Friday, November 24, 2017

Nebraska Mulls Keystone Pipeline's Fate

File Image (CREDIT: AdobeStock / Berkut 34)

Nebraska regulators will announce their decision on Monday on whether to approve TransCanada Corp’s Keystone XL pipeline route through the state, the last big hurdle for the long-delayed project. Just days ago, TransCanada's existing Keystone system spilled 5,000 barrels in South Dakota and pipeline opponents said the spill highlighted the risks posed by the proposed XL expansion. The stakes are big. President Donald Trump, a Republican, has made Keystone XL’s success a plank in his effort to boost the U.S.

Ecopetrol to Invest up to $4 bln in 2018

Colombia's state-run oil company Ecopetrol said on Wednesday it would invest between $3.5 billion and $4 billion during 2018, the majority in production and exploration projects. The company, the Andean nation's largest, said in a filing to the financial regulator it expected to produce between 715,000 and 725,000 barrels per day next year. Only 4 percent of investment would be spent abroad, the statement said, with the rest destined for Colombian projects.

Britain to Offer North Sea tax Relief

File Image: a typical offshore North Sea installation (Credit: Craig International)

Britain will introduce next year tax changes to oil and gas companies operating in the North Sea, finance minister Philip Hammond said on Wednesday, in an effort to spur new investment. Presenting Britain's budget for next year, Hammond said that starting November 2018, tax history for oil and gas fields in the North Sea will be transferable from seller to buyer. This will allow buyers to benefit from larger tax relief when fields reach the end of their life and require dismantling, known as decommissioning.

Indian Oil Corp Mulls PDVSA Crude Buys

Crude orders could help Venezuela settle unpaid bills; but doubts remain as to whether PDVSA can supply more crude. Indian Oil Corp is considering buying Venezuelan crude for the first time in at least six years, in a move that could help the crisis-struck South American nation settle unpaid bills with another state-owned Indian energy firm. The OPEC-member's economy has collapsed since crude prices plummeted in 2014, forcing it to delay payments for oil services and fuel supplies.

Britain to Hike Levy on Diesel Autos

Britain will increase the amount of taxation paid by those driving diesel cars that do not meet more stringent emissions standards, finance minister Philip Hammond said on Wednesday. Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) is paid by British drivers with one rate applying in the first year dependent on emissions levels and a flat rate taking effect from the second year onwards. "From April 2018, the first-year VED rate for diesel cars that don’t meet the latest standards will go up by one band…

Fitch Lowers Noble Group Rating

Fitch Ratings cut commodity trader Noble Group's debt rating on Friday to two notches above default, citing the company's commencement of discussions on a debt restructuring. The agency lowered the rating by a notch to 'CC', which according to its rating criteria defines a situation where "default of some kind appears probable". Fitch previously had rated Noble 'CCC', which stated that "default is a real possibility".

Senate Panel Set to Advance Quest for Oil in Alaska Refuge

(Photo: USFWS)

Oil drilling in a vast Alaskan wildlife refuge could move a step closer to reality on Wednesday as a Senate panel votes to open part of the reserve coveted by conservationists. Republicans, who control Congress and the White House, have long wanted to prise open a portion of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge on the north coast known as the 1002 area. Senator Lisa Murkowski, an Alaska Republican and the head of the Senate energy committee…

Petrobras Hikes 2017 Fundraising Forecast

Brazil's Petroleo Brasileiro SA, the world's most indebted oil company, nearly doubled its fundraising forecast for 2017 but trimmed its target for divestments. In a presentation following disappointing third quarter results, Petrobras said it expects to raise $22 billion in funds this year compared to a prior forecast of $13 billion. It expects to divest $7 billion this year, excluding a planned initial public offering for fuel distribution unit BR Distribuidora, below the $8 billion it forecast previously.

Venezuela Bondholders Mull Alliances

Holders of Venezuelan bonds are meeting with each other and considering forming committees, advisers and fund managers told Reuters, as questions mount about the feasibility of President Nicolas Maduro's proposal to restructure $60 billion of debt. Maduro has said the country will keep servicing its obligations for now. But bondholders ranging from longstanding investment funds to hedge funds and emerging markets funds…

Baker Hughes' Sell-Off Could be Buying Opportunity -Barron's

A recent sell-off in the stock of Baker Hughes, a GE-owned company, might mean a chance to buy the shares at a bargain, a report in Barron's financial newspaper said. The stock lost 7.4 percent over two days last week after General Electric outlined steps to shrink its array of businesses. It said it planned to get rid of its 62.5 percent stake in Baker Hughes. GE, which completed its merger with Baker Hughes in July…

Hedge Fund bet on Glencore Backfires

Lansdowne Partners loses $100 million from short in 2017. London hedge fund giant Lansdowne Partners lost $100 million from a long-term bet against Glencore this year after the spectacular recovery of the miner took some by surprise. For Lansdowne, that bet had generated returns in 2014 and 2015, when Glencore more than other major miners was dragged down by falling commodity prices and concerns about its level of debt.

