Easwaran Kanason

Co - founder of PetroEdge
Last Updated: August 15, 2016
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Business Trends
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Strategically-worded statements from OPEC, in particular signals from Saudi Arabia that it was moving to stabilise markets, lifted oil prices last week, moving up to the mid-US$40s as traders bet that the OPEC talks will lead to a balancing of supply with demand.

Russia’s Rosneft announced that it had made a new condensate find at its Wild Orchid gas field in Vietnam, located in the prodigious Nam Con Son offshore basin. Pre-drill preliminary assessments indicate 12.6 billion cubic metres of gas and 5.4 million barrels of condensate, which ties in synergistically as it can be linked to Rosneft Vietnam’s existing Lan Tay production platform.

Australia launched the 2016 Offshore Petroleum Exploration Acreage Release last week, covering 28 areas across five basins. The offshore blocks on offer are in the Bonaparte Basin, Browse Basin, Offshore Canning Basin, Roebuck Basin and Northern Carnarvon Basin in Western Australia, with 25 areas up for work program bidding and three areas for cash bidding.

CNPC has begun work on the fourth Shaanxi-Beijing gas pipeline, moving 25 billion cubic metres of gas per annum to China’s energy-hungry capital in a bid to reduce smog from oil- and coal-burning power plants. There are already three existing pipelines with total capacity of 35 billion cubic metres, and the new 1,114 km pipeline will bring that total up to 60 billion cubic metres when it starts up in October 2017.

Indian oil demand is growing fast, outpacing even China’s growth currently, and refiners are planning ahead to feed that demand. CPCL (Chennai Petroleum) has announced a US$3 billion plan to expand its Nagapattinam plant in Tamil Nadu from 20 kb/d to as much as 180 kb/d. A feasibility study is underway and the plans, if finalised, will go to approval by the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas next year.

In more Indian refinery news, the Numaligarh Refinery in Assam, a joint venture owned by BPCL and Oil India, is planning a US$3 billion expansion of its 80 kb/d refinery, which would treble the site’s capacity to 180 kb/d. Surging demand in India’s northeast is the impetus behind the plans. Ministry approval is required for the plan to go ahead.

Santos is setting aside A$1.05 billion to pay for a tax impairment charge on its Gladstone LNG project in its 1H16 financials. The impairment comes dues to a slower ramp up of Gladstone equity gas production and an increase in third-party gas prices, with sustained low oil prices constraining capital expenditure and Gladstone ramp-up.

Indonesia has approved plans to create holding companies for state firms, including those in the energy sector. Under the new framework, which is designed to encourage state-owned companies to spearhead industrial development, PT Pertamina will be the holding company of the oil and gas sector, with PGN (Perusahaan Gas Negara) as one of its units. This will hopefully bestow some measure of decisive power in Pertamina, which it can use to push ahead with some of its ambitious upstream and refinery projects to increase Indonesia’s crude production and reduce its current dependence on imported oil products.  

Continued attacks on pipeline infrastructure in Nigeria persist, despite the government issuing cash payments in efforts to negotiate peace talks. Last week, Shell declared force majeure for Bonny Light crude liftings when a leak appearing on the Niger Delta pipeline. Bonny Light is Nigeria’s fourth crude stream to be under force majeure for deliveries, after Qua Iboe, Forcados and Brass River. ExxonMobil, which exports Qua Iboe, is attempted to re-route its streams via an alternate pipeline while it focusing on repairing the main line damaged in July.

With its energy policy now set in stone, Israel is preparing to exploit the country’s new discoveries of gas (and oil). With regulatory uncertainties now eliminated, some 24 offshore exploration blocks will be up for tender in November, all of which are close to the Leviathan gas field. Preliminary indications by the Israeli Energy Ministry indicates 2,200 billion cubic metres of natural gas and 6.6 billion barrels of oil set to be discovered in Israeli waters, according to a geological survey.

Israel’s neighbor to the south, Egypt, has approved five oil and gas E&P agreements with foreign companies. BP, ENI, Total and Edison will partner with Egypt’s state gas board EGAS on four fields in the Mediterranean, while Trident Petroleum joins EGPC in the Red Sea.

