Showing posts with label OPEC. Show all posts
Showing posts with label OPEC. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 20, 2024

CERAWeek Day III: On peak oil demand & more

As the end of day III of CERAWeek nears, for the Oilholic one panel session stood out in particular - Oil Demand: How will it look in a decade? This emotive and extremely polarizing subject turned hot late last year after the International Energy Agency issued a forecast predicting a peaking of oil demand in the 2030s. 

Naturally, OPEC blasted the IEA and said demand would continue to grow for many, many years. It also offered a bullish scenario of 116 million barrels per day in global oil demand by 2045. 

If the Oilholic were to offer his tuppence, oil will indeed continue to be a major part of the energy landscape not just for many years, but many decades. The stark reality of the matter is that no one can say for sure when oil demand will peak whether it is the IEA or OPEC. 

But kudos for the CERAWeek panelists to have at least tried. They included names familiar to the readers of this blog - Joseph McMonigle, Secretary General of International Energy Forum and Jeff Currie, a former Goldman Sachs partner and Chief Strategy Officer of Energy Pathways at Carlyle. 

Both were joined by Fred Forthuber, President of Oxy Energy Services, and Arjun Murti, Partner, Energy Macro and Policy at Veriten, and another former Goldman Sachs executive. The discussion was as lively as it gets. Here's the Oilholic's full report on the goings-on of the panel via Forbes

The panel followed a related quip by Shaikh Nawaf al-Sabah, CEO of Kuwait Petroleum Company, earlier in the day's proceedings. He told delegates that global energy demand will increase faster than the population growth rates through to 2050. "That means that we're going to require more energy intensity for the population in the world."

KPC's answer - why of course - increase its production capacity to 4 million bpd by 2035 from its current level of 3 million bpd. 

See, again the thing here is (as asserted earlier by yours truly), if the various forecasters can't even agree on what demand growth will be like at the end of 2024 (with the IEA predicting 1.3 million bpd and OPEC predicting 2.25 million bpd) - how can they predict for sure what the approaching horizon may look like in 2030! And on that note, it's time to say goodbye. More musings to follow soon. Keep reading, keep it here, keep it 'crude'! 

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© Gaurav Sharma 2024. Photo: CERAWeek 2024 panel on - Oil Demand: How will it look in a decade? © Gaurav Sharma, March 2024. 

Wednesday, October 04, 2023

ADIPEC Day III: On partnerships, progress & more

As Day III of ADIPEC gathered momentum and crowds grew bigger still, global crude oil markets were greeted with the news that Saudi Arabia and Russia would maintain their joint oil production cuts of 1.3 million bpd until the end of the year. However, that didn't stop global oil benchmarks from sliding lower faced with an uncertain demand picture and an ever stronger US dollar. 

Inside the conference halls, and away from the din of the global crude market, various speakers called for heathy and meaningful cross-sector partnerships to open viable energy transition pathways. These may ideally involve stakeholders from across energy industries, financiers, technologists, governments, academia, and, of course, the end-consumer. 

As Niall Hannigan, Chief Financial Officer of Masdar, noted in a panel on fast tracking finance and prioritising investments for the energy transition. "Investors need scale. They want to see a clear policy framework within a geography, underpinned by a stable, transparent regulatory regime. Governments won’t attract investors alone – we need regulators, developers, development banks and commercial banks in the room together to create a programme. That collaborative conversation is essential.”

For his part, the Oilholic marked Day III with a tech heavy outing. It included concluding one's final speaking engagement at ADIPEC 2023's Digitalisation in Energy conference stream with a one-on-one discussion with Saravan Penubarthi, CTO of AiQ, on the future of cybersecurity solutions for energy systems. 

With panel sessions concluded, yours truly also took some time out to have a walkabout in the wider exhibition area spread over several halls. 

And...also said goodbye to Chevron's Boston Dynamics robotic dog(s) this blogger has been walking by for the past few days :) 






































And that's all for Day III, more tomorrow! Keep reading, keep it 'crude'!

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To email: journalist_gsharma@yahoo.co.uk  

© Gaurav Sharma 2023. Photo: (1) ADIPEC 2023 exhibition floor, Abu Dhabi, UAE, (2) Chevron's Boston Dynamics Robotic Dogs © Gaurav Sharma 2023.

Monday, October 02, 2023

ADIPEC Day I: "Decarbonising. Faster. Together"

The Oilholic is delighted to be back at ADIPEC 2023 after a gap of four years, and one virtual ADIPEC (2020) during the Covid pandemic. The tagline this year is rather unique "Decarbonising. Faster. Together" - and one that yours truly, and one suspects 160,000-plus delegates who'd be visiting the event are unlikely to miss. 

It's on banners, flags, posters, flyers, magazines, websites and broadcasts - in short if you are in town, you are unlikely to miss it. 

