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Last Updated: January 18, 2018
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Market Watch

Headline crude prices for the week beginning 15 January 2017 – Brent: US$69/b; WTI: US$63/b

  • After a strong week, oil prices reversed course as concerns that a correction is imminently due, after a major crude-buying spree by hedge funds last week.
  • There are also fears that the strength in oil prices could cause OPEC to revise its supply freeze plan far earlier than expected, but several OPEC oil ministers have urged the group to ‘stay the course.’
  • Supply disruptions in Libya and unrest in Iran have largely died down, removing output concerns over crude price equations.
  • With WTI prices above US$60/b, more interest in shale has emerged, but the industry warms that it is facing a tight labour and supply chain market. Indications are that shale players have also not been adding significantly more drills, instead electing to ‘do more with less’.
  • Larger-than-expected drops in the US crude inventory levels have also supported strong crude prices, but the EIA is also reporting significant gains in gasoline and fuel stocks.
  • The EIA maintains that US crude production will rise over 2018, hitting 11 mmb/d by 2019. The target for Q118 is 10.4 mmb/d.
  • However, there are warning signs in Asia, where Singaporean refining margins slumped to under US$6/b last week, down 90% from the 2017 high. With huge supply coming out of China as well, the Asian fuels glut could see a major correction this year, impacting crude demand.
  • Active US oil and gas rig sites jumped by 15 last week, with onshore shale gains leading the way. Canadian rigs jumped by a massive 102 sites, a 10-month high as drillers returned en masse from the Christmas/New Year break.
  • Crude price outlook: Oil prices should ease back from recent highs as correction sets in, but still maintain around US$67-68 for Brent and US$61-62/b for WTI.


Headlines of the week

Upstream

  • After President Donald Trump moved to open up almost all US offshore waters to oil/gas drilling, at least 12 American states are applying for exclusion from the plan, after Florida was granted an exemption.
  • Premier Oil has announced plans to triple production at the North Sea Cather field to 60,000 b/d within the first half of 2018.
  • With repairs on the Forties Pipeline System completed successfully, the affected Bruce, Keith and Rhum fields have all resumed production.
  • The first Norwegian drilling licence of 2018 has been handed out, as Norway stands caught between expanding its upstream industry and its environmental lobby. Lundin Norway AS received the permit for well 16/4-11 in the central part of the North Sea, the fifth well in the area.
  • ExxonMobil’s streak in Guyana continues, as it announced a ‘home run’ offshore finding in the Stabroek Block (also claimed by Venezuela), which is its sixth major finding since drilling began in 2015.

Downstream

  • India’s oil consumption grew by the slowest pace in four years, with oil product demand growing by only 2.3%, hit by a tax increase and the government’s demonetisation drive. Gasoline demand was up 7.4%, as was gasoil, but both were capped by rising retail prices. Naptha, jet fuel and kerosene were all sharply down, with only LPG as a bright spot.
  • State group Sinoche and private chemical giant Hengli Group have signed an agreement to cooperated on crude/fuel trading and marketing, with Hengli expecting to start its 400 kb/d Dalian refinery this year.
  • Fairfax Africa Fund and multiple (undisclosed) Asian partners are planning a US$4 billion, 120 kb/d oil refinery in Ethiopia in Awash.
  • The Curacao drama continues. After been rejected by the state government for its high levels of debt, China’s Guangdong Zhenrong Energy has tapped the private Baota Petrochemical Group to assist in its plan to operate the aging Isla refinery in the Caribbean.

Natural Gas/LNG

  • The USA has officially become a net exporter of natural gas for the first time since 1957, as the EIA data showed net exports averaging at 400 mmcf/d in 2017, boosted by piped gas to Mexico and LNG shipments.
  • Australia’s LNG exports in 2017 hit a record high of 56.8 mtpa, boosted by the startup of major projects and strong demand from Japan and China.
  • Beach Energy has struck gas at Haselgrove-3 ST1, in the onshore Otway Basin in South Australia. Initial flow indications are at some 25 mcf/d.  
  • Indonesia will be opening a tender this year for three natural gas pipelines connecting the Natuna fields to Borneo, landing in West Kalimantan and continuing onshore to South Kalimantan. The tender is worth an estimated US$1.1 billion, and could break up the current gas pipeline duopoly held by Pertamina and PGN.

