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Last Updated: December 7, 2017
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Market Watch

Headline crude prices for the week beginning 4 December 2017 – Brent: US$63/b; WTI: US$58/b

  • As expected, OPEC agreed to extend its oil supply freeze until the end of December 2018.
  • Nigeria and Libya are now part of the production deal, agreeing to limit output to their 2017 levels, roughly 2.8 mmb/d.
  • Compliance with the new supply extension is a worry, particularly Iraq within the OPEC fold and smaller African producers that form part of the Russia-led NOPEC group
  • However, OPEC members have agreed to revisit the deal in June 2018 with the option to rescind it if the market begins to overheat.
  • Recognising that further extensions of the deal is unlikely, Russia is pushing for a clear exit strategy to add clarity for the market.
  • Crude prices rose in the wake of the OPEC extension, but fell back on Monday as some profit-taking set in; the deal has been largely expected by the market and priced into the future curve.
  • Managed money continues to pour into the main crude benchmarks – Brent and WTI – providing a reasonable price floor at some US$60/b and US$55/b based on current fundamentals.
  • US crude output rose to 9.5 mmb/d in September, the highest monthly output levels since 2015 and near the absolute peak of 9.6 mmb/d recorded in 1970.
  • A report by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology suggests that the EIA’s assumptions of continued productivity increases at US shale wells are vastly overplaying the potential of America’s shale boom, potentially overstating output by some 10% through 2020.
  • US oil stockpiles increased last week when a stock drawdown was expected according to a Bloomberg industry survey, placing some downward pressure.
  • Active US rig count up by 6, with 2 new oil and 4 new gas sites. Gains mainly in Texas’ Haynesville and Permian basins.
  • Crude price outlook: Some profit-taking expected as oil trading starts to prepare for the winter break. OPEC deal extension is providing a strong floor, with American output driving trends. Prices to stay rangebound at US$62-63/b for Brent and US$56-57/b for WTI.  


Headlines of the week

Upstream

  • Total has sold its stake in Norway’s Martin Linge field (51%) and Garantiana field (40%) to Statoil for US$1.45 billion as part of a portfolio review following Total’s acquisition of Maersk Oil’s Norwegian assets.
  • Hoping to extend its winning streak in West Africa, ExxonMobil is on the verge of an oil and gas exploration deal offshore Mauritania, which would be in first venture into an area recently brimming with big discoveries.
  • Statoil has been awarded the Bajo del Toro Este light oil exploration licence in Argentina, holding 90% interest with GyP holding the rest.
  • PetroChina’s parent CNPC announced the discovery of a new oil field in Xinjiang’s Juggar basin, holding some 3.8 billion barrels in crude reserves.
  • Fellow Chinese upstream player CNOOC has also started up a new oil project - the Weizhou 12-2 Phase II project in the Beibu Gulf in the South China Sea. Peak output is expected to reach some 11.8 kb/d in 2018.
  • ExxonMobil’s Hebron project in eastern Canada has produced its first oil, on its way to an eventual peak production of some 150 kb/d.
  • Iraq is planning to boost output from its Rumaila oilfield to about 1.5 mmb/d in 2018 from a current output rate of 1.45 mmb/d.
  • The race for Iraq’s Majnoon oilfield is heating up, with Chevron, Total and PetroChina reportedly forming a consortium to take Shell’s stake.

Downstream

  • With squabbles over the use of the Kurdish crude export pipeline to Turkey continuing, Iraq is considering an alternative for Kirkuk crude – diverting volumes to the south for use in the Baghdad and Baiji refineries.  
  • Another first in US oil exports, as India’s MRPL made it first purchase of US crude, buying a cargo of high-sulphur Southern Green Canyon.
  • ExxonMobil’s new US$1 billion clean fuels delayed coker unit at the 320 kb/d Antwerp refinery will be ready for operation by June 2018.
  • Thai Oil is aiming for a 2022 completion of the US$4 billion upgrade of its Sriracha refinery, scrapping two old CDUs for a single new 200 kb/d one that will see the refinery only produce clean fuels and halt fuel oil output.
  • Total has completed the installation of a de-asphalting and hydrocracker unit at its Antwerp refinery, boosting clean fuels production capacity.
  • Indonesia’s Pertamina and Russia’s Rosneft have reported (finally) signed a deal to jointly built a new 300 kb/d refinery in Tuban, East Java.

Natural Gas/LNG

  • Austria’s OMW has bought a 24.99% share in the Western Siberian Yuzhno Russkoye natural gas field from Uniper SE for €1.719 billion.
  • Even as it becomes part of Total, Maersk Oil announced a plan to spend some US$3.3 billion to redevelop the Tyra gas field in Denmark, which would enable Tyra to continue production for at least 25 more years.
  • CNPC has completed the construction of the fourth Shaanxi-Beijing gas pipeline, with the 1,098km pipeline boosting supplies by some 70 mcm/d.
  • Inpex’s Ichthys LNG project in Australia has hit another snag, as a worker’s death has halted construction at an onshore site, adding more delays to the project’s timeline.

Corporate

  • ExxonMobil has reorganised its refining operations, part of CEO Darren Woods’ push to boost profits amid volatile oil and natural gas prices.
  • Vietnam’s state oil distribution firm PV Oil has scheduled its IPO for January 2018, offering 20% of shares for an estimated US$122 million. The government eventually plans to reduce its PV Oil stake to 35.1%.
  • As Venezuela and PDVSA face challenging times, President Nicolas Maduro has tapped Major General Manuel Quevado to take over the state oil firm. With no energy experience, though, Quevado’s challenge is steep.

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