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World’s Top Oil Traders Bet American Shale Is Here to Stay

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The world’s biggest energy traders are betting shale oil production is here to stay.

European trading houses from Trafigura Group Pte. to Mercuria Energy Group Ltd. and Vitol Group have invested in U.S. infrastructure and struck supply deals to secure flows of shale oil and gas. The agreements show the traders see long-term opportunities in an industry that has already upended global energy flows, particularly since the U.S. lifted a four-decade old ban on exports at the end of 2015.

“Shale, barring a major environmental issue, has become the new reality,” said Jean-Francois Lambert, a former commodity trade finance banker with HSBC Holdings Plc and now an independent consultant. “It brings more optionality for oil trading and this is exactly what traders need.”

Shale oil and gas has transformed global energy markets. The production boom provoked the Organization for Petroleum Exporting Countries into a market-share war that drove crude prices down from above $100 in 2014 to below $50 today. Through a combination of technological advances and more efficient production methods, the industry proved more resilient to the downturn than most people expected. So when OPEC changed tack in November and started cutting production to boost prices, U.S. output surged again to the highest since 2015.

Shale Deals

Global oil trading houses reacted quickly to shale’s impact on the market.

In early 2016, Geneva-based Mercuria, one of the five biggest independent energy traders, acquired a crude supply and marketing business from Enterprise Crude Oil LLC that gave it access to more than 150 new counterparties including shale producers in North Dakota, Wyoming and Colorado. It also invested in a petroleum and chemicals storage terminal on the lower Mississippi River in Mt. Airy, Louisiana to expand its relationships with small and medium-sized U.S. producers.

The Swiss trader is said to be preparing an offer to buy a controlling stake in Argentinian shale oil and gas producer Andes Energia Plc.

“We take a long-term view on investment in energy in the Americas. This complements Mercuria’s activities across the energy spectrum and fosters our commitment to support our counterparties’ needs,” Mercuria spokesman Matt Lauer said in a statement.

Trafigura, based in Singapore with its main trading operations in Geneva, unveiled an agreement this week with Plains All American Pipeline LP to receive as much as 100,000 barrels a day of crude and light oil called condensate pumped from the Permian basin, the massive shale region in Texas that the trading house says is the fastest growing oil exploration area in the U.S.

The firm had already established a businesses in Texas to source crude and other petroleum products from shale drillers in the Eagle Ford and Midland areas. The Plains agreement will secure additional supplies for its processing facilities and export terminal at Corpus Christi.

Surging Exports

That will boost Trafigura’s role in U.S. crude oil and products exports by connecting “producers in the Permian basin to our significant logistics infrastructure, global customer base and marketing power on a long-term basis,” Kevin Jebbitt, Trafigura’s co-head of crude oil trading, said in a statement.

U.S. crude shipments surpassed 1 million barrels and day for the first time in February and are up almost ninefold on average since June 2014. Both Mercuria and Trafigura have said they are targeting U.S. sales to customers in Asia, where both firms have strong relationships.

“There is strong demand for the crudes from Asian markets, especially China,” a Trafigura spokeswoman said.

Vitol, the world’s biggest independent oil trader that handles more than 7 million barrels a day, was the first trader to export U.S. crude when the moratorium was lifted. Mike Loya, the head of the Netherlands-based firm’s operations in the Americas said in March that he expected shipments to rise, with shale production seen increasing by 600,000 to 700,000 barrels a day in the year through December.

Unlike its peers, Vitol has sold much of its U.S. shale-related infrastructure as Loya said the trader has now gained enough market intelligence around the Permian basin that it no longer needs to own a terminal.

Traders are showing their confidence about the future of shale, said Lambert, the independent consultant.

“Trafigura’s move in the States proves this and Mercuria’s acquisition in Argentina, which has the second-largest shale potential after the U.S., is more evidence,” Lambert said “I would not be surprised to see more initiatives in this space.”

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.

Energy

Equatorial Guinea to Launch Vision on Post-COVID Energy Transition Plans with Report and Film

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The Africa Energy Series (AES): Equatorial Guinea 2021 campaign – comprising a report and a documentary – will serve as a critical tool to navigate the energy investment landscape in one of Africa’s more mature petroleum producing markets; Equatorial Guinea has largely been able to sustain its pace of engagement with global investors in the face of COVID-19, forecasting $1.1 billion in FDI in oil and gas activities in 2021; The third edition of the AES: Equatorial Guinea 2021 report will be released at Africa Oil & Power’s U.S. Africa Energy Forum 2021 networking event in Washington, D.C. this July.

