Wednesday, October 09, 2019

Turkey Energy Summit and Eastern Med tussles

The Oilholic is about to complete a quick visit for a speaking engagement at the 10th Turkey Energy Summit in Altalya on the sunny shores of the Mediterranean, off the coast of which is brewing an almighty tussle for natural gas riches. 

For Eastern Mediterranean offshore prospection could potentially provide a pathway to over 70 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of natural gas. 

With great resource riches often come great geopolitical tensions. Cyprus has awarded drilling licences to its preferred partners, but Turkey which invaded the island in 1974 following a Greek-inspired coup and created a Northern Turkish Cypriot enclave in its wake, won't have any of it. 

Its response has been to send drilling ships of its own to howls from the EU and US, and of course Cyprus. But Turkey's Energy Minister Fatih Donmez told the summit in his keynote speech that Ankara won't be backing down, and more has emerged on the Turkish stance since. Here's yours truly's full report for Forbes

All the more fitting it was then that this blogger moderated two panels at the summit on 7 and 8 October, touching on geopolitics and its impact on energy and commodities market, and LNG market permutations. 

It was a pleasure and privilege to have conducted them and having partaken in some exciting and engaging industry dialogues. 

Alas, it is now time for the flight home, but before one takes your leave, here's a glimpse of Antalya's amazing coastline. That's all for the moment folks! Keep reading, keep it 'crude'!

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© Gaurav Sharma 2019. Photo 1: Gaurav Sharma (left), moderates the geopolitics session at the 10th Turkey Energy Summit in Antalya, Oct 7, 2019 © Turkey Energy Summit. Photo 2: Coastline of Belek, Antalya © Gaurav Sharma, October 2019. 

Wednesday, October 02, 2019

On oil price direction and EMF 2019

The Oilholic returned overnight from a visit to Fujairah, United Arab Emirates, for the 9th Gulf Intelligence Energy Markets Forum; the burgeoning shipping and storage port's annual gathering of industry minds. 

And on everyone's mind - unsurprisingly - was the direction of the oil price. This blogger has maintained the market is stuck in the modest middle, given that even 58% of Saudi capacity being temporarily knocked offline last month was not enough to keep Brent futures above $70 per barrel for a sustained period of time. 

Demand concerns have returned with a vengeance to temper risk driven upticks. The Oilholic remains in the $65 per barrel Brent average bracket. But majority of the delegates to the Forum were even more bearish for the quarter, based on the findings of an instant poll conducted at Gulf Intelligence's behest by yours truly (see image top left, click to enlarge). Many are bracing for a Q4 2019 Brent price in the range of $60-$65 per barrel. 


As part of the proceedings, one also got a chance to interview Mele Kyari, Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), both to discuss the spot poll's findings, as well as how Nigeria views the current market dynamic. 

Kyari stressed that Nigeria expects global demand to continue at pace driven by petrochemicals and aviation fuel. Tied into that is of course NNPC's own, and much-needed push to both invest, as well as court investment in its downstream sector. 

And away from the main auditorium, were several informative industry roundtables. Fujairah itself is undergoing significant changes in light of current geopolitics, inward investment, and the likes of ADNOC and Saudi Aramco mulling trading and storage outposts there. Will be penning thoughts on that subject for Forbes and Rigzone shortly, but that's all from Fujairah for the moment folks. Keep reading, keep it 'crude'!

Addendum I - 06.10.19: Thoughts via Forbes - ADNOC Gets Serious About Its Oil Exports Bypassing Strait Of Hormuz Via Fujairah, here.
  
Addendum II - 07.10.19: And via Rigzone - Oil Hub of Fujairah Thriving Amid Rising Geopolitical Risk, here.

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© Gaurav Sharma 2019. Chart 1: Findings of oil price direction survey at Energy Markets Forum in Fujairah, Oct 1, 2019 © Gulf Intelligence. Photos 1 & 2: Gaurav Sharma interviews Mele Kyari, Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) © Photo 1 - Samantha Morris, © Photo 2 - Gulf Intelligence, October 1, 2019.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Back at HUG19 talking energy cybersecurity

The Oilholic is back in The Hague, Netherlands for the 2019 installment of Honeywell Users Group EMEA; the annual European jamboree of the global software industrial company's automation and optimisation unit - Honeywell Process Solutions (HPS).

Everything from state-of-the-art plant processing systems to virtual reality kit for health and safety happen to be on display, and every year the event gets bigger, because the energy and petrochemical world's appetite for big data and cost optimisation is getting voracious by day.

Advanced analytics, digital optimisation of throughput, cloud solutions - you name it. To quote our old friend - Jason Urso, Vice President and Chief Technology Officer of HPS, "It not the data that's big, it's what you do with it that matters."

In a mammoth two-hour long keynote and presentation to kick-off the event's first morning, Urso touched on how Honeywell's old workhorse of a plant control system - the TDC 3000 - can benefit from deployment of its digital twin his team have been aggressively promoting in recent years.

To the uninitiated on the plant control front, basically Urso and his team are saying, if you want a swanky new control system, by all means go for, but the existing infrastructure can indeed be "digitally optimised" and upgraded; reducing the need for everything from multiple clunky servers to a messy mass of cables. And no its not getting too cloudy in the age of Big Data, because the usage of cloud computing and off premise data storage (where permissible by law) is growing.

