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Last Updated: January 25, 2018
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Market Watch

Headline crude prices for the week beginning 22 January 2017 – Brent: US$69/b; WTI: US$63/b

  • After a correction last week, oil prices have found renewed strength, on hints that OPEC may continue supply management into 2019
  • Saudi Arabia and Russia have jointly signalled that they may have to extend the production cuts in 2019 – as the rising tide of US shale production may derail prices later this year. However, this may be a sign of longer-term cooperation – as the two have been getting cosier.
  • Despite this, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich said a decision on the OPEC/NOPEC global oil cuts could be made in late spring, ahead of OPEC’s initial timeframe of June, during its next meeting.
  • Kuwait, however, stressed that there is no plan or intention among OPEC members to break from the production freeze agreement, as Iraq claimed that the global market is stabilising with crude inventories falling.
  • Strong global economic data, particularly from the US and Japan, is also supporting the rise in crude prices towards US$70/b.
  • US crude stockpiles are estimated to have fallen by 2.3 million barrels last week, but with refinery maintenance season ongoing in North America until March, this number could start to rise again.
  • After a sizable leap last week, the active US oil and gas rig count by Baker Hughes fell by a net 3 last week. Two gains in gas rigs offset a 5 site drop in oil rigs, with gains in the Permian cancelled out by losses elsewhere.
  • Crude price outlook: OPEC and Russia’s signs of willingness to act should keep prices strong this week. Brent will stay above US$70/b, while WTI should push towards US$66/b.


Headlines of the week

Upstream

  • Shell’s decision to go ahead with the Penguin FID has been hailed as a return to confidence after a period cautious investment in the North Sea. The FPSO redevelopment will be the largest FID since Culzean in 2015.
  • Tullow Oil has snapped up two new oil and gas blocks (CI-520 and CI-524) in the Ivory Coast, bringing its total in the country up to 9.
  • Nigeria’s parliament is moving ahead with passing the new Petroleum Industry Bill, aimed to increasing transparency and stimulating growth. 
  • Total purchased A.P Moeller-Maersk’s shares in three Kenyan blocks. Full production at the Tullow Oil blocks in Turkana is expected in 2021.
  • A consortium of BP and Kosmos Energy has picked up two offshore blocks in Sao Tome and Principe, right in the upstream hotbed of West Africa.
  • Vitol is investing some US$530 million into the OML 30 oilfield owned by Nigeria’s Shoreline in exchange for access to estimated output of 50 kb/d.

Downstream

  • India’s ONGC has secured a US$2.83 billion loan from three banks to fund its US$5.8 billion acquisition of state oil refiner HPCL.
  • Saudi Aramco, CB&I and Chevron Lummus have signed a joint agreement to move ahead with the ‘crude-to-chemical’ plan, integrating the technologies of all three companies as Saudi Arabia pushes downstream.
  • Philadelphia Energy Solutions, which owns the 350 kb/d Philadelphia refinery, is filing for bankruptcy, citing high compliance costs.
  • Nigeria’s NNPC will confirm the investors participating in the revamp of its three ailing refineries, in Port Harcourt, Warri and Kaduna.
  • Statoil has started work on an onshore oil terminal in northern Norway that will handle flows from the Johan Castberg offshore field in the Arctic.

Natural Gas/LNG

  • Iraq has inked a deal with US energy firm Orion, which will process 100-150 mmcf/d of natural gas extracted from the Nahr bin Omar oilfield, as part of a move to cut down the high incidence of gas flaring across Iraq.  
  • Trafigura and US LNG exporter Cheniere have signed a 15-year deal that will deliver 1 mtpa of LNG to Trafigure beginning 2019.
  • India’s GAIL has renegotiated the terms of a long-term LNG contract with Gazprom, the third such successful renegotiation by an Indian company.
  • ExxonMobil has announced a new find in Papua New Guinea, with the onshore P’nyang South-2 well showing hydrocarbon (gas) reservoirs.
  • South Korea’s SK E&S has offered to build a floating LNG import terminal in Sri Lanka for ‘free’, in an unusual loss-leading strategy.
  • A leak in the Sabah-Sarawak gas pipeline has not affected Petronas LNG shipments, with repairs ongoing. Gas flows to the Bintulu LNG complex from Sabah Oil and Gas Terminal have been temporarily halted.
  • No LNG cargoes left Chevron’s Wheatstone project in December 2017 due to scheduled downtime, as Chevron faces an emissions enquiry. Wheatstone Train 2 is on track for mid-2018, with domestic gas production also scheduled for this year.

Corporate

Halliburton and Schlumberger have both reported better-than-expected profits for Q417, a sign that the service industry health may be improving.

