Last week in world oil:
-Traders appear to have cold feet over the prospect of an OPEC supply freeze, causing a choppy pattern in prices. Oil started the week at some US$47/b. An announcement by OPEC on 30 November will swing prices up or down depending on the context, with Saudi Arabia declined to appear at meeting between OPEC and non-OPEC producers this week.
Upstream & Midstream
-BP has snapped up two new oil interests in the North Sea, acquiring a 25% interest in two Statoil licences in Shetland (including the Jock Scott prospect) and 40% in Nexen’s prospect, which include Craster. Exploration wells are expected to be drilled mid 2017, seen as a sign of BP reaffirming its support for the North Sea.
-And the US rig count is up again. Three new oil rigs and two new gas rigs were added last week, bringing the total up to 474 and 118, respectively, as US oil players continued to see improvement in the market.
-The US Environmental Protection Agency has mandated a record amount of biofuel to be mixed into American gasoline and diesel in 2017. Benefitting farmers and placing presence on oil companies, the program will require refiners to mix some 19.28 billion gallons of renewable fuel into American fuel next year, with 15 billion coming from corn. It will be one of the last orders of the Obama administration, with question marks over Donald Trump’s future policies, which could either favour the oil lobby or Midwest farmers that helped deliver his presidency.
-Uganda plans to select the partner for its first oil refinery in February 2017, with Sinopec among the leading contenders. Uganda had first partnered with Russia’s RT Global Resources, but then moved on the South Korea’s SK Engineering with talks falling through both times. The refinery, if it goes ahead, has also attracted the attention of neighbouring Tanzania and Kenya, while upstream operators Total, CNOOC and the UK’s Tullow Oil have all also expressed interest in the refinery.
Natural Gas & LNG
-Israel’s Leviathan gas field has secured another customer. Paz Gas, the largest distributor of refined products in Israel has secured a deal to purchase 3.12 bcm of natural gas for 15 years, which will be channelled to the Paz Oil refinery in Ashdod.
-France’s Total has established a consortium to build a LNG import terminal in the Ivory Coast. Meant to feed the country’s growing electricity consumption, the other partners are Azerbaijan’s SOCAR (26%), Royal Dutch Shell (13%), Ivorian state oil company Petroci (11%) with Golar and Endeavour Energy holding minority stakes. The Cote d'Ivoire-GNL terminal is expected to be completed in mid-2018, with Total supplying LNG from its global portfolio.
-Denmark’s state-owned Dong Energy and shipping giant Maersk are mulling a merger as they battle the persistent low oil price environment. Both companies have a larger presence in North Sea oil, with Maersk also highly affected by the parallel slump in shipping.
Last week in Asian oil:
Upstream & Midstream
-With the downturn in Singapore’s upstream offshore and marine industry worsening, the city state’s government has stepped in to prop it up. Among the measures introduced will be boosting the government International Enterprise Singapore finance scheme and bringing back government-backed bridging loans.
Downstream & Shipping
-India Oil is planning a US$5.5 billion plan to upgrade its Nagapattinam plant, owned by subsidiary Chennai Petroleum Crop and Iran’s Nafitran Intertrade. The refinery is currently the smallest in India Oil’s portfolio, with capacity rising to 300 kb/d if and when the upgrade plan goes ahead.
-A second Vietnam refining project has been cancelled this year. After Thailand’s PTT scrapped its project in July, the Can Tho refinery led by Vien Dong Investment has been cancelled. The small US$538 million project had a capacity of 40 kb/d. PetroVietnam’s second refinery in Nghi Son is also facing delays, casting doubt on its completion by July 2017.
-With Singapore having banned floating storage and ship-to-ship (STS) transfers, competition to the Asian hub for oil products is heating up. The Malaysian state of Malacca is planning to spend nearly US$3 billion to build a port that it hopes will siphon off tanker, refuelling, repair and storage traffic away from Singapore. The project is led by T.A.G Marine and Linggi Base, backed by Chinese investors, which is part of the larger US$12.5 billion Kuala Linggi International Port project.
Natural Gas & LNG
-Energy policy makers in Thailand are aiming to increase its imports of LNG to meet rising power demand, after the construction of new coal-fired plants have hit repeated delays. The Energy Ministry upped its target for LNG imports to 17.4 million tons in 2022 and 34 million tons by 2036. The previous target for 2036 was 23 million tons. Declining natural gas production in the Gulf of Thailand means that Thailand will have to look overseas to procure the LNG it requires for electricity generation.
-The Japan Fair Trade Commission is probing the sales destination clauses of the country’s numerous LNG contracts. The clauses, long-time features of LNG sales contracts, restrict buyers from re-selling cargoes to third parties, which Japanese buyers have long disliked. With LNG moving into a buyer’s market, Japan is taking advantage of the supply overhang to re-dictate terms for its LNG contracts.
-Once rivals, Singapore and Japan now appear to be joining forces to create a benchmark for the LNG market in Asia. The Singapore Exchange (SGX) and Japan’s Tokyo Commodity Exchange (TOCOM) have signed a memorandum of understanding to ‘jointly develop Asia’s LNG market’, a sign that instead of being rivals, the two countries could be friends in creating the first Asian LNG hub. Singapore, which already has the Singapore Sling and North Asia Sling LNG assessments, is the established hub for oil in Asia but lacks significant volumes. Japan, on the other hand, has huge volumes but is seen as too domestic-focused. Meanwhile, China has launched its first gas derivatives exchange in Shanghai last week.