Petrobras Seals $1 bln Financing Deal

Brazilian state-controlled oil company Petroleo Brasileiro said on Friday it had secured $1 billion in financing from a banking syndicate headed by Standard Chartered PLC, to which it repaid $500 million of debt ahead of schedule. The syndicate includes China Construciton Bank, ABN AMRO Bank, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, Banco Latinoamericano de Exportações and Commerzbank. The loan will be guaranteed by Petrobras's P-56 platform and will be used to help pay down other debts, the company said.

Rosneft CEO to Testify at Ex-minister's Trial

The head of Russia's Rosneft , Igor Sechin, will attend the trial of former economy minister Alexei Ulyukayev as soon as his schedule allows, TASS news agency quoted Sechin as saying on Thursday. Ulyukayev is on trial on charges of extorting a $2 million bribe from Sechin, in exchange for Ulyukayev approving a business deal. Sechin was called to court to testify but has missed the first two court sittings since then. "My key task is to fulfill my responsibilities as the president of Rosneft.

Statoil to Pay a $4 Mln Fine Over Swaps Manipulation

Statoil ASA will pay $4 million to settle U.S. charges that the energy company tried to manipulate a key propane benchmark in order to benefit its NYMEX-cleared swaps position, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) said on Tuesday. In a statement, the U.S. regulatory agency said Norway-based Statoil in late 2011 had attempted to manipulate the Argus Far East Index, a key index of propane prices.   Reporting by Susan Heavey and Tim Ahmann

S.Korea Scores Partial Win in WTO Ruling on US Steel Pipe Duties

South Korea won a partial victory on Tuesday when a World Trade Organization panel ruled on its legal challenge to U.S. anti-dumping duties on steel pipe used in the oil industry, but Seoul lost most of the arguments it had made. In a ruling that can be appealed by either side, the WTO panel faulted the U.S. Department of Commerce for the way it calculated the tariffs applied to the South Korean pipes, known as oil country tubular goods (OCTG). Reporting by Tom Miles

Norway's Arctic Oil Plan Violates Constitution, Lawsuit Says

© h368k742 / Adobe Stock

Norway's plan for Arctic oil exploration is unconstitutional because it violates the right to a healthy environment, a lawyer for Greenpeace and the Nature and Youth environmental group told an Oslo court on Tuesday. The case is the first of its kind in Norway and says a 2015 oil licensing round in the Arctic that gave awards to Statoil , Chevron and others violates the constitution. Norway signed the 2016 Paris accord, which aims to end the fossil fuel era this century.

U.S. Stance Complicates Total's Iran Gas Deal

French oil and gas major Total would have to review its Iran gas project if the United States decided to impose unilateral sanctions on Tehran, given the company's assets in the U.S. market, its chief executive told CNN. Last month, U.S. President Donald Trump refused to formally certify that Iran was complying with the nuclear deal, defying both allies and adversaries. He warned that he might ultimately terminate the agreement. The U.S. Congress now has about a month to decide whether to reinstate sanctions.

Vens Says Debt Refinancing Underway, but S&P Disagrees

Venezuela's cash-strapped government said its plan to refinance some $60 billion in bonds was successfully underway after a creditors' meeting in Caracas but a rating agency declared the nation in selective default over missed coupon payments. President Nicolas Maduro's negotiating committee met briefly with investors in Caracas on Monday but offered no firm proposals on its intention to alleviate Venezuela's crippling foreign debt amid an unprecedented economic meltdown.

Nebraska Regulator Set to Issue Keystone XL Permit Decision

The Nebraska Public Service Commission announced Monday it will issue its decision on whether to approve the permit to allow construction of the Keystone XL pipeline on Nov. 20, the last regulatory hurdle for the controversial project.   The five-member PSC will take a vote on the decision in Lincoln, Nebraska, which will be open to the public.     (Reporting by Valerie Volcovici and Timothy Gardner)

Noble Group says Jeffrey Frase Resigns as co-CEO

Beleaguered commodities trader Noble Group said on Monday that Jeffrey Frase resigned as co-chief executive officer (CEO) and global head of oil liquids. William Randall, who served alongside Frase as co-CEO, will assume the role of chief executive, the company said in a statement. Randall and Frase were appointed as co-CEOs in May 2016 after the resignation of Yusuf Alireza as chief executive of the Singapore-listed company.

