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Last Updated: June 22, 2017
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Last week in the world oil:

Prices

  • All the progress achieved since the OPEC supply quotas were agreed on have been undone, as crude prices fell to a seven-month low. With Brent at US$47/b and WTI at US$43/b, traders are concerned that rising production in Libya and Nigeria (exempt from the freeze), as well as in the US, have undermined OPEC’s ability to influence prices. With the glut growing and news of tankers increasingly being used as storage, there is little upside for crude prices now, so expect the decline to continue.

Upstream & Midstream

  • Deepwater seems to be back, as ExxonMobil signed off on the Liza field in Guyana. Together with partners Hess and CNOOC, the US$4.4 billion offshore project is the fifth deepwater project to be sanctioned this year, in part due to the attraction of its lower production costs. It marks a cautious return to upstream megaprojects after the price crash in 2015, in parallel with majors developing lower-cost shale sites as well. The first phase of Liza should pump 120 kb/d when it comes online in 2020.
  • Uganda has signed two production sharing agreements with Nigeria’s Oranto Petroleum that will see the first crude flow by 2020. Oil from the Ngassa Shallow and Ngassa Deep plays in the Albertine rift basin forms part of gross national recoverable reserves of 1.4-1.7 billion barrels. Landlocked Uganda is already working with Tanzania to build a heated pipeline to ship its crude internationally through the port of Tanga.
  • Six new oil rigs started up in the US last week, bringing the total number of oil rigs to 747 and total rigs to 933. In Canada, 27 new rigs started up last week as well, arresting the long slide in Canadian drilling sites.

Downstream

  • Mexico’s Pemex has begun to restart its 330 kb/d Salina Cruz refinery after Tropical Storm Calvin flooded the plant, breaking containment dams and triggering spills that halted the entire refinery. A fire that broke out killed a firefighter and injured nine workers has also been put out, allowing startup procedures to begin restoring the refinery to operation.

Natural Gas and LNG

  • While some central and southern European countries plan alternative gas routes, Austrian energy group OMV is considering reviving a plan to build a Black Sea pipeline to connect Russian Gazprom natural gas with the region. The plan is merely an outline at the moment, but will be an extension of the TurkStream pipeline currently being built that will connect to OMV’s Baumgarten gas hub and its 57 bcm/y capacity. Further south, Greece, Cyprus and Israel have jointly agreed to speed up their plans to develop a pipeline connecting Israel and Cyprus’ gas fields to the Mediterranean through a 2,000km pipeline linked to Greece and Italy. The new target completion date of 2025.
  • Shell and Qatar Petroleum have signed an agreement to jointly develop global LNG bunkering facilities. Combining Qatar’s vast LNG capacity and Shell’s bunkering expertise, the aim of the plan is to meet increasing demand for LNG as a bunker fuel, with Qatar Petroleum estimating that demand will reach 50 million tons per annum by 2030.

Last week in Asian oil

Upstream

  • As Chinese producers try to strike a balance between raising capex to boost domestic crude production with declining reserves, Chinese oil production fell to its lowest level on record in May. Production fell 3.7% y-o-y to 3.83 mmb/d, the lowest since the National Bureau of Statistics began publishing records in 2011. Producers like PetroChina are having to choose between cutting spending at rapidly declining fields like Daqing and Shengli, while raising spending elsewhere to help ease China’s increasing reliance on imported crude.

Downstream

  • China has issued a second round of crude oil import quotas. The overall number is higher than the entirety of allowances in 2016, but crucially, the allowance for teapot refineries is lower by some 17%. This is seen as an attempt by Beijing to exert control over a section of the refining industry that exploded last year, flooding the country with fuel.
  • Saudi Aramco’s relentless march into downstream continues, trying to secure footholds in key Asian markets to ensure captive demand for its crude. After Malaysia and China, Aramco is now talking with the Indian government to purchase a stake in the planned 1.2 mmb/d megarefinery to be build by the trio of state oil firms – Indian Oil, HPCL and BPCL – on the west coast. With little of its own crude to feed this planned site, India will need crude to run the refinery; and Saudi Aramco is happy to oblige, demanding a stake in what would be the world’s largest refinery.

Natural Gas & LNG

  • BP and Reliance in India have agreed to jointly invest up to US$6 billion to restart work in the country’s east coast gas blocks, where eight years of inertia have led to curtailed production. The money will be poured into developing 3 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, boosting production at the D6 block in the Krishna Godavari basin by 30-35 mcf/d by 2020. The BP-Reliance partnership was resuscitated after the government relaxed rules last year, allowing freedom in pricing and marketing gas in an attempt to attract investment into India’s dormant deepwater gas fields.
  • Japan’s JX Nippon Oil & Gas Exploration has commenced commercial gas production from the Layang field in Malaysia. Initial production of natural gas and condensate from the field offshore Sarawak is estimated at 12 kb/d, which will be piped together with gas from the Helang field to Petronas’ MLNG Tiga LNG plant in Bintulu, in which JX Nippon has a stake.
  • Faced with the departure of Chevron from its gas fields, Bangladesh’ state energy firm PetroBangla has inked an agreement with Swiss trader AOT Energy to secure LNG for the power-hungry nation. The LNG will be directed at the country’s first LNG terminal being built as an FSRU at Moheshkali island by Excelerate Energy. Another LNG terminal is also being planned, at Kutubdia Island with India’s Petronet LNG.
  • The capacity for the Abadi LNG project in Indonesia appears to be settled at 9.5 mtpa, with partners Inpex and Shell nearing agreement with Indonesia’s Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry. This would leave some 150 mcf/d of natural gas available for the domestic market to meet Indonesia’s domestic market obligation requirements. This would be almost four times the initial planned LNG capacity of 2.5 mtpa for Abadi, as Inpex itches to commercialise a discovery made in 1992. A smaller capacity of 7.5 mtpa is also being considered, which would leave 500 mcf/d leftover.

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