Showing posts with label brent futures. Show all posts
Showing posts with label brent futures. Show all posts

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’! 

To follow The Oilholic on Twitter click here.
To follow The Oilholic on Forbes click here.

© Gaurav Sharma 2020.

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Why drone attacks on Saudi Aramco haven’t sparked sustained oil price spike

The Oilholic returned from researching enhanced oil recovery in rural Pennsylvania on Friday (September 13), only to wake up to a tumultuous weekend, and week, for the oil market in that order. For in the small hours of Saturday morning, multiple drone and alleged missile attacks, claimed by Houthi rebels, hit Saudi Aramco’s crude processing facilities in Abqaiq and the Khurais oilfield. 

The attack took out 5.7 million barrels per day (bpd) of Saudi production capacity. Going by the last Platts survey, the Kingdom pumped 9.77 million bpd in August, implying the attack created a 58% drop in production at the very least when measured against last month's production levels.

The situation remains unpredictable, and as yours truly told the BBC – were it not for US production serving as a buffer, current oil pricing scenario and modelling would be very different.

The Americans remain the world's largest oil producer pumping in excess of 12 million bpd, and the country’s production could rise to 13.4 million bpd at some point in 2020. That is what has largely kept the market sane. Predictably, Brent futures shot up 20% to $71 per barrel at the Asian open on Monday but the uptick did not last. As the week’s trading came to a close on Friday (September 20), a look at benchmark prices - ironing out the week’s volatility - says it all. Brent closed at $64.28 per barrel, up $4.06 or 6.84% while the WTI closed at $58.09 per barrel, up $3.24 or 5.9% on the week.

The said movement is hardly the stuff of bullish dreams; even if the week belonged to the longs, short-sellers did not take as big a hammering as some feared. And consumers need not be overly concerned for now at least. As the Oilholic said on ITN/Channel 5 News, the physical crude market’s response and its domino effect on fuel prices depend not on the here and now, but on where from here? Lot depends on the Saudi and US response to the attack that both parties near instantaneously blamed on Iran which backs the Houthi rebels.

If the Saudis, in concert with the Americans, hit sites in Iran, then that could lead to a wider conflict in the Persian Gulf and some very real turmoil associated with it; not just knee-jerk price reactions of the sort we saw in the immediate aftermath of the revolt.

It is here that the market could see a sustained geopolitical risk driven uptick in oil prices for $10 to $15 per barrel. Plausibly, you will see prices at the pump rising given that retailers pass an oil price rise near instantaneously but are pretty slow in cutting them in the event of a price drop. And of course governments who in many cases take two-thirds of the price we pay per litre at the pump, might have some serious thinking to do as well.

For now an eerie calm prevails, with the market soaking in verbal salvos between Riyadh, Washington and Tehran. Logical conclusion is that an attack of this magnitude cannot go unanswered or Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the power hungry favourite son of Saudi King Salman, would look weak. Finally, here are the Oilholic’s thoughts in detail on Forbes summing up the turbulent trading week. That’s all for the moment folks! Keep reading, keep it 'crude'! 

To follow The Oilholic on Twitter click here.
To follow The Oilholic on Forbes click here.

© Gaurav Sharma 2019. Photo 1: Gaurav Sharma on BBC News at Six on September 15, 2019 © BBC, Photo 2: Gaurav Sharma on 5 News on September 16, 2019 © ITN

Friday, December 08, 2017

Medium term oil forecast unaltered by OPEC & non-OPEC action

One week on from OPEC and non-OPEC producers' decision, to roll over their ongoing oil production cuts of 1.8 million barrels per day (bpd) to the end of 2018, there's no bullish frenzy in the crude futures market.

In the Oilholic's humble opinion, that was never their intention in the first place anyway. The primary purpose was to keep the OPEC put in place, and protect the oil price floor in 2018 at $50 per barrel, using Brent as a benchmark.

Given that the global proxy benchmark is currently well clear of $60, and lurking near 2-year highs; most analysts would say it's a case of job done for now. 

That said, the current range is the new normal, and there's little on the horizon to suggest otherwise. For instance, following the OPEC meeting, ratings agency Moody's said it would keep its medium-term oil price estimates at $40-$60 per barrel. 

"Recent higher oil prices have been supported by global economic growth forecasts, production restraints and increased geopolitical risk," said Terry Marshall, a Moody's Senior Vice President. "But risks to prices persist, including reduced consumption due to higher prices, as well as increased supply."

