Showing posts with label ultradeepwater. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ultradeepwater. Show all posts

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Two WPC days, umpteen 'crude' angles

In typical fashion, two packed days have zipped by at the 22nd World Petroleum Congress in Istanbul, Turkey and the Oilholic could count at least a dozen talking points, few of which are duly noted here. 

Let's start with Total's boss Patrick Poyanne, whom this blogger has not had the pleasure of listening to since the International Petroleum Week in London.

Pouyanne told WPC delegates that Brazil's mammoth offshore deepwater fields could one fine day be "as profitable as US shale". That's providing operators and consortium partners keep a tight handle on break-even costs.

"Maybe they are long-cycle, and shale is short-cycle, but in terms of profitability, in the giant deepwater fields it is easy to make money, provided a handle is kept on the break-even," he quipped. 

Another industry captain - Shell's CEO Ben van Beurden - correctly opined that discussions over the global energy mix and the transition to a low carbon global economy should not only focus on Western perspectives.

van Beurden also said energy transition is regularly portrayed in terms that compare it to a revolution; a moment in time when everything changes. "In truth, different countries and different sectors will advance at different speeds. In truth, we are not talking about a moment in time, but of change that will take place over generations." (For IBTimes UK report, click here)

Meanwhile, murmurs in the Congress background suggest Abu Dhabi National Oil Company may beat Saudi Aramco to a mega stock floatation. The planned IPO would be of ADNOC's distribution business, which manages 460 petrol stations and accompanying convenience stores across the United Arab Emirates.

According to sources, ADNOC's expected valuation for the business is around $14bn, which if realised could net it $1.5bn to $2bn via a 10-15% equity float which many say might be on the immediate horizon. Still early days though. (Read all about it here).

Finally before one takes your leave, it seems 'Crude' history has been made, with India poised to buy its first consignment of US oil. Indian Minister Dharmendra Pradhan told the Oilholic the crude sourced is conventional, but New Delhi might consider going for shale oil too in the future. Here is one's full report for IBTimes UK. Well that's all for the moment from Istanbul folks! Keep reading, keep it crude!

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© Gaurav Sharma 2017. Photo: Front entrance garden of the Istanbul Congress Center, Turkey - venue of the 22nd World Petroleum Congress © Gaurav Sharma 2017.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Dilma and the Petrobras scandal's aftermath

Bidding Adiós to Buenos Aires, the Oilholic has landed in the bursting metropolis of Sao Paulo, Brazil, one’s penultimate stop in South America before returning to Bogota and flying back home following a two week trip to South America.

Walking down the city’s vibrant Avenida Paulista, a 1.75 mile thoroughfare that has several businesses, financial and cultural institutions (including the Museu de Arte de São Paulo), glitzy skyscrapers, malls, hotels and shops lining up either side of it, one gets a real buzz of modern Brazil.

However, the country’s President Dilma Rousseff would get a largely unwelcome buzz were she to walk down the avenue. Most in Brazil’s commercial heart lay the blame for the Petrobras corruption scandal, uncovered earlier in February, firmly on Rouseff’s door even tough she has not been directly implicated in anything uncovered by corruption investigators so far.

There have been several mass protests here in Sao Paulo, along with Rio de Janeiro and other major Brazilian cities calling for the President to be impeached. As the Oilholic noted earlier this year in a Forbes column, the scandal has politically scarred Rouseff, a former chairwoman of Petrobras’ board of directors, beyond repair in the unforgiving world of Brazilian politics.

Many of those facing investigations and jail time happen to be from her side of the Brazilian political spectrum – the Workers’ Party. That’s what fuels people’s anger. Mass protests grab headlines, but sporadic smaller protests – like one this blogger witnessed on Avenida Paulista – are commonplace (see above left).

For people who call the Americas third-largest oil producer behind the United States and Canada their home, Petrobras has always held a special place in hearts and minds. So to see it humiliated on the world stage and financially wounded by a corruption scandal plays on peoples minds in a struggling economy.

