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The Shale Boom That Will Never Happen

The Shale Boom That Will Never Happen

oil rig dusk

When the National Hydrocarbons Commission of Mexico scheduled its first-ever shale tender for September this year, the July elections were obviously not front and center in the thoughts of its management. Yet now, this tender may be as good as gone after President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said last week,“We will no longer use that method to extract petroleum.”

Obrador was responding to a question about the risks of hydraulic fracturing, the technology that enabled the U.S. shale oil and gas boom and that some believed could be replicated in Mexico, especially for gas production.

The Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimated in 2013 that Mexico has unproved but technically recoverable shale gas resources of 545.2 trillion cubic feet. Most of this, around 343 trillion cubic feet plus about 6.3 billion barrels of oil (half of the total shale oil resource base), is located in the Burgos Basin, which is connected to the Eagle Ford shale play in Texas and covers a much larger area.

While these resources remain largely untapped, Mexico’s natural gas demand is rising, and with it, the country’s dependence on U.S. imports. The Energy Ministry estimated at the beginning of this year that gas demand will average 8.32 billion cubic feet in 2018, compared with 7.99 billion cubic feet in 2017. This will further rise to 9.66 billion cubic feet in 2019. By 2031, gas demand will have risen by 26.8 percent from 2016 levels, the ministry, known as SENER, said at the time.

To date, Mexico imports as much as 85 percent of the gas it consumes, the head of the Hydrocarbons Commission, Juan Carlos Zepeda, recently said, adding that this makes increasing natural gas production a higher priority than boosting oil production. Such a heavy reliance on imports, according to Zepeda, carries not just geopolitical risk but also operational risks: a natural disaster could disrupt supply.

Why Saudi Oil Production Suddenly Dropped

Why Saudi Oil Production Suddenly Dropped

Oil jacks

As if oil market participants haven’t had enough conflicting market forces to digest over the past week, reports that Saudi Arabia’s crude oil production surprisingly dropped in July by around 200,000 bpd from June further confounded the market and sent oil prices rising on Monday.

Last week, several surveys of OPEC’s crude oil production in July showed that the cartel is pumping at high rates, and Saudi Arabia is nearing its production record. But on Friday, Saudi sources and OPEC sources told news agencies that the Saudi oil production was not even close to record figures—and it actually dropped last month compared to June.

The Saudis pumped 10.29 million bpd in July, Saudi sources told S&P Global Platts on Friday. On the same day, two OPEC sources told Reuters that Saudi Arabia’s crude oil production in July was 10.29 million bpd.

According to OPEC’s secondary sources, the ones the cartel uses to calculate quotas and compliance, Saudi Arabia’s oil production had jumped in June by 405,400 bpd compared to May, to reach 10.420 million bpd.

According to a Reuters survey from last week, Saudi Arabia’s production in July was 10.65 million bpd, but exports were close to June’s levels because the Saudis increased domestic use at power plants and refineries. OPEC’s crude oil production jumped by 340,000 bpd in July from June, as Saudi Arabia pumped near-record volumes, the S&P Global Platts survey showed on Friday.

The numbers leaked by Saudi and OPEC sources on Friday are in stark contrast with many of the surveys.

Some of the Platts survey participants think that Saudi Arabia may have trouble placing its barrels on the market, and demand for Saudi crude may not have been as robust as the Kingdom had expected.

“I think what they’re trying to do is, there’s a story in the market that the Saudis and the UAE and Kuwaitis and Russians were all vastly increasing production well ahead of any cutbacks from Iran, and I think they are trying to change the narrative,” a Platts survey participant said.

Canada’s Biggest Producer Cuts Drilling As Heavy Oil Price Tumbles

Canada’s Biggest Producer Cuts Drilling As Heavy Oil Price Tumbles

Roughnecks at work

Canada Natural Resources, the largest producer, is allocating capital to lighter oil drilling and is curtailing heavy oil production as the price of Canadian heavy oil tumbled to a nearly five-year-low relative to the U.S. benchmark price.

