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Last Updated: June 28, 2017
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Last week in the world oil:

Prices

  • Crude prices have settled to a new level at the mid-US$40/s, as stubborn growth in US supplies continue to offset OPEC efforts to trim back supply. With production in Libya and Nigeria recovering as well, Brent and WTI crude started the week in the US$45/b and US$43/b range respectively.

Upstream & Midstream

  • While the US untangles its approach to Arctic drilling, Russia’s Rosneft announced the discovery of hydrocarbon deposits in the Eastern Arctic shelf. Drilling at the Tsentraino-Olginskaya-1 well indicated presence of oil offshore the Khara-Tumus Peninsula, on the Khatanga Bay shelf of the Laptev Sea. While Rosneft continues to evaluate this new find, Norway is offering 102 exploration blocks in its portion of the Arctic. Of the blocks, 93 are in the Barents and 9 in the Norwegian Sea, with the deadlines for application for this 24th Arctic licensing round being November 30.
  • Eleven new oil rigs entered service in the US last week, the 23rd rise in a row, as producers continue to boost spending, betting that crude prices will rise again and thereby undercutting global efforts to support prices. The total count of oil rigs stand at 758, the highest level since April 2015, and more than double the 330 active rigs exactly a year ago.

Downstream

  • Flooding and fire after Tropical Storm Calvin hit Pemex’s 330 kb/d Salina Cruz refinery in Mexico have delayed restart operations, with the Mexican state oil firm now expecting to restore production by July 30. Maintenance that was originally scheduled for April 2018 has been brought forward, but the outage of the country’s largest refinery for over a month has meant that Mexico has had to import more fuel.
  • Shrugging off its involvement in the Odebrecht graft scandal, Braskem will be building a sixth US-based polypropylene production plant. The US$675 million site in La Porte, Texas will enter service in early 2020, adding 450,000 tons of capacity to Latin America’s largest petrochemical firm. The aim is to take continued advantage of the cheap shale oil and gas, converting it into cheaper petrochemicals to sell in South America.
  • Indonesia’s PT Intim Perkasa announced plans to build a new refinery in Nigeria, a crude exporter that imports fuel to due its crumbling, aging refineries. The plan is to build a small, modular 10 kb/d refinery in the southern Niger Delta state of Akwa Ibom, in line with the government’s aim of converting the area’s illegal refineries into proper facilities.

Natural Gas and LNG

  • Falling demand for gas storage will see the UK lose its largest natural gas storage site, removing 70% of Britain’s natural gas storage capacity. After 30 years in service, Centrica – which owns British Gas – confirmed that it would be shuttering the aging Rough facility. This will leave the UK all the more reliant on natural gas piped from Norway and Europe, as well as from Qatar in LNG. It was also leave the market dangerously exposed to snap weather changes, particularly cold snaps in winter that would result in more volatile price spikes. Storage tanks at Rough were filled in the summer, when demand and prices are low, in preparation for winter, when demand and prices rise. And now, that security is gone.

Last week in Asian oil

Upstream

  • Eni and the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) has signed a memorandum of understanding that will see the two companies join forces on a feasibility study to develop two hydrocarbon fields. The sites in question are the third phase of the Darkhovin oil field and the offshore Kish gas field. It is part of a new European phase of investment into Iran after sanctions were lifted, with Eni already indicating interest in another Iranian project – the development of the Azadegan oil field.

Downstream

  • Originally dismissed as unfeasible, the US$3.4 billion refinery project by China’s private Hengyi Group in Brunei appears to actually be taking off. Building work has begun, with a projected completion date of 2019, with the 160 kb/d site at Pulau Muara Besar aimed at producing petrochemical feedstock for Hengyi’s plastics and polyester manufacturing operations. However, fuel will also be a substantial portion of the refinery’s output, adding to the glut of refined products in the region.

Natural Gas & LNG

  • The 20 year supply agreement between South Korea’s Kogas and American gas producer Cheniere has officially kicked off, with the first cargo under the contract setting off from the Sabine Pass liquefaction plant on June 2. The agreement was originally signed in 2012, before Sabine Pass was even operational, and will deliver 3.5 mtpa of LNG to Kogas, as South Korea seeks to diversify its natural gas sources. Cheniere gas from the US Gulf is also set to be delivered to Lithuania, adding to the firm’s growing list of European buyers seeking to wean themselves off the geographically easy but politically dangerous Russian gas.
  • After production began in mid-May, the first LNG cargo from the deepwater Jangkrik gas field in East Kalimantan, Indonesia, has been delivered. Heading to Bali under the country’s DMO (Domestic Market Obligation) system, the Jangrik gas was delivered to the Bontang LNG plant for processing.

