Monday, June 10, 2019

That US oil production chart by the EIA

Market chatter over US oil production appears to be all the rage these days, with many forecasters predicting 2019 to be another record year for the Americans. Some are even predicting US production to be as high as 13.4 million barrels per day (bpd) in 2019. 

At the moment, its lurking around 12.3 million bpd according to the EIA. However, the chart below sums it up, and kinda explains why some commentators are so upbeat, given the trajectory of official data and related projections. Please click to enlarge chart. That's all for the moment folks, as the Oilholic is in Oslo, Norway for a conference. More from here shortly! Keep reading, keep it 'crude'!


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© Gaurav Sharma 2019. Photo: US oil production and projection © US EIA, May 2019

Saturday, June 08, 2019

US crude output & Russia’s fossil fuel abundance

Another week, another upbeat projection for US oil production. The latest one has been put forward by Oslo, Norway-headquartered research and analysis firm Rystad Energy, which projects US production to hit 13.4 million barrels per day (bpd) by December 2019. That's well above 12.3 million bpd total that's emerged from the US Energy Information Administration's latest publication. 

Moving on from the US, abundant and cheap fossil fuels in Russia are likely to slow the country's shift to renewable, according to Moody's, with the rating agency opining that Moscow will struggle to meet its 2024 targets for renewable capacity.

"The future looks brighter for the Russian renewable energy sector from the mid-2020s, however, as old generation fossil fuel-fired capacity retires and controls on emissions tighten," says Julia Pribytkova, Senior Analyst at the agency.

Russia's Energy Strategy aims to tighten controls on CO2 emissions starting from mid-2020s, in part by increasing the share of clean energy, such as nuclear and renewables, improving energy efficiency and introducing caps on greenhouse gas emissions.

Away from supply-side chatter, looks like oil benchmarks registered an uptick as the end of the week approached, after having taken a hammering for much of May. Brent still ended the week down 1.86% compared to last Friday (May 31), but WTI futures made a better recovery ending up 0.92%. That’s all for the moment for folks! Keep reading, keep it ‘crude’!

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© Gaurav Sharma 2019. Photo: Oil extraction site in Russia © Lukoil.

Friday, May 31, 2019

That over 10% slump in oil price

As the crazy month of May comes to a close, commentators using the supply constriction and geopolitical risk premium pretexts to big up prices have been left scratching their heads. Using Middle Eastern tension and murmurs of OPEC rolling over production cuts as the backdrop for predicting $80+ Brent prices didn't get anywhere fast. 

Instead prices went into reverse as the US-China trade spat, Brexit, Chinese and German slowdown fears weighed on demand sentiment. Here is yours truly's take via Forbes:
For what it is worth, at the time of writing this blog post both oil benchmarks are posting a May decline of +10% in what can only be described as a crude market rout. 

Away from the oil price, it seems rating agency Moody's has withdrawn all the ratings of Venezuela's beleaguered oil firm PDVSA including the senior unsecured and senior secured ratings due to "insufficient information." At the time of withdrawal, the ratings were 'C' and the outlook was 'stable'.

With Venezuela in free-fall and its oil production well below 1 million barrels per day (at 768,000 bpd in April) - not much remains to be said. In any case, the US will be importing less and less crude from Latin America not what happens in Caracas, given uptick in its shale-driven output. 

Away from 'crude' matters, the Oilholic also touched on LNG markets. Here is yours truly's take for Forbes on how the US-China trade spat will serve to dampen offtake for US LNG Projects; and here is a missive for Rigzone on the disconnect between US President Donald Trump's rhetoric on American LNG exports to the Baltics versus the ground reality

That's all for the moment for mad May folks! Keep reading, keep it 'crude'!

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© Gaurav Sharma 2019. 

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Webcasting for ReachX & Trump's OPEC call

It's been quite a week in the oil market with Brent touching $75 per barrel for the first time in 2019, amid exaggerated long calls reminiscent of Q4 2018, and we all know how that ended. In this backdrop, the Oilholic did his first oil market webcast for independent financial platform ReachX.

