Showing posts with label Spare capacity. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Spare capacity. Show all posts

Thursday, July 10, 2014

OPEC’s spare capacity & some corporate quips

Oil benchmarks have by and large remained calm in the face of escalating tensions in Iraq. Market sentiment was helped in no small parts by the US importing less crude and ISIS being kept at bay from Iraqi oilfields. Nonetheless, what does the current situation mean for OPEC's spare capacity, concerns over which have marginally eased as non-OPEC production is seen rising.

Over the first quarter of this year, OPEC's spare capacity was in the region on 1.9 million barrels per day (bpd), bulk of which – 1.75 million bpd – is in the hands of Saudi Arabia.

Société Générale CIB analysts Patrick Legland and Daniel Fermon, recently raised a very important question in a note to clients – so assuming that within OPEC, supply from Iran, Iraq, and Libya does not increase and Saudi spare capacity is not sufficient to offset a potential Iraqi crisis, what then? A scary prospect, especially if Iraqi tensions spill to southern oilfields.

SocGen's veteran analyst Mike Wittner assigns only a 20% probability of crude oil exports from southern Iraqi oil fields (of Basrah) being disrupted. Current output is in the region of 2.5-2.6 million bpd or 3% of global production. In line with other city commentators and the Oilholic's own conjecture, Wittner says were Basrah to be hit, Brent could move up quickly into the US$120-125 range.

Let's hope it doesn't get hit, as Legland and Fermon note, in the past 50 years, 5 out of 7 recessions coincided with an oil shock, with oil prices skyrocketing. "However, to date, no one is expecting the oil price to rise to $150 or above; so concerns over an oil-led recession appear exaggerated," they add.

Away from pricing matters, a couple of corporate quips starting with a small cap. London AiM-quoted North Africa focussed E&P firm Circle Oil has largely kept the market on its side despite niggles it faces in Egypt along with other operators in the country. From where this blogger stands, Circe Oil's operations in Morocco and Tunisia remain promising and its receivables position in Egypt is in line with most (around the 180 debtor day norm).

Investec analyst Brian Gallagher has reaffirmed the bank's buy rating. Explaining his decision in a note to clients, Gallagher observed that Circle Oil "generated operational cashflow in excess of $50 million in 2013 and we expect it to match or exceed this level again in 2014. This marks Circle out from many of its small cap E&P peers who struggle to fund exploration campaigns. Circle has two impact operations currently in process. Moroccan exploration recently began (successfully) while results from the Tunisian well, EMD-1, are imminent. In the background, Egypt continues to perform."

The company is busy prospecting in Oman as well, even though it's early days. So methinks, and Gallagher thinks, there's a lot to look forward to. Switching tack to a couple of large caps, Fitch Ratings revised BG Energy's outlook to negative at A- and maintained BP's at A+/stable.

Starting with the former, the agency said BG's negative outlook reflects completion risks associated with its new upstream projects, challenges that the company is facing in Egypt, and the potential that funds from operations (FFO) adjusted net leverage may stay above 2.5 times in the medium-term should there be any delays to project start-ups.

"Presently, we view the group's credit metrics as stretched for the current ratings because of BG's ambitious investments coinciding with declining production, despite a series of asset disposals intended to strengthen the group's balance sheet," Fitch noted, adding that it expects the company’s business profile to improve with the start-up of its major projects in Australia and Brazil.

On BP, Fitch views its operational profile as commensurate with the 'AA' category. "Presently, BP's rating direction depends largely on the outcome of legal proceedings related to the 2010 Macondo oil spill. At end the of the first quarter of 14, BP had provisioned $42.7 billion in total for claims and other related payments, of which it had paid out $34.9 billion."

Fitch says that total payments below $70 billion, including amounts already paid out and the balance paid over a period of several years, are likely to keep BP in the 'A' rating category, while payments exceeding this amount may push the company's ratings into the 'BBB' category.

On a broader footing, Fitch has maintained a stable outlook for its rated EMEA oil and gas companies. Senior director Jeffrey Woodruff says negative outlooks on certain companies such as BG was mainly due to company specific problems rather than broad based sector weakness. "It is worth highlighting, that more than 80% of issuers in Fitch's EMEA oil and gas portfolio have stable outlooks and the number of positive outlooks doubled since 2013 to 5% from 2.5%," he adds.

Finally, rounding the last four hectic weeks off, here is the Oilholic's latest article for Forbes touching on the recent jumpiness over the possibility of US crude oil exports. Yours truly does see a distinct possibility of it happening at some point in the future. However, it won’t happen any time soon and certainly not in an election year, with a race to the White House to follow.

Last month also saw this blogger head to Moscow for the 21st World Petroleum Congress and a predictable 165th OPEC summit prior to that, where the organisation maintained its quota and Abdalla Salem El-Badri stayed on as Secretary General. As usual there were TV soundbites aplenty - the Oilholic's including - plus hustle, bustle, bluster and differences of opinion that go along with events of this nature. So for a change, one is glad this month's pace would be a shade slower. That's all for the moment folks. Keep reading, keep it 'crude'!

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© Gaurav Sharma 2014. Photo 1: Oil pump in Russia © Lukoil. Photo 2: Gaurav Sharma speaking on OPEC Webcast © OPEC, June 11, 2014.

