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|CAREER NEWS & EVENTS
MARKET WATCH: Oil prices jump $2/bbl on a brief rally (02nd April, 2015)
HOUSTON, Apr. 2
By Paula Dittrick
OGJ Special Projects Editor*
Crude oil futures prices gained more than $2/bbl on the New York market on Apr. 1 to settle slightly above $50/bbl while opinions varied among analysts about the timing and strength of an oil-price recovery.
Brent prices on the London market also rose nearly $2/bbl to settle above $57/bbl for the May contract.
But the rally appeared to be only a 1-day event because crude prices worldwide pulled back in early trading Apr. 2 on news that international talks to curtail Iran’s nuclear program had continued past a preliminary deadline.
ING analysts said they were relatively unconcerned about high US crude oil inventories because oil demand also is showing strength. ING attributed much of the inventory build to seasonal refinery maintenance.
“Given supply cuts and sustained demand strength, we reiterate our price forecast of $65/bbl [Brent] for the second quarter, but remain wary of the dollar freight train,” ING told the Wall Street Journal. A strengthening dollar pushes down dollar-based commodities such as crude oil.
Meanwhile, Barclays analysts said the second quarter could be the weakest quarter for the year for oil prices. They expect Brent will fall to an average $47/bbl in the second quarter and slowly recover to $55/bbl by Dec. 31.
Analysts noted many uncertainties exist that could trigger crude-oil price swings, including a potential Iran deal and renewed turmoil in Yemen.
Societe Generale said an agreement over Iran’s nuclear program would jerk oil prices upward briefly, but the bank noted that existing sanctions on Iran oil exports only could be lifted after a final agreement was signed in late June.
Meanwhile, US natural gas futures prices fell slightly upon weather forecasts signaling an end to the heating season.
The US Energy Information Administration reported a withdrawal in underground natural gas storage across the Lower 48 in its weekly Natural Gas Storage report.
Working gas in storage was 1.46 tcf as of Mar. 27, according to EIA estimates. This represented a net decline of 18 bcf from the previous week. Stocks were 628 bcf higher than last year at this time and 190 bcf below the 5-year average of 1.651 tcf.
The New York Mercantile Exchange May crude oil contract gained $2.49 on Apr. 1 to $50.09/bbl. The June contract added $2.41 to $51.75/bbl.
The natural gas contract for May dropped 3.5¢ to a rounded $2.61/MMbtu. The Henry Hub, La., gas price was $2.60/MMbtu, down 2¢.
Heating oil for April delivery was up 3.9¢ to $1.75/gal. Reformulated gasoline stock for oxygenate blending for April climbed 6¢ to a rounded $1.83/gal.
The May ICE contract for Brent crude gained $1.99 to $57.10/bbl, while the June contract was up $1.98 to $58.19/bbl. The ICE gas oil contract for April rose $7.25 to $533.75/tonne.
The average price for the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries’ basket of 12 benchmark crudes on Apr. 1 was $52.48/bbl, up $1.42.
EIA: OPEC s net oil export revenues declined 11% in 2014 (02nd April, 2015)
HOUSTON, Apr. 1
By OGJ editors
Members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, excluding Iran, earned $730 billion in net oil export revenues during 2014, according to estimates from the US Energy Information Administration.
The total—the lowest earnings for the group since 2010—is an 11% decline from $824 billion in 2013, primarily due to the decline in average annual crude oil prices, and to a lesser extent from decreases in the amount of OPEC net oil exports, EIA says.
Saudi Arabia earned the largest share of the earnings—$246 billion in 2014—representing one third of total OPEC oil revenues.
Iran’s revenues are excluded from the total because of difficulties associated with estimating that country’s earnings, including its inability to receive payments and possible price discounts offered to existing customers.
Analyst: Cost key variable in crude-price scenarios (02nd April, 2015)
~HOUSTON, Mar. 31
By OGJ editors
With Saudi Arabia reluctant to cut production, crude oil prices over the next decade depend greatly on producers’ costs, says a veteran observer of oil markets and the Middle East.
