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Last Updated: July 13, 2018
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Market Watch

Headline crude prices for the week beginning 9 July 2018 – Brent: US$78/b; WTI: US$73/b

  • Tensions over the looming sanctions on Iran – and the US appearing to take a hardline stance over waivers and exemptions – continue to keep crude prices high, supported by the outage in Canadian Syncrude production and falling Libyan production.
  • The trade spat between China and the US has now led to President Trump proposing tariffs on an additional US$200 billion worth of Chinese imports. China has threatened to retaliate, suggesting a 25% duty on US energy imports, a development that would rattle Trump’s key supporters.
  • South Korean and European refiners have already reduced their purchases to virtually zero, as Iran threatens to blockade the Strait of Hormuz in retaliation to US trade sanctions while the EU tries to save the Iranian nuclear deal.
  • As President Trump continues to complain over high oil prices on Twitter, publicly blaming OPEC and Saudi Arabia, Iran has taunted Trump by saying that his tweets have ‘added US$10 to oil prices’, requesting him to stop.
  • Libyan production is also fast becoming a concern, adding to OPEC’s headache with Venezuela and Iran, with output in Libya halving over the last five months to 527,000 b/d despite attempts to boost output.
  • The outage at the Syncrude plant in Alberta will continue through July, keeping the Brent-WTI differential narrow.
  • US drillers snapped two weeks of losses to add five rigs – all oil – to the active rig count, as drillers responded to stronger price signals.
  • Crude price outlook: The current range of factors keeping crude prices tight will continue, with some possible downward correction this week. We expect Brent to range in US$75-76/b and US$71-72/ for WTI.

Headlines of the week

Upstream

  • Chevron is looking to exit the UK Central North Sea, beginning the process of ‘marketing its assets’ including the Alba, Alder, Britannia, Captain, Elgin/Franklin, Erskine and Jade fields.
  • BP and its partners have sanctioned startup of the Shah Deniz 2 gas development in Azerbaijan, adding 16 bcm/y of capacity to total production.
  • BP will buy ConocoPhillips’ 16.5% stake in the UK North Sea Clair field, increasing its stake to 45.1%. In Alaska, BP has sold its 39.2% interest in the North Slope Greater Kuparuk Area to the Kuparuk Transportation Company.
  • China’s CNPC and Abu Dhabi’s ADNOC will be signing an agreement to cooperate on oil and gas exploration and refining projects later this month.
  • CNOOC has signed a new PSC for the Weizhou 10-3W oilfield and Block 22/04 in the South China Sea’s Beibu Gulf Basin with Roc Oil and Smart Oil.
  • In an effort to boost domestic output, Russia’s parliament is moving to approve a new profit-based taxation scheme for a select number of oilfields that could conceivably boost production by some 18,000 b/d.

Downstream

  • The Hovensa refinery in St. Croix, US Virgin Islands will be restarted, after being idled in 2012, in a US$1.4 billion plan to produce low-sulfur fuels and fill the growing hole in Caribbean refining created by PDVSA’s implosion.
  • Ineos has approved the first new ethane cracker in Europe for two decades, investing €2.7 billion in a cracker and PDH unit in Northern Europe to take advantage of US shale gas economics and support its olefins business.
  • With Egypt completing its natural gas revolution, the industry is moving further downstream as Carbon Holding is looking to start the US$10.9 billion Tahrir Petrochemicals Company complex in the Suez Canal Economic Zone.
  • The US$10 billion Dangote refinery being developed in Nigeria is now planning for an early-2020 start, with a capacity now planned for 650 kb/d.
  • Pemex has sold its 44.08% stake in chemical firm Petroquimica Mexicana de Vinilo to Mexichem for US$178.7 million.
  • Petronas has bought its first ever US cargo – 1 million barrels of Mars crude – to arrive at its Melaka refinery in September, replacing Middle Eastern crude.

Natural Gas/LNG

  • Gas production at Eni’s Sankofa field in Ghana’s Offshore Cape Three Points project has started, providing 180 mmscf/d for at least 15 years.
  • Eni has also started output at the Bahr Essalam Phase 2 project in Libya, which will raise production potential by 400 mmscf/d to 1.1 MMscf/d.
  • Vandalism has halted construction on ExxonMobil’s Angore gas pipeline connecting to the Hides gas plant in the Papua New Guinea highlands.
  • Japan’s JERA has purchased the LNG business of France’s EDF Trading, bulking out its energy trading unit in Asia and expanding into Europe.
  • The 65km, US$10 billion pipeline connecting Jordan with Israel’s Leviathan field is now set for completion at the end of 2019.
  • Equinor’s US$954.46 million plan to develop gas reserves in western Troll should support output at the field until about 2060, according to Norway.
  • Sonatrach has raised output at the Alrar gas field near Libya from 16 mcm/d to 24.7 mcm/d, the latest in an output expansion drive at existing fields.
  • Pertamina has decided to axe its planned land-based LNG receiving terminal in Bojonegara, near Jakarta, citing declining domestic gas consumption.

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