Recent Articles

Anti-Maduro strike paralyzes swathes of Venezuela

21 Jul 2017   Venezuela

Many Venezuelan streets were barricaded and deserted on Thursday for a strike called by foes of President Nicolas Maduro to demand a presidential election and the abandonment of a plan for a new congress they fear would institute dictatorship. From the Andes to the Amazon, many businesses shut as the majority-backed opposition staged a 24-hour shutdown from dawn in a civil disobedience campaign it is dubbing “zero hour” to try to end nearly two decades of Socialist Party rule “We must all do our best to get rid of this tyrant,” said Miguel Lopez, 17, holding a homemade shield emblazoned with “No To Dictatorship!” as he manned a roadblock on a Caracas thoroughfare that was devoid of traffic. Many private transport groups heeded the strike call, while students, neighbors and activists hauled rubbish and furniture into streets to form barriers. In some places, however, such as […]

Mexico opens gas infrastructure capacity to bidders

21 Jul 2017   Mexico

Mexico’s government announced it held its first auction to access capacity to natural gas infrastructure as part of the country’s sweeping energy reforms. Hundreds of companies placed bids to access the capacity in the estimated 6,000 miles of natural gas pipelines in the country. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, demand exceeds available capacity on the pipeline system. “Companies expressed high interest in cross-border interconnections with flows from southern Texas to Mexico on both private and CENAGAS-operated transmission pipelines,” EIA stated . CENEGAS is the Spanish-language abbreviation for Mexico’s National Center for Natural Gas Control. In a profile, the EIA said Mexican reform efforts enacted by President Enrique Peña Nieto could eventually sway internal market dynamics, but for […]

South Korea To Ease Oil Terminal Rules In Bid To Become Trading Hub

21 Jul 2017   South Korea

South Korea is set to ease restrictions for international oil traders to blend fuels at the country’s oil storage terminals in its attempt to become a trading hub in Northeast Asia, which could potentially pose a challenge to the established oil hub in Singapore. Earlier this year, the government passed legislation that would allow international oil trading companies to blend fuels as per client specifications at the oil storage terminals. So far fuel blending at the terminals was only allowed for domestic refiners. Even though the South Korean government is still tweaking the final guidelines and technical aspects, the country with a vast refining sector relying almost exclusively on crude oil imports is advancing the plan to ease restrictions that has been in the making since 2014. Back then, the Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Energy said that “regulations on blending or other activities will be eased so that […]

Exclusive: Russia, Venezuela discuss Citgo collateral deal to avoid U.S. sanctions

21 Jul 2017   Russia, Venezuela

Russia’s top oil producer Rosneft is negotiating to swap its collateral in Venezuelan-owned, U.S.-based refiner Citgo for oilfield stakes and a fuel supply deal – a move to avoid complications from U.S. sanctions, two sources with knowledge of the negotiations told Reuters. State-owned Rosneft holds a 49.9 percent stake in Citgo as collateral for a loan last year of about $1.5 billion to the OPEC nation, which is reeling from low oil prices and a severe recession. The arrangement with Venezuela’s state-owned oil firm, PDVSA, has drawn fire from U.S. senators who do not want Russia in a position to own a substantial stake of U.S.-based energy assets in potential violation of existing economic sanctions. The negotiations took on more urgency this week, one of the sources told Reuters, when U.S. President Donald Trump threatened to impose “strong economic actions” on Venezuela unless embattled leftist President […]

Trump just nominated a climate change skeptic to USDA’s top science post

21 Jul 2017   Climate

The U.S. Department of Agriculture building in Washington (Jonathan Newton / The Washington Post) This story has been updated. President Trump on Wednesday nominated Sam Clovis, a former college professor and talk radio host who has challenged the scientific consensus that human activity has been the primary driver of climate change, to serve in the Agriculture Department’s top scientific post. “Dr. Clovis was one of the first people through the door at USDA in January and has become a trusted advisor and steady hand as we continue to work for the people of agriculture,” Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said in a statement Wednesday evening. “He looks at every problem with a critical eye, relying on sound science and data, and will be the facilitator and integrator we need. Dr. Clovis has served this nation proudly since he was a very young man, and I am happy he is continuing […]

Gas Everywhere but No Way to Ship It

21 Jul 2017   Shale Gas

Accidents happen, but these were expensive ones by any measure. Energy Transfer Partners had hoped to have the first phase of its massive Rover pipeline up and running by now, transporting natural gas from America’s most prolific natural gas basins to other parts of the country. Rushing to complete construction in a tight regulatory window, the company allegedly spilled drilling fluid into a protected wetland and then…