It's a view this blogger shares, and few analysts in the City of London would suggest otherwise. Of course, as expected, the number of US rigs has risen too with Brent prices firming up above $60 and WTI fast approaching the mark. There maybe an upside in the wake of OPEC's decision, but the US shale drag is well and truly alive and kicking. That's all for the moment folks! Keep reading, keep it crude!

To follow The Oilholic on Twitter click here.
To follow The Oilholic on Google+ click here.
To follow The Oilholic on IBTimes UK click here.
To follow The Oilholic on Forbes click here.
To email: gaurav.sharma@oilholicssynonymous.com
 
© Gaurav Sharma 2017. Photo: Oil extraction site © Lukoil.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Resisting $40/bbl, Russia & some ‘crude’ ratings

Following two successive week-on-week declines of 6% or over, last Friday’s close brought some respite for Brent oil futures, although the WTI front month contract continued to extend losses. In fact, the US benchmark has been ending each Friday since June 12 at a lower level compared to the week before (see graph, click to enlarge).
 
Will a $40-floor breach happen? Yes. Will oil stay there? No. That’s because market fundamentals haven’t materially altered. Oversupply and lacklustre demand levels are broadly where they were in June. We still have around 1.1 to 1.3 million barrels per day (bpd) of extra oil in the market; a range that’s held for much of 2015. Influences such as Iran’s possible addition to the global crude oil supply pool and China not buying as much have been known for some time.

The latest market commotion is sentiment driven, and it’s why the Oilholic noted in a recent Forbes column that 2016-17 futures appear to be undervalued. People seem to be making calls on where we might be tomorrow based on the kerfuffle we are seeing today!

Each set of dire data from China, inventory report from the Energy Information Administration (EIA), or a gentle nudge from some country or the other welcoming Iran back to the market (as Switzerland did last week) has a reactive tug at benchmarks. The Oilholic still believes Brent will gradually creep up to $60-plus come the end of the year, with supply corrections coming in to the equation over the remainder of this year.

Away from pricing, there is one piece of very interesting backdated data. According to the EIA, Russia’s oil and gas sector weathered both the sanctions as well as the crude price decline rather well.

For 2014, Russia was the world's largest producer of crude oil, including lease condensate, and the second-largest producer of dry natural gas after the US. Russia exported more than 4.7 million bpd of crude oil and lease condensate in 2014, the EIA concluded based on customs data. Most of the exports, or 98% if you prefer percentages, went to Asian and European importers.

Where Russian production level would be at the end of 2015 remains the biggest market riddle. Anecdotal and empirical evidence points to conducive internal taxation keeping the industry going. However, as takings from oil and gas production and exports, account for more than half of Russia's federal budget revenue – it is costing the Kremlin.

Finally, two ratings notes from Fitch over the past fortnight are worth mentioning. The agency has revised its outlook on BP's long-term Issuer Default Rating (IDR) to ‘Positive’ from ‘Negative’ and affirmed the IDR at 'A'.

The outlook revision follows BP's announcement that it has reached an agreement in principle to settle federal, state and local Deepwater Horizon claims for $18.7bn, payable over 18 years. “We believe the deal has significantly reduced the uncertainty around BP's overall payments arising from the accident and hence has considerably strengthened the company's credit profile,” Fitch said.

The agency added there was a real possibility for an upgrade to 'A+' in the next 12 to 18 months, depending on how things pan out and BP's upstream business profile does not show any significant signs of weakening, such as falling reserves or production.

Elsewhere, and unsurprisingly, Fitch downgraded the beleaguered Afren to ‘D’ following the management's announcement on July 31 that it had taken steps to put the company into administration. The company's senior secured rating has been affirmed at 'C', and the Recovery Rating (RR) revised to 'RR5' from 'RR6'.

As discussions with creditors aimed at recapitalising the company failed, the appointment of administrators was made with the consent of the company's secured creditors who saw it as an “important step in preserving value of Afren's subsidiaries”. It is probably the only “value” left after a sorry tale of largely self-inflicted woes. That’s all for the moment folks, keep reading, keep it ‘crude’!

To follow The Oilholic on Twitter click here.
To follow The Oilholic on Google+ click here.
To follow The Oilholic on Forbes click here.
To email: gaurav.sharma@oilholicssynonymous.com

© Gaurav Sharma 2015. Graph: Oil benchmark Friday closes, Jan 2 to Aug 14, 2015 © Gaurav Sharma, August 2015.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Internal wrangles see OPEC quota left at 30mbpd

Some wanted a production quota cut; others didn’t and in the end it all bottled down to what the Saudis wanted – a rollover of the level set at 30 million barrels per day (bpd) since December 2011. So as the 166th meeting of OPEC ministers ended, Al-Naimi departed Helferstorferstrasse 17 - OPEC's HQ in Vienna, Austria having got his wish.

