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Your Weekly Update: 23 - 27 April

Market Watch

Headline crude prices for the week beginning 23 April 2017 – Brent: US$74/b; WTI: US$68/b

  • Geopolitical tensions continue to price crude oil at a premium; after US-led military action in Syria in response to alleged chemical weapons attacks and missile attacks from Iranian-backed rebels in Yemen towards Saudi Arabia boosted prices to their highest level since December 2014.
  • Reports of explosions and gunshots outside Saudi Arabian King Salman’s palace over the weekend also spooked talk of attacks and coups, contributing to a fragile atmosphere in the Middle East.
  • French President Emmanuel Macron is attempting to coax US President Donald Trump into preserving the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, which mollified the market slightly, but Trump continues to show exasperation.
  • Additional positive sentiment came from OPEC, as a joint finding by OPEC and its NOPEC allies states that the global oil glut has been virtually eliminated, with the original target of the pact in sight.
  • There are signs that the successful OPEC-NOPEC cooperation has fuelled the desire of OPEC to expand cooperation, with UAE Oil Minister Suhail Mohamed Al Mazrouei stating ‘more countries were needed in the pact’ to ensure the burden is spread more evenly.
  • Even as OPEC mulled further cooperation and an extension of the supply cuts, President Trump slammed the cartel for inflating oil prices – an unusual response given that higher prices have been benefited American shale industry.
  • American stockpiles of crude and oil products declined across-the-board according to the EIA, while US crude production inched up by 15,000 barrels/day to 10.5 mmb/d.
  • Five new oil rigs entered service in the US last week, bringing the total active rig count up to 1013, one of many oil industry metrics that are returning to pre-2014 crisis levels.
  • Crude price outlook: OPEC’s seeming willingness to continue its supply pact might signal to the market that higher prices are acceptable, but the real variable is geopolitical sentiment. We expect Brent to move down to US$72/b and WTI/Shanghai to US$66/b.

Headlines of the week


  • The Indonesian government has transferred rights to eight oil field blocks scheduled to expire to Pertamina, meant to ‘compensate’ the firm for any profitability drag by the government’s fuels subsidy policy. The oil blocks in question were formerly held by Chevron, CNOOC, Total and Inpex.
  • The Philippines is aiming to have a framework for joint oil and gas cooperation with China in the South China Sea by the end of this year, as it faces the prospect of dwindling domestic production.


  • The refining crunch at PDVSA is getting worse, as data from the Venezuelan state oil firm shows that its domestic refineries – including the Isla refiner in Curacao – operated at only 31% in Q118.
  • Zambia has reportedly shortlisted five companies, including Glencore and Sahara Energy Resources, to purchase a majority stake in the country’s sole 24 kb/d Indeni refinery.
  • Kazakhstan is looking to upgrade its refineries in a modernisation drive that will lower its fuel oil exports by 35% as it focuses on higher value products. Upgrades at the Pavlodar refinery have been completed, with the Atyrau and Shymkent refineries expected later this year.

Natural Gas/LNG

  • BP and Reliance has formally sanctioned development of the deepwater gas ‘Satellite cluster’ in India’s offshore Block KG D6, the second of three projects to be developed in the integrated KG D6 development.
  • LNG exports from PNG LNG has resumed after a devastating earthquake, with the first export cargo departing from Port Moresby.
  • Having found success elsewhere on the Mediterranean, Eni is now looking at spending ‘billions’ in Algeria over the next three years to expand gas production in partnership with Sonatrach.
  • Australia’s Northern Territory has lifted a two-year moratorium on fracking, potentially unlocking huge onshore shale gas reserves.
  • Eni is moving ahead with the offshore Merakes field in Indonesia after its development plan was approved by the country’s upstream watchdog.
  • Petronas has made its first LNG delivery to South Korea’s S-Oil under a 15-year, 700 mtpa contract.


