Showing posts with label commodities downturn. Show all posts
Showing posts with label commodities downturn. Show all posts

Thursday, December 31, 2015

A crude rout & all those downgrades

Both Brent and WTI futures are trading at their lowest levels since 2008 and previous weeks have offered some spectacular declines, if there is such a thing as that!

Biggest of the declines were noted when Brent fell by 12.65% and WTI by 11.90% between Friday, December 4th and Friday, December 11th using 2130 GMT as the cut-off point for 5-day week-on-week assessment. Following that, like January, we had another spread inversion in favour of the WTI, with the US benchmark trading at a premium to global proxy Brent for a good few sessions before slipping lower, as both again got dragged lower in lacklustre post-Christmas trading.

It all points to the year ending just as it began - with a market rout, as yours truly explained in some detail via a recent Forbes post. With nearly 3 million barrels per day of surplus oil hitting the market, the scenario is unavoidable. While the situation cannot and will not last, oversupply will not disappear overnight either. 

The Oilholic reckons it will be at least until the third quarter of 2016 before the glut shows noticeable signs of easing, mostly at the expense of non-OPEC supplies. That said, unless excess flow dips below 1 million bpd, it is doubtful ancillary influences such as geopolitical risk would come into play. 

For the moment, one still maintains an end-2016 Brent forecast near $60 per barrel and would revisit it in the New Year. Much will depend on the relative strength of the dollar in wake of US Federal Reserve’s interest rate hike, but Kit Juckes, Head of Forex at Societe Generale, says quite possibly commodity markets fear even a dovish Fed!

Meanwhile, with the oil market rout in full swing, rating agencies are queuing up predictable downgrades and negative outlooks. Moody’s described the global commodity downturn as “exceptionally severe in its depth and breadth” and expects it to be a substantial factor driving the number of defaults higher on a global basis in 2016.

Collapsing commodity prices have placed a significant strain on credit quality in the oil and gas, metals and mining sectors. These sectors have accounted for a disproportionately large 36% of Moody’s downgrades and 48% of defaults among all corporates globally so far this year. The agency anticipates continued credit deterioration and a spike in defaults in these sectors in 2016.

Over the past four weeks, we’ve had Moody's downgrade several household energy companies, including all ratings for Petrobras and ratings based on the Brazilian oil giant's guarantee, covering the company's senior unsecured debt rating, to Ba3 from Ba2. Concurrently, the company's baseline credit assessment (BCA) was lowered to b3 from b2. 

“These rating actions reflect Petrobras' elevated refinancing risks in the face of deteriorating industry conditions that make it more difficult to raise cash through asset sales; tighter financing conditions for companies in Brazil and in the oil industry, coupled with the magnitude of eventual needs to finance debt maturities; as well as the company's negative free cash flow,” Moody’s explained.

It also downgraded Schlumberger Holdings to A2; with its outlook changed to negative for Holdings and Schlumberger. "The downgrade of Schlumberger Holdings to A2 reflects the expected large increase in debt outstanding related to the adjustment of its capital structure following the Cameron acquisition," commented Pete Speer, Moody's Senior Vice President.

Corporate family rating of EnQuest saw a Moody’s downgrade to B3 from B1 and probability of default ratings to B3-PD from B1-PD. Of course, it’s not just oilfield and oil companies feeling the heat; Moody’s also downgraded the senior unsecured ratings of Anglo American and its subsidiaries to Baa3 from Baa2, its short term ratings to P-3 from P-2, and so it goes in the wider commodities sphere.

In the past week, outlook for Australia’s Woodside Petroleum outlook was changed to negative, while the ratings of seven Canadian and 29 US E&P companies were placed on review for downgrade. And so went the final month of the year. 

Not just that, the ratings agency also cut its oil price assumption for 2016, lowering Brent estimates to average $43 from $53 per barrel in 2016, and WTI to $40 from $48 per barrel. Moody’s said “continued high levels of oil production” by global producers were significantly exceeding demand growth, predicting the supply-demand equilibrium will only be reached by the end of the decade at around $63 per barrel for Brent. 