Due to the transportation bottlenecks, the discount at which Western Canadian Select (WCS)—the benchmark price of oil from Canada’s oil sands delivered at Hardisty, Alberta—trades relative to WTI has been more than US$20 this year.

On Thursday, that discount blew out to US$30.80 a barrel—the largest WCS-WTI differential since December 2013, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Canada Natural Resources said on Thursday in its Q2 results release that its North America crude oil and natural gas liquids (NGLs) production in the second quarter dropped by 3 percent from the first quarter of 2018, primarily as a result of production curtailments and shut-in volumes of around 10,350 bpd as well as reduced drilling activity and delayed completion and ramp up of certain primary heavy crude oil wells drilled in Q1 and Q2.

“Due to current market conditions the Company has exercised its capital flexibility by shifting capital from primary heavy crude oil to light crude oil in 2018, resulting in an additional 7 net light crude oil wells targeted to be drilled in the second half of the year. Primary heavy crude oil drilling was reduced by 24 net primary heavy crude oil wells in Q2/18, with an additional 35 primary heavy crude oil well reduction targeted for the second half of the year,” Canada Natural Resources said yesterday.

Canada is producing record amounts of heavy oil from the oil sands and its economic recovery is driven by the oil industry, but drillers are finding it increasingly difficult to get this oil to market because pipelines are running at capacity and new ones are finding opposition from various groups.

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

U.S. & World Oil Production and ExxonMobil Outlook

U.S. & World Oil Production and ExxonMobil Outlook

Here are the latest oil production numbers from the EIA. All data is in thousand barrels per day unless otherwise noted.

The USA through May 2018. The upward surge has stalled for the last two months. US production was down 30,000 bpd in May.

It is a little astonishing how close the Texas chart resembles the USA chart. Texas is, by far, the USA’s largest producer. As Texas goes, so goes the USA. Texas production was up 20,000 bpd in May.

North Dakota production has increased significantly in the last two months. They were up 67,000 bpd in April and up another 25,000 bpd in May.

Gulf of Mexico production was down 99,000 bpd in April and down another 75,000 bpd in May.

Alaska was down only 1,000 bpd in may but that was 12,000 bpd lower than last may. They are now entering the maintenance season. Expect huge drops in June and July.

The EIA data in this chart is through April and the National Energy Board data is <b>estimated</b> through December 2018. The EIA data is usually lower than the NEB data but they both agree on April production.

World crude oil production was up 326,000 bpd in <b>April.</b>

Non-OPEC production reached a new peak in April, up 405,000 bpd to 47,159,000 bpd. Most of that increase was Canada, up 317,000 and the U.K., up 111,000 bpd.

Here I am adding a few charts and comments from ExxonMobil’s 2018 Outlook for Energy: A View to 2040. Their text is in italics. Any bold in their text is mine.

• Technology improvements lead to wind, solar and biofuels increasing, with a combined growth of about 5 percent per year
• Non-fossil fuels reach about 22 percent of total energy mix by 2040
• Oil continues to provide the largest share of the energy mix; essential for transportation and chemicals
• Natural gas demand rises the most, largely to help meet increasing needs for electricity and support increasing industrial demand

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

The U.S. Oil Production “Mirage”

The U.S. Oil Production “Mirage”

Oil rig dusk

Some of the surge in U.S. oil production this past spring might have been “a mirage.”

On July 31, the EIA released monthly data on U.S. oil production, which revealed a decline in U.S. output of 30,000 bpd in May, compared to a month earlier. The dip is a surprise, given the widespread assumption that U.S. shale production was continuing to grow at a blistering pace.

To be sure, a big reason for the decline in overall output was the 75,000-bpd decline in production from offshore Gulf of Mexico. But Texas production only rose by 20,000 bpd, a disappointing figure that likely came in far below what most analysts had expected.