Corporate

Just after recently after selling its US oil trading business to Vitol, the Noble Group is shutting down its London oil trading desk and winding down its Asian trading operations as its battles heavy losses and debt.

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Your Weekly Update: 17 - 21 September 2018

Market Watch

Headline crude prices for the week beginning 17 September 2018 – Brent: US$78/b; WTI: US$68/b

  • International oil prices are keeping on the higher end of their price ranges, but unable to breach key psychological thresholds even as supply threats continue to weigh heavy on the mind of the industry
  • The Iranian question hovers like a spectre, but traders are also concerned about OPEC’s ability to offset losses not just from Iran, but also an imploding Venezuelan and strife-prone Libya
  • OPEC issued a statement stressing the need for continued global supply management with other oil producers, noting that global crude demand was starting to face some headwinds from high oil prices affecting consumption, as well as trade disputes and currency woes in major oil consumers like India
  • With the US Congress developing the anti-cartel NOPEC legislation – which could subject OPEC to antitrust lawsuits – Saudi Arabia has hired high-profile legal firms to lobby against the proposed act
  • The tight oil situation will hamper the upcoming American sanctions on Iranian oil exports, with Iran commenting that there is ‘no spare capacity anywhere’ even as major costumers like South Korea and China pare back on purchases and Iran resorts to floating storage in the Persian Gulf to store crude
  • With supply tethering on the edge, the International Energy Agency has warned that continued losses in Iran and Venezuela could send oil prices sustaining above US$80/b, the level at which oil demand destruction is observed to accelerate
  • In the US, WTI prices were shored up by data showing that US crude oil inventories had fallen more than expected, dipping below the 400 million barrel level as refiners ramped up production ahead of the winter season
  • With prices trending upwards, US drillers added 7 new oil rigs last week, but there has been inertia in adding new sites in the Permian as oil prices there have collapsed due to a lack of pipeline infrastructure
  • Crude price outlook: The China-US trade war continues, threatening to consume almost all trade between the two nations, which has sent more jitters through an already nervy market. We expect Brent prices to flirt with the US$80/b level again, while WTI trades in the US$70-71/b range


Headlines of the week

Upstream

  • Total has exercised its option to acquire a 25% interest in the Orinduik block offshore Guyana from Eco Oil & Gas, joining Tullow Oil in the world’s hottest upstream basin, where ExxonMobil has already made 9 blockbuster discoveries
  • Sierra Leone has delayed its fourth upstream licensing round for up to six months to improve transparency on orders of the new Petroleum Director
  • Oil supermajor BP has acquired a 61% interest in the onshore Gobustan product sharing agreement in Azerbaijan, deepening its presence in the country
  • Austria’s OMV has acquired 50% of Sapura Upstream, previously wholly-owned by Malaysia’s Sapura Energy Berhad, continuing a streak of acquisitions that has brought OMV interests in Malaysia, Turkey and New Zealand
  • Gazprom has increased the estimated reserves of its Neptune field – described as one of its ‘most important assets’ – by 1.6 times to 3.5 billion barrels
  • South Sudan has extended three upstream E&P agreements with China’s CNPC, India’s ONGC, Malaysia’s Petronas and local player Nile Petroleum Company as it seeks to ramp up production at oilfields halted due to prior violence
  • Venezuela has handed China more stakes in its oil industry – selling a 9.9% stake in the Sinovensa to CNPC along with an MoU for cooperation in the Orinoco Belt’s Ayacucho Block 6 – to support an ailing PDVSA
  • Rosneft and CNPC have signed a new E&P cooperation agreement, focusing on oil and gas fields in eastern and western Siberia
  • Ecuador has announced a new licensing round for eight onshore blocks, all in proximity to established fields, with submissions expected by January 2019

