1. Iraq’s Oil Ambitions Face Harsh Reality of Low Investment
- Iraq’s oil production capacity is set for a decline in the long term as political infighting and worsening upstream terms disappointed Western majors, leading to years of insufficient investment.
- Having enjoyed steady output growth in the early 2010s, Iraqi oil production has been stagnating at around 4.5 million b/d, despite repeated government calls for a 7-8 million b/c production capacity.
- Low recovery factors, high natural decline rates and lacking government funding for infrastructure upgrades have compelled ExxonMobil and Shell to leave the country, narrowing the playing field.
- One of the key projects for further supply growth, a massive seawater treatment project supposed to be led by TotalEnergies has stalled, whilst the expansion of the Basrah port is nowhere to be seen, buried by missing government approvals.
2. Europe’s Gas-to-Coal Switching Runs Its Course
- European gas inventories are 56% full by end-March, greatly alleviating the upward pressure on natural gas prices as the benchmark TTF contract hovers around €40-45 per MWh.
- Liquefaction capacity has been greatly boosted across Europe thanks to new FSRUs, although the threat of Chinese LNG demand mopping up available spot cargoes still lurks in the background.
- Nevertheless, spark spreads (the gross margin of selling a unit of electricity produced at a…