Moreover, the monthly total of 10.442 million barrels per day (mb/d) for May is sharply lower than what EIA itself thought at the time. Here are the weekly estimates for U.S. oil production that the EIA put out back then:

April 6: 10.525 mb/d
April 13: 10.540 mb/d
April 20: 10.586 mb/d
April 27: 10.619 mb/d
May 4: 10.703 mb/d
May 11: 10.723 mb/d
May 18: 10.725 mb/d
May 25: 10.769 mb/d

The weekly estimates tend to be less accurate than the retrospective monthly numbers. That is not a new dynamic, and estimating on a weekly basis inherently involves a lot of guesswork, so this is not a knock on the EIA.

Yet the discrepancy is rather striking. Not only did the EIA estimate that production in April and May was much higher than it actually was, but the agency also thought production was rising quickly.

If the weekly estimates were to be believed at the time, production would have climbed from 10.525 mb/d in early April to 10.769 mb/d by the end of May, an increase of 244,000 bpd over a roughly eight-week period.

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

Top U.S. Shale Oil Fields Decline Rate Reaches New Record…. Half Million Barrels Per Day

Top U.S. Shale Oil Fields Decline Rate Reaches New Record…. Half Million Barrels Per Day

While the U.S. reached a new record of 11 million barrels of oil production per day last week, the top five shale oil fields also suffered the highest monthly decline rate ever.  This is bad news for the U.S. shale industry as it must produce more and more oil each month, to keep oil production from falling.

According to the newest EIA Drilling Productivity Report, the top five U.S. Shale Oil fields monthly oil decline rate is set to surpass a half million barrels per day in August.  Thus, the companies will have to produce at last 500,000 barrels of new oil next month just to keep production flat.

Here are the individual shale oil field charts from the EIA’s July Drilling Productivity Report:

The figures that are shown above the UP arrow denote the forecasted new production added next month while the figures above the DOWN arrow provide the monthly legacy decline rate.  For example, the chart on the bottom right-hand side is for the Permian Region.  The EIA forecasts that the Permian will add 296,000 barrels per day (bpd) of new shale oil production in August, while the existing wells in the field will decline by 223,000 bpd.

If we add up these top five shale oil fields monthly decline rate for August will be 503,000 bpd.  Thus, the shale oil companies must produce at least 503,000 bpd of new oil supply next month just to keep production from falling.  And, we must remember, this decline rate will continue to increase as shale oil production rises.

We can see this in the following chart below.  Again, according to the EIA’s figures, the top five U.S. shale oil fields monthly legacy decline rate increased from 398,000 bpd in January to 503,000 bpd for August:

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

Oil Jumps After Saudis Say August Exports To Slide

Trump is about to have another OPEC twitter meltdown.

With oil sliding in recent days on a combination of greater inventory builds and production increases both in the US and in places like Libya and Canada, moments ago WTI jumped as much as 1.6% after it was  trading as much as -1.4% following a Bloomberg report that Saudi Arabia claims that they expect a “substantial stock draws due to robust demand” in the second half, that Saudi crude exports in July will be equal to June’s and that August exports will drop by 100kb/d.

This is notable as so far this month, third party sources have reported that Saudi exports have been far lower than the large production increase that was supposed to happen.

The statement by the Saudi Energy Ministry also notes that an oversupplied market “repels potential investment in the oil industry, curtailing future supply”, and finally that Saudi Arabia will “only export barrels that are earmarked to match confirmed lifting requests by end users, and does not try to push oil into the market beyond its customers’ needs.”

The most likely reason for the sharp kneejerk higher is that many of the shorts that had piled on in recent days got spooked and promptly covered, sending WTI just shy of $70, a $2 swing on the day, and a move that may lead Trump to further angry tweeting in the next few hours.

Oil Prices Crash As Libya Resumes Production

Oil Prices Crash As Libya Resumes Production

oil rig

Oil prices fell sharply on Wednesday on news that Libya was suddenly set to restore hundreds of thousands of barrels per day, and the U.S. struck a softer line on Iran sanctions.

