José Bonifacio de Andrada e Silva, a Brazilian chemist and statesman, in a mine at the island of Uto in Sweden, found in 1800 a mineral called the petal. Initially, it was not known that this mineral contained lithium and only 17 years later, Johan August Arfwedson, by careful analysis of the petal sample, discovered the presence of a new element that formed compounds similar to sodium and potassium. Jöns Jacob Berzelius, Arfwedson employer, named new element Lithium, from the Greek word litos, (stone). In pure form lithium is a soft metal silver colour that oxidizes quickly when it comes into contact with air or water. At the same time, it is easiest solid elements with a density of about half the size of water. Production and use of lithium has undergone a number of drastic changes in history.
The first widespread application was after World War II when it was used as a lubricant for aviation engines. Demand increased considerably during the Cold War when lithium was used in production of nuclear weapons, and the US became the first manufacturer in the world. It is used in the manufacture of glass, metallurgy, in the form of salt used in medicine for the treatment of various bipolar disorders, for fireworks and air purification in submarines and spacecraft.
But all this is negligible in comparison to the impulse that this metal has been using for the last decade, and forecasts are increase of production up to four times in the next 8 years. Reasons are of course the batteries in where lithium is present since the end of last century, when potential of lithium as the electrolyte compound was discovered.
Due to the low atomic mass and the favourable power and weight ratio, lithium non rechargeable batteries were produced. But the real boom came with the emergence of a lithium-ion battery that can be charged and has a high energy density. After cell phones, laptops and other electronic devices, lithium-ion batteries have become the main power supply for electric cars.
World stocks of this rare metal are scarce and concentrated only in some countries. The total world reserves of lithium are estimated to about 40 million tons. Today Chile has the biggest reserves (7.5 million tonnes) followed by Bolivia (5.4 million tonnes) and China (3.2 million tonnes), which is also the largest battery manufacturer. At the same time 70 to 80% of the world's lithium production is held by three companies, of which the largest is Chilean SQM. Chile is already calling Saudi Arabia the future because it has the largest proven lithium reserves in the world.
According to some authors, the title Saudi Arabia the future, will be maybe more appropriate for Bolivia. In the Andes, at 3,600 meters above sea level is a salt lake Salar de Uyuni, surfaces of 10,000 square kilometres, where local geologists estimated that total reserves of lithium reach 30 to 50 million tonnes, about the same, or even more than the rest of the world.
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According to the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Nigeria has the world’s 9th largest natural gas reserves (192 TCF of gas reserves). As at 2018, Nigeria exported over 1tcf of gas as Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) to several countries. However domestically, we produce less than 4,000MW of power for over 180million people.
Think about this – imagine every Nigerian holding a 20W light bulb, that’s how much power we generate in Nigeria. In comparison, South Africa generates 42,000MW of power for a population of 57 million. We have the capacity to produce over 2 million Metric Tonnes of fertilizer (primarily urea) per year but we still import fertilizer. The Federal Government’s initiative to rejuvenate the agriculture sector is definitely the right thing to do for our economy, but fertilizer must be readily available to support the industry. Why do we import fertilizer when we have so much gas?
I could go on and on with these statistics, but you can see where I’m going with this so I won’t belabor the point. I will leave you with this mental image: imagine a man that lives with his family on the banks of a river that has fresh, clean water. Rather than collect and use this water directly from the river, he treks over 20km each day to buy bottled water from a company that collects the same water, bottles it and sells to him at a profit. This is the tragedy on Nigeria and it should make us all very sad.
Several indigenous companies like Nestoil were born and grown by the opportunities created by the local and international oil majors – NNPC and its subsidiaries – NGC, NAPIMS, Shell, Mobil, Agip, NDPHC. Nestoil’s main focus is the Engineering Procurement Construction and Commissioning of oil and gas pipelines and flowstations, essentially, infrastructure that supports upstream companies to produce and transport oil and natural gas, as well as and downstream companies to store and move their product. In our 28 years of doing business, we have built over 300km of pipelines of various sizes through the harshest terrain, ranging from dry land to seasonal swamp, to pure swamps, as well as some of the toughest and most volatile and hostile communities in Nigeria. I would be remiss if I do not use this opportunity to say a big thank you to those companies that gave us the opportunity to serve you. The over 2,000 direct staff and over 50,000 indirect staff we employ thank you. We are very grateful for the past opportunities given to us, and look forward to future opportunities that we can get.
Headline crude prices for the week beginning 15 July 2019 – Brent: US$66/b; WTI: US$59/b
Headlines of the week
Unplanned crude oil production outages for the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) averaged 2.5 million barrels per day (b/d) in the first half of 2019, the highest six-month average since the end of 2015. EIA estimates that in June, Iran alone accounted for more than 60% (1.7 million b/d) of all OPEC unplanned outages.
EIA differentiates among declines in production resulting from unplanned production outages, permanent losses of production capacity, and voluntary production cutbacks for OPEC members. Only the first of those categories is included in the historical unplanned production outage estimates that EIA publishes in its monthly Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO).
Unplanned production outages include, but are not limited to, sanctions, armed conflicts, political disputes, labor actions, natural disasters, and unplanned maintenance. Unplanned outages can be short-lived or last for a number of years, but as long as the production capacity is not lost, EIA tracks these disruptions as outages rather than lost capacity.
Loss of production capacity includes natural capacity declines and declines resulting from irreparable damage that are unlikely to return within one year. This lost capacity cannot contribute to global supply without significant investment and lead time.
Voluntary cutbacks are associated with OPEC production agreements and only apply to OPEC members. Voluntary cutbacks count toward the country’s spare capacity but are not counted as unplanned production outages.
EIA defines spare crude oil production capacity—which only applies to OPEC members adhering to OPEC production agreements—as potential oil production that could be brought online within 30 days and sustained for at least 90 days, consistent with sound business practices. EIA does not include unplanned crude oil production outages in its assessment of spare production capacity.
As an example, EIA considers Iranian production declines that result from U.S. sanctions to be unplanned production outages, making Iran a significant contributor to the total OPEC unplanned crude oil production outages. During the fourth quarter of 2015, before the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action became effective in January 2016, EIA estimated that an average 800,000 b/d of Iranian production was disrupted. In the first quarter of 2019, the first full quarter since U.S. sanctions on Iran were re-imposed in November 2018, Iranian disruptions averaged 1.2 million b/d.
Another long-term contributor to EIA’s estimate of OPEC unplanned crude oil production outages is the Partitioned Neutral Zone (PNZ) between Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. Production halted there in 2014 because of a political dispute between the two countries. EIA attributes half of the PNZ’s estimated 500,000 b/d production capacity to each country.
In the July 2019 STEO, EIA only considered about 100,000 b/d of Venezuela’s 130,000 b/d production decline from January to February as an unplanned crude oil production outage. After a series of ongoing nationwide power outages in Venezuela that began on March 7 and cut electricity to the country's oil-producing areas, EIA estimates that PdVSA, Venezuela’s national oil company, could not restart the disrupted production because of deteriorating infrastructure, and the previously disrupted 100,000 b/d became lost capacity.