Showing posts with label Integrated model. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Integrated model. Show all posts

Sunday, August 09, 2015

Jargon free volume on upstream fiscal design

Takings from upstream oil and gas projects, whether they are small scale or big ticket ones, ultimately determine their profitability – the stuff that shareholders, venture sponsors and governments alike have a keen interest in.

It is why oil and gas companies, both state or privately held, deploy an army of petroleum economists to offer conjecture or calculated projections on what the final fiscal share of such ventures might be.

In this complex arena, both budding petroleum economists and established ones could do with all the help they can get. Industry veterans Ken Kasriel and David Wood’s book Upstream Petroleum: Fiscal and Valuation Modeling in Excel (published by Wiley Finance) goes a long way towards doing just that, and quite comprehensively too.

In a volume of 370 pages, with eight detailed chapters split into sequential sub-sections, the authors offer one of the most detailed subjective discussions and guidance on fiscal modeling that is available on the wider market at the moment in the Oilholic's opinion.

The treatment of fiscal systems, understanding and ultimately tackling the complexities involved is solid, predicated on their own views and experience of understanding the tangible value of upstream projects before, during and when they ultimately come onstream, and what the takings would be.

Kasriel and Wood have also included five appendices and a CD-ROM (in the hardcover version) to take the educational experience further, and accompanying the main text of the title are over 400 pages of supplementary PDF files and some 120-plus Excel files, with an introduction to risk modeling.

What is particularly impressive is the authors’ painstaking effort in cutting through industry jargon, putting across their pointers in plain English for both entry-level professionals and experienced practitioners. Furthermore, the sequential format of the book makes it real easy for the latter lot to jump in to a section for quick reference or for a subject specific refresher. 

Generic treatment of taxation, royalties, bonuses, depreciation, profit sharing mechanics, incentives, ringfencing, and much more, including decommissioning finance, are all there and should withstand the passage of time as both authors have called their combined 48 years of experience in the industry into play, to conjure up a reasonably timeless discussion on various issues. 

Above everything else, Kasriel and Wood’s conversational style makes this book a very purposeful, handy guide on a subject that is vast. The Oilholic is happy to recommend it to fellow analysts, (aspiring, new and established) petroleum economists, policymakers, industry professionals, corporate sponsors and oil and gas project finance executives.

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© Gaurav Sharma 2015. © Photo: Front Cover – Upstream Petroleum: Fiscal and Valuation Modeling in  Excel © Wiley Publishers, March, 2015.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

That 1980s feeling, Saudi Oil, Ebola & more

Brent dipped below US$84 per barrel at one point this week while the WTI is holding above the $80 level. It’ll be interesting to note how the December futures contract fares as the Northern Hemisphere winter approaches with bearish headwinds lurking in the background. From here on, much will depend on what happens at the next OPEC meeting on November 27, where a production cut has the potential to partially stem the decline.

By the time of the meeting in Vienna, we’d already be well into the ICE Brent January contract. The mere possibility of a production cut isn’t enough to reverse the slide at the moment given wider market conditions. But as ever, OPEC members are presenting a disunited front diluting any market sentiments aimed at pricing in a potential cut.

The answer lies in an interesting graphic published by The Economist (click here) indicating price levels major producers would be comfortable with. There are no surprises in noting that Iran, Venezuela and Russia are probably the most worried of all exporters. While several OPEC members prefer at least a $100 price floor, in recent weeks Saudi Arabia has quite openly indicated it can tolerate the price falling below $90.

The Saudis also lowered their asking price in a bid to maintain market share. That’s bad news for most of OPEC, excluding Kuwait and UAE. In turn, Iran responded by lowering its asking price as well even though it can't afford to. So the debate has already started, whether in not wanting to repeat the mistakes of the 1980s which left it with a weakened market share; Saudi Arabia might in fact trigger OPEC discord and a slump akin to 1986.

While the Oilholic doubts it, certain OPEC members wouldn’t be the only ones hurt by the Saudi stance which abets existing bearish trends. US shale and Canadian oil sands exploration and production (E&P) enthusiasts will be troubled too. While the oil price is tumbling, the price of extracting the crude stuff isn’t.

Fitch Ratings says Brent could dip to $80 before triggering a self-correcting supply response with shale oil drillers cutting investment in new wells. Anecdotal evidence sent forth by the Oilholic’s contacts in Calgary point to similar sentiments being expressed in relation to the oil sands. 

