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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


  • 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’.


  • 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%.


  • 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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In 2018, the United States consumed more energy than ever before

U.S. total energy consumption

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Monthly Energy Review

Primary energy consumption in the United States reached a record high of 101.3 quadrillion British thermal units (Btu) in 2018, up 4% from 2017 and 0.3% above the previous record set in 2007. The increase in 2018 was the largest increase in energy consumption, in both absolute and percentage terms, since 2010.

Consumption of fossil fuels—petroleum, natural gas, and coal—grew by 4% in 2018 and accounted for 80% of U.S. total energy consumption. Natural gas consumption reached a record high, rising by 10% from 2017. This increase in natural gas, along with relatively smaller increases in the consumption of petroleum fuels, renewable energy, and nuclear electric power, more than offset a 4% decline in coal consumption.

U.S. total energy consumption

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Monthly Energy Review

Petroleum consumption in the United States increased to 20.5 million barrels per day (b/d), or 37 quadrillion Btu in 2018, up nearly 500,000 b/d from 2017 and the highest level since 2007. Growth was driven primarily by increased use in the industrial sector, which grew by about 200,000 b/d in 2018. The transportation sector grew by about 140,000 b/d in 2018 as a result of increased demand for fuels such as petroleum diesel and jet fuel.

Natural gas consumption in the United States reached a record high 83.1 billion cubic feet/day (Bcf/d), the equivalent of 31 quadrillion Btu, in 2018. Natural gas use rose across all sectors in 2018, primarily driven by weather-related factors that increased demand for space heating during the winter and for air conditioning during the summer. As more natural gas-fired power plants came online and existing natural gas-fired power plants were used more often, natural gas consumption in the electric power sector increased 15% from 2017 levels to 29.1 Bcf/d. Natural gas consumption also grew in the residential, commercial, and industrial sectors in 2018, increasing 13%, 10%, and 4% compared with 2017 levels, respectively.

Coal consumption in the United States fell to 688 million short tons (13 quadrillion Btu) in 2018, the fifth consecutive year of decline. Almost all of the reduction came from the electric power sector, which fell 4% from 2017 levels. Coal-fired power plants continued to be displaced by newer, more efficient natural gas and renewable power generation sources. In 2018, 12.9 gigawatts (GW) of coal-fired capacity were retired, while 14.6 GW of net natural gas-fired capacity were added.

U.S. fossil fuel energy consumption by sector

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Monthly Energy Review

Renewable energy consumption in the United States reached a record high 11.5 quadrillion Btu in 2018, rising 3% from 2017, largely driven by the addition of new wind and solar power plants. Wind electricity consumption increased by 8% while solar consumption rose 22%. Biomass consumption, primarily in the form of transportation fuels such as fuel ethanol and biodiesel, accounted for 45% of all renewable consumption in 2018, up 1% from 2017 levels. Increases in wind, solar, and biomass consumption were partially offset by a 3% decrease in hydroelectricity consumption.

U.S. energy consumption of selected fuels

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Monthly Energy Review

Nuclear consumption in the United States increased less than 1% compared with 2017 levels but still set a record for electricity generation in 2018. The number of total operable nuclear generating units decreased to 98 in September 2018 when the Oyster Creek Nuclear Generating Station in New Jersey was retired. Annual average nuclear capacity factors, which reflect the use of power plants, were slightly higher at 92.6% in 2018 compared with 92.2% in 2017.

More information about total energy consumption, production, trade, and emissions is available in EIA’s Monthly Energy Review.

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Candidates :Drilling engineers/ drilling supervisors- Venue: Istanbul/Turkey- Duration: 5 days- For more information contact me at: Tel: +905364320900- [email protected] [email protected]
April, 17 2019
A New Frontier for LNG Pricing and Contracts

How’s this for a first? As the world’s demand for LNG continues to grow, the world’s largest LNG supplier (Shell) has inked an innovative new deal with one of the world’s largest LNG buyers (Tokyo Gas), including a coal pricing formula link for the first time in a large-scale LNG contract. It’s a notable change in an industry that has long depended on pricing gas off crude, but could this be a sign of new things to come?

Both parties have named the deal an ‘innovative solution’, with Tokyo Gas hailing it as a ‘further diversification of price indexation’ and Shell calling it a ‘tailored solutions including flexible contract terms under a variety of pricing indices.’ Beneath the rhetoric, the actual nuts and bolts is slightly more mundane. The pricing formula link to coal indexation will only be used for part of the supply, with the remainder priced off the conventional oil & gas-linked indexation ie. Brent and Henry Hub pricing. This makes sense, since Tokyo Gas will be sourcing LNG from Shell’s global portfolio – which includes upcoming projects in Canada and the US Gulf Coast. Neither party provided the split of volumes under each pricing method, meaning that the coal-linked portion could be small, acting as a hedge.

However, it is likely that the push for this came from Tokyo Gas. As one of the world’s largest LNG buyers, Tokyo Gas has been at the forefront of redefining the strict traditions of LNG contracts. Reading between the lines, this deal most likely does not include any destination restriction clauses, a change that Tokyo Gas has been particularly pushing for. With the trajectory for Brent crude prices uncertain – owing to a difficult-to-predict balance between OPEC+ and US shale – creating a third link in the pricing formula might be a good move. Particularly since in Japan, LNG faces off directly with coal in power generation. With the general retreat from nuclear power in the country, the coal-LNG battle will intensify.

What does this mean for the rest of the industry? Could coal-linked contracts become the norm? The industry has been discussing new innovations in LNG contracts at the recent LNG2019 conference in Shanghai, while the influx of new American LNG players hungry to seal deals has unleashed a new sense of flexibility. But will there be takers?

I am not a pricing expert but the answer is maybe. While Tokyo Gas predominantly uses natural gas as its power generation fuel (hence the name), it is competing with other players using cheaper coal-based generation. So in Japan, LNG and coal are direct competitors. This is also true in South Korea and much of Southeast Asia. In the two rising Asian LNG powerhouses, however, the situation is different. In China – on track to become the world’s largest LNG buyer in the next two decades – LNG is rarely used in power generation, consumed instead by residential heating. In India – where LNG imports are also rising sharply – LNG is primarily aimed at petrochemicals and fertiliser. LNG based power generation in China and India could see a surge, of course, but that will take plenty of infrastructure, and time, to build. It is far more likely that their contracts will be based off existing LNG or natural gas benchmarks, several of which are being developed in Asia alone.

If it takes off  the coal-link LNG formula is likely to remain a Asian-based development. But with the huge volumes demanded by countries in this region, that’s still a very big niche. Enough perhaps for the innovation to slowly gain traction elsewhere, next stop -  Europe?

The Shell-Tokyo Gas Deal:

Contract – April 2020-March 2030 (10 Years)

Volume – 500,000 metric tons per year

Source – Shell global portfolio

Pricing – Formula based on coal and oil & gas-linked indexes

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