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Oil’s Stint Above $50 Ends

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Heritage Oil - Investors King
  • Oil’s Stint Above $50 Ends

Was $50 a barrel for oil just a passing fancy?

West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. benchmark, skyrocketed above $52 a barrel at the end of September, teasing investors. But the rally didn’t last long. After hedge funds sliced their net-long position on WTI and pulled back from record bets on rising Brent prices, oil had slipped as low as $49.10 on Friday.

“We just rallied too far, too fast,” said Clayton Rogers, an energy derivative broker at SCS Commodities Corp. in Jersey City. “I think it was just time for a correction.”

After September’s 9.4 percent rally, the usual suspects re-emerged: Saudi Arabia and other OPEC members increased production, Libya restarted its biggest oil field and U.S. output reached a two-year high. On Friday, when concern eased over the impact of Tropical Storm Nate on U.S. Gulf Coast production, WTI dropped below its 200-day moving average.

Investors had initially been concerned over the storm, “given how it’s another punch to the Gulf Coast refining corridor and deep-water Gulf production platforms, but that fear has receded,” said Chris Kettenmann, chief energy strategist at Macro Risk Advisors LLC, in interview in New York. “People are basically taking money off the table, locking in profits from the September rally, and getting out of the market”

It doesn’t help that U.S. crude stockpiles remain above their five-year average by more than 70 million barrels at a time when refineries are starting to shut for maintenance. Meanwhile, the top American shale plays, led by the Permian and Eagle Ford basins in Texas, are set to produce a record amount of crude this month.

Hedge funds reduced their WTI net-long position — the difference between bets on a price increase and wagers on a drop — 1 percent to 249,323 futures and options in the week ended Oct. 3, U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission data show. Shorts rose 4.1 percent, while longs edged up 0.5 percent.

As for Brent, the net-long position on the global benchmark declined 0.9 percent to 504,263 contracts, after reaching an all-time high the previous week, according to data from ICE Futures Europe.

In the fuel market, money managers decreased their net-long position on benchmark U.S. gasoline by about 8 percent. Diesel remained a bright spot, with the net-bullish position on the fuel extending its surge to a record a little bit, up 0.4 percent.

The strength in the diesel market, used to power trucks, trains and industrial equipment, stems from an improving global economy that’s boosting demand, said Rob Thummel, managing director at Tortoise Capital Advisors LLC, which handles $16 billion in energy-related assets. But in the oil market, doubts around whether the Organization of Petroleum Countries and its allies will extend a deal to curb production and manage to drain the global glut continue to weigh on prices.

Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz and Russian President Vladimir Putin talked up their supply-cut deal in a historic meeting in Moscow, suggesting it could be extended, but with so many signs pointing to a glut, their boost to prices was short-lived.

“Oil’s had a heck of a run for the month of September,” Thummel said. “The continued concerns in the market that keeps the shorts active: Is OPEC compliance waning? Will their compliance start to be less? Will they start to cheat more?”

Is the CEO/Founder of Investors King Limited. A proven foreign exchange research analyst and a published author on Yahoo Finance, Businessinsider, Nasdaq, Entrepreneur.com, Investorplace, and many more. He has over two decades of experience in global financial markets.

Crude Oil

Nigeria’s Oil Sector Sees $16.6bn Investment Boost, Plans $20bn Expansion

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Steel sector

Minister of State for Petroleum Resources (Oil), Heineken Lokpobiri, announced on Monday that approximately $16.6 billion in investments have been committed over the past year.

This significant influx of capital marks a period of rejuvenation for the oil sector following years of stagnation caused by policy inconsistencies and the delayed passage of the Petroleum Industry Act.

Lokpobiri shared these updates during a briefing in Abuja, where he highlighted the achievements in the oil sector since President Bola Tinubu assumed office on May 29, 2023.

The minister emphasized that the government’s efforts to create a more investment-friendly environment have paid off, attracting substantial foreign and domestic investments.

Rekindling Investor Confidence

“One of our main objectives has been to create an environment where investments can thrive,” Lokpobiri stated. “Today, I am pleased to announce that our efforts have rekindled investor confidence in the sector.”

He pointed to notable investments, including $5 billion and $10 billion commitments in deepwater offshore assets, and a $1.6 billion investment in oil and gas asset acquisition.

The surge in investments is attributed to a series of roadshows in the United States and Europe, which successfully showcased Nigeria’s potential and the government’s commitment to sectoral reforms.

This renewed global interest is also evident in the ongoing bid rounds for new assets.

Production Increase and Strategic Initiatives

A significant achievement since President Tinubu took office is the increase in crude oil production.

“When we took office, production was at approximately 1.1 million barrels per day, including condensates,” Lokpobiri reported. “Today, I am proud to report that we have increased our production to approximately 1.7 million barrels per day, inclusive of condensates.”

To achieve this increase, the government has undertaken several strategic initiatives.

These include revamping redundant oil assets, continuous engagement with international oil companies, and resolving industry disputes.

Efforts to protect critical assets and reduce oil theft have also been intensified, with collaborations between private security firms and government agencies leading to a sharp decline in crude oil theft.

Upcoming $20bn Expansion Deal

In addition to the recent investments, Lokpobiri revealed that the Federal Government is on the verge of finalizing a $20 billion deal aimed at further boosting oil and gas production.

During a meeting with Olivier Le Peuch, CEO of Schlumberger Limited, Lokpobiri disclosed that negotiations with major investors are nearing completion. “Investments of over $20 billion are coming. One company alone will invest $10 billion,” he noted.