But what does it all mean? For Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber - ADNOC's boss and the country's Minister of Energy and Advanced Technology, and one might add the President-designate of COP28 - it all about an energy transition that's "just, orderly, equitable and responsible." More on that here via this blogger's latest Forbes post. But kudos from a branding perspective as "Decarbonising. Faster. Together" is just as catchy in 2023, as "Oil and Gas 4.0" was back in 2019. 

Something's of course never change. China has yet again sent a humongous delegation to town with a number of exhibitors, major energy outfits, businesspersons, subject matter experts and dignitaries whose presence you simply cannot miss. 

There are also another 29 country pavilions to visit. Around 1,600 speakers are in town, present company included, and 10 parallel conference streams, two of which the Oilholic will have four sessions in (More details here). The "Make It In The Emirates" theme - encouraging the UAE's domestic industry and manufacturing - also looms large and proud around ADIPEC corridors. 

This blogger also hosted the first of his panel sessions at ADIPEC 2023, titled: "The twin transition: policy alignment between the green and digital agendas," i.e. the simultaneous shift towards a more sustainable and digital economy. 

This engaging discussion included panellists Andrei Covatariu, Co-Chair, Task Force on “Digitalization in Energy” and Vice-Chair of the Group of Experts on Energy Efficiency, United Nations Economic Commission for Europe; Allyson Anderson Book, Chief Sustainability Officer, Baker Hughes and Leonid Zhukov, VP of Data Science, BCG-X and Director of BCG Global AI Institute. 

That's all for the moment folks as we're just getting started in Abu Dhabi. More to follow soon! Keep reading, keep it 'crude'!

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To email: journalist_gsharma@yahoo.co.uk  

© Gaurav Sharma 2023. Photo: (1) Entrance to ADIPEC 2023, Abu Dhabi, UAE, (2) Pavilions of companies from China. © Gaurav Sharma 2023.

Monday, July 31, 2023

On Guyana & other 'crude' musings

As the month of July comes to a close, it seems the Saudis have indeed achieved near-term success with global oil benchmarks - Brent and WTI - now above $80 per barrel. It's a price level that Riyadh can live with. Although it is worth wondering at what cost (i.e. the good old debate about losing market share vs propping up the market without the help of friends / foes)? 

On a related note, while for much of OPEC+ the recent uptick in crude prices may come as a relief, for one new non-OPEC kid on the crude exploration block it has the makings of a spectacular boost in fortunes - Guyana. Here are the Oilholic's thoughts via Forbes on this micro-state in Latin America, with a population of less than a million people, and its full-blown oil boom. 

Guyana's headline crude production which came in at less than 100,000 barrels per day (bpd) as recently as 2020 has grown nearly four-fold to just shy of 383,000 bpd in 2023, and is still growing, according to the country's Ministry of Natural Resources. That said all the market chatter of it either joining or being asked to join OPEC is a load of nonsense that been denied by the oil producers' organization itself.

Elsewhere in the Oilholic's world, yours truly offered his perspective market perspectives on CGTN and Asharq Business News following the conclusion of the OPEC International Seminar earlier this month, and noted OMV's potential recoverable natural gas find of approximately 48 TWh, or 28 million barrels of oil equivalent. This discovery carries the potential to alter the natural gas market in Central Europe, and is Austria's largest gas discovery in the last 40 years. So watch this space! That's all for the moment folks! Keep reading, keep it 'crude'!

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© Gaurav Sharma 2023. Photo © Image by Omni Matryx from Pixabay

Friday, July 07, 2023

On crude demand & the OPEC seminar’s conclusion

On a calmer second and concluding day of the OPEC Seminar, participants and deliberators' thoughts moved away from obsessing about the oil price and market stability, to pragmatic discussions on a more just and equitable energy transition. And, of course, to the energy sustainability trilemma (sustainability, security and affordability) - i.e., how focusing on one aspect at the cost of the other could have - in the words of many participants - "disastrous" consequences.

Of course, many spokespersons representing developing world producers at the gathering felt they need no lectures from the developed nations; and had every right to tap into the wealth of their hydrocarbons to improve their economic fortunes. No doubt an emotive subject for many, especially since no one can convincingly call time on hydrocarbons anytime soon.

The way the Oilholic views it – human mobility, mainly ground transportation, is unquestionably and increasingly heading in the direction of electric mobility. However, there are no obvious solutions or substitutes for petrochemicals, for aviation, for heavy mining and industry, for the cosmetics value chain, and many other facets of the global economy. So renewable energy, and electric mobility are the low hanging fruits, but what and where next, and how fast? 