GM Eases Summer Production of Chevrolet Bolt

21 Jul 2017   Electric Cars

Workers assembling General Motors Co.’s Tesla fighter are taking a month off this summer amid lukewarm demand, a sign American car buyers are showing little interest in vehicles that rely solely on battery power to get from Point A to B. The Detroit auto giant’s plant in Orion Township, Mich., began producing the Chevrolet Bolt late last year, with output hitting more than 15,000 vehicles before the company’s typical summer shutdown at the start of July. That break usually spans two weeks, but workers at the Bolt…

California gas storage site that leaked in 2015 cleared to reopen

21 Jul 2017   Climate

A natural gas operation near Los Angeles that leaked methane for several months in 2015 is safe to reopen at a reduced capacity, California regulators said. “Following months of rigorous inspection and analysis of wells at the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility – and the implementation of multiple new safety protocols – state engineering and safety enforcement experts have concluded the facility is safe to operate and can reopen at a greatly reduced capacity in order to protect public safety and prevent an energy shortage in Southern California,” a joint statement from the state Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources and the California Public Utilities Commission read. The site near Los Angeles […]

U.S. House moves on measure to ensure energy dominance

21 Jul 2017   USA

The Republican-led U.S. House of Representatives said two bills passed through their chambers that would ensure the country remains “an energy powerhouse.” House bills passed that would avoid a presidential permit process for cross-border pipelines. U.S. President Donald Trump during his first weeks in office stepped in to get the Keystone XL oil pipeline approved after years of lengthy review of its fit with national security interests and the environment. Four additional bills advanced out of committee to promote energy security. “The United States is an energy powerhouse around the world [and] we want to keep it that way,” Rep. Markwayne Mullin, R-Okla., said in a statement . “We want our country to compete freely in the global markets and continue to positively […]

Alaska, Maine senators back Arctic drilling in $1.8B federal proposal

21 Jul 2017   Arctic

Two U.S. senators are promoting a federal budget proposal to drill for oil and natural gas in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge — at a time when many countries are also eyeing resources in the region. “Our access is limited by certain policies,” Sen. Lisa Murkowski , R-Ak., co-chair of Senate Arctic Caucus, said Wednesday at a conference of the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “We need to make sure we are working corporately as Arctic nations, and prevent oil spilling.” Murkowski also said Arctic drilling is a good way to improve long-term energy cooperation with countries like Russia, Canada and China, which are also interested in drilling there. The Arctic region is estimated to contain about 90 billion barrels […]

NC governor on Trump drilling plan: ‘Not off our coast’

21 Jul 2017   Offshore

Under pressure from President Donald Trump, North Carolina’s governor announced his opposition on Thursday to drilling for natural gas and oil off the Atlantic coast, saying it poses too much of a threat to the state’s beaches and tourism economy. Up against a Friday deadline for comment from elected officials on the Trump administration’s request for companies to perform seismic testing under Atlantic waters, Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper held a news conference at a coastal state park to announce he’ll be registering the state’s opposition. “There is a threat looming over this coastline that we love and the prosperity it brings, and that’s the threat of offshore drilling,” Cooper said at the Fort Macon State Park in Carteret County, where he said he visited as a child and as a parent. “As governor, I’m here to speak out and take action against it. I […]

U.S. gasoline surplus eliminated by trade flows: Kemp

21 Jul 2017   Oil Supply, USA

The U.S. gasoline surplus has disappeared thanks to a sharp drop in prices which has caused imports from Europe to slow and exports to Latin America and other markets to accelerate since the start of June. U.S. refineries are processing record volumes of crude while domestic gasoline consumption appears to be holding steady at the same level as 2016 which threatened to flood the market with excess fuel. But low domestic gasoline prices at the start of the summer driving season have encouraged the diversion of tanker shipments from Europe and incentivized U.S. refiners to boost their own exports. The United States was a small net exporter of gasoline in the four weeks to July 14, compared with net imports of 450,000 barrels per day (bpd) at […]

U.S. fines Exxon Mobil over Ukraine-related sanctions violations

The U.S. Treasury Department on Thursday announced a civil penalty against Exxon Mobil Corp (XOM.N) and its U.S. subsidiaries for violating sanctions regulations related to Ukraine in May 2014, fining the global oil company $2 million. Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) found ExxonMobil had not voluntarily self-disclosed the violations, “and that the violations constitute an egregious case,” it said in a statement posted online. The heads of the company’s U.S. subsidiaries dealt with someone “whose property and interests in property were blocked, namely, by signing eight legal documents related to oil and gas projects in Russia with Igor Sechin, the President of Rosneft OAO” and another sanctioned individual, Treasury said.