The steep rate at which production from shale wells declines mean companies have to keep drilling new wells to maintain production. Fitch estimates median full-cycle costs for E&P companies have fallen to about $70 in the US. The marginal barrel, not the median one, balances supply and demand and determines price, so the point at which capex falls will probably be higher.

Over the short-term, Fitch considers a resurgence of supply disruptions and positive action from OPEC as the most likely catalysts for a rebound in prices. “But without these, further declines might be possible, especially if evidence grows of further weakening of global demand or increasing OPEC spare capacity,” the agency adds.

Longer term, an uptick in economic activity in China and India will contribute to a growth in oil demand. However, what we’re dealing with is short-term weakness. IEA demand growth for 2015 has been revised by 300,000 barrels per day (bpd) and 2014’s estimate by 200,00 bpd. The Oilholic suspects Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and UAE are only too aware of this and capable enough to withstand it.

Dorian Lucas, analyst at Inenco, says, “We’re seeing the largest in over two years spurred by accumulating evidence of waning global demand, whilst buoyant supply continues to drown the market. The extent to which supply has buoyed is evident when assessing September 2014 in isolation. Global oil supply rose over 900,000 bpd to total of 93.8 million bpd, this is over 2.5 million bpd higher than the same time last year.”

What happens at OPEC’s next meeting would depend on the Saudis. The Oilholic still rates the chances of a production cut at 40%. One feels that having the capacity to withstand a short-term price shock, Saudi Arabia wouldn’t mind other producers squirming in the interest of self-preservation.

Meanwhile, the industry is also grappling with the unfolding Ebola outbreak which has claimed thousands of lives in West Africa. Unsurprising anecdotal evidence is emerging of companies having difficulty in finding engineering experts, roughnecks or support staff willing to work at West African prospection sites.

In order to get a base case idea, browse job openings at a recruitment site (for example – Rigzone) and you’ll find pay rates for working in West Africa climb above sub-zero winter working rates on offer at Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada. Three recruitment consultants known to this blogger have expressed similar sentiments.

While most of the drilling is offshore, workers' compounds are onshore in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. Additionally, local workers return to their homes mingling with the general population at risk of getting infected. The fear is putting off workers, and many companies have internal moratoriums on travel to the region.

Forget workers, even investors are having second thoughts for the moment. Both Reuters and USA Today have reported caginess at ExxonMobil about the commencement of offshore drilling in Liberia at the present moment in time.The company already restricts non essential travel by its employees to the region. Shell and Chevron have similar safeguards in an industry heavily reliant on expat workers.

GlobalData says of the affected African countries only Nigeria is equipped to handle the Ebola outbreak.  GDP of the said countries is likely to take a hit from loss of lives and revenue. International SOS, a Control Risks Group affiliate company which provides integrated medical, clinical, and security services to organisations with international operations, has been constantly updating advice for corporate travel to Guinea, Liberia or Sierra Leone, the current one being to avoidance all non-essential travel to the region.

Fitch Ratings says at present, the Ebola outbreak does not have any credit ratings implications for E&P companies in the region. Alex Griffiths, Head of EMEA, Natural Resources and Commodities, notes: “Our key consideration is how well the companies manage the Ebola risk. From a risk rating standpoint, we’re in early days. Fitch will continue to monitor the situation over the coming months.”

Away from Ebola, here’s the Oilholic’s take via a Forbes post on the future of integrated IOCs. Lastly, news has emerged that Statoil CEO Helge Lund has been appointed CEO of the much beleaguered BG Group with effect from March 2015. The soon to be boss said he was looking forward to working with BG’s people “to develop the company’s full potential.”

The announcement was roundly cheered in the City given the high regard Lund is held in by the wider oil and gas industry. To quote Investec analyst Neill Morton, “BG still faces challenges, but we believe it has a better chance of addressing them with Lund on board.”

We shall see whether Statoil’s loss is indeed BG Group’s gain. That’s all for the moment folks! Keep reading, keep it ‘crude’!

