Showing posts with label Providence Resources. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Providence Resources. Show all posts

Monday, June 24, 2013

Notes on Northern Ireland’s own ‘crude’ boom

Walk past Belfast’s Titanic Quarter and look left towards the loading docks of the harbour bordering the River Lagan and you’ll see a number of ships unloading coal. Nothing unusual, except that the usage of this age-old, but now unfashionable, fossil fuel is fast becoming uneconomical in the US courtesy of the country’s shale bonanza. So some of it is landing up on European shores and on harbours such as Belfast’s.
The coal [pictured above left] is heading to AES's Kilroot Power Station, according to a local harbour official. Recent investments in deep-water facilities by Belfast Harbour have enabled it to handle coal imports in increasing numbers. But for how long one wonders, as the province’s own oil & gas boom and a mini shale gas bonanza might be on the cards.
Being in Northern Ireland for the G8 2013 Summit, gave the Oilholic a pretext to examine local 'crude' moves on an up close and personal basis. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this blogger found that hydrocarbon prospection in this part of the world has its own set of promoters and worriers, akin to any other jurisdiction.
So what’s the story so far? Dublin-based Providence Resources is here, a firm that has already demonstrated the true of luck of the Irish by making a convincing case for oil & gas prospection in the Republic of Ireland. The company reckons, and with good reason, that there may be 500 million to 530 million barrels of oil under Rathlin Sound, off the north Antrim coast.
A spokesperson for the company told the Oilholic that it intends to drill an exploration well in 2014 to examine the site which it calls the Polaris Prospect. It has been eyeing the area - of roughly around 31 square kilometres - since last year. Surveys carried by Providence Resources under an exploration licence found "encouraging results."

The Rathlin Basin has always been considered prospective due to the presence of a rich oil prone source rock. However, the company adds that poor seismic imaging has historically rendered it difficult to determine the basin's "true hydrocarbon entrapment potential." Nonetheless, subject to regulatory approval, Providence Resources will embark on a drilling programme in 2014.
Additionally, Northern Ireland could have its own shale bonanza too. The village of Belcoo, near the border with the South, has plans for fracking. One has to be careful when speaking in a plural sense, as not everyone is in favour, with many having serious misgivings about shale exploration and its potential impact on the regional environment and the water table.
However, armed with the words – “Shale gas is part of the future and we will make it happen” – from UK Chancellor George Osborne’s 2013 budget speech, independent upstart Tamboran is banking on shale in Belcoo. Furthermore, the Treasury will give it a tax allowance for developing gas fields, and, for the next 10 years, leeway to offset its exploration spending against tax.
Tamboran and Providence Resources are not alone in making crude forays in Northern Ireland. Brigantes Energy, Cairn Energy, Infrastrata, Rathlin Energy and Terrain Energy are here too, armed with prospection licences granted by the regional Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment (DETI) under the Petroleum Production Act of Northern Ireland of 1964. For the moment there is room for cautious optimism and nothing more.
You can bet on thing for sure, if the current shale and oil & gas exploration yields results then Belfast Harbour would see much less imported coal. That’s all from a memorable and wonderful visit to Northern Ireland folks! Keep reading, keep it ‘crude’!
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© Gaurav Sharma 2013. Photo: Coal being unloaded on Belfast Harbour, Northern Ireland, UK © Gaurav Sharma, June 2013.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Market chatter, luck of the Irish & East Timor

