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Oil Spreads Trading at Historically Unrealizable Levels

Outright oil prices have continued to rally this year as economies recover from impaired pandemic levels, however calendar spreads have been unable to realize their bullish intent. In fact, calendar spread structures have continued to disappoint into expiration.

In some respects this is less about a failure of the front-month contract heading into expiration and more about a handing-off of strength to the next contract, which narrows the front spread into expiration.

The close-knit nature of 1-month spreads relative to moves in flat price may not reveal a useful pattern. Towards that end, when we lengthen our spread analysis to incorporate more time into the picture (6 or 12 month spreads vs 1 month spreads), the pattern becomes more visible. The pattern being that bullish sentiment is portrayed through calendar spreads until expiration. In both cases (the Dec/Dec 12 month spread and the Dec/June/Dec front vs back condor spread) are prone to follow market sentiment and rally along with flat price only to fail as expiration approaches.

At the moment, both of these spreads are approaching levels that have been UNREALIZABLE in the past.

What does this mean going forward?? Are we likely to see spreads break historical records to the upside before pulling back into expiration, or will we finally realize historical highs in backwardation? To unpack this we start with inventories. First we break the year down in to the first half versus the second half and then compare the changes in these 2 periods over time and also against their 5-year average (ex 2020), highlighted in yellow below.
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Unstoppable Oil Could Be Nail In Coffin For Stocks

Unstoppable Oil Could Be Nail In Coffin For Stocks

Stock investors worried about inflation should pay close attention to the rising price of oil. It could be the final kick needed to derail the consumer-spending spree behind the U.S.’s surging growth. From groceries to housing materials to gasoline, life is getting expensive for the average American, even those lucky enough to hold on to their jobs through the pandemic.

Take food. In the last six months alone, the Bloomberg Agriculture Subindex has risen 20% — a margin not seen since 2010-2012. That was when the world’s supplies were roiled by a series of global weather events, including a severe U.S. drought and a massive Russian fire that destroyed some of the nation’s grain crop. Countries where bread is a staple, like Egypt and Tunisia, were hit badly. Geopolitical analysts say it helped set off the Arab Spring.

Not that anything so dramatic seems to be building up. But it’s worth realizing the real-world consequences of climbing raw material prices like we’re seeing right now.

Oil prices have returned to levels last seen in 2018 before the trade war with China began. In the first half of 2021, oil rose 45% on the heels of a gain of some 26% in the six months before. It’s now around $75 a barrel and strategists and trading houses are predicting it will hit $100. As much as it may help producers, it’s bad news for consumer-driven economies like the U.S.

That’s where it matters for stocks. Consumer spending is already moderating and the effects of the fiscal stimulus will likely roll off by September-end. Rising prices from groceries to gas will likely result in less spending and traveling. And that means less revenue — and likely earnings — for many segments of corporate America.

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Brace For Shock At The Pump: WTI Surges Above $75 As OPEC+ Raises Output Less Than Expected

Brace For Shock At The Pump: WTI Surges Above $75 As OPEC+ Raises Output Less Than Expected

Brace for shock at the pump. WTI crude prices surged by over $2, rising more than 3% to $75.8/bbl…

… the highest since 2018…

… amid reports that ahead of the conclusion of today’s OPEC, JMMC and OPEC+ meetings, Saudi Arabia and Russia have agreed on a preliminary deal regarding raising oil output, one which will include a monthly oil output increase of less than 500k bpd to OPEC’s current holdback of 5.8 million barrels until December-2021, which is less than the market consensus of 500kbp/d. Reuters adds that OPEC+ is also likely to ease oil output cuts by 2 million bpd between August and December, which suggest that OPEC+ is weighing inflation risks in the short-term, however by year-end the market is expected to be in a deficit of over 3mmb/d, which is why most banks have projected oil to rise above $85 toward the end of the second half.

Additionally, local sources add that OPEC+ is currently debating extending the production deal to the end of 2022 (from the original April 2022), according to a delegate, which will lead to the further supply constraints and even higher prices.