Brent sank more than 6 percent during midday trading on Wednesday, as Libya’s National Oil Corp. (NOC) said that it would lift the force majeure on several major export terminals and resume shipments of oil.

The standoff with General Khalid Haftar appeared to be on its way to some sort of resolution, with the militia handing the ports back over to the internationally-recognized NOC in Tripoli. As is always the case with Libya, the situation is fluid, and any return of production does not come with a guarantee that it will be sustained.

But for now, some 700,000 bpd could swiftly come back online. The outage in Libya had helped drive up oil prices over the past few weeks, fueling speculation that Saudi Arabia would need to burn through much of its spare capacity in order to keep the market well-supplied. The timing was also crucial: Libya’s outage was unexpected, and it came just as Canada temporarily lost 350,000 bpd and the expected interruptions from Iran were revised higher due to a hardline from the U.S. on sanctions.

“The lifting of force majeure at all the Libyan ports will certainly come as relief from a supply perspective, but it remains to be seen how quickly exports can return to normal,” Harry Tchilinguirian, head of oil strategy at BNP Paribas, told Reuters Global Oil Forum.

Another factor pushing down oil prices midweek were the comments from U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who seemed to soften America’s position as it relates to how severely it would treat countries buying Iranian oil.

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

How Bad Is Iran’s Oil Situation?

How Bad Is Iran’s Oil Situation?

Oil

The U.S. government has continued its attempts to shut down Iran’s oil exports, and in recent days Iranian officials responded by threatening to block the Strait of Hormuz. Such an outcome is highly unlikely, but the war of words demonstrates how quickly the confrontation is escalating.

Oil prices spiked in late June when a U.S. State Department official said that countries would be expected to cut their imports of oil from Iran down to “zero.” The official also suggested that it would be unlikely that the Trump administration would grant any waivers.

This hard line stance fueled a rally in oil prices as the oil market was quickly forced to recalibrate expected losses from Iran, with a general consensus changing from a loss of around 500,000 bpd by the end of the year, to something more like 1 million barrels per day (mb/d), or even as high as 2.0 to 2.5 mb/d in a worst-case scenario in which all countries comply.

A loss of that magnitude would be hard to offset, even if Saudi Arabia decides to burn throughall of its spare capacity.

That led to a dialing back of the rhetoric from the Trump administration, or so it seemed. A follow-up statement from the State Department suggested that the U.S. government would work with countries on a “case-by-case basis” to lower Iranian oil imports. High oil prices seemed to put pressure on Washington.

But for now, there is no policy shift. “I think there’s going to be very few waivers. That’s what we’re hearing all the time from officials across the administration. I think it’s a very strong policy decision,” Brenda Shaffer, an adjunct professor at Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service, told Oilprice.com.

Time will tell, but early evidence suggests that the Trump administration is having success convincing top buyers of Iranian crude to curtail their purchases.

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

Russian Oil Production Soars To 11.193 Million Bpd

Russian Oil Production Soars To 11.193 Million Bpd

Oil

In line with its agreement with OPEC to reverse part of the cuts, Russia is boosting its crude oil production, pumping as much as 11.193 million bpd in the first four days of July, up from 11.06 million bpd in June, Reuters reported on Thursday, quoting a source familiar with the data.

Last month, Russia and OPEC’s largest producer and de facto leader Saudi Arabia managed to get OPEC and their Moscow-led non-OPEC allies to agree to boost production by unspecified quotas for individual countries part of the pact, to ‘ease market and consumer anxiety’ over the high oil prices. According to Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak, Russia’s share of the 1-million-bpd total OPEC/non-OPEC increase could be around 200,000 bpd.

Before the decision to reverse some of the cuts—or as OPEC and allies put it, to stick to 100-percent compliance rates—Russia’s pledge in the pact was to cut 300,000 bpd of its oil production from the October 2016 level, which was the country’s highest monthly production in almost 30 years—11.247 million bpd.