The company is working to shake-up traditional financial market research and investment banking services via its technology platform. The idea was born out of creating an unbiased research, information and services hub fit for a post-MiFID II investment and operating environment, and the Oilholic has been involved in its progress since the summer of last year with co-founders Rafael S. Lajeunesse and Olivier Beau de Loménie.

The topic of the webcast was what's in store for the oil market in H2 2019, especially as the Oilholic believes the current set of market fundamentals suggest there's not much further for Brent to go than beyond $75 per barrel, and in fact it is likely to average towards the lower range of $70-75 per barrel this year.

Here's a recording of the webcast on YouTube, which has been converted into a podcast by the good folks at ReachX:



And should you wish to listen to it on SoundCloud; here's a link to that as well.

Away from the webcast, just as Brent hit $75, US President Donald Trump hit it. Ahead of a political rally, the President said he'd "called OPEC" and that oil prices were coming down. Cue a slide on that pretext in this Goldilocks Economy, where crude has little room to go further up. Here are the Oilholic's thoughts in more detail via a Forbes post. That's all for the moment folks, keep reading, keep it 'crude'!

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© Gaurav Sharma 2019.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Discussing Algeria’s 2019 oil & gas potential

In the wider context of the global oil and gas industry and that of the continent of Africa, OPEC member Algeria is right up there. In volume terms, it is the number one producer of natural gas in Africa, and among the top three when it comes to crude oil.

The oil and gas sector accounts for 20% of the country's GDP and bulk of its exports. But of late Algeria has faced production challenges, including a double-digit decline in oil production last year; something the government is looking to change. 

The need for investment is pressing, and courting foreign direct investment (FDI) in the current climate of a fairly high oil price range [~$65-75 per barrel] could be timely. To further FDI, the government is drafting a new hydrocarbon exploration law that is expected to be released in July 2019.

The idea is a simple one - make Algeria more competitive in terms of royalties and taxation, simplify licensing and bidding procedures, and most importantly reduce red-tape. How this all pans out would matter because from an outside-in perspective the country is still relatively underexplored with less than 25 wells per 10.000 square metres. 

This for a nation which has the tenth-largest proven reserves of natural gas and the third largest proven reserves of shale gas in the world. Not to mention the fact that it is also the sixth-largest natural gas exporter in the world.

With an objective of reconciling thoughts over global market permutations and ongoing developments in the Algerian oil and gas sector, the Oilholic is delighted to be speaking at the Algeria Oil & Gas Summit in Algiers, November 19-21, 2019, being organised by IN-VR Oil & Gas

Arbiters of the country’s potential are the National Agency for Hydrocarbon Resources Valorization (ALNAFT) and Hydrocarbons Regulatory Authority (ARH). The domestic exploration project partner, as mandated by law, is state-owned national oil company Sonatrach, which holds around 80% of total hydrocarbon production in Algeria, with International Oil Companies (IOCs) tapping the remainder. 

BP, Equinor, Eni and Total, are among the many IOCs looking to expand within Algeria. So at this fitting time there should be no shortage of talking points, and this blogger keenly awaits the summit. But that’s all for the moment folks! Keep reading, keep it ‘crude’!

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Friday, April 19, 2019

Being careful of what Hedge Funds wish for

So it is that OPEC has moved its ministers meeting, and the OPEC/non-OPEC from April 17/18 to June 25/26, but the Oilholic decided to come to the Austrian capital anyway given that other 'crude' meetings could not be moved, and because Vienna is lovely in the spring anyway!

While spring might be in the air in Vienna, a bit of craziness has surfaced in the Oil market trading sphere. Yet again, no sooner has Brent crossed $70, chatter of three-figure crude prices is again rearing its head. Here's the Oilholic warning from very recent history (via Forbes); and why caution is merited.

There is nothing on the horizon to be overtly bullish about the oil market – bearish variables (i.e. China, President Donald Trump's trade salvos, Brexit, German slowdown and changing consumption patterns haven't materially moved yet) and bullish quips based on geopolitics (i.e. Libya, Venezuela and Nigeria) matter but are being countered partially, if not wholly, with sentiment around rising US production.

