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Last Updated: April 13, 2017
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Last Week in World Oil:

Prices

  • America missile strikes launch against Syria sparked a jump in crude oil prices last week, an upward momentum that has continued into this week as Libya’s Sharara oil field stopped production on Sunday over a blocked pipeline and Saudi Arabia signalled to OPEC to it would like to maintain output cuts for another six months. Brent is now trading at US$56/b, and WTI at US$53/b, the highest range in two months.  

Upstream & Midstream

  • BP has sold its Forties Pipeline System (FPS) and the Kinneil Terminal in Grangemouth to Ineos for US$250 million, transferring over the last major Forties asset in BP’s hand. Stating that BP’s interests are now centred among the ‘major offshore interests west of Shetland and in the Central North Sea’, Ineos will now control a strategic asset responsible for some 40% of North Sea production, and constituent component of the Brent crude benchmark. The nearly 400km Forties pipeline system links 85 North Sea output sites back to the UK mainland in Grangemouth.
  • Nexen and ConocoPhillips have both been forced to reduce output at their Alberta oil sands sites due to a shortage of synthetic crude. Necessary because the heavy bitumen is unable to flow through pipelines, a recent fire at the 350 kb/d SynCrude plant has reduce output to zero in April. This has led ConocoPhillips to reduce production at its 140 kb/d Surmont project by 40% and Nexen at its 40 kb/d Long Lake site. 
  • Fifteen additional oil (10) and gas (5) rigs entered service in the USA bringing the total up to 839, with the most gains being in the Permian Basin, again. Canadian rigs, however, continue their slide, losing 23 sites. 

Downstream

  • Nigeria is aiming to legalise the illicit oil refineries that operates in its restive Niger Delta region, part of a wider attempt to quell separatist sentiments in the production heartland. Known as bush refineries, the simple topping structures refine crude stolen from oil company pipelines. By aiming to legalise the refineries, Nigeria hopes to prevent the communities that tend to their sites from being radicalised into military groups and instead be absorbed into the official economy. 

Natural Gas and LNG

  • Gazprom has applied for permission from Denmark to build part of its Nord Stream 2 pipeline through Danish waters, prompting the government is considering new legislation that will allow it to ban such projects over ‘foreign and security grounds’. The contentious pipeline has been accused by some EU countries as allowing them to be ‘hostages to Moscow’, but the wider EU Commission supports the project. 
  • Independent Oil & Gas (IOG) has acquired the disused North Sea Thames Game Pipeline from Perenco UK, Tullow Oil and Centrica, as it seeks to exploit its Blythe and Vulcan hubs. The pipeline system exchanged hands for a ‘nominal consideration’, and IOG plans to use it to deliver up to 500 bcf of natural gas to the Bacton Gas Terminal over a 15-20 year period.
  • The EU and Israel are aiming to construct a 2,000km trans-Mediterranean gas pipeline by 2025 to move natural gas from coastal Israel and Cyprus to gas-hungry European markets like Greece and Italy, as well as beyond. 


Last Week in Asian Oil:

Upstream & Midstream

  • Iran has dismissed India’s threat to slash crude imports by 20% unless Iran anoints an India consortium operator of the giant Farzad B gas field. Stating that it ‘cannot sign a contract under threat’, Iran’s oil minister said that India’s current offers for the gas field development are not acceptable, even after extension of deadlines. Long dependent on India for crude sales during the era of American-led sanctions, Iran has grown bolder since the sanctions were lifted, dismissing the threat from its ‘good costumer’ as it now has many more buyers to trade with. 
  • Even as ExxonMobil pushes ahead with its Papua New Guinea LNG export plans, it is assessing a giant new field that could add between 1-3 tcf of gas to its PNG operations. The Muruk field was discovered in the onshore North Highlands in December 2016 by a consortium of EXM, Oil Search and Barracuda, and test drills have been ongoing. A second sidetrack was sanctioned last week, to define the structure of the reservoir, as results continue to be encouraging. 
  • Iraq’s state oil marketer SOMO and Litasco, the trading arm of Russia’s Lukoil, have formed a joint crude marketing venture, that would assist Iraq is marketing its crude in Russia and Asia, as well as provide training.