Some 15 new oil rigs started up in the US last week, bringing the total number of operating oil rigs to 396, as onshore producers took heed of OPEC’s signals to strengthen prices. Gas rigs rose by 2, bringing the total number of rigs up to 481, the highest number since March 2016.

A fire broke out at the Motiva refinery in Convent, Louisiana last week. The fire was put out within the day, but not before heavily damaging the structure of the site’s heavy oil hydrocracker. The 235 kb/d is expected to be partially shut down for at least a month to repair the damage to the 45 kb/d heavy oil unit. The wider refinery will remain operational. 

Expansions at the Sohar refinery in Oman are now expected to come onstream by early 2017, a slight delay from the original end-2016 start date, which would increase refining capacity to some 90 kb/d. Crude processed will be domestic, reducing the country’s crude exports by at least 50 kb/d when Sohar’s new units start up.

South Korea’s Kogas has signed an MoU with the government of Yucatan state in Mexico to build an LNG import terminal and associated pipeline infrastructure. The proposed site for the project is Progreso, well-placed to receive shipments of LNG coming from the US on the other side of the Gulf of Mexico.

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Your Weekly Update: 5 - 9 November 2018

Market Watch

Headline crude prices for the week beginning 5 November 2018 – Brent: US$72/b; WTI: US$62/b

  • It’s down, down, down for crude oil prices as the impact of American sanctions on Iranian crude exports was muted by increased supply from OPEC+ nations, particularly Saudi Arabia and Russia
  • America granted waivers to eight nations – including India, Japan, South Korea and possibly China – which would allow them to continue importing Iranian crude after November 3, though the exact terms of the waivers are still in discussion
  • The number of waivers issued was larger than the market expected, but traders also remain worried about the growing trade spat between the US and China, although President Donald Trump has struck a more conciliatory tone recently
  • However, the midterm elections in the US resulted in the Democrats seizing the House but losing ground in the Senate – an imperfect result that could nonetheless still frustrate Trump’s economic and trade agenda
  • With the impact of Iranian sanctions proving to be less dramatic than expected – although fireworks should be expected at the upcoming OPEC meeting Vienna next month – crude prices have lost much of the supply-risk premium it gained over the past three months
  • With crude prices abated, American drillers are following suit, reducing the active American rig count by one with the closure of one oil rig
  • Crude price outlook: Prices should continue to head downwards as the risk of a supply crunch abates; Brent will test the US$70/b level again, with WTI likely to maintain its US$10/b discount to Brent

 

Headlines of the week

Upstream

  • BP has completed its US$10.5 billion acquisition of BHP Billiton’s US unconventional assets, which will add some 190,000 boe/d of production and 4.6 billion oil equivalent barrels in reserves to BP’s coffers
  • Total reports that its upstream production in the Republic of Congo has exceeded expectations, with current production at some 200,000 b/d
  • ConocoPhillips has completed the sales of its Barnett shale assets in North Texas to Lime Rock Resources for US$230 million
  • Apache is accelerating plans from its Garten discovery in the UK North Sea, bringing it forward from Q119 to Q418, with 1 million barrels recoverable
  • Also in the North Sea, the UK Oil and Gas Authority has approve Senrica Energy’s Field Development Plan for the Columbus Development, with target start-up aimed at mid-2021 with peak output at 7,800 boe/d
  • Total has received consent from Petroleum Safety Authority Norway to extend the operational life of the Skirne and Byggve fields to March 2024
  • Equinor has made a ‘significant new oil discovery’ at the Barents Sea Skruis well in the Johan Castberg licence, with 12-25 million recoverable barrels of oil
  • Algeria’s Sonatrach has signed two new agreements – with Total and Eni – in an exclusive partnership for offshore exploration in Algeria
  • Argentina has launched its first-ever offshore licensing round, putting up 38 blocks in the Austral Marine, West Malvinas and Argentina basins

