Politics, Geopolitics & Conflict
Somalia has invited Soma Oil and Gas, ExxonMobil, Royal Dutch Shell, BP and Chevron to explore oil and gas resources in the country. Soma Oil and Gas—based in the UK and backed by Russian billionaire Alexander Djaparidze--has completed an onshore and offshore seismic survey in the Somali capital, Mogadishu. The government in Mogadishu said it would reward the company for carrying out the seismic survey with licenses to explore for oil.
This is a daunting endeavor in a country where security remains shaky at best and where al-Shabaab is clearly resurging. Attacks by the Islamist militant group have picked up momentum recently, not only in the capital but also in Baidoa (south-central), near the border with Kenya, and in Kenya itself.
There should also be grave concerns about the development of oil and gas here as Somalia and Kenya dispute offshore territory and there is no chance of talks progressing on this as long as al-Shabaab continues with its militant revival.
Oil & Gas Markets
State-run Kuwait Petroleum Corp. says it will sell crude to Asian refiners at $3.95 per barrel, which is well below regional benchmarks and represents the largest discount since 2008. Likewise, Saudi Arabia has increased its discount more than it has in 11 years as crude prices look set to remain at around $65 per barrel for the next six months. This is one seemingly viable scenario, as long as OPEC sticks to its production level, despite OPEC members’ budgetary needs. At the same time, the Bank of America is warning that OPEC has lost its competence and that oil could slide to $50 per barrel.
In this atmosphere, Norway has released its new forecast, which predicts a significant slowdown in economic growth and oil spending in 2015. Even while state-run Statoil, to our mind, is poised to be one of the best investments that will come out of the current oil price crisis, Norway foresees oil investments declining for four consecutive years. The country expects oil and gas investment to be $27 billion in 2015, down 14%. Spending on fields, on stream is forecast to fall 14%. Energy firms are scaling back investments and laying off workers. Investment in what has so far been very successful enhanced oil recovery is also declining as companies focus on cost reductions.
In a related development, we also note that Statoil has shut down Europe’s only LNG-producing plant for an undefined period due to a gas leak The plant processes gas from the Barents Sea Snoehvit field and can produce up to 4.3 million tons of LNG annually, which is transported via tanker. The leak has reportedly been fixed, but there is as of yet no timeline for bringing the plant back online. The plant underwent a major overhaul in 2013, and largely exports LNG to Europe and Asia.
• BP Plc is forecasting some $1 billion in restructuring charges through 2015 as it overhauls operations to make up for falling oil prices.
• ConocoPhillips has set its investment budget for 2015 at $13.5 billion, down 20% over 2014 due to slumping oil prices.
Regulations, Legislation, Transparency & Compliance
• Israel has banned Eilat Ashkelon Pipeline Company (EAPC) from operating its pipeline after a massive oil spill in the country’s south last week. The spill is being dubbed one of the worst ecological disasters to hit Israel. EAPC Trans-Israel pipeline—a major oil conduit between the Mediterranean and the Red seas--was damaged during maintenance, sending 3 million liters of oil into the southern desert. Israel’s Environmental Protection Ministry said the company had to stop operating the line until it is issued a new permit.
• Brazil’s Prosecutors’ Office is preparing to indict some 11 executives from the country’s largest construction companies for bribery and money-laundering in connection with a corruption scandal involving the oil industry. The scandal involves claims of bribes to obtain contracts with state-run Petrobras. The executives were arrested in November.
• Americans Against Fracking—in collaboration with some 40 additional organizations—is pressuring the Maryland Governor’s Office in an open letter calling for a reversal of the decision to lift the moratorium on fracking in the state, announced last week.
• The Supreme Court has refused BP’s challenge to a multibillion-dollar settlement from the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill. The court declined to hear the company’s case that it is being forced to compensate businesses for losses unrelated to the disaster.
Deals, Tenders, Mergers & Acquisitions
• Denver-based Whiting Petroleum Corp. has acquired Kodiak Oil & Gas Corp., making Whiting the largest producer in the Bakken/Three Forks area.
• Southwestern Energy Co. will purchase 46,700 net acres in Pennsylvania from WPX Energy Inc. for a reported $300 million. This acreage produces around 50 million net cubic feet of gas per day from over 60 horizontal wells.