While OPEC+ intentions should hardly be a surprise to the market, the fact that oil prices are only now spiking shows how far behind the curve algos and CTAs have been. Or as energy expert Art Berman puts it, “So much commentary about how OPEC doesn’t matter any more yet today so many tweets expressing frustration with OPEC for not increasing supply.”

The OPEC+ meeting is happening against a backdrop of tightening supply. Crude inventories in the U.S. are falling at the fastest rate in decades, while shale producers are remaining disciplined with their spending and won’t overwhelm OPEC, ConocoPhillips Chief Executive Officer Ryan Lance said on Wednesday…

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Oil Prices Set To Head Even Higher As Market Tightens

Oil Prices Set To Head Even Higher As Market Tightens

Solid oil demand is driving up the spot crude prices in every part of the world. This is a clear indication that the physical oil market is finally catching up with the recent rally in the paper market.

The strengthening appetite for crude in Asia and tightening regional markets due to changed differentials between regional benchmarks are, in turn, supportive of the oil futures rally, analysts and traders tell Reuters.

The surging premium of Brent over the Middle Eastern benchmark Dubai now makes shipping crude grades from the Atlantic Basin to Asia uneconomic because they are priced off the Brent benchmark. So Asian demand for Middle Eastern and Russian grades priced off the Dubai benchmark is high, driving the spot premiums for Omani crude and Russia’s ESPO and Sokol grades close to a one-year high.

At the same time, the narrowing discount of WTI Crude to Brent Crude is effectively shutting the arbitrage for U.S. crude to go to Europe and Asia as the less-than-$2 a barrel spread makes shipping American oil to the major import markets uneconomical.

As a result of these dynamics in spreads between regional benchmarks, physical crude supply in each of the regions is tightening. First, because it’s uneconomical to import crude from other regions. Second, because oil demand is rebounding as the summer driving season begins and economies reopen from restrictions in mobility.

In the paper market, Brent Crude prices already hit $75 a barrel this week, for the first time in over two years. WTI Crude was above $73 early on Wednesday as demand strengthened and as U.S. crude oil inventories were estimated by the American Petroleum Institute (API) to have shrunk by 7.199 million barrels for the week ending June 18.

Backwardation in the WTI futures continues to tighten—a sign of a tighter market.

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Decade Of Chaos Could Send Oil To $130 Per Barrel

Decade Of Chaos Could Send Oil To $130 Per Barrel

From $35 per barrel to $130 per barrel—this is the range for oil prices in the next few years that we could see, according to a commodity trading group. And it will all depend on what peaks first: demand or investment in new production. “You could see spikes to even higher than $100 a barrel, even $130, and you could also see it go down to $35 a barrel for periods of time going forward,” William Reed II, chief executive of Castleton Commodities International, said at the FT Global Commodities Summit this week, as quoted by Reuters. “The question is what happens first. Peak demand or peak investment?”

This is a fascinating question that will likely remain open for quite some time; it seems as if forecasts are even more unreliable than usual in the post-pandemic world. For instance, last year, energy authorities and the industry itself predicted oil demand growth was over thanks to the pandemic that encouraged a doubling down on an energy shift away from fossil fuels. Now, these same forecasters, including the International Energy Agency and BP (0.78%), are talking about growing oil demand.

One thing that can hardly be disputed is that lower spending on exploration would inevitably lead to lower production. This is what we have seen: the pandemic forced virtually everyone in the oil industry to slash their spending plans. This is what normally happens during the trough phase of an industry cycle.

What doesn’t normally happen in a usual cycle is long-term planning for smaller output. Yet this is the response of Big Oil to the push to go green. Most supermajors are planning changes that would effectively reduce their production of oil and gas. In Shell’s (1.31%) case, it has been literally ordered by a Dutch court to shrink its production of oil and gas.

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ESG = Energy Stops Growing

For most of my career, oil demand has grown each year and supply has roughly kept up. Sure, it’s overshot in both directions. We’ve seen shortages and we’ve seen gluts. We’ve even seen oil go negative. Throughout this time, we’ve always intuitively known that the cure for high prices is high prices. Last week may have forever changed this prudent logic. I’m starting to wonder if ESG really means Energy Stops Growing.

