Headline crude prices for the week beginning 11 December 2017 – Brent: US$63/b; WTI: US$57/b
- The shutdown of the Forties pipeline system in the UK North Sea has been a shock to the market, pulling Brent and WTI prices up. Repairs to the important oil conduit will take at least two weeks to complete.
- The hairline crack at Forties – connecting North Sea oilfields to the Hound Point export terminal in Scotland – is less severe than expected, cutting off a rally that was beginning to gain steam.
- The UAE announced that OPEC and NOPEC will outline an exit strategy for the extended supply freeze deal at the next meeting in June; Kuwait suggested that if oil market tightens by then, the deal could be ended before the current planned 31 December 2018 deadline.
- Threats of a strike by one of Nigeria's two main oil unions over a mass sacking of workers could disrupt production in Africa's largest oil producer, but tensions seem on the lid for now.
- US crude oil stockpiles fell more than expected by 2.89 million barrels as refineries hiked output, supporting prices, but gasoline and distillate inventories also posted surprisingly large stockpile gains.
- JP Morgan believes that the new tipping point for American shale is US$60/b, with the investment bank believing that only a sustained run above that level will lead to shale drillers rethinking their spending plans for 2018, which were based on a US$45-55/b WTI range.
- Active US rig count gains slowed down; only 2 new sites entering operation last week – both oil – but the small net gain masks a flurry of activity within the main shale basins.
- Crude price outlook: With threats of a prolonged Forties shutdown subsiding and the strike risk in Nigeria abating, there does not appear to be much driving crude prices up this week. Prices should drift down to US$62/b for Brent and US$56/b for WTI.
Headlines of the week
- A leak at the Forties Pipeline System in the North Sea has triggered a shutdown at the UK's most important site, causing jumps in global prices.
- After slashing costs by almost half to KR49 billion, Statoil has sanctioned the Castberg offshore Arctic oil project, with production due in 2022.
- Hungary's MOL is reportedly seeking to exit the UK North Sea, as the prolonged slump in oil prices placed its margins under pressure.
- Enterprise will be converting one its Permian-Texas Gulf Gas pipelines from NGLs to crude oil, upping its oil pipeline capacity to 650 kb/d.
- Total and Sonangol have signed several agreements covering upstream and downstream in Angola, paving the way for a spat of new projects.
- PetroChina has conducted a major internal transfer of 16 E&P blocks between its subsidiaries that will allow those with mature fields in the east to explore for new discoveries in the west and central regions.
- Eni has restarted production at the Goliat oil field in Norway's Barents Sea, after problems at the platform caused a 2-month shutdown.
- China is offering five oil and gas blocks in the remote Tarim basin in Xinjian to domestic investors in an auction that excludes the state oil giants to promote private sector participation in its upstream industry.
- ExxonMobil has sent its first fuel cargo – 120,000 barrels of diesel and gasoline – to Mexico as the drive to supply the country turns into a race.
- MMEX Resources had doubled the capacity of its planned refinery in West Texas, from 50 kb/d to 100 kb/d, capitalising on the Permian Basin boom.
- Nigeria plans to break ground on Petrolex Oil & Gas' new 250 kb/d refinery in Ibefun, Ogun state this month.
- BP is building a third lubricants blending plant – which will be its largest ever - in China; the 200 mtpa plant serving as a strategic hub for BP and Castrol when complete in 2021.
- Petronas' South African unit Engen and retail specialist Vivo Energy have struck a US$256 million deal to combine their African fuel network assets.
- Vietnam's PVOil and Binh Son Refining, which runs Dung Quat, has struck two large crude purchase deals with Azerbaijan's Socar and Glencore.
- Production at Novatek's Yamal LNG 5.5 mtpa Train 1 has officially began, with the first cargo leaving the port of Sabetta last week to China.
- Cheniere has chartered 7 additional LNG tankers bringing its total fleet up to 22 as it attempts to supply Northeast Asia's furious winter demand.
- Italy, Greece, Cyprus and Israel have collectively agreed to building the €3 billion East Med gas pipeline to link new discoveries in the Levantine Basin to western Europe via Greece and Italy.
- Steelhead LNG has pulled the plug on its proposed FLNG project in Canada's Malahat over land squabbles with the Malahat First Nation.
- Arrow Energy has signed a deal to supply some 5 tcf of coalbed methane gas from the Surat Basin over a contract life of 27 yeas to Shell's Queensland Curtis LNG project starting in 2021.
- The Asian Development Bank has stepped in to provide some US$583 billion in financing to development the Reliance Bangladesh LNG project.
- Pertamina will be taking over state gas utility PGN by 1Q18 as Indonesia forms a new national energy holding company and prevent ‘asset duplication', with PGN absorbing Pertagas to act as the state gas arm.
- Thailand's Gulf Energy Development made its debut on the Stock Exchange of Thailand, with the natural gas-power producer trading at 27.8% higher than the IPO price.
- Adnoc has set a target of raising US$902 million by floating its fuel-retail unit, reducing the stake on sale from 20% to 10%.
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