Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Naftogaz asks for China Energy Loan Extension

Ukrainian state energy company Naftogaz has asked a Chinese state bank to extend the deadline by which Naftogaz must submit project proposals to qualify for a loan worth $3.5 billion, the chief executive of a Naftogaz subsidiary said on Monday. It is the latest twist in a long-running saga over a loan agreement that Ukraine, under a previous president, had signed with the China Development Bank (CDB) in 2012. According to previous interviews with officials, squabbles between ministries and Naftogaz have held up the proposals. Ukraine was supposed to submit plans for how it would use the money by June 25 but has asked for an extension until Aug.

Oil Edges up Again, but U.S. Supplies Worry

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U.S. drilling activity continues to rise; OPEC's supply cuts undermined by higher U.S. output. Oil edged up for a third straight session on Monday, climbing off last week's seven-month lows but with gains capped by the relentless rise in U.S. supply and bloated global inventories. Investors in U.S. crude futures and options increased their bets against a further rise in prices, as the number of U.S. oil rigs in operation hit its highest in over three years. U.S. shale oil output is up around 10 percent since last year, while places like Brazil have also hiked output.

YPF Says Technology Lowering Its Shale Costs

Longer horizontal wells and technology improvements will help Argentine state-run oil company YPF SA lower costs at its most productive shale field, but better infrastructure is still needed in the remote Vaca Muerta play, an executive said. The breakeven price at the Loma Campana field is $43 per barrel and falling while development costs are $12.90 per barrel and expected to fall to $10 next year, said Pablo Bizzotto, executive manager at YPF's unconventional resources unit. "Ten dollars is world-class compared with the Permian" shale field in Texas…

US Oil Rig Count Climbs for 23rd Week

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U.S. energy firms added oil rigs for a record 23rd week in a row, extending a year-long drilling recovery as producers boost spending on expectations crude prices will rise in future months despite this week's decline to a 10-month low. Drillers added 11 oil rigs in the week to June 23, bringing the total count up to 758, the most since April 2015, energy services firm Baker Hughes Inc said in its closely followed report on Friday. That is more than double the same week a year ago when there were only 330 active oil rigs. Drillers have added rigs in 52 of the past 56 weeks since the start of June 2016. U.S.

Greece Approves Trio of Drillers for Offshore Contracts

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Greece approved applications submitted by a consortium of Total, ExxonMobil and Hellenic Petroleum for oil and gas exploration and drilling off the island of Crete, its energy ministry said on Friday.   The ministry also approved an application submitted by Greece's sole oil producer Energean Oil for offshore drilling in western Greece, the ministry said.   Greece's oil and gas resources management company will launch a tender for licences to drill in the respective blocs by the end of next month, aiming to conclude the procedure by the end of the year.   Reporting by Angeliki Koutantou 

Big Oil turns to Big Data for Drilling Economies

In today's U.S. shale fields, tiny sensors attached to production gear harvest data on everything from pumping pressure to the heat and rotational speed of drill bits boring into the rocky earth. The sensors are leading Big Oil's mining of so-called big data, with some firms envisioning billions of dollars in savings over time by avoiding outages, managing supplies and identifying safety hazards. The industry has long used sophisticated technologies to find oil and gas. But only recently have oil firms pooled data from across…

Oil Market Flashes Warning About Stock Levels in 2018

Oil traders have become increasingly doubtful that OPEC will manage to cut crude stocks down to the five-year average in 2018 and keep them there. Calendar spreads for Brent futures throughout the rest of 2017 and 2018 have weakened significantly since OPEC agreed to roll over its production allocations at the end of May. Calendar spreads (price differences between futures contracts for delivery in different months) are closely linked to the expected level of oil inventories. Physical traders and refiners use spreads to hedge oil stored at tank farms and refineries as well as onboard ships in transit or acting as floating storage.

Statoil Cleared to Use Cap-X Drilling Technology – for Now

Polar Pioneer in the Barents Sea - Statoil - Photo Harald Pettersen

A ban on Norway's Statoil using a pioneering drilling technology in the Barents Sea was lifted after a plaintiff failed to post security in a patent dispute, a lawyer said on Thursday. A Stavanger court earlier in June upheld an injunction on the technology's use, pending payment of a 20 million Norwegian crown ($2.35 million) security by privately owned NeoDrill. NeoDrill was unable to post the security due to its "very limited economic position". But it was open to finding a commercial solution with Statoil, Kyrre Tangen Andersen, a lawyer representing NeoDrill, told Reuters in an email.

