Showing posts with label oil traders. Show all posts
Showing posts with label oil traders. Show all posts

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.

Monday, April 04, 2016

Beyond a crude April Fool’s joke

There’s still just too much oil around, with physical traders reporting anything between 1.75 to 2.5 million barrels per day (bpd) of excess supply on the market.

Only thing that’s changed is that anecdotes of a 3 million bpd surplus have declined, particularly so in Asia. That is a positive of sorts, but unless excess supply falls to around the 1 million bpd level – geopolitical risk premium won’t kick in like it used to before the glut took hold.

In the backdrop of course, is a Saudi-Iranian spat on the level of each others oil exports that’s extending well beyond a crude April Fool’s day joke. On Thursday, Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman told Bloomberg: “If all countries agree to freeze production, we will be among them.”

He added that Iran needed to be among those countries “without a doubt.” The comments come as Iran has decided not to attend oil producers' talks in Doha on April 17. Tehran has called the idea of such a meeting daft.

In response to the Saudi comments, Iranian oil minister Bijan Zanganeh told the Mehr News agency that the Islamic republic would “continue increasing its oil production” and exports. Meanwhile, a Reuters survey published last week indicated that OPEC’s oil production rose in March, after a period of stability in February, following higher production from Iran and near-record exports from southern Iraq.

Its 4 million bpd-plus output was second only to Saudi Arabia among all of OPEC's 13 member nations. Lest we forget, Russian output remains at Soviet era highs of 10.91 million bpd.

Simple truth of the matter is, the Iranians cannot flood the market and are highly unlikely to match their rhetoric of 1 million bpd, not least because they lack the infrastructure and means to do so in a short period of time, and were they to do so, the resulting price dip would come straight back to haunt them.

The Russians have already said they'll look for “alternative means” to curb a production rise, but not by cancelling new exploration. In any case, they lack the means to ramp up output further. As for the Saudis, who still have spare capacity and are willing to freeze were others to do so, it is purely a case of meeting client demands.

As the Oilholic has noted before, they are producing to a level that meets existing export demand for their longstanding clients. As such, they have no need to ramp up the output levels. So phoney chatter of “will they, won’t they” is purely for market consumption and has little connection with reality when it comes to net volume additions or declines, something which would be dictated by market economics!

As for what this blogger expects would come out of Doha – probably an agreement big on public relations spin than a real-terms cut. For argument sake, even if there is a cut of 1 million bpd, the reprieve would be temporary. Futures would rise over the short-term before the reality of tepid demand and considerable oil held in storage triggers another round of correction. Get used to the $40-50 per barrel range. That’s all for the moment folks, keep reading, keep it crude!

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© Gaurav Sharma 2016. Photo: Offshore oil exploration site in India © Cairn Energy.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Speculators, production & San Diego’s views

It is good to be in the ‘unified’ port of San Diego, California for a few days to get some crude views, especially those of the trading types who have a pad on the city’s Ocean Beach waterfront looking out to the Pacific. While the view from one of their living room windows is a testament to the current serenity of the Pacific Ocean (an example on the left), markets are anything but serene with politicians blaming paper traders for the current volatility.

Instead of shrugging and quipping ‘typical’, most admit candidly that the ratio of paper (or virtual) barrels versus physical barrels will continue to rise. Some can and quite literally do sit on the beach and trade with no intention of queuing at the end of pipeline in Cushing, Oklahoma to collect their crude cargo.

Anecdotal evidence suggests the ratio of paper versus physically traded barrels has risen from 8:1 at the turn of millennium to as high as 33:1 in 2012. Furthermore, one chap reminds the Oilholic not to forget the spread betting public. “They actually don’t even enter the equation but have a flutter on the general direction of crude benchmarks and in some cases – for instance you Brits – all winnings are tax free,” he added.

Nonetheless, on his latest visit to the USA, yours truly sees the supply and demand dynamic stateside undergoing a slow but sure change. In fact old merchant navy hands in San Diego, which is a unified port because the air and sea ports are next to each other, would tell you that American crude import and export dispatch patterns are changing. Simply put, with shale oil (principally in Eagle Ford) and rising conventional production in Texas and North Dakota in the frame and the economy not growing as fast as it should – the US is importing less and less of the crude stuff from overseas.

