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Last Updated: August 29, 2019
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Market Watch 

Headline crude prices for the week beginning 26 August 2019 – Brent: US$59/b; WTI: US$54/b

  • Having traded mixed for most of last week as the trade tit-for-tat table tennis match between the US and China continued, crude prices started on a higher note this week as President Trump signals a move to restart trade talks
  • Of course, this has happened before, so Trump’s comments at the G7 Summit in Biarritz might not amount to anything but were still taken by the market to be a positive step
  • This comes as China placed tariffs on US crude oil for the first time since the trade war began, embroiling a key growing export market for American producers in the turmoil
  • Chinese tariffs on US crude oil were imposed up until last year when they were removed, but the re-imposition of a 5% tariff could choke off a burgeoning business and further damage global oil demand
  • The news comes as the American Petroleum Institute (API) stated that it believes the escalating US-China trade dispute ‘hurts’ American energy leadership, directly impacting jobs within the sector
  • US crude stockpiles fell more than expected, which managed to prop up prices somewhat, capping off a stronger summer for fuel demand, particularly gasoline, and refineries ran at near full capacity
  • On the supply side, reports suggest that almost half of all active rigs in Venezuela will shut down by end October 2019 if the Trump administration does not extend a 90-day waiver on sanctions for American producers
  • After a gain last week broke a streak of losses, the US active rig count fell once again by a significant 19 sites, led by the loss of 7 rigs in the Permian; the total active rig count is now at its lowest in almost 18 months at 916 sites
  • Rangebound trading is the best the crude market can hope for now; the ebb and flow between the US and China on trade issues shows no end – depending on who you talk to – and crude prices will remain firmly in the US$58-60/b range for Brent and the US$54-56/b range for WTI


Headlines of the week

Upstream

  • Equinor and YPF have signed a joint exploration agreement for the CAN 100 offshore block in the North Argentinian Basin, with Equinor taking a 50% share
  • Husky Energy will resume production at the North Amethyst and South White Rose drill centres after operations were halted following the November 2018 oil spill off Canada’s Newfoundland and Labrador province
  • Equinor has struck oil at the Sputnik exploration well in Norway’s Barents Sea, with recoverable assets estimated at an initial 20-65 million barrels
  • Alberta will be extending its province output cuts to the end of 2020 to allow more time for the current oversupply to be eased by delayed pipeline projects
  • After being restarted just earlier this month, the Hibernia platform in Canada’s Newfoundland and Labrador has been halted once again after another incident
  • South Sudan has made a new crude discovery in the northern Adar oilfields, with ambitious plans to start production by the end of 2019
  • Pembina Pipeline Corp will be purchasing Kinder Morgan’s Canadian unit for US$3.3 billion, aiming to capitalise on Western Canadian oil sands
  • Lundin Petroleum AB has made a new oil discovery in Norway, with oil struck at Well 16/5-8s in the Goddo prospect under the PL81 license

Midstream/Downstream

  • Petrobras has received three binding offers for its LPG unit Liquigas Distribuidora, with the sale expected to be concluded by November
  • Petronas will be restarting the shut CDU at the Pengerang Refining and Petrochemical (PrefChem) Complex, after the plant was shut down in April following a fire that damaged the AR desulfurisation unit
  • The fire-damaged Philadelphia Energy Solutions refinery may have found a buyer in SG Preston, a biofuels producer that intends to convert the 350 kb/d complex into a renewable diesel production complex
  • Saudi Aramco’s US refining arm Motiva Enterprises has acquired full ownership of the Flint Hills Resource Port Arthur petrochemicals plant
  • Despite stating earlier that it would not be able to meet the new IMO rules of sulfur levels, Indonesia has now said that it will be able to meet the 2020 deadline for Indonesian-flagged vessels operating internationally and locally
  • Nigeria’s NNPC has awarded a tranche of crude-for-product swap deals to firms such as Vitol, Trafigura, and BP in an attempt to alleviate a domestic fuels deficit stemming from underperformance of NNPC’s refineries

