, the proposal is only one of many that India is considering to streamline the complicated energy network in the country.

China is planning a cull of its petrochemical industry. Excess capacity in the petrochemical industry is a looming issue in the country, and the government is addressing it by identifying out-dated plants to be shut down and ordering consolidation among the big players to boost efficiency.

In a sign of the growing relationship between international traders and Chinese teapots, Trafigura has extended the credit period for crude purchases for two independent Chinese refiners – Shouguang Luqing Petrochemical and Huifeng Petrochemical Group. Under a third party processing agreement, the Chinese teapots will then provideTrafigura with refined products, mainly gasoline, that then enter its trading portfolio.

Indonesia’s Pertamina has shut down its RFCC unit at Cilacap for repairs for two weeks, with full production resuming only in mid-August. Gasoline imports into Indonesia will spike over this period, given that Indonesia is a net importer of the fuel. Pertamina had recently received a 200,000-barrel cargo of gasoline from Rosneft, the Russia firm’s first gasoline delivery to South-East Asia, part of a larger 1.2 million barrel deal signed in June.

Tokyo Gas is in talks with European companies to engage in LNG cargo swaps, sending the cargos it owns from Cove Point on the US East Coast to Europe instead of Asia, saving on shipping time and cost as it aims to introduce more flexibility into its LNG supply system.

A civil war is brewing in the normally sedate Japanese energy industry. The planned marriage of Idemitsu and Showa Shell is opposed by the founding family of Idemitsu, who have bought a stake Showa Shell in a bid to block to takeover, arguing that the two companies’ cultures are too different to successfully merge. The founding family now own 0.1% of Showa Shell, forcing Idemitsu to consider purchases less than its initial planned 33.24% stake in Showa Shell; the combined Idemitsu shareholding in that case would have exceeded a third of Showa Shell, which is barred under Japanese law.

 

The Iranian government is expected to ratify a new model oil contract this week, aiming to encourage foreign investment as the country returns to the international community after years of sanctions and decades of a unfavourable petroleum contract system that drove investors away.

 

More International Oil and Gas updates

More US oil rigs are coming back online – up by 7 last week – bringing the total number of operational oil and gas rigs in the US to 464, as five gas rigs (mainly in Marcellus shale) shut down. This is the sixth week of rises in the rig count, pumping out more volumes that places downward pressure on prices.

Canada’s Irving Oil has agreed to buy the only refinery in Ireland from Phillips66. The Whitegate refinery exchanges hands for ‘less than US$90 million’ reportedly. The Whitegate refinery near Cork will remain operational with no cuts; Phillips66 has been attempting to sell the refinery since 2013, but poor refining margins had hampered the sale.

South African refineries remain operational despite a strike by the 15,000 workers across the petrochemicals industry over poor wages. The strike enters its second week today, and while the refineries continue to operate, fuel distribution in the country has been affected.

The long-standing LPG trade between the US Gulf and Asia looks shaky at the moment, as collapsing prices have led to Asian buyers cancelling at least three LPG cargoes in the last month, incurring cancellation fees that still make it more economical to buy spot cargoes in Asia.

Italy’s Eni has reportedly wrapped up talks to sell its multi-billion stake in the planned Mozambique LNG development to ExxonMobil. The deal concerns Eni’s offshore gas reserves in Mozambique’s Area 4, which is aims to pipe to an LNG export plant to serve Asia; the scale of the project may be beyond Eni’s expertise, hence ExxonMobil being a natural fit, given its existing presence in Mozambique

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Crude Oil Prices: Changing Gear

In the last week, global crude oil price benchmarks have leapt up by some US$5/b. Brent is now in the US$66/b range, while WTI maintains its preferred US$10/b discount at US$56/b. On the surface, it would seem that the new OPEC+ supply deal – scheduled to last until April – is working. But the drivers pushing on the current rally are a bit more complicated.