ATR Opens Facilities in Kazakhstan

Photo courtesy of Centurion

ATR, a Centurion company, has opened a new base in Kazakhstan as the company looks to capitalize on recent business growth in the region. The business will initially employ 12 new personnel, 10 of which are local content, with plans to double the team over the next 12 months. The purpose-built facilities at Aktau include offices, workshops and a yard area with the location selected to enable the company to support clients operating in the Caspian region. The decision to increase its presence in the country comes after ATR secured…

UK Mulls Revisiting Oldest North Sea Blocks

File Image: A North Sea Offshore Oil Platform (CREDIT:Craig International)

Britain wants oil and gas drillers to recover pockets of gas that are more difficult to reach in a part of the North Sea where drilling for fossil fuels started over 50 years ago. Britain's oil regulator, the Oil and Gas Authority (OGA), said on Thursday that some 3.8 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of tight gas remain in the southern North Sea, one of the world's oldest offshore gas extraction areas that has produced more than 40 tcf. Drilling activity in Britain's North Sea has been at a record low for two years as weak oil prices make projects less attractive.

Faroe Islands Looks to Restart Hunt for Oil and Gas

Oil companies are interested in restarting the hunt for oil and gas in the scarcely explored seas off the Faroe Islands neighbouring the more mature UK North Sea, the head of the Faroese Geological Survey said. No economically viable discoveries have been made on the Faroese shelf but the tiny nation hopes to entice energy firms to restart exploration as it shows them new geological data in London on Wednesday. "Oil firms have in many ways shown interest. We are having meetings, they buy data from us, visit us on the Faroe Islands ... So there is an interest and they are looking at the possibilities," survey director Niels Christian Nolsoe said.

Cenovus Facing Tough Market for Critical Asset Sales

Photo: Cenovus Energy

Cenovus Energy Inc's efforts to sell C$5 billion ($3.8 billion) of energy assets, already facing a rocky road because weak oil prices are depressing the appetite for deals, has become complicated by the surprise departure of its chief executive officer, fund managers said. Brian Ferguson's announcement on Tuesday that he will step down as CEO in October is the latest sign of tumult within Canada's oil sands industry, which has seen international oil majors dump $22.5 billion in assets this year alone. It follows Cenovus' unpopular…

Norway Offers Record Number of Arctic Exploration Blocks

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Norway offered a record number of blocks for oil and gas exploration in the Arctic Barents Sea on Wednesday, brushing off concerns about the risks of drilling in the remote, icy environment. The oil ministry proposed 102 blocks, comprising 93 in the Barents Sea and nine in the Norwegian Sea, despite calls from the Norway's Environment Agency to remove about 20 blocks near Bear Island, an important nesting site for Arctic birds. The application deadline for Norway's 24th Arctic licensing round is Nov. 30 and the aim is to announce awards during the first half of 2018, the ministry said.

Traders Hunt for Shale's Pain Threshold: Kemp

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Crude prices are likely to remain under pressure until there are signs the number of rigs drilling for oil in the United States is stabilising or reversing lower. U.S. exploration and production firms have hired 530 extra drilling rigs since the end of May 2016 - 431 to target oil and 99 to focus on gas - according to oilfield services firm Baker Hughes. As a result, U.S. crude and natural gas liquids production is forecast to increase by 780,000 barrels per day (bpd) in 2017 and by more than 1 million bpd in 2018, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). U.S.

Oil Faces Worst H1 Since 1997

Oil steadied on Wednesday, paring earlier losses, but was set for its largest price slide in the first half of any year for the past two decades, as investors discounted evidence of strong compliance by major producers with a deal to cut global output. August Brent crude futures were flat at $46.02 a barrel by 1107 GMT, having fallen earlier to seven-month lows. U.S. crude futures for August delivery were up 4 cents at $43.55, having hit their lowest since September on Tuesday. So far this year, oil has lost 20 percent in value, its worst performance for the first six months of the year since 1997.

