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Market Watch

Headline crude prices for the week beginning 12 March 2017 – Brent: US$64/b; WTI: US$61/b

  • Crude prices started on a weaker note, after a see-saw week of trading last week, as indications pointed to American shale output swelling.
  • With OPEC’s efforts already in place and the beginnings of a pullback in June expected by the market, attention has been focused on the current swing factor – American crude production.
  • Output from major US shale regions is expected to continue strong gains. This would help stabilise, perhaps increase, crude stockpiles in Cushing, Oklahoma, which have declined consistently since the start of 2018.
  • The EIA expects output from American shale regions to reach 6.95 mmb/d in April, a gain of 131,000 b/d, with the Permian alone contributing a gain of 80,000 b/d.
  • US jobs data showed a healthy increase in oil and gas sector employment, up 1,100 in February, an acceleration after steady gains last year.
  • Oil rigs in the US fell for the first time in six weeks, dropping four sites in response to the recent sapping of crude price strength. Gains of seven gas sites still led to an overall gain, with the total active rig count at 984.
  • All this points to American crude output exceeding expectations in output terms; within OPEC, Iran is lobbying to keep oil prices at US$60, fearing that a US$70/b target will only encourage additional US shale output.
  • Crude price outlook: The continued ascent of American shale production will keep price momentum depressed, with Brent likely to trend towards US$63-64/b and WTI at US$60-61/b.

Headlines of the week

Upstream

  • Eni has acquired a 40-year stake in the two major offshore concessions in Abu Dhabi for US$875 million. In return, Eni receives a 5% stake in the Lower Zakum oil fields and a 10% in the oil, condensate and gas fields of Umm Shaif and Nasr. ADNOC will continue to hold a 60% stake in both.
  • Saudi Arabia is scheduled to join the shale revolution by end March, as shale production at the North Arabia basin, said to rival Eagle Ford in Texas, begins. Drilling at the South Ghawar and Jafurah basins is also underway, as Aramco plans a US$300 billion ten-year spending spree.
  • Encouraged by recent discoveries in Guyana, the Dominican Republic will be offering two onshore oil and two offshore gas blocks by the end of March, attracting the attention of BP and ExxonMobil.
  • Petronas has struck oil at the Boudji-1 well in Gabon’s offshore Block F14, an ultra-deepwater field with encouraging ‘high quality’ deposits.
  • Premier Oil’s Catcher field – the most recent field to start up in the North Sea – will reach its projected 60,000 b/d target ahead of plan, by 1H18.
  • Shell will be selling out of the ageing Draugen field in Norway, along with stakes in smaller fields, including Gjoa, Kvitebjorn, Valeman and Sindre.

Downstream

  • Petronas will be upgrading its ageing Kerteh refinery by 2022, to expand its crude diet beyond the local light sweet Tapis crude, as well expand capacity to meet Euro V standards and deepen petrochemical linkages.
  • Petrobras will be investing some US$42 million to upgrade its Presidente Bernardes refinery near Sao Paulo to improve efficiency.
  • Vietnam has pulled the plug on the planned US$3.2 billion 160 kb/d Phu Yen refinery, revoking the investment licence granted to UK-based Technostar Management and Russia’s Telloil Group.
  • Sinopec appears to have prevailed over Glencore in pursuit of Chevron’s downstream assets in South Africa and Botswana, as South Africa’s Competition Tribunal approved its US$900 million purchase, subject to an additional investment of US$504 million over the next five years.
  • Saudi Aramco and SABIC have appointed Wood to develop its planned crude-to-chemicals complex in Saudi Arabia, which would be the world’s largest with a capacity of 400 kb/d and 9 mtpa of petrochemicals.
  • Not to be outdone, ADNOC announced plans to build the world’s largest integrated refining and chemicals site in Ruwais, doubling its crude capacity and tripling its petrochemicals capacity, rivalling Jamnagar.