Had a cut been enforced and the Saudis not respected the agreement, it would have been meaningless. So the announcement did not come as much of surprise to many analysts, yours truly including.

For a spot report, you are welcome to read the Oilholic’s take on Forbes and the ‘longstanding’ Secretary General Abdalla Salem El-Badri’s jovial press conference explaining why the cartel acted as it did in the interests of “market equilibrium and global wellbeing”.

Rather calmly, OPEC has also suggested it would hold its next meeting in June as normal and extended El-Badri’s term until December 2015. But the Oilholic suspects a US$60 per barrel floor would be tested sooner than most expect. Will an extraordinary meeting be called then? Will OPEC let things be until it meets again June? What about Venezuela, Iran and Nigeria who will leave Vienna thoroughly dissatisfied?

It is indeed credible to assume that OPEC will grin and bear the oil price decline in the interest of holding on to its 30% share of the global crude markets for the moment. But for how long as not all are in agreement of the decision taken today?

Barely minutes after El-Badri stopped speaking, Brent shed a dollar. Within the hour it was trading below $73 a barrel while the WTI slid below $70. We’re now formally in the territory where it becomes a game of nerves. For the moment, none of the major oil producing nations, both within and outside OPEC, are willing to cut production even when demand for oil isn’t that great.

Should bearish trends continue, will someone blink first? Will finances dictate a production decline for someone? Will some or more of the producers come together and take coordinated action with OPEC?
These are the million barrel questions!

The latter option was attempted in Vienna bringing the Russians and Mexicans to the table, but the Saudis ensured it didn't succeed. The next four months ought to be interesting. On that note, it's good night from OPEC HQ. Analysis and a post mortem to follow over the coming days, but that’s all for the moment folks! Keep reading, keep it ‘crude’! 

To follow The Oilholic on Twitter click here.
To follow The Oilholic on Google+ click here.
To follow The Oilholic on Forbes click here.
To email: gaurav.sharma@oilholicssynonymous.com 


© Gaurav Sharma 2014. Photo: Abdalla Salem El-Badri speaks at the 166th OPEC Ministers’ meeting in Vienna, Austria © Gaurav Sharma, November 27, 2014

Friday, June 20, 2014

Final ‘crude’ thoughts from 21 WPC Moscow

The 21st World Petroleum Congress came to a close last evening at the mammoth Crocus Expo Center in Moscow, and its almost sundown here at the Red Square. A hectic five days gave plenty of food for thought and 'crude' tangents for discussion.

As noted on Tuesday, the Ukraine standoff failed to overshadow the event, as a veritable who's who of the oil & gas industry turned up regardless. Most movers and shakers, whether correctly, conveniently or cleverly, cited the premise that the Congress was a global event being hosted by Russia, and not a Russian event. So, in the eyes of most, there was no place for international politics. But it was certainly the place for industry intelligence gathering on an international scale.

If anything, it was the events in Iraq that cast a shadow over discussions rather than Ukraine. And with a rather eerie coincidence, just as the Congress came to a close on Thursday, the Brent front month futures price spiked to an intraday high of US$115.71 per barrel. That's the highest on record since September last year.

Most analysts here for the Congress noted that the speed with which the events are unfolding is most troubling and has serious implications for the oil price. For the present moment, the Oilholic is maintaining his price range prediction for Brent in the range of $90-105 circa. Instead of rushing to judgement, given that the US need for Middle Eastern crude oil is narrowing, this blogger would like to monitor the situation for another few weeks before commenting on his price prediction.

Meanwhile, Iran is out in force in Moscow pitching $100 billion worth of oil & gas projects. Additionally, among the many views on where to turn for new hydrocarbon resources, Arctic oil & gas exploration seems to be all the rage here. Here is the Oilholic's take in a Forbes article.

Elsewhere, executives from Saudi Aramco to Shell stressed the need to reduce output costs. Or to cite one senior executive, "We're seeking to either equal or better costs incurred by US unconventional plays." Drilling for oil has various permutations, but if natural gas is the objective, the target should be around $2 per thousand cubic feet, according to various US commentators here.

The oil & gas industry as whole is likely to need financing of $1 trillion per annum over the next 20 years as unconventional plays become commonplace, at least that's the macro verdict. Speaking in Moscow, Peter Gaw, managing director of oil, gas and chemicals at Standard Chartered, said the banking sector could meet the demands despite a tough recovery run from the global financial crisis.