Ex-chief of Bolivian State Oil Firm Detained for Questioning

The former president of Bolivian state oil company Yacimientos Petroliferos Fiscales Bolivianos was detained for questioning by prosecutors in La Paz, days after he was sacked by the government over allegations around a flawed contract process. He is being investigated for "anti-economic conduct," contracts that were harmful to the state, undue use of influence, concealment, and failure to comply with duties, said Castellon. "I am innocent. I have not committed any irregularity," Acha told reporters before his arrest. He is due to attend a hearing as soon as Tuesday.

Offshore Gas Safety atop the Agenda for Martek Marine

Gas Sampling System (Photo: Martek Marine)

Maritime industry technology specialists Martek Marine say it is setting the bar high when it comes to offshore gas safety. The company has developed a first-of-its-kind gas sampling system for a new moored floating production unit, which forms part of the Jangkrik Complex gas fields development in Indonesia. The system has been developed to dramatically improve offshore crew safety through the use of advanced gas sampling technology. The worst offshore disaster in history, the Piper disaster on July 6, 1988, involved a series of gas explosions which destroyed the Piper Alpha oil platform in the North Sea, killing 167 men.

Innovators Toil to Revive Canada Oil Sands

In the boreal forests and on the remote prairies of Alberta, a handful of firms are running pilot projects they hope will end a two-decade drought in innovation and stem the exodus of top global energy firms from Canada's oil sands. They are searching for a breakthrough that will cut the cost of pumping the tar-like oil from the country's vast underground bitumen reservoirs and better compete with the booming shale industry in the United States. If they fail, a bigger chunk of the world's third-largest oil reserves will stay in the ground.

Oil Prices at Seven-month Lows as Supplies Weigh

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OPEC supply jumps in May as Libya, Nigeria output recover; U.S. production also feeds glut. Oil prices fell to seven-month lows on Tuesday after news of increases in supply by several key producers, a trend which has undermined attempts by OPEC and other producers to support the market through reduced output. Benchmark Brent dropped $1.29 to a low of $45.62 a barrel, its weakest since Nov. 15, two weeks before OPEC and other producers agreed to cut output by 1.8 million barrels per day (bpd) for six months from January. Brent was trading around $46.76, down $1.15, by 1205 GMT. The U.S.

OPEC Should Heed Achnacarry Lessons: Kemp

File Image (CREDIT: AdobeStock / (c) Shamtor)

OPEC members are struggling to protect their revenues in the face of renewed competition from U.S. shale producers and other suppliers outside the organisation. OPEC's revenues from petroleum exports have fallen to just $446 billion in 2016 from $1.2 trillion in 2012 ("Annual Statistical Bulletin", OPEC, 2017). But past experience strongly suggests OPEC's effort to stabilise oil inventories and prices while protecting its market share will fail. Since the beginning of the modern petroleum industry, periods of high prices and concern about supplies running out have alternated with episodes of low prices and oversupply.

US Oil Rig Count Continues to Rise

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U.S. energy firms added oil rigs for a record 22nd week in a row in a year-long drilling recovery but the pace of those additions has slowed in recent months as crude prices dropped to 2017 lows  despite OPEC-led efforts to end a global supply glut. Drillers added six oil rigs in the week to June 16, bringing the total count up to 747, the most since April 2015, energy services firm Baker Hughes Inc said on Friday. That compares with 337 rigs in the same week a year ago. The pace of those additions, however, has slowed over the past two months with the decline in crude prices. U.S.

Oil Bounces Back but Remains Near 2017 Lows

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Despite pledge, OPEC and Russian oil supplies remain high. Oil prices edged up from 2017 lows on Friday but remained on track for a fourth consecutive week of losses because of excess supplies, despite OPEC-led production cuts. Brent crude futures were up 57 cents at $47.49 per barrel by 1224 GMT. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $44.85 per barrel, up 39 cents. "The market took a breather yesterday and is trying to recover somewhat this morning. It is by no means bullish," said Tamas Varga, analyst at brokerage PVM Oil Associates.