Natural Gas/LNG

  • After a bombshell attempt by the government of Papua New Guinea to renegotiate the Papua LNG gas deal, Total is now looking to finalise terms by the end of August, sticking with the original deal signed in April
  • Natural gas production at the giant Zohr field in Egypt has now reached 2.7 bcf/d, up from a production level of 2 bcf/d in September 2018
  • Commercial LNG production has begun at the Cameron LNG Train 1 in Louisiana, with two additional trains planned for a total capacity of 12 mtpa
  • Total has re-confirmed its commitment to develop the US$23 billion Mozambique LNG project after it takes over Anadarko’s African assets following the acquisition of the latter by Occidental Petroleum
  • First liquids output has been produced at the Freeport LNG Train 1 project in Texas, with Trains 2 and 3 on course for completion by Q1 2020

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The Oil World’s Ongoing Impairments

Officially, we are past the half point of 2020 and with that the end of the second quarter. And what a quarter it has been. WTI prices plunged into negative territory (as low as -US$37/b) then recovered to US$40/b as OPEC+ moved from infighting to coordinating the largest crude production cut in history. In between, the Covid-19 pandemic wreaked havoc with the global economy, setting off a chain reaction within the oil world whose full impact is still unknown.

Opinions on a post-Covid oil world are divided. Some voices, the more optimistic ones, think that oil demand could recover to pre-Covid levels within a year or two. The more pessimistic ones think that this will never happen, that Covid-19 has hastened the trend away from fossil fuels to sustainable energy against the backdrop of climate change. Either way, this has thrown a spanner in the works of the giant, multi-billion oil and gas projects that were announced over the past two years as the energy world began to wake up from its post-2015 price crash investment hibernation. Those projects were made at a time when oil prices were at US$50-60/b. Since oil prices are now only at US$40/b, the current value and the future worth of these assets have now declined. Energy companies account for this by adjusting the value of their portfolios in accordance to the projected value of crude: an upward adjustment is known as a revaluation, and a negative one is known as an impairment.

This is a term that will crop up many times over 2020, as energy companies close their quarterly financial books and report their results to shareholders. The plunge in crude oil prices and the uncertain outlook for oil demand means that publicly-traded companies must account for this to their shareholders. Chevron was the first supermajor to book an impairment, in late 2019 when it took a US$10 billion hit to its oil and gas assets. It wasn’t the only one: firms all across the oil chain also reduced the value of their assets, from Repsol to Equinor.

Further impairments were made in April 2020 when the Q1 financial results were announced, mainly in response to the triggering of the OPEC+ price war (which saw crude prices halve from US$60/b to US$30/b) and the Covid-19 pandemic accelerating to a point where over half of the world’s population went into lockdown. But the major impact will come in Q2 2020, when the roil in the oil markets truly began to boil uncontrollably. BP has announced that it may take up to a US$17.5 billion impairment in its Q2 2020 financial results, while Shell has just admitted that it may have to shave US$22 billion from its asset value.

This has roots not just in the depressed demand for energy due to Covid-19, but also the ongoing conversation on climate change. Almost all supermajors have announced intentions to become carbon neutral by the 2050 timeframe. That may be good news for the planet, but it is bad news for the companies’ portfolio. Put simply, it means that some of the assets that they have invested billions in are now not only worth a lot less (due to Covid-19) but they may in fact be worth nothing at all, because climate change considerations mean that they will never be exploited. Challenging projects such as Total’s deepwater Brulpadda discovery in turbulent South African waters or Pertamina/ExxonMobil/Total/PTTEP’s beleaguered and complicated East Natuna sour gas asset in Indonesia may never be commercialised, either because of uneconomic prices or because they run counter to the goal of becoming carbon neutral. The Financial Times estimates that the amount of unviable or stranded hydrocarbon assets could reach as much as US$900 billion; that figure is pre-Covid, and could now become even higher.

There is one supermajor bucking the trend though. The biggest supermajor of all, in fact. Unlike its peers, ExxonMobil has not yet succumbed to impairments. If fact, it has not announced any negative revaluations at all over the past decade, even during the 2015 oil price crash. ExxonMobil claims that this is because it books the value of new assets ‘very conservatively’ and does not ‘adjust values to short-term price trends’, but critics say that it has an ongoing history of vastly overestimating its assets’ value. Along with Chevron, ExxonMobil does not disclose price assumptions in its financials. But unlike Chevron, ExxonMobil has not yielded to climate change through an official emissions target or asset revaluations.