  • With Q1 earnings filtering in, Schlumberger’s reporting of an 88% rise in net profit points to a healthy season for the industry, particularly on the service side, with revenue also jumping by 52% to US$2.84 billion.
  • Indonesia has stepped into Pertamina affairs once again, removing Chief Executive Elia Massa Manik after a recent oil spill and slow progress on refinery development plans. Nicke Widyawati will assume temporary stewardship, as Manik leaves along with four other directors.
  • BP and Petrobras have signed an MoU to ‘explore areas of cooperation’, which will cover upstream, downstream, trading and low carbon plans both inside and outside of Brazil.
  • Total has purchased French power utility company Direct Energie, as it follows in Shell's footsteps to expand for an electric future.
Press Release: PetroEdge & NrgEdge sign MoU with Institute of Materials, Malaysia (IMM)

IMM Joins Forces with PetroEdge and NrgEdge to Boost Digital Branding in the Oil, Gas & Energy Industry

Kuala Lumpur, 20 April 2018: A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signing ceremony was held today between Institute of Materials, Malaysia (IMM) and PetroEdge Pte Ltd (AsiaEdge Pte Ltd) and NrgEdge Pte Ltd to mark collaborative efforts to increase brand awareness of IMM, PetroEdge and NrgEdge in the energy industry. The event was held at the Holiday Inn Glenmarie, Kuala Lumpur.

IMM, a non-profit professional society, PetroEdge, a specialist in oil and gas training provider entity of AsiaEdge Pte Ltd, and NrgEdge, a professional networking platform for the energy industry, have joined forces to enhance digital branding knowledge and competency for IMM members over a period of two years by offering a Premium Company Page for IMM to extend their reach to the network of users within the NrgEdge platform.

Under the partnership, other strategic initiatives to increase the party branding in the energy industry also include developing workshops for IMM members on the basics of online branding as well as establishing customised training modules in materials science, technology and engineering.

The MOU was signed by Mohd Azmi Mohd Noor, President of IMM, and Malina Raman, Director and Co-Founder of PetroEdge and NrgEdge, Singapore, and witnessed by Dr Yong Soon Kong, Website Committee Chairperson, IMM, and Anas Asalem, Regional Strategic Partnerships Manager, NrgEdge.

The ceremony was attended by more than 15 IMM members who are Materials Science, Technology and Engineering professionals from Malaysia’s public sector, large multinational companies and small and medium-sized enterprises.

About Institute of Materials, Malaysia (IMM)

Institute of Materials, Malaysia (IMM) is a non-profit professional society that promotes honourable practice, professional ethics and encourages education in materials science, technology and engineering. Engineers, academicians, technicians, skilled workers and professionals are amongst its members exceeding 6800.

Registered with the Registrar of Societies on 6th November 1987, the Malaysian Materials Science & Technology Society (MMS) changed its name to the Institute of Materials, Malaysia (IMM) on 16th June 1997. The objectives of the IMM include the training and development of individuals and companies in Malaysia to attain professional recognition in various fields of materials science, technology and engineering.

IMM is administered by a council of 30 members, with volunteers leading 18 materials committees, and 5 regional chapters, and supported by a secretariat with full time staffs.

The IMM membership is categorised into 6 different grades and open to anyone above the age of 17 years — individuals and companies keen in developing and contributing towards the growth of materials science, technology and engineering in Malaysia.

About PetroEdge and NrgEdge

AsiaEdge Pte Ltd is the holding company of PetroEdge, the leading provider of Energy, Oil & Gas training in Asia. NrgEdge is the professional networking platform for Energy, Oil & Gas professionals, focusing on the Asia Pacific region. The company aims to create a holistic environment that will empower members to excel at every point in their career journey and to assist companies grow their business more effectively. To find out more, visit www.nrgedge.net.

For media enquiries, please contact:

Nurliza Ibrahim
PetroEdge Pte Ltd (AsiaEdge Pte Ltd) & NrgEdge Pte Ltd
E: [email protected] | M: +65 6741 9927

Without it, there is no electric drive, new oil is white, and new Saudi Arabia will be probably in South America

José Bonifacio de Andrada e Silva, a Brazilian chemist and statesman, in a mine at the island of Uto in Sweden, found in 1800  a mineral called the petal. Initially, it was not known that this mineral contained lithium and only 17 years later, Johan August Arfwedson, by careful analysis of the petal sample, discovered the presence of a new element that formed compounds similar to sodium and potassium. Jöns Jacob Berzelius, Arfwedson employer, named new element Lithium, from the Greek word litos, (stone). In pure form lithium is a soft metal silver colour that oxidizes quickly when it comes into contact with air or water. At the same time, it is easiest solid elements with a density of about half the size of water. Production and use of lithium has undergone a number of drastic changes in history.

