Showing posts with label IHS CERA. Show all posts
Showing posts with label IHS CERA. Show all posts

Monday, March 19, 2018

Meeting YuMi & getting Swiss chocolates packed

Technology, especially AI and robotics, were hot topics at the recently concluded IHS CERAWeek in Houston, Texas, US. 

They simply had to be, with a succession of ‘Big Oil’ and utility bosses stressing on the need for a more efficient optimised energy industry.

The annual event itself, now past its 37th year and counting, also saw its tech floor and space grow bigger in addition to the dialogues that took place. In the midst of it all, robotics and engineering giant ABB’s boss Ulrich Spiesshofer insisted that the Oilholic should not leave Houston without paying YuMi a visit. 

That would be the company’s small-parts assembly robot first introduced to the industrials market in 2015; and has been making waves ever since.

It has vowed US President Barack Obama, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and even conducted Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli and the Lucca Philharmonic Orchestra at the Teatro Verdi in Pisa, Italy. 

True to his word, this blogger paid YuMi a visit and found it vowing and amusing CERA Week delegates in equal measure, by packing Swiss chocolates for them. (See video below)




According to ABB North America spokesperson Chris Shigas, the speed you see in the video is only 50% of what YuMi is capable of.  The company describes it as a ‘co-bot’. 

In Shigas’ own words: “It’s a collaborative, dual arm, small parts assembly robot solution that includes flexible hands, parts feeding systems, camera-based part location and state-of-the-art robot control.”

YuMi weighs 38kgs and is the size of a small human being. It can [and does], operate without a protective cage with in-built health and safety features designed for it to work alongside human co-workers. The thought process and platform collectively give YuMi its name - “you and me” working together to create “endless possibilities,” as ABB suggests.

In fact, the Swiss chocolate nibbles you see YuMi pick and pack are pretty light compared to the 500 gram payload it can currently handle. 

Shigas said that thanks to its compactness, YuMi can be easily integrated into existing assembly lines thereby increasing productivity.

What created the real buzz for oil and gas folks at CERA Week was the fact that YuMi features lead-through programming, which, in simple terms, does away with the need for specialised training for operators. That opens up endless future possibilities for a plethora of industries.

Well, that’s all for the moment folks! But before the Oilholic takes your leave, a photograph with YuMi was in order for a keepsake, given it has rubbed shoulders with presidents and chancellors, and might soon be coming to a facility near you. We both also seem to be in matching attire, more by coincidence than by design, in this blogger's case at least! Keep reading, keep it ‘crude’!

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© Gaurav Sharma 2018. Photo 1: ABB's YuMi at IHS CERA Week 2018. Photo 2: The Oilholic with YuMi. Video: YuMi packs Swiss chocolates © Gaurav Sharma March, 2018. 

Monday, March 12, 2018

Flurry of soundbites & final musings from Houston

As IHS CERA Week came to a close on Friday, the Oilholic published two Forbes interviews with a 'tech twist', given technology enabled process efficiencies and cost optimisation seem to be in overdrive in the oil and gas industry.

First off, it was a pleasure, yet again, to exchange views with engineering and robotics giant ABB’s boss Ulrich Spiesshofer.

In a wide-ranging interview, Spiesshofer noted: "We are taking the oil and gas industry from an automated into an autonomous operations sphere, where you have self-learning processes, where you use AI to augment human potential, to optimize the control loop for operations and maintenance." (Read the whole interview here.)

Secondly, yours truly also exchanged views with Peter Zornio, Chief Technology Officer of Emerson's automation division, who said the inexorable direction the energy sector was heading in via broad spectrum digitisation meant more business for his company.

"We are working on a proposal where we become a turnkey supplier directly looking at client equipment and alerting them when something goes wrong."

While Emerson is offering full-scale outsourcing, Zornio admitted the industry might not be ready for this level of optimisation. The whole discussion is available here.

With bags packed from CERA Week 2018, this blogger's two standout quotes from the event were uttered by BP CEO Bob Dudley and International Energy Agency's Executive Director Fatih Birol. Dudley reminded the audience of the importance of the integrated model in current climate, when he noted: "Our downstream business contributes billions of dollars to the dividend we give to our shareholders."

And Dr Birol, when asked what should US producers make of their new found clout in the oil and gas world with forecasts of American production exceeding that of market leaders Saudi Arabia and Russia, quipped: "They should enjoy!"

Finally, on a week-on-week basis, the oil benchmarks ended Friday (9 March) over 1% higher; read what you will into it – but one reckons, price oscillation in the $55-70 per barrel range is about par. 

That's all from Houston folks, as it's time for the flight home to London. But before the Oilholic takes your leave, here is a view (above) from Houston Rodeo 2018, which this blogger had the pleasure of visiting yet again. 