Coal's Future Remains Uncertain

File Image (CREDIT: AdobeStock / (c) Carolyn Franks)

A year after Donald Trump was elected president on a promise to revive the ailing U.S. coal industry, the sector’s long-term prospects for growth and hiring remain as bleak as ever. A Reuters review of mining data shows an industry that has seen only modest gains in jobs and production this year - much of it from a temporary uptick in foreign demand for U.S. coal rather than presidential policy changes. U.S. utilities are shutting coal-fired power plants at a rapid pace and shifting to cheap natural gas…

U.S. DoJ to Prosecute Energy Activist Vandals

File Image (CREDIT: AdobeStock / (c) Berkut 34)

The U.S. Department of Justice on Friday pledged to prosecute protesters who damage energy infrastructure in a move that could escalate tensions between climate activists and the administration of President Donald Trump. The DOJ said it was committed to vigorously prosecuting those who damage "critical energy infrastructure in violation of federal law." Attempts to "damage or shut down" pipelines deprive communities of services…

U.S. Wind Firms Cheer Senate Tax Bill Provisions

File Image (CREDIT: Siemens)

The U.S wind energy industry on Friday cheered a Senate tax proposal that, unlike the House version unveiled last week, preserves the tax credit that helps wind farms compete with plants fired by fossil fuels. The Senate plan brought relief to an industry that has spent the last week warning lawmakers on Capitol Hill that changes to the credit would put $50 billion in planned investment at risk. However, if the House and Senate pass their differing proposals on the Republicans' broad tax-cut plan…

Venezuela, PDVSA Bonds Rise After Reported Payment

Bonds issued by Venezuela and state oil company PDVSA on Friday rose sharply following a report that settlement agent DTC has received funds to make a delayed payment of principal on PDVSA's 2017N bond that matured last week.   Reporting by Brian Ellsworth 

S.Korean Refiners Look to Cash in on 2020 Mandate

File Image (CREDIT: AdobeStock / (c) Sharrif Che'Lah)

Three refiners to spend more than $5 bln to upgrade or add units. South Korean refiners are planning to spend over $5 billion on plant upgrades in response to tighter rules on shipping fuel, boosting production of low-sulphur fuel oil as well as other high-end products. The refiners hope the investment, which comes ahead of the 2020 introduction of the new rules, will make them one of the biggest beneficiaries of the new regulations, with many competitors still waiting to commit to new spending.

BP, Shell Helping Mexico Execute Oil Hedge

Oil majors make foray into the $1.26 bln programme, but Mexico unlikely to see any income from 2017 hedge. BP helped Mexico execute its 2018 oil hedge, the biggest in the industry, becoming the second major after Shell to participate in the highly coveted programme and challenging the traditional role of banks in the operation. Three industry sources said BP has become a participant of the 2018 programme on which Mexico…

Corruption Cases Weigh on SBM Offshore Bottom Line

Marine engineering group SBM Offshore said a Brazilian investigation into its role in corruption cases had not been resolved and set aside an additional $238 million provision on Monday to cover costs from an unexpected U.S. inquiry. The Dutch company has also been forced to suspend its involvement in tenders with Brazilian oil company Petrobras , a major customer. Shares fell 10 percent to 13.96 euros at 0930 GMT, wiping…

Oil Rises on Saudi Purge, Tighter Markets

Saudi crown prince cements power with high-level arrests; U.S. rig count falls to lowest level since May 2016. Oil prices hit their highest since July 2015 on Monday as Saudi Arabia's crown prince cemented his power over the weekend through an anti-corruption crackdown, while markets continued to tighten. Brent crude futures were trading 26 cents higher at $62.33 a barrel by 1012 GMT, after hitting a session peak of $62.90, a 28-month high. U.S.

Petrobras Makes Debt Payment Ahead of Schedule

Brazil's state-run oil company Petroleo Brasileiro SA said in a securities filing on Monday it has re-paid debts totaling $1.28 billion ahead of schedule to banks JP Morgan, HSBC and Intesa Sanpaolo.   Petrobras also said it refinanced $1.6 billion of outstanding debt obligations and issued $300 million of new debt to Banco Safra SA. Reporting by Ana Mano 

U.S. Oil Service Firms Hit by PDVSA Woes

U.S. oil service companies face hard decisions in the coming weeks on whether to continue working for Venezuela's state-run oil company PDVSA, and the prospect of hundreds of millions of dollars in write-offs for overdue bills. The companies' services are critical for Venezuela, which is struggling with a deep economic crisis marked by shortages of food and medicine. Oil accounts for over 90 percent of the nation's export revenues.