Few in Vienna, think an oil price spike is on the cards, having had three days of deliberations over, let's face it more than three friendly beers. That sentiment is echoed by both heavy sour and light sweet physical traders the Oilholic has spoken to in Shanghai and Rotterdam. 

Not many believe OPEC wants three-figure prices; and even if they do, more light sweet American crude is hitting the market heading to Asia. Yours truly has long maintained that we are stuck in a boring oscillation between $60-80 per barrel prices; a predictability that hedge funds find boring for very different monetary reasons. Let's leave it at that!

As for OPEC, it is not going to move until Trump decides on if and what kind/level of waivers he is going to grant importers of Iranian crude or not. That and balancing Russia’s concerns are probably the primary reasons behind postponing its ministers' meeting. That's that from Vienna until June.

Interspersed between crude meetings, the Oilholic also found time for a mooch about Vienna's Ring Road on a sunny afternoon, starting from the Intercontinental Hotel to the Rathaus up to Karlskirche; partially replicating the past-time of Ali Al-Naimi, the inimitable former Saudi Oil Minister. Keep reading, keep it ‘crude’! 

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© Gaurav Sharma 2019. Photo © Gaurav Sharma, 2019

Monday, March 18, 2019

Meeting & greeting Emerson's inimitable boss

Before the Oilholic called time on CERAWeek 2019, this blogger had the absolute pleasure of meeting and greeting David Farr, the inimitable Chief Executive and Chairman of energy industry vendor Emerson Electric (NYSE:EMR) on the sidelines of the event on March 13. 

Farr, who has been Emerson's boss since 2000, has overseen the company's market valuation double under his stewardship. In a wide-ranging discussion, the industry captain touched on Emerson's performance, the Industry 4.0 challenge, change management, and more. 

No conversation would have been complete without touching on the portfolio shake-up that Farr has brought about at Emerson, and the unsuccessful bid for Rockwell Automation that did not turn out to be so bad in the end!

Ultimately, it all bottles down to corporate agility, and Farr said Emerson's two broad business streams - Automation and Commercial and Residential solutions - encompassing a diverse range of brands and businesses is working out pretty well. 


That's all for the moment folks! Keep reading, keep it crude!

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© Gaurav Sharma 2019. Photo: David Farr (left) with Gaurav Sharma on March 13, 2019 at CERAWeek in Houston, Texas, USA. 

Friday, March 15, 2019

Crude 'smart' tech & 'Silicon Bayou'

Days IV and V of CERAWeek 2019 have zipped by with an emphasis on power markets and technology. Since it was all about electricity and technology; here's a photo of ABB's Formula E car on display here in Houston, and yes the Swiss automation and robotics giant's YuMi robot was here too.
And here is the Oilholic's full report for Forbes on how technology is making rigs 'smarter'. Its not just the greenfield sites we see this at play in, as a number of brownfield sites are being retrofitted as well to optimise performance and efficiencies. 

Finally, as is customary at CERAWeek, the Mayor of Houston Sylvester Turner turned up, and this year he reminded delegates that H-Town has sufficiently diversified to have the spheres of education, medicine and information technology sit happily alongside the City's energy sector.

In fact, the IT industry here is growing at such a rapid place that you can call it 'Silicon Bayou' and promote #SiliconBayou, he added. The Oilholic promptly did so. And that's all from CERAWeek 2019 and Houston. Keep reading, keep it crude!

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© Gaurav Sharma 2019. 

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Another two 'crude' days at CERAWeek '19

Day II or Tuesday (March 12) of CERAWeek zipped by, Wednesday is about to come to a close here in Houston and there have been several discussion points. Where to start when penning thoughts on the last 48 hours - a lot of plaudits were won by BP boss Bob Dudley's dinner speech overnight on the evolving oil landscape. 

"Oil and gas majors need to recognise the world's low carbon future. They need to be progressive for society and pragmatic for investors," he noted to considerable applause.