It's a fantastic affair that draws in thousands every year – with a carnival atmosphere, barbecues, fun rides, livestock on display topping up the rodeo – all with a very unique Texas flavour! Keep reading, keep it ‘crude’!

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© Gaurav Sharma 2018. Photo 1: Houston's Skyline. Photo 2: Houston Rodeo 2018, being held in Texas, US © Gaurav Sharma March, 2018. 

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Back in Houston town for CERAWeek

The Oilholic is back in Houston, Texas for the 2017 instalment of IHS CERAWeek; one of the world’s largest gatherings of oil and gas policymakers, executives, movers and shakers alike.

An early start to an empty lobby (see left) and a late finish (as yet to follow) are all but guaranteed, and it’s only day one! 

The morning began with the International Energy Agency’s Executive Director Fatih Birol telling us another supply glut courtesy of rising US shale production was around the corner (report here). 

Then Indian Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan told scribes it was an oil buyers’ market as far as he was concerned, and that he is not averse to the idea of India buying crude from the US, now that Washington permit unrefined exports. Take that Opec! (More here).

By the way, a rather large Russian delegation appears to be in town, led by none other than energy minister Alexander Novak himself. When put on the spot by IHS CERA Vice Chairman Daniel Yergin, the Kremlin’s top man at CERAWeek said Russia will achieve a 300,000 barrels per day (bpd) production cut by the end of April. 

However, Novak said Russia will not decide on extending its production cut deal with Opec and 10 other non-Opec producers until the middle of 2017.

Late afternoon, ExxonMobil’s relatively new boss Darren Woods put in a refined performance unveiling a $20 billion downstream investment plan, which is sure to delight President Donald Trump. (More here)

That’s all from CERAWeek for the moment folks. Keep reading, keep it ‘crude’! 

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© Gaurav Sharma 2017. Photo: Entrance to IHS CERAWeek 2017 in Houston, Texas, USA © Gaurav Sharma.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

A crude walk down 'Exploration Drive'

The Oilholic finds himself in the 'Granite City' or the 'Oil capital of Europe' as Aberdeen, Scotland has recently come to be known as. Given that context, a street named Exploration Drive in the city's Energy Park has a nice ring to it. In what has been an interesting week – news-wise, market reports-wise and otherwise – right up to this morning, it's good to be here, meeting old friends and making yet newer ones during been. While this blogger's flight got in on time, blustery conditions so common in this part of the world saw one plane overshoot the runway and the airport closed for a few hours

That wasn't the only news in town. Reports of the Libyan PM first getting kidnapped and then released, flooded the wires and Shell – Nigeria’s oldest IOC operator – has put up four oil blocks there feeding the Bonny Terminal (the country’s oldest export facility) up for sale, according to the FT.

The chatter, if formally confirmed, would be seen as a retreat by the oil major from a part of the world where theft of crude from pipeline infrastructure is rampant. Shell it seems is getting mighty fed up of constant damage to its pipelines. Moving on from news, it is worth summarising a couple of interesting notes put out by Moody's these past few weeks.
 
In the first, the ratings agency opines that BP can tolerate a moderate penalty related to the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill without compromising its credit quality. However, a severe penalty resulting from a finding of gross negligence would change the equation according to Moody's, with Phase 2 of the trial to determine limitation and liability having begun stateside.

"BP can tolerate about US$40 billion in penalties, after taxes, under its A2, Prime-1 ratings. A ruling in line with the company's current $3.5 billion provision would leave some headroom to absorb other charges, including settlement costs from payouts awarded for business economic loss claims, which ultimately depend on the interpretation of the Economic and Property Damages Settlement Agreement," Moody's noted.

Other defendants in the case include Transocean, Halliburton and Anadarko. Of these, Transocean, which owned the Deepwater Horizon rig, is exposed to sizable fines and penalties. "Indemnifications will protect Transocean from some liabilities. But other items could ultimately cost the company billions of dollars to resolve," says Stuart Miller, senior credit officer at Moody's.

In its second note, the ratings agency said it had downgraded Petrobras' long term debt ratings to Baa1 from A3. The downgrade reflects Petrobras' high financial leverage and the expectation that the company will continue to have large negative cash flow over the next few years as it pursues its capital spending programme.

With that programme being the largest among its peers, Petrobras' spending in 2013 could be almost double its internally generated cash flow. The company's total debt liabilities increased in the first half of 2013 by $16.3 billion, or $8.36 billion net of cash and marketable securities, and should increase again in 2014, based on an outlook for negative cash flow through 2014 and into 2015. The outlook remains negative, Moody's adds.

Moving away from companies to countries, global analytics firm IHS has concluded that North America’s "Tight Oil" phenomenon is poised to go global. In its latest geological study – Going Global: Predicting the Next Tight Oil Revolution – it says the world has large 'potential technical' recoverable resources of tight oil, possibly several times those of North America.
 