BP’s Boss Bernard Looney told the seminar: “Oil and natural gas will continue be a part of the world’s energy mix for several decades to come.” How then do you balance investments in hydrocarbons versus the capex involved in moving away from them, at what pace, and using what proportionalities?

For instance, as the United Arab Emirates' Energy Minister Suhail Al Mazrouei pointed out – current
global oil demand is north of 100 million barrels per day (bpd), and every year the energy industry needs to invest to prevent the depletion of around 8 million bpd.

OPEC puts the figure at $12.1 trillion to 2045 or $500 billion per year. Projection figures can vary from forecaster to forecaster. It's not the amount of money that’s the subject of the most heated debates both in Vienna and beyond, it’s what approach to take over the coming decades. For that there is neither a unified approach nor any sort of magic wand solution. And so the debate rages on, as it did at the OPEC Seminar, and as COP28 approaches with United Arab Emirates, a major hydrocarbon producer being the host nation (as were coincidentally the last two – Egypt and Scotland). So plenty to ponder over. 

And on that note, it’s time to bid goodbye to Vienna. Just before one takes your leave, here’s the Oilholic’s latest Forbes missive on how/why Saudi Arabia remains committed to unilateral cuts, and why the oil price isn’t quite firing up. More analysis to follow over the airwaves in the coming days on what was discussed here, but that’s all for now. Keep reading, keep it crude! 

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© Gaurav Sharma 2023. Photo © Gaurav Sharma, July 7, 2023.

Tuesday, July 04, 2023

Back on a road (err...flight path) well travelled!

It's nearly time for BA706 - a very familiar British Airways flight number as far as the Oilholic's travels go. For after a gap of over three years in earnest, the Oilholic is back on a 'crude' road (err...flight path) well travelled and heading to the 8th International OPEC Seminar in Vienna, Austria. The core subject for deliberations is "Towards a sustainable & inclusive energy transition" and yours truly is looking forward to a fascinating few days of international dialogues. 

One must say, waiting for a flight to the Austrian capital once again for an OPEC gathering after gap years spent in the "in-house" corporate world brings a renewed sense of excitement and anticipation, eagerness to reconnect with old friends in energy analysis community and make new friends. 

Prevalent energy market conditions are miles apart from where we were in a pre-Covid world in March 2020 (scene of the last crime....err...visit). And who can forget the negative WTI oil price that followed in April 2020. Furthermore, energy transition is high on the agenda in a changed (hopefully pragmatic) world. So cheers to it all. 

To warm up, and prior to embarking on this journey, yours truly has fired a few missives via Forbes. Based on the Oilholic's reading of the current market situation and macroeconomic climate, oil prices remain rangebound and stuck in $70s for Brent (More here). 

And here are yours truly's thoughts on Shell's dividend hike and return to 'crude' basics. If sustainable investment trusts, learning more about Scope 1, 2 & 3 emissions and OPEC's June meeting are topics of interest, you can find your way there via the Oilholic's Forbes profile (details below). But that's all for now, and for the moment folks. Am BACK! So keep reading, keep it 'crude'!

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© Gaurav Sharma 2023. Photo © Gaurav Sharma, July 4, 2023.

Saturday, June 06, 2020

'e-OPEC' agrees 9.7mbpd cut extension by a month

We here again, albeit via webcam! As widely anticipated, oil producers' group OPEC has agreed to recommend a roll over its existing 9.7 million barrels per day (bpd) production cut at its latest meeting. 
Here's a glimpse of the new e-OPEC (click to enlarge). 

Two sources said all members were onboard, with one respondent emphatically declaring there "will be a 9.7 million bpd not ifs or buts." However, the was precious little word on the so-called cheaters. Within OPEC that would be Iraq and Nigeria, and beyond it Kazakhstan. There's plenty of doubt over what to do with Mexico's insistence that it cannot reduce its production level. 

However, Russia and Saudi Arabia, who want non-OPEC and OPEC cheaters brought to heel are so far said to be in agreement with a move to extend the cuts - instituted in April in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic - by a month. Non-OPEC countries are only just joining the meeting, so the market will have further word on that at time of stunted demand and expectations of a dire 2020

Monitoring is expected to be stepped up with OPEC's monitoring committee or the Joint Ministerial Monitoring Committee (JMMC) opting to meet every month from June 18 onwards. The next OPEC meeting has been scheduled for Nov 30, followed by an OPEC+ meeting on Dec 1. Ultimately, an exit strategy remains missing and that problem will resurface soon rather than later

Ahead of the weekend's OPEC+ meeting, oil futures jumped significantly, with the Brent August contract rising well above $40 per barrel, and WTI July contract coming within tantalizing distance of the said level. There's something incredibly premature about this and the said levels - at least in this blogger's opinion - have arrived at least a month early as one noted in recent opinion column

Away from the goings-on at OPEC, here are few of the Oilholic's recent Forbes missives on the world of oil and gas equities:

Friday, April 17, 2020

OPEC+ G20 = 'Crude' potpourri + V-shaped recovery

There have been umpteen developments over the last fortnight in the crude saga of oil producers scrambling to curtail production in light of the unprecedented drop in demand triggered by the coronavirus or Covid-19 outbreak.

