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Last Updated: June 7, 2018
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Market Watch

Headline crude prices for the week beginning 4 June 2018 – Brent: US$75/b; WTI: US$65/b

  • Oil prices continue their retreat, with the Brent-WTI spread growing to exceed US$10/b.
  • With traders mollified that OPEC will step in to replace any lost volumes from Iran and Venezuela, the market is now focusing on the ever-present situation of increasing US production.
  • The EIA confirmed the American oil output hit 10.47 mmb/d in March, the highest level ever recorded, with Texan output – which includes the Permian basin – rising by 4% to a record 4.2 mmb/d.
  • OPEC members Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Kuwait and Algeria – along with Oman – met unofficially last Saturday, paving the way for the official meeting on June 22. The market is expecting OPEC to announce agreement for an output boost, far earlier than expected.
  • The strengthening dollar has also sparked a sell-off in crude oil, part of a funds retreat from dollar-denominated commodities.
  • The US active rig count continues to grow. American driller added two more oil rigs, bringing the oil rig total to 861 and the total rig count to 1,060, despite a retreat in prices over the last two weeks.
  • Crude price outlook: With OPEC moving to contain any supply-side shock to current crude pricing, the issue of growing American production and the infrastructure crunch keeping US volumes inland will be the focus. We expect prices to be at US$74-75/b for Brent, and US$63-64/b for WTI.

Headlines of the week

Upstream

  • The Canadian government will purchase Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain oil pipeline, ensuring that it will be built despite fierce opposition.
  • Uncertainty continues to cloud the impact of the new Iranian sanctions. Russia’s Lukoil has decided not to pursue any projects in Iran, while India is defiant and will ‘continue to import Iranian crude’. Meanwhile, Total has left open the possibility of returning to Iran one day even if it is forced to abandon its South Pars 11 stake unless it can obtain waivers.
  • Italy’s Eni is aiming to reduce its stakes – but not completely exit – in its oilfields in Mexico and Indonesia, part of its ‘dual exploration’ strategy.
  • Total and its partners have taken FID on the Zinia 2 deepwater, offshore project in Angola’s Block 17, with a production capacity of 40,000 b/d.
  • Shell has started production at its Kaikias development in the US Gulf of Mexico, about a year ahead of schedule with peak output at 40,000 b/d.
  • Lebanon’s maiden foray into oil and gas exploration has begun with the Total-Eni-Novatek consortium given the go-ahead for Blocks 4 and 9.
  • Upstream seismic players are preparing a legal response to New Zealand’s decision to stop issuing new offshore exploration permits, citing ‘ongoing work commitments’.

Downstream

  • Argentina is raising its biodiesel export tax to 15% from 8% effective July 1, as it aims to mollify the US and the EU over their anti-dumping stance.
  • The Philippines will be creating a strategic petroleum reserve, beginning with importing three days of diesel requirements, mainly from Russia.

Natural Gas/LNG

  • Following the collapse of its own LNG project in Canada, Petronas has agreed to purchase a 25% stake in the Kitimat LNG project in British Columbia, joining Shell, PetroChina, Diamond LNG and Kogas.
  • China’s CNPC is fast-tracking a plan to consolidate its underground gas storage assets under a single business to expedite infrastructure upgrades necessary to avoid supply crunches during peak winter demand season.
  • Schlumberger has quit the Fortuna deepwater LNG project in Equatorial Guinea, citing ‘problems with the project’s financing’.
  • Australia’s Gladstone LNG project in Australia has hit a new milestone – delivering its 200th LNG cargo to Incheon in South Korea.
  • Bulgaria and Russia have confirmed that the second like of the TurkStream gas pipeline will pass through Bulgaria, bypassing Ukraine.
  • Spain’s Gas Natural has scrapped plans to build an LNG terminal in northern Italy, given that it has already sold its Italian businesses.
  • The first phase of Azerbaijan’s Southern Gas Corridor pipeline, channeling Shah Deniz gas to Europe via Turkey has been launched.
  • Oman Oil is seeking buyers for a 10% stake in its Khazzan gas field, which would come from its 40% share; with BP owning the remaining 60%.

Corporate

  • Petrobras’ CEO Pedro Parente has resigned – as the 11-day trucker strike against fuel prices claimed its highest-profile victim; Parente has been replaced by CFO Ivan Monteiro.

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