Last week in world oil:
Oil prices steadied this week, with a weaker dollar supporting prices amid signs that OPEC’s output cut might hold despite some niggles. Brent crude edged above US$55/b, while WTI was at US$52/b. The focus this week is on the dollar, with Donald Trump being inaugurated as President.
Upstream & Midstream
True to their word, Saudi Arabia has slashed its output to less than 10 million barrels, the lowest level in two years as it prepares to lead OPEC’s efforts to enforce a supply cut. Under the OPEC agreement, Saudi Arabia was to cut 486 kb/d off production to 10.058 mmb/d, but has gone even further to offset inertia in other OPEC members like Iraq. Saudi Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih has stated that he will consider renewing the supply freeze in six months when the next OPEC meeting is scheduled. Fellow OPEC member Algeria has also pledged to reduce its output by more than its quota.
Halliburton and Petrobras have announced a technology cooperation partnership that will focus on complex reservoirs. The multi-year pact is aimed at assisting Petrobras in its deepwater presalt and mature fields over the long-term. The project portfolio will have three main objectives: reducing well construction investment, long-term reservoir monitoring and increasing well productivity.
Unusually, the US oil rig count fell last week, shedding seven sites to finish at 522. Offsetting a single gain in gas rigs, the total operating rig count in the US is now 659, perhaps a sign that producers are pausing in their zeal to monitor the oil price situation and OPEC’s commitment to it.
Kinder Morgan’s attempt to expand an oil pipeline in western Canada has cleared its final regulatory hurdle, with the British Columbia province giving environmental approval for part of the project’s profit. Some 37 conditions were attached to the approval of the Trans Mountain project, with Kinder Morgan agreeing to pay B.C as much as C$1 billion over 20 years in revenue sharing that will go towards environmental protection.
Russia’s Rosneft has agreed to supply up to 55 million tons of crude over a five year period to QHG Trading, a trading company linked to commodities giant Rosneft and Qatar. The deal follows the acquisition of a 19.5% stake in Rosneft by Qatar Investment Authority and Glencore last month for US$11.8 billion, with both companies now getting crude in return. Glencore, specifically, will receive an additional 220 kb/d to trade.
Natural Gas & LNG
A bitter, freezing winter is sweeping across Europe, boosting LNG demand and triggering the highest spot LNG prices in France’s southern gas hub since December 2013. The cold winter has boosted Europe’s requirements of natural gas, which has benefitted Russia’s Gazprom, recording its highest ever piped gas volumes to Western Europe on January 6, at some 615.5 million cubic metres.
Last week in Asian oil:
Upstream & Midstream
Thailand national upstream company PTTEP, part of the PTT empire, has slashed its capex spending this year. Plans for 2017 will involve investment of US$2.903 billion, more than 50% than envisioned two years ago, as its acknowledges the difficulties of securing overseas upstream assets. The primary focus going forward will be on natural gas, and the company has also slashed its production forecasts, leaving Thailand increasingly reliant on imports for its crude requirements.
In a rare bright spot, Chinese upstream giant CNOOC has started production at its Penglai 19-9 field. Located in the Bohai Bay, the new field is small, with peak production of some 13 kb/d expected in 2019. The joint venture between CNOOC and ConocoPhillips China will not be enough to halt the steady decline in Chinese crude production, but will help meet the country’s new objective of stabilising output.
Downstream & Shipping
Indian fuel demand grew by its fastest pace in 16 years in 2016, as a low price environment kicked off growth in passenger car and flights, supporting gasoline and aviation fuels. Total fuel consumption grew by 10.7%, but the demonetisation drive impacted demand in December and will hold growth back in 2017, as consumers defer large purchases. State giant Indian Oil Corp (IOC) intends to support the demand growth by purchasing upstream assets, with the aim of ensuring that at least a tenth of its refining capacity be fed by crude from fields that it owns outright or has a partial state in, requiring a tenfold boost in crude production to 210 kb/d over the next eight year.