Singapore Revokes Transocean Oil's Bunker Licence

Singapore's Maritime and Port Authority (MPA) said on Monday it had revoked Transocean Oil's bunker fuel supply licence in the Port of Singapore, effective immediately. MPA said it had conducted checks on Transocean in March and April as part its efforts to ensure the integrity of bunkering operations at the port and found "falsifications of records and discrepancies in the stock movement logbooks on board the bunker tankers" operated by the company.

Vens Restructure Debt, But Default Looms

Venezuela on Thursday announced plans to restructure its burgeoning foreign debt, a move that may lead to a default by the cash-strapped OPEC nation whose collapsing socialist economy has left its population struggling to find food and medicine. President Nicolas Maduro vowed to make a $1.1 billion payment on a bond maturing on Thursday, but also created a commission to study "restructuring of all future payments" in order to meet the needs of citizens.

Venezuela Arrests Head of PDVSA's Bariven Unit

The head of Venezuelan oil company PDVSA's subsidiary Bariven was arrested this week, according to two sources and an internal message seen by Reuters, as a graft investigation in the OPEC member swells. Francisco Jimenez, the head of procurement arm Bariven, was detained on Tuesday afternoon at PDVSA's Caracas headquarters, the internal message read. Another executive, Joaquin Torres, was detained alongside him, according to the message. PDVSA did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the arrests.

NAFTA Doubts Impact Mexico Oil Tenders

File Image (CREDIT: AdobeStock / (c) Mike Mareen)

Uncertainty about the fate of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and investor protections it guarantees could crimp future investment in Mexico's oil industry, including a high-stakes January deepwater auction. Ahead of a fifth round of NAFTA talks in Mexico City in mid-November, Washington's tough demands that partners Canada and Mexico resist has clouded the future of the 23-year-old pact President Donald Trump has threatened to quit if he cannot get a better deal.

OPEC Cut Extension Decision not Necessarily Imminent

Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said on Thursday an extension beyond March 2018 for a global deal between OPEC and other producing countries was being discussed, but a decision would not necessarily to be taken later this month. "We're ready to discuss the topic and if need be we're ready to consider an extension," Novak said in Riyadh through a translator. "But we would need to analyze a lot of data in order…

LyondellBasell Approaches Brazil's Braskem for Takeover-WSJ

LyondellBasell Industries NV has approached Brazil's Braskem SA for a potential takeover, valuing the petrochemicals company at more than $10 billion, the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday. The talks are at an early stage and there is no guarantee of a deal, the Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter. LyondellBasell did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment. Its shares rose 6 percent to $105.03 in afternoon trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

PetroChina's Q3 net profit leaps

China's largest oil and gas producer PetroChina reported on Monday a leap in third-quarter net profit on rebounding crude prices and deleveraging. Net profit surged to 4.69 billion yuan ($706 million), up 290 percent from a year earlier, as the company cut debt and interest expenses. Revenues rose to 481.8 billion yuan, up 17 percent from the same period last year, PetroChina said in a filing to the Hong Kong stock exchange.

Fugro's Revenues Dive, Sending Shares Lower

Dutch deep-sea energy prospector Fugro reported a steeper than expected drop in third-quarter revenue on Monday and said it expects negative cash flow for the full year, sending its shares down more than 10 percent. Fugro is still suffering the impact of a rout in oil prices that have fallen by more than 50 percent from mid-2014 highs, affecting its business as makes it uneconomic to prospect for the hard-to-reach subsea deposits in which it specialises.

Glencore Raises Marketing Guidance, Lowers Output

Analysts say Q3 production lower than expected. Glencore on Monday cut its output forecast for core commodities including zinc, but raised its marketing division's full-year earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) to between $2.6 billion and $2.8 billion, reflecting higher raw materials prices. Its previous 2017 marketing, or trading, EBIT guidance was $2.4 billion to $2.7 billion, which was already an upward revision from $2.1 billion to $2.4 billion at the start of the year.

Shell, Exxon Win Brazil pre-salt Blocks

Oil majors Royal Dutch Shell and Exxon Mobil won blocks in Brazil's coveted pre-salt oil region in an auction on Friday. Shell was part of consortia that won two of the four blocks on offer in the first part of an eight block auction. Exxon, in a consortium with Norway's Statoil and Portugal's Petrogal, won another. There were no bids for the fourth block. Another four blocks will be auctioned later on Friday. The eight blocks on offer contain a total of more than 12 billion barrels of estimated oil reserves.