In particular, the study identified the 23 "highest-potential" plays throughout the world and found that the potential technically recoverable resources of just those plays is likely to be 175 billion barrels – out of almost 300 billion for all 148 play areas analysed for the study.

While it is too early to assess the proportion of what could be commercially recovered, the potential is significant compared to the commercially recoverable resources of tight oil (43 billion barrels) estimated in North America by previous IHS studies. The growth of tight oil production has driven the recent surge in North American production. In fact, the USA is now the world largest 'energy' producer by many metrics.

"Before the tight oil revolution people thought oil supply would start to fall slowly in the longer term, but now it is booming. This is important because Russian production has been hovering at the same level for some time, and now the US will exceed the Russia’s total oil and gas production," says Peter Jackson, vice president of upstream research at IHS CERA.

In IHS' view, Russian oil production is unlikely to rise in the medium term. In fact, the firm anticipates that it will start falling because of the lack of investment in exploration in emerging areas such as the Arctic and new plays such as tight oil. "But of course, there is a long lead time between deciding to invest and exploring and then getting that oil & gas out of the ground," Jackson adds.

North America's growth in supply from the tight oil and shale revolution means that the USA is now less worried about the security of energy supply. It is now even thinking of exporting LNG, which would have been unheard of ten years ago, as the Oilholic noted from Chicago earlier this year.

This is having an impact on the direction of exports around the world changing direction, from West to East, for example to China and post-Fukushima Japan. Furthermore, light sweet West African crudes are now switching globally, less directed to the US and increasingly to Asian jurisdictions.

OPEC, which is likely to increase its focus in favour of Asia as well, published its industry outlook earlier this month. While its Secretary General Abdalla Salem el-Badri refused to be drawn in to what production quota it would set later this year, he did say a forecast drop in demand for OPEC's oil was not large.

The exporters' group expects demand for its crude to fall to 29.61 million bpd in 2014, down 320,000 bpd from 2013, due to rising non-OPEC supply. "Tight oil" output would be in decline by 2018 and the cost of such developments means that a sharp drop in oil prices would restrain supplies, Badri said.

"This tight oil is hanging on the cost. If the price were to drop to $60 to $70, then it would be out of the market completely." He does have a point there and that point –  what oil-price level would keep unconventional, difficult-to-extract and low-yield projects going – is what the Oilholic is here to find out over the next couple of days. That’s all for the moment from Aberdeen folks! Keep reading, keep it 'crude'!

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© Gaurav Sharma 2013. Photo 1: Exploration Drive, Aberdeen, Scotland, UK. Photo 2: Weatherford site, Aberdeen Energy Park, Scotland, UK © Gaurav Sharma, October 2013.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Puts n’ calls, Russia ‘peaking’ & Peking’s shale

Oil market volatility continues unabated indicative of the barmy nature of the world we live in. On January 25, the Brent forward month futures contract spiked above US$113. If the day's intraday price of US$113.46 is used as a cut-off point, then it has risen by 4.3% since Christmas Eve. If you ask what has changed in a month? Well not much! The Algerian terror strike, despite the tragic nature of events, does not fundamentally alter the geopolitical risk premium for 2013.

In fact, many commentators think the risk premium remains broadly neutral and hinged on the question whether or not Iran flares-up. So is a US$113-plus Brent price merited? Not one jot! If you took such a price-level at face value, then yours would be a hugely optimistic view of the global economy, one that it does not merit on the basis of economic survey data.
 
In an interesting note, Ole Hansen, Head of Commodity Strategy at Saxo Bank, gently nudges observers in the direction of examining the put/call ratio. For those who don’t know, in layman terms the ratio measures mass psychology amongst market participants. It is the trading volume of put options divided by the trading volume of call options. (See graph above courtesy of Saxo Bank. Click image to enlarge)
 
When the ratio is relatively high, this means the trading community or shall we say the majority in the trading community expect bearish trends. When the ratio is relatively low, they’re heading-up a bullish path.
 
Hansen observes: “The most popular traded strikes over the five trading days (to January 23) are evenly split between puts and calls. The most traded has been the June 13 Call strike 115 (last US$ 3.13 per barrel), April 13 Call 120 (US$0.61), April 13 Put 100 (US$0.56) and June 13 Put 95 (US$1.32). The hedging of a potential geopolitical spike has been seen through the buying of June 13 Call 130, last traded at US$0.54/barrel.”
 
The Oilholic feels it is prudent to point out that tracking the weekly volume of market puts and calls is a method of gauging the sentiments of majority of traders. Overall, the market can, in the right circumstances, prove a majority of traders wrong. So let’s see how things unfold. Meanwhile, the CME Group said on January 24 that the NYMEX March Brent Crude had made it to the next target of US$112.90/113.29 and topped it, but the failure to break this month’s high "signals weakness in the days to come."
 
