Headline crude prices for the week beginning 8 January 2017 – Brent: US$68/b; WTI: US$62/b
- Oil prices continue their upward trend, hitting 3-year highs.
- Ongoing unrest in Iran continues to worry the market, although the Iranian government claims that its oil output has not been affected.
- Supply disruptions in Libya have been nipped, and Libyan production is estimated to have increased to 1 mmb/d after dropping to 950,000 b/d.
- Data from the US EIA showed American oil production fell by 290,000 barrels for 9.5 mmb/d as the post-year end lull continues.
- The EIA maintains that US crude production will rise over 2018, hitting 11 mmb/d by 2019. The target for Q118 is 10.4 mmb/d.
- US crude inventories also fell, by also 5 million barrels, to 419.5 million barrels, a surprise drop not anticipated by the market.
- The US$62/b WTI mark is seen as a post-shale tipping point, which could encourage new shale drilling. A consortium of shale drillers announced they expect major expansion if WTI hits and sustains at US$66/b.
- Active US rig sites fell by a net five to 924 last week, with the losses mainly coming from onshore drilling sites.
- However, Asian refining margins are estimated to have dropped, with the Singapore average margin dropping below US$6/b in December, the lowest level in five years, which could affect Asian crude intake.
- Crude price outlook: Some correction is expected in the oil markets, compounded by longer term expectations that US crude production will increase. Brent will have a floor of US$67/b this week, while WTI should trade at US$62-63/b.
Headlines of the week
- Big moves in the USA as the Trump administration proposes to open up almost all US offshore waters to oil and gas drilling, while also planning to relax offshore regulations introduced after the 2010 Macondo disaster.
- ExxonMobil continues to strike gold in Guyana. Test results from the Ranger-1 exploration well have been positive, the sixth oil discovery for ExxonMobil in the country since 2015 with 3.2 boe barrels in place so far.
- Iraq's parliament has voted to ban Kurdish engineering firm Kar Group from operating in Kirkuk oilfields, a move that could have KRG and Kurdish firms excluded from the northern oil fields.
- The UK's Tullow Oil has picked up six new licenses offshore Peru, with prospects in the Tumbes Basin, near the prolific Talara Basin, high.
- A power trip on an FPSO has shut down the Ophir oil field in Malaysia, with repairs expected to last at least a week.
- Lebanon has awarded its first oil blocks – Blocks 4 and 9 – to a consortium of Total, Eni and JSC Novatek – as it aims to capitalise on the upstream boom in the eastern Mediterranean.
- The Finnish government has given up its majority stake in refiner Neste. Donations to a charitable foundation reduced the state's stake in Neste from 50.1% to 49.7%, and further reductions to 33.4% are planned.
- Taiwan's FPC plans to run its 540 kb/d Mailiao refinery at full capacity over January and February before scheduled maintenance in March, it may contribute to a growing glut of naphtha in Asia.
- In another twist to the Curacao refinery drama, the island's government has scrapped a deal with China's Guangdong Zhenrong Energy to operate the Isla refinery, which may push Curacao back to working with PDVSA.
- Borealis is planning a 740,000 ton propane dehydrogenation (PDH) plant at its Kallo site, Belgium, which would be one of the largest in the world.
- Shell has begun transferring its Hong Kong and Macau LPG marketing business to DCC LPG, but will still operate its LPG plant in Hong Kong.
- Russian natural gas production rose to 24.4 tcf last year, the highest level ever, with sales boosted by domestic and European demand.
- Norway's gas production also hit a record high in 2017, with exports growing by 7% to 4.1 tcf, meeting roughly a quarter of European demand.
- Gas supply has been restored at the Escravos-Lagos Pipeline System in Nigeria after being affected for a week by a fire.
- Gas production at Repsol's Sagari field in Cusco, Peru has begun, contributing to a 25% output gain to 5.6 mcm/d for Repsol's Block 57.
- Eni has gained Shell's 32.5% stake in Australia's Evans Shoal offshore gas field, aiming to boost feedstock to support expansion at Darwin LNG.
- Ahead of its planned IPO this year, Saudi Aramco has been converted from a single shareholder to joint-stock company as of January 1, a necessary requirement for any public listing in Saudi Arabia.
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