The forecasted and inevitable merger and acquisition season appears to be amongst us. We have already seen an increasing number of acquisitions of individual distressed rigs over the last year or so by the likes of Advanced Energy Systems, Arabdrill, Vantage, Ocean Rig and White Fleet Drilling, but company mergers have been dormant through the worst part of the downturn. But with green shoots of a recovery now evident, and with a host of distressed or restructured companies around, M&A activity is underway.
After Borr Drilling bought out Transocean’s jackup fleet plus a couple of distressed jackups from Hercules, Transocean turned around and is investing the money into Songa Offshore. This follows the earlier acquisition of Atwood Oceanics by Ensco.
The Ensco / Atwood merger does has an impact in this region, providing Ensco with a strong presence in Australia where they have been a regularly occasional player since early 2000’s, often the half rig in a one and a half jackup market. They will now have a firm floater presence there. The Atwood jackup fleet, all modern premium rigs, will allow Ensco to phase out more of its older fleet, most likely their present five (5) cold stacked jackups. Ensco has already scrapped nine (9) of its jackup fleet and sold off at least four (4) others.
Transocean obviously have their sights on dominating the harsh environment floater market with their $3.4bn acquisition of Songa. Songa have four (4) very modern semis all on long term charters with Statoil in Norway as well as three (3) 1970/1980 vintage mid water floaters that are currently idle and which Transocean will surely scrap, probably with a few more of its own elderly floaters. Until this happens Transocean will operate a fleet of fifty one (51) floaters, with thirty (30) UDW units (and four (4) more under construction), eleven (11) harsh environment floaters, three (3) deepwater floaters and seven (7) mid water floaters. The Songa acquisition also strengthens Transocean’s footprint in Norway.
With sixty (60) different drilling contractors operating floaters and one hundred and twenty (120) jackup drilling contractors around the world, there is a lot of scope for further M&A activity. Naturally the Ensco and Transocean deals have stimulated much speculation by analysts as to who is the next in line. Odfjell seems to be a common pick to be on Transocean’s radar but their roster of prime acquisition candidates includes Ocean Rig, Pacific Drilling, North Atlantic Drilling, Seadrill Partners and Seadrill itself, Maersk Drilling, Rowan and Noble. Maersk Drilling may have just leapt to the top of the list with Total having just acquired Maersk Oil, giving the impression that Maersk are exiting the oil and gas sector.
But who are the buyers? The analysts are suggesting Diamond, Rowan, Noble, Ensco, Seadrill (after restructuring), Borr Drilling as well as Transocean. One thing is for sure, no-one is going to buy out a company with a fleet of 1980’s vintage rigs unless they are mixed in with an attractive number of modern premium rigs. We certainly need consolidation, especially in the jackup market, but it is hard to envisage the number of contractors being reduced by very many when most of them operate thirty (30) year old rigs or older. But the jackup market, with near one hundred (100) stranded new builds yet to be cut lose into the market, is not going to improve until the old rigs are scrapped and this means many contractors will also have to fall away or invest in the new rigs and scrap the old.
However. the big boys are definitely preparing for an upswing in the market. There is no doubt the rig market is going to look very different a year from now. Meanwhile we are all guessing who is next.
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According to the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Nigeria has the world’s 9th largest natural gas reserves (192 TCF of gas reserves). As at 2018, Nigeria exported over 1tcf of gas as Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) to several countries. However domestically, we produce less than 4,000MW of power for over 180million people.
Think about this – imagine every Nigerian holding a 20W light bulb, that’s how much power we generate in Nigeria. In comparison, South Africa generates 42,000MW of power for a population of 57 million. We have the capacity to produce over 2 million Metric Tonnes of fertilizer (primarily urea) per year but we still import fertilizer. The Federal Government’s initiative to rejuvenate the agriculture sector is definitely the right thing to do for our economy, but fertilizer must be readily available to support the industry. Why do we import fertilizer when we have so much gas?