Pledges by OPEC members are the main force behind the rise. After displaying some reticence over the timeline of cuts, Russia has now promised to ‘speed up cuts’ to its oil production in line with other key members of OPEC. Saudi Arabia, along with main allies the UAE and Kuwait, have been at the forefront of this – having made deeper-than-promised cuts in January with plans to go a bit further in February. After looking a bit shaky – a joint Saudi Arabia-Russia meeting was called off at the recent World Economic Forum in Davos in January – the bromance of world’s two oil superpowers looks to have resumed. And with it, confidence in the OPEC+ club’s abilities.

Russia and Saudi Arabia both making new pledges on supply cuts comes despite supply issues elsewhere in OPEC, which could have provided some cushion for smaller cuts. Iranian production remains constrained by new American sanctions; targeted waivers have provided some relief – and indeed Iranian crude exports have grown slightly over January and February – but the waivers expire in May and there is uncertainty over their extension. Meanwhile, the implosion in Venezuela continues, with the USA slapping new sanctions on the Venezuelan crude complex in hopes of spurring regime change. The situation in Libya – with the Sharara field swinging between closure and operation due to ongoing militant action – is dicey. And in Saudi Arabia, a damaged power repair cable has curbed output at the giant 1.2 mmb/d Safaniuyah field.

So the supply situation is supportive of a rally, from both planned and unplanned actions. But crude prices are also reacting to developments in the wider geopolitical world. The USA and China are still locked in an impasse over trade, with a March 1 deadline looming, after which doubled US tariffs on US$200 billion worth of Chinese imports would kick in. Continued escalation in the trade war could lead to a global recession, or at least a severe slowdown. But the market is taking relief that an agreement could be made. First, US President Donald Trump alluded to the possibility of pushing the deadline by 2 months to allow for more talks. And now, chatter suggests that despite reservations, American and Chinese negotiators are now ‘approaching a consensus’. The threat of the R-word – recession – could be avoided and this is pumping some confidence back in the market. But there are more risks on the horizon. The UK is set to exit the European Union at the end of March, and there is still no deal in sight. A measured Brexit would be messy, but a no-deal Brexit would be chaotic – and that chaos would have a knock-on effect on global economies and markets.

But for now, the market assumes that there must be progress in US-China trade talks and the UK must fall in line with an orderly Brexit. If that holds – and if OPEC’s supply commitments stand – the rally in crude prices will continue. And it must. Because the alternative is frightening for all.

Factors driving the current crude rally:

  • Renewed supply cut pledges from Russia and Saudi Arabia
  • Unplanned supply outages in Saudi Arabia
  • Supply issues in Venezuela, Iran and Libya
  • Optimism over a new US-China trade deal
February, 22 2019
“Lubricants Shelf” to Assess Engine Oil Market

Already, lubricant players have established their footholds here in Bangladesh, with international brands.

However, the situation is being tough as too many brands entered in this market. So, it is clear, the lubricants brands are struggling to sustain their market shares.

For this reason, we recommend an impression of “Lubricants shelf” to evaluate your brand visibility, which can a key indicator of the market shares of the existing brands. 

Every retailer shop has different display shelves and the sellers place different product cans for the end-users. By nature, the sellers have the sole control of those shelves for the preferred product cans.

The idea of “Lubricants shelf” may give the marketer an impression, how to penetrate in this competitive market. 

The well-known lubricants brands automatically seized the product shelves because of the user demand. But for the struggling brands, this idea can be a key identifier of the business strategy to take over other brands.

The key objective of this impression of “Lubricants shelf” is to create an overview of your brand positioning in this competitive market.

A discussion on Lubricants Shelves; from the evaluation perspective, a discussion ground has been created to solely represent this trade, as well as its other stakeholders.

Why “Lubricants shelf” is key to monitor engine oil market?

The lubricants shelves of the overall market have already placed more than 100 brands altogether and the number of brands is increasing day by day.

And the situation is being worsened while so many by name products are taking the different shelves of different clusters. This market has become more overstated in terms of brand names and local products.

You may argue with us; lubricants shelves have no more space to place your new brands. You might get surprised by hearing such a statement. For your information, it’s not a surprising one.

Regularly, lubricants retailers have to welcome the representatives of newly entered brands.

And, business Insiders has depicted this lubricants market as a silent trade with a lot of floating traders.

