Showing posts with label David Peniket. Show all posts
Showing posts with label David Peniket. Show all posts

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

EIA’s switch to Brent is telling

A decision by the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) this month has sent a lot of analysts and industry observers, including yours truly, crudely quipping “we told you so.” That decision is ditching the WTI and adopting Brent as its benchmark for oil forecasts as the EIA feels its domestic benchmark no longer reflects accurate oil prices.

Ok it didn't say so as such; but here is an in verbatim quote of what it did say: "This change was made to better reflect the price refineries pay for imported light, sweet crude oil and takes into account the divergence of WTI prices from those of globally traded benchmark crudes such as Brent."

Brent has traded at US$20 per barrel premium to WTI futures since October, and the premium has remained in double digits for huge chunks of the last four fiscal quarters while waterborne crudes such as the Louisiana Light Sweet have tracked Brent more closely.

In fact, the EIA clearly noted that WTI futures prices have lagged behind other benchmarks, as rising oil production in North Dakota and Texas pulled it away from benchmark cousins across the pond and north of the US border. The production rise, for lack of a better word, has quite simply 'overwhelmed' the pipelines and ancillary infrastructure needed to move the crude stuff from Cushing (Oklahoma), where the WTI benchmark price is set, to the Gulf of Mexico. This is gradually changing but not fast enough for the EIA.

The Oilholic feels it is prudent to mention that Brent is not trouble free either. Production in the British sector of the North Sea has been declining since the late 1990s to be honest. However the EIA, while acknowledging that Brent has its issues too, clearly feels retail prices for petrol, diesel and other distillates follow Brent more closely than WTI.

The move is a more than tacit acknowledgement that Brent is more reflective of global supply and demand permutations than its Texan cousin. The EIA’s move, telling as it is, should please the ICE the most. Its COO said as early as May 2010 that Brent was winning the battle of the indices. In the year to November, traders have piled on ICE Brent futures volumes which are up 12% in the year to date.

Furthermore, prior to the OPEC output decision in Vienna this week, both anecdotal and empirical evidence suggests hedge funds and 17 London-based money managers have increased their bets on Brent oil prices rising for much of November and early December. Can’t say for last week as yours truly has been away from London, however, as of November 27 the net long positions had risen to 108,112 contracts; a spike of 11k-plus.

You are welcome to draw your own conclusions. No one is suggesting any connection with what may or may not take place in Vienna on December 12 or EIA opting to use Brent for its forecasts. Perhaps such moves by money managers and hedge funds are just part of a switch from WTI to Brent ahead of the January re-balancing act. However, it is worth mentioning in the scheme of things.

In other noteworthy news, Stephen Harper’s government in Canada has finally approved the acquisition of Nexen by China’s CNOOC following a review which began on July 23. Calgary, Alberta-headquartered Nexen had 900 million barrels of oil equivalent net proven reserves (92% of which is oil with nearly 50% of the assets developed) at its last update on December 31, 2011. The company has strategic holdings in the North Sea, so the decision does have implications for the UK as well.

CNOOC’s bid raised pretty fierce emotions in Canada; a country which by and large welcomes foreign direct investment. It has also been largely welcoming of Asian national oil companies from India to South Korea. The Oilholic feels the Harper administration’s decision is a win for the pragmatists in Ottawa. In light of the announcement, ratings agency Moody's has said it will review Nexen's Baa3 senior unsecured rating and Ba1 subordinated rating for a possible upgrade.

Meanwhile, minor pandemonium has broken out in Brazil’s legislative circles as president Dilma Rousseff vetoed part of a domestic law that was aimed at sharing oil royalties across the country's 26 states. Brazil’s education ministry felt 100% of the profits from new ultradeepwater oil concessions should be used to improve education throughout the country.

But Rio de Janeiro governor Sergio Cabral, who gets a windfall from offshore prospection, warned the measure to spread oil wealth across the country could bankrupt his state ahead of the 2014 soccer world cup and the 2016 summer Olympic games. So Rousseff favoured the latter and vetoed a part of the legislation which would have affected existing oil concessions. To please those advocating a more even spread of oil wealth in Brazil, she retained a clause spreading wealth from the “yet-to-be-explored oilfields” which are still to be auctioned.

Brazil's main oil-producing states have threatened legal action. It is a very complex situation and a new structure for distributing royalties has to be in place by January 2013 in order for auctions of fresh explorations blocks to go ahead. This story has some way to go before it ends and the end won’t be pretty for some. Keep reading, keep it 'crude'!