Rather than a daily assessment, the Oilholic often looks at how the forward month price of leading crude oil benchmarks fluctuates on a weekly basis. Such an exercise regularly provides interesting tangents for a discussion at the beginning of the week. Last Monday all three benchmarks – Brent, WTI and OPEC’s basket of crude – were in the red in week over week terms. This Monday, all three are in the green rising roughly between 2% and 3%. There is a clear reason for the upside momentum with Brent holding firm above US$114 per barrel and the WTI above US$90.
Better than expected Chinese economic data is largely behind the current market sentiment (see graphic above, click to enlarge). But as yours truly fast loses count of how many ‘critical’ EU summits we have recently had, another one is due towards the end of the week. So market caution will prevail either side of the pond. For Sucden Financial analyst Myrto Sokou, the two-day summit (this Thursday and Friday) and the regional Spanish elections (Galicia and Basque) will be the main focus for the week.
“We are not expecting any decision yet on Spain’s issues, with Reuters again suggesting that bundling multiple bailouts in one package is preferable, especially for Bundestag approval. Again the usual flow of Greek rumours, with some suggesting that the country needs two more years to implement reforms,” she added.
US EIA data released last Friday noted that American crude oil stocks built by 1.7 million barrels driven by a 193,000 barrels per day (bpd) increase in supply. This came from an import rise of 115,000 bpd and a domestic output rise of 78,000 bpd (to 6.598 million bpd). Concurrently, US refinery runs declined by 97,000 bpd, in line with the maintenance season and Cushing, Oklahoma stocks slightly gained by 0.3 million barrels (and are still comfortably above five year highs).
Société Générale analyst Mike Wittner felt the report indicated a typical pattern for a refinery maintenance season. “We see a very bullish backdrop for products and a bearish trend for crude…However, all products' fundamentals were very weak - both supply and demand. Recent positive US macroeconomic data might improve demand and add an upward pressure on prices,” he concluded.
Moving away from the price of the crude stuff, confirmation finally came that the Irish are about to hit black gold in meaningful quantities after many false dawns. This may largely be attributed to Providence Resources, a Dublin and London AiM dual-listed company, which first caught the Oilholic’s eye back in May.
The company’s chief executive Tony O’Reilly confirmed last week that its Barryroe site, 30 miles off the Cork coast, could potentially yield 280 million barrels of oil. He told the BBC that with Brent crude above US$100 per barrel at moment, the prospection offered a “lot of value” and would mark the beginning of the Irish oil industry.
While rules related to licensing, taxation and local job facilitation would still need to be worked on, what is transpiring at Providence is by all accounts a pivotal moment. "We hope there is a renaissance of interest by international companies who need to come to Ireland and help us to exploit our natural resources. We cannot do it alone," O’Reilly added.
ExxonMobil has already obliged by opting to explore a Providence site at Drumquin. Many others would surely follow given number of exploration licences the company currently holds according to its 2011 Annual report (see map of Providence Resources' licences above right, click to enlarge). Crossing over to the other side of the planet, East Timor or Timor Leste has created its domestic Institute of Petroleum and Geology (IPG) by means of its Decree-Law 33/2012 of July 18, 2012.
The new institute will be entrusted with archiving, producing, managing, storing and disseminating geological data, including that related to onshore and offshore oil, gas and mineral resources. Miranda Law Firm, which operates in the once strife ravaged jurisdiction, said the data collected and managed by IPG will provide the basis and impetus for domestic prospecting, exploration and production.
The problem is not so much of data collection hindering offshore prospection but one of defining East Timor’s maritime boundaries. It only became an independent state in May 2002. The new nation did not accept the Timor Gap Treaty of 1989, which divided the country’s resources between Australia and Indonesia. It was signed over a decade after Indonesia invaded East Timor in 1976 which had formerly been a Portuguese colonial outpost.
A new agreement – the Timor Sea Treaty of 2002 – then proposed a Joint Petroleum Development Area (JPDA) with a 90:10 oil & gas revenue share of new finds between East Timor and Australia. Then perhaps much to the chagrin of locals, Greater Sunrise Gas field – considered one of the most promising finds in the region – saw only a fifth of its nautical area within JPDA confines. As a consequence, only 18% of generated revenue currently falls in East Timor's lap according to sources in the Australian media. All the Oilholic can say is that if you need a crude talking point – talk East Timor.
Moving on from one post-conflict area to another supposedly post-conflict region – the Niger Delta – where Shell rejected the liability claims by four Nigerian farmers. At a civil court in The Hague, they have accused the Anglo-Dutch oil major of ruining their livelihood and causing damage to their land on account of oil spills. Shell for its part blamed sabotage and criminal theft by locals for the damage.
In a statement it said, "The real tragedy of the Niger Delta is the widespread and continual criminal activity, including sabotage, theft and illegal refining, that causes the vast majority of oil spills. It is this criminality which all organisations with an interest in Nigeria's future should focus their efforts on highlighting and addressing."
Opinion might well be divided, but this is the first instance of a half-Dutch multinational being taken to a civil court for an alleged offence caused outside the Netherlands. The only local connection is the Dutch arm of environmental group Friends of the Earth which is backing the four Nigerian farmers. While this landmark case is far from reaching its conclusion, if it has piqued your interest then Michael Peel’s brilliant book A Swamp Full of Dollars could give you all the background to the spills, the violence, the destruction and the crude world of Nigerian oil.
Finally, from the serious to the farcical – an episode was brought to the Oilholic’s attention by a colleague at industry scouting data and technical information provider Drillinginfo.  It seems Hollywood megastar Matt Damon’s latest foray – The Promised Land – widely touted as an anti-fracking response to US shale exploration is part bankrolled or rather will be brought to our screens “in association with” Image Media Abu Dhabi, a subsidiary of Abu Dhabi Media, according to the preview’s list of credits.
The media company is wholly owned by the government of UAE; an OPEC member country and one from which the US is hoping to cut its crude imports from based on the prospects of domestic shale exploration! It is best to leave it to you folks to draw your own conclusions, but that’s all for the moment! Keep reading, keep it ‘crude’!
© Gaurav Sharma 2012. Graphic 1: Forward month crude oil price © Sucden Financial, October 2012. Graphic 2: Providence Resources’ existing licences © Providence Resources Plc, December 2011