Exxon sues to stop $2m fine over Russia sanctions breach

21 Jul 2017   Russia, USA

ExxonMobil has sued the US Treasury in an attempt to stop a fine for allegations it behaved with “reckless disregard” for violating Russian sanctions while Rex Tillerson, now US secretary of state, was chief executive in 2014. The Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control fined Exxon the maximum penalty of $2m in what it called an “egregious” case, saying it had failed to disclose breaches of sanctions over deals with Igor Sechin, chief executive of Russia’s state-controlled oil group Rosneft. Exxon responded with a lawsuit and an angry rejection of the Treasury’s allegations, describing Ofac’s action as “fundamentally unfair”. It accused Ofac of “trying to retroactively enforce a new interpretation of an executive order” inconsistent with guidance from the White House and Treasury. The lawsuit asks the court to deem the finding of sanctions violations “unlawful” and set it aside, as well as wipe away the $2m penalty. The oil group is seeking to permanently preventing Ofac from collecting further civil penalties related to the alleged offence. The dispute comes at a time of intense scrutiny of links between the US and Russia, prompted by allegations of Russian interference in last year’s election campaign to help Donald Trump become president. Ofac said on Thursday that presidents of Exxon’s US subsidiaries had violated sanctions by signing “eight legal documents related to oil and gas projects in Russia with Igor Sechin”, who had been designated as a sanctioned individual. It said the documents were signed in May 2014, a month after the sanctions on Mr Sechin and others were imposed.

The strange legal battle that is pitting Trump’s secretaries of the Treasury and State against each other

21 Jul 2017   Russia, USA

Russian President Vladimir Putin and then-ExxonMobil chief executive Rex Tillerson, right, attend a signing ceremony of an agreement between state-controlled Russian oil company Rosneft and Exxon Mobil corporation in 2012. At left is the CEO of Rosneft OAO, Igor Sechin. (AP Photo/RIA-Novosti) Two of President Trump’s most senior cabinet members became embroiled Thursday in an unusual legal battle over whether ExxonMobil under Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s leadership violated U.S. sanctions against Russia. Treasury officials fined ExxonMobil $2 million Thursday morning for signing eight business agreements in 2014 with Igor Sechin, the chief executive of Rosneft, an energy giant partially owned by the Russian government. The business agreements came less than a month after the United States banned companies from doing business with him. Hours after the fine was announced, Exxon filed a legal complaint against the Treasury Department — naming Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin as the lead defendant […]

The Abrupt Demise Of Dutch Gas

21 Jul 2017   Netherlands

The largest and oldest-producing gas field in Western Europe, the Groningen field, is on the verge of being shut down. If that happens, it will entail the tumbling of Netherlands’ indigenous gas production, making it a net gas importer. This is a bitter pill to swallow for producers in the Netherlands, EU’s leading gas producer up to now, given that the Dutch led the world in the 1970s in natural gas exports volumes (the ramp-up in exports was so massive that the Dutch government implemented export caps to put some freeze on it). For Dutch locals, however, this might represent a long-awaited victory and a sign that governments can pay heed to their concerns, if sufficient pressure is applied. It remains to be seen whether an abrupt end to gas production in the Netherlands is in anybody’s interest. Graph 1. Total Consumption, Domestic Gas Production and Natural Gas Imports […]

Oil dips on rising U.S. crude inventories, high OPEC supplies

20 Jul 2017   Prices

 Oil prices fell on Wednesday after a rise in U.S. crude inventories and ongoing high output from OPEC producers revived concerns of a fuel supply overhang. Brent crude futures LCOc1, the international benchmark for oil prices, were at $48.81 per barrel at 0259 GMT, down 3 cents from their last close. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures CLc1 were at $46.33 per barrel, down 7 cents. U.S. crude stocks rose last week, adding 1.6 million barrels in the week to July 14 to 497.2 million barrels, industry group the American Petroleum Institute said on Tuesday. Outside the United States, supplies from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) remained high, largely because of rising output from member-states Nigeria and Libya, despite […]

Qatar’s $300 billion conundrum: how liquid are its reserves?

20 Jul 2017   Qatar

When is $300 billion not enough? That question is key to Qatar’s future as some bankers and hedge funds speculate the super-rich state’s vast financial reserves may not be liquid enough to defend its currency in the long term. Nobody doubts Qatar has a lot of money to resist economic sanctions imposed on it early last month, when Saudi Arabia and three other Arab states cut diplomatic and transport ties. Central bank governor Sheikh Abdullah bin Saud al-Thani said last week that Doha could employ about $340 billion of reserves: some $40 billion plus gold at the central bank, and $300 billion at the Qatar Investment Authority, the sovereign wealth fund.(For graphic on Qatar Investment Authority’s largest M&A deals click That suggests Qatar could cope comfortably with any capital flight due to the crisis. Bank of America has predicted $35 billion of outflows from the […]

