The US Bureau of Land Management proposed final environmental impact statements and amendments to greater sage grouse habitat management programs in seven western US states. “With today’s action, we have leaned forward to address the various states’ issues, while appropriately ensuring that we will continue to be focused on meaningfully addressing the threats to the greater sage grouse and making efforts to improve its habitat,” Deputy Interior Sec. David Bernardt said in Salt Lake City on Dec. 6.
Canada lost 13 rigs for the week ended Dec. 7, according to Baker Hughes data. With 186 rigs running, the count is less than the 219 units drilling this week a year ago. The number of oil-directed rigs in Canada fell by 17, bringing the count to 102 rigs for the week. Gas-directed rigs were up 4 to 84 units.
The US exported more crude oil and petroleum products than it imported during the week ending Nov. 30, according to the Energy Information Administration’s Weekly Petroleum Status Report. The country thus became a net oil exporter for the first time since World War II, at the end of which US oil exports exceeded imports. By 1950, the US had become a net oil importer, a status unchanged until now.
The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries concluded a 2-day meeting in Vienna on Dec. 7 with an agreement to cut 800,000 b/d of production, while 10 non-OPEC countries agreed to cut 400,000 b/d. The countries of Iran, Libya, and Venezuela were exempted from the production cuts, which will be effective for 6 months starting Jan. 1, 2019. The cuts will be based on October 2018 production levels.
The international rig count for November reached 991, down 26 units from the 1,017 rigs counted in October and up 49 units from the 942 rigs counted a year ago, according to Baker Hughes data. The international offshore rig count for November was 206, down 1 unit from the 207 counted in October, and up 23 from the 183 counted in November 2017.
Chevron Corp. estimates it will spend $20 billion in 2019 to support its upstream and downstream projects. The company said its 2019 capital and exploratory budget is “highlighted by our world-class Permian basin position, additional shale and tight development in other basins, and our major capital project at TCO in Kazakhstan,” said Chairman and CEO Michael K. Wirth.
Crude oil benchmarks on the New York and London markets fell by more than $1/bbl on Dec. 6 after the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries met in Vienna but delayed any announcement until reconvening for a second day Dec. 7. OPEC formally ended its meeting on Dec. 7 and convened in a closed session meeting with a group of 10 non-OPEC members, led by Russia.
The US Department of the Interior reported that the Wolfcamp shale and overlying Bone Spring formation in the Delaware basin portion of Texas and New Mexico’s Permian basin province contain an estimated mean of 46.3 billion bbl of oil, 281 tcf of natural gas, and 20 billion bbl of natural gas liquids, according to an assessment by the US Geological Survey.
Williams Cos. Inc., Tulsa, closed on the sale of certain pipeline systems in the Gulf Coast area to Easton Energy LLC, Houston, for $177 million in cash. Included in the sale are the 31-mile Texas Belle Pipeline, the Purity pipeline system, certain assets in the Live Oak pipeline system, and additional idle pipelines along the Gulf Coast. In total, the deal includes about 416 miles of Gulf Coast NGL pipelines, Easton said.
The global oil market tightened slightly in the week ending Nov. 23, according to the Oil Adequacy Index, a new measure of oil-market supply created by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) and CargoMetrics. The index harnesses real-time intelligence on oil production from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, Russia, and the US, and sets this against the EIU's forecast for global oil consumption, providing an early indicator of the adequacy of global oil supplies.
US crude oil inventories, excluding the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, decreased by 7.3 million bbl for the week ended Nov. 30, according to data from the US Energy Information Administration. EIA released the Weekly Petroleum Status Report a day later than usual because of the closure of the federal government on Dec. 5 to observe the funeral of former US President George H.W. Bush.
Timothy Cutt has been named president and chief executive officer of QEP Resources Inc., Denver, succeeding the retiring Charles Stanley in those positions.
Light, sweet crude oil for January delivery fell modestly on the New York market to settle below $53/bbl while Brent for February and March fell to settle below $62/bbl Dec. 5 pending a meeting of OPEC in Vienna. The cartel is under pressure after oil prices fell about 30% since early October. Analysts said oil prices tumbled on concerns about rising world oil supplies coupled with concerns about world economic growth—and likely slowing oil demand.
Equinor and Faroe Petroleum PLC have agreed to asset swaps in the Norwegian Sea and the North Sea region of the Norwegian Continental Shelf. The transactions are calibrated as a balanced swap with no cash consideration. Faroe signed a binding agreement to swap its interests in the Njord, Hyme redevelopment, and Bauge development assets in return for interests in four production assets on the NCS: Alve, Marulk, Ringhorne East, and Vilje.
