globalEDGE Blog - By Tag: oil
To say the global oil industry has had a turbulent year would be an understatement. The industry has been thrown into a violent tailspin, which has culminated in oil trading for under half the price it was fourteen months ago. While the initial cause of the crash was oversupply, several recent international developments, including the Chinese market downturn and the proposed Iran nuclear deal, have only accentuated the demise. More information about the underlying causes and the current state of oil prices can be found in previous globalEDGE blog posts containing the Oil tag.
Commodities are generally a good measure of how the market is doing overall; how abundant and fluid certain resources are can explain a lot about the economy and its patterns. When so much of the world, independent and corporate investors alike, has deeply vested interests in such a large market-one whose health is constantly up for debate, it is difficult to know when the warning signs are considerably worrying. Internationally, the world is facing a massive supply glut with Middle Eastern producers turning over oil at record production rates and the recent emergence of other serious oil producers, including the U.S. Even with such steep price drops, petroleum is not the only factor. One commodity index in particular, that tracks an array of different commodities, is currently trading far below recorded levels from before December 2008. Prices drop, the market recalibrates, and volatility is appeased, if only temporarily. But with recent global events surrounding Greece banks and the Chinese market bubble, perhaps it is time to look below the surface and into the past.
For the first time in nearly 80 years, Mexico is holding an oil auction in which energy firms from all over the world will compete. Is this bid for oil going to hold lackluster results or is it the key for Mexico's energy reform? Petróleos Mexicanos, mononymously known as Pemex, virtually controls the entire nation’s oil industry. Nationalized in 1938, Pemex was designed to push out external parties like the U.K. and the U.S. following major labor disputes and their ostensible domination of the energy markets. Therefore, the auctions being held are a step, or leap, in the opposite direction. The bidding marks the first time ever that private oil companies are being allowed to set up in Mexico and that oil contracts are being sold off. For a country whose oil industry has been monopolized for 77 years, the auctioning offers a world of possibilities to both Mexico and its prospective investors. To be exact, the sell-off is estimated to draw in a revitalizing $62.5 billion for the Mexican economy.
The arctic ice shelves pose a difficult question to the world’s largest oil companies. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, they may contain the largest remaining untapped oil reserves on the planet, but accessing this oil requires large amounts of time and money. Factor in the recent oil crash and the increasingly uncertain outlook for the industry, and pursuing arctic oil becomes a gamble akin to a billion dollar toss up.
Oil prices dipped on Monday due to the rising value of the dollar and the potential for an oversupply of oil. Global conditions and the turmoil in the Middle East caused oil barrel prices to rise, especially due to the gains that Islamic State militants made in Iraq after seizing the provincial capital of Ramadi. In addition, the dollar continued to rise against other major currencies, thus making raw materials less affordable to holders of the euro and other currencies.
Since last year, prices of oil have decreased by over fifty percent and have festered at some of their lowest rates in many years. This has occurred due to several factors, including decreasing global demand for oil and an increasing supply. Lately, however, demand for crude oil is on the rise and overall output has been growing in major oil-producing nations such as Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Libya. It is yet to be seen if these events will continue as an industry trend for this year, but a potential change in oil prices could certainly occur.
In the wake of the drastic decline in oil prices since last July, and with the current crude oil prices about half of the 2014 peak, Royal Dutch Shell PLC announced Wednesday that it would buy fellow Oil and Gas Company, BG Group, in a deal amounting to approximately $70 billion. Assuming the deal is completed, this would be the largest energy merger since Exxon and Mobil in 1998, and would create the world’s largest independent producer of liquefied natural gas. The merger comes as an effort to create cost synergies, or eliminate overlapping costs, in order to offset the effect of low oil prices.
Crude oil is the traditional starting point for the many plastics that are essential to modern life. Approximately three percent of worldwide oil production is used to make plastics. Due to this relationship, the cost of plastic is closely tied to the price of oil. And since June, the price of oil has been cut in half, leading to a decrease in the price of new plastic.
With changing political office, comes changing economic policy. At least, that is what millions of Nigerians are hoping for from newly elected President Muhammadu Buhari. The Nigerian capital market responded positively to the change in leadership, gaining 8.30%, its single biggest daily gain all year. High optimism for the new leader to follow through on his promise to reshape the national economy is sorely needed at this point.
On Wednesday, the European Union Commission approved plans to combine the energy markets of its twenty-eight member countries into a unified energy market. The Commission stated that the EU Energy Union would provide many benefits to the countries of the EU, lessening their dependence on energy supplies from foreign countries and boosting their economic power significantly. The ambitious plan is facing some criticism, and has yet to be approved by the European Parliament as well as the EU's member countries, but it certainly has the potential for major influence on European economics.
