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Libya Gets Better at Keeping Oil Flowing as Industry Stabilizes

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Mustafa Sanalla
  • Libya Gets Better at Keeping Oil Flowing as Industry Stabilizes

Libya’s getting better at resolving stoppages in its oil industry, underpinning a growing perception that the OPEC member is closer to becoming a stable producer again.

That’s because of the duration of the incidents. While in prior years protests could shutter fields for months and years, now the stoppages are being resolved within days and barely hindering flows. Sharara, Libya’s biggest field, had several short disruptions this year, including two this month, after being closed for more than two years. Mustafa Sanalla, chairman of state-run National Oil Corp., was quick to visit Sharara this week to resolve the latest dispute, offering to revise security measures.

“One fundamental change that allows upstream activities to restart quickly after a disruption is that Sanalla is willing to get on the ground, visit the sites and demonstrate his commitment to local communities,” Geoff Porter, founder of New York-based North Africa Risk Consulting, said by email on Wednesday.“There is a level of trust that was missing for a long time.”

Libya is reviving its oil production and exports in spite of continuing political uncertainty. In July, crude production was at a four-year high and exports were the most in three years, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. While the expansion has helped Libya’s oil-dependent economy, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries is trying to cut global supplies. That effort has been undermined by recovering output at OPEC members Libya and Nigeria.

‘Recovered Impressively’

“Libyan production has recovered impressively and part of that is certainly that recent disruptions have proved short-lived but I still think it would be wrong to describe the oil sector as stable,” Richard Mallinson, a geopolitical analyst at Energy Aspects Ltd. in London, said Wednesday by email. “There has been plenty of tension with the government in Tripoli as Sanalla’s requests for extra funding for maintenance and to address local issues have largely been ignored.”

The country pumped 1.6 million barrels a day before a 2011 revolt set off years of fighting between rival governments and militias. Workers at the Zueitina export terminal said last week they would not load tankers until their demands were met, including getting 20 months of back pay, union head Merhi Abridan said Saturday. The port reopened this week when workers were told their demands will be met, he said.

Under Sanalla’s tenure which started in May 2014, Libya has signed contracts with international companies, ended a blockade of ports, restarted exports and reopened fields, including Sharara in December following two years of closure. Oil production was at 250,000 barrels a day when he took over. In July, output was 1.02 million barrels a day, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Libya’s output will be about 1.2 million barrels a day by the end of the year “if everything goes well,” said Derek Brower, managing director of research at Petroleum Policy Intelligence, a U.K.-based consulting company, said Aug. 10 by email. However, the potential for disruptions is “high” and true stability can only return “if locals genuinely feel like they are getting a dividend from rising oil production and income.”

In July, rival leaders embarked on a new effort to reunify their country, agreeing to hold elections. “Paradoxically, the closer we get to a political solution, the more unstable production is going to become,” Porter of North Africa Risk Consulting said. “Political solutions create losers and in Libya, the losers will be armed.”

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.

Crude Oil

Oil Dips Below $62 in New York Though Banks Say Rally Can Extend

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Oil

Oil Dips Below $62 in New York Though Banks Say Rally Can Extend

Oil retreated from an earlier rally with investment banks and traders predicting the market can go significantly higher in the months to come.

Futures in New York pared much of an earlier increase to $63 a barrel as the dollar climbed and equities slipped. Bank of America said prices could reach $70 at some point this year, while Socar Trading SA sees global benchmark Brent hitting $80 a barrel before the end of the year as the glut of inventories built up during the Covid-19 pandemic is drained by the summer.

The loss of oil output after the big freeze in the U.S. should help the market firm as much of the world emerges from lockdowns, according to Trafigura Group. Inventory data due later Tuesday from the American Petroleum Institute and more from the Energy Department on Wednesday will shed more light on how the Texas freeze disrupted U.S. oil supply last week.