Canadian Natural Resources is linking its capital spending plan for 2019 to the debottlenecking of oil production in Alberta. Citing “a lack of market access and a dysfunctional pipeline nomination process” in Canada, the company plans a “base capital program” of $3.7 billion (Can.) in 2019, about $1 billion below its longer-term, “normalized capital program” and the outlay expected this year.
Houston independent Apache Corp. reported the start of production from its Garten development on Block 9/18a Area-W in the UK North Sea. The discovery well, 6 km south of the Beryl Alpha platform, was placed on production in late November, less than 8 months after being drilled in March.
DEA Deutsche Erdoel AG (DEA), Hamburg, has agreed to acquire Sierra Oil & Gas, Mexico City, giving it access to a portfolio of six exploration and appraisal blocks in Mexico, including the Zama discovery. With the agreement, DEA commits to participate in the drilling of nine offshore exploration wells and to the development of Zama.
Light, sweet crude oil gained modestly Dec. 4 to settle above $53/bbl on the New York market while Brent crude oil also gained slightly to settle above $62/bbl as market participants considered Qatar’s announcement that it plans to leave the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. Analysts said Qatar appears to be seeking to gain favor with US President Donald Trump’s administration.
Cooperation between the federal government and the US oil and gas industry that helped move the nation from reliance on imports to leadership in exports will remain essential to compete with the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and Russia in the years ahead, US Energy Sec. Rick Perry and Interior Sec. Ryan K. Zinke separately told the National Petroleum Council at its Dec. 4 meeting.
Development of an Appalachian methane storage and distribution hub would provide an important market for low-cost natural gas from the nearby Marcellus and Utica shales while attracting petrochemical projects to an area outside the Gulf Coast, where 95% of existing US capacity now is concentrated, a US Department of Energy report to Congress suggested.
Entek Energy Ltd., Perth, entered into an option agreement with Elixir Petroleum Ltd., also of Perth, to acquire Elixir’s three wholly owned leases onshore the Alaska North Slope. The deal involves an exclusive option to acquire the Alaskan portfolio through the acquisition of a wholly owned Elixir subsidiary. The option is due for exercise on or before Jan. 31, 2019.
Lukoil and KazMunayGas have signed a joint operating agreement and finance agreement covering exploration and development of the Zhenis license area of the Caspian Sea off Kazakhstan.
Gas flaring in the Permian basin reached an all-time high in this year’s third quarter as the persistent rise in production collided with severe takeaway capacity challenges, according to Rystad Energy.
Imperial Oil Ltd., Calgary, has let a contract to Babcock & Wilcox Enterprises Inc., Barberton, Ohio, to provide five industrial water-tube boilers for its Aspen oil sands project in Alberta.
Crude oil benchmarks on markets in New York and London jumped to close more than $2/bbl higher Dec. 3 on news reports that Russia and Saudi Arabia are working toward an agreement to cut crude production in efforts to support oil prices.
The ConocoPhillips-led group at Bayu-Undan gas-condensate field in the Timor Sea reported the completion of its three infill well program under budget and ahead of schedule. The third and final well was brought on line Dec. 3.
The US Environmental Protection Agency established quotas on Nov. 30 for renewable fuels in 2019 and for biomass-based diesel in 2020. EPA said the conventional renewable fuel quota, which is met primarily by corn-based ethanol, will be maintained at 19 billion gal in 2019, while required advance biofuel volumes will climb by 630 million gal from 2018 to 19.92 billion gal.
ExxonMobil Corp. has increased its estimated recoverable resource for the Stabroek block to more than 5 billion boe from 4 billion boe following further evaluation of previous discoveries and drilling of the Pluma-1 well offshore Guyana. The well, drilled to 16,447 ft in 3,340 ft of water by Noble’s Tom Madden drillship beginning on Nov. 1, encountered 121 ft of high-quality hydrocarbon-bearing sandstone reservoir.
Saying it is responding “to the historically high oil price differential that is costing the [Canadian] economy more than $80 million/day,” the Alberta government on Dec. 2 announced a curtailment in oil production beginning Jan. 1. It will require every operator to trim output of more than 10,000 b/d by 8.7% from its highest 6 months of production over the past 12 months.
