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Houthis Threaten More Attacks In The Middle East

Politics, Geopolitics & Conflict

- Yemen's Houthi rebels threatened to attack dozens of targets in the United Arab Emirates, including in the cities of Dubai and Abu Dhabi. The group has made threats against the UAE in the past and claimed strikes, but those were never confirmed by the Emirati authorities. Right now, the Houthis, who have to beg for recognition every time they launch a larger scale attack with more advanced weaponry, have every reason to target the UAE, despite its announcement of a withdrawal from the conflict. While withdrawing, the UAE has set off a secondary front in the war by supporting southern separatists who wish to secede from Yemen.

- As of late Thursday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was close to losing his re-vote bid to remain prime minister and thereby avoid a corruption trial and possibly even prison time. Netanyahu could have ended up being one of the biggest beneficiaries of the attacks on Saudi oil facilities because his last ditch effort to win elections hinged on convincing the Israeli public that he is their only chance of security in the face of an Iranian threat. With 97% of the votes tallied, Netanyahu’s right-wing bloc led by his Likud party had fallen short of the 61 seats needed to form a government in the 120-seat Knesset. Friends are already distancing themselves, including Trump, who has been an avid Netanyahu supporter, and is now saying that his support is for “Israel”. Nor does it help that former Exxon chief and former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is telling everyone far and wide that Trump has consistently been “played” by Netanyahu, whom he describes as “Machiavellian”.

- Saudi Arabia has announced it will join a US-led coalition to police the waterways and protect oil tankers from any Iranian threats. This move should largely be viewed as a meager attempt to demonstrate a “coalition” force while everyone gauges what the next move should be.

Discovery & Development

- Exxon/Hess has announced another discovery - the 14th so far - with the Tripletail-1 well in the Turbot area. This discovery comes as Exxon prepares to launch first production from its Liza project in early 2020. In the same basin, Tullow has also announced another discovery in the Orinduik block, with the Joe-1 wells. The first discovery came in August with Jethro-1. Joe-1 encountered 14 meters of net oil pay in high-quality oil-bearing sandstone reservoirs. Tullow’s non-operated Carapa-1 well in the Kanuku license is also expected to see drilling start this month.

- Europa Oil & Gas reported that it has secured an exploration license for a large area of the Agadir Basin offshore Morocco. The company will be assigned a 75% operated interest in the concession, with ONHYM holding the remaining 25%.

- French Total and Italian Eni have been licensed to explore for oil and gas in a new area in Cyprus’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), making them the biggest players in the Cyprus oil and gas exploration, holding exploration licenses for seven of the 13 blocks. This move is likely to spark another round of threats from Turkey, which claims some of the parts of this zone lie on its continental shelf.

- Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) announced that it has agreed to $2.5bn financing with a Chinese lender for the pipeline in Nigeria. Last month, the Nigerian government said that Chinese investment in Nigeria's oil and gas industry has reached $16 billion.

- Canadian power generator TransAlta announced its clean energy investment plan, which will focus on transitioning its coal assets to natural gas. The plan, expected to cost nearly $1.5bn, will see three of its existing Alberta thermal units converted to gas. It will also convert two of its units to efficient natural gas units by late 2023.

Deals, Mergers & Acquisitions

- The world’s biggest offshore wind-park operator Orsted has agreed to sell its Danish power distribution and retail businesses, Radius and two other units for $3.15 billion. Buyer is Danish energy firm SEAS-NVE, the second largest cooperatively-owned energy company, which owns a majority stake in Orsted.

- Australian power station company Pacific Energy has agreed to be acquired by the QIC Private Capital for $321 million for its global infrastructure fund. Pacific Energy said that Queensland government-backed QIC matched a recent offer from a rival consortium comprised of Australian fund manager Infrastructure Capital Group and Canada’s OPTrust.

- Vitol and Mozambique's state oil firm ENH has launched a trading joint venture, ENH Energy Trading, aimed to optimize overseas sales of the country’s natural gas potential. ENH, Mozambique’s national oil company, will own 51 percent and Vitol will own 49 percent of the joint venture, to be based in Singapore. Mozambique has Africa’s third-largest gas reserves after discoveries off its coast early in the early 2010s. According to the government data, the country has an estimated 125-trillion cubic feet of technically recoverable gas resources and is expected to become a top LNG exporter with more than 30-million tons per year.

- Exxon Mobil has announced it will sell all of its assets in the Gippsland Basin off Australia's south coast. The company said it was looking to sell its 50% stake in the Gippsland Basin oil and gas development in Australia’s Bass Strait. Analysts say the sale could fetch as much as $3 billion, minus the cost of decommissioning of the aging fields.

- Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy (SGRE) said it is in talks to acquire a substantial part of the business from insolvent German wind turbine manufacturer Senvion which filed for insolvency in April.

Legislation & Regulations

- In Guyana, where Exxon, Hess and Tullow continue to rack up the offshore discoveries at breakneck speed, both US and European diplomats are now calling on the government of President David Granger to immediately set an election date or else be found in violation of the country’s constitution, which could lead to an end to Western development funding. In June, an international court upheld a no-confidence motion against the government, technically giving the Granger administration 90 days to hold elections. Three months later, an election date has still not been set, and Granger is now coming under pressure as he attempts to buy more time. There are two ethnic groups controlling the political parties in Guyana, and both are gunning for control over the parliament at a time when the country is about to produce its first oil, and when the resource size is immense. Whoever controls parliament will control how these revenues are spent. While there have been some concerns among investors that this could spell trouble for Exxon’s generous royalties contract, the likelihood is that this is more about gaining control of government coffers once they are full of oil revenues than it is about hindering the relationship with Exxon. The generous Exxon contract has been used by politicians to score points with the public, but there are no real indications that either party would seek to derail that right as Exxon is gearing up to launch first production from Liza-1.

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