• The US Bureau of Land Management put up 97 oil and gas leases for auction across 300 square miles in northeast Nevada; however, only one lease was bid on due to protests and concerns about protection of wildlife and groundwater in the area from hydraulic fracturing.
• Algeria is planning yet another round of bidding on oil and gas assets in the third quarter of 2015, and promises to improve terms for foreign companies. The improved terms will come as a result of a September bidding round that saw interest in only four out of 31 blocks on offer.
• Mexico's initial shallow-water oil and gas contracts will offer companies a share of output with average production costs estimated at about $20 per barrel, according to Mexico’s National Hydrocarbons Commission.
• India’s Reliance Industries has signed an MOU with Mexico’s Pemex to jointly assess the potential for upstream oil and gas business in Mexico and other international markets. Reliance is controlled by India’s wealthiest businessman, Mukesh Ambani.
• Bulgaria’s council of ministers is beginning the tender process for exploration and drilling in two areas in the economic shelf and exclusive economic zone. The two areas include the Silistar Block 1-14 and the Teres Block 1-22. Potential investors will be granted a five-year exploration period.
Discovery & Development
• Marathon Oil (MRO) has announced a significant oil and natural gas discovery in the Kurdistan region of Iraq. A drill stem testing program at the Jisik-1 exploration well in the Harir block yielded a sustained flow rate of 6,100 bbl/day of oil, and multiple non-associated gas zones flowed at a combined rate of 10M-15M cf/day. MRO is the operator of the block with a 45% stake. France’s Total SA owns a 35% stake, while the Kurdistan Regional Government holds the obligatory 20%.
• Chevron Corp. has launched its first oil and gas production from the Jack/St. Malo project in the deep waters of the US Gulf of Mexico. The fields are expected to yield over 500 million oil-equivalent barrels over a 30-year lifespan. Chevron’s developments here are in 7,000 feet of water in the Walker Ridge area, off the coast of Louisiana. Chevron has a 50% working interest in Jack and 51% in St. Malo.
• After spudding its second exploration well in Romania, Serinus Energy has announced a discovery in the Moftinu 1001 well at its Satu Mare concession. Logs indicated a net pay of 17 metres at a depth ranging from 730 to 900 meters. Originally, Serinus planned to drill the well to 1,900 meters to test the possibility of gas in pre-Miocene structures, but encountered mechanical difficulties at 1,463 meters.
• BG Group has delivered its first gas from the Starfish field in Trinidad’s East Coast Marine Area. BG’s first well here, some 50 miles offshore, is connected to the 3,000-ton Dolphin platform and will feed the Altantic LNG export facility, which is a key facet of BG’s LNG business.
• President Energy has reached TD at 4,543 metres at the Lapacho x-1 well in the Santa Rosa Formation, the primary pre-drill target, with 418 metres of the 600 metre target interval drilled, with encouraging hydrocarbon shows encountered throughout the gross formation thickness extending right to TD, with high background gas of up to 20 per cent and trip gas of up to 48%.
• A subsidiary of Russia’s Rostec will construct pipelines and terminals for the regasification of LNG in Pakistan, which is suffering from serious energy shortages and soaring natural gas demand. Construction is scheduled to begin in 2015. The project will cost an estimated $3 billion.
• Indonesian state-run Pertamina is planning to build 203 new refineries as part of the country’s goal of becoming the largest gas importer in the world by 2018. The new refineries will be the country’s first since 1994. Indonesia expects to sign agreements with Saudi Aramco, China's CNOOC, Thailand’s PTT and a Japanese oil firm covering direct oil sales and refinery investments in the country.
• Turkmenistan’s Turkmenoil State Concern produced 4.4 million metric tons of oil over the 10 months of 2014 at the fields which are under development. The oil ministry said the number of the developed sites with hydrocarbon resources exceeded 25.
• TransAtlantic Petroleum has announced that the Dada? interval of its Bahar-6 well in the Molla area of southeast Turkey had a seven-day average flowing production rate of 804vbopd of 35 degree API oil and approximately 500 mcfpd, with no formation water. TransAtlantic performed a single-stage vertical frack of the Dadas interval in November. This is referred to as the geological equivalent of the Marcellus formation in North America.