Natural Gas/LNG

  • Petronas has inked a 13-year contract with Tokyo Gas, supplying some 500,000 tons of LNG per year to its long-term customer beginning April 2018, which could rise to 900,000 tons per year after seven years.
  • In another blow to Canadian Pacific coast LNG, Australia’s Woodside has dropped plans to develop its Grassy Point project, choosing instead to focus on the Kitimat LNG project with partner Chevron.
  • Ophir Energy expects first gas from its Fortuna project in Equatorial Guinea by 2022, with FID expected by the end of 2018.
  • Trial operations have begun at Ichthys in Australia, with Inpex sticking to its end-March target date despite rumours of more delays.

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Renewables became the second-most prevalent U.S. electricity source in 2020

In 2020, renewable energy sources (including wind, hydroelectric, solar, biomass, and geothermal energy) generated a record 834 billion kilowatthours (kWh) of electricity, or about 21% of all the electricity generated in the United States. Only natural gas (1,617 billion kWh) produced more electricity than renewables in the United States in 2020. Renewables surpassed both nuclear (790 billion kWh) and coal (774 billion kWh) for the first time on record. This outcome in 2020 was due mostly to significantly less coal use in U.S. electricity generation and steadily increased use of wind and solar.

In 2020, U.S. electricity generation from coal in all sectors declined 20% from 2019, while renewables, including small-scale solar, increased 9%. Wind, currently the most prevalent source of renewable electricity in the United States, grew 14% in 2020 from 2019. Utility-scale solar generation (from projects greater than 1 megawatt) increased 26%, and small-scale solar, such as grid-connected rooftop solar panels, increased 19%.

Coal-fired electricity generation in the United States peaked at 2,016 billion kWh in 2007 and much of that capacity has been replaced by or converted to natural gas-fired generation since then. Coal was the largest source of electricity in the United States until 2016, and 2020 was the first year that more electricity was generated by renewables and by nuclear power than by coal (according to our data series that dates back to 1949). Nuclear electric power declined 2% from 2019 to 2020 because several nuclear power plants retired and other nuclear plants experienced slightly more maintenance-related outages.

We expect coal-fired electricity generation to increase in the United States during 2021 as natural gas prices continue to rise and as coal becomes more economically competitive. Based on forecasts in our Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO), we expect coal-fired electricity generation in all sectors in 2021 to increase 18% from 2020 levels before falling 2% in 2022. We expect U.S. renewable generation across all sectors to increase 7% in 2021 and 10% in 2022. As a result, we forecast coal will be the second-most prevalent electricity source in 2021, and renewables will be the second-most prevalent source in 2022. We expect nuclear electric power to decline 2% in 2021 and 3% in 2022 as operators retire several generators.

monthly U.S electricity generation from all sectors, selected sources

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Monthly Energy Review and Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO)
Note: This graph shows electricity net generation in all sectors (electric power, industrial, commercial, and residential) and includes both utility-scale and small-scale (customer-sited, less than 1 megawatt) solar.

July, 29 2021
PRODUCTION DATA ANALYSIS AND NODAL ANALYSIS

Kindly join this webinar on production data and nodal analysis on the 4yh of August 2021 via the link below

https://www.linkedin.com/events/productiondataanalysis-nodalana6810976295401467904/

July, 28 2021
Abu Dhabi Lifts The Tide For OPEC+

The tizzy that OPEC+ threw the world into in early July has been settled, with a confirmed pathway forward to restore production for the rest of 2021 and an extension of the deal further into 2022. The lone holdout from the early July meetings – the UAE – appears to have been satisfied with the concessions offered, paving the way for the crude oil producer group to begin increasing its crude oil production in monthly increments from August onwards. However, this deal comes at another difficult time; where the market had been fretting about a shortage of oil a month ago due to resurgent demand, a new blast of Covid-19 infections driven by the delta variant threatens to upend the equation once again. And so Brent crude futures settled below US$70/b for the first time since late May even as the argument at OPEC+ appeared to be settled.

How the argument settled? Well, on the surface, Riyadh and Moscow capitulated to Abu Dhabi’s demands that its baseline quota be adjusted in order to extend the deal. But since that demand would result in all other members asking for a similar adjustment, Saudi Arabia and Russia worked in a rise for all, and in the process, awarded themselves the largest increases.