Downstream

  • ExxonMobil is looking to upgrade its Fawley refinery – the UK’s largest refinery – to create higher-quality fuels by introducing a new hydrotreater and hydrogen plant at the 270 kb/d site with an estimated cost of US$650 million
  • Sinopec has joined a consortium building a 167 kb/d in Alberta, Canada, which would convert the region’s heavy oil sands into oil products for export
  • Ineos will be expanding its Grangemouth ethylene production site in the UK by adding a tenth furnace to convert American ethane into petrochemical products
  • Trafigura has lost its last big contract in Angola – once a core market – with its fuel oil contract handed over to Total as new president Joao Lourenco continues an upheaval of the country’s downstream fuels distribution industry
  • Saudi Arabia’s SABIC has signed an agreement with China’s Fujian provincial government to build a ‘major petrochemical complex’, continuing a streak of large petrochemical investments in China’s coastal provinces

Natural Gas/LNG

  • The US has threatened to scupper the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline connecting Russia to Germany, having already characterised the controversial project as a form of resource influence and disruption on Europe
  • Ghana is reviving its US$350 million Tema LNG import terminal project, appointing two Chinese companies to build the FSRU and onshore facilities; LNG is expected to be sourced from Rosneft under a 12-year, 1.7 mtpa deal
  • Eni’s Zohr field offshore Egypt has hit 2 bcf/d in natural gas production, faster than expected, with the 3 bcf/d level expected to be achieved by mid-2019
  • Eni is fast-tracking its Evans Shoal gas field in Australia, a high-CO2 content field that is expected to provide backfill for the Darwin LNG plant by 2022
September, 20 2018
Storms Ahoy!

As weather systems batter the Atlantic and Pacific – Hurricane Florence hitting the Carolinas in the US and Typhoon Mangkhut cleaving its way through East Asia – the oil industry is watching for signs of continued turbulence, worried that it could add to a market jittery over upcoming Iranian sanctions. Particularly in the Atlantic, where the 2017 hurricane season was very disruptive over crude production in the Gulf of Mexico. A year later, with growing onshore production, the risk of disruption is now higher than ever, with tropical storms liable to cause major flooding in major shale basins like the Permian.

While destructive, the typhoons of the west Pacific generally do not have a large impact on crude prices. The major crude production areas of Southeast and East Asia tend to be relatively insulated from the direct path of storms, which will already have had their strength sapped after hitting the Pacific bulwark of the Philippines. The refining centres in Japan, South Korea and China do get impacted, but preparedness tend to dull the impact. However, the situation is different in the Atlantic. Two weeks ago, when Tropical Storm Gordon whipped its way through the Gulf Coast, WTI prices leapt in response as offshore rigs shut down and evacuated workers. Traditionally, the hurricane seasons of past will largely be confined in impact to WTI prices, but the increasingly international reach of American crude now has a direct discernible impact on the global Brent benchmark as well.

After Florence and Gordon, there are three more storms brewing in the Atlantic. Even though Gordon proved weaker than expected, some 160,000 b/d of production was shut down for over a week, while Florence avoided major output areas. Up next is Hurricane Helene, which looped back towards Europe after developing in West Africa. Hurricane Isaac headed straight towards the Caribbean, where refining infrastructure has been fragile due to PDVSA’s chronic woes, but has now weakened into a tropical depression. Tropical Storm Joyce started out looking like a direct threat, but now appears that it will peter out in the middle of the Atlantic without making landfall.

The Atlantic hurricane season is now at its peak, and will continue until the end of November. For now, the 2018 season does not look to be as disruptive as 2017 or even 2016, which is why the WTI discount to Brent has dropped down to US$10/b, down from US$7/b when Gordon started threatening. Major weather prediction agencies have also revised their forecast for storm numbers down, with the Colorado State University cutting its prediction of named storms from 14 to 11 in August. There is still time for a major hurricane to develop, but for now, the 2018 Atlantic season looks to be relatively benign for crude production and prices.

The impact of Atlantic hurricane seasons on GOM output

  • 2014: 1 hurricane, 0 major in the Gulf
  • 2015: 1 hurricane, 1 major in the Gulf
  • 2016: 3 hurricanes, 1 major in the Gulf
  • 2017: 6 hurricanes, 4 majors in the Gulf
  • 2018 (forecast): 2-3 hurricanes, 1 major in the Gulf
September, 20 2018
5 Tips to Create an Evergreen Resume (Dont Miss no 4!)