In global terms, according to BP’s latest statistics on the industry, Brazil is the world’s 9th largest oil and gas producer pumping out some 2.95 million barrels per day, with Petrobras as its custodian.  

Furthermore, as the US Energy Information Administration, notes, “Increasing domestic oil production has been a long term goal of the Brazilian government, and discoveries of large offshore, presalt oil deposits have already transformed Brazil into a top-10 liquid fuels producer.”

However, weak economic growth and the scandal implicating several high profile people at Petrobras has reduced the chances for production growth over the short term; at least of the kind that was hoped for back in 2010 according local sources. 

Clearly, going by the mood in Sao Paulo, not many want to let Rouseff off the hook, whether rightly or wrongly. That’s all from Brazil folks, as one leaves you with a view of the magnificent Catedral da Se de Sao Paulo (above right). Keep reading, keep it ‘crude’!

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© Gaurav Sharma 2015. Photo I: Anti-Dilma Rousseff protests on Avenida Paulista, Sao Paulo, September 23, 2015. Photo II:  Catedral da Se de Sao Paulo, Brazil © Gaurav Sharma, October 2015.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

A crude walk down 'Exploration Drive'

The Oilholic finds himself in the 'Granite City' or the 'Oil capital of Europe' as Aberdeen, Scotland has recently come to be known as. Given that context, a street named Exploration Drive in the city's Energy Park has a nice ring to it. In what has been an interesting week – news-wise, market reports-wise and otherwise – right up to this morning, it's good to be here, meeting old friends and making yet newer ones during been. While this blogger's flight got in on time, blustery conditions so common in this part of the world saw one plane overshoot the runway and the airport closed for a few hours

That wasn't the only news in town. Reports of the Libyan PM first getting kidnapped and then released, flooded the wires and Shell – Nigeria’s oldest IOC operator – has put up four oil blocks there feeding the Bonny Terminal (the country’s oldest export facility) up for sale, according to the FT.

The chatter, if formally confirmed, would be seen as a retreat by the oil major from a part of the world where theft of crude from pipeline infrastructure is rampant. Shell it seems is getting mighty fed up of constant damage to its pipelines. Moving on from news, it is worth summarising a couple of interesting notes put out by Moody's these past few weeks.
 
In the first, the ratings agency opines that BP can tolerate a moderate penalty related to the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill without compromising its credit quality. However, a severe penalty resulting from a finding of gross negligence would change the equation according to Moody's, with Phase 2 of the trial to determine limitation and liability having begun stateside.

"BP can tolerate about US$40 billion in penalties, after taxes, under its A2, Prime-1 ratings. A ruling in line with the company's current $3.5 billion provision would leave some headroom to absorb other charges, including settlement costs from payouts awarded for business economic loss claims, which ultimately depend on the interpretation of the Economic and Property Damages Settlement Agreement," Moody's noted.

Other defendants in the case include Transocean, Halliburton and Anadarko. Of these, Transocean, which owned the Deepwater Horizon rig, is exposed to sizable fines and penalties. "Indemnifications will protect Transocean from some liabilities. But other items could ultimately cost the company billions of dollars to resolve," says Stuart Miller, senior credit officer at Moody's.

In its second note, the ratings agency said it had downgraded Petrobras' long term debt ratings to Baa1 from A3. The downgrade reflects Petrobras' high financial leverage and the expectation that the company will continue to have large negative cash flow over the next few years as it pursues its capital spending programme.

With that programme being the largest among its peers, Petrobras' spending in 2013 could be almost double its internally generated cash flow. The company's total debt liabilities increased in the first half of 2013 by $16.3 billion, or $8.36 billion net of cash and marketable securities, and should increase again in 2014, based on an outlook for negative cash flow through 2014 and into 2015. The outlook remains negative, Moody's adds.

