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OPEC Confounds Skeptics, Agreeing to First Oil Cuts in 8 Years

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  • OPEC Confounds Skeptics, Agreeing to First Oil Cuts in 8 Years

OPEC confounded its doubters and sent crude oil prices soaring by agreeing to its first production cuts in eight years.

The deal, designed to drain record global oil inventories, overcame disagreements between the group’s three largest producers — Saudi Arabia, Iran and Iraq — and ended a flirtation with free markets that started in 2014. It was also broader than many had expected, extending beyond OPEC. Most strikingly, Russia agreed to unprecedented cuts to its own output.

The impact on the energy world was immediate: benchmark oil prices gained as much as 10 percent in New York and the share prices of energy companies around the globe jumped alongside the currencies of large exporters. Whether that’s sustained will depend on how strictly members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries stick to the agreement, something they haven’t always done in the past.

“This should be a wake-up call for skeptics who have argued the death of OPEC,” said Amrita Sen, chief oil analyst at Energy Aspects Ltd. “The group wants to push inventories down.”

OPEC will reduce output by about 1.2 million barrels a day by January, the group said, fulfilling a plan sketched out in Algiers in September to cut its production to 32.5 million barrels. The agreement exempted Nigeria and Libya, but gave Iraq its first quotas since the 1990s.

After weeks of often tense negotiations, the eventual alignment of OPEC’s biggest producers points to the increasing dominance of Iran among the group’s top ranks. It’s allowed to raise output to about 3.8 million barrels a day, a victory for a country that’s long sought special treatment as it recovers from sanctions. Saudi Arabia previously proposed that its regional rival limit output to 3.707 million barrels a day, delegates said.

The economics of the deal are “incredibly appealing,” Jeff Currie, global head of commodities research at Goldman Sachs Group Inc., said in an interview with Bloomberg Television. The main aim of the cuts is “inventory normalization,” he said.

Across the U.S. shale path, the OPEC cut trigger a huge equity rally. Whiting Petroleum Corp. rose as much as 32 percent — its biggest one-day jump in 13 years — while Continental Resources Inc., the company founded by Donald Trump’s adviser Harold Hamm, gained as much as 25 percent, the most since 2008.

Saudi Arabia, which raised oil production to a record this year, will reduce output by 486,000 barrels a day to 10.058 million a day, an OPEC document shows. Iraq, OPEC’s second-largest producer, agreed to cut by 210,000 barrels a day from October levels. The country had previously pushed for special consideration, citing the urgency of its offensive against Islamic State.

Bullish Deal

The United Arab Emirates and Kuwait will reduce output by 139,000 barrels a day and 131,000 a day, respectively, the document shows. Non-member Russia, also pumping at a post-Soviet record, will cut by as much as 300,000 barrels a day “conditional on its technical abilities,” Energy Minister Alexander Novak said in Moscow.

“What was announced so far is bullish, but January is still far away,” said Giovanni Staunovo, an analyst at UBS Group AG. “December will still see ongoing record production, but market participants might ignore it. It does seem as though Russia will cut, which if implemented is also positive.”

Russia, the biggest producer outside the bloc, had previously resisted calls to trim its production, insisting it would only consider a freeze. OPEC plans to hold talks with non-0PEC producers next week in Doha.

The strength of the deal will depend on whether all parties deliver on their commitment. Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies, the U.A.E. and Kuwait, have traditionally stuck to their cuts, but some others haven’t, particularly when prices are low. Any doubt in the market could once again see prices come under pressure.

The last two years have been painful for OPEC: The group will earn $341 billion from oil exports this year, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. That’s down from $753 billion in 2014 before prices crashed, and a record $920 billion in 2012.

The group will meet again on May 25 next year, at which point it intends to extend the cuts by another six months, Qatari Energy Minister Mohammed Al Sada told reporters in Vienna.

Indonesia requested a freeze of its OPEC membership. Its suspension won’t affect the size of the group’s production cut, one delegate said.

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

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Energy

Seplat Energy Plc Records $535 Million in Revenue in the First Nine Months of 2021

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Seplat Energy, a leading Nigerian independent energy company listed on both the Nigerian Exchange Limited and the London Stock Exchange, recorded $535 million in revenue in the nine months that ended 30 September 2021.

Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation, and Amortization (EBITDA) stood at $266.4 million while cash realised from operations was $163.8 million, the company stated in its unaudited financial statements for the period.

Total expenditure for the period was $83.9 million. Cash at the bank was estimated at $273.9 million and the energy company posted $479.8 million as net debt. See other details below.

Operational highlights

  • YTD working-interest production of 47,280 boepd down 6.7% year on year largely as a result of the shut-in of the Forcados Oil Terminal (FOT) in August (Q3: 40,381 boepd)
  • Liquids production down 16.6% year on year at 27,804 bopd, recovering to 33kbopd liquids in October
  • Gas production up 13% to 113 MMscfd, despite FOT impact on associated gas
  • Completed two gas wells and three oil wells in the period, new Gbetiokun wells performing strongly

Financial highlights (9M 2021)

  • Revenue after adjusting for an underlift was $535 million
  • EBITDA of $266.4 million
  • Cash generated from operations $163.8 million
  • Cash at bank $273.9 million, net debt of $479.8 million
  • Total capital expenditure of $83.9 million
  • Interim dividend of 2.5 cents ($0.025)

