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Brent Crude Oil Approaches $63 Per Barrel, Experts Call for Caution

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Brent Crude Oil Approaches $63 Per Barrel, Experts Call for Caution

Brent crude oil, a global benchmark for Nigerian oil, rose to $62.43 per barrel on Friday despite OPEC plus lowering its demand projection for the year.

The oil price has continued to appreciate even with global uncertainties and challenges surrounding COVID-19 vaccine distribution. This is largely due to the continuous decline in U.S. crude oil stockpiles to 11 month low last week, China increasing importation of the commodity, OPEC production cuts for February and Saudi Arabia’s decision to reduce production by 1 million barrels per day for the next few months.

However, experts are warning that the commodity may have gotten a little ahead of itself after rising by 23 percent so far this year.

US West Texas Intermediate crude oil rose to $59.82 a barrel on Friday, the highest level since January 2020.

My personal view … is that the price is too frothy, and that it doesn’t warrant a WTI price of greater than $58,” Regina Mayor, global and U.S. head of energy for KPMG, said of what’s driving higher oil prices.

Mayor added that “Supply is coming down. … We’re all surprised by how quickly it’s taken to draw down those stocks and to get us closer to the 5-year rolling average. We’re [also] seeing real-life improved demand out of China and India, although I caution that the China number is a pandemic comparator for January 2020 versus January 2021, and then there are expectations that demand will increase with vaccinations and more people moving around.”

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.

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Oil Prices Steady Ahead of Crucial OPEC+ Meeting on Output Cuts

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Oil prices stabilized in Asian trading on Monday as markets turned their attention to an upcoming OPEC+ meeting, where producers are expected to discuss maintaining voluntary output cuts for the remainder of the year.

This critical meeting, scheduled for June 2, will be held online following a brief postponement, OPEC announced last Friday.

The Brent crude oil, against which Nigerian crude oil is priced, stood at $82.36 a barrel, while the U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil rose by 28 cents to $78 per barrel.

The stabilization in prices comes after a week of declines with Brent ending last week about 2% lower and WTI losing nearly 3%.

This downturn was influenced by minutes from the Federal Reserve’s recent meeting, revealing that some officials are open to further tightening interest rates if deemed necessary to control persistent inflation.

Market activity is expected to be relatively subdued on Monday due to public holidays in the United States and the United Kingdom.

However, anticipation is building around the OPEC+ meeting, where producers will deliberate on extending the current voluntary output cuts of 2.2 million barrels per day into the second half of the year. Sources within OPEC+ suggest that an extension is likely.

Sugandha Sachdeva, founder of Delhi-based research firm SS WealthStreet, expressed confidence in the potential extension, stating, “Oil futures are expected to maintain today’s gains due to expectations of the cuts being extended.”

She also highlighted the influence of upcoming U.S. Producer Price Index (PPI) data on market movements, which will shape the Federal Reserve’s approach to potential rate adjustments.

Combined with an additional 3.66 million barrels per day of production cuts valid through the end of the year, these measures account for nearly 6% of global oil demand.

OPEC remains optimistic about continued growth in oil demand, forecasting an increase of 2.25 million barrels per day for the year, while the International Energy Agency (IEA) anticipates slower growth of 1.2 million barrels per day.

Analysts at ANZ noted that they will be closely monitoring gasoline usage as the Northern Hemisphere enters summer, a peak season for driving holidays.

They commented, “While U.S. holiday trips are expected to hit a post-COVID high, improved fuel efficiency and EVs could see oil demand remain soft,” but added that this could be offset by rising air travel.

This week’s market dynamics will also be influenced by the U.S. personal consumption expenditures (PCE) index, due to be released on May 31.

The PCE index is regarded as the Federal Reserve’s preferred measure of inflation, and its findings could provide further indications of the central bank’s interest rate policies.

In a related development, Goldman Sachs has revised its forecast for 2030 oil demand upwards to 108.5 million barrels per day from the previous 106 million barrels per day.

The investment bank also projects peak oil demand to occur by 2034 at 110 million barrels per day, followed by a prolonged plateau until 2040.

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

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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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Angola’s Oil Sector Lures Investors as Nigeria’s Dominance Wanes

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Nigeria has long held the title of Africa’s leading oil producer but signs are now suggesting a shift as neighbouring country Angola emerges as a new beacon of attraction for international oil companies (IOCs).

The surge in Angola’s popularity among investors highlights a significant challenge to Nigeria’s once-unassailable dominance in the continent’s oil landscape.

Data sourced from Angola’s National Oil, Gas and Biofuels Agency (ANPG) reveals an increase of 96 percent in investment in Angola’s oil sector between 2022 and 2023.

Over the past five years, investments totaling almost $50 billion have been recorded, with an additional $71 billion planned over the next five years.

This surge in investment underscores the growing confidence of international players in Angola’s oil market.

The aggressive industry reforms undertaken by Angola since 2017 have been instrumental in attracting investors.

These reforms aim to ensure transparency and competitiveness in the oil and gas market, a move that has resonated positively with foreign players.

The introduction of a six-year licensing round in 2019, guaranteeing yearly investment opportunities in exploration for foreign entities, has been a key feature of Angola’s reform agenda.

One of the most recent licensing rounds, covering 12 blocks in the Lower Congo and Kwanza Basins, saw an overwhelming response with 53 bids submitted, indicating the robust interest in Angola’s oil and gas potential.

José Barroso, Angola’s secretary of state for oil and gas, emphasized the country’s commitment to promoting the industry by aggressively pushing bid rounds aligned with national production targets.

Angola’s regulatory flexibility in oil and gas agreements has been another attractive feature for investors. The introduction of risk service contracts in 2020 as an alternative to traditional production-sharing agreements demonstrates Angola’s adaptability to industry dynamics.

Also, reforms such as the Tax Benefits Code enacted in 2022 aim to create incentives for oil companies operating in the country.

The stability and clarity of Angola’s policy framework have been highlighted as key factors driving investment decisions.

Patrick Pouyanne, CEO of TotalEnergies, pointed out the importance of policy consistency, noting that Angola’s stable framework played a pivotal role in TotalEnergies’ decision to invest $6 billion in the country.

While Angola’s star rises in the oil investment landscape, Nigeria faces challenges that threaten its status as Africa’s top oil producer.

Bureaucratic bottlenecks, contracting delays, and security concerns in the Niger Delta region have hindered Nigeria’s ability to attract and retain investors.

The inconsistency in policy making decisions has further exacerbated the situation, prompting some IOCs to explore more stable investment environments like Angola.

As Angola’s oil sector continues to flourish, Nigeria must address the underlying challenges that have dampened investor confidence.

The resurgence of Angola underscores the need for Nigeria to streamline its regulatory framework, enhance security measures, and foster a more conducive environment for oil investment to maintain its position as a regional powerhouse in the oil industry.

Failure to do so could result in further erosion of Nigeria’s dominance, paving the way for Angola to solidify its position as a formidable competitor in Africa’s oil market.

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