Anecdotal evidence here and wider empirical evidence from recent deals suggest private equity firms will continue to be players in the services business. But Gaw also saw hybrid finance deals involving hedge funds and pension funds on the cards.

Andy Brogan, global leader of EY's oil & gas transactions, said the diversity of projects both in region and scope is evident. Asia Pacific and Latin America should be the two regions on the radar as some financiers attempt to move beyond North America. Sounding cautiously optimistic, Brogan added that the post-crisis "appetite" is gradually returning.

A senior US industry source also told the Oilholic that Bakken capex could top all industry estimates this year and might well be in the $20-25 billion range. Away from financing, a few other snippets, the Indian delegation left pledging more information on a new rationalised tax regime, licensing policy, and a move on its highly political subsidies regime.The world's fourth largest energy consumer is looking to stimulate foreign investment in its oil & gas sector. However, to facilitate that, India's new Prime Minister Narendra Modi knows he has to shake things up.

Meanwhile, BP, already an investor in India, has inked a $20 billion LNG sale and purchase agreement with CNOOC, China's leading LNG projects developer.

While the rest of us were in Moscow, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and British Prime Minister David Cameron were among onlookers as the deal for up to 1.5 million tonnes per annum of LNG starting from 2019 was being inked.

Lastly, it has to be said that over the first two days of the Congress, the Oilholic nipped in and out of 8 forums, talks and presentations and one keynote. Not a single one passed without 'shale' being mentioned for better or for worse!

That brings yours truly to the final thoughts from Moscow and there's more than one. Firstly, the Congress has widely acknowledged the US shale bonanza is now firmly beyond doubt. Secondly, the thought that Arctic oil & gas exploration is the next 'final frontier' is getting firmly entrenched in the thinking of most here in Moscow.

Finally, Istanbul should be congratulated on being named the host city of the 22nd World Petroleum Congress. By the time delegates arrive in town in 2017, the 'Kanal ─░stanbul' project should be well underway and the fate of the world's second-busiest oil & gas shipping artery – the Bosphorus – could make a good starting point.

On that note, its time to say Dos Vedanya to Russia and take the big flying bus home to London Heathrow! Here is a selection the Oilholic's photos from the Congress, which has been a memorable outing. It was an absolute pleasure visiting the Russian capital after a gap of 10 years, but sadly that's all from Moscow folks. Keep reading, keep it 'crude'!

To follow The Oilholic on Twitter click here
To follow The Oilholic on Google+ click here

© Gaurav Sharma 2014. Photo 1: Red Square, Moscow, Russia. Photo 2: Logo of the 22nd World Petroleum Congress scheduled to be held in Istanbul. © Gaurav Sharma, June 2014.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

End of Q1 2013 trade @ CBOT & hot air on shale

As trading came to a close for Q1 2013 at the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) on Thursday afternoon, the Oilholic saw crude oil futures rise during the last session of the first quarter aided undoubtedly by a weaker dollar supporting the prices. However, yours truly also saw something particularly telling – fidgeting with the nearest available data terminal would tell you that Brent crude futures slipped nearly 1 percent over Q1 2013. This extended a near-1 percent dip seen in Q4 2012. Overall, Brent averaged just around the US$112 per barrel level for much of 2012 and the Brent-WTI premium narrowed to its lowest level in eight months on March 28. That said, it must be acknowledged that US$112 is still the highest ever average annual price for the benchmark as far as the Oilholic can remember.

In its quarter ending oil market report, the CME/CBOT said improved sentiment towards Cyprus was seen as a supportive force helping to lift risk taking sentiment in the final few days before Easter. On the other hand, concerns over ample near term supply weighed on nearby calendar spreads, in particular the Brent May contract.

In fact, the May versus June Brent crude oil spread narrowed to its slimmest margin since July 2012. Some traders here indicated that an unwinding of the spread was in part due to an active North Sea loading schedule for April and prospects for further declines in Cushing, Oaklahoma supply.

Away from price issues, news arrived here that ratings agency Moody’s reckons an escalation in the cost of complying with US federal renewable fuel requirements poses a headwind for the American refining and marketing industry over the next two years (and potentially beyond if yours truly read the small print right).

Moody’s said prices were spiking for renewable identification numbers (RIN) which the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) uses to track whether fuel refiners, blenders and importers are meeting their renewable-fuel volume obligations.

