Wall Street sees slide ahead for deepwater rig dayrates

In the controversial 1940s book The Fountainhead, arch-villain Ellsworth Toohey, who above all seeks power and control of other people, comments–and this is a paraphrase–that the way to topple a system is to make one small negative but still-key move in just the right place, and then sit back and watch the whole edifice implode as its members scramble for self-preservation.

Although Ayn Rand, the author of that book and fierce champion of individualism, hated the popular notion that “we’re all in this together,” the fact is that in oil markets and economic systems, we are.  One ominous signal–and even worse, a handful–can start a rumble that creates an earthquake.

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“Look out for the flags,” former Anglo boss warns miners

Most small mining companies are not in a position to look beyond funding the next stage of their project or trying to find a strategic partner. But a recent presentation at the Hong Kong Mines and Money conference gave an insight into how large mining companies take a much longer-term view, and how they consider all kinds of eventualities that could impact their business.

British-born Clem Sunter was CEO of Anglo American’s successful gold and uranium businesses in South Africa, and became the company’s expert in “scenario planning.” He and co-author Chantell Illbury penned a book on the subject, entitled Mind of a Fox, which became a best-seller in the wake of 9/11.

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EIA analysis: a big jump in crude oil stocks

Crude oil stocks in the US had been declining for several weeks, but they’re turned around significantly. This week’s Energy Information Administration report showed a significant build. You can read our analysis here. 

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Could natural gas be the answer to London’s pollution concerns?

Over 8% of the deaths in some parts of London may be attributable to long-term exposure to man-made particulate air pollution, according to a new study from UK government body Public Health England.

The figures are highest for Kensington & Chelsea and Westminster (both at 8.3%), followed by Tower Hamlets, the local authority containing the international trading center of Canary Wharf (8.1%). In some rural parts of the UK the level is much lower, at around 2.5%.

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Regulation & Environment: Crude-by-barge not as controversial as its rail counterpart

Almost anything that moves has been pressed into serving the transportation needs of the expanding US production profile. That includes barges. In this week’s Oilgram News column, Regulation & Environment, Herman Wang reviews the safety considerations that the crude-by-barge industry faces.

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Michigan comes to Australia: Chevron MD draws stark comparison on LNG wages

The state of Western Australia is almost half the size of Russia but home to only 2.5 million people, almost 2 million of whom live in and around the state capital of Perth.

The pleasant city has grown rapidly on the back of Australia’s resources boom. The region’s fast-growing mining, oil and gas industries have seen sleek new office towers rise above the city’s older Victorian heritage buildings, staffed by neatly attired office workers pacing purposefully to well paid jobs, A$4 ($3.76) ‘flat white’ coffees in hand.

So it was a resource industry-friendly city in which to hold the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association’s annual conference and trade show, which ran April 6-9 and attracted a record-breaking 3,600 delegates, making it – according to the organizers – the biggest oil industry conference in the southern hemisphere.

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IEA points to supply risks outside OPEC

A real prospect that export flows out of Libya can start to ramp up in the coming weeks after the resolution of a nine-month-long standoff with rebels couldn’t come at a better time for OPEC it seems.

According to the International Energy Agency’s latest monthly report, OPEC’s 12 members will need to pump an average of 350,000 b/d more during the second half of 2014 to meet global oil demand after their output slumped to a five-month low in March.

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Santos tries a new tack in PR war over New South Wales CSG project

Australian upstream company Santos concedes it is coming a distant second in the public relations battle with environmental activists over the development of its coalseam gas reserves in the eastern state of New South Wales.

Santos is clearly exasperated with the lack of traction its message has been getting in the public debate, which is being driven by anti-CSG lobbyists including the Greens political party and high-profile conservative radio commentator Alan Jones.

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Immigration reform debate not lost on US petrochemical industry

The US petrochemical industry has the money, the cheap feedstocks, the technology and the projects to boom in a way perhaps never seen thanks to shale gas.

What it lacks is enough skilled labor to see these projects through. And as industry players will tell you, that’s a huge problem.

“This problem isn’t going to go away,” Dow Chemical VP Jim Fitterling said at the recently held IHS World Petrochemical Conference in Houston. “In fact, it has the potential to get worse.”

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OPEC oil output in March: A reversal of recent trends

OPEC output took a significant decline in March, according to the latest Platts survey. It also marked a reversal of recent trends, wherein Saudi Arabia would normally make up for shortfalls out of other OPEC countries. But this time, Iraq output fell, as did that of Libya, but Saudi output declined as well. You can read Platts’ analysis here.