Moving away from companies to countries, global analytics firm IHS has concluded that North America’s "Tight Oil" phenomenon is poised to go global. In its latest geological study – Going Global: Predicting the Next Tight Oil Revolution – it says the world has large 'potential technical' recoverable resources of tight oil, possibly several times those of North America.
 
In particular, the study identified the 23 "highest-potential" plays throughout the world and found that the potential technically recoverable resources of just those plays is likely to be 175 billion barrels – out of almost 300 billion for all 148 play areas analysed for the study.

While it is too early to assess the proportion of what could be commercially recovered, the potential is significant compared to the commercially recoverable resources of tight oil (43 billion barrels) estimated in North America by previous IHS studies. The growth of tight oil production has driven the recent surge in North American production. In fact, the USA is now the world largest 'energy' producer by many metrics.

"Before the tight oil revolution people thought oil supply would start to fall slowly in the longer term, but now it is booming. This is important because Russian production has been hovering at the same level for some time, and now the US will exceed the Russia’s total oil and gas production," says Peter Jackson, vice president of upstream research at IHS CERA.

In IHS' view, Russian oil production is unlikely to rise in the medium term. In fact, the firm anticipates that it will start falling because of the lack of investment in exploration in emerging areas such as the Arctic and new plays such as tight oil. "But of course, there is a long lead time between deciding to invest and exploring and then getting that oil & gas out of the ground," Jackson adds.

North America's growth in supply from the tight oil and shale revolution means that the USA is now less worried about the security of energy supply. It is now even thinking of exporting LNG, which would have been unheard of ten years ago, as the Oilholic noted from Chicago earlier this year.

This is having an impact on the direction of exports around the world changing direction, from West to East, for example to China and post-Fukushima Japan. Furthermore, light sweet West African crudes are now switching globally, less directed to the US and increasingly to Asian jurisdictions.

OPEC, which is likely to increase its focus in favour of Asia as well, published its industry outlook earlier this month. While its Secretary General Abdalla Salem el-Badri refused to be drawn in to what production quota it would set later this year, he did say a forecast drop in demand for OPEC's oil was not large.

The exporters' group expects demand for its crude to fall to 29.61 million bpd in 2014, down 320,000 bpd from 2013, due to rising non-OPEC supply. "Tight oil" output would be in decline by 2018 and the cost of such developments means that a sharp drop in oil prices would restrain supplies, Badri said.

"This tight oil is hanging on the cost. If the price were to drop to $60 to $70, then it would be out of the market completely." He does have a point there and that point –  what oil-price level would keep unconventional, difficult-to-extract and low-yield projects going – is what the Oilholic is here to find out over the next couple of days. That’s all for the moment from Aberdeen folks! Keep reading, keep it 'crude'!

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© Gaurav Sharma 2013. Photo 1: Exploration Drive, Aberdeen, Scotland, UK. Photo 2: Weatherford site, Aberdeen Energy Park, Scotland, UK © Gaurav Sharma, October 2013.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Three Months, Three Cities, Three ‘crude’ reports

The three cities being – Delhi, Doha and Vienna, the three reports being Oilholic’s work on Latin American Offshore, Shale Oil & Gas and Refineries projects outlook, research for which was spread over December, January and February from the 20th World Petroleum Congress to the 160th OPEC Meeting to the streets of ‘crude’ Delhi.

The last of the three reports was published by Infrastructure Journal on Feb 29th and while the analysis in the reports remains the preserve of the Journal’s subscribers, the Oilholic is more than happy to share a few snippets starting with the Latin American offshore landscape, which shows no signs of a post ‘Macondo’ hangover [1].

In fact, the month of May, will be a momentous one for the region’s offshore oil & gas projects market in general and Brazil in particular, as the country would dispatch its first shipment of oil from ultradeepwater pre-sal (‘below the salt layer’) sources. The said export consignment of 1 million barrels destined for Chile is a relatively minor one in global crude oil volume terms. However, its significance for offshore prospection off Latin American waters is immense.