Brazil Court Overturns Injunction Blocking Oil Auction

A Brazilian federal court overturned on Friday an injunction issued a day earlier which was blocking the start of an auction for oil blocks in Brazil's offshore pre-salt area.   Energy minister Fernando Coelho Filho said in Rio that auction organizers were waiting for the court decision to be published to start the round, which he said would happen soon.   Reporting by Rodrigo Viga Gaier and Ricardo Brito 

Big Oil Heads to Rio for Deepwater Auction

File Image: A Brazil-based oil rig (Credit: AdobeStock / (c) donvictorio)

Brazil will auction eight blocks in its coveted deepwater oil region on Friday, a prospect that has lured top executives from the world's biggest oil companies to Rio de Janeiro for the bidding round. The oil firms and Brazilian officials expect to see aggressive bidding for the more than 12 billion barrels of estimated oil reserves on offer. "It's going to be competitive," Bernard Looney, chief executive for upstream at oil major BP, told Reuters on the sidelines of an industry conference in Rio this week.

Venezuela’s PDVSA Reportedly Making 2020 Bond Payments

Venezuela’s state oil company PDVSA has begun the process of making payments on the 2020 bonds due Friday, according to three sources familiar with the operation.   Bonds issued by Venezuela and PDVSA had dropped sharply on Thursday amid concerns that cash-flow problems and regulatory hurdles may leave the company unable to make the major bond payment.   Reporting by Alexandra Ulmer and Corina Pons 

Exxon Mobil's Profit Jumps 50 Percent

Exxon Mobil Corp, the world's largest publicly-traded oil producer, said on Friday its quarterly profit jumped 50 percent on higher crude and natural gas prices. The company posted net income of $3.97 billion, or 93 cents per share, in the third quarter, compared to $2.65 billion, or 63 cents per share, in the year-ago period. Exxon said Hurricane Harvey, which tore through the U.S. Gulf Coast region in August, dented quarterly earnings by 4 cents per share.

Vens, PDVSA Bonds Drop over Payment Concerns

Bonds issued by Venezuela and state oil firm PDVSA dropped sharply on Thursday amid concern that cash-flow problems and regulatory hurdles may leave PDVSA unable to make more than $2 billion in payments coming due over the next week. Delays in making some $500 million in coupon payments on several bonds, along with confusion about what is causing those delays, has left investors jittery over a possible credit event when payments come due on Friday and on Nov.

Harvey Shores Up U.S. Refiner Margins

File Image (CREDIT: AdobeStock / (c) Sharrif Che'Lah)

Surging prices for gasoline and diesel in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey spiked margins to a more than two-year high, helping two big U.S. refiners record quarterly profits on Thursday that blew past Wall Street estimates. Marathon Petroleum Corp said its refining system was relatively spared during the hurricane season, with some short, preventive shutdowns. "We set multiple refinery production records during the quarter…

Saudis Buy Dutch Oil Storage in EU Market Share Push

Saudi Aramco Overseas Company (AOC), a subsidiary of Saudi Aramco, is buying a stake in Rotterdam crude storage from commodities trader Gunvor, the companies said on Thursday, in a move to expand its share of the market in northwest Europe, long dominated by Russia. Saudi Arabia and Russia have cooperated on production cuts to rebalance the oversupplied oil market and boost prices over the past year. However, competition for market share has increased over the last few years as U.S.

ConocoPhillips Beats Street, Cuts Budget Anyways

Ryan Lance, ConocoPhillips CEO

ConocoPhillips, the largest U.S. independent oil producer, reported a better-than-expected quarterly profit on Thursday helped by rising crude prices, though it slashed its capital budget to further cut costs. Those cost curbs come as other U.S. oil producers as well bid to control spending and focus on shareholder returns, with crude prices not expected to markedly rise before the end of the decade. "We are focused on free cash flow generation…

CGT Strike Could Extend to French Oil Sector

France's far-left CGT trade union has called for a 24-hour strike on Nov. 23, and said the strike could be extended and production facilities in the sector halted if their demands are not met, the union said on Wednesday. The union said requests for special dispensations for oil sector workers threatened by labour reforms pushed by President Emmanuel Macron have been rejected by oil company bosses. The CGT added that without an appropriate response…

Perry: Obama Discriminated Against Coal, Nuclear Energy

U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry (CREDIT: DoE)

The United States discriminated against the nuclear and coal industries under the administration of former President Barack Obama, U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry said on Wednesday. "Nuclear and coal ... Those two industries were discriminated against over the course of the last administration," Perry told reporters at an oil conference in Cape Town, when asked about a U.S. government directive to support ageing coal and nuclear plants.

