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Last Updated: November 22, 2017
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Business Trends

Market Watch

Headline crude prices for the week beginning 20 November 2018 – Brent: US$62/b; WTI: US$56/b

  • Mixed signals out of OPEC. Saudi Arabia says ‘too early to make assessment’ on extending oil output cuts, while Iran says majority of OPEC members support extending supply freeze
  • Decision on extending cuts beyond March 30, 2018 expected at OPEC Vienna meeting next week on November 30. Pact with NOPEC group (Russia and 9 other Non-OPEC countries) likely to continue
  • OPEC admits market ‘will not be balanced’ by March 2018 and expects supply deficit to increase next year on stronger-than-expected demand
  • Active US rig count up by 8, all gas-producing sites in Texas and Louisiana
  • Part of TransCanada’s Keystone pipeline shut after leak in South Dakota, but no impact on Nebraska’s approval of Keystone XL pipeline route
  • US EIA data points to growth in domestic crude and gasoline inventories, while US oil output hit a record 9.65 mmb/d last week
  • International Energy Agency expects the US to account for more than 80% of world crude supply growth through 2027
  • Norway’s US$1 trillion sovereign well fund proposes US$35 billion sell-off in oil and gas stocks, including ExxonMobil and Shell, rattling long-term confidence in the oil sector
  • Dollar gains against the Euro, as Angela Merkel’s talks to form the next German government fail, hitting commodities
  • Singapore onshore oil product stocks continue to swell, with light distillates up by 8.6% to 11.6 million barrels, placing pressure on Asian gasoline and naphtha prices
  • China raised retail gasoline prices on 18 November, the 10th increase in 2017 and second in November. Retail prices of gasoline up by CNY265 (US$40) per ton, diesel up by CNY250 (US$38) per ton
  • Crude price outlook: Crude prices likely to trend downwards over the week to US$60/b (Brent) and US$54/b (WTI) on rising American output and fretting over OPEC deal. Prices to stay rangebound until November 30 when clarity is expected on OPEC’s position. 

Headlines of the week


  • After regaining the Bai Hasan and Avana oilfields from Kurdish regional government, Iraq plans to increase output in Kirkuk to 1 mmb/d, as negotiations with Turkey on the Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline continue
  • Murphy Oil strikes oil at the CM-1X well in its Block 15-1/05 in the Nam Con Son basin, the firm’s second oil discovery after CT-1X this year
  • Following lifting of US sanctions last month, Sudan has begun dialogue with Lukoil and several US/Canadian companies to develop its onshore oil industry, as well as natural gas projects in the Red Sea
  • Eni has signed a new PSC for offshore Block 52 in Oman, holding a 85% stake, in partnership with Oman Oil Company Exploration and Production


  • Oman Oil Company has begun preliminary financial negotiations to back its planned 230 kb/d Duqm refinery, a joint venture with KPI
  • Saudi Arabia announced initial plans to build a refinery in Egypt, after serving as Egypt’s main oil product supplier since 2016
  • Petrobras is opening early discussions with China’s CNPC over the latter’s participation in reviving the stalled 165kb/d COMPERJ refinery and petrochemical project in Rio de Janeiro

Natural Gas/LNG

  • Anadarko’s Mozambique LNG project is approved by the government, as it signs a 20-year contract with Thailand’s PTT to supply 2.6 mtpa of LNG
  • Ahead planned March 2018 start of Ichthys, Japan’s Inpex awarded 100% exploration permit for Block WA-532-P in Western Australia, near Ichthys
  • Russia and Saudi Arabia have opened up talks on Saudi Aramco potentially collaborating in Novatek’s Arctic LNG 2 project, after PetroChina parent CNPC and China Development Bank bought in
  • Sinopec and China’s sovereign wealth fund sign up for 20 mtpa Alaska LNG export terminal project, par of a second wave of US LNG projects
  • China’s POLY-GCL Petroleum Group signs US$4 billion MoU with Djibouti for a natural gas project, comprising pipeline, liquefaction plant and export terminal in Damerjog. Gas to be transported from Ethiopia (12 bcm capacity), with LNG target capacity at an initial 3 mtpa in 2020
  • Egypt optimistic that it can halt all LNG imports by end-2018 and begin gas exports in 2019 as Zohr field begins producing at initial 350 mcf/d; Rosneft acquired almost 30% of the Eni-led Zohr in October, and announced plans to invest over US$2 billion through 2021 and possibly increase its stake to 35%
  • Premier UK is seeking to sell of a 25% stake in Indonesia’s Tuna gas field from its 65% stake to fund development. Output is expected to start in 2022, with Premier Oil having reached a deal to sell Tuna gas to Vietnam via a cross-border pipeline connection to Nam Con Son system


  • Australia’s Santos Energy is now part of a bidding war, after a A$9.5 billion takeover from Harbour Energy was rejected, triggering further bids and an improved all-cash A$11 billion offer from Harbour
  • A law firm survey reveals that offshore service companies dominated North American energy industry bankruptcies in 2017, with 44 firms filing for bankruptcy owing US$24.8 billion

BP became the first major European energy firm to start a share buyback programme since 2014, a sign that years of austerity have paid off

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