This past week, the Obama Administration cleared a plan to override federal regulations on oil drilling off of Alaska's coast in the Arctic Ocean. The proposal is intended to establish drilling standards for the Chuckchi and Beaufort Seas, both of which are believed to be abundant in fossil fuels, and follows a growing emphasis in the international system on the Arctic's natural resources. Last January, 1,400 participants from several countries gathered in Tromsø, Norway to stake their claims at the Arctic Frontiers conference. Russia's increasing interest in the region, coupled with its growing military presence throughout international waters, gave the conference unprecedented significance.
Shortly following the coronation of the new King Salman of Saudi Arabia, the recently minted monarch quickly assured the global energy community that the kingdom would continue its policy of encouraging top oil exporters to raise their production levels. The king's message directly contradicts with global expectations that the death of King Abdullah might lead to fundamental changes in Saudi Arabia's oil policy, but most analysts now agree that the royal family will resist any sharp changes in policy, especially as it tries to navigate multiple foreign policy challenges in the region.
In yesterday’s blog post, we spoke of the how falling oil prices could lead to increased mergers and acquisitions in the private sector. This blog will focus on the public sector and which countries benefit the most from these low energy prices. Commodity pricing is as much an art as it is a science; the fundamentals of supply and demand clarify most of these fluctuations, however they do not properly explain the exaggerated influence prices. The saturated, oversupplied market is now creating volatility for producers, but opportunities exist for speculative nations looking to stabilize or expand their global economic footprint.
The extremely low oil prices that have characterized the energy industry for the past few months are making waves all around the world. In some countries, low prices have been seen as a benefit; in others, not so much. A major consequence has arisen that will affect all nations regardless of economic status: oil corporation mergers and takeovers. Historically, it has generally been the case that when there are low prices in the energy industry, mergers and acquisitions occur between bigger and smaller firms. Several plants and companies that originally profited immensely off of high oil prices, will now either have to severely change business strategies or be forced to relinquish control to more powerful firms in the industry.
In this month’s blog series, globalEDGE features the global energy industry. This series will discuss the industry outlook for 2015, the potential for mergers and takeovers, countries that benefit from falling oil prices, global carbon markets, and volcanoes as an energy source. Many analysts hold the belief that oil prices will continue to fall in the first half of 2015, before increasing in the second half of the year. The shale revolution in the United States, Saudi Arabia’s insistence on maintaining its market share, and a weak global economy have all contributed to the lowest oil price per barrel in five and a half years.
Oil prices dropped by 42% in 2014, and hit a five and a half year low on Monday. Many analysts are projecting that the price of oil is only going to continue to decrease in the near future. This drop in oil prices is having a drastic effect in a multitude of sectors of the economy, all across the world. What is causing oil prices, which have continually risen in the past decade, to suddenly crash? There is not a single source of this crash, but rather a plurality of causes.
There is no question that Nigeria will face many challenges in early 2015, which could individually or collectively have serious economic implications for the nation and the region. The constant threat of violence from the militant Islamist group Boko Haram, upcoming political elections, and the decline in oil prices all threaten the political and economic stability in Nigeria. The question is will Nigeria be able to weather the economic onslaught that these events could produce.
As discussed in an earlier blog post, oil prices are continuing to fall as global demand weakens, affecting economies around the globe, such as the United States, Norway, and Saudi Arabia. One of the countries most affected is Russia, which heavily depends on the oil industry, so much so that it makes up an estimated 60% of the country’s exports. The Russian government began the year expecting oil prices to be near $96 a barrel, and with current oil prices well below this number, there is reason to worry about Russia’s economy.
Oil prices fell 6.7% per barrel on November 27th after OPEC decided not to cut production. Currencies linked to oil such as the Canadian dollar and the Norwegian krone took a hit, as prices this low will cause many fracking companies to become unprofitable. Low cost producers in countries like Saudi Arabia will be able to sustain small profits at such low prices, but U.S. fracking companies are not profitable at a price under $70 per barrel. Falling oil prices are a positive sign for economies worldwide, since it acts like a tax cut for consumers. The current price weakness can be somewhat attributed to weak demand globally, but the rise of fracking worldwide leads us to believe that there might be an oversupply.