For those not paying attention, an obscure ESG hedge fund, Engine No. 1, captured two Exxon Mobil (XOM – USA) board seats. It now seems that for companies in indexes, whoever controls the ETF’s votes, now effectively controls their corporate destiny. ETFs are about marketing and asset gathering. There is no better way to stay in the news, looking responsible, than to burnish your ESG credentials. Does an ETF manager care if energy, one of the smallest weightings in most indexes, is now forced to destroy capital by going into run-off while trying to do “green” things? Probably not—they’re all cheering as BP (BP – USA) does exactly that. The attack on XOM was meant as a warning shot to all of corporate America; go along with ESG—or risk a pirate attack.

Meanwhile, over in Europe, Royal Dutch Shell (RDS.A – USA) was told by a court in The Hague to cut emissions by 45% by 2030. Clearly this is impossible even if they don’t drill another well. I expect that this will only embolden similar lawsuits. Most will be thrown out, but enough will be decided against energy producers that it will move the needle. If courts legislate against energy production, then producers will go into run-off. It’s not like there are a lot of investors stepping up looking to fund production growth anyway.

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The Ugly Truth About Renewable Power

The Ugly Truth About Renewable Power

When Texas literally froze this February, some blamed the blackouts that left millions of Texans in the dark on the wind turbines. Others blamed them on the gas-fired power plants.

The truth isn’t so politically simple. In truth, both wind turbines and gas plants froze because of the abnormal weather.

And when Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway said it had plans for additional generation capacity in Texas, it wasn’t talking about wind turbines. It was talking about more gas-fired power plants—ten more gigawatts of them.

While the Texas Freeze hogged headlines in the United States, across the Atlantic, the only European country producing any electricity from solar farms was teeny tiny Slovenia. And that’s not because Europe doesn’t have any solar capacity—on the contrary, it has a substantial amount. But Europe had a brutal winter with lots of snow and clouds. Despite the often-referenced fact that solar panels operate better in cooler weather, sub-zero temperatures are far more drastic than cool. This is not even to mention the cloud cover that, based on the Electricity Map data above, did not help.

If we go back a few more months, there were the California rolling blackouts of August that state officials and others insisted had nothing to do with the state’s substantial reliance on solar and wind power. The state’s own utilities commission disagrees.

This is what the California Public Utilities Commission and the state’s grid operator, CAISO, said in a joint letter to Governor Newsom following the blackouts:

“On August 15, the CAISO experienced similar [to August 14] supply conditions, as well as significant swings in wind resource output when evening demand was increasing. Wind resources first quickly increased output during the 4:00 pm hour (approximately 1,000 MW), then decreased rapidly the next hour…

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U.S. Oil Bankruptcies Shoot Up In Q1 2021

U.S. Oil Bankruptcies Shoot Up In Q1 2021

The number of North American producers that filed for bankruptcy protection in the first quarter of 2021 reached the highest number for a first quarter since 2016, yet the wave of bankruptcies has significantly slowed since the peaks in the second and third quarter of 2020, law firm Haynes and Boone said in its latest tally to March 31.

The Oil Patch Bankruptcy Monitor showed that eight producers filed for bankruptcy this past quarter, which was the highest Q1 total since 2016 when 17 oil producers in North America sought protection from creditors.

Texas accounted for 50 percent of the total producer filings in the first quarter of 2021, with four in total, Haynes and Boone said.

The law firm noted that there were no producers with billion-dollar bankruptcies in Q2 2021, which had not happened since the third quarter of 2018.

The total debt for producers that filed in the first quarter was just over $1.8 billion—the second-lowest total for a Q1 after $1.6 billion in Q1 2019, according to Haynes and Boone.

Even though the number of first-quarter 2021 bankruptcies was the highest for a Q1 since 2016, it showed the trend of slowing filings after 18 oil and gas producers filed in the second quarter of 2020 and another 17 in the third quarter, the two quarters in which the oil price crash and the crisis were most severely felt by indebted producers.