Saturday, May 05, 2012

Out of its ‘Shell’ & into the ‘Cove’ plus ‘Providence’

Many analysts thought supermajor Royal Dutch Shell which was embroiled in a bidding war for London-listed Cove Energy for better parts of Q1 this year, would emerge out of its conservative shell and trump rival bids from Thailand’s PTTEP and a couple of interested parties from India outright.

In the end the deal was sealed by a conservative, albeit apparently successful, counter offer by Shell for the East Africa focussed E&P company. Having seen its offer for US$1.6 billion back in February trumped by PTTEP, the Anglo-Dutch major returned to the table with a bid of US$1.81 billion which matched rather than bettered the Thai state company’s offer.

On April 24, Cove’s directors accepted and recommended Shell's offer which the Oilholic thinks had much to do with Mozambique as a nation wanting Shell’s expertise as well as its investment. The possibility of a bid battle has now receded; more so as the agreement includes a break fee clause, under which Cove Energy will have to pay Shell US$18 million if it now accepts a rival bid.

An approval from the government of Mozambique is awaited as Shell eyes Cove’s main asset – an 8.5% stake in the Rovuma Offshore Area 1 in the country where Anadarko projects recoverable reserves of 30 tcf of natural gas. Shell as a company continues to be in good nick having recently announced a rise in Q1 profits while rival ExxonMobil saw its profits dip. On an annualised basis, Shell Q1 profits were up 11% at US$7.66 billion while in a strange coincidence Exxon’s profits fell 11% to US$9.45 billion. Both majors said oil prices would be ‘volatile’ in the coming months.

Talking about the luck of the Irish, London and Dublin listed Providence Resources’ quest for Black Gold off the coast of Ireland appears to be on song. The company, which dug Ireland’s first oil prospection well that might be anywhere near profitability, looks good for its 520pence plus share price on the AIM when the Oilholic last checked.

This accolade of Ireland’s first profitable oil well goes to Barryroe prospection field, some 70km off Cork, where a future full-scale extraction to the tune of nearly 4000 barrels per day – which makes a lot of commercial sense – is within relative touching distance. Providence Resources also holds drilling permits in Northern Ireland. Since Irish crude prospection has been riddled with disappointments, Providence deserves a pat on the back and its current share price for its effort.

How do UK petrol prices compare with other countries?Finally, the Oilholic is a bit miffed about being told by people that the UK now has the most expensive petrol price in the world, which it clearly does not. Yours truly knows that prices at the pump bite everyone, but we Brits aren’t the worst off.

However, to argue otherwise often results in farcically loud arguments especially with people who think the more inexpert they are, the more valid their opinion is! Thankfully, experts at Staveley Head – a provider of specialist insurance products – have some handy figures to back up the Oilholic which suggest that while UK is almost always on the list of the most expensive countries to buy petrol – it is not the most expensive (yet).

Click on their infographic - the Global Petrol Price Index (above right) - to compare the UK with the others. It would suggest that current price per litre is the highest in Norway, followed by Turkey, Netherlands, Italy and Greece. That’s all for the moment folks! Keep reading, keep it ‘crude’!

© Gaurav Sharma 2012. Photo: Shell Gas Station © Royal Dutch Shell. Infographic: Global Petrol Price Index © Staveley Head.


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