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Oil Rigs Rise For 12 Straight Weeks; Threaten Oil Price Recovery

Oil Rigs Rise For 12 Straight Weeks; Threaten Oil Price Recovery

For the 12th week in a row, the number of US oil rigs rose (up another 10 to 672 – the highest since September 2015). US Crude production continues to track the lagged rig count, pouring more cold water on OPEC’s production cut party.

The rig count grows, tracking the lagged oil price in a self-defeating cycle.

And crude production appears to have plenty more room to run.

Will The Oil Price Slide Lead To A Credit Crunch For U.S. Drillers?

Will The Oil Price Slide Lead To A Credit Crunch For U.S. Drillers?

Shale drillers

The recent drop in oil prices, which has almost wiped out the price gains since OPEC announced its supply-cut deal, is coming just ahead of the spring season when banks are reassessing the credit lines they are extending to support drillers’ growth plans.

WTI front-month futures have been trading below $50 a barrel for a couple of weeks, while Brent crude slipped briefly below $50 on March 22, dropping below that psychological threshold for the first time since November 30, the day on which OPEC said it agreed to curtail collective oil production in an effort to rebalance the market and lift prices.

Lenders review the oil and gas companies’ creditworthiness twice a year, in April and in October, in the so-called borrowing base redetermination. The recent drop in the price of oil may prompt banks to be more cautious in their assessments, but still, things look brighter for oil firms than they did in March last year when oil prices were consistently below $40 a barrel.

This time around, analysts expect reductions in credit lines should oil prices drop below $45 until creditworthiness reviews are over, according to Bloomberg.

These assessments are closely connected to the price of oil, given the fact that the value of the companies’ oil and gas reserves serve as the basis for their creditworthiness assumptions.

Nonetheless, reviews are less likely to lead to drastic credit cuts this spring because the companies that have survived the oil price crash have emerged leaner after major cost cuts, asset sales, and focus shifting to easier, cheaper, and more lucrative areas, such as the Permian. U.S. shale players have been locking in future production, and the best drilling areas are now estimated to be profitable at as low a price as $40 per barrel.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Venezuela In Dire Straits As Oil Production Falls Further

Venezuela In Dire Straits As Oil Production Falls Further

Oil Pipe

Venezuela’s economic crisis continues to deepen. The South American OPEC member is thought to be sitting on nearly 300 billion barrels of oil, far more than any other country in the world, including Saudi Arabia (estimated at 268 billion barrels). But the economy has been in freefall for several years, with conditions continuing to deteriorate.

The economic crisis has morphed into a full-blown humanitarian disaster. Just this week the Wall Street Journal reported on Venezuelan women traveling to neighboring Colombia to give birth because the state of Venezuela’s hospitals are horrific, with shortages of medical supplies and trained staff. Infant mortality is worse than in war-ravaged Syria.

Food and other essential items are also painfully scarce, leading to long lines at shops. Tensions run high because there is not enough to go around.

Now even gasoline is running low in Caracas, Reuters reports, an unusual development for the capital city.

Gas shortages suggests problems for Venezuela’s state-owned oil company PDVSA are deepening. The government depends on oil production for more than 90 percent of its export revenues, and the collapse of oil prices back in 2014, coupled with a long-term slide in output, have ruined the company’s finances.

That, in turn, puts even more pressure on PDVSA. A shortage of cash is straining the company’s ability to import refined products as it falls short on bills to suppliers. PDVSA needs to import refined products to dilute its heavy crude oil, but without enough cash, tankers are sitting at ports unable to unload their cargoes. Reuters also says that “many tankers are idle because PDVSA cannot pay for hull cleaning, inspections, and other port services.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

How OPEC Lost The War Against Shale, In One Chart

How OPEC Lost The War Against Shale, In One Chart

At the start of March we showed a fascinating chart from Rystad Energy, demonstrating how dramatic the impact of technological efficiency on collapsing US shale production costs has been: in just the past 3 years, the wellhead breakeven price for key shale plays has collapsed from an average of $80 to the mid-$30s…

… resulting in drastically lower all-in breakevens for most US shale regions.