This deal, once consummated, will represent one of the largest single investments in Nigeria’s oil sector in recent history, promising to significantly enhance the country’s production capacity and economic growth.

Ongoing and Future Projects

Lokpobiri also highlighted the commencement of production from Oil Mining Leases (OMLs) 13 and 85, managed by Sterling Exploration and First E&P respectively.

These projects are expected to produce an average of 20,000 and 40,000 barrels per day, further bolstering Nigeria’s output.

This period of renewed investment and increased production is a testament to the government’s commitment to optimizing the nation’s oil and gas assets.

President Tinubu’s administration aims to sustain this momentum, ensuring continued growth and stability in the sector.

Government Transparency and Accountability

In line with President Tinubu’s directive for transparency, all ministers have been tasked with presenting their performance reports to the public.

The Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mohammed Idris, announced that the first-anniversary celebrations will include sectoral media briefings by the 47 federal ministers, starting on Thursday.

These briefings are designed to keep Nigerians informed about the government’s achievements and ongoing initiatives.

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Energy

Oil Prices Stable Amid Federal Reserve’s Talk of Interest Rate Tightening

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In a landscape where global oil markets often sway with the slightest economic shifts, stability can be a rare commodity.

However, amidst discussions from the U.S. Federal Reserve regarding potential interest rate adjustments, oil prices have remained surprisingly steady.

Brent crude oil, against which Nigerian oil is priced, gained 10 cents, or 0.1% rise to $82.00 a barrel, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil edged up 7 cents to $77.64 a barrel.

The Federal Reserve’s release of minutes from its recent policy meeting unveiled deliberations on the possibility of raising interest rates to combat persistent inflationary pressures.

The minutes stated, “Various participants mentioned a willingness to tighten policy further should risks to inflation materialize in a way that such an action became appropriate.”

Such discussions surrounding interest rates can have a profound impact on oil demand. Higher interest rates typically result in increased borrowing costs, potentially constraining funds that could otherwise stimulate economic growth and, consequently, oil consumption—particularly in the United States, the world’s largest oil-consuming nation.

Additionally, the Energy Information Administration’s report indicating a 1.8 million barrel rise in U.S. crude stocks last week, as opposed to an anticipated draw of 2.5 million barrels, added a layer of complexity to the market dynamics.

This unexpected increase in inventory weighed on market sentiment, despite ongoing efforts to balance supply and demand.

Furthermore, global physical crude markets have been grappling with subdued refinery demand and abundant supply, exacerbating the pressure on oil prices.

Analysts from Citi highlighted recent market softness, attributing it to weaker data encompassing rising oil inventories, tepid demand, and refinery margin weakness, compounded by the looming risk of production cuts.

Russia’s announcement that it surpassed its OPEC+ production quota in April due to “technical reasons” added another dimension to the market narrative.

The Russian Energy Ministry revealed plans to present a compensation strategy to the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) Secretariat shortly.

Against this backdrop, anticipation mounts ahead of the OPEC+ meeting scheduled for June 1, where crucial decisions regarding production cut levels will be deliberated.

Despite uncertainties surrounding the meeting’s outcome, industry experts foresee challenges in significantly tightening the market in the near term, potentially leading to a rollover of existing voluntary cuts.

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Energy

Electricity Subsidy Surges to N628.61bn in 2023, Discos Earn N1.08tn

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Amidst ongoing debates regarding Nigeria’s power sector and the financial dynamics surrounding it, the latest data from the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) has revealed significant figures concerning electricity subsidy and the earnings of power distribution companies (Discos).

According to the data obtained from NERC, the Federal Government’s expenditure on electricity subsidy soared to a staggering N628.61 billion in 2023.

This substantial subsidy expenditure indicates the government’s continued financial support to ensure electricity affordability for consumers across the nation.

Simultaneously, power distribution companies amassed a total revenue of N1.08 trillion during the same period.

This substantial revenue underscores the financial capacity of the Discos despite ongoing challenges within the power sector, including issues related to infrastructure, metering, and service delivery.

Analysis of the figures provided by NERC reveals a consistent increase in electricity subsidies throughout 2023.

In the first, second, third, and fourth quarters of the year, subsidies on power amounted to N36.02 billion, N135.23 billion, N204.6 billion, and N252.76 billion, respectively.

This steady rise in subsidy expenditure reflects the government’s commitment to bridging the gap between the cost-reflective tariff and the allowed tariff.

Conversely, power distribution companies witnessed notable revenue growth over the same period.

Despite concerns raised by consumers regarding service quality and reliability, Discos reported earnings of N247.09 billion, N267.86 billion, N267.61 billion, and N294.95 billion in the first, second, third, and fourth quarters of 2023, respectively.

This substantial revenue generation highlights the financial viability of the Discos within the current regulatory framework.

The surge in revenue by Discos has prompted calls from various stakeholders for improved service delivery and accountability within the power sector.

Consumers have expressed dissatisfaction with the quality of service provided by Discos, emphasizing the need for enhanced operational efficiency and infrastructure investment to address prevailing challenges.

In the absence of cost-reflective tariffs, the Federal Government continues to bear the burden of electricity subsidies to ensure affordability for consumers.

These subsidies primarily target power generation costs payable by Discos to the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading company, thereby supporting electricity generation and supply across the country.

Commenting on the subsidy expenditure for the fourth quarter of 2023, NERC highlighted the government’s policy to harmonize exchange rates and maintain end-user customer tariffs at approved rates.

This policy direction contributed to the increase in subsidy obligations, reflecting the government’s efforts to stabilize electricity prices amidst economic uncertainties.

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