Apart from eight producers, the first quarter of 2021 also claimed five oilfield services companies that filed for bankruptcy, Haynes and Boone data showed. This number is the third-lowest Q1 total since 2015, and much lower than 27 filings in Q3 2020 and another 17 filings from oilfield services companies in Q4 2020.

The aggregate debt for oilfield services companies that filed in Q1 2021 was over $7.2 billion—the third-highest Q1 total since 2015, but one company, Seadrill Limited, accounted for 99.8 percent of the aggregate debt for the quarter, Haynes and Boone said.

What To Expect From Today’s OPEC+ Meeting: Another Saudi Surprise?

What To Expect From Today’s OPEC+ Meeting: Another Saudi Surprise?

After Wednesday’s JMMC meeting ended without reaching a recommendation (as is customary and expected), the key decision-making OPEC+ meeting – where ministers will hammer out May’s output quotas – begins at 1pm London Time. As Newsquawk notes, market expectations are skewed towards an extension of current cuts, but a clear stance from Saudi – who have a tendency to surprise in recent months – remains to be seen, namely on the decision regarding the extra 1MM barrels the Kingdom has kept offline since the start of the year.

Commenting on today’s key event, Bloomberg’s Jake Lloyd-Smith reminds us that Saudi Arabia has sprung some big surprises in the oil market already this year, and may do so again today as OPEC+ grapples with a thorny decision on supply. That could make for a volatile session before the long weekend, and already has with oil whipsawing from gains to losses in jittery trading, amid market rumors that OPEC+ is i) considering a return to phased monthly oil-output hikes and ii) is also considering maintaining current cuts, according to a delegate… which pretty much covers every base so is completely useless.

As such, while the consensus view is the grouping will stick with deep output curbs to safeguard crude’s recovery, there’s an outside chance of alternative outcomes. These span the twin extremes, from releasing barrels to tightening further.

At issue is the varied recovery across key regions. For every rosy demand metric from the U.S. or China, there’s a poor one from Europe as lockdowns make a comeback. In addition, Riyadh faces a headache from rival Iran, which has been pushing clandestine barrels into China despite U.S. sanctions…

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opec+, oil and gas industry, zerohedge, saudi arabia, russia, iran, china, united states, economic sanctions, oil, oil price, bloomberg

Shale Giants Proving OPEC Right

Shale Giants Proving OPEC Right
Saudi Arabia’s bet that the golden age of U.S. shale is over appears to be a safe one – for now, at least.

(Bloomberg) — Saudi Arabia’s bet that the golden age of U.S. shale is over appears to be a safe one — for now, at least.

A round-up of data on shale drillers shows they’re sticking to their pledge to cut costs, return money to shareholders and reduce debt. If they stay the course, it would validate the OPEC+ alliance’s high-stakes wager that it can curb output and drive crude prices higher without unleashing an onslaught of supply from U.S. rivals.

That’s still a big “if,” one that’s keeping the oil market on edge as crude’s rally makes it more tempting for shale producers to go back on their word. But the U.S. shale patch is showing little sign of a true comeback so far, and even a dramatic boost in activity would leave oil output below pre-pandemic levels until late next year. Drillers that have shown signs of straying from the script and boosting production have been punished by investors.

Publicly traded explorers that are remaining disciplined on output are helping to keep crude prices aloft, said Michael Tran, managing director for global energy strategy research at RBC Capital Markets. The motives of closely held producers, on the other hand, remain “an open-ended question,” he said. The number of oil rigs has already jumped 80% after bottoming out in August, Baker Hughes data show.

The more restrained shale drillers are this year, “the more they can potentially grow production at higher prices next year and beyond,” Tran said.

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Bloomberg, M.Tobin, D.Wethe, K.Crowley, oil price, oil, crude oil, saudi arabia, shale oil, opec+, rigzone.com

Happy Days At The Gas Pump Are Over As Prices Soar 

Happy Days At The Gas Pump Are Over As Prices Soar 

When the virus pandemic first hit early last year, Americans were locked down in their homes as gasoline demand plunged and prices crashed. Last April, the nationwide average for gasoline was around $2. According to AAA, prices are surging nationwide, up 32 cents in the previous month to $2.796 for regular.