Today, in a note released by Goldman titled “OPEC: To cut or not to cut, that is the question”, the firm presents a chart which shows just as graphically how exactly OPEC lost the war against US shale: in one word: the cost curve has massively flattened and extended as a result of “shale productivity” driving oil breakeven in the US from $80 to $50-$55, in the process sweeping Saudi Arabia away from the post of global oil price setter to merely inventory manager. 

This is how Goldman explains it:

Shale’s short time to market and ongoing productivity improvements have provided an efficient answer to the industry’s decade-long search for incremental hydrocarbon resources in technically challenging, high cost areas and has kicked off a competition amongst oil producing countries to offer attractive enough contracts and tax terms to attract incremental capital. This is instigating a structural deflationary change in the oil cost curve, as shown in Exhibit 2. This shift has driven low cost OPEC producers to respond by focusing on market share, ramping up production where possible, using their own domestic resources or incentivizing higher activity from the international oil companies through more attractive contract structures and tax regimes. In the rest of the world, projects and countries have to compete for capital, trying to drive costs down to become competitive through deflation, FX and potentially lower tax rates.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Fitch Predicts Drop In Oil Prices By 2017 As U.S. Shale Output Soars

Fitch Predicts Drop In Oil Prices By 2017 As U.S. Shale Output Soars

Oil Rig

Oil bigwigs should take a step back before becoming too comfortable with the new oil price range according to Fitch Ratings’ newest market analysis.

“The recovery in US drilling activity will drive up shale oil production in the second half of 2017, offsetting a portion of recent oil price gains,” the credit rating agency’s report released on Monday says. “We therefore expect average oil prices for the year to be below those in January and February.”

In a stable market scenario, Fitch estimates that by the end of this year, oil prices will fall to $52.50, but then rebound to $55 and then $60 in 2018 and 2019, respectively. Long-term prospects for Brent barrels sit at $65 in this model.

A stressed, oversupplied market will mean a $40 barrel through 2019, however.

Since January, a 1.8 million-barrel global production cut led by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and joined by several other nations has kept prices between the $55-$60 range.

Compliance to the terms of the November deal by members of the bloc has been strong. Last week, new data showed that OPEC’s compliance stood at 94 percent.

Fitch cited the continuous increase of active oil rigs in the United States since May 2016 as key evidence for an impending price collapse. American production is set to top nine million barrels over the course of 2017, the analysts estimate, due to rejuvenated capital expenditure budgets and higher output capacity.

The total number of active oil and gas rigs in the United States is now 756, according to oilfield services provider Baker Hughes, which is 267 rigs above the rig count a year ago.

 

Oil prices set to rise sharply, unless new projects are approved

Oil prices set to rise sharply, unless new projects are approved

Without new investments, oil prices will rise sharply in the next five years, energy conference told

The International Energy Agency says there will be supply problems in three years if a two-year trend in falling oil investments continues into 2017.

The International Energy Agency says there will be supply problems in three years if a two-year trend in falling oil investments continues into 2017. (Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press)

Oil prices are set to rise sharply starting in 2020 if new energy investments are not made this year.

That was the message of the International Energy Agency as the CERAWeek energy conference kicked off in Houston. There’s a worldwide glut of oil now, and the IEA said that supply looks adequate for the next three years, thanks to rising production from U.S. shale producers and Canadian oilsands projects that were sanctioned before the oil price crunch began.

However, oil investments dropped sharply in both 2015 and 2016, and if that trend continues into 2017, there will be a problem in three years.

“We have seen two years in a row of huge declines in upstream investment. If this is the case in 2017, if we don’t see substantial rebound, we may well see that the market tightens around 2020 and the spare production capacity shrinks,” said Fatih Birol, the chairman of the IEA, at a news conference in Houston.

Oil investment globally was $450 billion US in 2016. The IEA is hoping to see that increase by 20 per cent, a further $90 billion US in 2017. In 2016, oil investment in Canada was estimated at $37 billion, and the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers expects it to rise to $44 billion in 2017.