On an assumption, the annual domestic demand for lubricants oils is around 100 million litres, whereas base oil demand around 140 million litres.

However, the lack of market monitoring and the least reporting makes the lubricants trade unnoticeable to the public.

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

Market Watch

Headline crude prices for the week beginning 11 February 2019 – Brent: US$61/b; WTI: US$52/b

  • Oil prices remains entrenched in their trading ranges, with OPEC’s attempt to control global crude supplies mitigated by increasing concerns over the health of the global economy
  • Warnings, including from The Bank of England, point to a global economic slowdown that could be ‘worse and longer-lasting than first thought’; one of the main variables in this forecast are the trade tensions between the US and China, which show no sign of being solved with President Trump saying he is open to delaying the current deadline of March 1 for trade talks
  • This poorer forecast for global oil demand has offset supply issues flaring up within OPEC, with Libya reporting ongoing fighting at the country’s largest oilfield while the current political crisis in Venezuela could see its crude output drop to 700,000 b/d by 2020
  • The looming new American sanctions on Venezuelan crude has already had concrete results, with US refiner Marathon Petroleum moving to replace Venezuelan crude with similar grades from the Middle East and Latin America
  • While Nicolas Maduro holds on to power, Venezuela’s opposition leader Juan Guaido has promised to scrap requirements that PDVSA keep a controlling stake in domestic oil joint ventures and boost oil production through an open economy when his government-in-power takes over
  • Despite OPEC’s attempts to stabilise crude prices, the US House has advanced the so-called NOPEC bill – which could subject the cartel to antitrust action – to a vote, with a similar bill currently being debated in the US Senate
  • The see-saw pattern in the US active rig count continues; after a net loss of 14 rigs last week, the Baker Hughes rig survey reported a gain of 7 new oil rigs and a loss of 3 gas rigs for a net gain of 4 rigs
  • While demand is a concern, global crude supply remains delicate enough to edge prices up, especially with Saudi Arabia going for deeper-than-expected cuts; this should push Brent up towards US$64/b and WTI towards US$55/b in trading this week


Headlines of the week

Upstream

  • Egypt is looking to introduce a new type of oil and gas contract to attract greater upstream investment into the country, aiming to be ‘less bureaucratic and more efficient’ with faster cost-recovery, ahead of a planned Red Sea bid round encompassing over a dozen concession sites
  • Lukoil has commenced on a new phase at the West Qurna-2 field in Iraq, with 57 production wells planned at the Mishrif and Yamama formation that could boost output by 80,000 boe/d to 480,000 boe/d in 2020
  • Aker BP has hit oil and natural gas flows at well 24/9-14 in the Froskelår Main prospect in the Alvheim area of the Norwergian Continental Shelf
  • Things continue to be rocky for crude producers in Canada’s Alberta province; production limits were increased last week after being previously slashed to curb a growing glut on news that crude storage levels dropped, but now face trouble being transported south as pipelines remain at capacity and crude-by-rail shipments face challenging economics

Midstream & Downstream

  • The Caribbean island of Curacao is now speaking with two new candidates to operate the 335 kb/d Isla refinery after its preferred bidder – said to be Saudi Aramco’s American arm Motiva Enterprises – withdrew from consideration to replace the current operatorship under PDVSA
  • America’s Delta Air Lines is now reportedly looking to sell its oil refinery in Pennsylvania outright, after attempts to sell a partial stake in the 185 kb/d plant failed to attract interest, largely due to its limited geographical position

Natural Gas/LNG

  • Total reports that it has made a new ‘significant’ gas condensate discovery offshore South Africa at the Brulpadda prospect in Block 11B/12B in the Outeniqua Basin, with the Brulpadda-deep well also reporting ‘successful’ flows of natural gas condensate
  • Italy’s Eni and Saudi Arabia’s SABIC have signed a new Joint Development Agreement to collaborate on developing technologies for gas-to-liquids and gas-to-chemicals applications
  • The Rovuma LNG project in Mozambique is charging ahead with development, with Eni looking to contract out subsea operations for the Mamba gas project by mid-March and ExxonMobil choosing its contractor for building the complex’s LNG trains by April
February, 15 2019