On paper, that will make ExxonMobil look better than its supermajor brothers. But behind the scenes, this reluctance to admit that the future is less rosy than expected could be trouble waiting to be unleashed. Impairments are a necessary reality check: an admission by a company that things have changed and it is starting to adapt. Most have accepted that reality. ExxonMobil seems to be resisting. But even it is not immune. In pre-Q2 2020 results guidance that was just announced, ExxonMobil admitted that it expects to take a hit of some US$3.1 billion and slump to a second straight quarterly loss. In terms of Covid-19 impairments, that’s small. But it is, at least, a start.

Market Outlook:

  • Crude price trading range: Brent – US$40-44/b, WTI – US$38-42/b
  • A swathe of positive economic data is supporting oil prices within its current range, with US light crude settling above US$40/b for the first time in four months
  • The relaxation of Covid-19 restrictions has led to improvements in most economic indicators, but the risk of the situation reversing is also higher, given the accelerating cases being reported in part of the USA, South America and India
  • On the supply side, OPEC+ is making adherence a priority, with lagging members now bucking up and swing producer Saudi Arabia also keeping its promises by throttling crude exports in June to some 5.7 mmb/d

End of Article

In this time of COVID-19, we have had to relook at the way we approach workplace learning. We understand that businesses can’t afford to push the pause button on capability building, as employee safety comes in first and mistakes can be very costly. That’s why we have put together a series of Virtual Instructor Led Training or VILT to ensure that there is no disruption to your workplace learning and progression.

Find courses available for Virtual Instructor Led Training through latest video conferencing technology.


July, 04 2020
Changing Investment Winds In The Middle East

The sale of a mere 5% stake in the oil world’s crown jewel, Saudi Aramco had captured the attention of the entire investment community last year. Pushing through after years of debate and delays, the sale on the Tadawul stock exchange valued Aramco at a whopping initial US$1.6 trillion. Investors were mainly connected Saudi individuals and wealthy families, with international buy-in limited as a planned parallel listing on the London or New York Stock Exchange fell through. Still, the deal was enough to unleash several thousand pages of speculation and opinion over potential liberalisation of the oil and gas complex in the Middle East, especially the upcoming post-oil and carbon-neutral environment.

Aramco may have captured all the main headlines, especially with its huge acquisition of fellow Saudi jewel SABIC but the true entity pushing the boundaries of privatisation and deregulation in the Middle East is elsewhere. Specifically, just east of Saudi Arabia, in Abu Dhabi – the largest and most influential of the seven emirates that make up the UAE.

The latest headline involving ADNOC, Abu Dhabi’s state oil firm, hasn’t really made the rounds beyond the industry’s eyes but it is crucial to understanding how the Middle East oil sector could adapt to the changing industry over the next few decades. Partnering with a consortium of six investors, ADNOC has sold a 49% stake in its ADNOC Gas Pipeline Assets subsidiary, retaining a 51% majority stake and control. The sale had been bandied around for over a year, seen as a sign of a gradual opening of a tightly controlled oil and gas region, and follows three other significant sales involving ADNOC. The first was in 2017, when ADNOC raised nearly a billion US dollars through an IPO of its fuels distribution unit on the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange, offering up 10% of its shares. Then late 2019, ADNOC partnered with Italy’s Eni and Austria’s OMV to nearly double oil refining capacity in Abu Dhabi to 1.5 mmb/d – the largest foreign participation in the Middle East downstream industry since the Shell Pearl GTL project in Qatar and Total’s Jubail refining and petrochemicals push over a decade ago. Around the same time, ADNOC also pocketed US$4 billion from US investment giants BlackRock and KKR through the sale of a 40% stake in its ADNOC Oil Pipelines subsidiary. And now it is the turn of ADNOC’s gas pipelines.