Funds Pull Back from Permian as U.S. Shale Heats Up

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Cash, people and equipment are pouring into the prolific Permian shale basin in Texas as business booms in the largest U.S. oilfield. But one group of investors is heading the other way - concerned that shale may become a victim of its own success. The speed of the recovery in the U.S. shale industry in the past year has surprised oil investors after a global supply glut led to a two-year crude price slump and bankrupted many shale firms. Eight prominent hedge funds have reduced the size of their positions in ten of the top shale firms by over $400 million…

OPEC and US Shale Drillers Are on a Collision Course

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The oil market is on an unsustainable course with output from U.S. shale and other non-OPEC sources increasing rapidly, while OPEC and its allies trim production to reduce inventories and prop up prices. The International Energy Agency (IEA) projects non-OPEC output will increase by 1.5 million barrels per day (bpd) in 2018 (“Oil Market Report”, IEA, June 2017). If that proves correct, non-OPEC suppliers will capture all the increase in demand next year, because the IEA predicts consumption will increase by only 1.4 million bpd. In effect, OPEC will be restricting its own output only to see rival producers step in to meet growing demand from refiners.

WPX forms JV to Develop Permian Assets

File Image: a typical natural gas pipeline header. (CREDIT: AdobeStock / (c) Pisotsckii)

U.S. oil and gas producer WPX Energy Inc said it had agreed to form a joint venture with privately held Howard Energy Partners to develop oil gathering and natural gas processing infrastructure in the Permian basin. The joint venture will complete the construction of a pipeline, already started by WPX, and develop a new natural gas processing plant, the company said. The pipeline is designed to move about 125,000 barrels of oil per day (bpd), while the natural gas plant will have an initial capacity of 400 million cubic feet per day (MMcf/d). WPX said it would receive $300 million upfront in cash from Howard Energy.

U.S. Shale Exposed to Falling Prices as Hedges Expire

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Cash-strapped U.S. shale firms scaled back their hedging programs in the first quarter, leaving them more vulnerable to tumbling spot market prices just after OPEC reached a landmark deal to curb global supply. The pullback in hedging was driven by rising service costs and expectations that prices would continue to rally after the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries extended those cuts in May, analysts said. However, rising U.S. production has stymied OPEC's efforts to rebalance markets. Crude oil futures have lost 15 percent of their value since February, raising the risk that unhedged companies are more exposed to market weakness.

Statoil Denies Patent Infringement, Keeps Drilling in the Barents Sea

Barents Sea (Image: Statoil)

Norway's Statoil said on Monday it would keep drilling exploration wells in the Barents Sea using what it called "regular equipment" after a court upheld an injunction in a patent dispute over specialised drilling technology. Statoil said the Stavanger court had lifted an injunction on the use of its Cap-X technology in the Blaaman well, where drilling was suspended earlier, but had upheld a ban on the four other Arctic wells planned to be drilled this year. When presenting Cap-X last year, Statoil said it would help reduce drilling costs.

Oil Rises as Investors Buy into US Crude

Oil rose on Monday to break a three-day losing streak, after futures traders increased their bets on a renewed price upswing even though rising U.S. drilling helped keep physical markets bloated. Brent crude futures were up by 63 cents at $48.78 a barrel by 1405 GMT, having hit a session high of $49.15. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures rose 61 cents to $46.44, having peaked at $46.69. Traders and analysts said the bounce looked technical in nature, after WTI rallied and encouraged a similar move in the Brent market. But they said the move might prove fleeting.

Hedge Funds Remain Cautious On Oil

Hedge funds remain cautious on the outlook for oil prices despite confident statements from Saudi Arabia that global oil inventories will decline substantially in the next few months. Asset managers cut their combined net long position in the three main futures and options contracts linked to Brent and WTI by 39 million barrels in the week ending June 6. The net position had been increased by a total of 114 million barrels over the previous three weeks, analysis of data published by regulators and exchanges showed. The earlier increase…

Burst in Investor Confidence Propels Oil Prices

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Financial traders pour cash into long positions even as U.S. drilling rises for record 21 weeks. Oil rose on Monday to break a three-day losing streak, after futures traders increased their bets on a renewed price upswing even though rising U.S. drilling helped keep physical markets bloated. Brent crude futures were up by 85 cents at $49.00 per barrel by 1150 GMT, after hitting a session high of $49.15. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures rose 74 cents to $46.58 per barrel, shy of the day's high of $46.69. Traders and analysts said the bounce looked technical in nature, after WTI rallied and encouraged a similar move in the Brent market.