Three Years Into Cheap Oil, Gulf Is Still Depending on a Rebound

Low prices combined with output cuts are weighing on growth Isolation of Qatar has added to perception of regional risks Energy-rich Gulf Arab nations have scrambled to adjust to the slump in oil prices since 2014. Three years on, their economies are mired in weak growth and largely just as dependent on crude as they ever were. The six members of the Gulf Cooperation Council have curtailed subsidies and introduced new taxes to bolster non-oil revenue and reduce ballooning budget deficits. Much of the savings, however, have been due to spending cuts and the pace of reforms has slowed across the region, said Monica Malik, chief economist at Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank. Overall progress in economic diversification has been limited, she said. Absent a rebound in oil prices, analysts say it’s unlikely that these nations can repair their finances without deeper spending cuts that could further hurt growth. The […]

The Qatar Blockade Is Threatening The OPEC Deal

20 Jul 2017   Qatar

The blockade of Qatar could persist for quite a long time, according to the foreign minister of the UAE, who insisted that the Gulf States that have imposed the punitive barricade are not looking for a “quick fix.” The UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash told Bloomberg earlier this week that the blockade would be in place for “weeks, months…as long as it takes them to realize that this is not a crisis that we are looking for a quick fix. This is a crisis that we want to get to the bottom of, and we want to take away Qatar’s huge, huge support for this extremism and terrorism that we are seeing everywhere.” Despite the bluster, the blockade for the past month and a half has not gone according to plan. Qatar has still been able to import food and other necessities, while its exports […]

Saudi Arabia empties domestic crude tanks:

20 Jul 2017   Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia has been progressively reducing its bloated domestic stocks of crude in a sign the global oil market is rebalancing, albeit more slowly than OPEC anticipated. Saudi Arabia’s domestic crude stocks declined in 16 of the 19 months between November 2015 and May 2017 according to government data reported to the Joint Organisations Data Initiative ( Domestic stocks fell to just 259 million barrels at the end of May 2017, which was the lowest level since January 2012, according to updated figures published on Tuesday. Stocks were down by 30 million barrels compared with the same month a year earlier and are now down by 71 million barrels from their peak in October 2015 ( Like other producers, Saudi Arabia holds stocks for a range of reasons, including the need to cover field maintenance and manage seasonal changes in consumption and exports. Operational stocks are […]

Saudi Crude Inventories Continue To Decline

20 Jul 2017   Saudi Arabia

The news comes as the KSA pressures the United States and Asian countries to lower their domestic inventories and buy new crude supplies, ending the current glut that is keeping oil prices low. At the end of the period, the Kingdom’s supplies fell to 259 million barrels total – a record low since January 2012. The figure also stands 71 million barrels below a peak in October 2015. Despite seasonality in the KSA’s domestic oil demand related to heating and refinery maintenance schedules, a downward trend since late 2015 is apparent in the data. The latest word from the OPEC rumor mill is that de facto bloc leader Saudi Arabia is planning more oil export cuts, causing oil prices to jump earlier this week. Oil futures jumped up two percent in value after industry consultant Petroleum Policy Intelligence said the KSA had been considering lowering exports by […]

How a Saudi Prince Unseated His Cousin to Become the Kingdom’s Heir Apparent

20 Jul 2017   Saudi Arabia

After a wakeful night confined to a Mecca palace lounge, Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef emerged into a marble-walled room the morning of June 21. The 57-year-old prince found a waiting crowd, cameras, a security guard with his hand on a gun—and his cousin Mohammed bin Salman, 31, the favored son of King Salman, newly installed as his successor as heir apparent and crown prince. An inside…

Addiction and intrigue: Inside the Saudi palace coup

20 Jul 2017   Saudi Arabia

On Tuesday June 21 Mohammed bin Nayef, a powerful figure in Saudi Arabia’s security apparatus for the past two decades and the next in line to the throne, was summoned to meet King Salman bin Abdulaziz on the fourth floor of the royal palace in Mecca. There, according to a source close to MbN, as he is known, the king ordered him to step aside in favor of the king’s favorite son, Mohammed bin Salman. The reason: an addiction to painkilling drugs was clouding MbN’s judgment. “The king came to meet MbN and they were alone in the room. He told him: ‘I want you to step down, you didn’t listen to the advice to get treatment for your addiction which dangerously affects your decisions’,” said the source close to MbN. The new details about the extraordinary meeting between the king and MbN that touched off the […]

Volvo Accelerates Toward Electric Future With China’s Geely

Volvo Car Corp., the Swedish auto maker, and its Chinese parent Zhejiang Geely Holdings on Thursday unveiled plans for wide-ranging collaboration to develop new technology that aims to accelerate Volvo’s transformation into an all-electric auto brand and fuel Geely’s global ambitions. Volvo and Geely Holdings have signed an agreement to create a joint technology venture with headquarters in China that expands their current…