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Now that Occidental Petroleum has beaten Chevron to the acquisition of Anadarko Petroleum – and the strategic assets it holds in the prolific Permian Basin – one would think that the deal is cut-and-dry. Not so. The fallout of the massive US$57 billion deal has begun, and it pits one legendary billionaire against another legendary billionaire.
The Occidental purchase of Anadarko had all the signs of a classic takeover battle, swooping in after Chevron and Anadarko’s boards had approved their own US$48 billion deal. It was made only possible by Oxy CEO Vicki Hollub making a quick private plane trip that resulted in a last-minute US$10 billion capital injection from Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway that was contingent on the Anadarko purchase working. It did. And with the US Federal Trade Commission approving the deal, Anadarko will become part of Occidental by the end of 2019.
But not everyone is happy about the situation. Some investors and shareholders of Occidental believe that it badly overpaid for Anadarko, and were rankled by the deal bypassing a shareholder vote on the matter. The chief critic of this is activist Carl Icahn, who owns a US$1.6 billion stake in Occidental, who slammed it as ‘misguided’ with the CEO and Board ‘betting the company to serve their own agendas’. Icahn has already filed a lawsuit demanding access to Occidental’s books and records, and has just take the fight to a new level.
Last week, Icahn filed regulatory paperwork to call for a special shareholder meeting where he hopes to oust four of Occidental directors and modify the company’s charter through stockholder consent from ever engineering a similar takeover. Icahn wants Spencer Abraham, Eugene Batchelder, Margaret Foran and Avedick Poladian out from the Board, holding them responsible for the ‘fiasco’. He has, of course, nominated his own preferred replacements, including one of his portfolio manager’s Nicholas Graziano, his general counsel Andrew Langham, former Jarden finance chief Alan LeFevre and former president of Shell John Hofmeister. While Icahn has publicly acknowledge that the Anadarko takeover will probably go ahead, his aim is for the new Board to oversee ‘future extraordinary transactions to ensure that they are not consummated without shareholder approval where approval.’
Will it work? Before the proxy fight can go ahead, Icahn must get at least 20% of shareholders to agree to a meeting. That’s a tall order, given that the current crop of directors and Boards were re-elected at the May annual meeting, although with lower support. But there is certainly some appetite, given that Occidental’s stock has dropped nearly 17% since the initial April hostile takeover, reflecting market mood that it had bitten off more than it could chew.
All of this is playing out against a backdrop of pessimism in the Permian. Although the shale revolution had brought American crude production to record highs and sent its crude exports to a new record of 3.3 mmb/d in June, there are now cracks showing. With limited infrastructure, low prices and over-exploitation, the Permian boom is slowing down. Once an investor’s darling, financing has now become far tougher for Permian players, as the high production fall off rate means that companies have to spend more and more money to just maintain production. It’s a situation that is particularly negative for the small, nimble players that powered the initial shale revolution who lack the deep pockets to optimise shale assets over a longer production period. All across the Permian, independent players have lost between 50-100% of their market value, making them ripe for acquisition by majors and supermajors. Deals like the Anadarko one make sense in this context, but with the financial risk increasing, these blockbuster deals may never lead to blockbuster returns. Carl Icahn may not be able win his battle for the Occidental board, but he is certainly making a serious – and very valid - point.
The Occidental-Anadarko deal:
According to the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Nigeria has the world’s 9th largest natural gas reserves (192 TCF of gas reserves). As at 2018, Nigeria exported over 1tcf of gas as Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) to several countries. However domestically, we produce less than 4,000MW of power for over 180million people.
Think about this – imagine every Nigerian holding a 20W light bulb, that’s how much power we generate in Nigeria. In comparison, South Africa generates 42,000MW of power for a population of 57 million. We have the capacity to produce over 2 million Metric Tonnes of fertilizer (primarily urea) per year but we still import fertilizer. The Federal Government’s initiative to rejuvenate the agriculture sector is definitely the right thing to do for our economy, but fertilizer must be readily available to support the industry. Why do we import fertilizer when we have so much gas?
I could go on and on with these statistics, but you can see where I’m going with this so I won’t belabor the point. I will leave you with this mental image: imagine a man that lives with his family on the banks of a river that has fresh, clean water. Rather than collect and use this water directly from the river, he treks over 20km each day to buy bottled water from a company that collects the same water, bottles it and sells to him at a profit. This is the tragedy on Nigeria and it should make us all very sad.
Several indigenous companies like Nestoil were born and grown by the opportunities created by the local and international oil majors – NNPC and its subsidiaries – NGC, NAPIMS, Shell, Mobil, Agip, NDPHC. Nestoil’s main focus is the Engineering Procurement Construction and Commissioning of oil and gas pipelines and flowstations, essentially, infrastructure that supports upstream companies to produce and transport oil and natural gas, as well as and downstream companies to store and move their product. In our 28 years of doing business, we have built over 300km of pipelines of various sizes through the harshest terrain, ranging from dry land to seasonal swamp, to pure swamps, as well as some of the toughest and most volatile and hostile communities in Nigeria. I would be remiss if I do not use this opportunity to say a big thank you to those companies that gave us the opportunity to serve you. The over 2,000 direct staff and over 50,000 indirect staff we employ thank you. We are very grateful for the past opportunities given to us, and look forward to future opportunities that we can get.
Headline crude prices for the week beginning 15 July 2019 – Brent: US$66/b; WTI: US$59/b
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