US Drillers Continue to Add Oil Rigs

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U.S. energy firms added oil rigs for a record 21st week in a row, extending a year-long drilling recovery as producers boost spending on expectations crude prices will rise in future months. Drillers added 8 oil rigs in the week to June 9, bringing the total count up to 741, the most since April 2015, energy services firm Baker Hughes Inc said on Friday. That is more than double the same week a year ago when there were only 328 active oil rigs. The pace of those additions has slowed with a decline in crude prices over the past two months, with the average total added over the past four weeks falling to just 7. U.S.

Petrobras Reports Explosion on Drill Ship

File photo: Odebrecht

Brazil's state-controlled oil company Petroleo Brasileiro SA on Friday reported an explosion on the NS 32 drill ship, which is operated by Odebrecht Óleo e Gás, a unit of Odebrecht SA, according to a statement. The explosion wounded four people, three of them with burns and one with mild injuries, according to the statement. There was no subsequent fire after the blast in the Marlim field, Campos basin, and the drill ship is in safe condition, said Petrobras, adding it will investigate the causes of the accident.   (Reporting by Marta Nogueira; Writing by Ana Mano)

New BSEE Rule Allows More Development Time

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A final regulation by the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) doubles the amount of time offshore oil and gas operators will have to coordinate development operations and retain their leases in federal waters of the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf (OCS). “This rulemaking extends the time from 180 days to one year between production, drilling or well-reworking operations on a lease,” said BSEE Director Scott Angelle. Congress directed BSEE to make this amendment in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2017, Public Law No. 115-31. In response, BSEE amended sections 250.171 and 250.180 of title 30, Code of Federal Regulations.

Drilling Rig in Norway Gets All its Power from Land to Cut Emissions

Maersk Invincible in the fjord outside Stavanger before being towed out to the Vallhall field (Photo: Maersk Drilling)

An offshore drilling rig hired by Norwegian oil and gas producer Aker BP is getting all its power from electricity produced onshore, the firm said on Thursday, in a move that cuts carbon emissions and could be a world first. The Maersk Invincible rig, which is operating at the Valhall field in the North Sea, is connected with a 500-metre long cable to the field's Valhall platform which is in turn powered by a 294-kilometre long subsea cable linked to Norway's shore. "To our knowledge, this is the first one," said a company spokesman, citing data provided by the rig's owner, Denmark's Maersk, and other sources.

Victoria Mulls Floating LNG Plan

Australia's Victoria state is working with AGL Energy to study building a liquefied natural gas (LNG) import terminal to beef up local gas supply, even as the country is set to become the world's largest LNG exporter. Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews is under pressure to bolster regional gas supplies after barring all onshore gas drilling, as the southeast Australian state looks to save manufacturing jobs threatened by soaring energy prices. LNG exports from northeastern Australia - particularly the Gladstone LNG plant run by Santos Ltd - have been pulling gas out of the domestic market…

Partners Aim to Advance Methane Harvesting Tech

Mitsui Engineering & Shipbuilding Co., Ltd. (MES), one of major heavy industry manufacturers in Japan, has partnered MHWirth, a global provider of drilling solutions and services, to harvest shallow methane hydrates from the seabed of the Japan Sea. Methane hydrates generally are categorized as either shallow-type or pore-filling sand-layer type. For pore-filling sand-layer methane hydrates, the studies for the recovery have been conducted since around FY2001 in Japan. For shallow methane hydrates (the hydrates), Japan’s Government Agency started the estimation of its possibility in FY2013.

Colombia Oil Industry Threatened by Local Opposition

Colombia's oil industry is threatened by a growing number of public referendums that seek to ban crude production, the country's oil association said on Monday, as the mining sector faced similar votes. The warning from the Colombian Petroleum Association (ACP), which represents private producers in the Andean country, came one day after residents of Cumaral municipality in Meta province voted by a large majority to ban crude exploration, drilling and production. Cumaral's vote was the first public referendum on banning oil exploration…

Sea Swift: New Platform Operational in Egypt

The 385 tonne topside of the Aquaterra Sea Swift being installed. It features a helideck and emergency accommodation with provision for six wells (Photo: Aquaterra Energy)

