- Oil Prices Climb Ahead of OPEC, G20 Meetings, but Cautious Mood Lingers
Oil prices rose on Wednesday ahead of an OPEC meeting next week at which the producer club is expected to decide some form of supply cut to counter an emerging glut.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures CLc1 were at $51.88 per barrel at 0148 GMT, up 32 cents, or 0.6 percent from their last settlement.
International Brent crude oil futures LCOc1 were up 44 cents, or 0.7 percent, at $60.65 per barrel.
Despite Wednesday’s rise, oil prices have still lost almost a third of their value since early October, weighed down by an emerging supply overhang and by widespread weakness in financial markets.
The crude oil price slump since October is so far on par with the 2008 price crash and steeper than that of 2014/2015.
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) will meet at its headquarters in Vienna, Austria, on Dec. 6 to discuss output policy.
The OPEC-meeting will follow a gathering by the Group of 20 (G20) nations, which includes the world’s biggest economies, in Argentina this weekend, at which the Sino-American trade dispute as well as oil policy are expected to be discussed.
While most analysts expect some form of supply cut from the OPEC-meeting, sentiment in oil markets remains negative.
“Options traders remain focused on downside risks following a 30 percent slide in WTI,” Erik Norland, senior economist at commodities exchange CME Group wrote in a note, referring to the higher number of traders who have placed positions that would profit from a further fall in crude prices than those placing bets on a rising market.
Portfolio managers have slashed their combined net long position in crude futures by a total of 607 million barrels over the last eight weeks, the largest reduction over a comparable period since at least 2013, when the current data series began, exchange data showed.
A concern to global markets is a slowdown in global trade as a result of the Sino-American trade dispute, swelling debt and a strong dollar that puts pressure on emerging markets.
The World Trade Organization (WTO) said in its latest outlook, published on Tuesday, that “trade growth is likely to slow further into the fourth quarter of 2018”, with growth likely at its slowest since Oct. 2016.
U.S. Crude Production Hits Another Record, Posing Challenges for OPEC
U.S. crude oil production reached a new record in September, surging by 224,000 barrels per day to 13.24 million barrels per day.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration reported a consecutive monthly increase, adding 342,000 barrels per day over the previous three months, marking an annualized growth rate of 11%.
The surge in domestic production has led to a buildup of crude inventories and a softening of prices, challenging OPEC⁺ efforts to stabilize the market.
Despite a decrease in the number of active drilling rigs over the past year, U.S. production continues to rise.
This growth is attributed to enhanced drilling efficiency, with producers focusing on promising sites and drilling longer horizontal well sections to maximize contact with oil-bearing rock.
While OPEC⁺ production cuts have stabilized prices at relatively high levels, U.S. producers are benefiting from this stability.
The current strategy seems to embrace non-OPEC non-shale (NONS) producers, similar to how North Sea producers did in the 1980s.
Saudi Arabia, along with its OPEC⁺ partners, is resuming its role as a swing producer, balancing the market by adjusting its output.
Despite OPEC’s inability to formally collaborate with U.S. shale producers due to antitrust laws, efforts are made to include other NONS producers like Brazil in the coordination system.
This outreach aligns with the historical pattern of embracing rival producers to maintain control over a significant share of global production.
In contrast, U.S. gas production hit a seasonal record high in September, reaching 3,126 billion cubic feet.
However, unlike crude, there are signs that gas production growth is slowing due to very low prices and the absence of a swing producer.
Gas production increased by only 1.8% in September 2023 compared to the same month the previous year.
While the gas market is in the process of rebalancing, excess inventories may persist, keeping prices low.
The impact of a strengthening El Niño in the central and eastern Pacific Ocean could further influence temperatures and reduce nationwide heating demand, impacting gas prices in the coming months.
Nigeria Takes Bold Step to Energize Oil Sector: Plans to Revoke Dormant Exploration Leases
The Nigerian Upstream Petroleum and Regulatory Commission (NUPRC) has announced that the Federal Government is considering revoking inactive oil exploration leases granted to companies unable to conduct exploration activities.
Gbenga Komolafe, CEO of NUPRC, conveyed that only companies demonstrating robust technical and financial capabilities would retain their leases under the guidelines of the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA).
“Based on PIA, the commission is focused on delivering value for the nation, so only firms that are technically and financially viable will keep their leases,” affirmed Komolafe in a statement to Reuters.
He outlined that the commission plans to review existing leases, and the allocation of new leases will be contingent upon specific terms and conditions.
Current data from NUPRC reveals that over 60% of prospecting licenses, comprising 53 exploration leases issued since 2003, have expired. Of these, 33 licenses, including four entangled in contract disputes, have not been renewed.
While automatic revocation has not been exercised, the regulator signals a departure from allowing companies to indefinitely retain leases without meaningful exploration activities.
The enactment of the PIA in 2021 empowers the regulator to assess the technical and financial capabilities of companies holding oil exploration leases.
The Nigerian oil and gas sector has faced challenges, witnessing dwindling investments as major players exit onshore and shallow water assets due to security concerns, infrastructure sabotage, and legal disputes in the Niger Delta.
The proposed move aims to incentivize active exploration, addressing the sector’s stagnation and fostering renewed investor confidence.
Nigeria Eyes Oil Production Surpassing OPEC Quota Amidst Positive Projections and Global Collaborations
In a strategic move to exceed the OPEC-imposed oil production quotas, Nigeria, led by the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources (Oil), Senator Heineken Lokpobiri, is on a trajectory to outperform expectations.
The recent 36th OPEC and non-OPEC ministerial meeting projected Nigeria’s oil production quota at 1.5 million barrels per day (bpd) in 2024.
However, Lokpobiri revealed in a Twitter post that Nigeria currently produces 1.5 million bpd for crude and 300,000 bpd for condensate.
Addressing concerns about Nigeria’s ability to meet these targets, Lokpobiri assured, “What we are producing is much more than what is projected in the 2024 budget estimate.”
Despite discrepancies between OPEC’s projections and Nigeria’s budget estimates, the minister expressed confidence that the country would surpass the outlined targets.
Furthermore, to fortify Nigeria’s position in the global energy landscape, Lokpobiri engaged in a pivotal meeting with Baker Hughes Chairman, Lorenzo Simonelli, on the sidelines of the ongoing 28th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28).
Baker Hughes, a global energy technology company, expressed keen interest in sustaining and enhancing its investment in Nigeria’s oil and gas industry. Simonelli emphasized the company’s commitment to contributing to Nigeria’s energy transformation agenda and collaborating on sustainable energy practices.
Lokpobiri commended Baker Hughes for its longstanding partnership with Nigeria and affirmed the government’s commitment to creating an enabling environment for investments in the refinery sector.
The meeting set the stage for a promising collaboration that aligns with Nigeria’s objectives and contributes to global sustainable energy goals.
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