Oil exploration plans revealed for Cuba

20 Jul 2017   Cuba

Australian energy company Melbana outlines plans for oil exploration efforts in Cuba by next year. File photo by Ernesto Mastracusa/EPA. July 19 (UPI) — Amendments to a work plan for Cuban oil assets open the door for drilling exploration wells by the first half of next year, Australia’s Melbana Energy said. Melbana is one of the few Western oil companies, and the only one listed on the Australian exchange, with a footprint in Cuba. The national oil company of Cuba, CUPET, extended its contract last year for early exploration efforts in Block 9 by eight months to November 2017. At Melbana’s request, the Cuban company amended the work program again because of data assessments. “The amended Block 9 production sharing contract work program approved by CUPET is now aligned with Melbana’s stated ambition to accelerate drilling of up to two exploration wells in the highly prospective Block 9,” CEO […]

U.S. May Halt Oil Imports From Venezuela

20 Jul 2017   Venezuela

The Trump administration is mulling over sanctions against senior Venezuelan government officials, and additional measures could include sanctions against the country’s oil industry, such as halting imports into the U.S., according to senior Washington officials who spoke to media. The goal of the sanctions is to prevent the Nicolas Maduro government from having things its way at a July 30 election for a Constituent Assembly that, the U.S. administration believes, would serve to cement Maduro’s power and turn Venezuela into a “full dictatorship.” The Constitutional Assembly vote was proposed by the government as a means of tackling the political crisis that Venezuela slid into last year, after the election of a new parliament where the opposition had a majority that put it at odds with the government. A Constituent Assembly can rewrite the country’s constitution, and many observers see the move as an attempt to strengthen the current regime’s […]

Factbox: Impacts of US sanctions on Venezuelan oil –

20 Jul 2017   Venezuela

The Trump administration is considering major sanctions on Venezuelan oil exports into the US, a policy move which could exacerbate the current heavy crude supply tightness, and cause a months-long dip in US refining margins.  A senior administration official said this week that a ban on Venezuelan imports was one of the options being considered, but views on the practicality and effectiveness of such a ban remain divided with the administration.  While specifics remain largely unclear, here’s a look at the issues at play, the possible sanctions routes the White House is considering and the expected impacts:  On Monday night, President Donald Trump said that if Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro follows through on his pledge to rewrite the country’s constitution on July 30, the US “will take strong and swift economic actions.” A senior administration official said these actions may be imposed before July 30 and that “all options are on the table.”
Analysts expect that the Trump administration will likely focus on sanctions targeting individuals, at least initially, but said the most effective sanctions would likely target petroleum exports considering that energy accounts for roughly 95% of Venezuela’s export economy.

IEA: U.S. has unique role in oil, LNG

20 Jul 2017   USA

 The United States stands in a unique position in the energy market with a robust shale oil sector and prospects for liquefied natural gas, the IEA said. Fatih Birol , the head of the International Energy Agency, met in Washington with U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry to discuss global oil and gas market developments. According to the IEA, spending on shale oil exploration and production is on pace to grow by more than 50 percent this year, while U.S. natural gas will account for 40 percent of new global production in the next five years. “The United States stands today at the heart of a twin energy revolution — a booming shale oil and gas industry […]

BHP to expand U.S. onshore work, though output falters

20 Jul 2017   Australia, USA

U.S. oil field development extends into 2018 on the back of increased spending, but total petroleum production falters on field maturation, BHP Billiton said. Onshore U.S. production for the Australian energy and mining giant is expected to decline because the development of new activity won’t be enough to offset natural decline from existing assets. Nevertheless, CEO Andrew Mackenzie was bullish about the potential for offshore work and onshore exploration and production. “The recently approved Mad Dog phase 2 project will extend low-risk oil volumes as supply tightens while in the near-term, onshore U.S. development activity is to increase with up to 10 rigs planned for the 2018 financial year,” he said in a statement . The […]

Coal has no future, says US railroad boss

20 Jul 2017   Coal, Railroads

One of the largest haulers of US coal says fossil fuels have no future, despite pledges to the contrary from President Donald Trump. CSX, a freight railroad company with origins in the bituminous coal seams of Appalachia, will not buy a single new locomotive to pull coal trains, chief executive Hunter Harrison told analysts on Wednesday. “Fossil fuels are dead,” Mr Harrison said. “That’s a long-term view. It’s not going to happen overnight. It’s not going to be in two or three years. But it’s going away, in my view.”  His comments come as the White House aims to revive the American coal industry by rescinding environmental regulations and abandoning the Paris climate agreement. Mr Trump surrounded himself with coal miners earlier this year when he signed an executive order he said was “putting an end to the war on coal”.  Fossil fuels are dead . . . It’s not going to be in two or three years. But it’s going away, in my view Yet US power generators are building more plants fuelled by cheap natural gas, displacing old coal-fired units. Falling costs for solar and wind energy have also eaten into coal’s market share.  North American railroads have reshaped their asset holdings in acknowledgment that coal’s apex has passed.