Natural Gas & LNG
Thailand’s PTT continues its march to secure natural gas supplies, choosing a Marubeni-Itochu joint venture to fed its Chavalit Punthong pipeline. The pipeline, PTT’s fifth, stretches 430km from coastal Rayong to Nonthaburi near Bangkok, supplying the Thai capital with natural gas for power generation.
Vietnam has moved a step closer to realising its Blue Whale natural gas project, with PetroVietnam signing an agreement with ExxonMobil to develop the project. With an estimated 150 billion cubic metres of reserves, Blue Whale is Vietnam’s largest natural gas project, with the volumes aimed at powering the country’s electricity grid. First gas is expected by 2023, contributing US$20 billion to the national budget.
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Headline crude prices for the week beginning 20 May 2019 – Brent: US$73/b; WTI: US$63/b
Headlines of the week
Midstream & Downstream
At first, it seemed like a done deal. Chevron made a US$33 billion offer to take over US-based upstream independent Anadarko Petroleum. It was a 39% premium to Anadarko’s last traded price at the time and would have been the largest industry deal since Shell’s US$61 billion takeover of the BG Group in 2015. The deal would have given Chevron significant and synergistic acreage in the Permian Basin along with new potential in US midstream, as well as Anadarko’s high potential projects in Africa. Then Occidental Petroleum swooped in at the eleventh hour, making the delicious new bid and pulling the carpet out from under Chevron.
We can thank Warren Buffet for this. Occidental Petroleum, or Oxy, had previously made several quiet approaches to purchase Anadarko. These were rebuffed in favour of Chevron’s. Then Oxy’s CEO Vicki Hollub took the company jet to meet with Buffet. Playing to his reported desire to buy into shale, Hollub returned with a US$10 billion cash infusion from Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway – which was contingent on Oxy’s successful purchase of Anadarko. Hollub also secured a US$8.8 billion commitment from France’s Total to sell off Anadarko’s African assets. With these aces, she then re-approached Anadarko with a new deal – for US$38 billion.
This could have sparked off a price war. After all, the Chevron-Anadarko deal made a lot of sense – securing premium spots in the prolific Permian, creating a 120 sq.km corridor in the sweet spot of the shale basin, the Delaware. But the risk-adverse appetite of Chevron’s CEO Michael Wirth returned, and Chevron declined to increase its offer. By bowing out of the bid, Wirth said ‘Cost and capital discipline always matters…. winning in any environment doesn’t mean winning at any cost… for the sake for doing a deal.” Chevron walks away with a termination fee of US$1 billion and the scuppered dreams of matching ExxonMobil in size.
And so Oxy was victorious, capping off a two-year pursuit by Hollub for Anadarko – which only went public after the Chevron bid. This new ‘global energy leader’ has a combined 1.3 mmb/d boe production, but instead of leveraging Anadarko’s more international spread of operations, Oxy is looking for a future that is significantly more domestic.
The Oxy-Anadarko marriage will make Occidental the undisputed top producer in the Permian Basin, the hottest of all current oil and gas hotspots. Oxy was once a more international player, under former CEO Armand Hammer, who took Occidental to Libya, Peru, Venezuela, Bolivia, the Congo and other developing markets. A downturn in the 1990s led to a refocusing of operations on the US, with Oxy being one of the first companies to research extracting shale oil. And so, as the deal was done, Anadarko’s promising projects in Africa – Area 1 and the Mozambique LNG project, as well as interest in Ghana, Algeria and South Africa – go to Total, which has plenty of synergies to exploit. The retreat back to the US makes sense; Anadarko’s 600,000 acres in the Permian are reportedly the most ‘potentially profitable’ and it also has a major presence in Gulf of Mexico deepwater. Occidental has already identified 10,000 drilling locations in Anadarko areas that are near existing Oxy operations.
While Chevron licks its wounds, it can comfort itself with the fact that it is still the largest current supermajor presence in the Permian, with output there surging 70% in 2018 y-o-y. There could be other targets for acquisitions – Pioneer Natural Resources, Concho Resources or Diamondback Energy – but Chevron’s hunger for takeover seems to have diminished. And with it, the promises of an M&A bonanza in the Permian over 2019.
