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Last Updated: November 25, 2019
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Market Watch  

Headline crude prices for the week beginning 18 November 2019 – Brent: US$63/b; WTI: US$57/b

  • The overarching narrative in the oil markets remains the ongoing trade war between the US and China, and its implications on the rest of the global economy and global oil demand
  • While both sides remain a ways off a concrete ‘phase one’ deal that is meant to freeze any additional escalation of tariffs, reports suggest that both sides are in ‘constructive discussions’ and are committed to seeking a solution after several acrimonious months
  • Officially, China is ‘pessimistic’ about the swift resolution – as the US has so far refused to budge on its request to roll back tariffs that China insists is key to striking a deal
  • Realistically, the trade war is inflicting damage on both sides, with President Trump likely keen on striking a deal given that impeachment proceedings against his Presidency have begun
  • Meanwhile, Saudi Aramco has been valued at between US$1.6-1.7 trillion – short of the US$2 trillion target sought – with only 1.5% of its shares to be listed on the Saudi stock exchange; this is likely to colour Saudi Arabia’s stance going into the December OPEC+ meeting in 2 weeks
  • In its prospectus for its IPO, Saudi Aramco predicts that global oil demand will peak in 2035, levelling off then falling after 2040
  • In Venezuela, new reports suggest that the country’s crude export situation is less dire than it seems, as a number of oil tankers have turned off their location signals in order to pick up Venezuelan crude to be shipped mainly to Russia and China
  • A fifth consecutive drop for the active US rig count saw the total count fall to 806 from a loss of 10 oil and 1 gas rig – bringing the active site total to its lowest level in 32 months
  • Crude prices are unlikely to budge from their entrenched range, given the lack of progress on the major front of the US-China trade war; ahead of the OPEC meeting in Vienna, prices will stay rangebound at US$60-63/b for Brent and US$56-59/b for WTI


Headlines of the week

Upstream

  • Adnoc will be spending almost US$500 million to upgrade its giant Bab onshore field to support long-term production as it prepares to use the field’s Murban-grade output to support its efforts to establish a new Middle East benchmark
  • Despite geopolitical tensions, Qatar is joining the other Middle Eastern crude producers to price its crude under forward contract rules instead of retroactively in 2020, with Abu Dhabi also moving to a futures pricing contract for Murban
  • Tullow Oil announced that it is re-assessing the commercial viability of its recent discoveries in Guyana, as new indications show that the crude from its fields in the Orinduik and Kanuku blocks are heavy with a high sulfur content, as opposed to the light, low sulfur crude from ExxonMobil’s Liza project
  • Petrobas and its partners Shell, Total and Petrogal Brasil have begun new production in Brazil’s pre-salt Santos basin as the P-68 FPSO – with processing capacity for 150,000 b/d of crude and 6 mcf/d of gas – starts up covering the Berbigao, Sururu and West Atapu fields within the BM-S-11-A concession
  • Ithaca Energy’s US$2 billion acquisition of Chevron North Sea Limited has been completed, involving the operational transfer of the Captain, Alba, Erskine and Alder fields and stakes in the Britannia, Brodger and Enochdhu fields
  • Occidental Petroleum has formed a joint venture with Colombia’s Ecopetrol to develop 97,000 acres of shale assets in the Permian’s Midland Basin
  • BHP is aiming to make a final investment decision on developing the Trion oil field in Mexico’s offshore Perdido Fold Belt by 2022

Midstream/Downstream

  • IndianOil is looking to diversify its refinery crude sources, moving away from its dependence on Middle Eastern grades to consider Russian oil
  • The Indian government is also looking to accelerate its plan to privatise the country’s state-owned refiners IndianOil, BPCL and HPCL, with President Narendra Modi recently meeting with the CEOs of ExxonMobil, BP, Shell, Rosneft, Saudi Aramco and Adnoc to discuss the matter
  • Brazil will be increasing its biodiesel mandate to a B12 blend by March, after bumping it up to B11 in September 2019, with a longer-term goal to hit B15 by 2023 – a move that will reduce gasoil imports and boost soybean demand
  • As US sanctions continue to bite, Iran hiked its domestic fuel prices by at least 50% and introduced gas rationing, triggering a swathe of citizen protests

Natural Gas/LNG

  • Adnoc has inked new supply agreements with BP and Total, channelling most of its LNG through early 2021 into their global portfolio and diversifying Adnoc’s demand base away from a heavy reliance on Japanese utility clients
  • Canadian natural gas firms under Rockies LNG Partners are reportedly looking to build a floating LNG project off the British Columbia coast with up to 12 mtpa to circumvent land issues and supply gas-hungry markets in Asia
  • The current political turmoil in Bolivia has effectively halted new natural gas exploration activities in the country, with Shell stopping work on the Yapucaiti exploratory well and cutting down activity at the Jaguar well
  • BP has hit a new natural gas discovery in Trinidad & Tobago, with the Ginger well in the Cashima field yielding ‘promising’ initial results
  • Australia’s Evol LNG will be increasing capacity at its Kwinana LNG facility in Western Australia by 40% to 250 tpd by April 2020 and 300 tpd by 2021 to meet growing demand from mining companies for power generation

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