Corporate

  • Rosneft is one step closer to completing its purchase of Essar Oil, the second largest private oil company in India. Essar’s creditors approved the proposed US$12.9 billion acquisition, which will see Russia acquire a foothold in Asia’s fastest growing fuel market, in an attempt to match Saudi Aramco’s investment strategy across Asia. The deal will give Rosneft a 49% stake in Essar, with another 49% split between trader Trafigura and Russian fund United Capital Partners, while Essar’s founders, the Ruia brothers, will retain 2%.
  • The Malaysian state of Sarawak, home to many of the country’s latest and largest deepwater oil, gas and LNG projects, has announced plans to establish its own state oil and gas firm. Aimed at ensuring that the state receives is proper share of oil wealth – a bone of contention, since petroleum revenues are parked under Malaysia’s federal government, not individual states – the new firm will work together with Petronas in PSCs, which has indicated agreement to the proposal.

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Your Weekly Update: 12 - 16 August 2019

Market Watch 

Headline crude prices for the week beginning 12 August 2019 – Brent: US$58/b; WTI: US$54/b

  • Saudi Arabia’s overtures to further stabilise prices was met with a largely positive response by the market, allowing crude prices to claw back some ground after being hammered by demand concerns
  • Saudi officials reportedly called other members in the OPEC and OPEC+ producer clubs to discuss options on how to stem the recent rout in prices, with an anonymous official quoted as saying that it ‘would not tolerate continued price weakness’
  • Reports suggest that Saudi Arabia plans to keep its oil exports at below 7 mmb/d in September according to sales allocations, which was seen as a stabilising factor in crude price trends
  • This came after crude prices fell as the US-China trade war entered a new front, causing weakness in the Chinese Yuan, although President Trump has floated the idea of delaying the new round of tariffs beyond the current implementation timeline of September 1
  • Crude had also fallen in response to a slide in American crude oil stockpiles and a receding level of tensions in the Persian Gulf
  • In a new report, the International Energy Agency said that the outlook for global oil demand is ‘fragile’ on signs of an economic slowdown; there is also concern that China will target US crude if the US moves ahead with its tariff plan
  • The US active rig count lost another 8 rigs – 6 oil and 2 gas – the sixth consecutive weekly loss that brought the total number of active rigs to 934
  • Demand fears will continue to haunt the market, which will not be offset so easily of Saudi-led efforts to limit production; as a result, crude prices will trade rangebound with a negative slant in the US$56-58/b range for Brent and US$52-54/b for WTI


Headlines of the week

Upstream

  • Nearly all Anadarko shareholders have approved the Occidental Petroleum deal, completing the controversial takeover bid despite investor Carl Icahn’s attempts to derail the purchase
  • Crude oil inventories in Western Canada have fallen by 2.75 million barrels m-o-m to its lowest level since November 2017, as the production limits in Alberta appear to be doing their job in limiting a supply glut while output curbs are slowly being loosened on the arrival of more rail and pipeline capacity
  • Mid-sized Colorado players PDC Energy and SRC Energy – both active in the Denver-Julesburg Basin – are reportedly in discussion to merge their operations
  • Pemex has been granted approval by the National Hydrocarbon Commission to invest US$10 billion over 25 years to develop onshore and offshore exploration opportunities in Mexico
  • Qatar Investment Authority has acquired a ‘significant stake’ in major Permian player Oryx Midstream Services from Stonepeak Infrastructure Partners for some US$550 million, as foreign investment in the basin increases
  • PDVSA and CNPC’s Venezuelan joint venture Sinovensa has announced plans to expand blending capacity – lightening up extra-heavy Orinoco crude to medium-grade Merey – from a current 110,000 b/d to 165,000 b/d
  • BHP has approved an additional US$283 million in funding for the Ruby oil and gas project in Trinidad and Tobago, with first production expected in 2021
  • CNPC, ONGC Videsh and Petronas have reportedly walked away from their onshore acreage in Sudan, blaming unpaid oil dues on production from onshore Blocks 2A and 4 that have already reached more than US$500 million