Earlier on Tuesday, OPEC Secretary General Mohammed Barkindo took to briefing journalists and analysts. Key points made included being 'apolitical' on the Venezuelan situation and launching a polite but firm attack on efforts by US lawmakers to hit OPEC with antitrust action - dubbed the No Oil Producing and Exporting Cartels (NOPEC) Act. Here's yours truly's full report for Forbes

The UAE government envoys were also in town promoting their catchy 'Oil and Gas 4.0' drive ranging from investing in digital assets to upskilling and hiring, from AI to robotics. William Clay Ford Jr was around too telling CERAWeek when Ford's F-150 truck's electric version is available it'll be a "completely different animal" and also admitted he had a soft sport for the Mustang. 

On Wednesday (March 13), Centrica Group CEO Iain Conn said societal pressures, e.g. UK government's energy price cap, are eating into utilities sector's operating margins, and that (yes) natural gas will serve as a bridging fuel for decades. 

Away from Brexit chaos back home, he also noted: "While the energy market will not be materially disrupted by Brexit; UK energy consumers would be left worse off if a declining GBP contributes to higher domestic energy bills linked to global markets."

US Energy Secretary Rick Perry also turned up for his second successive CERAWeek making a wide range of points from sanctions on Venezuela to President Donald Trump's opposition to NordStream 2. 

Finally, here is the Oilholic's take on what ExxonMobil's Marine Fuels business makes of the approaching IMO 2020 rule. Well that's all for the moment, more from Houston soon. Keep reading, keep it 'crude'!

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© Gaurav Sharma 2019. Photo: BP CEO Bob Dudley addresses CERAWeek 2019 © Gaurav Sharma 2019.

Monday, March 11, 2019

IEA's take sets tone for CERAWeek 2019

The Oilholic is back in Houston Town for CERAWeek 2019 with talk of Saudi Arabia extending its oil export cuts to April, an OPEC summit due on April 17, and of course oil benchmarks still remaining largely range-bound.

The tone of the first day for IHS Markit's industry jamboree was set by the International Energy Agency's annual five-year market assessment. The agency's Executive Director Dr Fatih Birol, said here in Houston that there should be no doubt that a second wave of the US shale revolution was coming, with American production tipped to cap that of the Russians and the Saudis by 2024.

Later, speaking to the Oilholic, Birol said the agency's take does factor in rates of decline. Here's a full report for Forbes. There were loads of other catchy soundbites yours truly tweeted regularly from Day I of CERAWeek (welcome to follow here), but really Birol's words set the tone.

As for oil benchmarks; both Brent and WTI were down last week, and are up this week but haven't spiked in the strictest sense. For the Oilholic, Brent futures sentiment still isn't decisively bullish.

One reckons $64.50 per barrel support level is key over the coming weeks. If breached meaningfully, a drop to $60-62 likely; if held decisively an uptick to $70 might be on the horizon. But for all the kerfuffle oil futures are largely where they were 12 months ago stuck in a range-bound market. Here is one's pre-CERAWeek analysis in an interview with Victoria Scholar of IG Markets TV:



More from Houston soon! Keep reading, keep it crude!

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© Gaurav Sharma 2019. Photo: Dr Fatih Birol, Executive Director of International Energy Agency speaks at IHS Markit's CERAWeek 2019 conference.© Gaurav Sharma 2019. 

Thursday, February 28, 2019

On IPWeek 2019 & BP Boss' US shale take

A fascinating few days of debates and deliberations at the Energy Institute's International Petroleum Week 2019 came to a close in London earlier today.

For yet another year, the Oilholic was delighted to have spoken and moderated at the event as part of the Gulf Intelligence Middle East Energy Summit. Industry 4.0, investment climate, US shale and OPEC were all under the radar. Delegates were fairly evenly split on the direction of the oil price; but yours truly maintains that the phase of range-bound crude prices is here to stay. 

From where this blogger sits, it is appearing hard for Brent to escape the $65-75 per barrel range, and for the WTI to escape the $55-65 range this year. 