The net result of this won’t be that apparent in the short- and mid-term. The original proposal at the early July meetings, backed by OPEC+’s technical committee was to raise crude production collectively by 400,000 b/d per month from August through December. The resulting 2 mmb/d increase in crude oil, it was predicted, would still lag behind expected gains in consumption, but would be sufficient to keep prices steady around the US$70/b range, especially when factoring in production increases from non-OPEC+ countries. The longer term view was that the supply deal needed to be extended from its initial expiration in April 2022, since global recovery was still ‘fragile’ and the bloc needed to exercise some control over supply to prevent ‘wild market fluctuations’. All members agreed to this, but the UAE had a caveat – that the extension must be accompanied by a review of its ‘unfair’ baseline quota.

The fix to this issue that was engineered by OPEC+’s twin giants Saudi Arabia and Russia was to raise quotas for all members from May 2022 through to the new expiration date for the supply deal in September 2022. So the UAE will see its baseline quota, the number by which its output compliance is calculated, rise by 330,000 b/d to 3.5 mmb/d. That’s a 10% increase, which will assuage Abu Dhabi’s itchiness to put the expensive crude output infrastructure it has invested billions in since 2016 to good use. But while the UAE’s hike was greater than some others, Saudi Arabia and Russia took the opportunity to award themselves (at least in terms of absolute numbers) by raising their own quotas by 500,000 b/d to 11.5 mmb/d each.

On the surface, that seems academic. Saudi Arabia has only pumped that much oil on a handful of occasions, while Russia’s true capacity is pegged at some 10.4 mmb/d. But the additional generous headroom offered by these larger numbers means that Riyadh and Moscow will have more leeway to react to market fluctuations in 2022, which at this point remains murky. Because while there is consensus that more crude oil will be needed in 2022, there is no consensus on what that number should be. The US EIA is predicting that OPEC+ should be pumping an additional 4 million barrels collectively from June 2021 levels in order to meet demand in the first half of 2022. However, OPEC itself is looking at a figure of some 3 mmb/d, forecasting a period of relative weakness that could possibly require a brief tightening of quotas if the new delta-driven Covid surge erupts into another series of crippling lockdowns. The IEA forecast is aligned with OPEC’s, with an even more cautious bent.

But at some point with the supply pathway from August to December set in stone, although OPEC+ has been careful to say that it may continue to make adjustments to this as the market develops, the issues of headline quota numbers fades away, while compliance rises to prominence. Because the success of the OPEC+ deal was not just based on its huge scale, but also the willingness of its 23 members to comply to their quotas. And that compliance, which has been the source of major frustrations in the past, has been surprisingly high throughout the pandemic. Even in May 2021, the average OPEC+ compliance was 85%. Only a handful of countries – Malaysia, Bahrain, Mexico and Equatorial Guinea – were estimated to have exceeded their quotas, and even then not by much. But compliance is easier to achieve in an environment where demand is weak. You can’t pump what you can’t sell after all. But as crude balances rapidly shift from glut to gluttony, the imperative to maintain compliance dissipates.

For now, OPEC+ has managed to placate the market with its ability to corral its members together to set some certainty for the immediate future of crude. Brent crude prices have now been restored above US$70/b, with WTI also climbing. The spat between Saudi Arabia and the UAE may have surprised and shocked market observers, but there is still unity in the club. However, that unity is set to be tested. By the end of 2021, the focus of the OPEC+ supply deal will have shifted from theoretical quotas to actual compliance. Abu Dhabi has managed to lift the tide for all OPEC+ members, offering them more room to manoeuvre in a recovering market, but discipline will not be uniform. And that’s when the fireworks will really begin.

End of Article 

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Market Outlook:

  • Crude price trading range: Brent – US$72-74/b, WTI – US$70-72/b
  • Worries about new Covid-19 infections worldwide dragging down demand just as OPEC+ announced that it would be raising production by 400,000 b/d a month from August onward triggered a slide in Brent and WTI crude prices below US$70/b
  • However, that slide was short lived as near-term demand indications showed the consumption remained relatively resilient, which lifted crude prices back to their previous range in the low US$70/b level, although the longer-term effects of the Covid-19 delta variants are still unknown at this moment
  • Clarity over supply and demand will continue to be lacking given the fragility of the situation, which suggests that crude prices will remain broadly rangebound for now

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July, 26 2021