Qatar reported Dec. 3 it would withdraw from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries on Jan. 1, 2019, putting an end to its 57-year membership of the oil producers’ cartel. Qatar, which said it intends to focus on its natural gas production, made the announcement ahead of the Dec. 6 OPEC meeting.
The light, sweet crude oil price for January delivery briefly slipped below $50/bbl during Nov. 30 trading before settling at nearly $51/bbl. The contract dropped to a low of $49.65/bbl during the Nov. 30 session but had recovered to climb above $50/bbl again by closing.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s fisheries division issued long-awaited incidental harassment authorizations to five geophysical contractors to conduct the first oil and gas seismic evaluations on the US Mid-Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf since the 1980s. Oil and gas associations welcomed the agency’s Nov. 30 move while environmental organizations strongly criticized it.
The US drilling rig count is down 3 units to 1,076 rigs working for the week ended Nov. 30, according to Baker Hughes data. The count is up 147 units from the 929 rigs working this time a year ago. At 1,051 rigs working, one less unit is drilling on land week-over-week. Offshore units are down by 2 to reach 23 rigs working, while those drilling in inland waters remain unchanged at 2 rigs working for the week.
Par Pacific Holdings signed a definitive agreement to purchase privately held US Oil & Refining Co.’s downstream assets, including the 42,000-b/sd refinery near Tacoma, Wash. Under terms of the deal, Par Pacific will acquire 100% of US Oil and Refining’s equity interests for total consideration of $358 million plus net working capital, Par Pacific said.
Serica Energy has become operator of Bruce, Keith, and Rhum natural gas fields in the UK North Sea after completing two deals through which it acquired interests from BP, Total E&P UK, BHP Billiton Petroleum Great Britain, and Marubeni Oil & Gas (UK).
Chesapeake Energy Corp., Oklahoma City, entered into a long-term agreement with Pronghorn Logistics LLC of Denver for frac sand management, logistics, and well site services in Wyoming’s Powder River basin.
Vermilion Energy has assumed operatorship of the Corrib natural gas project offshore Ireland following the close of Shell Overseas Holdings’s sale of its 45% interest in the project to Nephin Energy Holdings, a wholly owned subsidiary of Canada Pension Plan Investment Board. NEHL has acquired 100% of Shell E&P Ireland, which holds 45% interest in Corrib.
The light, sweet crude oil price for January delivery briefly slipped below $50/bbl during Nov. 29 trading, but it bounced to $51.45/bbl by closing, up $1.16. The day’s low was $49.53/bbl compared with the day’s high of $52.50/bbl. OPEC and some non-OPEC producers, led by Russia, will discuss production levels during a G20 meeting in Argentina Nov. 30-Dec. 1 in preparation for a Dec. 6-7 OPEC meeting in Vienna.
Tullow Oil PLC has reached an agreement with Discover Exploration Ltd. to farm in to Blocks 35, 36, and 37 offshore the Union of the Comoros in the Indian Ocean. Simultaneously, Discover agreed to acquire the entire issued share capital of Bahari Resources Ltd., its 40% joint venture partner in the Comoros PSC.
Iran’s oil exports likely will remain at 1.1-1.3 million b/d for the rest of this year despite waivers the US government granted to eight countries after imposing US sanctions on Iranian oil sales, said Sara Vakhshouri, president of SVB Energy International in Washington, DC. Iran has said its November oil sales were about 1.1 million b/d.
Russia’s Nov. 25 seizure of three Ukrainian patrol vessels and their crews in the Kerch Strait near the Black Sea provided a dramatic reason as speakers at a Nov. 28 discussion at the Atlantic Council in Washington called for more changes in Ukraine’s energy system if the government in Kiev is serious about wanting the country to break free of Russian influence.
Stronger crude oil and natural gas prices combined with continuing development of shales and low-permeability formations drove US proved reserves to new record levels, according to the US Crude Oil & Natural Gas Proved Reserves Report (Yearend 2017), released by the US Energy Information Administration.
The light, sweet crude oil price for January delivery dropped more than $1 on the New York market Nov. 28 to settle below $51/bbl while Brent crude oil for January also dropped more than $1 to settle below $59/bbl. The US Energy Information Administration estimated US crude oil inventories, excluding the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, increased by 3.6 million bbl for the week ended Nov. 23. The oil inventory build was much larger than analysts had expected.
The US Environmental Protection Agency issued a final rule on Nov. 26 which amends its National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) and New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) for refineries. The rule went into effect that day.