There were interesting soundbites aplenty, but BP Boss Bob Dudley's quip that US shale is a price responsive "brainless" market stood out among them all. Here's the Oilholic's full report and analysis on it for Forbes. That's all for the moment folks! Next stop - Houston, Texas for IHS CERAWeek 2019. Keep reading, keep it crude!

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© Gaurav Sharma 2019. Photo: Gaurav Sharma at IPWeek 2019; with Chris Midgley, Global Director of Analytics for S&P Global Platts © Gulf Intelligence. 

Thursday, January 31, 2019

New avenues for 'crude' analysis

The Oilholic has had a hectic start to 2019 for sure, even though the crude market has behaved pretty predictably in January, having recovered ground it lost towards the end of 2019.

That's because yours truly has started providing insight on a regular basis to three more avenues alongside Forbes. These include The Energy Post and Energy Post Weekly, industry recruitment and insight portal Rigzone, and London-based financial start-up ReachX.

Here are a few snippets:
  • Energy Post: Commentary on energy sector investment in blockchain - January 23, 2019 (Behind Paywall / Subscribers' login)
  • Rigzone: Commentary on direction of the oil price in 2019 - January 28, 2019
  • ReachX: Podcast with Paul Welch, CEO of North Africa focussed independent upstart SDX Energy - January 22, 2019

Plenty more to follow. But that's all for the moment folks! Keep reading, keep it crude!

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© Gaurav Sharma 2019. 

Friday, January 11, 2019

Moroccan perspective on natural gas market

The current situation in the natural gas market has several variables as we enter the first quarter of 2019. But before anything else, what price levels we are at would be a good conversation starter. Using the US Henry Hub as a benchmark, it remains stuck around $3/mmbtu. For Europe, adding an average $2+ mmbtu would be about par.

After a late December collapse, natural gas prices were seemingly being held down by higher than normal winter temperatures, before a big freeze hits several parts of Europe and North America. As for the market itself, most of the chatter these days is about how US LNG - both small and large scale - will add to the global supply pool with the country's capacity tipped to cap 40 million tonnes per annum (tpa) in 2019. 

As the Americans increasingly tussle with other major LNG exporters such as Qatar, Malaysia and Australia for a slice of the global market, Morocco - a net energy importer, albeit with substantial natural gas reserves - is in a reasonably positive position. 

The country has proven reserves of some 1.44 billion cubic meters (bcf) of natural gas, according to the CIA World Factbook, but domestic production is not even a tenth of that volume. Rabat is attempting to alter that dynamic via several independent upstarts led by SDX Energy, and accompanied by the likes of Sound Energy (which recently said it would focus exclusively on Morocco) and Chariot Oil & Gas. 

Seeing potential, the government is offering attractive terms to exploration and production companies (refer to the Oilholic's previous post on the subject). But until Morocco meaningfully discovers its domestic production mojo, the US shale gas bonanza couldn't have come at a more opportune time, as Rabat looks ensure security of supply over the medium-term. In October 2018, Energy Minister Aziz Rabbah confirmed that Morocco is preparing to invite bids for a LNG project in Jorf Lasfar worth $4.5 billion.

It includes construction of a jetty, terminal, pipelines and gas-fired power plants, ultimately leading to the import of up to 7 billion cubic metres of gas by 2025, in a very competitive global gas buyers' market. 

The announcement follows state-owned power utility ONEE announcement in 2017 that it had picked HSBC Middle East as a financial adviser for its plan to boost imports of LNG. The scenario provides plenty of talking points, which is why the Oilholic is heading to Morocco in February to speak and deliberate at the 2nd Morocco Oil & Gas Summit in Marrakesh, February 6-7, 2019, being organised by IN-VR Oil & Gas

It's all set up nicely, and this blogger early awaits the summit. But that’s all for the moment folks! Keep reading, keep it ‘crude’!

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© Gaurav Sharma 2019. Photos: Cairn Energy / IN-VR Oil & Gas

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For comments or for professional queries, please email: gaurav.sharma@oilholicssynonymous.com

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