Of course, as digital techniques proliferate, so does the worry, and in HPS' case, the opportunity of cybersecurity. In sync with that sentiment, HPS is notching up its cybersecurity offering and there is form here. In 2018, the company launched its dedicated cybersecurity consulting outfit to help customers rightly spooked about the growing threat.

It seems 12 months on, that dedication has multiplied several times over via its - Honeywell Forge Cybersecurity platform, which "simplifies, strengthens and scales cybersecurity for asset-intensive businesses and critical infrastructure facing cyber threats."

According to Jeff Zindell, HPS' Vice Present of Cybersecurity, the offering can be scaled to match cyber-requirements and budgets, and the allied customer support that goes with it. With over 50% of HPS' client base being in the energy and petrochemicals sphere, it is easy to fathom where it sees the demand coming from.

Zindell describes the new unified suite of applications, services and products as a "natural step to take to address a range of end-user requirements from asset discovery and monitoring to fully managed services.

In what would be music to margin squeezed downstream and midstream players' ears, Zindell said the unified suite will also bring down costs alongside optimisation of cybersecurity mechanisms.

Plenty to chew on, and some images from the exhibition you to look at, but that's all from The Hague on this visit. Next stop Dubai and Fujairah via London Heathrow; keep reading, keep it 'crude'!

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© Gaurav Sharma 2019. Photo 1: Jason Urso, Vice President and CTO of HPS, discusses Honeywell TDC 3000's digital twin options. Photo 2,3 & 4: Honeywell virtual reality headsets, kits and flow management and monitoring equipment © Gaurav Sharma, Oct 24-25, 2019, The Hague, Netherlands.    

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Why drone attacks on Saudi Aramco haven’t sparked sustained oil price spike

The Oilholic returned from researching enhanced oil recovery in rural Pennsylvania on Friday (September 13), only to wake up to a tumultuous weekend, and week, for the oil market in that order. For in the small hours of Saturday morning, multiple drone and alleged missile attacks, claimed by Houthi rebels, hit Saudi Aramco’s crude processing facilities in Abqaiq and the Khurais oilfield. 

The attack took out 5.7 million barrels per day (bpd) of Saudi production capacity. Going by the last Platts survey, the Kingdom pumped 9.77 million bpd in August, implying the attack created a 58% drop in production at the very least when measured against last month's production levels.

The situation remains unpredictable, and as yours truly told the BBC – were it not for US production serving as a buffer, current oil pricing scenario and modelling would be very different.

The Americans remain the world's largest oil producer pumping in excess of 12 million bpd, and the country’s production could rise to 13.4 million bpd at some point in 2020. That is what has largely kept the market sane. Predictably, Brent futures shot up 20% to $71 per barrel at the Asian open on Monday but the uptick did not last. As the week’s trading came to a close on Friday (September 20), a look at benchmark prices - ironing out the week’s volatility - says it all. Brent closed at $64.28 per barrel, up $4.06 or 6.84% while the WTI closed at $58.09 per barrel, up $3.24 or 5.9% on the week.

The said movement is hardly the stuff of bullish dreams; even if the week belonged to the longs, short-sellers did not take as big a hammering as some feared. And consumers need not be overly concerned for now at least. As the Oilholic said on ITN/Channel 5 News, the physical crude market’s response and its domino effect on fuel prices depend not on the here and now, but on where from here? Lot depends on the Saudi and US response to the attack that both parties near instantaneously blamed on Iran which backs the Houthi rebels.

If the Saudis, in concert with the Americans, hit sites in Iran, then that could lead to a wider conflict in the Persian Gulf and some very real turmoil associated with it; not just knee-jerk price reactions of the sort we saw in the immediate aftermath of the revolt.

It is here that the market could see a sustained geopolitical risk driven uptick in oil prices for $10 to $15 per barrel. Plausibly, you will see prices at the pump rising given that retailers pass an oil price rise near instantaneously but are pretty slow in cutting them in the event of a price drop. And of course governments who in many cases take two-thirds of the price we pay per litre at the pump, might have some serious thinking to do as well.

For now an eerie calm prevails, with the market soaking in verbal salvos between Riyadh, Washington and Tehran. Logical conclusion is that an attack of this magnitude cannot go unanswered or Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the power hungry favourite son of Saudi King Salman, would look weak. Finally, here are the Oilholic’s thoughts in detail on Forbes summing up the turbulent trading week. That’s all for the moment folks! Keep reading, keep it 'crude'! 

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© Gaurav Sharma 2019. Photo 1: Gaurav Sharma on BBC News at Six on September 15, 2019 © BBC, Photo 2: Gaurav Sharma on 5 News on September 16, 2019 © ITN

Friday, August 30, 2019

Two crude charts that say it all

We are nearly at the end of the third quarter of the current oil trading year and the Oilholic has two relevant charts for you. The first figure below (click images to enlarge), offers a glimpse into the OPEC Crude Basket of its member exporters' prices, and it is currently averaging just shy of $65 per barrel. 

The second figure tracks the Friday closing prices of oil benchmarks year to date, which points to the fact that oil futures, while volatile, are still oscillating in a fairly predictable range, unable to breach a $50 per barrel floor or meaningfully escape a $70 per barrel ceiling.














Figure I
















Figure II

As this blogger has said before; oil prices remain range-bound and are going nowhere fast. Keep reading, keep it 'crude' folks!

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© Gaurav Sharma 2019. Charts: Figure I - Direction of OPEC's crude basket. Figure II - Friday closes of oil benchmark prices, year till Friday, 23 August, 2019  © Gaurav Sharma, August 2019

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

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