Amidst the overshadowing election events, a Texas company defied the norm and exported domestic oil to a foreign customer, despite the government ban on exporting crude oil. This ban has been in effect since the 1970’s Arab Oil Embargo crisis. The company, BHP Billiton, struck a deal to sell $50 million worth of a lightweight-oil called condensate to foreign purchasers without government approval. This is the first instance where a company has exported US crude oil without the consent of the government. Since the 1970 ban, the US has kept all crude oil within the country and as a result created a huge surplus in storage. With all of this extra oil build up, companies have been longing to sell it and remove the ban. However, this could have big implications for US consumers of oil.
It has been almost a year since the expiry of the 75-year-old concession of Abu Dhabi with western oil companies. Having been working as service providers and not getting paid in oil this past year, the Western oil companies are among the hopefuls to win the bidding for Abu Dhabi’s new oil concession. These companies are hoping to keep their stakes in the Persian Gulf, which is the one of the few major oil-producing areas that allows international companies to hold direct shares. Now they are worried about losing their stakes because of the rising interest of Asian oil companies in this lucrative oil business.
The global price of oil has fallen sharply since June, when oil prices hit $115 a barrel. Now, only four months later, the price for a barrel of oil has dropped to $85, and it could keep dropping. Global supply of oil has increased in recent years, especially in countries outside OPEC, which is one reason for the drop in prices. A more concerning reason that could be adding to the lower prices is a global drop in demand, due to slowing economies, which could signal another global economic downturn. Whatever the reasons, the suddenly low oil prices could have huge impacts around the globe, positively or negatively affecting economies that rely on the production or use of oil.
Much of the talk surrounding biofuels in the past has centered on corn, wheat, soybeans, and sugarcane, which are known as first generation biofuels. These food crops were seen by many as a way to become more energy independent, as they could be processed to create ethanol fuel that in turn could replace our dependence on oil. The excitement of this prospect led many countries, such as the United States, to implement mandates requiring specific amounts of ethanol to be mixed with gasoline. These countries hoped that ethanol could help by lessening the impact of oil prices on the economy and by saving the environment from the increasing use of oil.
Within the past week, the Congress of Mexico has approved new legislation that will allow the country's energy industry to award contracts to private oil companies. As a result of these new reforms, not only will the state-owned oil giant Pemex lose its monopoly over the country's oil sector that it's held since 1938, but foreign oil firms will also be able to enter the lucrative Mexican oil market.
As Brazil is busy finishing the last construction for the 2014 World Cup, Qatar, the host of the 2022 World Cup, has started its infrastructure improvement plan to welcome its guests from all over the world. This preparation has really brought Qatar into the eyes of investors with high expectations for economic gains. Qatar is not alone, as we see millions of “host money” from foreign investors has pushed the UAE’s stock market also to a new high. This blog will give you the overviews of Qatar’s and the UAE’s economy in the recent years and will explain the reason why Qatar and the UAE have experienced growth in foreign investment.
Within the next two decades, Brazil is expected to triple oil production and move from the 12th top oil producer to the 6th according to the 2013 World Energy Outlook Report generated by the International Energy Agency (IEA). The predicted success of Brazil’s energy industry can be attributed to the auctioning of the Libra oil field which holds 8 to 12 billion barrels of recoverable oil. With a supply of oil this substantial, the world’s crude oil demand could be fulfilled for up to 9 weeks alone by Libra.
In a recent study done by Chatham House, a world-leading source of independent analysis based out of London, it was found that large amounts of Nigerian crude oil was being stolen. The research discovered that at least 100,000 barrels of oil per day, or around 5% of total output, were stolen in the first quarter of 2013. The extensive network of exported stolen oil includes thieves, financial centers, commodities traders, politicians, and international trade.
Chinese oil companies that have held exclusive oil-extraction privileges for nearly a decade in Western Africa are now facing resistance from governments who claim that the Chinese are "gouging, polluting, or hogging valuable tracts." In Niger, private auditors have recently uncovered large costs and impractical charges made by the China National Petroleum Corporation, which has added another argument for the revisions of trade agreements that have already saved Niger tens of millions of dollars from the Chinese. In neighboring Chad, the government recently shut down Chinese oil operations after discovering immense amounts of environmental pollution within their borders. Gabon has also joined in the fight against the Chinese petroleum corporation, which surprised the oil industry by withdrawing a permit from another Chinese state-owned company, Sinopec, and giving it instead to a newly created national oil company.
