Showing posts with label Kinder Morgan. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Kinder Morgan. Show all posts

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Oil oversupply has triggered risk premium fatigue

The Oilholic reckons it will take at least another six months in the New Year to ease the current oil oversupply glut. More so, as OPEC is highly likely to maintain its current production level, according to initial conjecture here in Vienna, Austria with the latest oil ministers’ summit currently underway.

That would probably take us to somewhere around June 2016, when we’ll see excess supply falling to somewhere in the region of 1 million barrels per day (bpd). Be that as it may, even such a decline might not be enough to bring the so-called risk or geopolitical premium into play. 

Last week, offered a clear case in point when the Turkish Air Force brought down a Russian fighter jet. Both countries are significant players in the oil and gas world – Turkey, is a custodian of the key shipping artery of the Bosphorus, and Russia, is the world’s leading oil and gas producer.

Yet, an oil futures "rally" in wake of the incident barely lasted two sessions and a few dollars, before oversupply sentiment returned to dictate market direction as per the current norm. Furthermore, both Brent and WTI futures are going sideways in the $40-45 per barrel range, as has been the case of late.

Flashpoints in the oil and gas world haven’t disappeared. Nigeria, Libya, West’s relations with Russia and Iraq are broadly where they were, if not worse. In fact, situation in the wider Middle East is pretty dire. Yet, the risk premium - so prevalent in the oil trade - is more or less nonexistent in a market struggling to park its barrels.

That will remain the case until excess supply falls to around 700,000 to 800,000 bpd. Even beyond the first half of 2016, few expect a dramatic uptick in oil prices, using Brent as a global proxy benchmark. At Fitch Ratings’ recent London Energy Seminar, this blogger found himself in the company of several experts who agreed that $60-level is unlikely to be capped before the end of 2016.

Alex Griffiths, Head of Natural Resources and Commodities at Fitch Ratings, Tim Barker, Head of Credit Research at Old Mutual Global Investors, Julian Mylchreest, Global Head of Energy at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, and Mutlu Guner, Executive Director at Morgan Stanley, all agreed there is little around to instil confidence in favour of a fast uptick above $60 being on cards within 12 months time. 

Moving away from the oil price, Genscape Oil Editor David Arno’s thoughts on the impact of Keystone XL’s rejections by the Obama administration, chimed with yours truly. Rail freight companies would undoubtedly be the biggest beneficiaries. In his blog post following the decision last month, Arno also felt denial of the pipeline provides rail shippers with “at least a year and a half more of comfort that Canadian rail opportunities will be needed.”

Finally, a couple of notes from Moody’s are worth flagging. The agency recently changed Kinder Morgan's outlook to negative from stable. Senior Vice-President Terry Marshall said the negative outlook reflects Kinder Morgan's increased business risk profile and additional pressure on its already high leverage that will result from its agreement to increase ownership in Natural Gas Pipeline Company, a distressed company. 

On November 30, Kinder Morgan announced an agreement to increase its ownership in NGPL of America to 50% from 20% for approximately $136 million. Brookfield Infrastructure Partners will own the remaining 50%. Proportionate consolidation of NGPL's debt will add about $1.5 billion to KMI's consolidated debt. NGPL's trailing twelve month September 30, 2015 EBITDA was $273 million (gross).

Moving on to state-owned crude giants, Moody's also said China National Petroleum Corporation's (CNPC) proposal to sell some of its pipeline assets is credit positive, as profits and proceeds from the sale will partially offset negative impact from low crude oil and gas prices and help preserve its financial profile during the current industry downturn.

However, Moody’s said the sale has no immediate impact on its ratings and outlook as the benefits “are marginal, given CNPC's extremely large revenue and asset size.” Nonetheless, the ratings agency expects sale proceeds to help CNPC fund the gap between its capital expenditure and operating cash flow and therefore lower its reliance on additional debt to fund its growth.

Finally, the rating agency also downgraded Pemex’s global foreign currency and local currency ratings to Baa1 from A3. Simultaneously, Moody's lowered Pemex's baseline credit assessment (BCA), which reflects its standalone credit strength, to ba3 from ba1.

The actions were prompted by Moody's view that the company's current weak credit metrics will "deteriorate further in the near to medium term. The outlook on all ratings was changed to negative." That’s all for the moment folks from Vienna folks, as the Oilholic finds his bearings at yet another OPEC summit. Plenty more from here shortly! In the interim, keep reading, keep it ‘crude’!