An oil-price rise to $80-90/bbl in the next couple of years requires a production cut unlikely to be made by Saudi Arabia, says Fereidun Fesharaki, chairman of Facts Global Energy (FGE), London. Without a Saudi cut, Fesharaki writes in a March report, “prices can lag at $40-60/bbl for some time to come.”
Lower growth in oil production in the US, he adds, will not support prices on its own.
According to Fesharaki, Saudi Arabia “had no choice” when under pressure last year to cut production in defense of the crude price while supply was zooming in the US.
Before agreeing to cut output, he believes, the Saudis need to see growth in US oil production fall to no more than 200,000 b/d in 2016 and Iraq accept “real quotas.”
Both conditions are steep. US production growth last year was 1.5 million b/d and this year will be about 1 million b/d. And Iraq, which will be producing nearly 4 million b/d by yearend, remains “absolutely reluctant” to accept a quota.
“They [Iraqi officials] are unlikely to negotiate a quota before their production reaches 6-7 million b/d,” Fesharaki says.
The market needs to shed 3-3.5 million b/d of current and future oil production to allow the crude price to exceed $80/bbl in the next year or two, he says.
This could occur if Saudi Arabia lowered production to 8 million b/d, if US production growth fell by 500,000-800,000 b/d, and if Iraq accepted a quota not exceeding 3.5-4 million b/d. Other OPEC members also would have to cut production, and Russia is likely to lose 300,000-500,000 b/d of production because of low oil prices and sanctions.
“This is a tall order,” Fesharaki says, noting that Iraq has little incentive to limit supply.
He expects US production growth to fall to 0-200,000 b/d by 2016, about FGE’s expectation for US demand growth this year.
This combination “can impact the market positively to the $50-60/bbl range, but it is not enough to raise prices to beyond $80/bbl,” Fesharaki says.
Iran, meanwhile, might increase production by 500,000 b/d in 3-6 months if freed of international sanctions and by 700,000 b/d a year beyond that. Iran will be reluctant to accept a lower production and remains committed to total liquids production of 4 million b/d.
Fesharaki outlines one scenario in which crude prices fluctuate within a range of $50-80/bbl for the next 10 years. This assumes producers, especially in the US, don’t cut costs dramatically.
If costs do plummet, the price range for the next 10 years will drop to $40-60/bbl as US production continues to grow faster than 500,000 b/d/year in 2016 and 2017.
If US production doesn’t fall, Fesharaki adds, Saudi Arabia might have to raise production to perhaps 10.5 million b/d to depress the crude price to $30-40/bbl, despite protests from other members of OPEC.
“But we feel confident that oil prices in the range of $40-45/bbl will cut 80% of the US production growth,” Fesharaki says.
He doesn’t expect a demand rebound to rescue the market. Demand growth of slightly more than 1 million b/d is possible this year. Next year, growth of 1.5-2 million b/d is “unlikely, but not impossible.”
The analyst also doesn’t expect geopolitical upsets to cut production enough to balance the oil market, calling a major supply disruption from any of the vulnerable producers “highly unlikely.”
For the rest of this year, he expects prices of West Texas Intermediate and Brent crude to fall to $40/bbl in the second quarter, with WTI $2-3/bbl below the European marker, because of seasonal demand weakness, increasing storage costs, and postponement of refinery maintenance.
Schlumberger to acquire ownership in Spectrum's Pelotas program (25th April, 2015)
OSLO, Norway -- Spectrum has entered into a cooperation agreement with Schlumberger to acquire 50% ownership in Spectrum's Pelotas multiclient program.
The cooperation agreement includes more than 30,000 km of regional 2D seismic data in the new frontier Pelotas basin, offshore Brazil.
The program includes the recently acquired Pelotas Phase 1 seismic acquisition, comprising 7,438 km of 2D data. Pelotas Phase 2, currently being acquired, consists of up to 12,000 km of 2D data and more than 12,000 km of recently reprocessed regional 2D data.
The Pelotas basin is an untapped hydrocarbon province comprising a 280,000 km2 passive margin located on the southeast coast of Brazil, bordering Uruguay to the south.