Friday, May 31, 2013

As expected OPEC quota stays at 30 mbpd!

As widely expected and in line with market expectations, the 163rd OPEC meeting of ministers ended with the 12 members of the oil exporting club keeping their official collective production quota right where it was – at 30 million barrels per day (bpd).
 
OPEC noted that the “relative steadiness” of crude oil prices during 2013 (to-date) was an indication that the market was adequately supplied, with “the periodic price fluctuations being a reflection of geopolitical tensions.”
 
However, the cartel felt that whilst world economic growth was projected to reach 3.2% in 2013, up from 3% in 2012, downside risks to the global economy, especially in the OECD region, remain unchecked.
 
OPEC said that world oil demand is expected to rise from 88.9 million bpd in 2012 to 89.7 million bpd in 2013, driven “almost entirely” by the non-OECD regions. It also projected non-OPEC supply to grow by 1.0 million bpd.
 
OPEC Secretary General Abdalla Salem el-Badri said, “Taking these developments into account, the second half of the year could see a further easing in fundamentals, despite seasonally-higher demand. In light of the foregoing, we have in decided that member countries should adhere to the existing production ceiling of 30 million bpd.”
 
El-Badri was not prepared to discuss the individual members’ quotas, a figure which OPEC no longer releases for publication. The Secretary General also revealed that no agreement was reached over the election of his successor with the same three candidates – viz the two protagonists Majid Munif (Saudi Arabia) and Gholam-Hussein Nozari (Iran) with compromise candidate Thamir Ghadban (an Iraqi official) – being in the frame.
 
“The candidates remain the same, but if a fresh name comes up then we will examine his/her credentials in the usual way,” the Secretary General said. In his response to the debate about shale’s impact on OPEC members’ fortunes and a possible rise in their spare capacity, El-Badri said the impact of unconventional oil production remains uncertain and if it resulted in a rise in OPEC’s spare capacity then there was no reason to be alarmed.
 
“I am in the business of conventional. The way I see it is that if it is a causative factor in a rise in OPEC’s spare capacity then I say why not? What’s the harm? The International Energy Agency (IEA) cannot have it both ways. Before the shale debate began, the agency expressed alarm at the perceived lack of OPEC’s spare capacity. Now when there is a perception that our spare capacity would rise, they again see it as a problem,” he added.
 
El-Badri said OPEC members would, if required, take steps to ensure market balance and reasonable price levels for producers and consumers, and respond to developments that might place oil market stability in jeopardy. OPEC said its next meeting will convene in Vienna, Austria, on Dec 4, 2013. That’s all for the moment folks! Keep reading, keep it ‘crude’!
 
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© Gaurav Sharma 2013. OPEC Secretary General Abdalla Salem el-Badri speaks at the conclusion of the 163rd OPEC meeting of ministers © Gaurav Sharma, May 31, 2013.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Buzz at Central Bank of Oil Before 1600 CET

Ahead of the OPEC decision, prices for the forward month ICE Brent and NYMEX WTI futures contracts have fallen by US$2-3 on average over two weeks if the last fortnight is taken into consideration. That is largely down to the fact that traders have begun to factor in a possible increase in OPEC crude production quotas in the run up to the meeting here in Vienna today.

For the purposes of a price check, at 11:00am CET, ICE Brent is trading at US$116.26 down 0.5% or 16 cents, while WTI is down 99 cents or 1% at US$98.46. Additionally, the OPEC basket of twelve crudes stood at US$110.66 on Tuesday, compared with US$110.99 the previous day according to OPEC Secretariat calculations this morning.

Mike Wittner of Société Générale notes that if an increase in OPEC quota is made from a starting point of actual production, rather than the previous quota, it is that much more real, that much more serious, and potentially that much more bearish, at least in the short term.

“In contrast, if OPEC were to increase quotas by 1.5 million b/d, but versus previous quotas and not actual production, all they would be doing would be legitimising recent/current overproduction versus the old quota,” he adds.

Most analysts including Wittner and those present here believe a physical increase would be coming our way. Speaking of analysts, it is always a pleasure meeting Jason Schenker, President & Chief Economist of Prestige Economics at these OPEC meetings. He’s to be credited for describing OPEC as the Central Bank of Oil. The Oilholic heartily agrees and could not have put it better. Schenker believes OPEC is looking at the medium term picture and not just the next few months.

“As anticipated if there is a production hike today, the thinking at the “Central Bank of Oil” would be that it could carry them across to the end of Q4 2011 perhaps without facing or acting upon further calls for alterations of production quotas,” he says.

On a somewhat 'crude' but unrelated footnote, hearing about my recent visit to Alberta, Canada, Jason agrees there are a whole lot of crude opportunities for Canadians to be excited about. It would not be easy and it is certainly not cheap. But then cheap oil has long gone – this not so cheap resource is in a safe neutral country. Furthermore, one must never say never, but Canadians are not exactly queuing up to join OPEC any time soon (or ever).

Finally on a totally unrelated footnote, one can see the “Made in UK” label at OPEC HQ – it’s the paper cups near the water dispenser - not something extracted from the North Sea.

© Gaurav Sharma 2011. Photo: Oil well in Oman © Royal Dutch Shell

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