Friday, June 14, 2019

A calmer view on oil market volatility

The Oilholic is just about to end his latest visit to Oslo, Norway following a two-day energy technology event but decided to stop en route to the airport to admire the calm waterfront off the Fornebu business district. Here's a view of the Fornebukta. Its serenity is as far removed from the ongoing kerfuffle in oil market as can be.

Both Brent and WTI ended the month of May some 11% lower, with the market just not buying the geopolitical risk angle following attacks on tankers off the Port Of Fujairah. 

Now it seems two more tankers have been attacked in the region, but apart from a brief uptick, the bears are still in control. The WTI is well below $60 per barrel, and Brent is struggling to hold the floor at $60. That's because regardless of the market discourse over geopolitical risks in the Middle East and US-Iran tensions; what's actually weighing on the market is the trade tension between US and China. 

Were that to be resolved, it would in the Oilholic's opinion be a much bigger bullish factor than skirmishes in the Middle East. Another factor is what is OPEC going to, or rather isn't going to, do next? Its ministers' meeting for April was postponed to June 25-26, and now it seems that going to postponed again to July. All of that at a time when the market remains cognisant of the fact that the cartel does not have an exit strategy for the cuts drive. 

Here is this blogger's latest take on the subject for Rigzone published overnight. OPEC is doing a balancing act of compromising its market share in a bid to support the price; but its a temporary stance that can be prolonged, but one that cannot become a default position give US production is tipped to rise over the short-term.

Additionally, should the Russians call off participation in the ongoing OPEC and non-OPEC cuts of 1.2 million barrels per day (bpd); the desired effect of any standalone cuts made by the cartel of the sort it made in the past, would not be quite the same given the ongoing cooperation in itself is extraordinary in nature, and has held firm since December 2016, for the market to price it in as such. 

Many fellow analysts here in Oslo share the same viewpoint. OPEC's production came in at a record low of 30.9 million bpd in May, according to the latest S&P Global Platts survey. That's the lowest level since February 2015, before Gabon, Equatorial Guinea and Congo joined, and when Qatar was still a member.

How the cartel reasserts its credibility is anyone's guess but all things considered, it remains difficult to see crude oil benchmarks escape the $50 to $70 price bracket anytime soon. That's all from Oslo folks! But before this blogger take your leave here's another view of the scenic, albeit rain-soaked Oslofjord (above right). It was a pleasure visiting Norway again, reconnecting with old friends and contacts and making yet newer ones. Keep reading, keep it 'crude'!

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© Gaurav Sharma 2019. Photo 1: Fornebukta, Fornebu, Norway. Photo 2: Oslofjord, Oslo Norway © Gaurav Sharma June, 2019.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Two tech-heavy 'crude' days at Ignite 2019

The Oilholic has spent the last two days in Oslo, Norway attending energy software firm Cognite's annual Ignite 2019 conference at the City's H3 Arena. 

Founded by entrepreneur John Markus Lervik, this energy software start-up majority-owned by Norwegian investment firm Aker, has been making waves in the oil and gas industry as a provider of advanced data and digitization services. 

The firm's industry solutions and analytics bank on operations and equipment sensors that help boost efficiency, throughput and reduce costs by several multiples – something oil and gas players can easily relate to especially in the current volatile oil price climate and pressure for lower breakevens. 

Within just over three years (and counting) of its founding, Cognite has bagged nearly 30 customers including big names such as OMV, Aker BP and Lundin Petroleum. Ignite 2019 was the company's attempt at showcasing what it can offer and trigger debates and dialogues about process efficiencies and optimisation.

Inevitably, in the age of advanced analytics and artificial intelligence, much of the discourse centred on 'Big Data for 'Big Oil'. The conference was supported by companies such as Cognizant, Google, Framo, Siemens, National Instruments and Aker BP to name a few. Nikolai Astrup, Minister of Digitalization of Norway, started proceedings declaring "data is gold."

The minister went on to note: "If we refine, manage and share data appropriately it will lay the foundation for better and more effective public services, new industry successes and create jobs. 

"The Norwegian government has just launched an ambitious digitalization strategy, making us a pioneer in creating good public services for citizens, businesses and the voluntary sector."

A packed agenda saw several speakers outline the kind of efficiencies their digitisation efforts are bringing about and the results they have yielded. For instance, here is the Oilholic's report for Forbes on how Austria's OMV has managed to lower its production costs from $15 per barrel down to $7 per barrel.

While the job of impressing the sector and bagging clients is well underway, and Cognite's product suite is helping the company to grow profitably, further capital for expansion will be needed. To that end, this blogger sat down with Lervik to discuss his future plans, including those for a possible initial public offering. Here's this blogger's full interview for Forbes in which Lervik also discusses Cognite’s expansion to Asia and North America

Following an evening of networking over some fun music and drinks on day one, day two brought more efficiencies discussions to the fore, not necessarily digressing from the oil and gas industry theme but including renewables and low carbon as vital topics.

As were the subjects of advanced data analytics and cloud computing, with Darryl Willis, VP Oil, Gas & Energy at Google Cloud, telling Ignite 2019 delegates that every industry, including energy, will be grappling with data as the new common denominator. "Data science to real time monitoring aided by cloud computing and data analytics would only be to the industry advantage."

Plenty more articles coming up from the deliberations for Forbes, Rigzone and Energy Post over the next few weeks, but that's all from Ignite 2019 on that note. After a few more meetings in Oslo, it'll be time for the big bus home. Keep reading, keep it 'crude'!

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© Gaurav Sharma 2019. Photo 1: Oslofjord Ferry Pier, Oslo, Norway. Photo 2: Nikolai Astrup, Minister of Digitalization of Norway speaks at Ignite 2019 at the H3 Arena in Oslo, Norway. Photos 3&4: Glimpses of networking floor at Ignite 2019 © Gaurav Sharma, June 2019.

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. 

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