Midstream/Downstream

  • Expected completion of Nigeria’s huge planned 650 kb/d Dangote refinery has been delayed to the end of 2020, with issues importing steel and equipment cited
  • Saudi Aramco’s US refining arm Motiva announced plans to shut several key units at its 607 kb/d Port Arthur facility in Texas for a 2-month planned maintenance, affecting its 325 kb/d CDU and the naphtha processing plant
  • ADNOC has purchased a 10% stake in global terminal operator VTTI, expanding its terminalling capacity in Asia, Africa and Europe
  • A little-known Chinese contractor Wison Engineering Services has reportedly agreed to refurbish Venezuela’s main refineries in a barter deal for oil produced, in a bid for Venezuela to evade the current US sanctions on its crude exports
  • Swiss downstream player Varo Energy will increase its stake in the 229 kb/d Bayernoil complex in Germany to 55% after purchasing BP’s 10% stake
  • India has raised the projected cost estimate of its giant planned refinery in Maharashtra – a joint venture between Indian state oil firms with Saudi Aramco and ADNOC – to US$60 billion, after farmer protests forced a relocation

Natural Gas/LNG

  • The government of Australia’s New South Wales has given its backing to South Korea’s Epik and its plan to build a new LNG import terminal in Newcastle
  • Kosmos Energy is proposing to build two new LNG facilities to tap into deepwater gas resources offshore Mauritania and Senegal under development
  • In the middle of the Pacific, the French territory of New Caledonia has started work on its Centrale Pays Project, a floating LNG terminal with an accompanying 200-megawatt power plant, with Nouvelle-Caledonia Energie seeking a 15-year LNG sales contract for roughly 200,000 tons per year
August, 16 2019
The State of the Industry: Q2 2019

The momentum for crude prices abated in the second quarter of 2019, providing less cushion for the financial results of the world’s oil companies. But while still profitable, the less-than-ideal crude prices led to mixed results across the boards – exposing gaps and pressure points for individual firms masked by stronger prices in Q119.

In a preview of general performance in the industry, Total – traditionally the first of the supermajors to release its earnings – announced results that fell short of expectations. Net profits for the French firm fell to US$2.89 billion from US$3.55 billion, below analyst predictions. This was despite a 9% increase in oil and gas production – in particularly increases in LNG sales – and a softer 2.5% drop in revenue. Total also announced that it would be selling off US$5 billion in assets through 2020 to keep a lid on debt after agreeing to purchase Anadarko Petroleum’s African assets for US$8.8 billion through Occidental.

As with Total, weaker crude prices were the common factor in Q219 results in the industry, though the exact extent differed. Russia’s Gazprom posted higher revenue and higher net profits, while Norway’s Equinor reported falls in both revenue and net profits – leading it to slash investment plans for the year. American producer ConocoPhillips’ quarterly profits and revenue were flat year-on-year, while Italy’s Eni – which has seen major success in Africa – reported flat revenue but lower profits.

 After several quarters of disappointing analysts, ExxonMobil managed to beat expectations in Q219 – recording better-than-expected net profits of US$3.1 billion. In comparison, Shell – which has outperformed ExxonMobil over the past few reporting periods – disappointed the market with net profits halving to US$3 billion from US$6 billion in Q218. The weak performance was attributed (once again) to lower crude prices, as well as lower refining margins. BP, however, managed to beat expectations with net profits of US$2.8 billion, on par with its performance in Q218. But the supermajor king of the quarter was Chevron, with net profits of US$4.3 billion from gains in Permian production, as well as the termination fee from Anadarko after the latter walked away from a buyout deal in favour of Occidental.

And then, there was a surprise. In a rare move, Saudi Aramco – long reputed to be the world’s largest and most profitable energy firm – published its earnings report for 1H19, which is its first ever. The results confirmed what the industry had long accepted as fact: net profit was US$46.9 billion. If split evenly, Aramco’s net profits would be more than the five supermajors combined in Q219. Interestingly, Aramco also divulged that it had paid out US$46.4 billion in dividends, or 99% of its net profit. US$20 billion of that dividend was paid to its principle shareholder – the government of Saudi Arabia – up from US$6 billion in 1H18, which makes for interesting reading to potential investors as Aramco makes a second push for an IPO. With Saudi Aramco CFO Khalid al-Dabbagh announcing that the company was ‘ready for the IPO’ during its first ever earnings call, this reporting paves the way to the behemoth opening up its shares to the public. But all the deep reservoirs in the world did not shield Aramco from market forces. As it led the way in adhering to the OPEC+ club’s current supply restrictions, weaker crude prices saw net profit fall by 11.5% from US$53 billion a year earlier.