Corporate updates

  • Name changed to Seplat Energy Plc to reflect new strategic vision outlined in July; new branding launched in October
  • Acquisition of Cardinal Drilling rigs for $36 million and cessation of legal proceedings by Access Bank Outlook for 2021
  • Expected production narrowed to 48-50 kboepd for full year, subject to market conditions
  • Amukpe-Escravos Pipeline (AEP) commissioning has commenced, oil flow expected in December 2021
  • Capex now expected to be $167 million for the full year
  • ANOH project remains on track for first gas in H1 2022

Commenting on the financial statements, Roger Brown, Chief Executive Officer, said: “Production has recovered strongly since the outage at Forcados Oil Terminal (FOT) and we have been averaging nearly 33kbopd liquids throughout October. Now that production has normalised, we expect production to be in the range 48-50 kboepd for the year, provided uptime on the Forcados Pipeline and FOT remains above the budgeted 80%. I’m pleased to report that our new wells at Gbetiokun are performing strongly, and we will soon commence drilling the exciting Sibiri prospect on OML40.

“We have taken the difficult, but practical decision to bring an end to the uncertainty of the Access Bank legal dispute regarding Cardinal Drilling Services, which completes the Board-mandated removal of Related Party Transactions.

“Although we maintain our previously stated position that legal action against the Company was wholly without merit, the risk of significant disruption to our operations and other opportunities from a long, drawn-out legal case brought us to a negotiated settlement with Access Bank. We have therefore acquired the four Cardinal rigs and we are now focusing on fast tracking their deployment in future drilling campaigns. `

“Our business model is robust, despite setbacks in the third quarter, thanks to the prudent and flexible approach we have taken to managing the business. With an increased focus on efficiency in our operations, improving uptime by opening up the Amukpe to Escravos Pipeline and driving further cost reduction across our portfolio, this will provide the bedrock allowing us to operate effectively in fluctuating commodity prices and generate returns for shareholders. I am optimistic that the coming year will be much stronger, with many of the problems of the past put behind us.

“After we set out our future strategy in July’s Capital Markets Day and launched our new corporate name of Seplat Energy plc, complete with its new branding, we are now focusing on building out and executing the energy transition that is right for Nigeria. A strong step forward will be when we bring on stream the ANOH project next year delivering more transition gas to an energy poor market, over reliant on expensive, high carbon-emitting electricity generated from small-scale diesel and PMS generators. Our three-pillar strategy is designed to ensure we balance carbon emission reduction with the essential social agenda for undeniably the most under-electrified, youngest and fastest growing population on earth.”

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Crude Oil

Crude Oil Drops on Wednesday as U.S. Oil Inventories Jump Unexpectedly

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Global oil prices fell by 1 percent on Wednesday after data from the U.S. Energy Department showed that the United States oil inventories unexpectedly rose by 4.3 million barrels last week. More than the 1.9 million barrels predicted by experts.

The unexpected increase in United States inventories weighed on crude oil prices on Wednesday, erasing $1.31 or 1.5 percent from Brent crude oil after it rose to a seven-year high on Tuesday. While the U.S West Texas Intermediate (WTI) dipped by $1.09 or 1.3 percent to $83.56 a barrel.

Still, gasoline stocks declined by 2 million barrels across the United States, a situation likely to push pump prices even higher.

“The market continues to deplete Cushing crude oil inventories and that is impacting the Brent-WTI spread and ultimately we’re going to see crude oil diverted from the Permian up to Cushing rather than going to the Gulf Coast,” said Andrew Lipow, president of Lipow Oil Associates in Houston.

However, the shaky COVID-19 recovery in most economies has led to doubts over the sustainability of rising oil prices.

“(Some) countries are falling into an autumn Covid-19 case spike,” said Louise Dickson, senior oil markets analyst at Rystad Energy, “which poses downside risk for oil demand growth in the very near-term and could provide a soft pressure on oil prices.”

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Crude Oil

Brent Crude Oil Extends Gain to $86.66 a Barrel Amid Tight Supply

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Tight global oil supply pushed Brent crude oil, against which Nigeria oil is priced, to a multi-year high of $86.66 per barrel on Monday at 3:30 pm Nigerian time.

Oil price was lifted by rising fuel demand in the United States and tight global supply as economies recover from pandemic-induced slumps.

The global energy supply crunch continues to show its teeth, as oil prices extend their upward march this week, a result of traders pricing in the ongoing rise in fuel demand – which amid limited supply response is depleting global stockpiles,” said Louise Dickson, senior oil markets analyst at Rystad Energy.

Goldman Sachs on the other hand is predicting a further increase in Brent crude oil to $90 a barrel, citing a strong rebound in global oil demand due to switching from gas to oil. This the bank estimated may contribute about 1 million barrels per day to global oil demand.

The investment bank said it expects oil demand to reach around 100 million barrels per day as consumption in Asia increases after the devastating effect of COVID-19.

While not our base-case, such persistence would pose upside risk to our $90/bbl year-end Brent price forecast,” Goldman said in a research note dated Oct. 24.

Earlier this month, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, Russia and their allies, known as OPEC+ agreed to continue increasing oil supply by 400,000 bpd a month until April 2022 despite calls for an increase in global oil supplies.

The decision bolstered the price of Brent crude oil above $84 per barrel and expected to push the price even further to $90 a barrel. Low global oil supply amid rising demand for crude oil will continue to support oil prices in the near term.

Despite the recent power cuts and impacts to industrial activity in China, oil demand is likely instead supported by switching to diesel powered generators and diesel engines in LNG trucks, as well as by a ramp up in coal production,” Goldman Sachs stated.

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