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© Gaurav Sharma 2015. Photo: OPEC Signage © Gaurav Sharma / Oilholics Synonymous Report.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Oil price dip & those tankers on the horizon

Crude year 2015 has well and truly begun with the oil price slipping several notches further, as tankers begin carrying their January cargo that is worth considerably less than it was 12 months ago.

With the full trading week to Jan 9 seeing an uptick in trading volumes back to normal levels after the festive period, the Oilholic spent a day looking at tankers in English Bay on a beautiful sunny afternoon in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Most of these behemoths (see left, click to enlarge photo) ferry Canadian crude to Asian markets finding their way to the vastness of the ocean from Vancouver's Burrard Inlet. 

As tankers disappeared away from eyesight and yet more dotted the landscape, one's first 5-day assessment of this year saw Brent down 11.44% on the week before, WTI -8.2% and the OPEC Basket a whopping -16%. For now, the Canadian oil and gas industry is holding up pretty well and strategically bracing itself for a further drop in price to as low as US$35 per barrel.

Beyond that, of course all bets are off. Whatever the price, local environmental lobby groups don’t quite like these tankers “blotting the coastline of beautiful British Columbia” to quote one. Data suggests traffic has risen seven-fold since 2001. Of course, the oil being shipped isn’t local as British Columbia doesn’t have too much of its own.

Rather, as many of you would know, all of it is piped in from Alberta by Kinder Morgan to its Westport Terminal on the South East shoreline of Burrard Inlet in Burnaby. The company is the middle of a full on bid to increase pipeline capacity. However, standing on the beach, more than one environmentalist would tell you that a spill was inevitable, especially if you happen to declare you are an energy analyst.

Yet, both major incidents over the last ten years have been on land and weren’t down to the crude behemoths of the sea. In 2007, a construction mishap saw a Kinder Morgan pipeline break in Burnaby spilling oil into the Burrard Inlet while dousing some 50 homes in the neighbourhood with the crude stuff. 

Nearly two years later, a storage tank spilt 200,000 litres of oil on Burnaby Mountain. Thankfully, a containment bay prevented spillage into the wider environment. All this might not help Kinder Morgan's medium term public relations drive, but the volume of traffic and cargoes, even with the existing pipeline capacity, isn’t going to ebb over 2015 unless the global economy sees a severe downtown.

If the Russians, Americans and Saudis are in no mood to lower production, the Canadians aren’t going to either, according to anecdotal evidence. The Oilholic’s thoughts on how an oil price below $60 might well hit exploration and production in Canada (and elsewhere) are here in a Forbes piece one wrote earlier. 

This blogger does see an uptick in price from around the halfway point of 2015, as a supply correction is likely to kick-in. For the moment, barring a financial tsunami knocking non-OECD economic activity, the Oilholic's prediction is for a Brent price in the range of $75 to $85 and WTI price range of $65 to $75 for 2015. Weight on Brent should be to the upside, while weight on WTI should be to the downside of the aforementioned range.

Come Christmas, we should be looking at around $80 per Brent barrel. One thing is for sure, the days of a three-figure price aren’t likely to be seen over the next 12 months. That’s all for the moment folks! Keep reading, keep it ‘crude’! 

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© Gaurav Sharma 2015. Photo: Oil tankers in English Bay, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada © Gaurav Sharma 2015

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Not that taut: Oil markets & geopolitical tension

The month of August has brought along a milestone for the Oilholics Synonymous Report, but let’s get going with crude matters for starters as oil markets continue to resist a risk premium driven spike.

The unfolding tragedy in Iraq, Libya’s troubles, Nigerian niggles and the fear of Ebola hitting exploration and production activity in West Africa, are more than enough to provide many paper traders with the pretext to go long and spook us all. Yet, the plentiful supply and stunted OECD demand scenario that’s carried over from last month has made geopolitical tension tolerable. As such its not percolating through to influence market sentiment in any appreciable fashion, bringing about a much needed price correction.

It wasn’t the news of US air strikes on ISIS that drove Brent down to a nine month low this week, rather the cautious mood of paper traders that did it. Among that lot were hedge fund guys n’ gals who burnt their fingers recently on long bets (that backfired spectacularly in July), and resisted going long as soon as news of the latest Iraqi flare-up surfaced, quite unlike last time.