Africa Oil & Power is proud to announce the upcoming launch of its Africa Energy Series (AES): Equatorial Guinea 2021 investment report and documentary, as part of a multimedia campaign set to champion the domestic energy sector and shape the West and Central African energy narrative.

The dual-language publication will target key developments driving a post-COVID-19 recovery in Equatorial Guinea – namely, the growth of petroleum and power industries; regional gas monetization initiatives; a clean energy transition; the impact of environmental, social and governance criteria; and expansion of the national diversification agenda.

A 30-minute documentary will provide a visual complement to the publication, featuring first-hand interviews with government officials, private sector players, industry regulators and energy experts discussing Equatorial Guinea’s unparalleled ambition and future plans.

“From spearheading regional gas monetization initiatives to drilling new exploration wells as early as Q2 2021, Equatorial Guinea continues to cement its reputation as a progressive, dynamic force on the African energy stage,” said H.E. Gabriel Obiang Lima, Minister of Mines and Hydrocarbons. “The Africa Energy Series publication in conjunction with a detailed documentary format, gives us the voice to showcase the depth of our full-stream investment opportunities to a global audience.”

Since the onset of COVID-19, Equatorial Guinea has been proactive in safeguarding opportunities for foreign investors and continuing to drive capital into its hydrocarbon resources. In February, Chevron achieved first gas flow from the successful execution of its Alen Gas Monetization project, a $475-million investment representing the first phase of Equatorial Guinea’s Gas Mega Hub masterplan.

The Ministry of Mines and Hydrocarbons is currently promoting several capital-intensive projects – including the construction of modular oil refineries, a gold refinery, liquefied petroleum gas strategic tanks, a urea plant and the expansion of a compressed natural gas project – which are open for investment. Last December, the Ministry of Mines and Hydrocarbons announced a forecast of $1.1 billion in foreign direct investment in oil and gas activities in 2021.

Active in Equatorial Guinea since 2015, AOP released its first AES documentary on the country in 2016, followed by investment reports in 2018 and 2019.

The AES: Equatorial Guinea 2021 investment report will be launched at the U.S. Africa Energy Forum 2021 online seminar and in-person networking event in Washington, DC. (July 12). The documentary will be launched at the U.S. Africa Energy Forum conference in Houston (October 4-5) and broadcast globally on news networks.

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U.S. Africa Energy Forum 2021 Launches: Promotes U.S. Role as Primary Investor in African Energy

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The U.S. Africa Energy Forum 2021 – organized by Africa Oil & Power, in partnership with the African Energy Chamber’s U.S.-Africa Committee – will foster alignment between U.S. and African governments’ energy policies and highlight African oil, gas, power and renewable projects across the energy value chain for U.S. investors; the multi-day forum unites U.S. and African policymakers, energy executives and industry leaders to create new linkages and foster discussions that drive long-term policy formation and project execution; the in-person, two-day summit and gala dinner will be hosted in Houston, Texas (October 4-5, 2021) and an online seminar and in-person networking event will be held in Washington D.C. (July 12).

Africa Oil & Power (AOP) and the African Energy Chamber are excited to announce the launch of the first-ever U.S. Africa Energy Forum (USAEF). This event aims to create deeper cooperation between the U.S. and Africa on energy policy, to reach alignment on long term sustainability goals, to stimulate greater American investment in the African oil, gas and power sectors, and to engage and reposition the U.S. as the primary partner of choice for African energy developments.

Under the theme “New Horizons for U.S. Africa Energy Investment” the forum will explore diverse foreign investment and export opportunities across the continent, including natural gas as a vital fuel for the energy transition; energy storage and battery minerals; Africa’s place in global energy supply chains; the benefits of the African Continental Free Trade Area; evolving energy technologies and how they relate to the future role of petroleum resources; and on-and off-grid power developments.

