Showing posts with label Lukoil Eurobond. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Lukoil Eurobond. Show all posts

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Col Gaddafi, crude euphoria & last 7 days

The moment Libyan rebels or the National Transitional Council (NTC) as the media loosely describes them, were seen getting a sniff around the Libyan capital Tripoli and Col. Gaddafi’s last bastion, some crude commentators went into euphoric overdrive. Not only did they commit the cardinal sin of discarding cautious optimism, they also belied the fact that they don’t know the Colonel and his cahoots at all. Well, neither does the Oilholic for that matter – at least not personally. However, history tells us that this belligerent, rambling dictator neither has nor will give up that easily. In fact at the moment, everyone is guessing where he is?

To begin, while the end is nigh for the Gaddafi regime, a return to normalcy of oil production outflows will take months if not years as strategic energy infrastructure was damaged, changed hands several times or in some cases both. As a consequence production, which has fallen from 1.5 million barrels per day (bpd) in February to just under 60,000 bpd according to OPEC, cannot be pumped-up with the flick of a switch or some sort of an industrial adrenaline shot.

In a note to clients, analysts at Goldman Sachs maintain their forecast that Libya's oil production will average 250,000 bpd over 2012 if hostilities end as "it will be challenging to bring the shut-in production back online."

These sentiments are being echoed in Italy according to the Oilholic's, a country whose refineries stand to gain the most in the EU if (and when) Libyan production returns to pre-conflict levels. All Italy’s foreign ministry has said so far is that it expects contracts held by Italian companies in Libya to be respected by “whoever” takes over from Gaddafi.

Now, compound this with the fact that a post-Gaddafi Libya is uncharted geopolitical territory and you are likely to get a short term muddle and a medium term riddle. Saudi (sour) crude has indirectly helped offset the Libyan (sweet) shortfall. The Saudis are likely to respond to an uptick in Libyan production when we arrive at that juncture. As such the risk premium in a Libyan context is to the upside for at least another six months, unless there is more clarity and an abrupt end to hostilities.

Moving away from Libya, in a key deal announced last week, Russia’s Lukoil and USA’s Baker Hughes inked a contract on Aug 16th for joint works on 23 new wells at Iraq's promising West Qurna Phase 2 oil field. In a statement, Lukoil noted that drilling will begin in the fourth quarter of this year and that the projected scope of work will be completed “within two years.”

While tech-specs jargon regarding the five rigs Baker Hughes will use to drill the wells at a depth exceeding 4,000 meters was made available, the statement was conspicuously low on the cost of the contract. The key objective is to bring the production in the range of 145,000 to 150,000 bpd by 2013.

Switching tack to commodity ETFs, according to early data for August (until 11th) compiled by Bloomberg and as reported by SGCIB, energy ETPs have attracted their first net inflows in five months with US$9.5 billion under management. This represents a net inflow of US$0.7 billion in August versus an outflow of US$1.5 billion recorded in January. Interest in precious metals continues, even after a very strong July, but base metal ETPs have returned to net outflows. (See adjoining table, click to enlarge)

Meanwhile, Moody’s has raised the Baseline Credit Assessment (BCA) of Russian state behemoth Gazprom to 10 (on a scale of 1 to 21 and equivalent to its Baa3 rating) from 11. Concurrently, the ratings agency affirmed the company's issuer rating at Baa1 with a stable outlook on Aug 17th. The rating announcement does not affect Gazprom's assigned senior unsecured issuer and debt ratings given the already assumed high level of support it receives from the Kremlin.

Moody's de facto regards Gazprom as a government-related issuer (GRI). Thus, the company's ratings incorporate uplift from its BCA of 10 and take into account the agency's assessment of a high level of implied state support and dependence. In fact raising Gazprom's BCA primarily reflects the company's strengthened fundamental credit profile as well as proven resilience to the challenging global economic environment and negative developments on the European gas market in 2009-10.

"Gazprom has a consistent track record of strong operational and financial performance, which was particularly tested in 2009 - a year characterised by lower demand for gas globally and domestically, as well as a generally less favourable pricing environment for hydrocarbons," says Victoria Maisuradze, Senior Credit Officer and lead analyst for Gazprom at Moody's.

Rounding-off closer to home, UK Customs – the HMRC – raided a farm on Aug 17th in Banbridge, County Down in Northern Ireland, where some idiots had set-up a laundering plant with the capacity to produce more than two million litres of illicit diesel per year and evade around £1.5 million in excise duty. Nearly 6,000 litres of fuel was seized and arrests made; but with distillate prices where they are no wonder some take risks both with their lives, that of others and the environment. And finally, Brent and WTI are maintaining US$100 and US$80 plus levels respectively for the last seven days.