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RAPID Rises

When it was first announced in 2012, there was scepticism about whether or not Petronas’ RAPID refinery in Johor was destined for reality or cancellation. It came at a time when the refining industry saw multiple ambitious, sometimes unpractical, projects announced. At that point, Petronas – though one of the most respected state oil firms – was still seen as more of an upstream player internationally. Its downstream forays were largely confined to its home base Malaysia and specialty chemicals, as well as a surprising venture into South African through Engen. Its refineries, too, were relatively small. So the announcement that Petronas was planning essentially, its own Jamnagar, promoted some pessimism. Could it succeed?

It has. The RAPID refinery – part of a larger plan to turn the Pengerang district in southern Johor into an oil refining and storage hub capitalising on linkages with Singapore – received its first cargo of crude oil for testing in September 2018. Mechanical completion was achieved on November 29 and all critical units have begun commissioning ahead of the expected firing up of RAPID’s 300 kb/d CDU later this month. A second cargo of 2 million barrels of Saudi crude arrived at RAPID last week. It seems like it’s all systems go for RAPID. But it wasn’t always so clear cut. Financing difficulties – and the 2015 crude oil price crash – put the US$27 billion project on shaky ground for a while, and it was only when Saudi Aramco swooped in to purchase a US$7 billion stake in the project that it started coalescing. Petronas had been courting Aramco since the start of the project, mainly as a crude provider, but having the Saudi giant on board was the final step towards FID. It guaranteed a stable supply of crude for Petronas; and for Aramco, RAPID gave it a foothold in a major global refining hub area as part of its strategy to expand downstream.

But RAPID will be entering into a market quite different than when it was first announced. In 2012, demand for fuel products was concentrated on light distillates; in 2019, that focus has changed. Impending new International Maritime Organisation (IMO) regulations are requiring shippers to switch from burning cheap (and dirty) fuel oil to using cleaner middle distillate gasoils. This plays well into complex refineries like RAPID, specialising in cracking heavy and medium Arabian crude into valuable products. But the issue is that Asia and the rest of the world is currently swamped with gasoline. A whole host of new Asian refineries – the latest being the 200 kb/d Nghi Son in Vietnam – have contributed to growing volumes of gasoline with no home in Asia. Gasoline refining margins in Singapore have taken a hit, falling into negative territory for the first time in seven years. Adding RAPID to the equation places more pressure on gasoline margins, even though margins for middle distillates are still very healthy. And with three other large Asian refinery projects scheduled to come online in 2019 – one in Brunei and two in China – that glut will only grow.

The safety valve for RAPID (and indeed the other refineries due this year) is that they have been planned with deep petrochemicals integration, using naphtha produced from the refinery portion. RAPID itself is planned to have capacity of 3 million tpa of ethylene, propylene and other olefins – still a lucrative market that justifies the mega-investment. But it will be at least two years before RAPID’s petrochemicals portion will be ready to start up, and when it does, it’ll face the same set of challenging circumstances as refineries like Hengli’s 400 kb/d Dalian Changxing plant also bring online their petchem operations. But that is a problem for the future and for now, RAPID is first out of the gate into reality. It won’t be entering in a bonanza fuels market as predicted in 2012, but there is still space in the market for RAPID – and a few other like in – at least for now.

 

RAPID Refinery Factsheet:

  • Ownership: Petronas (50%), Saudi Aramco (50%)
  • Capacity: 300 kb/d CDU/3 mtpa olefins plant
  • Other facilities: 1.22 Gigawatt congeneration plant, 3.5 mtpa regasification terminal
  • Expected commissioning: March 2019
January, 21 2019
Forecasting Bangladesh Tyre Market | Zulker Naeen

Tyre market in Bangladesh is forecasted to grow at over 9% until 2020 on the back of growth in automobile sales, advancements in public infrastructure, and development-seeking government policies.

The government has emphasized on the road infrastructure of the country, which has been instrumental in driving vehicle sales in the country.

The tyre market reached Tk 4,750 crore last year, up from about Tk 4,000 crore in 2017, according to market insiders.

The commercial vehicle tyre segment dominates this industry with around 80% of the market share. At least 1.5 lakh pieces of tyres in the segment were sold in 2018.

In the commercial vehicle tyre segment, the MRF's market share is 30%. Apollo controls 5% of the segment, Birla 10%, CEAT 3%, and Hankook 1%. The rest 51% is controlled by non-branded Chinese tyres.

However, Bangladesh mostly lacks in tyre manufacturing setups, which leads to tyre imports from other countries as the only feasible option to meet the demand. The company largely imports tyre from China, India, Indonesia, Thailand and Japan.

Automobile and tyre sales in Bangladesh are expected to grow with the rising in purchasing power of people as well as growing investments and joint ventures of foreign market players. The country might become the exporting destination for global tyre manufacturers.

Several global tyre giants have also expressed interest in making significant investments by setting up their manufacturing units in the country.

This reflects an opportunity for local companies to set up an indigenous manufacturing base in Bangladesh and also enables foreign players to set up their localized production facilities to capture a significant market.

It can be said that, the rise in automobile sales, improvement in public infrastructure, and growth in purchasing power to drive the tyre market over the next five years.