Downstream

  • As Saudi Aramco prepares to buy a controlling stake in SABIC, the two Saudi Arabian giants have announced the development of an integrated 400 kb/d crude-to-chemicals project, to be located at Yanbu on the Red Sea
  • A spat of fuel thefts in Mexico has curtailed gasoline and diesel supply in Mexico, with BP, Total and Pemex all reporting shortages across the country
  • ExxonMobil has started up a new coker unit at its Antwerp refinery in Belgium, expanding capacity for heavy conversion by some 50,000 b/d
  • BASF has signed a new MoU with China’s Sinopec to build a steam cracker in Nanjing, the chemical giant’s second major Chinese investment in four months

Natural Gas/LNG

  • Yet another US LNG facility has received its environmental impact statement from the US FERC, with Texas LNG’s Brownsville site receiving it just days after Venture Global LNG’s Calcasieu Pass LNG received theirs
  • The Cameron LNG project has begun the commissioning Phase 1 of its LNG export site in Hackberry, Louisiana, the first of a planned five phases that would have an eventual capacity of up to 24.92 mtpa
  • TransCanada Corporation has greenlit the US$1.5 billion NOVA Gas Transmission expansion, which will connect markets in North America to natural gas production sites in Alberta and British Columbia
  • Noble Energy announced that the Leviathan project is at 67% completion, and first gas from the Israeli gas project is expected by the end of 2019
  • India’s Petronet LNG and ONGC Videsh are reportedly in talks to buy a stake in the proposed Driftwood LNG project by Tellurian in Louisiana
  • Japan’s Osaka Gas says it will begin evaluating expanding its operations to developing markets in Southeast Asia like Vietnam, where shrinking demand supply and growing demand is creating a huge potential market for LNG
November, 09 2018
Risks of working in Oil and Gas sector

It is a well-known fact that the oil and gas industry has a lot to offer in terms of opportunities - paycheck, lifestyle, and work-life balance. However, like everything else in life, it has a flip side as well. If you are planning to make a career in oil and gas industry, it is important to know the cons as well. Here is a list of risks associated with working in oil and gas industry that you must know to make an informed decision.

Highly competitive: survival of the fittest 

Oil and gas industry is highly competitive and dynamic in nature. The job requires high level of expertise and productivity. With digitization and automation of the industry, the work functions are changing rapidly. The employees who cannot cope up and upskill with changing time and need will be automatically pushed out of the system. The foremost challenge in oil and gas industry is to stay relevant and keep upskilling.

Long work hours

Some job functions in oil industry like offshore rig workers have to work in 12-hours shift, seven days a week and for seven to 28 days in one stretch. Sometimes, overtime is also expected due to emergency or to manage the project deadlines. However, the oil companies do give equal amount of resting period to the rig workers to compensate for the long working hours. Even then, the continuous long hours is strenuous for the workforce.

The accident-prone work environment

Although rigorous safety trainings are provided to the workforce along with numerous safety measures and laws in place; accidents do occur. Sometimes, these accidents can be life-threatening. Here is quick overview of the possible accidents that you might encounter:

  • Vehicle accident- It is considered as the number 1 cause of fatality in oil and gas industry. It can happen while driving to pipelines, gas sites, pumping stations, transit between sites and any other place due to heavy loads, rash driving, fatigue or extreme weather conditions.
  • Explosion & fire- Oil companies are extremely cautious about fire and explosion safety and follow strict guidelines and standards to prevent fire hazard on drilling sites and injuries related to it. Emergency exits, action plans and fire prevention plan along with flame-resistant clothing are ensured. However, it is in best interest to stay updated about the latest in the safety measures.

Risk of confined space and fall- The line workers in oil and gas industry sometimes work in confined spaces like mud pits, reserve pits, storage tanks, sand storage, and other excavated areas, where they are exposed to potential risk of ignition of inflammable vapors, exposure to harmful chemicals, and asphyxiation. Additionally, these kinds of workplaces involve risk of falls, slips and trips too which can cause severe injuries and can even turn fatal. Though the companies are extremely careful and take all safety precautions, but the risk cannot be ruled out.

  • Chemical exposure- Chemical exposure at oil and gas industry is hazardous and it includes risk due to:
  • Mixed exposures of silica, DPM, VOCs, etc.
  • Multiple exposure through various routes like inhalation and ingestion
  • Dermal exposures risk due to Pb, Solvents, PAH’s

Additionally, frequent exposure to chemicals used in refineries and drilling operations can impact long-term health. To offset these dangers, oil and gas companies provide comprehensive training to employees to ensure safety protocols and site-specific features.