While, the Oilholic doesn’t quite agree that it would take until the end of the decade for supply-demand balance to be achieved, mass revisions tell you a thing or two about the mood in the market. Meanwhile, at a sovereign level, Fitch Ratings says low oil prices will continue to weigh on the sovereign credit profiles of major exporters in 2016. Of course, the level of vulnerability varies.

“In the last 12 months, we have downgraded five sovereigns where oil revenues accounted for a large proportion of general government and/or current external receipts. Another three - Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, and Republic of Congo - were not downgraded but saw Outlook revisions to Negative from Stable,” the agency said in a pre-Christmas note to clients.

It is now all down to who can manage to stay afloat and maintain production as the oil price stays ‘lower for longer’. Non-OPEC producers will in all likelihood run into financing difficulties, as one said in an OPEC webcast on December 4, with Brent ending 2015 over 35% lower on an annualised basis.

Finally, the Oilholic believes it is highly unlikely a divided OPEC will vote for a unanimous production cut even at its next meeting in June. For what’s it worth, $35 per barrel could be the norm for quite a bit of 2016. So in 12 months’ time, the oil and gas landscape could be very, very different. That’s all for 2015 folks! Keep reading, keep it ‘crude’!

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To email: gaurav.sharma@oilholicssynonymous.com

© Gaurav Sharma 2015. Graph: Oil benchmark Friday closes, Q4 2015 © Gaurav Sharma / Oilholics Synonymous Report, December 2015. Photo: Gaurav Sharma speaking at the 168th OPEC Ministers' Meeting in Vienna, Austria © OPEC Secretariat.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Crude conjecture: The IMF & a view from Peru

The Oilholic is just about to wrap-up a touristy weekend in Lima, Peru, before heading over to Santiago de Chile. One arrives barely a week after International Monetary Fund annual meetings held here from October 5 to 12.

The IMF’s decision to choose Lima as the venue had a ‘crude’ subtext; ok perhaps a ‘natural resource’ centric subtext. In March 2014, the fund’s Survey Magazine: Countries & Regions had predicted that commodity exporting countries of the Andean region, including Peru, could achieve sustainable economic growth levels and match the output rates of industrialised economies in percentage terms.

Extractive industries – chiefly oil, gas and mining – would play a growing role, it added. Of course, that was before the oil price started slumping from July 2014 onwards. By the time the first day of the Lima meet arrived this month, the IMF was predicting that should headline regional growth touch 1% over 2015, we’d be lucky. It also confirmed that Latin America would see its fifth successive year of economic output deceleration.

There is clear evidence of the oil price decline hurting Peru. However, as the Oilholic wrote on Forbes.com, the political climate in the run up to the April 2016 presidential election, is also spooking investors. President Ollanta Humala had to appoint his seventh Prime Minister in less than four years earlier this year and is in a tussle with Congress over the state’s role in oil and gas exploration.

All the while, the stars aren’t quite aligning, crudely speaking and are unlikely to do so for a while yet. Both benchmarks are currently languishing below $50 per barrel, and even the Oilholic’s $60 medium term equilibrium projection won’t quite cut it for Peru, where production has been declining since the mid-1990s (though proven reserves have been revised upwards to 740 million barrels).

Soundings over the past week have been anything but positive Latin American oil and gas producers in general, and we’re not just talking about the IMF here. The International Energy Agency said last week that the global economic outlook was “more pessimistic” and expected a marked slowdown in oil demand growth, with the commodities downturn hurting economic activity of exporting nations.

“Oil at $50 a barrel is a powerful driver in rebalancing the global oil market...But a projected marked slowdown in demand growth next year, and the anticipated arrival of additional Iranian barrels will keep the market oversupplied through 2016,” it added. In near tandem with the IEA, several brokers and rating agency Moody’s also revised their respective oil price assumptions “on oversupply and weakening demand.”

