EGYPS 2018 Highlights Industry Achievements and Brings Together Global Key Players in North Africa’s largest Oil and Gas Exhibition and Conference
4 February 2018, Cairo - The Egypt Petroleum Show (EGYPS 2018) held under the patronage of H.E. President Abdel Fattah El Sisi, and the auspices of the Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources, is set to take place February 12th – 14th at the Egypt International Exhibition Center. As the primary platform highlighting Egypt’s substantial progress and ambitious development plans in the oil and gas industry, the show brings together key ministers, government officials and representatives of major global oil companies as well as local and regional national oil companies, and leading technology and service providers.
Speaking at the pre-show press conference, highlighting its strategic significance and the goals of its proceedings, H.E. Eng. Tarek El Molla, Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources said, “On the back of the tremendous success achieved by the first edition, we are very optimistic about EGYPS 2018. The show’s diverse participants and attendees and its unique features make us very confident that we are on the right track. This year has kicked off with a lot of success stories for the oil and gas sector driven by local and international efforts. Our achievements to date span four mega projects. For the first time in years, we have added a capacity of 1.6 billion cubic feet of natural gas. Last week we celebrated the inauguration of Zohr gas field, and in the past months we have issued the new law regulating the gas market – one of the most important laws that will support the growth of the gas sector across all phases. We look forward to strengthening Egypt’s positioning on the global industry map as a serious contender and a regional energy hub.”
The second edition of EGYPS boasts a number of new and significant features, making it the prime destination for key regional and international investors to work hand in hand with the Egyptian government to expand its capabilities. Mr. Christopher Hudson, President dmg events Global Energy, said of EGYPS 2018, “We are very proud to be the Egyptian government’s partner in success for the second year in a row. With the significant developments in the industry and the country over the past 12 months, we see our role as even more crucial in terms of bringing together industry professionals setting up a show that is a strategic industry pillar in Egypt and the region, and which champions diversity and inclusion.”
H.E Eng. Tarek El Molla continued, “EGYPS 2018 could not have come at a better time, opening further avenues to mutual long term cooperation between the Egyptian government and major global industry players. This year EGYPS is set to witness even bigger participation and will effectively showcase our success to the world as well as our plans to continue to strengthen our achievements.”
EGYPS 2018’s opening ceremony features keynote speakers and ministerial and intergovernmental panels and includes some of the region and the world’s most prominent energy ministers and leaders including H.E. Tarek El Molla, Egypt’s Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources, H.E. Mustapha Guitouni, Minister of Energy, People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria, H.E. Dr Saleh Ali Hamed Al Kharabsheh, Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources, The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, H.E. Gabriel Obiang Lima, Minister of Mines and Hydrocarbons, Equatorial Guinea and H.E. Jabbar Ali Hussein Al Luaibi, Minister of Oil, Republic of Iraq, H. E. David Mahlobo, Minister of Energy, Republic of South Africa, H.E. Mohamed Barkindo, Secretary General, Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), H.E. Abbas Al Naqi, Secretary General, Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries (OAPEC), H.E. Yury Sentyurin, Secretary General, Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF),
Among the show’s highlights is “The Strategic Industry Conference”, bringing together a host of Oil & Gas executives including Claudio Descalzi, CEO, Eni, Bob Dudley, Group Chief Executive, BP, Grigoris Stergioulis, CEO, Hellenic Petroleum, Lorenzo Simonelli, Chairman & CEO, Baker Hughes, a GE Company and Mustafa Sanalla, Board Chairman, NOC Libya to name a few.
While the “CEO Strategic Roundtables” focus on the roles upstream, midstream and downstream sectors play in helping the country achieve its sustainable energy development objectives. Equally of note is the “Finance and Investment Lunch Briefing”, connecting government representatives, NOCs and IOCs with local and international banks, and private equity firms.
Continuing on the show’s other features, Hudson added, “the technical conference will run parallel to EGYPS 2018 exhibition, encompassing 31 sessions that cover more than 11 technical disciplines intended to tackle some of the most eminent matters in the energy sector.” Hudson indicated that the convention also includes the “Women in Energy Conference” - and its newly introduced Awards - and the Security and HSE in Energy conference, he said, “ “The Women in Energy” conference and awards reflect the government and industry’s commitment to inclusion and diversity, saluting and recognising the outstanding achievements and contributions of women in the sector. EGYPS 2018 will also feature the newly introduced “Security and HSE in Energy” conference, which comes at a time when the health, safety and security of human resources and infrastructure is more crucial than ever.”
EGYPS 2018 will host over 400 exhibiting companies, 15,000 attendees, 11 country pavilions from major oil producing countries that include Bahrain, China, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, Russia, Scotland, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom and the United States of America, more than 1,000 conference delegates, in addition to over 150 expert speakers taking part in over 50 dedicated industry sessions.
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International expansions for Saudi Aramco – the largest oil company in the world – are not uncommon. But up to this point, those expansions have followed a certain logic: to create entrenched demand for Saudi crude in the world’s largest consuming markets. But Saudi champion’s latest expansion move defies, or perhaps, changes that logic, as Aramco returns to Europe. And not just any part of Europe, but Eastern Europe – an area of the world dominated by Russia – as Saudi Aramco acquires downstream assets from Poland’s PKN Orlen and signs quite a significant crude supply deal. How is this important? Let us examine.
