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Oil and Gas Roundup — Feb. 8

February 08, 2018
TOPICS: In the news
A roundup of oil and natural gas industry news from around the state, nation and world:

Oklahoma Corporation Commission hearing examines proposed fee increases

Licensing, fee, fine and citation payments the Oklahoma Corporation Commission gets from businesses it regulates help support the various programs and services it provides.

Agency officials are frustrated, however, that Oklahoma's Legislature has cut the commission's general appropriations that also help pay for that work and forced it to use dollars from its revolving funds to try to make up the difference.

Consequently, they are proposing to boost numerous fees and to create some new ones in an effort to reduce the agency's reliance on general revenues in the future.

The proposals were presented by the commission's staff during a hearing Tuesday.

If the commission were to adopt the changes, and if they were approved by the Legislature and governor, they wouldn't take effect before July 1, 2019.

Generally, the proposals seek to adjust fees related to the commission's licensing, permitting and oversight activities involving petroleum storage tanks, commercial transportation and oil and gas operations.

If all were adopted, commission officials estimate they would generate an additional $13.7 million in annual funding.

Read Jack Money’s story at NewsOK.

U.S. crude output to jump above 11 mbpd sooner than expected

The U.S. government sees nationwide oil production jumping above 11 million barrels a day much quicker than anticipated.

After oil output already topped 10 million barrels a day back in November, output will climb above the 11 million mark this November, the Energy Information Administration said in its monthly Short-Term Energy Outlook on Tuesday. It previously forecast production above that level in November 2019.

Nationwide output will average 10.59 million this year and 11.18 million next year, up from prior forecasts of 10.27 million and 10.85 million, according to the EIA.

With West Texas Intermediate crude holding above $60 a barrel since late last year, the prospect of pumping in this price environment is seen enticing drillers to pick up the pace. The U.S. oil rig count posted the biggest two-week gain since June, according to the latest Baker Hughes data.

WTI crude will average $58.28 a barrel this year, the EIA said, up from last month’s estimate of $55.33, and $57.51 in 2019, higher than $57.43. The global benchmark Brent is forecast to average $62.39 in 2018, up from $59.74, and $61.51 in 2019 versus $61.43. WTI traded at $63.59 at 1:50 p.m. in New York, while Brent was at $66.91.

“EIA’s forecast expects Brent crude oil prices to be in the $62 per barrel range in 2018 and 2019. That’s down a bit from current levels, as strong U.S. production growth is expected to help moderate global prices,” Dr. Linda Capuano, administrator of the U.S. Energy Information Administration, said in a statement.

Read more at Bloomberg.

Could West Texas Intermediate challenge Brent as world benchmark?

Surging shale oil production in Texas and North Dakota is being felt on trading desks in Chicago, Houston and New York, where a brisk business in West Texas Intermediate crude futures is far outpacing contracts for London-based Brent crude.

As the United States approaches a record 10.04 million barrels of daily production, trading volumes of so-called “WTI” futures exceeded volumes of Brent crude in 2017 by the largest margin in at least seven years.

A decade ago, falling domestic production and a U.S. ban on exports meant that WTI served mostly as a proxy for U.S. inventory levels.

“There was a time when the U.S. was disconnected from the global market,” said Greg Sharenow, portfolio manager at PIMCO, who co-manages more than $15 billion in commodity assets.

Two changes drove the resurgence of the U.S. benchmark. One was the boom in shale production, which spawned a multitude of small producers that sought to hedge profits by trading futures contracts. Then two years ago, the United States ended its 40-year ban on crude exports, making WTI more useful to global traders and shippers.

U.S. exports averaged 1.1 million barrels a day through November 2017, rising to an average 1.6 million bpd in the final three months. That compares to just 590,000 bpd in 2016.

As U.S. production and exports grow, global firms that increasingly buy U.S. oil are offsetting their exposure by trading in U.S. financial markets. That also gives U.S. shale producers more opportunity to lock in profits on their own production.

Read more at Reuters.

Oil world turns upside down as U.S. sells oil in Middle East

The United Arab Emirates, a model Persian Gulf petro-state where endless billions from crude exports feed a giant sovereign wealth fund, isn’t the most obvious customer for Texan oil.

Yet, in a trade that illustrates how the rise of the American shale industry is upending energy markets across the globe, the U.A.E. bought oil directly from the U.S. in December, according to data from the federal government. A tanker sailed from Houston and arrived in the Persian Gulf last month.

The cargo of American condensate, a type of very light crude oil, was preferred to regional grades because its superior quality made more suitable for the U.A.E’s processing plants, a person with knowledge of the matter said, asking not to be identified discussing a commercially sensitive matter.

“As a member of OPEC and a large crude producer, I would imagine they would be very self-sufficient in their own crude supply,” said Andy Lipow, president of Lipow Oil Associates LLC. The purchases of U.S. oil aren’t likely to continue, given the U.A.E.’s own supply, Lipow said.

The end of a ban on U.S. exports in 2015 coupled with the explosive growth of shale production, has changed the flow of petroleum around the world. Shipments from U.S. ports have increased from a little more than 100,000 barrels a day in 2013 to 1.53 million in November, traveling as far as China and the U.K.

Read more at Bloomberg.

India plans massive natural gas expansion, LNG imports to soar

India’s push to more than double the share natural gas has in its energy mix to 15 percent by 2022 will require a huge increase in imports and the construction of more LNG terminals, a government official said on Wednesday.

India has four terminals to receive liquefied natural gas (LNG) and imports around 20 million tonnes of the super-chilled fuel a year. But over the next seven year the government plans to build another 11 terminals, said Narendra Taneja, spokesman for the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

That would raise India’s LNG import capacity to more than 70 million tonnes per year in the coming seven years, in what would be one of the fastest gas import expansions since China embarked on its huge gasification programme last year.

India would eventually require even more than 15 terminals to meet its demand, Taneja said, speaking at an industry conference in Bali, Indonesia.

“India is looking at LNG in a very strategic manner. Once we get into it, we are talking about 15 terminals but it will be many more as the need is going to be there,” he said.

India has stated it plans to raise the share of natural gas in its energy mix to 15 percent by 2022 from about 6.5 percent now, he said.

The 70 million-tonnes-a-year target a few years later would mean Indian would need to import more than China took last year via both pipelines and tankers, and it would put India close to what top importer Japan currently buys.

Read more at Reuters.
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