When thinking about Latin American offshore projects think Brazil; think Brazil and think Petrobras’ Lula test well in the Santos basin, named after the former president, which is producing 100,000 barrels per day (bpd). Almost over a third of the Chilean consignment originated from the Lula well according to the Oilholic’s sources.

What should excite project financiers, corporate financiers and technical advisers alike is the fact the company expects to pump nearly 5 million bpd by 2020 and its ambitious drive needs investment.

However, ignoring other jurisdictions in the region and focussing only on Brazil, its promise and problems would be a fallacy. Others such as Argentina, Columbia and prospection in Falkland Islands waters are worth examining, the latter especially from the standpoint of corporate financed asset acquisitions.

Data always helps in contextualising the market movements. Using the present Infrastructure Journal data series on project finance, which commenced in 2005, figures certainly suggest the sun is shining on the Brazilian offshore industry. Of the 15 Latin American offshore projects on record which reached financial close between October 2006 and Sept 2011, 13 were Brazilian along with one apiece from Panama and Peru (Click on pie-chart above to enlarge). With a cumulative deal valuation of just under US$9.3 billion, among these Brazil’s Guara FPSO valued at US$1.2 billion led the way reaching financial close in June 2011.

The year 2010, was a particularly good one for Brazil with five projects reaching financial close. Over the last three years, sponsors of offshore projects in the country have been consistent in approaching the debt markets and bringing three to five projects per annum to financial close, with 2011 following that trend.

Moving on to the Oilholic’s second report, for all intents and purposes, Shale oil & gas prospection has been the energy story of the last half decade and Q1 2012 would be an apt time to scrutinise the ‘Fracks’ and figures[2].

To say that shale gas has altered the American energy landscape would be the understatement of the decade, or to be more specific at least half a decade. Courtesy of the process of hydraulic ‘fracking’, shale gas prospection – most of which was initially achieved in the US by independent upstart project developers – has been an epic game changer.

US shale gas production stood at 4.9 trillion cubic feet (tcf) by end-2011, which is 25% of total US production up from 4% in 2005. Concurrently, net production itself is rising exponentially owing to the shale drive according to the EIA.

Project finance aside, it is in the corporate finance data where the shale story is truly reflected – i.e. one of a steady rise both in terms of deal valuation as well as the number of projects. From four corporate infrastructure finance deals valued at US$1.89 billion in 2009, both data metrics posted an uptick to seven deals valued at US$8.35 billion in 2010 and 10 deals valued at US$7.58 billion in 2011 (Click on bar-chart above to enlarge).

However, a short term global replication of a US fracking heaven is unlikely and not just because there isn’t a one size fits all model to employ. While American success with shale projects has not escaped the notice of Europeans; financiers and sponsors in certain quarters of the ‘old continent’ are pragmatic enough to acknowledge that Europe is no USA. The recent shale projects bonanza stateside is no geological fluke; rather it bottles down to a combination of geology, American tenacity and inventiveness.

Europe’s best bet is Poland, but European shale oil & gas projects market is unlikely to record an uptick between 2012 to 2017 on a scale noticed in North America in general and the USA in particular between 2007 and 2012. The financing for shale projects – be it corporate finance or project finance – would be a slow, but steady trickle rather than a stream beyond North America.

Finally, to the Refineries report, given the wider macroeconomic climate, refinery infrastructure investment continues to face severe challenges in developed jurisdictions and Western markets[3]. Concurrently, the balance of power in this subsector of the oil & gas infrastructure market is rapidly tipping in favour of the East.

Even if refinery investment of state-owned Chinese oil & gas behemoths, which rarely approach the debt markets, is ignored – there is a palpable drive in emerging economies elsewhere in favour of refinery investment as they do not have to contend with overcapacity issues hounding the EU and North America.