Permian Oil Reserves Are Grossly Exaggerated

20 Jul 2017   Shale Oil

We are entering a new age of American energy dominance according to Energy Secretary Rick Perry . President Trump reflected that view in comments he made last week that “…we’ve got underneath us more oil than anybody, and nobody knew it until five years ago.” Trump was referring to tight oil production and today, that means the Permian basin. Global energy dominance by the United States is somewhere between aspirational and absurd. So far in 2017, the U.S. has imported more than 9 million barrels of crude oil per day, and net imports have averaged more than 7.3 million barrels per day. How exactly can the world’s biggest importer of oil become the supplier upon which other countries depend? The recently released BP Statistical Review Of World Energy 2017 places the United States 10th in the global ranking of oil reserve holders between Libya and Nigeria (Figure 1). That’s […]

“Dirty, Difficult, And Dangerous”: Why Millennials Won’t Work In Oil

20 Jul 2017   USA

Like many industries today, the oil industry is trying to sell its many job opportunities to the fastest growing portion of the global workforce: Millennials . But unlike any other industry, oil and gas is facing more challenges in persuading the environmentally-conscious Millennials that oil is “cool”. During the Super Bowl earlier this year, the American Petroleum Institute (API) launched an ad geared toward Millennials, who now make up the largest generation in the U.S. labor force. “This ain’t your daddy’s oil”, the ad says, in what API described as “a modern look at how oil is integrated into products consumers use now and in the future supported by bold visuals.” Despite its pitch to speak the Millennials’ language and reach out to the elusive generation, the ad sparked anger with many consumers and viewers. Millennials continue to have the most negative opinion toward the oil industry compared to […]

Summary of Weekly Petroleum Data for the Week Ending July 14, 2017

20 Jul 2017   Oil Supply

U.S. crude oil refinery inputs averaged over 17.1 million barrels per day during the week ending July 14, 2017, 125,000 barrels per day less than the previous week’s average. Refineries operated at 94.0% of their operable capacity last week. Gasoline production decreased last week, averaging 10.1 million barrels per day. Distillate fuel production decreased last week, averaging over 4.9 million barrels per day. U.S. crude oil imports averaged 8.0 million barrels per day last week, up by 386,000 barrels per day from the previous week. Over the last four weeks, crude oil imports averaged over 7.8 million barrels per day, 1.7% below the same four-week period last year. Total motor gasoline imports (including both finished gasoline and gasoline blending components) last week averaged 591,000 barrels per day. Distillate fuel imports averaged 126,000 barrels per day last week. U.S. commercial crude oil inventories (excluding those in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve) […]

Russia boasts of Turkish gas pipeline progress

20 Jul 2017   Russia, Turkey

Russian energy company Gazprom is moving forward with developments of a gas pipeline through Turkey with shallow-water preparations, a spokesperson said. Russian energy company Gazprom said construction of a pipeline known variably as TurkStream or Turkish Stream started in May. Sergei Kupriyanov , a spokesman for the energy company, told Russia news agency Tass progress is still in the preliminary stage. “Only preparations are underway in shallow waters now,” he said. The pipeline’s route would mirror the now-abandoned South Stream project and run under the Black Sea to Turkey and then to the European market. South Stream was scrapped because of concerns about Russian business practices expressed by some European countries. Turkey, meanwhile, aims to capitalize […]

Oil dips on rising U.S. crude inventories, high OPEC supplies

19 Jul 2017   Prices

Oil prices fell on Wednesday after a rise in U.S. crude inventories and ongoing high supplies from producer club OPEC revived concerns of a fuel supply overhang. Brent crude futures LCOc1, the international benchmark for oil prices, were at $48.73 per barrel at 0128 GMT, down 11 cents, or 0.2 percent, from their last close. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures CLc1 were at $46.28 per barrel, down 12 cents, or 0.3 percent. U.S. crude stocks rose last week, adding 1.6 million barrels in the week to July 14 to 497.2 million barrels, industry group the American Petroleum Institute said late on Tuesday. Outside the United States, supplies from within the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) remained high, largely because of rising output from member-states Nigeria and Libya, despite the club’s pledge to cut production. “Nigeria and Libya have made significant progress in […]

Oil rallies in anticipation of easing supply-side strains

19 Jul 2017   Prices

Market anticipation over a possible slowdown in U.S. crude oil production and declining inventories overshadowed OPEC moves to lift oil prices early Tuesday. A report emailed from S&P Global Platts said the price spread between short-term and long-term oil contracts is shrinking, which removes the financial incentive for traders to keep oil barrels locked in storage. A Platts survey of analysts found crude oil stockpiles in the United States, the world’s largest economy and No. 1 oil consumer, declined by 3 million barrels last week. Gasoline stockpiles lost 700,000 barrels last week, though that’s lower than the drop reported during the previous week. “After eight straight weekly declines, oil inventories at Cushing, Okla., the delivery point for […]