Moody's lowered its oil price assumption in 2016 for Brent to $53 from $57 per barrel and for the WTI to $48 from $52 per barrel. The rating agency expects both prices to rise by $7 per barrel in 2017, or a $5 per barrel reduction from its prior forecast.

Steve Wood, a Moody's senior analyst, said, "Oil prices will remain lower for a longer period, as large built-up inventories and oversupply cause oil prices to increase at a slower rate. Although supply should begin to drop as capital spending declines, increased Iranian exports could place additional pressure on oil prices in 2016."

As is evident, sentiment on the supply glut persisting in 2016, is gaining traction. These are particularly worrying times for smaller oil and gas exporters, a club that Peru is a member of. That’s all from Lima folks, as the Oilholic leaves you with a view of the Pacific Ocean from Larcomar. Keep reading, keep it ‘crude’!

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To email: gaurav.sharma@oilholicssynonymous.com

© Gaurav Sharma 2015. Photo I: IMF Meetings Banner at Lima Airport, Peru. Photo II: A view of the Pacific Ocean from Larcomar, Lima, Peru. © Gaurav Sharma, October 2015

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Latin America's commodities downturn problem

The Oilholic finds himself roughly 5,300 miles west of London in Bogota, Colombia wandering around the city’s rustic and charming La Candelaria area. 

It’s the beginning of a journey through South America to find out how the recent commodities downturn is affecting the market mood and investment outlook in what (still) remains a very commodity-exports driven continent. 

One gets a sense of opportunities missed and dismay from those who saw the downturn coming – not just here in Colombia, but looking outside in at Chile, Argentina, Peru and of course that colossal corruption scandal at Petrobas in Brazil. While the sun was shining, and China’s double digit economic growth was fuelling the commodities boom, attempts should have been made at macroeconomic diversification instead of relying on a party that was bound to end sooner or later.

We’re not just talking oil and gas here; take in everything from minerals to soya beans, or copper specifically in the case of Chile. Most Latin American currencies got marginal power boosters during the commodities boom, if not a case of full blown Dutch disease, which resulted in lacklustre performance from non-commodities sectors that became increasingly uncompetitive and to an extent unproductive over the last 10 years.

The International Monetary Fund reckons come the end of 2015, if headline regional growth touches 1% we’d be lucky. In fact, in its latest update the IMF confirmed that Latin America would see its fifth successive year of economic output deceleration. While past commodity busts have triggered regional financial crises, thankfully not many locally as well as internationally, including the IMF, expect a repeat this time around. That’s largely down to the fact LatAm economies, with notable exception of Venezuela, have not indulged in fiscal populism and daft economic policies.

In sync, ratings agencies, while negative on the economic outlook of many countries in the region, but only fear a sovereign default in Venezuela. However, another negative aspect of dependency on the commodities market is that investment – especially on terms prior to the market correction – would be hard to come by.

Just ask Mexico! As the Oilholic noted in a recent column for Forbes, phase I of round one of Mexico’s oil and gas licensing was a damp squib. Hence, with the September 2015 (phase II) bidding round, the Mexicans had to adjust their thinking to attract (and eventually) secure a decent take-up of available blocks.

Peru’s nascent oil and gas market, Colombia’s emerging and hitherto impressive one face similar challenges as will the copper market in Chile. Argentina faces a general election on October 25th while Brazil is in a technical recession with the IMF seeing few improvement prospects for 2016.

Productivity, in all five countries is down with workers spending hours in a day commuting, and traffic jams (the first of which the Oilholic has already experienced) are legendary enough to give Bangkok and Delhi a run for their money. 

Over the coming weeks yours truly will make sense of it all talking to experts, policymakers, fellow analysts and local folks one is likely to meet and greet while having the odd touristy mumble about. That’s all for the moment folks! Keep reading, keep it ‘crude’!

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

© Gaurav Sharma 2015. La Candelaria, Bogota, Colombia © Gaurav Sharma, October, 2015

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