Global offshore engineering solutions provider Aquaterra Energy has designed, fabricated and installed a new Sea Swift platform for PICO Petroleum Integrated Services, the lead contractor for Amal Petroleum Company’s (AMAPETCO) Amal field in the Gulf of Suez, offshore Egypt. The Sea Swift is a Conductor Supported Platform (CSP) and is installed in 23 meters water depth. It included a 385 metric ton topside featuring a helideck and emergency accommodation with provision for six wells. The new topsides facility for the Amal-C platform involved designing process…

U.S. Natural Gas Prices Tumble as Coal Surges

File Image (credit Inland Marine)

U.S. natural gas prices have tumbled by more than 10 percent since late May as hedge funds start to liquidate a near-record bullish position accumulated in the expectation of a tighter market that failed to materialise. Hedge funds and other money managers reduced their combined net long position in the two main futures and options contracts linked to Henry Hub prices by 584 billion cubic feet in the week to May 30. Fund managers reduced their net long position by the largest amount in any one week since November 2016, after raising it by a cumulative 1,721 bcf during the previous 12 weeks.

US Oil Rig Count Climbs for 20th Week in a Row

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U.S. energy firms added oil rigs for a record 20th week in a row in a year-long return to the well pad although some analysts expect the pace of additions could level off as crude prices remain below $50 per barrel. Drillers added 11 oil rigs in the week to June 2, bringing the total count up to 733, the most since April 2015, energy services firm Baker Hughes Inc said on Friday. That is more than double the same week a year ago when there were only 325 active oil rigs. Monthly additions in May were at the lowest levels since October due to soft oil prices.

Keppel Closes Deal with Borr Drilling

Keppel FELS Limited, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Keppel Offshore & Marine Ltd (KOM), had entered into a Heads of Agreement with Borr Drilling Limited of Bermuda. Keppel FELS has now signed the relevant definitive agreements with Borr Drilling to novate the construction contracts of the five jackup rigs currently being built by Keppel FELS for Transocean Ltd to Borr Drilling. Under the terms of the agreements, Borr Drilling will take over the contracts of the five jackup rigs from Transocean and undertake the remaining payment installments to Keppel FELS.

Norway Unions in Wage Deal with Drillers

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Norwegian drilling rig operators have reached a wage deal with all three trade unions representing workers, averting the risk of a strike that could have hit exploration, the companies and the unions said on Friday. One of the three unions announced on Thursday afternoon it reached an agreement, while the two others followed later. A number of drilling firms operate off Norway - including Maersk Drilling, Transocean, Fred. Olsen Energy, Odfjell Drilling, Rowan Companies and Songa Offshore - renting out rigs to oil companies.

BP to Develop Gas Project offshore Trinidad

BP announces two major discoveries in Trinidad and Tobago; new project to offset BP's declining production in country. BP has given the go-ahead for its $500 million Angelin offshore gas field development in Trinidad and Tobago to help offset declining production in one of the company's main hubs. Drilling at the Angelin field, some 60 kilometres off the south-east coast of Trinidad in a water-depth of approximately 65 metres, is set to begin in the third quarter of 2018. First gas from the facility is expected in the first quarter of 2019, BP said in a statement.

US Shale Booms and Depresses Oil Prices Again

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U.S. oil production continues to rise relentlessly, frustrating efforts by OPEC and non-OPEC oil exporters to rebalance the global market and secure an increase in the price of crude. After a devastating slump in 2015 and 2016, the U.S. oil industry has returned to strong growth, with drilling and output rising rapidly. U.S. production is now forecast to grow by an average of 440,000 barrels per day (bpd) in 2017 and another 650,000 bpd in 2018, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). U.S. crude and condensates output rose by 62,000 bpd month-on-month to almost 9.1 million bpd in March (“Petroleum Supply Monthly”, EIA, May 2017).