Even before the OPEC and friends meeting, Russia had already started boosting its oil production, and had pumped as much as 11.09 million bpd in the first week of June—143,000 bpd above the country’s then-quota under the OPEC+ production cut deal.

Just before the meeting, all signs were pointing to Russia gearing up for a jump in its oil production, with plans for exports and refinery runs in the coming months indicating that Moscow was preparing to increase its oil production as early as this month.

Earlier this week, Russia’s Novak and his Saudi counterpart Khalid al-Falih discussed the latest developments on the oil market and exchanged information about their countries’ plans for production to meet summer demand, Russia’s energy ministry said in a statement. The decision to ease the combined OPEC/non-OPEC compliance rate from 147 percent in May 2018 to 100 percent starting July 1 equates to adding around 1 million bpd on the market, the statement said.

Saudi Arabia Won’t Bring 2 Million Bpd Online

Saudi Arabia Won’t Bring 2 Million Bpd Online

Oil tanker

President Trump said in a tweet on Saturday that Saudi Arabia agreed to boost oil production by 2 million barrels per day (mb/d), a claim that surely came as news to the Saudis.


Just spoke to King Salman of Saudi Arabia and explained to him that, because of the turmoil & disfunction in Iran and Venezuela, I am asking that Saudi Arabia increase oil production, maybe up to 2,000,000 barrels, to make up the difference…Prices to high! He has agreed!


The tightening of the oil market has pushed up prices, which is always a concern for U.S. politicians wary of catching heat from their constituents.

The decision by OPEC+ in June to hike production by 1 mb/d looks increasingly inadequate in dealing with the growing number of supply outages around the world. It’s no surprise that Trump wants more Saudi oil on the market, but he likely misunderstood what the Saudis told him.

Saudi Arabia was producing 10 mb/d in May and recent reports suggest they might add as much as 800,000 bpd to 1 mb/d in July, a massive increase in such a short period of time.

But it’s a far cry from the 2 mb/d that Trump thinks Saudi Arabia will add. That would translate into overall production of around 12 mb/d, which is probably unrealistic for a few reasons.

First, there are technical questions about how far and how fast Saudi Arabia can push its oil fields. Can they ramp up to 12 mb/d? Probably, but there is not a lot of historical evidence to go on. Also, they probably can’t do it immediately, it would take time, perhaps more than a year.

The second – and more important – reason why Saudi Arabia won’t comply with Trump’s wishes to add another 2 mb/d onto the market is that they don’t want to.

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

How the Iran sanctions drama intersects with OPEC-plus

How the Iran sanctions drama intersects with OPEC-plus

Major states buying oil from Iran are unlikely to heed the US call to drop imports; key allies want a waiver to avoid sanctions; OPEC, meanwhile, will have trouble boosting output in the short-term; the puzzle is not solved, but there are dark clouds

A file photo taken in March 2017 shows an oil facility on Khark Island, on the Gulf. The US warned this week that countries must stop buying Iranian oil before November 4 or face economic sanctions. A State Dept official said tightening the noose on Tehran was a top national security priority. Photo: AFP/ Atta Kenare

A file photo taken in March 2017 shows an oil facility on Khark Island, on the Gulf. The US warned this week that countries must stop buying Iranian oil before November 4 or face economic sanctions. A State Dept official said tightening the noose on Tehran was a top national security priority. Photo: AFP/ Atta Kenare

Iran Furious After Trump Calls Saudi King, Demands 2MM Barrel Production Boost 

Update: as expected, it did not take long for Iran – which has the most to lose from any Saudi output hike which would not only send the price of oil lower but also allow Riyadh to capture Iran’s sanctioned market  share – to respond, and moments ago Bloomberg reported that in an interview with Hossein Kazempour Ardebili, Iran’s OPEC governor, he said that “if Saudi Arabia accepts U.S. President Donald Trump’s request to boost output, that means he is calling on them to walk out from OPEC.

“We are 15 countries in an agreement. Set aside that they do not have the capacity, there is no way one country could go 2 million b/d above their production allocation unless they are walking out of OPEC.”