The  group also announced a record in daily trading volume for its NYMEX Brent futures contract as trading volumes, using January 18 as a cut-off point, jumped to 30,250 contracts; a 38% increase over the previous record of 21,997 set on August 8, 2012.
 
From the crude oil market to the stock market, where ExxonMobil finally got back its position of being the most valuable publicly traded company on January 25! Apple grabbed the top spot in 2011 from ExxonMobil which the latter had held since 2005. Yours truly does not have shares in either company, but on the basis of sheer consistency in corporate performance, overall value as a creator of jobs and a general contribution to the global economy, one would vote for the oil giant any day over an electronic gadgets manufacturer (Sorry, Apple fans if you feel the Oilholic is oversimplifying the argument).
 
Switching tack to the macro picture, Fitch Ratings says Russian oil production will probably peak in the next few years as gains from new oilfields are offset by falling output from brownfield sites. In a statement on January 22, the ratings agency said production gains that Russia achieved over the last decade were mainly driven by intensive application of new technology, in particular horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing applied to Western Siberian brownfields on a massive scale.
 
"This allowed oil companies to tap previously unreachable reservoirs and dramatically reverse declining production rates at these fields, some of which have been producing oil for several decades. In addition, Russia saw successful launches of several new production areas, including Rosneft's large Eastern Siberian Vankor field in 2009," Fitch notes.
 
However, Fitch says the biggest potential gains from new technology have now been mostly achieved. The latest production figures from the Russian Ministry of Energy show that total crude oil production in the country increased by 1.3% in 2012 to 518 million tons. Russian refinery volumes increased by 4.5% to 266 million tons while exports dropped by 1% to 239 million tons. Russian oil production has increased rapidly from a low of 303 million tons in 1996.
 
"Greenfields are located in inhospitable and remote places and projects therefore require large amounts of capital. We believe oil prices would need to remain above US$100 per barrel and the Russian government would need to provide tax incentives for oil companies to invest in additional Eastern Siberian production," Fitch says.
 
A notable exception is the Caspian Sea shelf where Lukoil, Russia’s second largest oil company, is progressing with its exploration and production programme. The ratings agency does see potential for more joint ventures between Russian and international oil companies in exploring the Russian continental shelf. No doubt, the needs must paradigm, which is very visible elsewhere in the ‘crude’ world, is applicable to the Russians as well.
 
On the very same day as Fitch raised the possibility of Russian production peaking, Peking announced a massive capital spending drive towards shale exploration. Reuters reported that China intends to start its own shale gale as the country’s Ministry of Land and Resources issued exploration rights for 19 shale prospection blocks to 16 firms. Local media suggests most of the exploration rights pertain to shale gas exploration with the 16 firms pledging US$2 billion towards the move.

On the subject of shale and before the news arrived from China, IHS Vice Chairman Daniel Yergin told the World Economic Forum  in Davos that major unconventional opportunities are being identified around the world. "Our research indicates that the shale resource base in China may be larger than in the USA, and we note prospects elsewhere," he added.
 
However, both the Oilholic and the industry veteran and founder of IHS CERA agree that the circumstances which led to and promoted the development of unconventional sources in the USA differ in important aspects from other parts of the world.

“It is still very early days and we believe that it will take several years before significant amounts of unconventional oil and gas begin to appear in other regions,” Yergin said. In fact, the US is benefitting in more ways than one if IHS’ new report Energy and the New Global Industrial Landscape: A Tectonic Shift is to be believed.

In it, IHS forecasts that the "direct, indirect and induced effects" of the surge in nonconventional oil and gas extraction have already added 1.7 million jobs to the US jobs market with 3 million expected by 2020. Furthermore, the surge has also added US$62 billion to federal and state government coffers in 2012 with US$111 billion expected by 2020. (See bar chart above courtesy of IHS. Click image to enlarge)
 
IHS also predicts that non-OPEC supply growth in 2013 will be 1.1 million barrels per day – larger than the growth in global demand – which has happened only four times since 1986. Leading this non-OPEC growth is indeed the surge in unconventional oil in the USA. The report does warn, however, that increases in non-OPEC supply elsewhere in the world could be subject to what has proved to be a recurrent “history of disappointment.”
 
That’s all for the moment folks! Keep reading, keep it ‘crude’!
 
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© Gaurav Sharma 2013. Graph: Brent Crude – Put/Call ratio © Saxo Bank, Photo: Russian jerry pump jacks © Lukoil, Bar Chart: US jobs growth projection in the unconventional oil & gas sector © IHS 2013.

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

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