Oil cuts working, market in balance by end-March: Kuwait minister

19 Jul 2017   OPEC

The world oil market is taking longer than expected to rebalance but the glut should go by the end of March and OPEC need not take further action to curb supplies for now, Kuwait’s oil minister said. Essam al-Marzouq also told Reuters there was no need for the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries to hold an extraordinary meeting before its scheduled gathering in November because OPEC-led supply cuts were “working well”. OPEC and 11 non-OPEC states have cut output by 1.8 million barrels per day (bpd) since January. The curbs, which were initially due to run for the first half of 2017, were extended to March 2018 in a bid to cut oversupply and lift prices. “We are in the first two weeks of the extension period. It is too early to say now what I will do in November,” Marzouq said in an interview […]

U.S. targets Iran with new economic sanctions over its ballistic missile program

19 Jul 2017   Iran

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Trump administration on Tuesday unveiled new economic sanctions against Iran over its ballistic missile program and for contributing to regional tensions, one day after warning Tehran that it was not following the spirit of its nuclear agreement with world powers. The U.S. Department of Treasury, in a statement, said it was targeting 16 entities and individuals for supporting what is said was “illicit Iranian actors or transnational criminal activity.” Those sanctioned had backed Iran’s military or Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) by developing drones and military equipment, producing and maintaining boats, and procuring electronic components, the U.S. said. Others has also ‘orchestrated the theft of U.S. and Western software programs’ sold to Iran’s government, the Treasury Department said. The U.S. State Department had also designated two Iranian organizations involved in Iran’s ballistic missile program, according to the Treasury Department.

Western forces hit more ISIS oil installations in Syria

19 Jul 2017   Syria

Coalition forces hit oil installations controlled by the group in Syria calling itself the Islamic State. U.S. Defense Department photo July 18 (UPI) — The fight against terrorism extended into the oil industry as the Western-led coalition said it hit storage tanks in Syria controlled by the Islamic State . The U.S. Defense Department said forces united under Operation Inherent Resolve struck oil installations in the 25 strikes carried out recently against fighters with the Islamic State in Syria. “Near Abu Kamal, two strikes destroyed four ISIS oil refinement stills, three oil storage tanks and three oil barrels,” the Pentagon said in a strike update . “Near Dayr Az Zawr, six strikes destroyed 12 ISIS oil refinement stills, four wellheads and two oil storage tanks.” Three years ago, consultant firm IHS estimated the oil production controlled by the terrorist group was worth $800 million per year, based on the […]

Iran Looks To Close More Deals But Oil Majors Are Cautious

19 Jul 2017   Iran

Iran is on track to reach a major national milestone this year, if the nation’s oil spokesmen are to be believed. On Wednesday deputy oil minister Amir Hossein Zamaninia predicted oil production would reach 4 million bpd by the end of 2017, and certainly exceed that level by the end of the Iranian calendar year (March 2018). Since international sanctions on its oil and gas industry were lifted in January 2016, Iran has managed to increase production to pre-sanctions levels, reaching 3.8 million in May 2017, the highest level in seven years. But 4 million bpd, long a national goal and symbolic of a full recovery, is now within reach. Iran, the third-largest producer in OPEC, agreed to the group’s production cuts last year and to their extension in May. Citing its recovery from sanctions, Iran was exempt from production cuts, allowing its output to exceed 3.7 million bpd. […]

Ajil oil field targeted in latest insurgent attacks

19 Jul 2017   Iraq

Militants from the self-proclaimed Islamic State (IS) exchanged mortar fire with Iraqi forces guarding the Ajil oil field Tuesday – the latest indication that a renewed insurgency is threatening northern Iraq and its energy infrastructure. Seven guerilla-style attacks have hit various parts of Kirkuk and Diyala provinces in less than a week, all in areas that have long been under nominal Iraqi government control. At least six people have been killed, five injured, and two abducted.

Saudis Consider Further Cuts To Oil Exports

19 Jul 2017   Saudi Arabia

Tuesday . Oil futures jumped up two percent in value after industry consultant Petroleum Policy Intelligence said the KSA had been considering lowering exports by a further 1 million barrels per day. New production from Libya and Nigeria, two African countries that have been granted an exemption from production quotas due to their previously weak oil output, have brought hundreds of thousands of barrels online in the past few weeks. Sources close to the Libyan oil sector said the country had reached 1.1 million bpd national output, according to World Oil. The country is set to participate in an OPEC technical meeting on July 22 nd to discuss the “factors enabling and constraining Libya’s production recovery,” National Oil Company chairman Mustafa Sanalla said Tuesday. “We think they are looking at options to speed up the rebalancing,” PPI founder Bill Farren-Price said of the KSA in the new report. No […]

