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Last Updated: July 14, 2017
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Last week in the world oil:

Prices

  • Lingering concerns over the wealth of supply coming out of America, as well as recovering Libya and Nigeria, have kept crude oil prices on a weaker note. While pessimism is not yet at levels seen three weeks ago, crude prices remain in the mid-US$40/b levels – high enough to encourage US drilling, and low enough to send jitters among producers.

Upstream & Midstream

  • Petrobras and Chevron are both attempting to sell off their 70% and 30% stakes in the Maromba field in the Campos basin, as the shallow water heavy oil site proves to be unattractive to develop in the current climate.
  • Italy’s Eni has struck oil in the PL532 Licence, southwest of the Johan Castberg field in Norway’s Barents Sea. Preliminary estimates indicate that the discovery holds on 100-180 million barrels of oil, of which 25-50 million barrels are recoverable. While minor in size, it is an indication that increased drilling activity in the area is beginning to pay off.
  • Total announced a delay to the start of production at its Martin Linge field in the North Sea due to an accident in the shipyard building the rig platform in South Korea. The new start date is now in 1H2019. Total (51%), Petoro (30%) and Statoil (19%) are the stakeholders in the field.
  • As expected, the mild dip the week before gave way to a jump in drilling activity, as seven new oil and five gas rigs started up, bringing the total active number to 952. And, predictably, causing crude oil prices to slump.

Natural Gas and LNG

  • Freeport LNG has submitted a formal application with the US Federal Energy Regulator Commission to build a fourth liquefaction train at its Texas facility. If approved – and this is likely – the new train will add some 5.1 mtpa of capacity to the site, expected to enter service in 2022.
  • BP will be exiting Block 24 in Angola’s Kwanza basin, relinquishing its 50% stake where the Katambi-1 wildcat discovery was made to Sonangol and taking a US$750 million write-off in the process. Non-associated gas is of little value to upstream players in Angola as it is owned by the state.
  • Statoil will be pushing ahead with the development of the Snefrid Nord gas discovery near the Aasta Hansteen field in the country’s Norwegian Sea. Recoverable reserves of some five bcm of natural gas will be tied back to facilities in Aasta Hansteen, producing some 4 mcm/d of gas.
  • Central Europe seems to remain in two minds on relying on Russian gas. Just as Hungary signed a deal with Gazprom to link to the Turkish Stream pipeline by end-2019, Poland is looking West towards the US for Gulf Coast LNG to feed its growing gas requirements. Bulgaria and Serbia already have agreements to tap into Gazprom’s Turkish Stream pipeline system – after the South Stream project was cancelled in 2014 over Russia’s involvement in the Ukrainian conflict – while international connectors through Romania and Croatia are also being planned.

Corporate

  • Baker Hughes and GE Oil & Gas have completed their merger, creating BHGE, touted as the industry’s ‘first and only fullstream player’, covering all areas of the energy business from upstream, midstream and downstream. It trades under the name Baker Hughes, a GE company.

Last week in Asian oil

Downstream

  • Total and Iran have inked a preliminary US$2 billion deal to build three petrochemical plants, as Iran moves to realise its downstream ambitions. Total - which has extensive presence in Iran, most recently in South Pars Phase 11 – aims to build 2.2 million tons of petrochemical and polymer capacity with Iran’s National Petrochemical Company.
  • While Saudi Arabia’s promises to participate in Indonesia’s ambitious refining expansions may have proved hollow in the past, it’s latest commitment to assist Pertamina in upgraded the Cilacap refinery has weight, in light of the company’s move to establish key downstream sites across major Asian markets ahead of its IPO. The US$5 billion upgrade is aimed to expanding Cilacap’s capcity from 348 kb/d to 400 kb/d, while also expanding its secondary units to produce more transport fuels.

Natural Gas & LNG

  • Japan’s Fair Trade Commission has made a landmark ruling. All new contracts for LNG imports signed by Japanese buyers can no longer have restrictions on the resale of cargoes going forward, a decision that was pushed for by all Japanese LNG importers to allow them freedom to redirect suppliers and establish a trading network. For existing contracts that have not expired, the FTC directed buyers to communicate with major sellers – Qatar and Malaysia in this case – to review the ‘competition-restraining business practices’. This would be important in putting Japan’s existing LNG suppliers on equal footing with the new LNG volumes coming from North America, which deliver clause-less cargoes.
  • Remaining defiant in the face of sustained diplomatic pressure from Saudi Arabia, the UAE and its allies, Qatar has announced that it plans to boost natural gas production at its giant North Field by 20%. This raise was already in the cards, after a self-imposed moratorium was lifted in April, but has taken new significance as the tiny Gulf state finds itself isolated geographically and diplomatically. If the crisis drags on, then the 30% boost in LNG production capacity will go a long way to ensure sufficiency.
  • Gazprom’s Power of Siberia natural gas pipeline will start service in December 2019, moving the valuable fuel to China as the race to supply the fastest-growing natural gas consumer in the world heats up.

Corporate

  • Weak demand has lead Malaysia’s Lotte Chemical Titan Holding to cut the size of its IPO from the original range of RM7.60-8 to a lower range of RM6.40-8 per share, raising worries about the health of the country’s markets on a weak currency and government corruption scandals. Despite this, the IPO has been the largest since 2012, when plantations group Felda Global Ventures listed.
  • In an attempt to dilute the power held of its founding family, Japanese refiner Idemitsu Kosan plans to issue new shares to raise US$1.2 billion. The family has already announced it will file a court injunction to block the share issue, hoping to preserve a powerful stake that allowed the family to prevent Idemitsu’s merger with Showa Shell Sekiyu last year.

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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