According to ICE data, hedge funds and other money managers reduced net bullish bets on Brent futures to 97,351 contracts in the week to August 5; the lowest on books since February 4. Once bitten, twice shy and you all know why. Brent price is now comfortably within the Oilholic’s predicted price range for 2014.

Away from pricing, the other big news of course is about the megamerger of Kinder Morgan Inc (KMI), Kinder Morgan Energy Partners (KMP) and El Paso Pipeline Partners Operating (EPBO), into one entity. The $71 billion plus complicated acquisition would create the largest oil and gas infrastructure company in the US by some distance and the country’s third-largest corporation in the sector after ExxonMobil and Chevron.

Moody’s, which has suspended its ratings on the companies for the moment, says generally the ratings for KMP and its subsidiaries will be reviewed for downgrade, and the ratings for KMI and EPBO and their subsidiaries will be reviewed for upgrade.

Stuart Miller, Moody's Vice President and Senior Credit Officer, notes: "KMI's large portfolio of high-quality assets generates a stable and predictable level of cash flow which could support a strong investment grade rating. However, because of the high leverage along with a high dividend payout ratio, we expect the new Kinder Morgan to be weakly positioned with an investment grade rating."

Sticking with Moody’s, following Argentina’s default on paper, the agency has unsurprisingly changed its outlook on the country’s major companies from stable to negative. Those affected in the sector include YPF. However, Petrobras Argentina and Pan American Energy Argentina were spared a negative outlook given their subsidiary status and disconnect from headline Argentine sovereign risk.

Switching tack from ratings notes to a Reuters report, a recent one from the newswire noted that the volume of US crude exports to Canada now exceeds the export level of OPEC lightweight Ecuador. While the Oilholic remains unconvinced about US crude joining the global crude supply pool anytime soon, there’s no harm in a bit of legally permitted neighbourly help. Inflows and outflows between the countries even things out; though Canadian oil exports going the other way are, and have always been, higher.

On the subject of reports, here’s the Oilholic’s latest quip on Forbes regarding the demise of commodities trading at investment banks and another one on the crucial subject of furthering gender diversity in the oil and gas business

Finally, going back to where one began, it is time to say a big THANK YOU to all you readers out there for your encouragement, criticism, feedback, compliments (as applicable) and the time you make to read this blogger’s thoughts. Though ever grateful, one feels like reiterating the gratitude today as Google Analytics has confirmed that US readers have overtaken the Oilholic's ‘home’ readers as of last month.

It matters as this humble blog has moved from 50 local clicks in December 2009 to 148k global clicks (and counting) this year and its been one great journey. The US, UK and Norway are currently the top three countries in terms of pageviews in that order (see right), followed by China, Germany, Russia, Canada, France, India and Turkey completing the top ten. Traffic also continues to climb from Australia, Brazil, Benelux, Hong Kong, Japan and Ukraine; so onwards and upwards to new frontiers with your continuing support. Keep reading, keep it 'crude'!

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To email: gaurav.sharma@oilholicssynonymous.com

© Gaurav Sharma 2014. Photo: Oil rig, USA © Shell. Graphics: Oilholics Synonymous Report, July 2014 clickstats © Google Analytics

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

What prospective Albertan pipelines mean for BC

If a new permit application by TransCanada for the Keystone XL pipeline from Hardisty, Alberta to Port Arthur, Texas does not get approved after the US 2012 presidential elections, attention will shift towards expanding the pipeline network westwards within Canada. If the project does get approved, well attention would still shift towards expanding the pipeline network westwards within Canada.

The Oilholic’s conjecture is that policy debate within Canada is already factoring in a westward expansion of pipelines eyeing exports via the Pacific Coast to China, Japan, India and beyond, whether the Keystone XL pipeline extension gets built or not. When US President Barack Obama did not grant approval to the original Keystone XL pipeline application earlier this year, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper expressed his ‘disappointment’, had a candid conversation with Obama at an Asia Pacific leaders summit and then got on a plane to China.

He has also been to India on a high level mission in recent memory. At the 20th World Petroleum Congress in Doha last year, Indian officials listened intently to what was coming out of the Canadian camp. Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) has already noted increasing interest from Korean and other Asian players as well when it comes to buying in to both crude oil reserves and natural gas in Western Canada. Club it all together and a westward expansion is inevitable.