That oil prices would have fallen regardless was a given, but the current desperate market situation was largely of Saudi Arabia and Russia's own making following the collapse of OPEC+ on March 6. 

Marking a reversal, frantic talks over the Easter weekend saw Moscow and Riyadh underpin a 9.7 million barrels per day (bpd) production cut, with feverish diplomacy by U.S. President Donald Trump and the promise of 1.5 million bpd in cuts by G20 oil producers serving as an accompaniment. Overall, the crude potpourri smelt better than it actually was. 

For the expected near-term oil demand decline is likely to be two to three times the production cut level. The deal itself doesn't look rock solid. As the Oilholic discussed with Mary-Ann Russon of the BBC, around 2.5 million bpd of cuts have been promised by Russia, an OPEC+ participant with a very poor record of compliance with the OPEC+ framework. 

The Saudis meanwhile would be cutting 2.5 million bpd from an inflated level of 11 million bpd. Prior to OPEC+'s December meeting, their production stood at 9.744 million bpd, which means in actual fact their compromise is closer to 1.25 million bpd on average. 

Yet for all of this, if oil demand is dire, any supply cut is only likely to have a very limited impact. We are flying, consuming and driving less (despite 99c/gallon prices in some US states) - so if we aren't going out that much, it won't matter one bit what OPEC+ does or doesn't. 


The deal is supposed to run from May to July and it won't avert short-term pain. It's come too late to rescue April, and it's too little for May and June. Hopes are pinned on a V-shaped recovery in oil prices come the middle of July. But how steep that 'V' might be is the question, and in the Oilholic's opinion it'll be steeper than where we are. 

As for The Donald, here is this blogger's take in a discussion with Marco Werman on PRI / BBC joint radio production The World. Phenomenal diplomacy it was by the President but more hot air was generated than tangible results. 

Additionally, the Oilholic also discussed various other market permutations, facets and shenanigans plus direction of oil and gas stocks, fuel prices, and several other energy topics with a host of industry colleagues including Richard Hunter of Interactive InvestorFreya Cole of BBC, Juliet Mann of CGTN, Victoria Scholar of IG Markets, Auskar Surbakti of TRT World, Sean Evers of Gulf Intelligence, Garima Gayatri of Energy Dias and scribbled half a dozen Forbes missives in what can only be described as the most manic of all manic fortnights for the oil market.

Final thoughts - WTI still looks like it'll hit mid-to-late-teens and continue to lurk below $20 per barrel  till early summer because dire demands means dire prices! That's about it for the moment folks! Stay safe, keep reading, keep it 'crude'!


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© Gaurav Sharma 2020. Photo I: Oilfield in Oman © Shell. Photo II: Gaurav Sharma on the BBC, TRT World and CGTN broadcasts © Broadcasters as mentioned, April 2020. 

Saturday, April 04, 2020

A catalogue of ‘crude’ missives on oil market turmoil

In the nine days that have lapsed since yours truly last wrote a blog post, the crude oil market has gone crude and cruder, peppered with barmy ideas, suggestions of strange alliances, tariffs, and of course tweets. For all of that, two things haven't materially changed – crude demand collapse continues as the coronavirus or Covid-19 pandemic spreads, and oversupply in the face of demand destruction is already here.

So here are few of The Oilholic’s missives via Forbes and Rigzone tackling various market slants between March 26-Apr 2:

  • With whole countries in lockdown mode, forecasters now reckon a fifth of global crude demand could be wiped out - Forbes, Mar 26, 2020
  • The Oilholic's thoughts on why a resurrection of OPEC+ would be too little, too late for the oil market - Forbes, Mar 27, 2020.
  • Oil futures are in record contango - Forbes, Mar 29,2020
  • Oil benchmarks ended Q1 2020 around 66% lower and lack of storage space is becoming apparent - Forbes, Mar 31, 2020
  • US shale explorer Whiting Petroleum becomes the first casualty of the current oil price slump as it files for bankruptcy - Forbes Apr 1, 2020
  • Moody's announces series of predictable negative outlooks on major oil and gas companies - Forbes, Apr 1, 2020
  • How Saudi belligerence has pushed VLCC rates to comedic highs - Rigzone, Apr 1, 2020
  • And finally, how a Donald Trump tweet sent oil futures soaring but the gains are unlikely to last - Forbes, Apr 2, 2020

And that's about it for the moment folks! Stay safe, keep reading, keep it 'crude'!

