The countries of OPEC, once all-powerful in determining oil prices, besieged by infighting – have agreed to their first production freeze in eight years. After many aborted attempts to implement a supply cut, many were skeptical that this latest attempt would succeed. It certainly was a rocky road getting here; the cut was informally agreed in September, and very public outcries by Iran, Iraq, Libya and Nigeria cast doubt on OPEC’s ability to whip its members in line.
After the classic display of Game Theory over the past two yeas, OPEC will reduce its output by 1.2 mb/d by January, confirming OPEC’s intention to stick to the 32.5 mb/d level agreed in Algiers two months ago. More importantly, the agreement extends beyond OPEC, with non-OPEC nations also agreeing to implement cuts, including Russia.
The test of this will be actually implementing it, which is the harder portion of the equation. Nigeria and Libya are exempted from the cuts as they recover from infrastructure damage inflicted earlier this year, but Saudi Arabia, Iran and Iraq have all been given quotas. In particular, Iran has put aside its squabbling with Saudi Arabia to agree to capping its output at 3.8 mb/d, while Saudi Arabia will reduce its production by almost 500 kb/d, the UAE by 140 kb/d and Kuwait by 130 kb/d. Indonesia has requested a suspension of its OPEC membership (only two years after being re-admitted) as production cuts conflict with the country’s urgent need to raise its crude production. Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies have generally stuck to their quotas in the past, but many other OPEC members haven’t. This will be a constant problem, which may undermine the whole integrity of the agreement.
But thus far the market seems to think OPEC will stick to the plan, sending Brent and WTI crude above the US$50/b mark, the highest since the OPEC Algiers plan was first announced.
Crucially, the plan also includes participation from non-OPEC members. Exactly what this entails is unknown beyond a vague statement that non-OPEC members are expected to reduce production by some 600 kb/d, with Russia decreasing by 300 kb/d (‘conditional to technical ability’, of course). These cuts are non-binding, and again, the harder part after herding the cats together to agree is actually implementing the plan. OPEC’s talks with non-OPEC producers continues on December 9, and meeting again next May to monitor progress. Analysts at Deutsche Bank said the deal isn’t enough to change the oil market outlook. The bank is skeptical that the full reduction will be realized, especially from non-OPEC countries. Analysts said oil traders would watch the agreement warily in the coming weeks.
Rising oil prices in the wake of OPEC’s production cut could hit demand from Asia’s emerging energy consumers, where weakening currencies have already led to higher prices. Since oil is priced in dollars, it makes crude more expensive in local currencies that have weakened against the greenback. China and India, the world’s second- and third-largest oil consumers after the U.S., have each seen declines in their currencies versus the U.S. dollar in recent weeks. However the beleaguered Asian oil industry could benefit from OPEC’s decision to cut production
But we are certainly in more positive territory than we were yesterday. OPEC has agreed to a supply freeze. Most would have dismissed this as a Yeti sighting, but it actually has happened. The nuts and bolts of enforcing it will now begin, and there are plenty of ways this house of cards could tumble down, but as it stands now, 2017 looks to be a better year for oil than 2016. Which can only be a good thing for you and me.
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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
Headlines of the week
Unplanned crude oil production outages for the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) averaged 2.5 million barrels per day (b/d) in the first half of 2019, the highest six-month average since the end of 2015. EIA estimates that in June, Iran alone accounted for more than 60% (1.7 million b/d) of all OPEC unplanned outages.
EIA differentiates among declines in production resulting from unplanned production outages, permanent losses of production capacity, and voluntary production cutbacks for OPEC members. Only the first of those categories is included in the historical unplanned production outage estimates that EIA publishes in its monthly Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO).
Unplanned production outages include, but are not limited to, sanctions, armed conflicts, political disputes, labor actions, natural disasters, and unplanned maintenance. Unplanned outages can be short-lived or last for a number of years, but as long as the production capacity is not lost, EIA tracks these disruptions as outages rather than lost capacity.
Loss of production capacity includes natural capacity declines and declines resulting from irreparable damage that are unlikely to return within one year. This lost capacity cannot contribute to global supply without significant investment and lead time.
Voluntary cutbacks are associated with OPEC production agreements and only apply to OPEC members. Voluntary cutbacks count toward the country’s spare capacity but are not counted as unplanned production outages.
EIA defines spare crude oil production capacity—which only applies to OPEC members adhering to OPEC production agreements—as potential oil production that could be brought online within 30 days and sustained for at least 90 days, consistent with sound business practices. EIA does not include unplanned crude oil production outages in its assessment of spare production capacity.
As an example, EIA considers Iranian production declines that result from U.S. sanctions to be unplanned production outages, making Iran a significant contributor to the total OPEC unplanned crude oil production outages. During the fourth quarter of 2015, before the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action became effective in January 2016, EIA estimated that an average 800,000 b/d of Iranian production was disrupted. In the first quarter of 2019, the first full quarter since U.S. sanctions on Iran were re-imposed in November 2018, Iranian disruptions averaged 1.2 million b/d.
Another long-term contributor to EIA’s estimate of OPEC unplanned crude oil production outages is the Partitioned Neutral Zone (PNZ) between Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. Production halted there in 2014 because of a political dispute between the two countries. EIA attributes half of the PNZ’s estimated 500,000 b/d production capacity to each country.
In the July 2019 STEO, EIA only considered about 100,000 b/d of Venezuela’s 130,000 b/d production decline from January to February as an unplanned crude oil production outage. After a series of ongoing nationwide power outages in Venezuela that began on March 7 and cut electricity to the country's oil-producing areas, EIA estimates that PdVSA, Venezuela’s national oil company, could not restart the disrupted production because of deteriorating infrastructure, and the previously disrupted 100,000 b/d became lost capacity.