Central to a westward expansion is British Columbia (BC), the Canadian province neighbouring Alberta, which could become as important in terms of pipeline infrastructure as Alberta is in terms of the crude stuff itself. From the standpoint of a ‘crude’ analogy, the situation is a bit like South Sudan (which has all the resources) and Sudan (which has the infrastructure to bring the resource to market) with a good Canadian fortune of zero conflict or geopolitical flare-ups. Thankfully for Canada and the importers club, Albertans and British Columbians also get along a tad better than their Sudanese counterparts and what is Alberta’s gain could also be BC's gain.

Last year, over a meeting with the Oilholic in Calgary, Dave Collyer, President of CAPP, noted, “As our crude production grows we would like access to the wider crude oil markets. Historically those markets have almost entirely been in the US and we are optimistic that these would continue to grow. Unquestionably there is increasing interest in the Oil sands from overseas and market diversification to Asia is neither lost on Canadians nor is it a taboo subject for us.”

At present, there are five major pipelines that are directly connected to the Albertan supply hubs at Edmonton and Hardisty – Enbridge Mainline, Enbridge Alberta Clipper, Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain, Kinder Morgan Express, and of course the original TransCanada Keystone pipeline.

Of these, the Trans Mountain system transports crude to delivery points in BC, including the Westridge dock for offshore exports, and to a pipeline that provides deliveries to refineries in the US state of Washington. It is the only pipeline route to markets off the West coast and is currently operating as a common carrier pipeline where shippers nominate for space on the pipeline without a contract. Since May 2010, the pipeline has been in steady apportionment.

Excess demand for this space is expected to continue until there is additional capacity available to transport crude oil to the west coast for export according to CAPP. The available pipeline capacity depends on the amount of heavy crude oil transported. (For example, in 2010, about 27% of the volumes shipped were heavy crude oil).

So four more have been proposed via BC (see map above) – namely Enbridge Northern Gateway (from Bruderheim, Alberta to Kitimat, BC, Capacity: 525,000 barrels per day), Kinder Morgan TMX2 (from Edmonton, Alberta to Kamloops, BC, Capacity: 80,000 bpd), Kinder Morgan TMX3 (from Kamloops, BC to Sumas, BC, Capacity: 240,000 to 300,000 bpd) and Kinder Morgan TMX Northern Leg (Rearguard/Edmonton, Alberta to Kitimat, BC, Capacity: 400,000 bpd).

Given that it’s green BC in question, there already are legal impediments as well as a major bid to address the concerns of the Native Indian First Nations communities according to the Oilholic’s local feedback here. Environmental due diligence should be and is being taken seriously on the West Coast. Then there is the spectre of a socialist NDP provincial government or a hung parliament at the next elections in BC which could hamper activity and investment.

Taking in to account all this, realistically speaking not much may start happening before 2015, but there is a growing belief within the province that happen it most likely will and the benefit to the provincial economy would manifold. To begin with jobs, direct construction related to the proposed pipelines and revenues spring to mind. Additionally, there is likely to be a decade long rise in service sector jobs in the province.

Then given that BC has a proven crown agency in Partnerships BC which since its inception has been building generally bankable infrastructure projects; an ancillary social infrastructure boom to cater to what would become a burgeoning Kitimat and Kamloops is also within the realm of possibility.

Over the last ten days the Oilholic has gathered the thoughts of legal professionals, financial advisers, provincial civil servants and last but certainly not the least the average British Columbian you’d run into in a bar or a Starbucks. The overriding emotion was one of positivity though everyone acknowledges the impediments.

Furthermore, many think the pipelines would assist in diversifying BC's economy which is largely reliant on tourism and timber to include yet another key sector without necessarily compromising its green credentials and a record of accommodating the First Nations Native Indian population. That’s all from Canada folks! Yours truly is off to Houston, Texas. Keep reading, keep it ‘crude’!

© Gaurav Sharma 2012. Map: Proposed (in dotted lines) and existing pipelines to the West Coast of Canada © CAPP 2011.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

NZ spill, Anadarko & the crude weeks ahead

Starting with a note about a tragedy is not the Oilholic’s idea of a blog post but one that is unfolding off the coast of New Zealand is a deeply troubling one. A cargo ship – the Rena – which is stuck on a Kiwi reef since October 5 is presently spewing oil in that pristine part of the world. Local media and the BBC report large cracks in its hull with the ship listing badly with more than 350 tonnes of heavy fuel oil having spilled into the water so far killing over a 1,000 sea birds.