Well, if they don’t have the capacity (which they do), there is no reason to be concerned. And yet Iran is precisely that, and considering that Trump said Saudi Arabia has “agreed” to his demand, we may have just witnessed the end of OPEC.

* * *

Earlier this week, when within minutes of each other, news hit last Tuesday that first Saudi Arabia would boost production to a record 10.8mmb/d, an increase of nearly 1 million barrels per day from the Kingodm’s current 10.03mmb/d output, only to be followed almost immediately by a warning from the State Department advising US allies of a crackdown on Iran, and demanding they cut their Iranian oil exports to 0 by the Nov. 4 deadline, oil first dipped then spiked, as the market weighed the news of the potential drop in Iranian production far more than any potential Saudi output: after all that was already largely priced in during last weekend’s OPEC summit.

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

Can Trump Counter Soaring Gasoline Prices?

Can Trump Counter Soaring Gasoline Prices?

Ethanol plant

Oil prices surged to their highest level in more than three years on Thursday, as the number and volume of supply outages continues to rise. The odds of a significant shortfall in supply are also growing by the day. With U.S. midterm elections nearing, the more oil prices continue to rise, the more likely it is that President Trump decides to tap the strategic petroleum reserve (SPR) to tamp down oil prices just ahead of the November vote.

The 180-degree turnaround in the oil market from May is pretty staggering, even for an oil market steeped in volatility and uncertainty. In late May, rumors of higher output from Saudi Arabia and Russia led to a crash in prices, and led to speculation of another lengthy downturn. By late June, however, it isn’t clear that even a massive 1-million-barrel-per-day increase from OPEC+ will be enough to fill the worsening supply gap.

That means higher oil prices are likely. WTI has spiked by about $8 per barrel since last week, and continues to climb higher. “We are in a very attractive oil price environment and our house view is that oil will hit $90 by the end of the second quarter of next year,” Hootan Yazhari, head of frontier markets equity research at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, said. “We are moving into an environment where supply disruptions are visible all over the world… and of course President Trump has been pretty active in trying to isolate Iran and getting U.S. allies not to purchase oil from Iran,” he added.

As has been widely reported, the Trump administration has aggressively pressed Saudi Arabia to boost output to offset declines from Iran. Saudi Arabia has complied, promising to ramp up output to about 11 mb/d in July, up from less than 10 mb/d in May. It’s an astounding increase, both in terms of volume and the speed of the increase.

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

The Saudis Won’t Prevent The Next Oil Shock

The Saudis Won’t Prevent The Next Oil Shock

Oil rig

Saudi Arabia is starting to panic, and is growing concerned that the growing number of supply disruptions around the world could cause oil prices to spike. Saudi Arabia is moving quickly to head off a supply crunch, aiming to dramatically ramp up production to a record high 11 million barrels per day in July, according to Reuters.

The increase, if it can be pulled off, would be an incredibly rapid ramp up in output, up more than 1 million barrels per day (mb/d) from May levels.

How this plan fits into the latest OPEC+ deal remains to be seen. It was only a few days ago that Saudi Arabia and its coalition partners said that they would add 1 mb/d of supply back onto the market, with many of them acknowledging that, in reality, the figures would be closer to 600,000 bpd because of the inability of so many producers to ratchet up output.

As such, the addition of 1 mb/d from Saudi Arabia alone would lead to the OPEC+ group exceeding the production levels they just committed to, after factoring in additions from Russia and other Gulf States.

However, the surge in output does not need to exported, at least not right away. Saudi Arabia could divert extra barrels into storage. Moreover, higher output is needed during summer months anyway because the country burns oil for electricity, which spikes amid hot summer temperatures. So some of the extra production will be consumed domestically.

Still, an industry source told Reuters that the increase in output “will go to the market,” although the details are unclear. Bloomberg reports that shipments from Saudi Arabia to Aramco’s overseas storage facility in Egypt have already been on the rise this month.

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

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