So, it’s been a mixed bunch of results this quarter – which perhaps showcases the differences in operational strategies of the world’s oil and gas companies. There is no danger of financials heading into the red any time soon, but without a rising tide of crude prices, Q219 simply shows that though the challenges facing the industry are the same, their approaches to the solutions still differ.

Supermajor Financials: Q2 2019

  • ExxonMobil – Revenue (US$69.1 billion, down 6% y-o-y), Net profit (US$3.1 billion, down 22.5% y-o-y)
  • Shell - Revenue (US$90.5 billion, down 6.5% y-o-y), Net profit (US$3 billion, down 50% y-o-y)
  • Chevron – Revenue (US$36.3 billion, down 10.4% y-o-y), Net profit (US$4.3 billion, up 26% y-o-y)
  • BP - Revenue (US$73.7 billion, down 4.11% y-o-y), Net profit (US$2.8 billion, flat y-o-y)
  • Total - Revenue (US$51.2 billion, down 2.5% y-o-y), Net profit (US$2.89 billion, down 18.6% y-o-y)
August, 14 2019
TODAY IN ENERGY: Australia is on track to become world’s largest LNG exporter

LNG exports from selected countries

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, CEDIGAZ, Global Trade Tracker

Australia is on track to surpass Qatar as the world’s largest liquefied natural gas (LNG) exporter, according to Australia’s Department of Industry, Innovation, and Science (DIIS). Australia already surpasses Qatar in LNG export capacity and exported more LNG than Qatar in November 2018 and April 2019. Within the next year, as Australia’s newly commissioned projects ramp up and operate at full capacity, EIA expects Australia to consistently export more LNG than Qatar.

Australia’s LNG export capacity increased from 2.6 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) in 2011 to more than 11.4 Bcf/d in 2019. Australia’s DIIS forecasts that Australian LNG exports will grow to 10.8 Bcf/d by 2020–21 once the recently commissioned Wheatstone, Ichthys, and Prelude floating LNG (FLNG) projects ramp up to full production. Prelude FLNG, a barge located offshore in northwestern Australia, was the last of the eight new LNG export projects that came online in Australia in 2012 through 2018 as part of a major LNG capacity buildout.

Australia LNG export capacity

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, based on International Group of Liquefied Natural Gas Importers (GIIGNL), trade press
Note: Project’s online date reflects shipment of the first LNG cargo. North West Shelf Trains 1–2 have been in operation since 1989, Train 3 since 1992, Train 4 since 2004, and Train 5 since 2008.

Starting in 2012, five LNG export projects were developed in northwestern Australia: onshore projects Pluto, Gorgon, Wheatstone, and Ichthys, and the offshore Prelude FLNG. The total LNG export capacity in northwestern Australia is now 8.1 Bcf/d. In eastern Australia, three LNG export projects were completed in 2015 and 2016 on Curtis Island in Queensland—Queensland Curtis, Gladstone, and Australia Pacific—with a combined nameplate capacity of 3.4 Bcf/d. All three projects in eastern Australia use natural gas from coalbed methane as a feedstock to produce LNG.

Australia LNG projects

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration

Most of Australia’s LNG is exported under long-term contracts to three countries: Japan, China, and South Korea. An increasing share of Australia’s LNG exports in recent years has been sent to China to serve its growing natural gas demand. The remaining volumes were almost entirely exported to other countries in Asia, with occasional small volumes exported to destinations outside of Asia.

Australia LNG exports by destination country

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, based on International Group of Liquefied Natural Gas Importers (GIIGNL)

For several years, Australia’s natural gas markets in eastern states have been experiencing natural gas shortages and increasing prices because coal-bed methane production at some LNG export facilities in Queensland has not been meeting LNG export commitments. During these shortfalls, project developers have been supplementing their own production with natural gas purchased from the domestic market. The Australian government implemented several initiatives to address domestic natural gas production shortages in eastern states.

Several private companies proposed to develop LNG import terminals in southeastern Australia. Of the five proposed LNG import projects, Port Kembla LNG (proposed import capacity of 0.3 Bcf/d) is in the most advanced stage, having secured the necessary siting permits and an offtake contract with Australian customers. If built, the Port Kembla project will use the floating storage and regasification unit (FSRU) Höegh Galleon starting in January 2021.

August, 14 2019