Spectrum and Schlumberger will provide more than 30,000 km of data to the industry prior to the anticipated offering of the Pelotas basin in the upcoming Bidding Round 13.
163 members of Congress urge Obama admin to increase OCS energy production (25th April, 2015)
WASHINGTON -- U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, along with Sens. Tim Scott, R-S.C., Bill Cassidy, R-La., and Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, led 159 of their Senate and House colleagues in urging Interior Secretary Sally Jewell to increase access to the energy resources on the nation's Outer Continental Shelf (OCS).
The bicameral letter comes in response to the administration’s draft 2017-2022 five-year OCS leasing program (DPP), which offered an historically low number of leases, while imposing greater restrictions on offshore energy activity, and Secretary Jewell’s most recent comments that leases offered in the DPP may be reduced even further.
“As members of Congress committed to a strong, comprehensive domestic energy strategy, we wholeheartedly believe that the U.S. must not shrink away from developing our nation’s offshore energy resources. A robust five-year OCS program should be a key component of the administration’s all-of-the-above energy strategy that can continue to advance the job creation, economic growth and energy security gains that the U.S. has enjoyed thanks to the recent boom in energy production on state and private lands," the members wrote in a letter sent to Jewell Thursday. “We fear that the currently proposed DPP sets the stage for energy insecurity instead of domestic prosperity. While we were pleased to see the administration finally take a step in the right direction by including one potential lease sale in the Atlantic in the draft plan, this step was offset by the additional restrictions in the Atlantic and area withdrawals in the offshore of Alaska.”
The Obama administration has placed 85% of the nation’s OCS off-limits to oil and natural gas activity. Calling this "counterproductive to efforts to boost our nation’s economy," the signers of Thursday’s letter called on the administration to work with them to advance a five-year leasing program that strengthens America’s energy position in the world.
“Our struggling economy is on the verge of a transformational manufacturing renaissance and is capable of producing the resources needed to make it a reality," the members wrote. “We ask that you actually work with Congress on this important proposal. We are at a critical time in developing America’s energy policy and decisions we make today will have an impact on future U.S. oil and natural gas production. Such decisions will also significantly impact our standing in a volatile global economy. It is important that the administration is forward-thinking in America’s energy development planning, and we are eager to work with the administration to ensure we are headed down the path to prosperity and security through increased offshore American energy production.”
USGS report aims to improve quake prediction from induced seismicity (27th April, 2015)
WASHINGTON, DC, Apr. 24
By Nick Snow
OGJ Washington Editor
The US Geological Survey issued a report with preliminary outlines of models to predict severity of ground tremors in areas where sharp seismicity increases have been reported. It said the models ultimately aim to calculate how often earthquakes are expected to occur in the next year, and how hard the ground will likely shake as a result.
The report also identifies issues that must be resolved to develop a final hazard model, which is scheduled for release at yearend after the preliminary models have been examined, the US Department of the Interior agency said. These preliminary models should be considered experimental and not be used to make decisions, it emphasized.
A sharp increase in earthquake activity since 2009 in the eastern and central US has been linked to industrial operations that dispose of wastewater by injecting it into deep wells, USGS said. Although wastewater disposal potentially can trigger earthquakes, most wells do not produce tremors which can be felt, it said.
Many questions also have been raised about whether hydraulic fracturing used as part of unconventional oil and gas production also might be responsible, it added. USGS said its studies suggest that the actual fracing process only occasionally directly causes felt earthquakes.
“These earthquakes are occurring at a higher rate than ever before and pose a much greater risk to people living nearby,” USGS National Seismic Hazard Modeling Project Chief Mark D. Petersen said Apr. 23 as the report was released. “USGS is developing methods that overcome the challenges in assessing seismic hazards in these regions in order to support decisions that help keep communities safe.”
17 areas in 8 states
USGS said its scientists identified 17 areas within Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, and Texas where seismicity rates have been high since 2000 and have increased substantially since 2009. They developed the models by analyzing earthquakes in these zones and considering their rates, locations, maximum magnitude, and ground motions.