Senior analyst Saulat Sultan said, "US refining companies either amass RINs through their blending efforts or buy them on the secondary market in order to meet their annual renewable-fuel obligations. It isn't yet clear whether recent price increases reflect a potential shortfall in RIN availability in 2014, or more structural and permanent changes for the refining industry."

The impact of higher RIN prices will depend on a company's ability to meet its RIN requirements internally, as well as the amount of RINs it can carry over to 2014 and gasoline export opportunities, Sultan says. Refiners carried over about 2.6 billion excess RINs to 2013 from 2012, but the EPA expects a lower quantity to be carried over to 2014.

"RIN purchasing costs can be sizable, even while refiners are generally enjoying a period of strong profitability, such as they are now. Integrated refining and marketing companies including Phillips 66, Marathon Petroleum and Northern Tier Energy LLC are likely to be better positioned than sellers that do not blend most of their gasoline, such as Valero Energy, CVR Refining LLC and PBF Energy, or refiners with limited export capabilities, such as HollyFrontier," Sultan added.

Concurrently, increasing ethanol blending, which is used to generate enough RINs to comply with federal regulations, raises potential legal issues for refiners. This is because gasoline demand is flat or declining and exceeding the 10% threshold (the "blend wall") could attract lawsuits from consumers whose vehicle warranties prohibit using fuel with a higher percentage. However, Moody's does not believe that companies will raise the ethanol content without some protection from the federal government. 

Meanwhile, all the hot air about the ‘domestic dangers’ and ‘negative implications’ of the US exporting gas is getting hotter. A group – America’s Energy Advantage – has hit the airwaves, newspapers and wires here claiming that "exporting LNG carries with it the potential threat of damaging jobs and investment in the US manufacturing sector as rising exports will drive up the price of gas to the detriment of domestic industries."

So who are these guys? Well the group is backed by several prominent US industrial brands including Alcoa, Huntsman chemicals and Dow Chemical. Continuing with the subject, even though only one US terminal – Sabine Pass – has been permitted to export the fruits of the shale revolution, chatter in forex circles is already turning to shale oil and gas improving the fortunes of the US Dollar!

For instance, Ashok Shah, investment director at London & Capital, feels this seismic shift could improve growth prospects, reduce inflation and diminish the US current account deficit, with significant ramifications for long-term investors.

"For the past decade we have seen the US Dollar in decline, on a trade weighted basis. I believe the emergence of shale oil as a viable energy source looks set to have a considerable impact on the US dollar, and on the global economy as a whole," Shah said.

"Furthermore, a lower oil price will drive lower global headline inflation benefiting the US in particular - and a lower relative inflation rate will be a positive USD driver, improving the long-term purchasing power of the currency," he added.

The Russians are stirring up too. Last week, Gazprom and CNPC signed a 30-year memorandum to supply 38 billion cubic meters (bcm) to 60 bcm of natural gas from Eastern Siberian fields to China from 2018. The negotiations haven’t concluded yet. A legally binding agreement must be signed by June and final documents by the end of the year, covering pricing and prepayment terms. Let us see the small print before making a call on this one. On a related note, ratings agency Fitch says Gazprom is unlikely to offer any meaningful gas price concessions to another one of its customers – Naftogaz of Ukraine – in the short term owing to high spot prices for natural gas in Europe, currently being driven by the continued cold weather.

Sticking with the Russian front, Rosneft, which recently completed the acquisition of TNK-BP, has negotiated an increase in its oil shipments to China from the current 15mtpa to as much as 31mtpa in exchange for a pre-payment, and has agreed on a number of joint projects in exploration, refining and chemicals production with CNPC and Sinopec.

This is it for this post; it is time to bid goodbye to Chicago and Lake Michigan’s shoreline and hop 436 miles across the Great Lakes to say hello to Lake Ontario’s shoreline and Toronto. The Oilholic leaves you with a view of the waterfront and the city’s iconic buildings; the Willis Tower (once Sears Tower is on the left of the frame above).

It’s been a memorable adventure to Illinois, not least getting to visit  CBOT – the world’s oldest options and futures exchange. Leaving is always hard, but to quote Robert Frost – “I have promises to keep, and miles before I go to sleep.” That’s all from the Windy City folks! Keep reading, keep it ‘crude’!

To follow The Oilholic on Twitter click here.

© Gaurav Sharma 2013. Photo 1: Exterior of the Chicago Board of Trade. Photo 2: Chicago's Skyline and Lake Michigan, Illinois, USA © Gaurav Sharma.