Husky Energy Inc. reported that a survey by a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) showed a subsea flowline connection was responsible for an oil spill at White Rose field where production had been shut in on Nov. 15 out of weather-related safety concerns.
OGCI Climate Investments is entering a strategic partnership with six oil and gas companies to advance the Clean Gas Project at Teesside, UK, which is to include the country’s first commercial, full-chain carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS) program.
US crude oil inventories, excluding the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, increased by 3.6 million bbl for the week ended Nov. 23, according to data from the US Energy Information Administration. At 450.5 million bbl, US crude oil inventories are about 7% above the 5-year average for this time of year, the report indicated.
Light, sweet crude oil prices for January and February fell slightly on the New York market Nov. 27 awaiting release of a weekly government estimate on US crude oil and product inventories. A Wall Street Journal survey of analysts and traders expected the US EIA to report a 500,000-bbl increase in crude supplies for the week ended Nov. 23.
GeoPark has agreed to acquire LG International’s interest in its Colombian and Chilean operations and subsidiaries, bringing GeoPark’s equity interest in the assets to 100%. The businesses consist of multiple hydrocarbon blocks and associated oil and gas production and reserves, including the Llanos 34 block in Colombia.
EOG Resources Inc. reported that Kenneth W. Boedeker has been promoted to executive vice-president, exploration and production, and will join the headquarters executive management team effective Dec. 1. Boedeker is currently vice-president and general manager of EOG’s Denver office, which includes responsibility for operations in the Powder River, Williston, and DJ basins.
Oil prices moved upward Nov. 26 as the market looked to the upcoming Dec. 6 meeting of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries in Vienna where it is expected that Saudi Arabia will propose production cuts of as much as 1.4 million b/d.
The Western Australian government has reported a lifting of the moratorium on hydraulic fracturing on existing petroleum exploration and production licenses in the state following the findings of an independent scientific inquiry.
A project that would store carbon dioxide in a deep saline aquifer off the UK has won an early nod from the Scottish government. Crown Estate Scotland awarded a lease option to Acorn CCS, a project of Pale Blue Dot Energy, Banchory, Scotland, that would capture CO2 emitted by industries near the St. Fergus Gas Terminal and transport it offshore through existing pipelines.
The government of East Timor has moved to a majority interest in the Greater Sunrise natural gas fields with the acquisition of Royal Dutch Shell PLC’s 26.6% stake for $300 million. The acquisition follows the government’s purchase of ConocoPhillips’s 30% stake in the fields for $350 million early in October and now brings East Timor’s total holding to 56.56%.
Estimated emissions from fossil fuel extraction on federal lands of the three main gases associated with climate change went down from 2005 to 2014, a US Geological Survey study released on Nov. 23 said.
The governments of China and the Philippines have signed a memorandum of understanding for cooperation in oil and gas exploration and development, easing a territorial dispute in the South China Sea.
DNO ASA, Oslo, made an unsolicited cash offer for all shares of Faroe Petroleum PLC, Aberdeen, that it does not own.
Wintershall Holding GMBH has received a 10% share of the Ghasha Concession covering development of Hail, Ghasha, Dalma, and other sour natural gas fields offshore Abu Dhabi.
Oil prices on Friday, Nov. 23, reached low levels not seen since October 2017 as waivers on Iran sanctions and rising production from Saudi Arabia and Russia support a surplus scenario.
International news for oil and gas professionals
Two Republican members of the US House Energy and Commerce Committee released a legislative discussion draft on Nov. 21 aimed at reforming quotas under the federal Renewable Fuel Standard by establishing a national octane specification beginning in 2023.
BHP Billiton Ltd. and BHP Billiton PLC have changed names.
The government of Alberta is increasing its financial incentives for investment in petrochemical development based on oil and gas produced in the province. It is expanding its March commitment of as much as $1 billion (Can.) in royalty credits and loan guarantees to attract petrochemical investment and expand infrastructure for petrochemical feedstocks.
Australia’s Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has made his final decision to block CK Asset Holdings Ltd.’s proposed $13-billion acquisition of Sydney-based gas pipeline operator APA Group, saying it would be contrary to the national interest.
The US Pipeline & Hazardous Safety Administration issued a final rule amending federal safety regulations for plastic pipelines that transport natural and other gases. The final rule’s updates aim to improve safety, allow for expanded use of plastic pipes, and allow or require the use of certain materials or practices, the agency said.