The IEA projects a fall of 2.6 million barrels per day (bpd) in imports by US refiners and reckons the global oil trading map and direction of oil consignments would be redrawn by 2017. Not only the US, but many nations with new projects coming onstream would find internal use for their product. India’s prospection drive and Saudi Arabia’s relatively new oilfield of Manifa are noteworthy examples.

So a dip in Middle Eastern crude exports by 2017 won’t all be down to an American production rise but a rise in domestic consumption of other producer nations as well. Overall, the IEA reckons 32.9 million bpd will trade between different regions around the globe; a dip of 1.6 million bpd over last year. With some believing that much of this maybe attributed to dipping volumes of light sweet crude demanded by the US; the thought probably adds weight to Eastward forays of oil traders like Vitol, Glencore and Gunvor. Such sentiments are also already having an impact on widening Brent’s premium to the WTI with the latter not necessarily reflecting global market patterns.

Elsewhere, while the Oilholic has been away, it seems BP has been at play. In a statement to the London Stock Exchange on Monday, BP said it had agreed 'heads of terms' to sell its 50% stake in Russian subsidiary TNK-BP to Rosneft for US$28 billion via a mixture of US$17.1 billion cash and shares representing 12.84% (of Rosneft). BP added that it intends to use US$4.8 billion of the cash payment to purchase a further 5.66% of Rosneft from the Russian government.

BP Chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg said, “TNK-BP has been a good investment and we are now laying a new foundation for our work in Russia. Rosneft is set to be a major player in the global oil industry. This material holding in Rosneft will, we believe, give BP solid returns.”

With BP’s oligarch partners at AAR already having signed a MoU with Rosneft, the market is in a state of fervour over the whole of TNK-BP being bought out by the Russian state energy company. Were this to happen, Rosneft would have a massive crude oil production capacity of 3.15 million bpd and pass a sizeable chunk of Russian production from private hands to state control. It would also pile on more debt on an already indebted company. Its net debt is nearing twice its EBITA and a swoop for the stake of both partners in TNK-BP would need some clever financing.

Continuing with the corporate front, the Canadian government has rejected Petronas' US$5.4 billion bid for Progress Energy Resources. The latter said on Sunday that it was "disappointed" with Ottawa’s decision. The company added that it would attempt to find a possible solution for the deal. Industry Minister Christian Paradis said in a statement on Friday that he had sent a letter to Petronas indicating he was "not satisfied that the proposed investment is likely to be of net benefit to Canada."

Meanwhile civil strife is in full swing in Kuwait according to the BBC World Service as police used tear gas and stun grenades to disperse large numbers of people demonstrating against the dissolution of parliament by Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah whose family have ruled the country for over 200 years.

In June, a Kuwaiti court declared elections for its 50-seat parliament in February, which saw significant gains for the Islamist-led opposition, invalid and reinstated a more pro-government assembly. There has been trouble at the mill ever since. Just a coincidental footnote to the Kuwaiti unrest – the IEA’s projected figure of 2.6 million bpd fall in crude imports of US refiners by 2017, cited above in this blog post, is nearly the current daily output of Kuwait (just to put things into context) ! That’s all from San Diego folks! It’s nearly time to say ‘Aloha’ to Hawaii. But before that the Oilholic leaves you with a view of USS Midway (above right), once an aircraft carrier involved in Vietnam and Gulf War I and currently firmly docked in San Diego harbour as a museum. In its heydays, the USS Midway housed over 4,000 naval personnel and over 130 aircraft.

According to a spokesperson, the USS Midway, which wasn’t nuclear-powered, had a total tank capacity of 2.5 million gallons of diesel to power it and held 1.5 million gallons of jet fuel for the aircraft. It consumed 250,000 gallons of diesel per day, while jet fuel consumption during operations came in at 150,000 gallons per day during flying missions. Now that’s gas guzzling to protect and serve before we had nuclear powered carriers. Keep reading, keep it ‘crude’!

© Gaurav Sharma 2012. Photo 1: Ocean Beach, San Diego. Photo 2: USS Midway, California, USA © Gaurav Sharma 2012.

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