An online seminar and in-person networking event will be held in Washington D.C. on July 12, 2021, building up to the in-person U.S. Africa Energy Forum summit and gala dinner, to be hosted in Houston, Texas, on October 4-5, 2021. Africa Oil & Power and the African Energy Chamber invite all U.S.-based companies with an interest in engaging with African industry leaders and project developers to participate in the USAEF Houston summit.

This initiative comes at an important juncture in U.S.-Africa relations. The Biden Administration’s announcements of its intentions to proactively build a stronger U.S.-Africa partnership coincides with the fact that African projects are seeing rising interest from U.S. companies and lending institutions alike. The USAEF event is thus dedicated to enabling dialogue between its participants that advances these developments.

“Our mission has always been to showcase the resource potential that Africa has to offer while at the same time showing its growing preference for sustainable energy policies and technologies. Toward that end, we hope it becomes evident that Africa does not just want investment capital: it wants smart capital and an accompanying partnership with the investors,” says James Chester, Senior Director of Africa Oil & Power. “The U.S. Africa Energy Forum represents the first-of-its-kind opportunity to catalyze U.S. participation in Africa’s energy transformation – via technology, policy support, capital injection and skills development – and turns a new page in the chapter on global energy investment.”

In partnership with the African Energy Chamber’s U.S.-Africa Committee, AOP will introduce American companies to African opportunities and advance an agenda of sustainable, long-term investment in African energy and other sectors by U.S. organizations.

“The rise in support from the U.S. to the continent is a credit to Africa itself, which is increasingly viewed as a favored destination for global investors, multilaterals and export credit agencies,” says Jude Kearney, President of Kearney Africa and former Deputy Assistant Secretary for Service Industries and Finance at the U.S. Department of Commerce during the Clinton Administration. “Africa continues to command a healthy share of global FDI in oil and gas industries. It has for decades shown that investment in those sectors is favorable compared to other jurisdictions and can be successful by many measures. Even as Africa and the rest of the world wrestles with a global pandemic, Africa’s energy sector shows vitality and resiliency – not only in hydrocarbons but in regard to new opportunities in mining, liquefied natural gas, and agriculture.”

Both African governments and private sector sponsors of African energy projects value highly the combination of investment and partnership that US investors famously convey. The USAEF seeks to enable successful partnerships between its participants such that the energy development goals of U.S. investors and strategic partners and their African counterparts can be achieved.

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Angola’s Petroleum Agency Outlines Timeline for Ongoing Bid-round

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Angola’s National Oil, Gas and Biofuel’s Agency (ANPG) has outlined its timetable for the evaluation of its ongoing 2020 bid round, as interest in the acreage on offer continues to grow.

In line with its statutory duties as national concessionaire in charge of the attribution of petroleum exploration blocks, the ANPG has sought to adjust its processes to remain competitive in the current market environment, which is dominated by concerns around COVID-19, long-term demand considerations and stiff competition from new and promising frontiers like Guyana and Suriname.

The ongoing bid-round is a manifestation of Angola’s strategy for the continuous attribution of petroleum concessions 2019-2025 which was approved and codified by Presidential Decree no. 52/19, of 18 February 2019. The aim of the strategy is to provide access to promising acreage to competent explorers in an effort to increase geological knowledge about Angola’s hydrocarbons potential and ultimately increase proven reserves.

A hybrid online and physical roadshow for the current bid-round is scheduled for April 6 in at the Talatona Convention Centre in Luanda. This event will provide the opportunity for investors to engage with the agency regarding the blocks on offer, the data packages and the accessibility studies, as well as touch upon environmental, logistical and local content issues.

This will kickstart a series of both digital and in-person roadshows and technical presentations to promote the blocks to be awarded in key international markets. The acreages on offer include:

  • Three blocks of the lower Congo onshore Basin CON1, CON5 and CON6
  • Six of the Kwanza onshore Basin (KON5, KON6, KON8, KON9, KON17 and KON20)

In line with the provisions of Presidential Decree No. 86/18, of 2 April 2019, which establishes the rules for the organization of bid rounds, the ongoing 2020 bid round will unfold as follows:

  • Tender Launch
  • Proposal submission
  • The opening of offers from potential suitors in a public setting
  • The evaluation and qualification of proposals
  • The submission of the evaluation report to the Ministry of Mineral Resources and Petroleum and Gas
  • Contract negotiation with the winners of the bid-round
  • Signature

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