EU Clears GE's Baker Hughes Purchase Without Conditions

The European Commission cleared General Electric Co.'s purchase of oilfield services firm Baker Hughes without conditions on Wednesday, the EU competition authority said in a statement.   It concluded that the merger of the two U.S. companies would not harm competition in European markets for various products where both were active, including electrical submersible pumps, refining chemicals and drilling sensors.   Reporting by Alastair Macdonald 

U.S. Rig Count to Peak Unless WTI Rallies

File Image (CREDIT: AdobeStock / (c) Shamtor)

U.S. exploration and production companies have hired an extra 400 rigs to target oil-bearing formations since the end of May 2016, according to oilfield services company Baker Hughes. The number of active oil-directed rigs has more than doubled over the last year, from 316 to 722, in one of the most remarkable recoveries on record, coming after one of the deepest slumps during the previous two years. But the recovery in oil prices has stalled since February and prices are now no higher than they were a year ago. Experience indicates the rig count will stop rising within a few months (http://tmsnrt.rs/2sd4syJ).

US Drillers Add Oil Rigs in a Record Streak but Pace Slows

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U.S. energy firms added oil rigs for a record 19 weeks in a row as expectations of higher crude prices after an OPEC-led decision to extend current output curbs motivate producers to boost spending on new drilling. The pace of those additions, however, has slowed with the total added so far in May falling to the lowest since October due to soft oil prices. Drillers added two oil rigs in the week to May 26, bringing the total count up to 722, the most since April 2015, energy services firm Baker Hughes Inc said on Friday. That is more than double the same week a year ago when there were only 316 active oil rigs, the least in more than six years.

OPEC Meets Again But Has it Had an Impact on Oil Prices?

Ministers from OPEC and non-OPEC oil exporters are meeting in Vienna today and tomorrow to decide whether to extend production cuts that have been in effect since the start of the year. The formal conference comes after extensive consultations in recent weeks which seem to have produced a consensus to extend cuts at the same level for a further nine months to the end of March 2018. But with oil traders focused on Vienna, it is worth asking whether the cuts agreed by OPEC on Nov. 30 and non-OPEC on Dec. 10 have had any significant impact on prices so far.

Mexico Oil Regulator OKs New Gulf Area for Pemex

Mexico's oil regulator on Tuesday approved a promising new deep water block to state oil company Pemex, but conditioned the allotment on the firm developing the area with a partner that would eventually operate it. The new Chachiquin area, adjacent to Pemex's Nobilis-Maximino block, could produce 80,000 barrels per day of oil once it reaches peak output, according to the regulator's estimates. Development of the area is not expected to begin until 2024 at the earliest. "It's incredibly important for the country to move forward with deep water projects…

Rosneft Cuts Oil Output Temporarily

Russia's Rosneft is ready to resume full oil output quickly once OPEC-led cuts end as the country's top producer has focused its own cuts on newer fields, its chief executive has said. Those cuts run until June 30, though oil ministers from OPEC and non-OPEC countries meeting in Vienna this week are expected to agree to extend a deal that has seen 22 countries reduce global output by 1.8 million barrels per day (bpd) since January 1. "Restrictions (under the OPEC deal) are mainly applied to greenfields," Rosneft Chief Executive Igor Sechin told reporters last week, referring to newer oil fields.

Odebrecht O&G Announces Debt Restructuring Deal

Odebrecht Óleo & Gás SA, the offshore oil drilling firm owned by Brazil's Odebrecht SA, reached an agreement with more than 60 percent of its creditors for a restructuring of about $5 billion in debt, it said in a statement on Tuesday.   OOG, as the company is known, had told Reuters earlier this month that talks with creditors were in final stages. OOG is among Odebrecht SA subsidiaries struggling with a widespread slowdown in Latin America and restricted access to credit in the wake of a huge corruption scandal. (Reporting by Silvio Cascione)

Angelle Named BSEE Director

Scott Angelle (Photo: BSEE)

Former Louisiana state official Scott A. Angelle will head-up the U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE). Angelle, who most recently served as Vice Chairman of the Louisiana Public Service Commission, will assume his new position May 23. “Scott Angelle brings a wealth of experience to BSEE, having spent many years working for the safe and efficient energy production of both Louisiana’s and our country’s offshore resources,” Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke said. Angelle, who will serve as the fourth director in BSEE’s history…

Statoil's Digitalization Drive

Eldar Sætre, Statoil’s chief executive officer. (Photo: Ole Jørgen Bratland)

Statoil is establishing a digital center of excellence and launching a roadmap with seven specific programs for digitalization in the company towards 2020. Towards 2020 Statoil expects to invest $120 to $240 million in new digital technologies, accelerating the digital roadmap work. Digital technologies will also be part of other Statoil technology and research projects. “Aiming to be a global digital leader within our core areas, we are now stepping up our efforts to capture opportunities provided by the rapid development within digital technologies,” said Eldar Sætre, Statoil’s CEO.