On Monday, regular gasoline in Los Angeles County rose for the 27th consecutive day and 47th time in 48 days, increasing to $3.81, the highest since Dec. 3, 2019. Average prices for crude products in the metro area have been on a tear, resulting in a price shock for many consumers who are still battling food and housing insecurities, along with job loss as they wait for the next round of stimulus checks.

Happy times at the pump are over as crude product prices continue to rise. 

GasBuddy analyst Patrick DeHaan told Fox News that one reason for the jump in prices is due to increased demand. Still, more importantly, he said the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) “is not opening the spigot.”

Last week, OPEC leaders maintained production cuts for all countries except Russia and Khazakstan. The news caused West Texas Intermediate and Brent to surge.

OPEC’s decision last week inspired Goldman’s Damien Courvalin to raise his Brent forecast by $5/bbl, to $75/bbl in 2Q and $80/bbl in 3Q21: “This increase in our price forecast reflects stronger time spreads, with our updated inventory path consistent with $5/bbl additional backwardation over the next six months relative to our prior forecast.”

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Brace For Oil Surge: Saudi Oil Tank In Ras Tanura Port Hit In Houthi Drone Attack

Brace For Oil Surge: Saudi Oil Tank In Ras Tanura Port Hit In Houthi Drone Attack

It’s not as if oil – the best performing class of 2021 – behind bitcoin of course – needed any more reasons to surge higher (for the latest tally please read “Saudis + Commodity Funds = Energy Stock Explosion“), but it got it moments ago when Saudi Arabia said that it had intercepted missiles and a barrage of drones launched from neighboring Yemen and which targeted Dhahran, where Saudi Aramco, the world’s biggest oil company, is headquartered, which eyewitnesses said was rocked by an explosion.

According to Bloomberg which quotes witnesses on the ground, the blast shook windows in Dhahran, which hosts a large compound for Aramco employees.

While Bloomberg was cautious with reporting of what had happened, Saudi journalist Ahmed al Omaran who previously worked with the FT, said that “Saudi oil tanks in Ras Tanura Port hit in drone attack and Aramco facilities targeted with ballistic missile” quoting an energy ministry statement

An official spokesman at the Ministry of Energy said that “one of the petroleum tank farms at the Ras Tanura Port in the Eastern Region, one of the largest oil shipping ports in the world, was attacked this morning by a drone, coming from the sea”

Yemen’s Houthis claimed a series of attacks on Sunday including on a Saudi Aramco facility at Ras Tanura in the east of the kingdom. The group launched eight ballistic missiles and 14 bomb-laden drones at Saudi Arabia, a spokesman for the Houthis, Yahya Saree, said in a statement to Houthi-run Al Masirah television.

“There are reports of possible missile attacks and explosions this evening, March 7, in the tri-city area of Dhahran, Dammam, and Khobar in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province,” the U.S. consulate general in Dhahran said in a statement.

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Oil Flirts With $70 After The OPEC+ Surprise

Oil Flirts With $70 After The OPEC+ Surprise

Brent is now flirting with the $70 mark after OPEC+ shocked markets once again by refusing to bring more oil production online.

In this week’s Global Energy Alert, our trading team delves into how an inflationary environment will impact oil stocks. Sign up today to get breaking news, expert analysis, and trading tips.

Friday, March 5th, 2021

Oil skyrocketed on Thursday after OPEC+ decided to hold off on easing production cuts for another month, surprising the oil market. WTI and Brent shot up more than 4%. During early trading on Friday, Brent surpassed $69 per barrel,

OPEC+ extends cuts, surprising market. OPEC+ extended the cuts through April, aside from a slight increase allowed for Russia and Kazakhstan, due to seasonal consumption patterns. Even Saudi Arabia decided to keep its 1 mb/d of voluntary cuts in place. The surprise news led to a price surge. “One of the reasons the market is continuing to react positively today could be that OPEC’s own balances suggest very steep draws,” Rystad Energy said in a statement.

