Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, based on Bloomberg
The difference between high-sulfur residual fuel oil prices in Singapore and crude oil prices in Dubai/Oman has been narrowing since the spring. Low inventories of residual fuel oil in Singapore and lower residual fuel oil production from Russia are likely contributing to the narrowing price spread.
Residual fuel oil, the petroleum product remaining after higher-value liquids such as gasoline feedstocks and distillate are distilled from crude oil, typically sells at a lower price than crude oil. Residual fuel oil is used in many sectors, including marine transportation, power generation, commercial furnaces and boilers, and various industrial processes.
For many Asian countries, petroleum product prices tend to follow Dubai/Oman crude oil, which is the benchmarkMiddle Eastern crude oil exported to Asia. Moreover, because Singapore is the largest global hub for marine ships to refuel, the residual fuel oil spot price at Singapore is considered representative of the region. Dubai/Oman crude oil is classified as a medium and sour crude oil because of its relatively low API gravity (density) and high sulfur content compared with light, sweet crude oils such as Brent.
Relatively high demand and relatively low inventories are both contributing to the increase in the price of Singapore residual fuel oil relative to the price of Dubai/Oman crude oil. In Singapore, residual fuel oil inventories were 22.2 million barrels for the week ending June 28, slightly below the five-year average for this time of year but recovering from when they were more than 6 million barrels below the five-year average at the beginning of June. Residual fuel oil sales were up 4% year-to-date through May, according to the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore. The recent diplomatic dispute between Qatar and Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates, which included a ban of Qatari-flagged vessels entering the United Arab Emirates port of Fujairah, may have led some vessels to refuel in Singapore instead.
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, based on Bloomberg, International Enterprise
Regional crude oil production decisions are also affecting relative prices. The voluntary crude oil production reductions from several countries within and outside the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), who tend to produce medium- and sour-grade crude oils, reduce the availability of these grades to refiners. Because of their relatively low API gravity (density), medium and sour crude oils yield more residual fuel oil from distillation than light, sweet crude oils. As regional refineries run more light, sweet crude oil, less residual fuel oil is being produced.
Russia, traditionally a large producer and exporter of residual fuel oil, has also reduced its production and exports over the past year. Several major Russian refiners completed investments in secondary refinery units, allowing them to further process residual fuel oil into higher-value liquid fuels. Furthermore, changes in Russia’s export taxes have affected their trade. Before 2017, Russian exports of residual fuel oil were taxed at a lower rate than Russian exports of crude oil. In January, however, the tax rate for residual fuel oil was raised to equal that for crude oil.
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, based on Joint Organizations Data Initiative
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It seems to have been a topic that has been discussed for years, but a decision could finally be made. The Philippines has short-listed three different groups who are in the running to build the country’s first LNG import terminal, whittling them down from an initial 18 that submitted project proposals. The final three consist of the Philippines National Oil Company (PNOC), a joint venture between Tokyo Gas and domestic firm First Gen Corp and China’s CNOOC. The Philippines hopes to choose the final group by the end of November – an optimistic decision that belies that many, many complications that have come before. And those still to come.
First of all, the make-up of only one of the groups has been finalised. A local partner is a requirement for this project; CNOOC has yet to officially tie-up, although it has been talking to Manila-based Phoenix Petroleum, while state oil firm PNOC does not have a (deep-pocketed) partner yet. Firms including Chevron, Dubai’s Lloyds Energy Group and Japan’s JERA have reportedly contacted PNOC to express their interest, but a month before the Philippines wants to make a decision, its own home-grown hero hasn’t yet got its ducks lined up in a row.
And time is of essence. The once giant Malampaya gas field is running out of resources. Supplying piped natural gas to three power plants that feeds some 45% of Luzon’s electricity requirements, the Shell-operated field is expected to be completely depleted by 2024. With the country aiming to move away from burning coal or (imported) gasoil for power, gas is needed to replace gas. Even though the Philippines is pushing for a bilateral agreement with China to pave to way for joint exploration activities in disputed areas of the South China Sea – to the consternation of its citizens – any discovery in the Palawan basin or Scarborough Shoal will be years from commercialisation.