IHS CERAWeek 2016

Fatih Birol, executive director of the International Energy Agency, speaks about the state of the oil industry at the annual IHS CERAWeek global energy conference Monday in Houston. (Pat Sullivan/Associated Press)

Birol made reference to 2008, when prices spiked to more than $140 US per barrel, saying that without new investment, the oil market could be tighter in 2022 than it was in 2008.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Oil Production Vital Statistics February 2017

Oil Production Vital Statistics February 2017

Joint post with Neil Mearns who made all the graphs (CV for Neil).

January was the month that OPEC was supposed to reduce production by 1.2 Mbpd and Russia + others were supposed to cut a further 0.6 Mbpd. Now that the January production data are in we can see that OPEC cut by 1.04 Mbpd and that Russia + FSU cut by 0.1 Mbpd (well within the noise of revisions) and well short of the 0.3+ Mbpd expected. But global C+C+NGLs were down 1.46 Mbpd suggesting that other countries may have intentionally or unintentionally chipped in. Brent began January on $55.05 and ended the month on $54.77. Today it is $55.56. As explained in the feeble OPEC deal the depth of proposed cuts were to shallow when compared to the scale of over-supply and stocks to make a decisive impact on the direction of the oil price.

In January, Libya produced 690,000 bpd, up 70,000 bpd on the month but well short of their target of soon reaching 1 Mbpd. But if Libya (inset map up top) does manage to keep growing production throughout this year this will continue to undermine OPEC efforts to support price.

On 24 February there were 602 oil rigs operating in the USA up from 529 on 6th January as reported last month (Figures 4, 5, 6 and 7). Rising oil drilling activity in the USA will inevitably lead to more oil production at some point. US production was 12.48 Mbpd in January down from 12.51 Mbpd in December (Figure 12). Middle East drilling remains on a cyclical high (Figure 9) while drilling remains in the doldrums everywhere else (Figures 8 and 10).

The following totals compare January 2016 with January 2017:

  • World Total Liquids 96.62/96.39/ -230,000 bpd
  • OPEC 32.00/31.86/-140,000 bpd
  • Russia + FSU 14.19/14.43/ +240,000 bpd
  • Europe OECD  3.55/3.55/ no change
  • Asia 7.67/7.42/ -250,000
  • North America 19.81/19.48/ -330,000 bpd

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Production, Rig Count Surge As Exxon Bets Big On U.S. Shale

Production, Rig Count Surge As Exxon Bets Big On U.S. Shale

US oil rig counts rose for the7th straight week (up 7 to 609) to the highest level since October 2015. 

With production surging back above 9mm b/d – the highest in a year – the trend in the rig count implies considerably more production to come…

And it’s all in the Permian…

And with rig counts rising (in the Permian), production shows no signs of slowing, as OilPrice.com’s Nick Cunningham notes, ExxonMobil’s new CEO Darren Woods announced a dramatic shift towards shale drilling this week, a new strategy that will prioritize drilling thousands of smaller wells while reducing spending on the massive projects that the oil major has long been accustomed to pursuing.

Mr. Woods gave a presentation to investors on March 1, selling his vision after recently taking over from Rex Tillerson, who left to become U.S. Secretary of State. Exxon will now ramp up spending on shale drilling, after watching dozens of smaller companies profit from the surge in production in Texas, North Dakota and elsewhere over the past decade.

Exxon will dedicate a quarter of its 2017 spending budget on shale, putting $5.5 billion into the effort. “More than one quarter of the planned spending this year will be made in high-value, short-cycle opportunities, including in the Permian and Bakken basins,” Exxon wrote in a March 1 statement. The oil major says that it has 5,500 wells in its queue for drilling in the Permian and the Bakken shales, each with a return of 10 percent or more at $40 per barrel.

Exxon was able to build up this inventory of shale wells with the $6.6 billion it spent in January to double its Permian acreage.