Downstream & Shipping

  • ExxonMobil is in official talks to acquire Singapore’s Jurong Aromatics Corporation (JAC), a move that would boost its fuel and petrochemicals production in Asia. The beleaguered JAC was meant to be a shining new asset contributing to Asia’s hunger for petrochemicals when it started up in 2014, but the global commodities route and technical issues forced it into receivership in September 2015. Currently producing under toll agreements with Glencore and BP, the acquisition would boost ExxonMobil’s paraxylene capacity in Singapore by 800,000 tons and add an additional 2.5 million tons per year of oil products. 
  • Fresh from its downstream retail ventures in Mexico and India, BP is now aiming to crack another fuel retail market with great potential that is slowly opening up: Indonesia. The supermajor has inked an agreement with AKR Corporindo, one of only two players allowed to sell subsidised fuels in Indonesia, forming a new company – PT Aneka Petroindo Raya – that will open its first retail site by 2018. The venture is unlikely to be able to crack the subsidised fuel market, but will most likely focus on affluent areas in Java as a ‘differentiated’ retail business. 

Natural Gas & LNG

  • Even as Japanese LNG buyers seek to modify contracts to their liking given the current buyers’ market, they are reacting with caution to a new, bold pricing scheme offered by Tellurian. The American player is seeking to sell its US LNG cargos at a delivered fixed price of US$8 mmBtu from 2023 onwards, breaking with decades of tradition where LNG was sold at fixed volume contracts linked to oil prices. JERA expressed interest in the offer, which is competitive even at today’s depressed spot LNG prices, but mentioned that ‘fixed prices are a gamble.’ 

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September, 21 2019
Your Weekly Update: 16 - 20 September 2019

Market Watch  

Headline crude prices for the week beginning 16 September 2019 – Brent: US$69/b; WTI: US$63/b

  • Global crude oil prices surged at the start of the week as news that a successful drone strike on the Abqaiq processing plant and the Khurais oil field in Saudi Arabia took out over half of the Kingdom’s crude production capacity
  • Brent prices jumped above US$70/b at one point on fears on global supply disruption, but abated as President Donald Trump authorises the release of US strategic petroleum reserves to cover the market
  • Initial fears that the Saudi Arabian crude output would be crippled for months proved to be extreme, with Saudi Aramco announcing that some 70% of capacity at Abqaiq had been restored within days
  • But more worryingly is that this incident escalates the risk of a full-blown military confrontation with Iran; the US was quick to accuse Iran of the attack, citing data on the attack, which was denied by Iran
  • Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi rebels claimed responsibility for the attack, although initial results of a Saudi investigation pointed to the weapons originating from Iran
  • For now, crude oil prices have retreated as the risk of widespread supply disruption abated, but tensions are still high in the region
  • This comes after President Trump signals that he was considering easing sanctions in an apparent thaw in the US-Iran relationship; this opportunity now appears to have evaporated
  • Saudi Arabia’s new oil energy minister, Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, made a positive impression at the recent OPEC+ meeting, with errant members of the group signalling that they were now ready to adhere to the supply deal
  • In Venezuela, the oil crisis continues as ongoing US sanctions now mean that the country cannot find enough vessels to transport its crude, as shippers fear losing insurance coverage if they transport Venezuelan oil
  • Iran has released the UK-flagged Stena Impero vessel that it had impounded, a lone bright spot in a region now clouded by geopolitical tensions
  • Against this backdrop, the US active rig count recorded yet another fall, losing five oil and seven gas rigs for a net drop of 12 to a new total of 886 rigs
  • With the shock of the Saudi drone attacks abating, crude oil prices are retreating back to their previous range – US$60-63 for Brent and US$56-59/b for WTI – as the impact of global supply was minimised; another attack, however, might cause a more permanent shift in prices