An even bigger source of worry is that with worsening weather conditions swells of up to 13ft are battering the ship. If it breaks apart, it will be one hell of mess as the Rena is carrying 1700 tonnes of heavy fuel and an additional 200 tonnes of diesel. A massive clean-up operation is presently underway led by Maritime New Zealand (MNZ), with the country’s army and thousands of volunteers. The Oilholic wishes them well.

Moving on to a corporate story about another oil spill in a different part of the world – BP’s Deepwater Horizon incident. It emerged this week that after months of initially denying responsibility, Anadarko Petroleum reached a US$4 billion settlement agreement with BP related to the 2010 Gulf of Mexico spill.

While no one, except for the legal eagles, will ever know what transpired behind closed doors, from initially denying any culpability for the incident to the settlement with BP, Anadarko’s move is largely being seen as a pragmatic one. In fact, ratings agency Moody’s believes the payment is “materially less” than their loss assumption of up to US$8 billion.

The agency has placed Anadarko Ba1 Corporate Family Rating and Ba1 senior unsecured notes ratings under review for upgrade with approximately US$13.5 billion of rated debt affected. Pete Speer, Moody's Vice President notes: "Our ratings review will focus on the extent of the company's residual liability exposures related to the Deepwater Horizon event and the potential for continued improvement in its fundamental credit profile in 2012."

Additionally, Anadarko will transfer its 25 per cent ownership interest in Macondo (or Mississippi Canyon block 252 aka MC252) to BP in exchange for BP releasing all its claims against Anadarko for all outstanding invoices billed to Anadarko to date and to forego future reimbursement for any future costs related to the event.

Concurrently, BP has agreed to fully indemnify Anadarko for damage claims arising under the Oil Pollution Act, claims for natural resource damages and associated damage assessment costs, and any claims arising under the relevant joint operating agreement. The settlement does not provide for indemnification by BP against fines and penalties (e.g., Clean Water Act), punitive damages or certain other claims, which Anadarko does not consider to be a material financial risk.

In another development, Kinder Morgan Kansas Inc. announced that it has reached an agreement to purchase 100 per cent of the stock of El Paso Corporation (KMK). The acquisition of El Paso will be funded with US$11.8 billion of new debt at the KMK level and US$9.6 billion of KMK equity and is expected to close in the first half of 2012. Upon closing, KMK will be collapsed into Kinder Morgan Inc. (KMI).

Finally coming on to the crude price, there hasn’t been much movement on a week over week basis using both leading benchmarks. The reason is that last week’s gains were almost entirely wiped out, Monday to Monday. While Brent retreated from US$110 level to just above US$108 level; WTI fell from US$88 to US$85 in Tuesday intraday trading, which is pretty much where they were at the start of last week.

Same old reasons can be assigned too, i.e. Eurozone worries, perceived economic cooling in the Far East and heavy losses on equity markets. Myrto Sokou of Sucden Financial Research feels it is all about the Eurozone and how the markets will digest the news that there is no clear solution yet about Eurozone’s debt issues, while the current political and economic conditions in the region look very uncertain. “The sharp reality that the problems in the region are systemic is likely to weigh heavily on the markets in the coming weeks,” Sokou concludes and the Oilholic concurs.


Finally, to end on a happy note, on October 13 the Oilholic joined the great and the good of British journalism for the 2011 London Press Club Ball in aid of the Journalists’ Charity. On a great evening, one got to meet many old contacts and made yet newer ones in the backdrop of the London Natural History Museum.

The usual pomp, razz, wining, dining, dancing and networking aside, there was a very serious charity auction. The Oilholic (see above) tried rather unsuccessfully to bid for a year’s ride in an new Jaguar model but was outbid by much more serious punters all in it for a good cause. He also (sigh!) came seriously close to bagging a free flight to New York in a charity raffle – but alas it wasn’t to be! Oh well, there’s always a next time.

© Gaurav Sharma 2011. Photo 1: Macondo clean-up operation © BP. Photo 2: (L to R) 2011 London Press Club Ball, the dance floor and moi at the event © Gaurav Sharma, Oct 13, 2011

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