The shift towards shale should pay off over time, with a portfolio of thousands of tiny shale wells making up a growing share of the oil major’s production portfolio.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

 

Bankrupting OPEC… One Million Barrels Of Oil At A Time

Bankrupting OPEC… One Million Barrels Of Oil At A Time

The world hasn’t really caught on yet, but OPEC is in serious trouble.  Last year, OPEC’s net oil export revenues collapsed.  How bad?  Well, how about 65% since the oil price peaked in 2012.  To offset falling oil prices and revenues, OPEC nations have resorted to liquidating some of their foreign exchange reserves.

The largest OPEC oil producer and exporter, Saudi Arabia, has seen its Foreign Currency reserves plummet over the past two years… and the liquidation continues.  For example, Saudi Arabia’s foreign exchange reserves declined another $2 billion in December 2016 (source: Trading Economics).

Now, why would Saudi Arabia need to liquidate another $2 billion of its foreign exchange reserves after the price of a barrel of Brent crude jumped to $53.3 in December, up from $44.7 in November??  That was a 13% surge in the price of Brent crude in one month.  Which means, even at $53 a barrel, Saudi Arabia is still hemorrhaging.

Before I get into how bad things are becoming in Saudi Arabia, let’s take a look at the collapse of OPEC net oil export revenues:

The mighty OPEC oil producers enjoyed a healthy $951 billion in net oil export revenues in 2012.  However, this continued to decline along with the rapidly falling oil price and reached a low of $334 billion in 2016.  As I mentioned before, this was a 65% collapse in OPEC oil revenues in just four years.

The last time OPEC net oil export revenues was this low was in 2004.  OPEC oil revenues that year were $370 billion based on average Brent crude price of $38.3.  Compare that to $334 billion in oil revenues in 2016 on an average Brent crude price of $43.5 a barrel.

This huge decline in OPEC oil revenues gutted these countries foreign exchange reserves.  Which means, the falling EROI- Energy Returned On Investment is taking a toll on the OPEC oil exporting countries bottom line.  A perfect example of this is taking place in Saudi Arabia.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Chinese Import Data Suggests OPEC Is Lying About A Production Cut

Chinese Import Data Suggests OPEC Is Lying About A Production Cut

To those cynics who accuse the self-monitoring OPEC, and its various adjunct agencies, of lying that it has implemented last year’s agreed upon production cuts, China just released January crude import data, which validates this skepticism.

As JPMorgan writes, while IEA estimated the OPEC crude oil production fell by 1mbd to 32.06mbd in January, suggesting an initial compliance of 90% with the output agreement reached end 2016, the latest oil supply details released by China customs today suggest a reduction of supplies was not yet seen by China, the world’s largest oil importer. 

In fact, quite the contrary: crude oil shipments from the 11 OPEC nations committed to a 1.2mbd output cut increased by 28% yoy, and more importantly, rose 4% from December 2016 – in a time when production was supposed to be declining – to 4.6mbd in January, accounting for 57% of China’s total oil imports. 

Ironically, if anyone was cutting it was the non-OPEC nations, mostly Russia, who foolishly assumed that Saudi Arabia et al would be true to their word: non-OPEC countries led by Russia that also agreed to a cut boosted their January supplies to China by 40% yoy, but saw a 10% drop sequentially, in line contractual expectations. Comparing January 2017 levels with the 2016 average, China’s crude oil imports from the committed OPEC and non-OPEC producers gained 6%/13% respectively, while the country’s total oil imports gained 5%.

 Some details:
  • Saudi, Angola and Iran lead OPEC supply growth to China. According to the China Customs’ buy country oil supply data, Saudi Arabia boosted shipments to China by 19% yoy and 41% mom to 1.19mbd in January (16% growth versus the 2016 average). Imports from Angola increased by 63% yoy and 46% mom to 1.17 mbd last month (33% higher than 2016 average), while volumes from Iraq jumped by 43% yoy  and 12% mom to 0.83mbd (14% higher than 2016 average).

