Showing posts with label LON:BP. Show all posts
Showing posts with label LON:BP. Show all posts

Thursday, February 28, 2019

On IPWeek 2019 & BP Boss' US shale take

A fascinating few days of debates and deliberations at the Energy Institute's International Petroleum Week 2019 came to a close in London earlier today.

For yet another year, the Oilholic was delighted to have spoken and moderated at the event as part of the Gulf Intelligence Middle East Energy Summit. Industry 4.0, investment climate, US shale and OPEC were all under the radar. Delegates were fairly evenly split on the direction of the oil price; but yours truly maintains that the phase of range-bound crude prices is here to stay. 

From where this blogger sits, it is appearing hard for Brent to escape the $65-75 per barrel range, and for the WTI to escape the $55-65 range this year. 

There were interesting soundbites aplenty, but BP Boss Bob Dudley's quip that US shale is a price responsive "brainless" market stood out among them all. Here's the Oilholic's full report and analysis on it for Forbes. That's all for the moment folks! Next stop - Houston, Texas for IHS CERAWeek 2019. Keep reading, keep it crude!

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© Gaurav Sharma 2019. Photo: Gaurav Sharma at IPWeek 2019; with Chris Midgley, Global Director of Analytics for S&P Global Platts © Gulf Intelligence. 

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Oil giant Shell on revving cars up with hydrogen

After getting a glimpse of a rather splendid hydrogen fuelled train, the Oilholic next had the pleasure of being driven in a hydrogen powered electric fuel cell Toyota model - The Mirai - overnight from Salzgitter to Hamburg, Germany.

Of course, much of the drive had to do with a demonstration of the fuel medium's prowess, the car's performance (come rain or shine of which we had plenty of), and more. We'll touch on that in the next post.

But for now one question well worth asking is – for such vehicles to reach critical mass and wider public acceptance, retail points for filling up them up and keeping them running would be needed; so how is that problem going to be addressed? 

Afterall Toyota has an ambition of putting 1 million emissions free vehicles on the road per year between 2020 and 2030, and rivals such as Hyundai and Audi have plans of their own. Enter oil giant Royal Dutch Shell - which says the fuel retail industry has the answers. 

Speaking to this blogger at Shell Germany's Hamburg hub, regional Chairman Stijn van Els opined that the new "Hydrogen Economy" will indeed require a rethinking of the retail infrastructure but that's "well within the industry's scope" given that major oil and gas companies are already well on their way to exploring the alternative fuels market.

"There is no competition with fossil fuels, there is co-existence as we move to a low carbon economy and Shell is committed to expanding its hydrogen fuel sales points. Furthermore, its not a shift we are attempting on our own." 

Survey data compiled at the end of 2017 suggests Toyota's home turf – Japan – has the largest number of hydrogen fuelling stations worldwide at 91, followed by the US (61), Germany (37) and the UK (18). The German figure is already above 40, at the time of writing this post, according to van Els, and the industry veteran hopes that at a pan-European level they'll be 400 sales points by 2019. 

Fuel retailers are expected to step up to the challenge for both retail and commercial clients over the coming decade, according to Toyota, with the automaker claiming "a hydrogen facility can be integrated into an existing refuelling station as an additional fuel offering."

There is certainly evidence of that. For instance, Shell's FTSE 100 rival BP is already attempting this with electric vehicle charge points, at conventional gas stations, the most recent example being its downstream venture in Mexico. The Oilholic was given a demonstration of a fuel point setting with the Mirai en route to Hamburg via a refuelling stop at a station in Wolfsburg (See below right, click to enlarge). 

Filling up a hydrogen car was not any different from a petrol or diesel car, nor did the "pump" look all that different, even if it was pumping in compressed hydrogen instead of a petroleum product.

Of course, when the hydrogen flows into the tank there's a chilling effect on the pump handle, unlike petrol or diesel refuelling where, well, you simply hear the liquid gurgling.

It's all done in a matter of minutes, and instead of paying per litre or gallon, you pay per kilogram which is on average €9.50 in Germany, €11.50 in France, and around a same-ish post-Brexit £10 in the UK. Roughly around 5kg would constitute a tank-full equating to around 60 litres, according to a Toyota spokesperson. You do the math, but the Oilholic would leave the fuel economy firmly parked for now, and touch on it in a blog post to follow. 

So going back to van Els, Shell reckons hydrogen would "certainly" play its part in the alternative fuels market and so do the oil major's fuel retail rivals. And much of the industry, including world's top 20 fuel retailers have also said they are not averse to establishing hydrogen refuelling stations as greenfield sites as well. So it all depends on consumer take-up, but the "commitment is there", according to both Toyota and Shell. Only time will tell how it all plays out. 

But for now, that's all for the moment folks! Time to load up on hydrogen and conclude the Mirai adventure. Keep reading, keep it 'crude' even if - as one said - the next few posts are going to be about hydrogen! 

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© Gaurav Sharma 2018. Photo 1: A Toyota Mirai in Shell signage. Toyota Mirai being fuelled with hydrogen at a facility in Wolfsburg, Northern Germany, with fuel pump and close-up of car inset. © Gaurav Sharma, May 2018.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Crude price fluctuation versus ‘Big Oil’ dividends

It has been another crazy fortnight in the crude markets, with Brent not only having retreated from $70 per barrel, but trading below $65, as the Oilholic pens his thoughts.

In any case, having a $70-plus six-month price target is increasingly odd, given the current set of circumstances, let alone a projection by Goldman Sachs of $82.5 per barrel, as one recently wrote on Forbes.

That said, a possible Saudi-Russian, or should we call it a R-OPEC, reaffirmation of keeping oil production down, accompanied by constantly rising Indian oil imports and stabilising OECD inventories, should give the bulls plenty of comfort. Let’s also not forget the global economy is growing at a steady pace across all regions for the first time since the global financial crisis.

The aforementioned do count as unquestionable upsides for the oil price. But here’s the thing – should you believe in average global demand growth projections in the optimistic range of 1.5 to 1.7 million barrels per day (bpd); such growth levels could be comfortably met by growth in non-OPEC production alone.

For the moment, there’s little afoot to convince the Oilholic to change his view of a $65 per barrel average Brent price, and $60 per barrel average WTI price for 2018. So what impact would this have on ‘Big Oil’.

Interestingly enough, Morgan Stanley flagged up the 'curious case' of Big Oil dividend growth in a recent note to clients, pointing out that despite recent share price declines influenced by crude market volatility, unexpected dividend growth is still being achieved by European oil majors thanks to rapidly improving financial performance.

According to the global investment bank, in 2017, Royal Dutch Shell, BP, Total and Statoil generated $29.6 billion in organic free cash flow; the highest level since 2009. Return on average capital employed is also improving and balance sheet gearing is falling as well.

“Several management teams were willing to translate stronger cash generation in dividend increases", Morgan Stanley added.

The investment bank opined that Statoil’s cash flow and dividend growth remain impressive, so do BP’s, but noted that the latter will not be able keep up with Total and, ultimately, Shell on dividend growth.

Hard to keep up with Shell in any case; the Anglo-Dutch giant has a sterling record of regularly and dutifully paying dividends dating all the way back to the Second World War. That’s all for the moment folks! Keep reading, keep it ‘crude’!

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© Gaurav Sharma 2018. Photo: Oil well in Oman © Royal Dutch Shell.

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

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