Headlines of the week

Upstream

  • Equinor has received consent from the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate to continue operations at the Tordis and Vigdis fields through 2036 and 2040, respectively, extending the life of the North Sea fields by 34 years
  • BP has announced that it will deploy continuous measurement of methane emissions for all future oil and gas projects in a bid to reduce emissions
  • CNOPC and Niger have agreed to collaborate on a 1,892km pipeline to carry oil from Niger’s Agadem rift basin to port facilities in Benin
  • The South African government is tabling a new law that will allow the state to take a free stake of up to 10% in all new oil and gas ventures, hoping to capitalise on a surge in upstream interest after Total’s Brulpadda discovery

Midstream/Downstream

  • As the IMO deadline for low-sulfur marine fuels approaches, refiners have begun stockpiling supplies of very low-sulfur fuel oil to ensure adequate supply; this includes Japan’s Cosmo Oil that aims to begin supplying VLSFO to the domestic marine market by October 2019
  • IndianOil’s Gujarat refinery stated it ready to produce 12,900 b/d of VLSFO by October while its Haldia refinery will start producing 5,500 b/d of VLSFO by December; this should be adequate to cover the India’s marine fuel demand
  • India is considering selling a stake in BPCL, the country’s second largest refiner, to an international firm to boost competition in downstream fuel retailing that has historically been dominated by state firms
  • Valero Energy and Darling Ingredients are launching the first renewable gasoil plant in Texas, focusing on producing renewable diesel and naphtha
  • In the UK, Essar Oil’s Stanlow refinery aims to increase its diet of US crude from a current 35% to 40%, leveraging on cheaper American oil
  • The after-effects of Russia’s contaminated crude through the Druzhba pipeline continues as Total issues a tender to sell 1.3 million barrels of tainted Ural crude through Rotterdam after failing to process it

Natural Gas/LNG

  • Poland has won a ruling from the EU courts to reduce Russian control over the key EU Opal pipeline that carries Russian gas from the Nord Stream link to Germany, preventing Gazprom from using most of Opal capacity in a bit to increase energy security for Eastern European countries
  • Vitol and Mozambique’s state player ENH have set up a new joint venture in Singapore to capitalise on trading opportunities for LNG, LPG, and condensate
  • Australia’s Liquefied Natural Gas Ltd and Delta Offshore Energy will supply gas from the Magnolia fields to an LNG-to-power project in Bac Lieu, Vietnam
  • Eni’s Baltim South West gas field offshore Egypt has started up production, only 3 years after discovery, producing an initial 100 mscf/d of gas
  • US gas player Sempra is looking to take FID on its Energia Costa Azul LNG project in Mexico’s Baja California region by the end of 2019
  • Egypt has announced that it expects to receive first natural gas from Israel by end-2019 through the East Mediterranean Gas pipeline, with initial supplies of 200 mscf/d that will rise to 500 mscf/d by 2020
  • The Independence floating LNG terminal in Lithuania – built to reduce the Baltic region’s dependence on Russian gas – is set to receive its first-ever cargo from Siberia, likely from Novatek’s LNG projects in Yamal
September, 20 2019
Financial Review: Second-Quarter 2019
Key findings
  • Brent crude oil daily average prices were 9% lower in second-quarter 2019 than in second-quarter 2018 and averaged $68 per barrel
  • The 117 companies in this study increased their combined liquids production 4.6% in second-quarter 2019 from second-quarter 2018, and their natural gas production increased 5.0% during the same period
  • Nearly half of the companies were free cash flow positive—that is, they generated more cash from operations than their capital expenditures
  • Dividends plus share repurchases were nearly one-third of cash from operations, slightly lower than the six-year high set in first-quarter 2019

Distributions to shareholders via dividends and share repurchases amounted to nearly 33% of cash from operations


See entire second-quarter review

September, 20 2019