So LNG is the answer. And LNG has been the answer since 2008, when the need for an LNG import terminal was first identified. And it is not like no projects have been proposed – Australia’s Energy World Corp (EWC) has been wanting to build an LNG receiving terminal and power station in the Quezon province near Manila for years, but the project has been described as ‘trapped in a bureaucratic quagmire’ due to hurdles from various government agencies, or stymied by groups with competing interests.
PNOC itself has been wanting to build its own terminal in Batangas, within range of existing gas and power transmission facilities currently drawing Malampaya gas. But, just like Pertamina in Indonesia, it is cash-strapped and unable to drive the project on its own, hence the requirement for a partner/s. First Gen Corp and Phoenix Petroleum are both private players, with First Gen already operating four of the country’s five gas-fired plants while Phoenix Petroleum has close ties with CNOOC Gas.
Many announcements have been made and gone, but with this shortlist of three groups, it does finally look like the Philippines will be able to get its LNG ambitions of the ground. And it is thinking even bigger; wanting the terminal to become a LNG trading hub for the region – capitalising on the existing habit of ship-to-ship transfers of LNG cargoes into smaller parcels in the Philippine waters for delivery into southern China – challenging existing ambitions in Japan, South Korea and Singapore. But perhaps that is getting a bit ahead of themselves. Getting a project – any LNG project – off the ground is the first priority. And the rest can come after that.
Other Proposed LNG Projects In The Philippines:
Headline crude prices for the week beginning 5 November 2018 – Brent: US$72/b; WTI: US$62/b
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It is a well-known fact that the oil and gas industry has a lot to offer in terms of opportunities - paycheck, lifestyle, and work-life balance. However, like everything else in life, it has a flip side as well. If you are planning to make a career in oil and gas industry, it is important to know the cons as well. Here is a list of risks associated with working in oil and gas industry that you must know to make an informed decision.
Highly competitive: survival of the fittest
Oil and gas industry is highly competitive and dynamic in nature. The job requires high level of expertise and productivity. With digitization and automation of the industry, the work functions are changing rapidly. The employees who cannot cope up and upskill with changing time and need will be automatically pushed out of the system. The foremost challenge in oil and gas industry is to stay relevant and keep upskilling.
Long work hours
Some job functions in oil industry like offshore rig workers have to work in 12-hours shift, seven days a week and for seven to 28 days in one stretch. Sometimes, overtime is also expected due to emergency or to manage the project deadlines. However, the oil companies do give equal amount of resting period to the rig workers to compensate for the long working hours. Even then, the continuous long hours is strenuous for the workforce.
The accident-prone work environment
Although rigorous safety trainings are provided to the workforce along with numerous safety measures and laws in place; accidents do occur. Sometimes, these accidents can be life-threatening. Here is quick overview of the possible accidents that you might encounter:
Risk of confined space and fall- The line workers in oil and gas industry sometimes work in confined spaces like mud pits, reserve pits, storage tanks, sand storage, and other excavated areas, where they are exposed to potential risk of ignition of inflammable vapors, exposure to harmful chemicals, and asphyxiation. Additionally, these kinds of workplaces involve risk of falls, slips and trips too which can cause severe injuries and can even turn fatal. Though the companies are extremely careful and take all safety precautions, but the risk cannot be ruled out.
Additionally, frequent exposure to chemicals used in refineries and drilling operations can impact long-term health. To offset these dangers, oil and gas companies provide comprehensive training to employees to ensure safety protocols and site-specific features.
Working in remote location
The oil and gas professionals have to work on remote location for exploration, offshore duties, pumping stations, gas plants and more. The workers in remote location often feel isolated and they are on their own to cope up with numerous work-related accidents and health hazards.
Working in oil and gas industry is extremely rewarding in terms of career growth, travelling opportunities and compensation. However, the above points must also be considered before stepping into this industry. It is important to mention here that majority of oil and gas companies are aware of the risks associated and thus have sound safety measures in place to avoid any contingency. Moreover, the government and regulatory bodies also impose strict regulations for safety and security of the workforce. Therefore, in many cases, the risk associated is considerably reduced. So, before you accept any offer from any oil and gas companies, you must carefully verify the safety measures and policies of the company. Once, you are assured, your career in oil and gas will be highly rewarding.
If you are looking for relevant opportunities, check out NrgEdge.com to kickstart your career in oil and gas industry.