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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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November, 15 2018
Your Weekly Update: 12 - 16 November 2018

Market Watch

Headline crude prices for the week beginning 12 November 2018 – Brent: US$71/b; WTI: US$60/b

  • Crude prices continue their retreat from recent highs, as a bear market engulfed sentiment last week over fears of oversupply from frantic OPEC+ pumping offsetting the loss of Iranian crude volumes, which itself was mitigated by the US handing out waivers to eight key crude importers
  • After stating that OPEC was in a ‘pump as much as you can’ mode, the quick fall in prices has caused alarm across the cartel, with Saudi Arabia reversing gear to curb its exports by 500,000 b/d in December to shore up prices
  • With the OPEC meeting in Vienna imminent, it is possible that a new output cut agreement could be reached within OPEC+, to counter an oversupply situation stemming from declining demand, as well as surging US shale production – which will rise to a record 7.94 mmb/d across seven major shale basins in December, according to the EIA
  • However, beyond Saudi Arabia, there is not much appetite within the OPEC+ alliance to reduce output, with Iraq happy with its record production and Russia dismissing the oversupply situation as a ‘seasonal glitch’
  • Saudi Arabia’s plan to cut its oil production was criticised by US President Donald Trump, stung by losses in midterm elections that Trump chalks up to, in part, high fuel prices
  • News that Saudi Arabia was researching the topic of breaking up OPEC rattled the markets, but the Kingdom moved to quash rumours as Aramco raised the pricing for its medium and heavy crudes sold to Asia
  • Despite this, trends have turned bearish for crude prices over this week, propelled by large jumps in US crude output and worries over a global economic slowdown, particularly in China; Brent and WTI fell by over US$4/b on Tuesday alone, falling below the US$70/b and US$60/b levels again
  • After several weeks of caution, US drillers added 14 new rigs this week – up by 12 oil rigs and 2 gas rigs to 1,081 in total – with the most gains once again coming from the prolific Permian Basin
  • Crude price outlook: After the large drop on Tuesday, crude prices appear to have stabilised somewhat around the US$65-66/b level for Brent and the US$55-56/b level for WTI


Headlines of the week

Upstream

  • Another setback for TransCanada’s beleaguered Keystone XL pipeline, as a judge in Montana halted the project over two lawsuits filed asserting that its environmental impact assessment required further review
  • Phillips 66 and Bridger Pipeline are launching two new crude pipelines connecting Rockies and Bakken oil to the Texas Gulf Coast; the Liberty Pipeline will carry 350 kb/d from Bakken/Rockies to Corpus Christi, while the 400 kb/d Red Oak Pipeline connects Corpus Christi to Houston
  • Magellan Midstream Partners is looking to build a new pipeline connecting Cushing to Houston, with the 250 kb/d Voyager pipeline targeted at end-2020
  • The Kurdistan Regional Government in Iraq has increased capacity of its oil pipeline from Kirkuk to Ceyhan, Turkey, from 700,000 b/d to 1 mmb/d
  • After previously fleeing from Canadian oil sands, ExxonMobil is investing again, with its Imperial Oil unit earmarking some US$2 billion for the new Aspen project in northern Alberta
  • Senrica Energy continues its buying spree in the North Sea, acquiring Marubeni Oil & Gas’ 3.75% and 8.33% interest in the Bruce and Keith fields
  • ADNOC is implementing a comprehensive hydrocarbons strategy that will increase its crude output capacity to 4 mmb/d by 2020 and 5 mmb/d by 2030
  • Croatia has launched the country’s second onshore licensing round, offering seven blocks in the prolific Pannonian basin
  • Eni and Lukoil have signed a farm-out deal, transferring participating interests in three shallow-water offshore Mexican licenses, including Area 10, 12 and 14
  • Buoyed by recent gas successes, Israel has announced its second offshore licensing round, offering up 19 blocks in its southern waters
  • Senegal is overhauling its own code, with plans to raise royalties and have the state take a bigger stake in projects after a string of major discoveries
  • CNOOC is kickstarting a development drive aimed at eking out additional volumes from several marginal fields in Bohai Bay and the South China Sea

Downstream

  • Nigeria’s ambitious overhaul of its state-owned refineries has been pushed back to end-2019 over slow progress in NNPC’s attempt to seek joint financing
  • NNPC is looking to sign crude-for-product swap deals with Shell and ExxonMobil, after signing one with BP, to acquire crude for its refineries
  • France is pushing ahead with its attempt to introduce a new fuel tax, despite a series of major blockades and protests planned to oppose the measure

Natural Gas/LNG

  • Total and Sempra Energy have signed a new MoU on LNG cooperation, covering the Cameron LNG in Louisiana, USA and Energía Costa Azul in Baja California, Mexico, with Total potentially taking up to 9 mtpa of LNG for its global portfolio from both projects
  • Cuadrilla has had first shale gas flow at its exploration well in the UK’s Preston New Road site, sparking optimism for the commercialisation of Bowland Shale
  • Croatia has picked Golar Power to deliver an FSRU for a planned floating LNG terminal in the northern Adriatic Sea
  • Tellurian confirms that construction on its Driftwood LNG terminal Louisiana will begin in 2H2019, which operations planned to begin in 2023
  • Japan’s Toshiba Corp is exiting the US LNG business, selling off its assets to China’s ENN Ecological Holdings for over US$800 million
November, 15 2018