Saudi King’s Son Plotted Effort to Oust His Rival

19 Jul 2017   Saudi Arabia

As next in line to be king of Saudi Arabia , Mohammed bin Nayef was unaccustomed to being told what to do. Then, one night in June, he was summoned to a palace in Mecca, held against his will and pressured for hours to give up his claim to the throne. By dawn, he had given in, and Saudi Arabia woke to the news that it had a new crown prince: the king’s 31-year-old son, Mohammed bin Salman. The young prince’s supporters have lauded his elevation as the seamless empowerment of an ambitious leader. But since he was promoted on June 21 , indications have emerged that Mohammed bin Salman plotted the ouster and that the transition was rockier than has been publicly portrayed, according to current and former United States officials and associates of the royal family. To strengthen support for the sudden change in […]

Ecuador to Pump Over OPEC Oil Limit

19 Jul 2017   Ecuador

Ecuador has broken ranks with fellow OPEC members as the South American country’s energy minister said it could no longer hold up its end of an agreement to cut oil production. Ecuador is among the smallest producers in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, but the news is a symbolic setback for the 14-nation cartel, which has…

Ecuador Abandons The OPEC Deal: Who’s Next?

19 Jul 2017   Ecuador, OPEC

Ecuador announced its withdrawal from the OPEC agreement this week, a move that could shake the foundation of a deal that was already starting to show some cracks. “We need funds for the fiscal treasury and for that reason we’ve taken the decision to gradually increase production,” Ecuadorian oil minister Carlos Perez said , according to Reuters. Ecuador is running a fiscal deficit equivalent to 7.5 percent of GDP. Low oil prices are really hurting government finances, and production restrictions only add to the pain. With oil prices having posted few gains from the deal since it was implemented at the start of the year, Ecuador decided enough was enough. It needs to produce as much as possible. Ecuador, by any measure, is not a massive oil producer. The Andean nation produced just 527,000 bpd in June, making it the third smallest OPEC producer after Equatorial Guinea and Gabon. […]

U.S. prepares sanctions against senior Venezuelan officials: sources

19 Jul 2017   Venezuela

The Trump administration is preparing sanctions against several senior Venezuelan officials, including the country’s defense minister and a ruling party leader, for alleged human rights violations and could announce the measures as early as Tuesday, U.S. officials said. Among those likely to be targeted are Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez and Diosdado Cabello, vice president of President Nicolas Maduro’s Socialist party, the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity. The sanctions could be rolled out as early as Tuesday, one of the officials told Reuters. Another U.S. source said that while Tuesday was possible, an announcement could still be delayed.

Venezuela Fires Back at Trump

19 Jul 2017   Venezuela

Venezuela’s government issued a firm rebuke of President Donald Trump on Tuesday after he threatened to put sanctions on the troubled oil-exporting nation unless its increasingly authoritarian leader, Nicolás Maduro, abandons his plans to rewrite the country’s constitution. Foreign Minister Samuel Moncada accused the U.S. of seeking to topple the embattled Maduro administration by backing the antigovernment protests that have rocked the South American country over the last three months, costing more than 90 lives. He said…

Venezuela’s National Oil Company On Its Last Legs

19 Jul 2017   Venezuela

On Sunday 9 th , 2017 Venezuela hit a hundred days of anti-dictatorial regime demonstrations. Hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans have taken over main streets and roads demanding a new presidential election, a humanitarian solution to counter food and medical supply shortages, the release of political prisoners and the reinstitution of the National Assembly’s functions. Since the protests started, more than one hundred people have been killed, 3,500 arrested and thousands injured across the country. Falling oil revenues due to low international oil prices, as well as institutionalized government corruption, caused a further backlash, leaving the government to respond once again with brute force. Tear gas, water cannons and pepper-spray were fired into crowds by the National Guard and its paramilitary force, the “colectivos”, a heavily armed civilian branch supporting the Venezuelan government. This critical economic, political and social situation does not seem to have an easy solution. In […]

One Way Or Another – Venezuela Will Send Oil Prices Up

19 Jul 2017   Venezuela

In a desperate bid to survive its economic meltdown, Venezuela is lobbying other OPEC members to agree to steeper oil production cuts, a move that would likely lead to higher oil prices. Venezuelan officials have reached out to their counterparts in Iran, Russia and Saudi Arabia to press them on more collective action, according to Argus Media . If there was enough interest, the next step would be an “extraordinary meeting,” which would weigh the option of cutting deeper. The rumors about deeper OPEC cuts have been floating around since June, when oil prices collapsed into the low-$40s. The markets have grown deeply pessimistic about the health of the oil market, and doubt the OPEC cuts will balance the market by the end of the compliance period in March 2018. But the behind-the-scenes effort from Venezuelan officials is notable, if only because the South American OPEC members was one […]