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

 

Rising oil production will push Alberta economy to fastest growth in country in 2017: Conference Board

Rising oil production will push Alberta economy to fastest growth in country in 2017: Conference Board

Solid increases in oil production, Fort McMurray rebuild will be the difference in Alberta this year

The Conference Board of Canada forecasts Alberta will see a 2.8 per cent growth in real GDP in 2017.

The Conference Board of Canada forecasts Alberta will see a 2.8 per cent growth in real GDP in 2017. (Larry MacDougal/Canadian Press)

After two difficult years, Alberta’s economy is climbing out of recession thanks in part to oil prices, but the Conference Board of Canada warns the road to a full recovery will be long.

In its winter quarterly report released Thursday, the board projects Alberta will lead the country in terms of real GDP growth in 2017, which is forecast at 2.8 per cent.

“The recent stability in oil prices has encouraged optimism that the worst is over, laying the foundation for a modest gradual recovery in capital spending in the energy sector,” the report said.

Oil prices are expected to remain low, which will hinder economic recovery and pull overall real GDP growth down to 1.9 per cent in 2018, the report says.

The OPEC factor

However, an agreement made between Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and non-OPEC countries in late 2016 to cut crude oil production by 1.8 million barrels per day supports a stronger price outlook for Alberta’s energy sector, the report says.

While OPEC restrains itself, Alberta’s output is forecast to increase, as new oilsands projects come online.

The price of crude oil is also expected to rise to almost $60 US by the end of 2018.

That energy sector recovery is good for the Canadian economy as a whole, according to Marie-Christine Bernard with the Conference Board.

“There was very weak growth for Canada as a whole in the last two years,” she said.

“The difficulties in the resource sector and in particular in the energy sector really hurt investment. That really pulled economic growth down in Canada to one and one-and-a-half per cent on average over the last two years.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Biggest Gasoline Glut In 27 Years Could Crash Oil Markets

Biggest Gasoline Glut In 27 Years Could Crash Oil Markets

Distillate tanks

Oil prices are stuck in a holding pattern, waiting for more definitive data on what comes next. OPEC compliance is helping keep prices afloat, but rising U.S. oil production is acting as a counterweight.

A new problem that has suddenly emerged is the record levels of gasoline sitting in storage. The market has already had to digest the fact that U.S. crude oil stocks were rising, and investors have done their best to explain away the trend. But now gasoline inventories are climbing to unexpected heights.

It would be one thing if crude stocks were rising, perhaps because refiners were going offline for maintenance. But if that were the case, then gasoline stocks would draw down on lower refining runs. But if both crude and refined product inventories are going up at the same time, then there should be some reasons for worry.

In fact, the glut of gasoline is now the worst in 27 years. At 259 million barrels, U.S. gasoline storage levels are now at their highest level since the EIA began tracking the data back in 1990.

(Click to enlarge)

Part of the reason for the glut, of course, are high levels of production. Although gasoline production ebbs and flows seasonally, U.S. production has been on an upward trend in recent years. Instead of bouncing around in a range of 8.5 to 9.5 million barrels per day before 2014, U.S. production since the collapse of oil prices has steadily climbed to a range of 9 to 10 mb/d.

(Click to enlarge)

But that increase came in order to satisfy rising demand (which, of course, was stoked by lower prices). More demand should have soaked up that excess supply. However, that is where the problem gets worse. Lately, U.S. demand has faltered.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

US Shale Production To Soar By 3.5 Million Barrels/Day Over Next Five Years: BofA Explains Why

US Shale Production To Soar By 3.5 Million Barrels/Day Over Next Five Years: BofA Explains Why

Two years ago, when Saudi Arabia launched on an unprecedented campaign to crush high-cost oil producers, in the process effectively putting an end to the OPEC cartel (at least until last year’s attempt to cut production), it made a bold bet that US shale producers would be swept under when the price of oil tumbled, leading to a tsunami of bankruptcies, as well as investment and production halts. To an extent it succeeded, but where it may have made a glaring error is the core assumption about shale breakeven costs, which as we reported throughout 2016, were substantially lower than consensus estimated.