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To email: gaurav.sharma@oilholicssynonymous.com

© Gaurav Sharma 2014. Photo: Vintage Shell Fuel Pump, San Francisco, USA © Gaurav Sharma.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Of ConocoPhillips & the integrated model

Is the integrated model of operations incorporating a mixed bag of upstream, midstream and downstream assets ‘dead’ for oil & gas majors given that so many of them have put refining & marketing (R&M) assets up for sale in the last half decade? The question of raises some fierce emotions! Some say it’s not dead, some (including the Oilholic) say it is and others simply say it is on “life support.” The wider market and quite a few delegates here at the 20th WPC point to one company's move which typifies the market dilemma – that's ConocoPhillips.

The US major's announcement in July that it will be pursuing the separation of its exploration and production (E&P) and R&M businesses into two separate publicly traded corporations via a tax-free spin-off R&M to its shareholders did not surprise the Oilholic and those who think the integrated model is no longer in vogue.

As many are watching what unfolds at ConocoPhillips, it is worth turning one’s attention to what its Chief Executive Jim Mulva had to say amid a cacophony of soundbites in Doha. Mulva intends to retire once his company’s split is complete and will be replaced by Ryan Lance as head of the split upstream business.

He notes that ConocoPhillips will spend close to US$14 billion on E&P in 2012 with the majority of the stated capital invested in unconventional projects in North America – namely the Canadian oil sands and liquids rich shale plays (Eagle Ford shale, Permian, Bakken and Barnett prospection fields). From these, the outgoing Chief Executive expects “competitive returns”. The company also hopes to remain active in Indonesia, Malaysia and Kazakhstan and is not giving up on the North Sea.

In fact, it will invest more on existing and new prospects in the North Sea’s Greater Britannia, Greater Ekofisk fields and Jasmine and Clair ridge projects. However, moving away from E&P, ConocoPhillips will divest between US$15 to US$20 billion in assets by Q4 2012. Some, but not all, proceeds will be used to finance a recently announced US$10 billion share buy-back.

Mulva has been as clear as he can be on his company's forward planning. The wider market will now be watching how things pan out for the split companies. However, nothing the Oilholic has heard at the 20th WPC fundamentally alters his initial thoughts - that the integrated model is in deep trouble in Western jurisdictions.

© Gaurav Sharma 2011. Photo: ConocoPhillips exhibition stand at the 20th Petroleum Congress © Gaurav Sharma 2011.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Hello Doha! Time for kick-off at 20th WPC

The Oilholic arrived in Doha late last night before the biggest bash in the oil & gas business kicks-off in Qatar – yup its 20th World Petroleum Congress! Sadly a very late arrival at the hotel meant, the first square meal was not a local delicacy – but a visit to Dunkin’ Donuts which was just about the only place open at 12:20 am local time. Still there’ll be plenty of opportunities to savour local delights over the next five days!

As the opening ceremony takes place later this evening, there is lots to discuss already following Shell’s announcement about its withdrawal from the Syrian market in wake of EU sanctions. Other oil companies are simply bound to follow suit. Syrian officials are expected to be in attendance but it is highly doubtful that the Oilholic would gain an attendance with them.

A few more bits before things get going, one hears that Fitch Ratings expects the credit profiles of the European oil majors to remain stable in 2012 despite the risk of a possible slowdown in revenue growth combined with still ambitious investment spending programmes of around US$90 billion over the following four quarters. The agency believes sector revenue growth in 2012 will probably slow to single digits from more than 20% in 2011, according to a new research note.

The Oilholic also had the pleasure of interviewing Eduardo de Cerqueira Leite, the chairman of (currently) the world’s largest law firm by revenue – Baker & McKenzie – on behalf of Infrastructure Journal. Leite does not believe the integrated model of combining upstream, downstream and midstream businesses is dead as far as major oil companies are concerned.

“We saw Marathon Oil Corp split off its refining business and know that ConocoPhillips is planning to do the same. By spinning off R&M infrastructure assets a company can focus on producing oil and gas, particularly in the more innovative areas of offshore oil exploration and unconventional oil and gas production,” he said.

“However, we are not seeing all of the majors spin off their R&M divisions. Many still have a need for refining expertise and processing plants due to the increasing development of liquefied natural gas, natural gas liquids and high-sulphur heavy crudes. So, I wouldn't call the integrated model dead, although we are seeing changes to it,” Leite concludes.

That’s it for now. Keep reading, keep it 'crude'!

© Gaurav Sharma 2011. Photo: Doha Skyline © WPC. Logo: 20th World Petroleum Congress © WPC.

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

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