First, the deal itself and its history. As part of the current Polish government’s plan to strengthen its national ‘crown jewels’ in line with its more nationalistic stance, state energy firm PKN Orlen announced plans to purchase its fellow Polish rival (and also state-owned) Grupa Lotos. The outright purchase fell afoul of EU anti-competition rules, which meant that PKN Orlen had to divest some Lotos assets in order to win approval of the deal. Some of the Lotos assets – including 417 fuel stations – are being sold to Hungary’s MOL, which will also sign a long-term fuel supply agreement with PKN Orlen for the newly-acquired sites, while PKN Orlen will gain fuel retail assets in Hungary and Slovakia as part of the deal. But, more interestingly, PKN Orlen has chosen to sell a 30% stake in the Lotos Gdansk refinery in Poland (with a crude processing capacity of 210,000 bd) to Saudi Aramco, alongside a stake in a fuel logistic subsidiary and jet fuel joint venture supply arrangement between Lotos and BP. In return, PKN Orlen will also sign a long-term contract to purchase between 200,000-337,000 b/d of crude from Aramco, which is an addition to the current contract for 100,000 b/d of Saudi crude that already exists. At a maximum, that figure will cover more than half of Poland’s crude oil requirements, but PKN Orlen has also said that it plans to direct some of that new supply to several of its other refineries elsewhere in Lithuania and the Czech Republic.
For Saudi Aramco, this is very interesting. While Aramco has always been a presence in Europe as a major crude supplier, its expansion plans over the past decade have been focused elsewhere. In the US, where it acquired full ownership of the Motiva joint venture from Shell in 2017. In doing so, it acquired control of Port Arthur, the largest refinery in North America, and has been on a petrochemicals-focused expansion since. In Asia, where Aramco has been busy creating significant nodes for its crude – in China, in India and in Malaysia (to serve the Southeast Asia and facilitate trade). And at home, where the focus has on expanding refining and petrochemical capacity, and strengthen its natural gas position. So this expansion in Europe – a mature market with a low ceiling for growth, even in Eastern Europe, is interesting. Why Poland, and not East or southern Africa? The answer seems fairly obvious: Russia.
The current era of relatively peaceful cooperation between Saudi Arabia and Russia in the oil sphere is recent. Very recent. It was not too long ago that Saudi Arabia and Russia were locked in a crude price war, which had devastating consequences, and ultimately led to the détente through OPEC+ that presaged an unprecedented supply control deal. That was through necessity, as the world faced the far ranging impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. But remove that lens of cooperation, and Saudi Arabia and Russia are actual rivals. With the current supply easing strategy through OPEC+ gradually coming to an end, this could remove the need for the that club (by say 2H 2022). And with Russia not being part of OPEC itself – where Saudi Arabia is the kingpin – cooperation is no longer necessary once the world returns to normality.
So the Polish deal is canny. In a statement, Aramco stated that ‘the investments will widen (our) presence in the European downstream sector and further expand (our) crude imports into Poland, which aligns with PKN Orlen’s strategy of diversifying its energy supplies’. Which hints at the other geopolitical aspect in play. Europe’s major reliance on Russia for its crude and natural gas has been a minefield – see the recent price chaos in the European natural gas markets – and countries that were formally under the Soviet sphere of influence have been trying to wean themselves off reliance from a politically unpredictable neighbour. Poland’s current disillusion with EU membership (at least from the ruling party) are well-documented, but its entanglement with Russia is existential. The Cold War is not more than 30 years gone.
For Saudi Aramco, the move aligns with its desire to optimise export sales from its Red Sea-facing terminals Yanbu, Jeddah, Shuqaiq and Rabigh, which have closer access to Europe through the Suez Canal. It is for the same reason that Aramco’s trading subsidiary ATC recently signed a deal with German refiner/trader Klesch Group for a 3-year supply of 110,000 b/d crude. It would seem that Saudi Arabia is anticipating an eventual end to the OPEC+ era of cooperative and a return to rivalry. And in a rivalry, that means having to make power moves. The PKN Orlen deal is a power move, since it brings Aramco squarely in Russia’s backyard, directly displacing Russian market share. Not just in Poland, but in other markets as well. And with a geopolitical situation that is fragile – see the recent tensions about Russian military build-up at the Ukrainian borders – that plays into Aramco’s hands. European sales make up only a fraction of the daily flotilla of Saudi crude to enters international markets, but even though European consumption is in structural decline, there are still volumes required.
How will Russia react? Politically, it is on the backfoot, but its entrenched positions in Europe allows it to hold plenty of sway. European reservations about the Putin administration and climate change goals do not detract from commercial reality that Europe needs energy now. The debate of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline is proof of that. Russian crude freed up from being directed to Eastern Europe means a surplus to sell elsewhere. Which means that Russia will be looking at deals with other countries and refiners, possibly in markets with Aramco is dominant. That level of tension won’t be seen for a while – these deals takes months and years to complete – but we can certainly expect that agitation to be reflected in upcoming OPEC+ discussions. The club recently endorsed another expected 400,000 b/d of supply easing for January. Reading the tea leaves – of which the PKN Orlen is one – makes it sound like there will not be much more cooperation beyond April, once the supply deal is anticipated to end.
End of Article
- Crude price trading range: Brent – US$86-88/b, WTI – US$84-86/b
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- This could set the stage for US$100/b oil by midyear – as predicted by several key analysts – as consumption rebounds ahead of summer travel and OPEC+ remains locked into its gradual consumption easing schedule
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