To follow The Oilholic on Twitter click here.
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© Gaurav Sharma 2020. 

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

View on a 'crude' few days from Houston

The Oilholic is glad to be back in Houston, Texas, US for yet another visit. However, in many ways the latest outing marks several first instances. It is this blogger's first instance of arriving in America's oil and gas capital right after an OPEC summit, the first immediately following a mammoth oil price crash, and the first when several events yours truly was planning on attending, including IHS CERAWeek have been cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak that is wrecking the global economy. 

Yours truly promised some considered viewpoints 'to follow' while scrambling out of Vienna, to get here via London following the collapse of OPEC+, and here they are - thoughts on why $30 oil prices could be the short-term norm, and in fact $20 could follow via Forbes, thoughts on the shocking but inevitable collapse of OPEC+ via Rigzone, and why the recovery since Monday's (March 9) oil price slump is not a profound change to where the market stands, again via Forbes

Interspersed will penning thoughts for publications, the Oilholic met some familiar trading contacts in H-Town (you all know who you are), and met two new crude souls via mutual contacts too. Most seem surprised by the level of Aramco's discounts for April cargoes, and opined that they were three times over their expectations. 

The Saudis certainly mean business, and what was a crisis of demand following the coronavirus outbreak that has crippled China; has Iran, Italy and South Korea in its grip; and has seen emergency protocols being activated from California, US to Hokkaido, Japan now has a new dimension. It is now a crisis of demand coupled with a supply glut as OPEC and non-OPEC producers tough it out in a race to the bottom of the barrel. That's all from Houston, for the moment folks! More soon. For now, keep reading! Keep it 'crude'!

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© Gaurav Sharma 2020. Photo: Downtown Houston, Texas, US © Gaurav Sharma, March 10, 2020.

Friday, March 06, 2020

OPEC+ talks collapse; oil futures tank

The Oilholic had to leave OPEC HQ prior to the conclusion of a rather fractious OPEC+ meeting which resulted in no agreement being reached among OPEC and its non-OPEC partners. Following are the key takeaways, from Vienna Airport:

  • Russia blocked OPEC efforts aimed at deepening ongoing OPEC+ cuts by 1.5 million barrels per day (bpd) raising the output cut level to 3.2 million bpd to the end of 2020.
  • Stalemate means current level of cuts are set to expire as of April 1, 2020.
  • Russian Oil Minister Alexander Novak even refused name/set date for next OPEC+ meeting; technical committee to meet on March 18.
  • Senior OPEC sources tell this blogger “There is no plan B”.
  • Oil benchmarks slump by as much as 8% in the immediate aftermath of the development and trading down by ~10% at the time of writing; Brent/WTI front-month contract at levels last seen in August 2016, and recorded largest intraday drop since the financial crisis. 

More considered viewpoints/analysis to follow once yours truly has arrived in Houston. Keep reading, keep it ‘crude’! 

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© Gaurav Sharma 2020.

OPEC+ in waiting mode as Russia plays hardball

Overnight (March 5) OPEC ministers met and proposed a deepening of existing oil production cuts by 1.5 million barrels per day (bpd) to their Russia-led OPEC+ partners in an effort to calm the oil market following the coronavirus outbreak and its devastating impact on the global economy.

While the original 'deepening of cuts' proposal was set to last until end-June 2020, OPEC heavyweights met yet again late yesterday evening and announced the proposal would be extended to the end of 2020. 

The burden of 1.5 million bpd, would be shared as 1 million bpd and 0.5 million bpd between OPEC and non-OPEC players respectively. From a headline perspective, if approved the market would be looking at 3.2 million bpd of OPEC+ barrels being taken out of the global supply pool. 

With that the ball went into the Russian court, and that's where it has been since well into today (March 6). In that time, Russian Oil Minister Alexander Novak has gone and returned from Moscow, and an OPEC+ closed-door meeting scheduled to start at 9:30 CET, has yet to get going 14:20 CET!

And the Oilholic has putting his scenarios to colleagues in the broadcast media. 

In one scenario, Russia could say 'nyet' and you'd see bearish headwinds engulf oil futures and driving the price down to $30 per barrel. 

In another scenario, the mammoth cut would proceed providing only temporary relief to oil prices given the full extent of the coronavirus' demand destruction is yet to be clear. Although, Wall Street is belatedly, finally coming to terms with the magnitude of the destruction having ditched its complacency.

Finally, often the favourite colour at these OPEC meetings based on the Oilholic's past experience is grey. OPEC+ could emerge and offer a good old fashioned figures fudge involving OPEC cuts with the support of the Russians, and other non-OPEC players, with very few barrels to show for it. This too will either provide negligible or short-lived support. 