China Threatened War If Philippines Drills for Oil -Duterte

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said on Friday Chinese counterpart China Xi Jinping had warned him there would be war if Manila tried to enforce an arbitration ruling and drill for oil in a disputed part of the South China Sea. In remarks that could infuriate China, Duterte hit back at domestic critics who said he has gone soft on Beijing by refusing to push it to comply with an award last year by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, which ruled largely in favor of the Philippines. Duterte said he discussed it with Xi when the two met in Beijing on Monday, and got a firm, but friendly warning.

The New Offshore Reality

(Photo: Oyvind Hagen, Statoil)

Swedbank’s chief economist, Harald Andreassen, isn’t “too hopeful” about the long-term prospects for the oil price, but then again, “I’m less certain of this than I’ve ever been as an economist,” he told a floating production conference in Oslo. After two-and-half years of oil-price collapse followed by layoffs in the thousands; stacked oil rigs and order freezes for offshore shipping, price insecurity itself is a partial expression of confidence. Beneath some palpable yet halting movements toward recovery in 2017, there’s 2016’s rigorous cost-cutting by, among others, Statoil and its subsea supply chain.

Keppel on Track to Deliver Rig for Caspian Drilling

Photo credit: Keppel Offshore & Marine

Keppel Offshore & Marine Ltd (Keppel O&M) through its subsidiary in Azerbaijan, Caspian Shipyard Company (CSC), is on track to deliver a semisubmersible drilling rig to Caspian Drilling Company Ltd, a subsidiary of the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan Republic (SOCAR). The rig was named Heydar Aliyev at a ceremony in Azerbaijan today by the President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev. Built to Keppel FELS' proprietary DSSTM 38M design, the rig has been customized for the Caspian Sea's harsh environment condition. It is the first modern semisubmersible to be almost completely built in Azerbaijan.

Halliburton CEO to Retire, Replaced by Miller

Halliburton Co said on Wednesday that Chief Executive Officer Dave Lesar will retire on June 1 and be replaced by Jeff Miller, Lesar's longtime deputy and fellow board member. Lesar will stay on as executive chairman of the world's second-largest oilfield service provider until December 2018, when he reaches the company's mandatory retirement age of 65. The transition, which was expected, comes as Halliburton tries to recover from a two-year oil price downturn that has eroded profit margins and forced the company to lay off thousands of workers.

Growing U.S. Shale Activity Confounds OPEC

File Image (CREDIT: AdobeStock ? (c) shamtor)

As oilfield workers for Lilis Energy Inc threaded together drill pipes one recent morning in the Permian Basin, a bulldozer cleared sagebrush to make way for the company's fifth well since January. Lilis aims to expand production sevenfold this year in America's most active oilfield. The whir of activity is all the more impressive after the small firm nearly collapsed in late 2015 - amid unrestrained production from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). As per-barrel prices plummeted, Lilis piled on debt and struggled to pay workers.

South Africa Mulls First Shale Gas Exploration Licences

South Africa's government may award its first shale gas exploration licences by the end of September, after environmental objections delayed the process, a senior government official said on Monday. The five licence applications under review are for exploration in the semi-arid Karoo basin. Environmentalists criticised plans to work in the sparsely populated region, known for its rugged scenery and home to rare species such as the mountain zebra and riverine rabbit. Royal Dutch Shell, Falcon Oil and Gas and Bundu Gas & Oil are among five firms whose applications were being reviewed by the regulator…

Centrica to Boost North Sea Drilling

A typical North Sea Oil Installation (CREDIT: Craig International)

Centrica said it will drill a new production well at its Chestnut oilfield in the North Sea, which was going to be shut later this year. The Chestnut oilfield is off the coast of Aberdeen in Scotland and has been producing oil since 2008 but was only expected to do so for three years. The field produces 4,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day and the additional production well should bring a further 10,000 barrels a day on stream, bringing total daily production to nearly 14,000 barrels a day, Centrica said. The 35 million pound investment will extend the life of the field by at least three years.