For some it is a needs-based investment; for others it makes geopolitical sense as their Western peers holdback on investing in this subsector. The need for refined products is often seen superseding concerns about low refining margins, especially in the Indian subcontinent and Asia Pacific.

Industry data, empirical, anecdotal evidence and direct feedback from industry participants do not fundamentally alter the Oilholic’s view of tough times ahead for refinery infrastructure. As cracking crude oil remains a strategic business, investing in refinery infrastructure reflects this sentiment, investor appetite and financiers' attitudes.

According to current IJ data, investment in refinery infrastructure via private or semi-private financing continues to remain muted; a trend which began in 2008. In fact, 2011 has been the most wretched year since the publication began recording refinery project finance data.

Updated figures suggest the year 2010, which saw the artificial fillip of Saudi Arabia’s mega Jubail refinery project (valued at US$14.04 billion) reach financial close, has been the best year so far for refinery project finance valuation despite closing a mere two projects. However, industry pragmatists would look at 2008 which saw ten projects valued at US$9.39 billion as a much better year (Click on bar-chart above to enlarge).

From there on it has been a tale of post global financial crisis woes with the market struggling to show any semblance of a recovery and most of the growth coming from non-OECD jurisdictions. In 2009, three projects valued at US$4.79 billion reached financial close, followed by two projects including Jubail valued at US$15.04 billion in 2010, and another two projects valued at US$1.49 billion in 2011. By contrast, the pre-crisis years of 2005, 2006 and 2007 averaged US$6.71 billion in terms of transaction valuations.

A general market trend in favour of non-OECD project finance investment in refineries is obviously mirrored in the table of the top deals between 2005 and 2011 (above). Of the five, four are in non-OECD countries – led by Jubail Refinery (Saudi Arabia) valued at US$14.04 billion which closed in 2010, followed by Guru Gobind Singh Bhatinda Refinery, India (valued at US$4.69 billion, financial close – 2007), Jamnagar 2 Refinery, India (US$4.50 billion, financial close – 2006) and Paradip refinery, India (US$2.99 billion, financial close – 2009).

Only one deal from an OECD nation, which is a very recent member of the club, made it to the top five, namely Poland’s Grupa Lotos Gdansk Refinery Expansion valued at US$2.85 billion which reached financial close in 2008. Simply put, the future of infrastructure investment in this sub-component of the oil & gas business lies increasingly in the East wherein India could be a key market. That’s all for the moment folks! Keep reading, keep it ‘crude’!

NOTES:

[1] Latin American Offshore O&G Outlook 2012: Brazil’s decade, By Gaurav Sharma, Infrastructure Journal, January 17, 2012. Available here.

[2] Shale Oil & Gas Outlook 2012: The ‘Fracks’ and figures, By Gaurav Sharma, Infrastructure Journal, January 25, 2012. Available here.

[3] Refinery Projects Outlook 2012: ‘Cracking’ times for Eastern markets, By Gaurav Sharma, Infrastructure Journal, February 29, 2012. Available here.

© Gaurav Sharma 2012. Graphics: Pie Chart 1 – Latin American Offshore Project Finance transactions (October 2006 to Sept 2011), Bar Chart 1 – Number of Shale Corporate Finance transactions (2009-2011), Bar Chart 2 – Refinery Project Finance Valuation (2005-2011) © Infrastructure Journal.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Mr. Gabrielli, an IEA revision & the Kuwaiti situation

This Monday, the crude world bid farewell to Petrobras’ inimitable CEO José Sergio Gabrielli de Azevedo who stepped down from his position having been at the Brazilian major's helm since July 2005. Over his tenure, Petrobras took great strides towards ultradeepwater offshore exploration and made several overseas forays. Rumours had been lurking around since January that Gabrielli was in the twilight of his career at Petrobras following differences with Brazilian President Dilma Rouseff – but both the government and the company strenuously denied it.