Oil majors expect record cash flow. Big Oil is looking at 2021 with increased optimism, mostly because oil prices have rallied in recent weeks. Moreover, the ultra-conservative capital spending plans and the huge cost cuts have allowed international oil companies (IOCs) to materially lower their cash flow breakevens. These factors are set to result in a record cash flow for the biggest oil firms this year if oil prices average $55 per barrel, Wood Mackenzie said in new research.

Oil majors going green? Speaking from the annual CERAWeek by IHS Markit energy conference, Big Oil chief executives from Exxon Mobil (NYSE:XOM)Chevron Corp.(NYSE:CVX)Occidental Petroleum (NYSE:OXY) and ConocoPhillips (NYSE:COP)have all spoken about the industry’s transition to a lower-carbon world, with OXY even branding itself a ‘carbon management’ company that wants to set the industry standard for the production of net-zero carbon oil…

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Bank Of America Expects Fastest Oil Price Rise In 30 Years

Bank Of America Expects Fastest Oil Price Rise In 30 Years

Oil prices are set to rise by the fastest rate since the 1970s over the next three years, Bank of America said in a new report, joining the growing group of analysts forecasting a return of oil to three-digit territory.

The average price of Brent over the next five years, however, will be between $50 and $70 per barrel, according to the bank, as quoted by The National.

The bank also said OPEC+ might decide to reverse its production cuts now that Brent is trending above $60, but added that a slow return of U.S. shale to international markets might lead to an extension of the production cut agreement to make sure prices stay higher.

“We believe that slower shale growth and oil price stability will likely require a continuation of Opec+’s market management beyond April 2022,” the bank’s analysts said.

OPEC+ is meeting next week to discuss the progress of its agreement in an environment of much tighter supply, and expectations are that some members may push for a production increase. The increase, however, will be moderate, at 500,000 bpd, according to reports.

The last Joint Ministerial Monitoring Committee of OPEC+ met in the first week of February, and the meeting ended without many surprises. For the month of February, another 75,000 bpd was added to the quotas—65,000 bpd to Russia and 10,000 bpd to Kazakhstan. For the month of March, production quotas were eased again by the same amount, with the same distribution of the additions.

Russia is one of the extended cartel’s members that will likely call for a further increase in production. Moscow has a tradition of budgeting for pessimistic oil prices, which increases the benefits from each additional dollar benchmarks gain. Saudi Arabia, on the other hand, might like to see much higher prices as its breakeven level, despite the lowest production costs in the world, remains quite high.

 

Finding A Way Around The World’s Largest Oil Chokepoint

Finding A Way Around The World’s Largest Oil Chokepoint

Oil is sometimes referred to as ‘black gold’. The discovery and export of fossil fuels have led to tremendous wealth creation for certain countries. In this sense, no region in the world is more blessed than the Middle East. Especially the countries surrounding the Persian Gulf are rich in oil and gas deposits. Unfortunately, political instability is almost a synonym for the Middle East. The risk of supply disruptions is a significant threat for those heavily reliant on fossil fuel sales. Therefore, risk mitigation is an important part of the business.

The antagonism between Iran and the U.S. escalated significantly under President Trump. According to sources, Washington came close to acting militarily but the President was dissuaded when informed on the risks and potential losses. Skyrocketing oil prices are one of those consequences as Tehran has repeatedly threatened to close off the Strait of Hormuz in case it is attacked. Approximately 20 percent of the world’s oil travels through the narrow strait separating mainland Iran from Oman and the UAE. Even a short disruption of supplies will most definitely have a devastating effect on prices. Circumventing the Strait, therefore, is essential to maintain exports to markets.

While Iran has been the most vocal when it comes to threats concerning the Strait, it has a contingency plan if the situation escalates. The country is currently building a pipeline from Goreh near the border with Iraq and Kuwait where the majority of the country’s oil is produced to Jask on the Gulf of Oman. The project is slated to be finished in March 2021 and has a capacity of one million barrels per day (mbpd).

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