© Gaurav Sharma 2011. Photo: Veneco Oil Pumps © National Geographic. Table: Global commodities ETPs © Société Générale CIB/Bloomberg Aug 2011. 

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Of Mid-Nov Price Correction, BP & Lukoil

The price of crude has seen a fair bit of fluctuation week over week and I agree with analysts at Société Générale CIB who noted on Tuesday that "the modest short-term crude price correction has been driven by investor profit-taking, as well as an end to a surge in gasoil cracks, which had temporarily supported crude prices."

Prices actually peaked on Wednesday and Thursday of last week. Since then, the front-month crude prices have eased by US$2-3. At 18:05GMT on Tuesday, WTI forward month contract was trading at US$80.65/bbl and ICE Brent at US$83.60/bbl.

Elsewhere in this crude world, it was revealed on Tuesday that BP’s Rhim field off the coast of Scotland has been shutdown as it is understood that the field turned out to be a joint venture between it and financiers related to Iranian oil. The shutdown was triggered because extraction from the field could be in contravention of existing European Union sanctions against Iran, issued in October.

The company it is now seeking clarification from the UK government on how the sanctions would apply. Elsewhere, S&P Ratings Services affirmed its 'BBB-' long-term corporate credit rating and 'ruAA+' Russia national scale rating for Lukoil last week.

Concurrently, S&P also removed the ratings from CreditWatch, where they were placed on July 29, 2010. S&P credit analyst Andrey Nikolaev said, "The affirmation reflects our improved assessment of Lukoil's liquidity position, which we now assess as 'adequate' after the company successfully issued a $1 billion Eurobond."

S&P also anticipates that Lukoil will extend the terms of its committed credit lines over the next several weeks. "We now estimate Lukoil's ratio of sources to uses of liquidity at about 1.2x, factoring in the committed credit lines with the terms to be extended," Nikolaev added in an investment circular.

S&P views Lukoil's business risk profile as "satisfactory", underpinned by large and profitable upstream and downstream operations, which are largely concentrated in Russia. The ratings agency also views Lukoil's financial risk profile as 'intermediate', based on its modest debt leverage and our perception that it has fairly good access to bank funding and capital markets.

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

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Performance of Russian Oil Co’s Remains “Robust”

A recent report by ratings agency Moody’s suggests that Russian integrated oil and gas companies demonstrated financial robustness during the economic downturn, as "certain key features" acted to support their operational and financial profiles.

It notes that negative effects of low oil prices were mitigated by a devaluation in the Rouble and favourable changes to the Russian tax system, which along with cost-containment initiatives and good access to funding boosted the companies' resilience to market turmoil. In fact, the ratings agency said outlook for the sector is stable.

The report titled "Russian Integrated Oil and Gas Companies: 2009-10 Review and 2011 Outlook", further suggests that since late 2009 and all through H1 2010, the operating and financial performance of Russian players gradually improved post-recession, lifted by relativelyhigher oil prices as the global economy recovered.

Moody’s now feels that the operating performance of Russian oil companies is likely to improve in 2010 and in 2011 on the back of stronger oil prices and ongoing cost-cutting and modernisation initiatives. However, the ratings agency does not believe there will be a major upwards trend in profitability in H2 2010 or in 2011, due to the growing tax burden and inflation in non-controllable costs, notably energy and transportation tariffs.

Furthermore, it must be noted that despite overseas overtures, the current reserves and production bases of Russian companies remain concentrated in their own backyard. This, according to the report, "exposes them to geological and geopolitical risk."

Despite the lack of positive ratings momentum, in 2010, Russian players benefited from greater access to bank and bond funding, with lenders offering longer maturities at lower rates. Moody's expects lending conditions to continue to improve in 2011. In addition, overall free cash flow improved in 2010 and will likely remain marginally positive in 2011 as companies ramp-up capital expenditure on projects that were delayed during the downturn.

Continuing with Russia, on October 22 Moody's assigned a provisional rating of (P)Baa2 to the upcoming Eurobond issue by Lukoil via Lukoil International Finance B.V., its indirect and wholly owned subsidiary. The rating is based on an irrevocable and unconditional guarantee from the Russian company and is in line with the company's issuer rating of Baa2. The outlook is stable, according to Moody’s.

The proceeds are largely expected to be used by Lukoil for general corporate purposes, as well as refinancing of existing indebtedness. Moody's believes the Eurobond issue will support Lukoil's liquidity position.

© Gaurav Sharma 2010. Photo: Photo: Oil Drill Pump, Russia © Lukoil


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