The agency released updated National Seismic Hazard Maps in 2014, which describe hazard levels for natural quakes. Those maps are used in building codes, insurance rates, emergency preparedness plans, and other applications. They forecast the likelihood of quakes over 50 years, which is a building’s average lifetime.
New induced seismicity products display intensity of potential ground-shaking over a year because the induced activity can vary rapidly with time and is subject to commercial and policy decisions which could change at any point, USGS said.
Noting that the report looked at the central and eastern US, USGS said future research will incorporate data from western states as well.
COMMODITY INDEX (27th April, 2015)
Crude Oil 56.92 -0.23
Crude Oil Brent (Pit) 65.28 0
Natural Gas 2.47 -0.061
Gasoline RBOB 2.0079 0.012
Heating Oil 1.9241 -0.004
US House approves bill to repeal crude-oil export ban (10th October, 2015)
WASHINGTON, DC, Oct. 9, 10/09/2015
By Nick Snow - OGJ Washington Editor
The US House approved, by a 261-159 vote, a bill to repeal a 40-year ban on exporting domestically produced crude oil. Balloting ran largely along party lines as 235 Republicans supported HR 702 and 153 Democrats opposed it. The vote came days after the White House announced that the measure would be vetoed if it reached US President Barack Obama’s desk (OGJ Online, Oct. 8, 2015).
“America’s energy boom has sparked a jobs boom, but continued job growth is now in jeopardy without access to global markets,” said Rep. Joe Barton (R-Tex.), who introduced the bill on Feb. 4, after the Oct. 9 vote’s results were announced. “HR 702 presents a rare opportunity to help the economy at home, enhance our influence abroad, and strengthen our national defense, and all at no added cost to the American people.”
Opponents attacked the measure during debate as another giveaway to the oil and gas industry. “We’ve heard arguments all morning to give Big Oil—the most profitable industry in the country—another multibillion-dollar break,” said Rep. Jared Huffman (D-Calif.). “As presently written, this bill says no export restrictions could be imposed on US crude oil in the future. That’s simply breath-taking.”
Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-NJ), the Energy and Commerce Committee’s ranking minority member who led opposition during debate on the bill, said HR 702 does not consider impacts on consumers, especially related to crude oil and gasoline prices; on domestic refining and associated jobs; and on the environment and climate from increased domestic production which would result.
A few House Democrats backed the measure. “This obviously is a work in progress,” said Rep. Jim Costa (Calif.). “There are several issues that still need to be addressed, particularly dealing with small US refiners, several of which I represent. But this bipartisan bill is the best vehicle we have to begin addressing a 40-year-old policy which has become obsolete.”
Other supporters said the bill was long overdue. “We now have opportunities we couldn’t dream of a generation ago,” said Rep. Luke Messer (R-Ind.). “The US is producing more oil than ever before, and we could become net exporters of energy.”
Bill’s passage applauded
Several trade associations, as well as non-industry business groups, applauded HR 702’s passage in the House. “Today’s vote starts us down the path to a new era of energy security, saving consumers billions of dollars and creating jobs across the country,” American Petroleum Institute Pres. Jack N. Gerard said.
IPAA Pres. Barry Russell observed, “Some critics think exports would only benefit oil companies. This is simply not true. We must look at the broader economic and geopolitical picture.”
The Western Energy Alliance in Denver chided the White House for threatening to veto the bill as it cheered the measure’s passage in the House. “The bipartisan majority [there] understands that overturning the ban will result in $265 billion in overall savings for consumers, which translates into $391 in annual household savings,” said Kathleen Sgamma, WEA vice-president, public and government affairs. “That’s good news for nearly everyone, except a president who is using nearly every regulatory lever available to restrain US oil production.”
International Association of Drilling Contractors Pres. Stephen Colville said, “Today’s vote is a win for the US economy, particularly due to the huge implications for the creation of new jobs. From the drilling contractor community’s perspective, this is an enormous benefit to our members.”
Colville said recent studies show that lifting the ban would result in an average of 124,000 new jobs in the crude-oil supply chain, contributing to 394,000 jobs in the greater economy through 2030. “Particularly during a time of market uncertainty in the oil and gas industry, these job numbers are big, and meaningful,” he said.