The chronology and regional aspect of ADNOC’s moves is interesting. While Aramco looks local, Abu Dhabi went abroad. The refining expansion involved established oil market players, Eni and OMV – and parallels a gradual unbundling of Abu Dhabi’s upstream concessions, where stakes have been offered to Total, PetroChina, Eni, Cepsa and India’s ONGC over the past five years. But the choice of new investors are now not from the industry. After the deep-pocketed BlackRock and KKR, ADNOC has once against turned to institutional investors for its latest, and largest, sale, with the US$20.7 billion gas pipeline and infrastructure deal going to a consortium consisting of Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP), Brookfield Asset Management, Ontario Teacher’s Pension Plan Board, Singapore’s GIC sovereign wealth fund, NH Investment and Securities and Italy’s infrastructure operator SNAM. ADNOC called the deal a ‘landmark investment (that) signals continued strong interest in ADNOC’s low-risk, income-generating assets’. But it also illustrates two other points: institutional interest in strategic Middle East assets and the challenging environment within the industry because of Covid-19 that has led investment interest expanding to new capital that is currently reluctant to make risky bets in an unstable economic environment. So the choice of ADNOC’s safe assets and a captive domestic market is rather attractive.

ADNOC’s strategy differs from Aramco’s fundamentally. Where Aramco sold a stake of itself, ADNOC has parcelled out different parts of itself while keeping control of the main body intact. This is what Malaysia’s Petronas has done to a great degree of success, listing subsidiaries through IPOs and partnering with foreign investors on upstream/downstream projects, using the proceeds to finance a global expansion that now stretches across all continents. Replicating this strategy, as ADNOC looks to be doing, could pay dividends, particularly since ADNOC has a wider domestic base, as well as stronger export markets, than Petronas. Between Saudi Aramco and ADNOC, the OPEC duo seems to have kickstarted a liberalisation drive within the Middle East energy complex. Kuwait Petroleum and Bahrain’s BAPCO are already reported to be considering similar moves. Which model could this second wave follow: Aramco’s or ADNOC’s? Aramco’s is a shock-and-awe move, a potential wow factor at the size of any possible deal. But ADNOC’s more piecemeal approach could actually be far more stable and sustainable over time.

Market Outlook:

  • Crude price trading range: Brent – US$39-42/b, WTI – US$37-40/b
  • Signs that the oil demand recovery has been better-than-expected as economies re-open have been tempered by fears that a resurgence of Covid-19 infections is on the horizon
  • The US recorded its highest single-day case number this week, while Europe recorded its first increase in a month and cases in Latin America and India are accelerating, prompting fears that a second round of lockdowns was necessary
  • Economies will have more time to prepare for a second round of lockdowns, but the disruption will still snuff out any current nascent improvement in demand
  • This will weigh heavily on OPEC, as it now has to consider another extension beyond the end of July, although compliance has improved among the OPEC+ club as Iraq, Kazakhstan, Nigeria, Angola, Gabon and Brunei all submitted new output schedules

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End of Article

In this time of COVID-19, we have had to relook at the way we approach workplace learning. We understand that businesses can’t afford to push the pause button on capability building, as employee safety comes in first and mistakes can be very costly. That’s why we have put together a series of Virtual Instructor Led Training or VILT to ensure that there is no disruption to your workplace learning and progression.

Find courses available for Virtual Instructor Led Training through latest video conferencing technology.


June, 26 2020
CARIVS 2020

We are excited to bring together the first ever Caribbean Oil & Gas Virtual Summit-2020 to be held from 16th - 18th September 2020.

 

Due to the current situation, this event is aimed at keeping the region's Oil & Gas community connected virtually and present an excellent networking opportunity all from the comfort of your office/home without the need to travel in these challenging times. There will also be a dedicated Virtual Exhibition focusing on the Operators, Prime Sub Contractors, Governments, Associations as well as the wider regional and international Oil & Gas Community with a particular focus on Guyana, Suriname and Trinidad.  

 

The Conference & Virtual Expo would feature Suriname, Guyana, Bahamas, Barbados and Trinidad and participants from around the globe would present thought provoking keynotes, oral and poster presentations; displays of services, technology and investment opportunities will be available for both national and international companies.

 You can also check the website www.carivs.com for further updates. We are expecting around 200 companies to be part of this conference. Both the Website and the Brochure will keep getting updated in coming days with further information about Speakers, Exhibitors, Sponsors, Content, Agenda etc. 

 Also I have attached a dropbox link. You will get access to the event platform through this link. This is in order for you to get an understanding of how the event platform works.

Let me know if you have any questions in the meantime

 

Stay Safe.

 https://www.dropbox.com/s/1an67vaywnbryo3/CARIVS%20Video%20Guide_4.mp4?dl=0


July, 01 2020