All of this bottles down to one thing - hardly anyone has an accurate handle on where oil demand is going, and the Oilholic believes there will be shrinkage on an annualised basis. Were that to be the case, a 'crude' logic applies - oil supply cuts never really solve a crisis of demand. It's where crude market presently is. OPEC can improve its odds via a cut but can do little more!

And on that note its time to leave Vienna for London, and then on to Houston, all the while keeping an eye on events here. But that's all for the moment folks. Keep reading, keep it 'crude'!

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© Gaurav Sharma 2020.

Thursday, March 05, 2020

Events overtaking OPEC as 1mbpd+ cut deepening is touted

After a meeting that went long into the night, OPEC+ is in for another hectic few days of haggling as it works out how to respond to the demand slump being caused by the coronavirus outbreak. 

OPEC+ technical committee's recommendation was for an expansion of its ongoing cuts of 1.2 million barrels per day (bpd) by 600,000 bpd.

But before the evening was done last night, a number as high as 1-1.2million bpd was being touted around, something that has held firm for much of this (Mar 5) morning and afternoon. Quite frankly, events have overtaken OPEC and demand forecasters are shooting blind at the moment, as the Oilholic noted via Forbes at IPWeek

But given the global proportions of the coronavirus spread, potential for $30 per barrel prices and demand growth shrinkage, Wall Street is finally waking up to the magnitude of the demand destruction that could happen. Here's yours truly's latest Forbes take on the subject

Lets see how the day unfolds. But for a deepening of that magnitude Saudi Arabia's headline production will have to drop below ~9 million bpd; and should that happen it'll be a bit of whopper facilitated by Saudi Crown Prince and Powerbroker-in-chief Mohammed Bin Salman! Keep reading, keep it 'crude'! 

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© Gaurav Sharma 2020. Photo: Ministerial Limos arrive at OPEC Secretariat in Vienna, Austria © Gaurav Sharma, Mar 5, 2020. 

Friday, February 28, 2020

A right royal crude market hammering


Coronavirus jitters have delivered a right royal hammering to the crude oil market, with the pace of bearish blows picking up considerably over the last 48 hours. Both major benchmarks are now over 25% below their 2020 peak achieved in the wake of the US-Iran skirmish at the turn of the new trading year. 

Key issue in finding a price floor stems from the fact that many, in fact most, crude demand forecasters are shooting blind, as the Oilholic wrote on Forbes.com. The local viral outbreak in China soon became a regional epidemic, and is now – in the view of some – a global pandemic in a matter of weeks. Complete dataset of the virus' economic impact will be trickling in soon, and there is market conjecture around that the global economy could be heading for a recession. 

Were that to be the case, and the fact that the virus has reached 50 countries, could result in crude demand destruction on an unprecedented scale, as yours truly via on Rigzone. So where from here? No one really knows, and unless OPEC+ provides temporary reprieve via a production at its next meeting scheduled for March 5-6, price floor would be hard to pin down. We could see benchmarks tumbling to as low as $30 per barrel; something that has indeed happened in the not too distant past. 

For now retail, travel, airline and energy stocks continue to take a hammering. In fact, the energy sector is now down 34% from 52-week closing high, while both Brent and WTI futures look likely to post their worst weeks in recent memory (last seen between December 2008 and January 2009 at the height of the global financial crisis). 

That was also the verdict of many yours truly interacted at the recently concluded International Petroleum Week in London. The event itself looked like it fell victim to the coronavirus as understandably Chinese and indeed many overseas delegates stayed away. 

Only major energy CEOs in attendance were those of BP and Vitol, and most attendees were pretty pessimistic about the oil price direction. Nonetheless, dialogues on energy transition over the course of three days proved to be very interesting as the sector continues its attempt at a low-carbon future. That's all for the moment folks! Keep reading, keep it 'crude'!

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© Gaurav Sharma 2020. Graphs 1 & 2: Brent & WTI futures price movement 3M to Feb 27, 2020.

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Post OPEC quips & LatAm, Shale outlook

The Oilholic returned from the OPEC+ ministers’ summit in Vienna, Austria to a crazy few weeks of crude chatter and of course umpteen discussions on the Saudi Aramco IPO.

Here are yours truly's thoughts on the final communiquĂ© from OPEC via Forbes, and another take on the Aramco IPO via the same publication plus a ReachX podcast touching on the issue of the company's valuation kerfuffle.  

Away from it all, two pieces of research caught one's eye this month. Starting with the first of two, rating agency Moody's reckons 2020 will be a stable year for the Latin American oil and gas sector. While, global economic environment and trade disputes could become a concern to Latin America's commodity exporters, including those in the business of black gold and natural gas, Moody's opined that many regional players have indeed improved their capital structures. 