January, 18 2019
Your Weekly Update: 14 - 18 January 2019

Market Watch

Headline crude prices for the week beginning 14 January 2019 – Brent: US$61/b; WTI: US$51/b

  • After a rally, crude oil prices took a breather at the start of this week, as the market moved from a bullish mood to a cautious one as slowing Chinese trade data spooked the market
  • The US government shutdown – now the longest ever in history – continues with no end in sight, with Republicans and President Donald Trump at a stalemate with energised Democrats
  • That ended a week-long rally that allowed crude oil to bounce back from sub-US$50/b levels in December over OPEC+’s implementation of a new deal to shrink supplies and Saudi Arabia’s promise to ‘do more if needed’
  • Even Russia, which showed some reluctance in implementing a speedy cut, has made strides in reducing output, releasing data that showed that production fell by 30,000 b/d in December and is on track for a decrease of 50,000 b/d in January relative to October levels
  • However, the OPEC+ group is now reportedly struggling to set a date for their next meeting, where the supply deal will be reviewed; the review is set for April, ahead of OPEC’s usual Vienna meeting in June/July, but an April review is necessary to assess the expiration of American waivers on Iranian crude
  • Some downside to price trends is that the waivers on Iranian crude exports have nullified the impact of American sanctions; both Turkey and India have recently resumed imports of Iranian crude after a brief hiatus, with India electing to pay for all its crude in rupees
  • Although WTI prices have improved, American drillers are still reticent to add sites, wary of changing market conditions; Baker Hughes indicates that the active American drill count was flat last week, with the loss of 4 oil rigs offset by a gain of 4 gas ones
  • Crude price outlook: Upward momentum should continue with crude price this week, but at a more gradual pace, as fears of a slowing global economy weigh on the market. Brent should stay in the US$61-63/b range and WTI in the US$52-54/b range


Headlines of the week

Upstream

  • BP is proceeding with a major US$1.3 billion expansion of the Atlantis Phase 3 in the Gulf of Mexico, aimed at adding 38,000 b/d of additional output
  • Venezuela has announced plans to remap its Caribbean oil and gas prospects, a move that potentially puts it on collision course with ExxonMobil over the country’s long-disputed borders with the now oil-rich Guyana
  • New seismic studies at BP have identified a billion more barrels of oil in place at the deepwater Thunder Horse platform in the Gulf of Mexico
  • Saudi Arabia has published an updated figure of its oil reserves – its first in 40 years – pegging total volumes at 268.5 billion barrels
  • Norway has cut its crude production forecast, predicting the output will be 1.42 mmb/d in 2019, the lowest level since 1988
  • BP is reportedly looking to sell its 28% stake in the North Sea Shearwater assets to offset its recent US$10.6 billion acquisition of US shale fields
  • The Unity fields in South Sudan have resumed production, after being halted for five years over a civil war, with initial production targeted at 20,000 b/d
  • Eni and Thailand’s PTTEP have secured exploration rights to an oil and gas concession in Abu Dhabi, with Adnoc participating at 60% if oil is struck
  • TransCanada Corp – ahead of name change to TC Energy – is planning to start construction on the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline in June, even in the face of continued social and legal setbacks
  • Spirit Energy’s Oda field in the Norwegian North Sea has received permission from the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate to start up
  • Aker Energy has completed successful appraisal of the offshore Pecan field in Ghana, estimating some 450-550 mmboe of resources in place
  • Shell and BP have submitted plans to begin exploratory drilling in Brazil’s Pau Brasil and Saturno pre-salt areas in early 2020

Downstream

  • Saudi Arabia has reiterated plans to build a US$10 billion oil refinery in Pakistan’s deepwater port of Gwadar, part of the larger China-Pakistan Economic Corridor plan that is part of the Belt and Road initiative
  • Shell Chemicals has started up its fourth alpha olefins unit at in Geismar, Louisiana, adding 425,000 tpa of capacity to a new total of 1.3 mtpa
  • After being idled over the paralysis between PDVSA and ConocoPhillips, the 335,000 b/d Isla refinery in Curacao has restarted, with operations likely to shift from PDVSA to Saudi Aramco’s Motiva US refining subsidiary

Natural Gas/LNG

  • After seemingly receiving official go-ahead from all levels of government and even indigenous groups, Shell’s US$31 billion Kitimat LNG project in Canada has now been blockaded by a group of protesting First Nation holdouts
  • Completion of major LNG projects in Australia’s west coast have allowed its LNG exports to increase by 23% in 2018, with greater growth expected in 2019
  • The NordStream 2, long championed by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, now faces new opposition in Germany over Russian global political interference – which could result in the controversial pipeline being delayed or cancelled
  • Shell has completed its acquisition of a 26% stake in the Hazira LNG and port venture in India from Total, bringing its equity interest to full ownership
  • BP has announced plans to drill six new exploration wells in Azerbaijan by 2020, hoping to strike a new natural gas play to rival its giant Shah Deniz field
January, 18 2019