Working in remote location

The oil and gas professionals have to work on remote location for exploration, offshore duties, pumping stations, gas plants and more. The workers in remote location often feel isolated and they are on their own to cope up with numerous work-related accidents and health hazards.

Working in oil and gas industry is extremely rewarding in terms of career growth, travelling opportunities and compensation. However, the above points must also be considered before stepping into this industry. It is important to mention here that majority of oil and gas companies are aware of the risks associated and thus have sound safety measures in place to avoid any contingency. Moreover, the government and regulatory bodies also impose strict regulations for safety and security of the workforce. Therefore, in many cases, the risk associated is considerably reduced. So, before you accept any offer from any oil and gas companies, you must carefully verify the safety measures and policies of the company. Once, you are assured, your career in oil and gas will be highly rewarding.

If you are looking for relevant opportunities, check out NrgEdge.com to kickstart your career in oil and gas industry.

November, 12 2018
Impact of alternate energy on oil and gas sector

Due to shortage or limited availability of oil and gas, companies today are evaluating how they can harness alternative energy sources. The alternate fuel market is targeting hydro and thermal power plants, however solar and wind are catching up fast as preferred energy sources. There are still reservations about nuclear energy considering the risk of nuclear waste or manufacturing of nuclear weapons. However, strategies are shaping up to minimize the risk and maximize the profitability potential. Until then, sources such as solar and wind are being focused upon more and new sources like biofuels are explored extensively.

How will the shift towards alternate energy impact traditional oil and gas market?

There have been huge investments in the different alternate energy avenues by most of the big oil majors. These heavy investments on various alternate technologies by big oil majors and other oil companies around the world indicates a positive outlook towards the scope of clean fuel energy. However, the feasibility of its application is still questionable. Whether or not it will be able to meet the energy needs of the world while upholding its profitability is a question that is bothering the world.

Let us understand what the shift means for the companies in the energy sector.

Rate of employment

Among all renewable energy sources that have been studied, bio energy has been most influential. The fuel is created and transported within a confined space. The work is extremely labor-intensive and hence scope of employment increases. Hydropower and wind power will generate job opportunities during construction and project development phase. However, once the unit is commissioned only few operational staff will be required to perform the operational work. 

Enhanced cost-efficiency

Traditional energy is more expensive than renewable energy. If renewable energy can be produced on large scale, it can eliminate the gas shortage. Even other forms of renewable energy are much cheaper in comparison to traditional oil and gas sector. The cost benefits will be transferred to the consumers and they’ll be able save considerable amount on utility bills.

Improved Brand Image

It makes good business sense to make a move from traditional energy resources to renewable ones. The environmentalists have been arguing about the negative impacts of using and overusing the non-renewable source of energy. The shift towards alternate energy will boost the brand image of the traditional oil and gas company.

Higher market penetration and Mass access to energy 

Due to dependence on fossil fuels which are non-renewable sources and expensive, a significant number of people in the world have no access to power. A chunk of people in Asian and Sub-Saharan Africa area are still using traditional biomass for cooking. However, if the alternate energy can completely replace the traditional oil and gas then it will have a deeper penetration into the market and majority of people will have access to it.

Ethical Investment Avenue

Renewable sector is considered as an attractive and ethical investment avenue for the ones who wish to invest outside traditional channels and are futuristic in outlook. The rising investment on alternate energy is impacting the job creation and community cohesion, which is again a positive move.

How the alternate energy is transitioning the oil and gas?

Big oil companies and other oil companies are making practical, well-researched, and steady approach towards renewable energy spanning from solar panels to genetically engineered algae. However, there are still many companies which are in research/experimentation phase and do have a concrete plan in place.

The pathway to clean fuel technology that operates with efficiency and profitability is getting paved. More than 100 countries in developing as well as developed nations have set a clean fuel target and are working towards it. The European Union has set a goal to meet its 20% energy requirements via renewable sources by 2020.

The world has acknowledged climate change and are working together to shift from carbon-intensive to carbon-neutral environment which might pave the way for generations to come.

November, 12 2018