Statoil Refinery Leak Ends, Unit down

File Image: Statoil's Mongstad Refinery (CREDIT: Helge Hansen)

A naphtha leakage at Statoil's Mongstad refinery in western Norway has now ended, but the plant's petrol-making unit remains shut and the company is investigating the causes of the accident, a company spokeswoman said on Tuesday.   There were no reports of injuries, she added.   Reporting by Ole Petter Skonnord 

Aker BP buys Hess' Norway unit for $2 bln

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

Output from Hess Norway field stakes 24,000 boepd. Aker BP will add the Norwegian operations of U.S. oil company Hess to its expanding exploration and production portfolio under a $2 billion deal announced on Tuesday. Under billionaire investor Kjell Inge Roekke, who controls a 40 percent stake, the Norwegian company has made eight acquisitions since 2014 including a merger with BP's Norway operations in mid-2016. The Hess operations will bolster Aker's production by about 17 percent…

Aramco CEO: Multiple Exchanges Being considered for Listing

Saudi Aramco's chief executive said on Tuesday that domestic and international exchanges such as New York, London, Tokyo, and Hong Kong have been looked at for a partial listing of the state oil giant. "All detailed information is currently being reviewed by our shareholder and in due course a decision will be made about the listing venue," Aramco CEO Amin Nasser told reporters at an investment conference in Riyadh. The company has said it plans to list in 2018.

Saipem Confirms Profit Guidance

Italian oil services group Saipem swung back to profit in the third quarter despite an industry slowdown, flagging more orders on the way and confirming profit guidance. Its shares were up almost 10 percent at 1133 GMT while the oil and gas sector across Europe was up 0.5 percent. Oil service companies have been struggling to fill order books as oil majors defer projects and cut billions of dollars in costs to offset low crude prices.

Hedge Funds Bet on Oil as Futures Market Wavers

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

Hedge funds have stuck to their bet that oil prices will extend gains, even though the futures market shows some investors are losing faith in a rebalancing of supply and demand. The premium of front-month December Brent futures over the January contract is at its narrowest since early September. A larger premium, or backwardation, of the front month over future months tends to indicate that traders and investors believe oil supply will fall short of demand.

London Ups Vehicle Emissions Tax

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

London brought in a new levy on the oldest and most polluting cars entering the city centre from Monday, almost doubling how much motorists have to pay in the latest blow to diesel. Drivers are already charged 11.50 pounds ($15) to enter the financial district and parts of west London under a congestion charge. But those driving petrol and diesel vehicles typically registered before 2006 will need to pay an additional 10 pounds.

Noble Group sells Oil Unit to Vitol

Oil liquids unit to be sold for about $580 million. Struggling commodities trader Noble Group agreed to sell its Americas-focused oil trading business to Vitol for about $580 million as part of a debt-cutting strategy, and warned of a big loss for its third quarter. Monday's move came after Reuters reported late on Friday that Vitol, the world's largest oil trader, was nearing a deal to buy Singapore-listed Noble's oil liquids unit.

EPA Abandons Biofuel Program Changes

File Image (CREDIT: AdobeStock / (c) Jason Lee)

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has backed off a series of proposed changes to the nation's biofuels policy after a massive backlash from corn-state lawmakers worried the moves would undercut ethanol demand, according to a letter from the agency to lawmakers seen by Reuters. The letter could end uncertainty about the future of the U.S. Renewable Fuel Standard under the administration of President Donald Trump that has roiled commodity and energy markets for months.

Vitol Close to Acquiring Noble's Oil Business

The world's largest oil trader Vitol Group is nearing a deal to buy Noble Group's global oil liquids business, which analysts had valued at about $1 billion, three people familiar with the matter said on Friday. One of the sources said an announcement of the deal could come as early as Monday. Shares of Noble Group were halted in the afternoon, pending the "announcement of a major transaction," the company said. Vitol and an external spokeswoman for Noble declined to comment on the Reuters story.

Italy Breaks up Libyan Fuel Smuggling Ring

Sicilian police on Wednesday sought the arrest of nine people, including a suspected mobster, for running a Libyan fuel-smuggling ring in which at least 30 million euros ($35 million) of diesel was sold in gas stations in Italy and Europe. A Libyan, nicknamed the "boss", used small boats to steal fuel from a refinery in Zawiya, a port city west of Tripoli, a statement from the finance police said. The fuel, stolen from Libya's National Oil Corporation (NOC)…

BP Midstream Partners Seekup to $893 mln in IPO

File Image (CREDIT: AdobeStock / (c) Berkut 34)

BP Midtsream Partners, a unit of British energy company BP Plc, said on Monday it expects to raise up to $893 million from its initial public offering. BP Midtsream expects to sell 42.5 million shares, excluding underwriters' option, at a suggested price range of $19 to $21 each, the company said in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. BP Midstream Partners, a master limited partnership (MLP) formed by BP's U.S. pipeline unit, plans to list on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol "BPMP".

