Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Of PetroChina, Gazprom and Hackers!

But first...Brent remains well into US$100+ per barrel territory while WTI remains in sub-US$90 region. Let’s face it the Nymex WTI-ICE Brent spreads remain extremely weak and it is becoming a recurring theme. The front-month spread even capped -US$16 per barrel mark (US$16.29 to be exact) on Feb 11; the date of expiry of the Brent forward month futures contract.

Moving away from pricing, it emerged last week that Russia’s Gazprom reported a fall in profits from RUR173.5 billion to RUR160.5 billion; an annualised dip of 9% for the quarter from July to Sept 2010 period. The cost of purchasing oil and gas jumped 29% according to the state owned firm while operational costs rose 12%. Dip in profit even prompted Russian PM Putin to “ask” them to raise their game.

Elsewhere, the “All Hail Shale” brigade had to contend with PetroChina – the Chinese state-controlled energy firm – acquiring a 50% stake in a Canadian Shale Gas project run by Encana. The stake cost is pegged at a cool US$5.4 billion. PetroChina already has majority stakes in two oil projects in Canada with Encana. There doesn’t appear to be much of a ruckus about the Chinese shopping in Canada. I guess Canadians are less uptight about Chinese investment in perceived strategic energy assets than the Americans.

Finally, computer security firm McAfee claimed in a report published on February 10th that hackers have attacked networks of a number of oil and gas firms for a good few years now. The full report is available for downloading here and it makes for interesting reading. However, I am not entirely surprised by the revelations.

In a nutshell, McAfee claims that in a series of co-ordinated attempts at least a dozen multinational oil, gas and energy companies were targeted – named by it as Night Dragon attacks – which began in November 2009. Five firms have now confirmed the attacks, it adds.

© Gaurav Sharma 2011. Photo: Oil tanker © Michael S. Quinton/National Geographic Society

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