The Oil and Gas sector is still recovering from some difficult times in the recent past and has adapted a high-performing culture to generate more from less. That has also translated to replacing the older, expensive resources to younger, cheaper talents and leveraging the gig workforce.

Thus having a few decades of experience in your kitty might sound like a huge advantage but in reality, this might become a burden if you are in the job market and competing with your younger counterparts, especially in this dynamic energy industry. The reputation of being redundant and lack of acceptance of newer skills can precede you and shroud the recruiter’s decision.

However, there is always a demand for experience in the job market and the top oil and gas companies are in a lookout for personnel, who have relevant prior experiences and are ready to adjust to the evolving changes in this industry.

Upskilling to remain relevant in this industry is crucial for the ageing workforce but when you are seeking a new job, everything zeros down to getting an opportunity to demonstrate your ability to the recruiter.

The first hurdle is to have a cracking resume or curriculum vitae that get shortlisted for the next round.

Here we share some tricks to age-proof your resume and check all the right boxes in a recruiter’s mind within the first 6 seconds of their short attention span.*

1. Be creative to attract attention

The best weapons you have are the skills that were acquired during the long tenure spent in this industry. It can easily become a drawback for your resume if you tend you write extensively about all these skill-sets and fail to understand what the specific job opening demands from its candidates.

It is advisable to select your skills carefully and highlight them with more visuals and fewer words. Use graphs and percentages instead of long sentences to make your resume stand out. Try to feature them on the front page and showcase only the relevant skills for the job you are applying.

2. Downplay on dates

Now, this can be a little tricky but not difficult. Do not unnecessarily highlight personal information like age and if needed move it to an obscure corner of your resume where there are lesser chances of it to be noticed.

While, for some jobs, the academic credentials are necessary to be mentioned, we recommend to feature these on the front page with the degree and university name but try and avoid the graduation dates. The recruiter might indulge in quick math to estimate your age. Also, when you mention the job history, maintain the chronology but avoid mentioning the start and end dates.

Please note that none of the above implies for you to submit misleading information to your prospective employer at any given stage of the recruitment process.

3. Highlight the recent and relevant experiences

There has been a massive shift in oil and gas processes, equipment and technology in the last few decades. Improvements in drilling mechanism, data-collecting sensors, technology to improve worker’s safety, etc. have changed most upstream and downstream jobs.

You might have also gone through this age of transformation but your resume might look dated if you end up mentioning the entire history.

Keep it crisp and recent; bypass mentioning any experience that may not be relevant today and does minimal value-add showcasing your talent for the new job. If you have moved out of oil and gas industry sometime during your career, keep it off the resume unless that experience adds value to the current job opening.

You ideally should be showcasing all the accolades that came your way throughout your professional life. Craft your messaging around mentions about the impact of your performance on the employer’s top-line and bottom-line results.

Having said this, under no circumstance should you use incorrect career or skill information in your resume.

4. Speak the language of the recruiter

Pick terminologies mentioned in the job description and highlight them in your resume. Try to tailor-make the resume to befit the job description and hence easier for the recruiter to understand your relevancy.

Keep working on your resume on a constant basis and it will become an easy task to quickly modify the variable content based on each new application.

5. Provide Social Media Coordinates

Provide the LinkedIn, Twitter and other relevant Social Media coordinates in your resume. There is a high possibility that you will be scrutinized on your social media activity and hence it is good to keep your professional social platforms details updated on your resume.

This also signals about your ability to stay relevant with the time by adopting digital communications.

Update your profile picture and preferably get it done by a professional photographer who focuses to capture your positive attitude and energy.

Maturity and leadership skills come organically to older workforce due to their extensive experience; And half the job-search battle is won if that can be captured in your resume and featured to the potential employers.

While it is discriminating and unethical to deny a job due to your age, there are several instances of biased recruitment in every industry, including oil and gas.

Bonus Tip: It is said your network is your net-worth these days. Connect with other energy sector professionals and share your experience with the community to increase your professional network.

We wish you all the best in your next job search!

September, 18 2018