U.S. Windfarm Builder says Poland Violated Contracts

File Image (CREDIT: AdobeStock / (c) Carolyn Franks)

U.S. company Invenergy LLC, which says it has spent more than $600 million building windfarms in Poland, said on Monday it had written Poland's president to say it was formally in dispute with the government over state companies failing to honour contracts. The company said the letter to Poland's president and prime minister would serve as formal notification of dispute under the U.S.-Poland bilateral investment treaty and the Energy Charter Treaty.

Barclays, US FERC Near Settlement of Market Manipulation Lawsuit

British bank Barclays Plc and the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) made "substantial progress" toward a settlement of FERC's proposed $435 million fine against the bank for alleged power market manipulation, according to court documents. The Barclays penalty, if there is one, could be the biggest FERC has collected since the Energy Policy Act of 2005 significantly increased the penalties the agency can impose, boosting them up to $1 million per day per violation from a prior cap of $10,000 per day.

Court Rejects PGniG's Attempt to Limit Gazprom's Use of Opal Pipeline

A German court on Friday confirmed it had rejected a request by Polish energy company PGniG and its German subsidiary for an injunction to block Russia's Gazprom from increasing its use of the Opal pipeline in eastern Germany. The case is part of a long-running dispute over the routes for transporting Russian gas to Europe. The Duesseldorf higher regional court said in a statement to Reuters that relevant applications had been rejected on Oct. 11, confirming an earlier statement from pipeline operator Opal Gastransport.

Shell Buys Electric Vehicle Charging Firm NewMotion

File Image (CREDIT: AdobeStock / (c) Tomasz Zajda)

Royal Dutch Shell has agreed to take over NewMotion, the owner of one of Europe's largest electric vehicle charging networks, it said on Thursday. Shell has started providing charging points for electric vehicles at some of its retail stations and said the acquisition of NewMotion would help it offer a full raft of electric vehicle services. "Today's announcement is an early step towards ensuring customers can access a range of refuelling choices over the coming decades…

Aker BP Wins Approval for Gas Lift at Tambar

Norway's oil and gas watchdog has approved Aker BP's plans to modify facilities at the Tambar oilfield to support North Sea oil production it said on Thursday. The approved modification includes installation of a gas lift module to inject natural gas into wells to help to produce oil from the reservoir. "The gas lift is being installed because the reservoir pressure at Tambar is no longer sufficient to ensure satisfactory production," Norway's Petroleum safety authority said in a statement.

Petrobras to Evaluate Court Edict on Total Deal

State-controlled oil company Petróleo Brasileiro SA on Wednesday said it has not been formally informed about a court decision to block part of its $2.2 billion deal with Total SA. A federal judge in the Northeast state of Sergipe blocked the sale to the French oil major of stakes Petrobras has in two sub-salt oil blocks. Petrobras said in a securities filing it will evaluate the judge's decision when it is officially notified and will take action to defend its interests and those of its shareholders.

Aker BP's 2017 Guidance Unchanged Even as Q3 Production Slips

Norwegian independent oil company Aker BP maintained its 2017 full-year output guidance of 135,000-140,000 barrels of oil equivalents per day (boepd) after reporting lower third-quarter volumes on Wednesday, a spokesman said. "There is no change for the full-year guidance... Lower third-quarter production was primarily due to maintenance," the spokesman said. Aker BP reported earlier on Wednesday third-quarter output at 131,900 boepd, down from 142,700 boepd in the second quarter.