Oil has surged this year after Saudi Arabia pledged to unilaterally cut 1 million barrels a day in February and March, with Goldman Sachs Group Inc. predicting the rally will accelerate as demand outpaces global supply. Russia and Riyadh, however, will next week once again head into an OPEC+ meeting with differing opinions about adding more crude to the market.

“The freeze in the U.S. has proved supportive as production was cut,” said Hans van Cleef, senior energy economist at ABN Amro. “We still expect that Russia will push for a significant rise in production,” which could soon weigh on prices, he said.

PRICES

  • West Texas Intermediate for April fell 27 cents to $61.43 a barrel at 9:20 a.m. New York time
  • Brent for April settlement fell 8 cents to $65.16

Brent’s prompt timespread firmed in a bullish backwardation structure to the widest in more than a year. The gap rose above $1 a barrel on Tuesday before easing to 87 cents. That compares with 25 cents at the start of the month.

JPMorgan Chase & Co. and oil trader Vitol Group shot down talk of a new oil supercycle, though they said a lack of supply response will keep prices for crude prices firm in the short term.

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Crude Oil

Oil Prices Rise With Storm-hit U.S. Output Set for Slow Return

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Crude oil

Oil Prices Rise With Storm-hit U.S. Output Set for Slow Return

Oil prices rose on Monday as the slow return of U.S. crude output cut by frigid conditions served as a reminder of the tight supply situation, just as demand recovers from the depths of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Brent crude was up $1.38, or 2.2%, at $64.29 per barrel. West Texas Intermediate gained $1.38, or 2.33%, to trade at $60.62 per barrel.

Abnormally cold weather in Texas and the Plains states forced the shutdown of up to 4 million barrels per day (bpd) of crude production along with 21 billion cubic feet of natural gas output, analysts estimated.

Shale oil producers in the region could take at least two weeks to restart the more than 2 million barrels per day (bpd) of crude output affected, sources said, as frozen pipes and power supply interruptions slow their recovery.

“With three-quarters of fracking crews standing down, the likelihood of a fast resumption is low,” ANZ Research said in a note.

For the first time since November, U.S. drilling companies cut the number of oil rigs operating due to the cold and snow enveloping Texas, New Mexico and other energy-producing centres.

OPEC+ oil producers are set to meet on March 4, with sources saying the group is likely to ease curbs on supply after April given a recovery in prices, although any increase in output will likely be modest given lingering uncertainty over the pandemic.

“Saudi Arabia is eager to pursue yet higher prices in order to cover its social break-even expenses at around $80 a barrel while Russia is strongly focused on unwinding current cuts and getting back to normal production,” said SEB chief commodity analyst Bjarne Schieldrop.

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Crude Oil

Crude Oil Rose Above $65 Per Barrel as US Production Drop Due to Texas Weather

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oil

Crude Oil Rose Above $65 Per Barrel as US Production Drop Due to Texas Weather

Oil prices rose to $65.47 per barrel on Thursday as crude oil production dropped in the US due to frigid Texas weather.

The unusual weather has left millions in the dark and forced oil producers to shut down production. According to reports, at least the winter blast has claimed 24 lives.

Brent crude oil gained $2 to $65.47 on Thursday morning before pulling back to $64.62 per barrel around 11:00 am Nigerian time.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude rose 2.3 percent to settle at $61.74 per barrel.

“This has just sent us to the next level,” said Bob Yawger, director of energy futures at Mizuho in New York. “Crude oil WTI will probably max out somewhere pretty close to $65.65, refinery utilization rate will probably slide to somewhere around 76%,” Yawger said.

However, the report that Saudi Arabia plans to increase production in the coming months weighed on crude oil as it can be seen in the chart below.

Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, Saudi Arabian Energy Minister, warned that it was too early to declare victory against the COVID-19 virus and that oil producers must remain “extremely cautious”.

“We are in a much better place than we were a year ago, but I must warn, once again, against complacency. The uncertainty is very high, and we have to be extremely cautious,” he told an energy industry event.

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