Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Ten years of 'crude' blogging & a big thank you!

Its a day to say thanks and feel a tad nostalgic, as the Oilholic woke up this Christmas eve morning to the realization that today marks 10 years of this oil and gas market blog's appearance on cyberspace!

Boy does time fly! When yours took this blog live and put his first post up on December 24, 2009, Barack Obama had been in the White House for less than a year; Gordon Brown was still in Downing Street; the global economy was limping back from the financial crisis; the US shale revolution's impact hadn't been felt; OPEC had held its latest minister's meeting in Luanda, Angola instead of its secretariat in Vienna, Austria; and Brent and WTI futures closed at $76.31 and $78.05 per barrel respectively, with a premium in the latter's favour! That's a 10-year decline of $9.84 (-12.9%) for Brent and $17.5 (-22.42%) for WTI versus this European morning's prices in Asia.  

Back then, all this blog had was a handful of readers comprising of mutual acquaintances in the trading community who had been providing tips and invaluable feedback since 2007, when yours truly was working on concepts, and a trail site/domain. The subsequent blogging journey began on Christmas eve of 2009 when the Oilholic registered the www.oilholicssynonymous.com domain, and it has been quite a ride, and more, ever since. 


The blog underwent a complete template overhaul in 2011 as the readership started gaining traction. Well past its millionth pageview, it currently averages 12,000 reads a month. 

Well above average readership points are often brought about by posts on energy sector developments and events such as IPWeek, CERAWeek, OPEC and ADIPEC, where this blogger often takes speaking engagements at, resulting in monthly pageviews jumping above 100,000 reads a month. 

As in previous years, bulk of the readers who browse and read this blog in 2019 have come from the US, UK, Norway, Germany and China in that order, with American and British readers leading the pack by some distance. 

Many have logged in from some 127 countries week in, week out. So a massive thank you to all of you because without your readership, feedback and support this blog wouldn't be here. Alongside regular readers who find this blog via established routes, analytics also reveal the impact of Google, where many of you find your way to the Oilholic alongside LinkedIn, Twitter and Forbes.

What this blog has been about over the last 10 years is what it will be about in the future, carrying the Oilholic's analysis, thoughts, rants, musings and social media flags, about past events, developments and emerging scenarios in the sector, and the comments of fellow market experts one is able to interact with. 

It'll also continue to complement the Oilholic's analysis and media career, speaking circuit engagements, serve as a published clippings portfolio hub, broadcast commentary, work undertaken over the last 20 years (and counting), some favourite photographs and a selection of book reviews.

As the years go by, here's hoping this blog is (and will be) as much fun for those reading it as it is for the one writing it. So keep reading, keep it 'crude' and once again thank you for all your support.

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© Gaurav Sharma 2019. Photo: Screenshot of Oilholics Synonymous Report's homepage in 2010 © Gaurav Sharma.

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Key energy industry interviews of 2019

As the current oil and gas trading year approaches its end, here are some of the industry interviews conducted by The Oilholic over the course of 2019 with C-suite executives around the world. The list includes group CEOs and Chairmen of Emerson, Hunting, IndianOil, OMV and Wintershall Dea. Most, but not all, of the interviews were published either on Forbes or Rigzone

John Rudolph, President of Honeywell Process Solutions 

Luca Volta, Marine Fuels Venture Head at ExxonMobil

David Farr, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Emerson

John Markus Lervik, Chief Executive Officer and Cofounder of Cognite

David Gilmour, Head of BP Ventures

Andreas Thorsheim, Cofounder and CEO of Otovo

Karl Johnny Hersvik, Chief Executive Officer of Aker BP

Rainer Seele, Chief Executive Officer of OMV

Greg Scheu, Head of Group Service & (former) President - Americas region at ABB

Jim Johnson, Chief Executive Officer of Hunting Plc

Rusty Hutson, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Diversified Gas and Oil 

Jason Urso, Chief Technology Officer at Honeywell Process Solutions

Sanjiv Singh, Chairman of IndianOil Corporation

Mario Mehren, Chief Executive Officer of Wintershall Dea

Here's to many more C-Suite chats in 2020. Keep reading, keep it 'crude'!

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© Gaurav Sharma 2019.

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Post OPEC quips & LatAm, Shale outlook

The Oilholic returned from the OPEC+ ministers’ summit in Vienna, Austria to a crazy few weeks of crude chatter and of course umpteen discussions on the Saudi Aramco IPO.

Here are yours truly's thoughts on the final communiquĂ© from OPEC via Forbes, and another take on the Aramco IPO via the same publication plus a ReachX podcast touching on the issue of the company's valuation kerfuffle.  

Away from it all, two pieces of research caught one's eye this month. Starting with the first of two, rating agency Moody's reckons 2020 will be a stable year for the Latin American oil and gas sector. While, global economic environment and trade disputes could become a concern to Latin America's commodity exporters, including those in the business of black gold and natural gas, Moody's opined that many regional players have indeed improved their capital structures. 