Light, sweet crude oil prices dropped more than $3.70 Nov. 20 on the New York market while Brent crude oil prices in London fell more than $4 the same day. US President Donald Trump issued a statement Nov. 20 vowing to continue backing Saudi Arabia even though investigators concluded that Saudi agents killed US resident and journalist Jamal Khashoggi in a Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey.
Lonestar Resources US Inc., Fort Worth, said it has identified 26 drilling locations in the Late Cretaceous Lower Eagle Ford formation on acreage it acquired in Sugarkane field from Sabine Oil & Gas Corp., Houston, and an affiliate and Alerion Gas AXA LLC. Lonestar paid $38.7 million for 3,084 gross (2,706 net) acres in the DeWitt County, Tex., field.
Karl Johnson, vice-president of operations of PetroNeft Resources PLC, Dublin, was named interim chief executive officer after Dennis Francis announced his retirement from the position. Francis was a founder of the company, which has oil-producing and development interests in the Tomsk Oblast of Russia, in 2004.
US petroleum demand, as measured by total domestic petroleum deliveries, was 20.8 million b/d in October, which was up by 3.3% from September and 3.9% compared with October 2017. This is according to the American Petroleum Institute’s latest monthly statistical report.
The US Bureau of Land Management said it will publish a notice of intent to begin development of a new integrated activity plan and associated environmental impact statement for the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska. BLM’s Nov. 20 announcement came in response to Secretarial Order 3352 which called for a new IAP and EIS in June 2017 for the 22.1 million-acre reserve originally set aside in 1923 as an emergency oil supply for the US Navy.
Husky Energy Inc. used remotely operated vehicles to investigate the cause of a Nov. 16 oil leak at White Rose field offshore Newfoundland and Labrador, where production had been shut in the previous day because of severe weather. The company said all production wells were secure and believed the leak occurred at a subsea flowline.
Roberto Castello Branco, a past advocate for privatization of Petrobras, will become chief executive officer of the Brazilian oil and company. President-elect Jair Bolsonaro announced the appointment, according to press reports, to be effective when the new administration takes office on Jan. 1. But he made clear that privatization of Petrobras is not planned.
Light, sweet crude oil prices settled moderately higher Nov. 19 on the New York market but prices were falling in early trading Nov. 20 amid thin trading volumes with the approach of the US Thanksgiving holiday.
An American Petroleum Institute official urged the US Environmental Protection Agency to protect consumers from the ethanol blend wall—the 10% level in the national gasoline supply beyond that refiners and automakers say engines could be damaged—and to reject efforts by the corn ethanol lobby to reallocate volumes from small refinery exemptions.
The American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers, American Petroleum Institute, and three other national trade associations asked Republican leaders on Nov. 19 not to extend or expand the federal tax credit for electric vehicles (EV) during the rest of this session of the US Congress.
US President Donald Trump said he intends to nominate acting US Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew R. Wheeler as the agency’s administrator. The announcement came during a Nov. 16 Medal of Freedom ceremony at the White House attended by Wheeler and other administration officials.
Aethon III, a unit of Dallas private investment firm Aethon Energy Management LLC, agreed to buy Haynesville-Cotton Valley natural gas assets from QEP Resources Inc. of Denver. QEP Pres. and Chief Executive Officer Chuck Stanley said the pending $735-million sale is “an important next step in our process of becoming a Permian pure-play company.”
Cimarex Energy Co., Denver, agreed to acquire Resolute Energy Corp. in a cash-stock transaction worth a total of $1.6 billion, including $710 million of Resolute’s long-term debt. Thomas E. Jorden, Cimarex chairman, president, and chief executive officer, said the acquisition fits the company’s existing Reeves County, Tex., position in the Permian basin.
The International Association of Geophysical Contractors launched a web site on Nov. 16 making a case for reforms in the 1972 Marine Mammal Protection Act to remove bureaucratic barriers to federal oil and gas leasing along the Mid-Atlantic US Outer Continental Shelf. The web site identifies specific MMPA flaws, including overlapping and burdensome regulations, lack of regulatory accountability, vague language, and exploitation by oil and gas development opponents, IAGC said.
The US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued draft environmental impact statements (EIS) for two proposed LNG export operations: one for Eagle LNG Partners’ project near Jacksonville, Fla., and another for Kinder Morgan Inc.’s Gulf Liquefaction Project in Jackson County, Miss.
Light, sweet crude oil prices settled Nov. 16 at $56.46/bbl, unchanged from the previous day and having stabilized to end a week of steep price swings, including one day in which the crude price fell more than $4/bbl on both the New York and London markets.