"Business conditions will vary in 2020, contributing to stable overall conditions. A shift toward exploration and production favours credit quality for Brazil's national oil company Petrobras, but 2020 production appears stable at best in Mexico as investment stalls," says Moody's Senior Vice President Nymia Almeida.

Mexico investment momentum in oil and gas is negative for 2020 as national oil company PEMEX has limited ability to increase investments and deliver on production and reserves targets, Almeida added. 

Away from Latin America, Rystad Energy predicted that even with potentially lower prices, the production outlook for North American shale "appears robust" in the years ahead.

In Norway-based analysis firm's base-case price scenario - that assumes a WTI price at $55 per barrel in 2019; $54/bbl in 2020; $54/bbl in 2021 and $57/bbl in 2022 - would see North American light tight oil supply will reach 11.6 million barrels per day (bpd) by 2022. 

This implies a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10% from 2019 to 2022. In a price scenario with the WTI oil price remaining flat at $45 per barrel, supply of the same would plateau at 10.1 million bpd towards 2022.

"The flat development of US light tight oil production is also possible in lower price scenarios, but we would likely see an initial period of multi-quarter production decline, with output stabilising at a lower level," said Mladá Passos, product manager of Rystad Energy's Shale Upstream Analysis team. Plenty to ponder about as 2020 approaches, but that's all for the moment folks. Keep reading, keep it 'crude'!

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© Gaurav Sharma 2019. Photo: Oil exploration site in Oman © Royal Dutch Shell. 

Friday, December 06, 2019

OPEC+ announces deeper cuts of 500kbpd

It's official - OPEC+ has decided to "deepen its cuts" by ~500,000 barrels per day (bpd), thereby upping its output reduction from 1.2 million bpd, 1.7 million bpd.

And if the new chief OPEC powerbroker Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman is to be believed, and every participant well...err....participates, the market could well be looking at a real terms cut of 2.1 million bpd. 

That is wishful thinking and will be severely tested as the Saudis say OPEC+ compliance would be keen monitored. To this effect, OPEC will have an extraordinary meeting of ministers in March 2020, on top of its regular meeting in June. 

For its part Saudi Arabia will up its cuts "voluntarily" to 400,000 bpd (+167,000 bpd) bringing its headline production down to 9.744 million bpd. Errant Iraq has promised to cut 50,000 bpd. Nigeria, Libya and Iraq remain exempt, but Nigerian Minister Timipre Marlin Sylva said his country would be cutting production "voluntarily."

There seems to be no shortage of volunteers. Here are two other key quotes:
  • "Signal we want market to take is that we are collectively showing readiness to rebalance the market, prevent heavy inventory buildup in Q1 2020," - Abdulaziz bin Salman.
  • "Russia wants to avoid any oil market turbulence in 2020. We are not concerned with US shale, seeing signs of shale slowdown," - Russian Oil Minister Alexander Novak. 

Finally, the Saudi Minister sounded pretty peeved about getting a "battering from the media" about the Saudi Aramco IPO, adding that the company's valuation would hit $2 trillion very soon. And that's that; more composed thoughts upon the Oilholic's return to London, but that's all for the moment from OPEC folks! Keep reading, keep it 'crude'!

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© Gaurav Sharma 2019. Photo: Saudi Oil Minister Abdulaziz bin Salman speaks at the conclusion of the OPEC+ meeting in Vienna, Austria © Gaurav Sharma December 6, 2019.

Late one to early crude commotion at OPEC

So after having kept analysts and media in the OPEC Secretariat almost till midnight, and then not issuing a final brief, the producers' group has started day two with its planned OPEC and Non-OPEC meeting of ministers. 

The figure of a 500,000 barrels per day (bpd) deepening of the cuts remains on the cards, but whether it is a paper adjustment or a real-term cut remains to be seen. 

Even before proceedings began, Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh left the meeting, with there being little sense in his sticking around given Tehran is exempt from the cuts. 

However, he did quip to journalists on his way out that the deal being brokered is indeed a "fresh cut". Inside the meeting hall, Russian Oil Minister Alexander Novak said the OPEC and non-OPEC agreement was working despite doubts expressed by sceptics, and his Saudi counterpart Abdulaziz Bin Salman asked for the "faith and mercy" of analysts and market commentators so that they don't "twist" numbers put out by OPEC+. (Yup, he really did!)

The oil market will have to believe OPEC+, and objective as well as cynical analysts will have to trust them, he added. Felt more like a sermon, and less like a statement, but hey - whatever works. More drama from here later in the day. But that's all for the moment folks! Keep reading, keep it 'crude'! 

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© Gaurav Sharma 2019. Photo: OPEC and Non-OPEC Meeting Room, Vienna, Austria © Gaurav Sharma, December 2019. 

