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Last Updated: October 29, 2018
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Market Watch

Headline crude prices for the week beginning 26 October 2018 – Brent: US$79/b; WTI: US$69/b

  • Crude prices retreated from their highs to below psychological thresholds, as the threat of Saudi Arabia retaliation to criticism of its role in the assassination of Jamal Khashoggi by using its oil wealth abated
  • As Saudi Arabia sounds more contrite after evidence emerged that the murder of Khashoggi was state-sanctioned, the Saudi Energy Minister said the Kingdom has no intention of triggering a repeat of the 1973 oil crisis
  • While most executives and firms have shied away attending an investment conference in Riyadh dubbed ‘Davos in the Desert’ due to the scandal, Total boss Patrick Pouyanne will be attending, underscoring the continual dependence of the oil world on the Kingdom
  • However, international tensions over the Khashoggi scandal still remain, with President Donald Trump now acknowledging that Saudi Arabia is ‘tainted’ and other Western powers threatening sanctions, with Germany stopping all defence and arm sales to Saudi Arabia
  • Over the same period, American shale oil production was expected by the EIA to grow to 7.71 mmb/d, up 100,000 b/d m-o-m, with the Permian Basin contributing to half of the expected net gains
  • The Saudi Energy Minister’s pronouncement – if true – removes the risk of Saudi Aramco pulling back on crude supply just before sanctions on Iran kick in next week, although jitters over the eventual impact of the sanctions will keep crude prices above US$70/b
  • After weeks of caution, American drillers continued a streak of active rig gains, adding 4 new oil rigs and 1 new gas rig last week, bringing the total number of operational rigs to 1,067 – the highest since March 2015
  • Crude price outlook: With the threat of a Saudi embargo retreating and the market now beginning to fret about demand destruction, it looks like crude prices will continue their downward trend towards US$75-77/b for Brent and US$65-67/b for WTI

 

Headlines of the week

Upstream

  • BP has started up its Thunder Horse Northwest expansion in the Gulf of Mexico ahead of schedule and under budget, which will boost output at the Thunder Horse field by 30,000 b/d to 200,000 b/d
  • Equinor has started up its Oseberg Vestflanken 2 field in the North Sea, using the first unmanned platform on the Norwegian Continental Shelf to oversee an operation for the recovery of some 110 million barrels of oil
  • Eni has won the rights for the offshore Block A5-A in Mozambique, bolstering its position in the African nation that include some giant gas discoveries
  • Shell continues the trend of supermajors exiting Denmark, selling its upstream assets in Danish territory to Norwegian Energy Company (Noreco) for US$1.9 billion, which includes some 67,000 b/d of production in 2017

Downstream

  • Turkmenistan’s Turkemgaz has started up its new US$3.4 billion NGLs-based petrochemicals plant in Kiyanly, converting LPG and condensate from Petronas’s Block 1 to some 450 ktpa of olefins
  • The expansion of ThaiOil’s Sriracha refinery has begun, with engineering and construction beginning soon which will increase capacity from 275 to 400 kb/d
  • A month after signing a crude oil supply deal with Zhejiang Rongsheng, Saudi Aramco is going a step further to invest in the Chinese textile giant’s planned 400 kb/d integrated petrochemical refinery, its third such investment in China
  • After years of squabbling with its founding family, Japanese refinery Idemitsu Kosan has finally finalized a deal to buy out fellow refiner Showa Shell Sekiyu for US$5.6 billion, consolidating the Japanese refining industry further

Natural Gas/LNG

  • Production at Inpex’s Ichthys LNG project is progressing, having sold its second condensate cargo to Trafigura a week after selling its first
  • Aker BP has purchased Equinor’s 77.8% stake in the Norwegian North Sea King Lear gas/condensate discovery for US$250 million
  • More activity from Equinor, as it sells its 42.38% interest in the Tommeliten Unit and 30% stake in PL 044, gas/condensate fields that are both in the Norwegian Continental Shel, to Poland’s PGNiG for US$220 million
  • After purchasing American LNG on the spot market earlier this year, Polish Oil and Gas (PGNiG) has signed a long-term 20-year LNG contract with Venture Global, who will begin delivering 2 mtpa of LNG from the Calcasiue Pass and Plaquemines LNG plant in Louisiana when they are completed in 2022
  • Shell and Equinor have reaffirmed their commitment to the proposed US$30 billion LNG export plant in Tanzania, overcoming concerns that the government’s new mining legislation allows it to renegotiate contracts
  • NextDecade is advancing with its planned 27 mtpa Rio Grande LNG project in the US Gulf Coast after the FERC issued a draft environment impact statement
  • Cuadrilla has begun hydraulic fracking at the Preston New Road shale gas site in the UK, overcoming opposition to tap into some 200 tcf of gas in place
  • Argentina may be closing its floating LNG import facility regasification ship, as development of Vaca Muerte shale turns it into a natural gas exporter

Corporate

  • Mubadala Investment has shelved a planned IPO offering up 25% in Spanish oil refiner Cepsa over the recent turmoil in global stock markets, but the Abu Dhabi state-linked firm said it may revive the IPO in the future

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