The Occidental-Anadarko deal:
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Short-Term Energy Outlook
In April 2019, Venezuela's crude oil production averaged 830,000 barrels per day (b/d), down from 1.2 million b/d at the beginning of the year, according to EIA’s May 2019 Short-Term Energy Outlook. This average is the lowest level since January 2003, when a nationwide strike and civil unrest largely brought the operations of Venezuela's state oil company, Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PdVSA), to a halt. Widespread power outages, mismanagement of the country's oil industry, and U.S. sanctions directed at Venezuela's energy sector and PdVSA have all contributed to the recent declines.
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, based on Baker Hughes
Venezuela’s oil production has decreased significantly over the last three years. Production declines accelerated in 2018, decreasing by an average of 33,000 b/d each month in 2018, and the rate of decline increased to an average of over 135,000 b/d per month in the first quarter of 2019. The number of active oil rigs—an indicator of future oil production—also fell from nearly 70 rigs in the first quarter of 2016 to 24 rigs in the first quarter of 2019. The declines in Venezuelan crude oil production will have limited effects on the United States, as U.S. imports of Venezuelan crude oil have decreased over the last several years. EIA estimates that U.S. crude oil imports from Venezuela in 2018 averaged 505,000 b/d and were the lowest since 1989.
EIA expects Venezuela's crude oil production to continue decreasing in 2019, and declines may accelerate as sanctions-related deadlines pass. These deadlines include provisions that third-party entities using the U.S. financial system stop transactions with PdVSA by April 28 and that U.S. companies, including oil service companies, involved in the oil sector must cease operations in Venezuela by July 27. Venezuela's chronic shortage of workers across the industry and the departure of U.S. oilfield service companies, among other factors, will contribute to a further decrease in production.
Additionally, U.S. sanctions, as outlined in the January 25, 2019 Executive Order 13857, immediately banned U.S. exports of petroleum products—including unfinished oils that are blended with Venezuela's heavy crude oil for processing—to Venezuela. The Executive Order also required payments for PdVSA-owned petroleum and petroleum products to be placed into an escrow account inaccessible by the company. Preliminary weekly estimates indicate a significant decline in U.S. crude oil imports from Venezuela in February and March, as without direct access to cash payments, PdVSA had little reason to export crude oil to the United States.
India, China, and some European countries continued to receive Venezuela's crude oil, according to data published by ClipperData Inc. Venezuela is likely keeping some crude oil cargoes intended for exports in floating storageuntil it finds buyers for the cargoes.
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Short-Term Energy Outlook, and Clipper Data Inc.
A series of ongoing nationwide power outages in Venezuela that began on March 7 cut electricity to the country's oil-producing areas, likely damaging the reservoirs and associated infrastructure. In the Orinoco Oil Belt area, Venezuela produces extra-heavy crude oil that requires dilution with condensate or other light oils before the oil is sent by pipeline to domestic refineries or export terminals. Venezuela’s upgraders, complex processing units that upgrade the extra-heavy crude oil to help facilitate transport, were shut down in March during the power outages.
If Venezuelan crude or upgraded oil cannot flow as a result of a lack of power to the pumping infrastructure, heavier molecules sink and form a tar-like layer in the pipelines that can hinder the flow from resuming even after the power outages are resolved. However, according to tanker tracking data, Venezuela's main export terminal at Puerto José was apparently able to load crude oil onto vessels between power outages, possibly indicating that the loaded crude oil was taken from onshore storage. For this reason, EIA estimates that Venezuela's production fell at a faster rate than its exports.
EIA forecasts that Venezuela's crude oil production will continue to fall through at least the end of 2020, reflecting further declines in crude oil production capacity. Although EIA does not publish forecasts for individual OPEC countries, it does publish total OPEC crude oil and other liquids production. Further disruptions to Venezuela's production beyond what EIA currently assumes would change this forecast.