"Business conditions will vary in 2020, contributing to stable overall conditions. A shift toward exploration and production favours credit quality for Brazil's national oil company Petrobras, but 2020 production appears stable at best in Mexico as investment stalls," says Moody's Senior Vice President Nymia Almeida.

Mexico investment momentum in oil and gas is negative for 2020 as national oil company PEMEX has limited ability to increase investments and deliver on production and reserves targets, Almeida added. 

Away from Latin America, Rystad Energy predicted that even with potentially lower prices, the production outlook for North American shale "appears robust" in the years ahead.

In Norway-based analysis firm's base-case price scenario - that assumes a WTI price at $55 per barrel in 2019; $54/bbl in 2020; $54/bbl in 2021 and $57/bbl in 2022 - would see North American light tight oil supply will reach 11.6 million barrels per day (bpd) by 2022. 

This implies a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10% from 2019 to 2022. In a price scenario with the WTI oil price remaining flat at $45 per barrel, supply of the same would plateau at 10.1 million bpd towards 2022.

"The flat development of US light tight oil production is also possible in lower price scenarios, but we would likely see an initial period of multi-quarter production decline, with output stabilising at a lower level," said Mladá Passos, product manager of Rystad Energy's Shale Upstream Analysis team. Plenty to ponder about as 2020 approaches, but that's all for the moment folks. Keep reading, keep it 'crude'!

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© Gaurav Sharma 2019. Photo: Oil exploration site in Oman © Royal Dutch Shell. 

Friday, December 06, 2019

OPEC+ announces deeper cuts of 500kbpd

It's official - OPEC+ has decided to "deepen its cuts" by ~500,000 barrels per day (bpd), thereby upping its output reduction from 1.2 million bpd, 1.7 million bpd.

And if the new chief OPEC powerbroker Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman is to be believed, and every participant well...err....participates, the market could well be looking at a real terms cut of 2.1 million bpd. 

That is wishful thinking and will be severely tested as the Saudis say OPEC+ compliance would be keen monitored. To this effect, OPEC will have an extraordinary meeting of ministers in March 2020, on top of its regular meeting in June. 

For its part Saudi Arabia will up its cuts "voluntarily" to 400,000 bpd (+167,000 bpd) bringing its headline production down to 9.744 million bpd. Errant Iraq has promised to cut 50,000 bpd. Nigeria, Libya and Iraq remain exempt, but Nigerian Minister Timipre Marlin Sylva said his country would be cutting production "voluntarily."

There seems to be no shortage of volunteers. Here are two other key quotes:
  • "Signal we want market to take is that we are collectively showing readiness to rebalance the market, prevent heavy inventory buildup in Q1 2020," - Abdulaziz bin Salman.
  • "Russia wants to avoid any oil market turbulence in 2020. We are not concerned with US shale, seeing signs of shale slowdown," - Russian Oil Minister Alexander Novak. 

Finally, the Saudi Minister sounded pretty peeved about getting a "battering from the media" about the Saudi Aramco IPO, adding that the company's valuation would hit $2 trillion very soon. And that's that; more composed thoughts upon the Oilholic's return to London, but that's all for the moment from OPEC folks! Keep reading, keep it 'crude'!

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© Gaurav Sharma 2019. Photo: Saudi Oil Minister Abdulaziz bin Salman speaks at the conclusion of the OPEC+ meeting in Vienna, Austria © Gaurav Sharma December 6, 2019.

Late one to early crude commotion at OPEC

So after having kept analysts and media in the OPEC Secretariat almost till midnight, and then not issuing a final brief, the producers' group has started day two with its planned OPEC and Non-OPEC meeting of ministers. 

The figure of a 500,000 barrels per day (bpd) deepening of the cuts remains on the cards, but whether it is a paper adjustment or a real-term cut remains to be seen. 

Even before proceedings began, Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh left the meeting, with there being little sense in his sticking around given Tehran is exempt from the cuts. 

However, he did quip to journalists on his way out that the deal being brokered is indeed a "fresh cut". Inside the meeting hall, Russian Oil Minister Alexander Novak said the OPEC and non-OPEC agreement was working despite doubts expressed by sceptics, and his Saudi counterpart Abdulaziz Bin Salman asked for the "faith and mercy" of analysts and market commentators so that they don't "twist" numbers put out by OPEC+. (Yup, he really did!)

The oil market will have to believe OPEC+, and objective as well as cynical analysts will have to trust them, he added. Felt more like a sermon, and less like a statement, but hey - whatever works. More drama from here later in the day. But that's all for the moment folks! Keep reading, keep it 'crude'! 

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© Gaurav Sharma 2019. Photo: OPEC and Non-OPEC Meeting Room, Vienna, Austria © Gaurav Sharma, December 2019. 

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For comments or for professional queries, please email: gaurav.sharma@oilholicssynonymous.com

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