© Gaurav Sharma 2012. Photo: Pipeline, Brooks Range, Alaska, USA © Michael S. Quinton/National Geographic.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

UK Drilling Activity Down But Exploration is Rising

Offshore drilling in the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS) dipped 20% Q3 2010 on an annualised basis, according to the latest oil and gas industry figures obtained from Deloitte.

It’s Petroleum Services Group (PSG), revealed in a report published on Friday that a total of 24 exploration and appraisal wells were spudded in the UK sector between July 1 and September 30, compared with 30 exploration and appraisal wells during the corresponding period last year.

Concurrently, PSG also said a 4% quarter over quarter rise was noted in the number of wells spudded in the UKCS in the third quarter of this year, attributed to higher levels of exploration drilling in the UKCS, up 32% for the first three quarters of 2010 when compared to the same period of 2009.

Overall, international deal activity saw a marked increase during the third quarter of 2010, following a period of no activity at all in the previous quarter. Most notable were the corporate acquisitions announced following KNOC’s acquisition of Dana and EnQuest’s decision to buy Stratic Energy.

However, corporate level activity within the UK has decreased since the second quarter of 2010 with only one corporate asset sale announced compared to three announcements and one completion in the previous quarter.

Graham Sadler, managing director of Deloitte’s PSG, commented in a statement that seeing deal activity in the UK decreasing for a second consecutive quarter was not a major surprise.

“There is evidence of a shift in company strategy as organisations are opting for less costly and less risky policies as they look to adjust their portfolios. This is reflected in the fact that the number of farm-ins announced has almost tripled this quarter to 11, in comparison with just four announcements during the second quarter. Until more confidence in the recovery of the market becomes further evident, this may be a trend that continues in the future,” Sadler said.

Elsewhere in the UKCS, Norway saw seven exploration and appraisals wells spudded, which represents a 56% decrease when compared to the number of wells drilled in the second quarter of this year.

Netherlands, Denmark and Ireland also reported low levels of drilling activity according to the Deloitte report while the four wells spudded in the Cairn Energy drilling programme in Greenland marked the first activity in the region for a decade.

On the pricing front, despite the overall decreased activity, the price of Brent Crude oil has remained stable throughout the whole of the third quarter of 2010, achieving a quarterly average of US$76.47 per barrel.

Carrying on with the theme, I met several analysts here at OPEC who think Brent appears to be winning the battle of the indices. The sentiment is gaining traction. David Peniket, President and Chief Operating Officer of Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) Futures Europe remarked in May that WTI is an important US benchmark but that it does not reflect the fundamentals of the global oil market in the way that Brent reflects them.

© Gaurav Sharma 2010. Photo: Andrew Rig-North Sea © BP

Monday, May 31, 2010

Is Brent Winning Battle of the Indices?

Is London’s Brent Crude winning the battle of the indices? David Peniket, President and Chief Operating Officer of Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) Futures Europe, certainly seems to think so.

Speaking at the Reuters Global World Energy Summit on May 27th, Peniket said, “Brent is the global oil benchmark. Brent is used as the price benchmark for around two-thirds of the world's traded oil. It reflects the fundamentals of the oil market on a global basis and we're seeing Brent used as part of the pricing for oil throughout the world.”

Looking ahead, he added that based on “ongoing” growth in Asia, ICE currently expects Asian market participants to use Brent to hedge their risk rather than other benchmarks.

WTI Volumes traded on the NYMEX are far higher than those of Brent on ICE but Peniket said that from 2008 to 2009 Brent grew by 8% in volume terms while WTI grew 2%. Over Q1 2010, Brent grew by 34% while NYMEX WTI grew by 8%.

He declined comment on when he thought ICE Brent volumes may exceed WTI on NYMEX but said that, “Brent is a seaborne crude; it's at a point of the world where crude oil can move around and it can act as a point of arbitrage between different crude grades. Clearly WTI is an important US benchmark but I don't think it reflects the fundamentals of the global oil market in the way that Brent reflects them.”

Elsewhere in the summit, Reuters reported that top bosses of several leading commodities exchange, including Peniket, expressed their common view that speculation has not caused extreme volatility in oil prices and the efforts by state regulators in various markets are unwise to say the least. That will hardly convince politicians seeking capital and a largely sceptical wider public opinion, most notably in the US.

© Gaurav Sharma 2010. Photo Courtesy © Royal Dutch Shell

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