Nigeria’s economy has been faltering due to struggles in the oil industry. The country is the largest oil producer in Africa, outputting around two million barrels per day and consuming just 267,000 barrels per day. Interestingly enough, Nigeria has a strong dependence on fuel imports. Their struggles stem from the fact that they simply don’t have enough refineries, and the ones that exist are not maintained well enough to work to their full capabilities. The industry has been slipping into turmoil, as industrial scale theft and inefficient fuel subsidy policies have slowed production significantly.
International Energy Agency (IEA) reported on Tuesday that the shale oil recently found in the United States will help meet most of the world's oil demand in the next five years. It is significant to the world market as well as to the U.S. itself because it eliminates the threat of future energy shortage and reshapes the U.S energy market and its relationship with other countries.
Controversies surrounding the Keystone XL pipeline have arisen yet again due to the pipeline rupture that occurred in Arkansas suburbs just last week. Over 12 thousand barrels of heavy crude oil flowed into a residential neighborhood, rendering about 24 families homeless during the evacuation. Even though an around-the-clock cleanup began last Saturday, what will this mean for Pegasus pipeline, run by Exxon Mobil? And also, how will the leak affect public opinion regarding the implementation of the Keystone XL pipeline?
While Cyprus is experiencing economic woes and Turkey is finding its way out of a huge European debt crisis, the energy relationship between Cyprus and Turkey regarding gas and oil is causing stress for both countries. On Wednesday, Turkey announced the suspension of energy projects with Italian giant ENI because the company expanded the exploration for oil and gas to Cyprus. ENI’s decision on the project expansion in Cyprus has created hope of economic recovery Cyprus but it infuriated Turkey since the project would cut down the energy plan in Turkey.
What seemed unthinkable just a half decade ago is now reality. The United States has surpassed Saudi Arabia as the world’s biggest fuel producer. Crude output in the U.S. has hit a 20 year high and has produced the most fuel in the world for the first time since 2002. The United States is producing 11.65 million barrels of liquid fuel a day (which includes crude, refined petroleum products, and biofuels) surpassing the Saudi Arabian output of 11.25 million barrels a day.
The changing global climate has become increasingly more difficult to ignore due to climbing air and water temperatures, rising sea levels, and melting of polar snow and ice. Recent reports have stated that the area of ice in the arctic has never been smaller, which has recently caught the attention of Asian economists. The opening of the Arctic north promises new trade routes, untapped reserves of oil, and an abundance of minerals to discover.
For the past few weeks, Western states have not only imposed sanctions on Iran, but also convinced many Asian countries to do the same. These sanctions are an economically crippling bargaining technique to pressure Iranian officials into discontinuing their uranium enrichment program, which American and European officials claim to be a nuclear weapons program with malicious intent but Iranian officials claim to peaceful and a national right. Furthermore, many financial institutions that interact closely with Iran’s central bank have also been targeted. The assets of Iran’s central bank are currently frozen that are linked to Tehran.
With many concerns and debates regarding climate change, countries around the world are looking for ways to reduce carbon emissions. These carbon emissions happen to be the leading cause of climate change and large coal-burning industries are mostly responsible. One way to reduce these harmful emissions involves a new technology that captures carbon dioxide from the air and pumps it directly underground for permanent storage. This project was operated in Germany, Scotland, and the United States with little success. However, the two largest consumers of carbon dioxide, China and the United States, are investigating a new way to reduce carbon output and are looking toward a surprising industry for this solution.
As the earth’s conventional oil supply continues to diminish, the discovery of new fuel types is becoming as important as ever. The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) has recently released a statement stating that global tight oil reserves could produce as many as 300 billion barrels. Tight oil is another name for shale oil, which is a form of light crude oil found in shale deep below the earth’s surface. Although it will most likely be a decade before big supplies of tight oil are produced, the future production could rival the conventional oil production in Saudi Arabia.
Oil is quite possibly the single most important commodity in the modern world economy. Those countries with abundant sources of the valuable substance are in a strong position to trade with producers around the world who cannot do business without it. CNBC has put together a list of the top fifteen countries in terms of confirmed oil reserves. The ramifications of this list are much greater than they may initially seem.
Everyone has been hearing about it lately. Look at any news site and it will be the top story if not many of the top five stories. Ever since Mohamed Al Bouazizi set himself on fire in December to protest Tunisia’s economic situation, revolution has been spreading across the Middle East. These conflicts are demonstrating how some of the world’s smallest countries can have great effects on the rest of the planet.
Check out these two articles from the New York TImes on the recent opening of oil fields in Iraq. This article from December discusses the second round of bids that happened a few weeks ago. The second article is from last June, which discusses the impact of opening the fields to foreign investment.