Recriminations fly as North Sea oil industry struggles

The fall in oil prices is causing angst in the UK oil industry, which emerged in the 1970s as a response to the Middle East’s lock on production but is now plagued by high costs, high tax and infrastructure problems.

Lobby group Oil and Gas UK warned this month that 20% of the country’s oil production could be shut in this year, or nearly 200,000 b/d of capacity, as the price collapse of the last few months compounds pre-existing problems.

But the UK Treasury accused the organization of doing down its own industry, suggesting it risked undermining investor confidence.

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How the Keystone XL pipeline became a steel standoff between neighbors

In North America, 2015 has started with a curious amalgam of steel and oil news, both involving business between the US and Canada.

The most well-known story is the saga of the Keystone XL pipeline. What has been a long-running oil story has become a steel story as well, compliments of a former American comedian.

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Energy Economist: Shale oil’s response to prices may call for industry re-evaluation

Shale oil’s investment cycle is shorter and its decline profile sharper than conventional oil production. Current indicators suggest legacy declines from shale will catch up fast with the industry. This points to a sharp deceleration in US shale oil output. But, while conventional oil takes time to slow down, it also takes time to speed up. It will be shale that is best placed to benefit from any oil price recovery, as Ross McCracken, managing editor of Platts Energy Economist, explains in this month’s selection from the publication. The full analysis can be found in the February 2015 issue, which is also issue 400 of Energy Economist.

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EIA analysis: Crude oil stocks reach record high

The most recent oil data from the US Energy Information Administration reveals commercial crude oil stocks jumped 8.9 million barrels to a record high 406.7 million barrels during the week ended January 23.

The previous all-time high was set a little less than a year ago, when stocks were at 399.4 million barrels in April 2014.

Unsurprisingly, strong production contributed to the jump, but the start of seasonal maintenance held back refinery demand. To read the full Platts analysis of the EIA data, click here.

The most powerful sanction against Iran? Try US crude exports

As the US Senate deliberates a new round of sanctions on Iran, two former Obama advisers make a compelling case for a powerful policy lever that is not even on the table — US crude exports.

The economic arguments for exporting US crude are fairly well-known and the main ones are trotted out by oil industry groups. But the foreign policy benefits of exports are not as widely talked about.

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New Frontiers: Colombia looks to reverse the drop in its oil production

After a much-celebrated turnaround in increasing oil production, Colombia reversed course last year. In this week’s Oilgram News column, Regulation & Environment, Chris Kraul talks with a key Colombian official on reversing that slide.

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Can Africa’s oil producers weather the oil price storm?

West Africa has suffered one of its most difficult years in 2014. and 2015 is shaping up to be an even more difficult year for that region. While the deadly Ebola virus will eventually wind down, the disruptions caused by the outbreak will continue to cripple the economies of Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.

The political landscape across west and east Africa remains delicate as nations across the region continue to grapple with insecurity and terrorist threats. Africa in 2014 faced intensified terrorism in Nigeria, increased attacks by al-Shabab in Kenya and civil war in the Central African Republic and South Sudan. 

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Opportunities are strong in the European oil storage business

The room was pretty full for the first day of the Platts European Storage conference in Amsterdam this week, and it’s not surprising: the opportunities in this segment appear to be as strong as they’ve been for years.

Most important are three big factors: the market is in contango, which encourages storing crude and products; trade flows are changing, on the back of European refinery closures and the US shale revolution, requiring new storage facilities in some areas; and those refinery closures are providing opportunities for storage companies to buy the tanks and other facilities at the shuttered plants, and turn them into terminals.

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EIA analysis: Crude oil production, refinery slowdown drive stocks higher

US commercial crude stocks jumped 10.1 million barrels during the week ended January 16, according to the latest data from the US Energy Information Administration. The inventory, at 397.9 million barrels, was 16% above the EIA five-year average for the same reporting week. Read a thorough analysis of the EIA data here.

California’s cap-and-trade no more than road bump in gasoline’s steep price decline

Drivers in car-crazed California paid more than 10% more for their gasoline at the start of the year. They just didn’t realize it.

As expected, California’s introduction of the emissions cap-and-trade program for transportation fuel suppliers boosted Los Angeles regular gasoline rack prices nearly 17 cents in the first two days of 2015 to $1.5885/gal. The rack is the wholesale level where gasoline and diesel is moved onto those often-shiny tanker trucks that hold roughly 9,000 gallons.

What barely changed right away was the price up and down the supply chain.

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