The first widespread application was after World War II when it was used as a lubricant for aviation engines. Demand increased considerably during the Cold War when lithium was used in production of nuclear weapons, and the US became the first manufacturer in the world. It is used in the manufacture of glass, metallurgy, in the form of salt used in medicine for the treatment of various bipolar disorders, for fireworks and air purification in submarines and spacecraft.

But all this is negligible in comparison to the impulse that this metal has been using for the last decade, and forecasts are increase of production up to four times in the next 8 years. Reasons are of course the batteries in where lithium is present since the end of last century, when potential of lithium as the electrolyte compound was discovered.

Due to the low atomic mass and the favourable power and weight ratio, lithium non rechargeable batteries were produced.  But the real boom came with the emergence of a lithium-ion battery that can be charged and has a high energy density. After cell phones, laptops and other electronic devices, lithium-ion batteries have become the main power supply for electric cars.

World stocks of this rare metal are scarce and concentrated only in some countries. The total world reserves of lithium are estimated to about 40 million tons. Today Chile has the biggest reserves (7.5 million tonnes) followed by Bolivia (5.4 million tonnes) and China (3.2 million tonnes), which is also the largest battery manufacturer. At the same time 70 to 80% of the world's lithium production is held by three companies, of which the largest is Chilean SQM. Chile is already calling Saudi Arabia the future because it has the largest proven lithium reserves in the world.

According to some authors, the title Saudi Arabia the future, will be maybe more appropriate for Bolivia. In the Andes, at 3,600 meters above sea level is a salt lake Salar de Uyuni, surfaces of 10,000 square kilometres, where local geologists estimated that total reserves of lithium reach 30 to 50 million tonnes,  about the same, or even more than the rest of the world.




Chansin hopes to maximise value at state oil and gas firm

Mr Chansin talked to Thai media for the first time since PTT's board announced his appointment on March 16. He will succeed Tevin Vongvanich, who will retire on Aug 30. His term will last only 20 months, as he will turn 60 in May 2020. 

He told PTT's annual general meeting with shareholders that the group is planning to add value to its coal mining business, including cleaner coal-fired power plants. 

Can Engineering Companies Just Offer Engineering Anymore?

Back before the oil price crash there were a lot of engineering companies and consultancies that offered engineering services for the standard rate to engineer + 50% overhead cost + 15% profit margin. They didn’t construct or install anything, just focussing on engineering deliverables. These were the source of a lot of good and well-paid oil and gas engineering jobs, however nowadays, it is unlikely that companies can survive doing just engineering specialist work. The market has shifted to projects being delivered by companies providing engineering along with installation, construction or drilling services.

Why pay for engineering when it comes free…

Engineering work is now being done at cost (or sometimes for free) by companies that are interested in selling something else, normally the installation or construction of something. When an oil company gets two comparable proposals they typically select the one which is cheaper, meaning if you only offer engineering you are likely to keep losing out. Oil companies are also now looking for complete solutions, where a single company comes in to perform conceptual design, FEED and EPIC without having to go back and redesign “because that subsea manifold can’t be installed by the vessel we are using”.

Using a company interested in installation or construction to do your concept or FEED does however come with problems, as designs will be tailored so they are the only companies that can install or build things. However, if you can get a project to FID cheaper this way then it is an understandable approach that oil companies are taking.

So for engineering houses that have provided many thousands of manhours on major projects in the past, it is unlikely that they will be doing as much of this in the future. Even as the number of projects increases these are more likely to be given to companies that provide the full package, i.e. more than just engineering. Some business models might need re-adjustment or we will probably see some more industry consolidation taking place.

Does it matter for your oil and gas job search?

For us engineering specialists trying to find work we need to factor this in when deciding what oil and gas engineering jobs we go for. The rate squeeze will stay for longer if you are working for someone who is trying to deliver an oil and gas project that they have bought by reducing their profit margin down to zero. Oil and gas recruitment seems to be following this trend, with engineering companies currently advertising less oil and gas jobs than their EPIC ready competitors.

Goldman echoes Saudi view that higher prices won't hurt demand

Oil's surge to the highest level in more than three years will in fact spur fuel demand as swelling reserves of Middle East petrodollars are reinvested overseas and stimulate the global economy, Goldman's head of commodities research said.

"Global demand growth is absolutely stellar," Jeff Currie said in a television interview in Abu Dhabi. "You'd have to get a really high price before you start to see it damage demand."