‘Critical energy policy’
The Texas Independent Producers and Royalty Owners Association in Austin also approved of the House’s action. “Lifting the oil export ban will create an estimated 800,000 American jobs, reduce the deficit by more than $1.4 billion over 10 years, and drive further growth and security for our country, while offering supply diversity and support to our allies abroad,” TIPRO Pres. Ed Longanecker said.
US Chamber of Commerce Pres. Thomas J. Donohue said, “The ban on crude oil exports is a relic of the past that robs Americans of good jobs across the nation and handicaps our economy. It’s time to take the shackles off of the American economy and our allies. Today’s bipartisan vote in the House demonstrates continued momentum to lift the ban, and we urge the Senate to follow their lead.”
Linda Dempsey, National Association of Manufacturers vice-president of international economic affairs, said the ban is at odds with US export goals, policies, and international obligations. “It limits our economic growth and puts up a roadblock to increasing US exports,” she said.
Dempsey said, “Manufacturers in the US need full and free access to the global marketplace, which is why it is critically important that our leaders are taking action. The Senate must now act to remove this outdated policy that is at odds with our international commitments and needs in a global economy.”
Two senators who have introduced their own bills to repeal the crude oil export ban also welcomed the House’s passage of HR 702. “It sends a strong signal that Congress will lead where the administration has failed,” said Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chair Lisa Murkowski (R-Alas.). “It is unfortunate that the White House wants to ignore broad bipartisan support for increasing exports of American energy to our friends and allies.”
Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), whose measure was referred to the Senate floor by the Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee on Oct. 1, said that she and Murkowski have discussed repealing the ban with other federal lawmakers on that side of the Capitol for the past year. “Bipartisan support will help move our legislation forward,” she said. “It’s encouraging that others—especially Democratic senators—have recently expressed an interest and a willingness to craft a deal to address this outdated policy.”
Kemp: Oil Prices Strengthen, Shrug Off Goldman Warning (10th October, 2015)
LONDON, Oct 9 (Reuters) - Timespreads for West Texas Intermediate (WTI) and Brent futures have strengthened significantly over the last month as fears about another big build up in crude oil stocks eased.
The discount for WTI delivered in November 2015 rather than May 2016 has shrunk from $3.33 per barrel to $2.75 since Sept. 14. The discount for Brent has narrowed even more, from $4.50 to just $3.00 (http://link.reuters.com/haz75w).
Between June and August, spot prices and timespreads for both major crude benchmarks tumbled as traders worried about another big build in stockpiles after the end of the U.S. driving season.
Spot prices and timespreads have been strengthening for the two benchmarks over the last month. In each case the spread started firming first, then the spot price followed
Sentiment in the market has become markedly less bearish over the last four weeks as the narrative has shifted from bulging stockpiles to the strength of fuel demand and prospective declines in U.S. shale production.
Researchers at Goldman Sachs, one of the most influential banks in the oil market, have questioned whether the rise in spot prices is justified by fundamentals.
"We do not believe that data releases over the past week suggest a change in oil fundamentals," they wrote in a note circulated on Thursday ("Oil rally to fade given still weak fundamentals", Oct. 8).
The market remains oversupplied, according to Goldman, and a continued low price of $40-45 for WTI is required to curb U.S. production in 2016 and bring supply back into line with demand.
Spot WTI prices are now more than $5 above the top of that range, which would threaten the rebalancing process, if sustained.
Goldman blames the rally on shifting positions among hedge funds and momentum traders (http://link.reuters.com/taz75w).
"We expect this rally to reverse and reiterate our forecast of lower prices for longer," Goldman concluded.
For the moment, however, the market appears less gloomy, choosing to focus on how much rebalancing is already under way rather than how much more is still to be done
FALCON COURSE SCHEDULES (10th October, 2015)
Course Name - IBOEHS (RSP- Registered Safety Professional)
Centre Location - Mumbai (India)
Start Date - 09 Nov 2015
Timings - 08:30 AM to 05:30 PM