Thursday, December 05, 2019

On OPEC discipline & deepening cuts

The Oilholic is back in Vienna, Austria for the 177th OPEC Ministers' meeting and their (now) regular haggling with 10 Russian led non-OPEC producers who've signed up to a collective cut of 1.2 million barrels per day (bpd).

With the cuts set to expire in March and the oil price nowhere near $70 per barrel using Brent as a benchmark, there is chatter here of deepening the cuts.

Ironically, these are being flogged to the media and analysts by Iraq; the one OPEC member that has hardly complied with its share of the cuts. However something is definitely afoot at Helferstorferstrasse 17. The reasons being a paucity of leaks, few unscheduled remarks, Iranians keeping mum despite being tetchy, and the media / analysts not being allowed "access to ministers" before their opening remarks to the conference, i.e. no "gang bang", only a "speech listening" at more than an arm's length. 


From that has emerged the "deepening of cuts" figure of 500,000 bpd. Of course, no details have been provided, especially on the level of Russian compliance. Apparently the likes of Nigeria and Iraq would be squeezed to fall in line too, according to the rumour mill.

What's more is this 500,000 bpd cut a "paper adjustment" with compliance current over 140% or is the cut being upped to 1.7 million bpd? Not too sure, not convinced as convincing answers are not forthcoming.

And will that even work? The Oilholic seriously doubts it; simply because 2-2.5 million bpd of non-OPEC supply growth is expected next year, and there are deep rooted concerns over demand, as noted on Forbes. Still the OPEC show goes on, and we'll probably have some finality after the OPEC+ meeting concludes tomorrow (Dec 6). 

That's all for the moment from Vienna folks, but there's more to follow. Keep reading, keep it 'crude'!

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© Gaurav Sharma 2019. Photo: Media briefing room at OPEC's 177th Ministers' Meeting in Vienna, Austria on December 5, 2019 © Gaurav Sharma, 2019

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

ADIPEC Day III: Oil demand, AI and robots

Day three of ADIPEC 2019 has just concluded here in Abu Dhabi, UAE and much was said about oil demand concerns. Morning discourse was coloured by the International Energy Agency's take that demand is set to plateau by 2030 due to a pick up in the use of electric vehicles around the world.

In its latest market projections, the IEA said overall demand for energy is set to increase by 1% every year until 2040, however headline demand will plateau ten years earlier than it had previously forecast.

Elsewhere in its World Energy Outlook report, the IEA said US shale output, which has made the country the world's biggest oil producer, is likely to stay higher for longer than previously projected, with the country accounting for 85% of the increase in global oil production by 2030, and for 30% of the increase in natural gas.

Meanwhile, switching tack to the coming 12 months, OPEC Secretary General Mohammed Barkindo said an uptick in demand for 2020 may be on the cards should the US-China trade stand-off end.

"We are confident that there will be a deal and the deal will be positive for the world economy and will remove the dark cloud that has engulfed the global economy because of the size of the countries," Barkindo said on the sidelines of ADIPEC.

Among the VIPs in town today was Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Prime Minister and Ruler of neighboring Dubai. Alongside his visit, came that of nearly 900 local school kids to learn more about the industry, its processes, careers and well to marvel – perhaps like the rest of us – at some of the innovative robots and kits on display here.
And then there's the launch of a new branch of local government focused on research and development as well as an artificial intelligence (AI) joint venture inked by the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) to take in.

The new Abu Dhabi Research and Development Authority will be tasked with inventions that tackle Earth's most pressing challenges. Under auspices of the emirate's Department of Education and Knowledge (ADEK), five virtual research institutes will focus on biotechnology, food security, sustainability, artificial intelligence and high-performance computing, and advanced materials. The announcement came in step with ADNOC's agreement at ADIPEC with UAE-based AI company, Group 42, on a joint venture to develop AI products for the energy sector.

In sync with this hot topic, the Oilholic also participated in ADIPEC Middle East Petroleum Club's Leadership dialogue on Human and machine collaboration and the impact this has on current business transformation.

IIoT, big data, augmented reality and virtual reality premised solutions, and the changing nature of the workforce were all under a lively 90-minute discussion with Greg Cross, Co-founder of Soul Machines and AI pioneer (third from left) leading the talk. 

Finally, here is one's analysis for Rigzone on why BP and Shell's low carbon overtures and portfolio tweaking hold both oil majors in good stead despite a dire set of numbers. That's all for the moment folks, more from here on the final day at ADIPEC tomorrow. Keep reading, keep it ‘crude’!

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© Gaurav Sharma 2019. Photo I: Day three of exhibition at ADIPEC 2019. Photo II: Industry robot at Total's stand. Photo III: AI pioneer Greg Cross speaks at ADIPEC Middle East Petroleum Club, Abu Dhabi, November 2019 © Gaurav Sharma 2019.