The reins of Petrobras have now passed on to Maria das Graças Silva Foster (pictured left) a corporate veteran who has worked at Petrobras for 31 years. In addition to occupying various executive level positions in the company, Foster has been CEO of Petroquisa - Petrobras Química, and CEO and CFO of Petrobras Distribuidora. In her career, she was also Secretary of Oil, Natural Gas and Renewable Fuels at the Brazilian Ministry of Mines and Energy from January 2003 to September 2005.

Earlier, Petrobras approved the contract for 21 offline rigs with Sete Brasil, at an average daily rate of US$530,000 and the contract for 5 dual activity rigs with Ocean Rig, at the average day rate of US$548,000, both for a 15-year term. All units, which have local content requirements ranging from 55% to 65%, are to be delivered within 48 to 90 months, according to the schedules established in the contracts.

The project includes the construction of new shipyards in the country and the use of existing infrastructure. Petrobras expects to reduce the average daily rates to US$500,000 for the Sete Brasil contract and to US$535,000 for the Ocean Rig contract. These amounts may suffer further reductions if the parties detect and agree to mechanisms that reduce operating costs.

With these contracts, the plan to contract 28 drilling rigs to be built in Brazil to meet the demands of the long-term drilling program, primarily for use in pre-salt wells has been completed. Based on the conditions submitted by the companies and on the current demand for the development of future projects, Petrobras, in its own words, "chose to take advantage of the negotiated conditions and contract five additional which were not originally planned."

All this is fine and dandy, but since the timelines of construction and delivery are so lengthy, a hike in construction costs is likely – more so because some yards where the rigs are expected to be built, haven’t yet been built themselves. But the Oilholics loathes being too sceptical about what is a reasonably positive agreement.

Meanwhile, the IEA has cut its oil demand forecast again! In an announcement last week, the agency said a weak global economy had prompted its sixth successive monthly revision to forecasts by 250,000 barrels per day (bpd) to 800,000 barrels for 2012. Before the IEA, the US EIA actually made an upward revision of 50,000 barrels to 1.32 million bpd while OPEC cut its forecast by 120,000 bpd to 940,000. All three forecasters are looking towards non-OECD jurisdictions for demand growth.

Elsewhere, the Oilholic would like to highlight two very interesting corporate client notes. In one issued on February 7th, Fitch Ratings observed that following the recent parliamentary elections in Kuwait, marked frictions between an elected Parliament and the appointed government will continue to weigh on the reform agenda and hamper political effectiveness.

The agency feels that difficulties in reaching agreement at the political level will continue to affect economic reforms, including the implementation of a four-year development plan (worth 80% of GDP over 2010-11 and 2013-14), which aims at boosting the country's infrastructure and diversifying the economy away from oil.

Nonetheless, Fitch rates Kuwait as 'AA' with a Stable Outlook. As relatively high oil prices are being forecast, Fitch’s own being at US$100/barrel for 2012, Kuwait’s earnings should continue to ensure double digit current account and fiscal surpluses which lend support to the rating.

Moving on to the second note, on the expected impact of US' QE3 on the commodity market circulated on February 10th, Société Générale analysts Michael Haigh and Jesper Dannesboe opine that an increase of expected inflation during QE3 Stateside coupled with the impact of the EU embargo on Iran could result in the DJ-UBS commodity index rising 20% and Brent prices rising to US$130/barrel.

“Sep12 Brent call spread with strikes at US$117 (long) and US$130 (short). The current net up-front cost: about US$4.6/barrel. This results in a maximum net profit of US$8.4/barrel. If one also sells a Sep12 US$100/barrel put, the overall structure would have zero upfront cost and the maximum net profit would be US$13.7/barrel. We consider a price drop below US$100 to be very unlikely,” they wrote and the Oilholic quotes. That’s all for the moment folks! Keep reading, keep it 'crude'!

© Gaurav Sharma 2012. Photo: Petrobras CEO Maria das Graças Silva Foster © Petrobras Press Office.

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