In his latest note, BofA’s Francisco Blanch explains not only why a drop in shale breakevens costs is what is currently the biggest wildcard in the global race to reach production “equilibrium”, but also why US shale oil production could surge in the coming years, prompting OPEC to boost production in hopes of recapturing market share.  Specifically, Blanch predicts that US shale oil production could grow by a whopping 3.5 million barrels per day over the next five years.

Here’s why: as he explains “many oil companies around the world have survived the price meltdown by bringing down breakeven costs in the last two years.

But what parts of the world can grow output in the years ahead? In BofA’s view, US shale oil producers will come out ahead and deliver outsized market share gains by 2022. Shale oil output in the US may grow sequentially by 600 thousand b/d from 4Q16 to 4Q17 on increased activity in oil rigs and fast productivity gains. Importantly, breakeven costs for key major US plays now stand around the $55/bbl mark.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Norway Doubles Down On Arctic Oil

Norway Doubles Down On Arctic Oil

Statoil oil operation

While Canada and the U.S. ban Arctic drilling for oil and gas motivated by environmental concerns, and majors such as Shell pull out of their Arctic projects due to financial pressures, Norwegian energy companies are planning to increase drilling in the country’s Arctic shelf in the Barents Sea.

It seems that the limited oil price increase that followed OPEC’s production cut deal has been enough for Statoil and Lundin to decide to allocate more funds to Arctic drilling, especially since the price rise has been accompanied by a major discovery for Lundin and a likely future major discovery for Statoil.

Lundin announced earlier this month that it had struck a deposit holding between 35 and 100 million barrels of oil equivalent in its Filicudi prospect in the southern Barents Sea. According to the company, which is exploring the prospect in partnership with Aker BP and Dea, Filicudi may contain as much as 700 million barrels of oil equivalent.

Statoil, for its part, is gearing up for a major drilling campaign focusing on what could turn out to be the largest field in Norway’s Arctic shelf: the Korpfjell field. Dubbed an elephant, Korpfjell may hold up to 10 billion barrels of crude, not least because of its immediate proximity to another promising deposit, the Perseevsky oil prospect in the Russian section of the Arctic. Perseevsky is being explored by Rosneft in partnership with Statoil.

Naturally, there is major environmental opposition to this Arctic foray: Greenpeace, Bloomberg recalls, last year launched a lawsuit against the Norwegian government for awarding exploration licenses in the Barents Sea. The case will be heard this fall.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

 

Risk, double-edged swords and imagining the worst

Risk, double-edged swords and imagining the worst

A friend of mine recently said that intellectual honesty often requires imagining the worst. Of course, in the study of climate change and natural resources one needs only to read the analyses of scientists to imagine the worst.

Imagining the worst in not necessarily the same as believing the worst is inevitable or even likely. It can be merely a standard part of both scenario and emergency planning. Of course, imagining the worst can also be a double-edged sword with a sinister edge, sometimes eliciting Richard Hofstadter’s paranoid style of politics.

When we imagine the worst concerning our political opponents or our enemies (sadly often placed into the same category), this is merely a reflex designed to justify our own hatreds and also a tool for broadly smearing those with whom we disagree. Clearly, this is not the same as seeking out solid evidence and using logic to construct a worst-case scenario.

In scenario planning the whole point is to consider seriously a range of possible outcomes and formulate plans for dealing with those outcomes. For example, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) reference case for world oil production (defined as crude oil and lease condensate) shows it rising from about 76 million barrels per day (mbpd) in 2012 to 99.5 mbpd in 2040. The low production case is 92 mbpd and the high production case is almost 103 mbpd.

You may feel that this range doesn’t reflect more extreme scenarios, but at least the agency offers a range. Some forecasters pretend to know to the second decimal point the future of oil production and reserves decades hence. It’s hard to put this down to anything but hubris.

Compare these forecasts to a forecast based on much sounder data, this one made by an EIA researcher in 2009 about how much oil we would have to find and deliver to meet rather extravagant future demand expectations:

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai II: Exodus
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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Olduvai III: Cataclysm
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