Citigroup Eyes Oil, Infrastructure in Iraq
Citigroup Inc. (C) received approval last week to open a representative office in Baghdad to take advantage of the estimated $1 trillion to be spent on oil and infrastructure creation in Iraq. Citigroup is not flinching at the prospect of another civil war in Iraq as sectarian tensions overflow while the country becomes the definitive second front in the war in Syria. Citigroup is also reportedly considering opening additional offices and branches in other areas of Iraq. Citigroup describes Iraq as a “giant waking up”, with international business coming in to rebuild roads, telecommunication networks and electricity & water infrastructure, along with oil and gas exploration and production.
US West Coast Imports Record Oil From Interior
The premium for Russia’s East Siberia-Pacific Ocean oil has retreated 60% against US benchmark West Texas Intermediate since 20 February 2013, as the US West Coast brings in record amounts of crude from domestic plays in the interior. Russian imports to the West Coast have fallen to 713,000 barrels from a high exactly a year ago of 6.53 million barrels. If the current pace continues, the most optimistic of analysts believe that overseas imports to the West Coast could end altogether next year. The trick will be moving more oil by rail to the West Coast from the interior.
German-Canadian JV ‘Floating on Oil’ on Baltic Coast
German-Canadian joint venture Central European Petroleum GmbH (CEP) has drilled four wells and found oil in all them so far on 8 exploration licenses covering more than 3.6 million acres near the Baltic Sea in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania (the home district of German Chancellor Angela Merkel). The company describes the area as “floating on oil”, and the project has the backing of Goldman Sachs Group Inc. According to the JV, one 160-square-kilometer area called Big Barth has an estimated 40 million barrels of conventionally extractable reserves—so at least here, there won’t be a fracking controversy. (We’re talking about light, sweet crude with low sulphur content).
This project is going to play a key role in the 22 September federal elections in Germany, and makes Merkel’s electorate the focal point of the country’s energy debate and the “shift” to clean energy. At issue will be the fact that the very region that is sitting on all of this prospective oil wealth currently has the second-highest unemployment rate and the lowest per capita income in Germany. Environmentalists, however, are concerned that all that drilling will destroy the region’s Baltic coastline tourism prospects.
Afren Makes Light Oil Find in Nigeria
UK-based Afren Plc (AFR) rose 7.3% on the London Stock Exchange last week after a “significant” light oil find in Nigeria. The find was in Afren’s Ogo well, which was drilled to 10,518 feet, encountering a 524-feet gross hydrocarbon section, with 216 feet of net stacked pay. Afren estimates that the targeted resources will now be “significantly in excess of previous estimates” of 78 million barrels of oil equivalent. Afren has a 23% interest in the OPL 310 offshore block which houses the Ogo well, in partnership with Lekoil Ltd (LEK) and Optimum Petroleum. Lekoil’s shares rose 9.6% in London on news of the discovery. (In May, Afren sold 17% of OPL 310 to Lekoil for around $50 million.) Afren also has interests in Northern Iraq (Kurdistan).
Gulf Keystone Kurdistan Development Plan Approved
The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) of Northern Iraq has approved UK-based Gulf Keystone’s (LON:GKP) development plans for the world class Shaikan field, which will be a major growth booster for the company. Production will begin in a matter of weeks and is expected to reach 150,000 bopd within 3 years and 250,000 bopd by 2018. GKP has completed its first production facility and is working on its second, which should be up and running by the end of this year. GKP has so far discovered several billion barrels of oil in Shaikan, and since 2011 1.14 million barrels of oil have been produced in this field through extended well tests.