I could go on and on with these statistics, but you can see where I’m going with this so I won’t belabor the point. I will leave you with this mental image: imagine a man that lives with his family on the banks of a river that has fresh, clean water. Rather than collect and use this water directly from the river, he treks over 20km each day to buy bottled water from a company that collects the same water, bottles it and sells to him at a profit. This is the tragedy on Nigeria and it should make us all very sad.
Several indigenous companies like Nestoil were born and grown by the opportunities created by the local and international oil majors – NNPC and its subsidiaries – NGC, NAPIMS, Shell, Mobil, Agip, NDPHC. Nestoil’s main focus is the Engineering Procurement Construction and Commissioning of oil and gas pipelines and flowstations, essentially, infrastructure that supports upstream companies to produce and transport oil and natural gas, as well as and downstream companies to store and move their product. In our 28 years of doing business, we have built over 300km of pipelines of various sizes through the harshest terrain, ranging from dry land to seasonal swamp, to pure swamps, as well as some of the toughest and most volatile and hostile communities in Nigeria. I would be remiss if I do not use this opportunity to say a big thank you to those companies that gave us the opportunity to serve you. The over 2,000 direct staff and over 50,000 indirect staff we employ thank you. We are very grateful for the past opportunities given to us, and look forward to future opportunities that we can get.
Headline crude prices for the week beginning 15 July 2019 – Brent: US$66/b; WTI: US$59/b
Headlines of the week
Unplanned crude oil production outages for the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) averaged 2.5 million barrels per day (b/d) in the first half of 2019, the highest six-month average since the end of 2015. EIA estimates that in June, Iran alone accounted for more than 60% (1.7 million b/d) of all OPEC unplanned outages.
EIA differentiates among declines in production resulting from unplanned production outages, permanent losses of production capacity, and voluntary production cutbacks for OPEC members. Only the first of those categories is included in the historical unplanned production outage estimates that EIA publishes in its monthly Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO).
Unplanned production outages include, but are not limited to, sanctions, armed conflicts, political disputes, labor actions, natural disasters, and unplanned maintenance. Unplanned outages can be short-lived or last for a number of years, but as long as the production capacity is not lost, EIA tracks these disruptions as outages rather than lost capacity.
Loss of production capacity includes natural capacity declines and declines resulting from irreparable damage that are unlikely to return within one year. This lost capacity cannot contribute to global supply without significant investment and lead time.
Voluntary cutbacks are associated with OPEC production agreements and only apply to OPEC members. Voluntary cutbacks count toward the country’s spare capacity but are not counted as unplanned production outages.
EIA defines spare crude oil production capacity—which only applies to OPEC members adhering to OPEC production agreements—as potential oil production that could be brought online within 30 days and sustained for at least 90 days, consistent with sound business practices. EIA does not include unplanned crude oil production outages in its assessment of spare production capacity.
As an example, EIA considers Iranian production declines that result from U.S. sanctions to be unplanned production outages, making Iran a significant contributor to the total OPEC unplanned crude oil production outages. During the fourth quarter of 2015, before the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action became effective in January 2016, EIA estimated that an average 800,000 b/d of Iranian production was disrupted. In the first quarter of 2019, the first full quarter since U.S. sanctions on Iran were re-imposed in November 2018, Iranian disruptions averaged 1.2 million b/d.
Another long-term contributor to EIA’s estimate of OPEC unplanned crude oil production outages is the Partitioned Neutral Zone (PNZ) between Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. Production halted there in 2014 because of a political dispute between the two countries. EIA attributes half of the PNZ’s estimated 500,000 b/d production capacity to each country.
In the July 2019 STEO, EIA only considered about 100,000 b/d of Venezuela’s 130,000 b/d production decline from January to February as an unplanned crude oil production outage. After a series of ongoing nationwide power outages in Venezuela that began on March 7 and cut electricity to the country's oil-producing areas, EIA estimates that PdVSA, Venezuela’s national oil company, could not restart the disrupted production because of deteriorating infrastructure, and the previously disrupted 100,000 b/d became lost capacity.