Innogy Becomes Sole Owner of Triton Knoll Wind Project

File Image: offshore wind operations in progress (CREDIT: CWind)

Innogy buys 50 pct stake from Statkraft; Triton Knoll will cost about 2 billion pounds. Innogy, Germany's largest energy group, became the sole owner of a 2 billion pound ($2.64 billion) British offshore wind farm project after buying out Norway's Statkraft, it said, adding the final ownership structure could still change. The purchase of a 50-percent stake in Triton Knoll for an undisclosed sum follows state-owned Statkraft's…

Dutch Government: Close Coal-Fired Power Plants by 2030

File Image (CREDIT: AdobeStock / (c) Snap Happy)

The incoming Dutch government plans to shut all coal-fired power plants by the year 2030, it said in its coalition pact published on Tuesday.   The five remaining plants in the country are highly controversial because they cost billions of euros to build and three have only recently been completed.   The Netherlands is lagging behind other European countries in achiving its greenhouse emission reduction goals.   Reporting by Toby Sterling

Universal Energy Faces Millions in Claims

Universal Energy entered voluntary liquidation on Oct 3, tightening credit in Singapore's bunker fuel market. Shipping fuel suppliers are filing millions of dollars in claims over unpaid marine fuel bills against now defunct Singapore-based peer Universal Energy, formerly one of the city state's largest bunker suppliers but which has now entered liquidation. Universal Energy, ranked as Singapore's third-largest bunker fuel supplier by volume in 2016…

Philadelphia-Area Refiners Push Biofuels Program Reform

File Image: A midwest Ethanol Plant / CREDIT AdobeStock / (c) Jason Lee)

Oil refinery workers, executives and local politicians gathered near Philadelphia on Monday to urge the White House revamp the nation's renewable fuels program, arguing the future of their plants are at stake. The U.S. renewable fuel program requires higher levels of ethanol and other biofuels to be blended into the nation's fuel pool, a requirement pitting the oil industry against the powerful farm lobby. President Donald Trump has promised corn growers he would protect the program…

EPA Chief to Withdraw USA from Clean Power Plan

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The head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said on Monday he would sign a proposed rule on Tuesday withdrawing from the Clean Power Plan, former President Barack Obama's centerpiece regulation to fight climate change. "That rule really was about picking winners and losers," EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said, telling a crowd in Hazard, Kentucky, the previous administration had used regulators to tip the scales in the competition to generate electricity in the United States.

Iraq in 'Final Stages' of Southern Oilfields Talks

Iraq's talks with U.S. oil major Exxon Mobil to develop a multi-billion-dollar project to boost output from several southern oilfields are nearing completion, its oil minister Jabar al-Luaibi said on Monday. "Talks are in advanced final stages with Exxon to develop and finance the important south project," Luaibi told reporters after a meeting an Exxon delegation in Baghdad. The enhanced recovery project targets the Luhais, Nassiriya, Tuba, Nahr Bin Umar and Artawi oilfields.

Total, Eni, Statoil Seek to Shed Teesside Terminal Stakes

Total, Eni and Statoil are seeking buyers for their stake in the Teesside oil terminal in northern England, which receives crude from the Norwegian Ekofisk fields, part of the global Brent benchmark, banking sources said. The sale is run jointly by investment bank Rothschild and may fetch as much as $400 million, according to the sources. Total holds a 32.9 percent stake in the terminal, Statoil a 27.3 percent stake and Eni a 10.3 percent stake.

Borr Drilling in USD 1.3bln Sembcorp Deal

Photo: Sembcorp Marine Ltd

Singapore-based Sembcorp Marine said its wholly-owned subsidiary PPL Shipyard (PPLS) has agreed to sell nine Pacific Class 400 jackup drilling rigs to Borr Drilling and its subsidiaries for a total of US$1.3 billion. It will also be entitled to a market-based fee, based on an uplift in value of the rigs sold. Under the terms of the Agreements, which is subject to conditions precedent being met by both parties, Borr Drilling will take delivery of the nine jackup rigs progressively over a 14-month period…

Ensco Completes Acquisition of Atwood Oceanics

Photo: Ensco

Ensco plc announced today that Ensco shareholders voted to approve the allotment and issuance of Ensco Class A ordinary shares to shareholders of Atwood Oceanics in connection with the all-stock acquisition of Atwood at the Company’s general meeting of shareholders on 5 October 2017. The final results of the general meeting of shareholders held today indicate that 65% of the shares cast at the meeting voted in favor of this proposal.

Ecuador to Offer Oil Block Terms in January

Ecuador will offer oil exploration and production blocks in January under new contract terms that it expects will attract more interest and allow the OPEC-member country to compete with its neighbors for foreign investment, the oil minister said. The new terms will allow producers to be paid in oil and enable them to export or sell the barrels to local refineries, said Carlos Perez at a conference at Rice University in Houston on Friday.

EPA May Not Replace Obama-era Climate Regs After Repeal

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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has not decided whether it will replace the Clean Power Plan - the centerpiece Obama-era climate change regulation - after it moves to repeal it, according to a draft of the proposal seen by Reuters on Friday. In the 43-page document, the EPA said the rule, introduced by former President Barack Obama in 2015 to curtail greenhouse gas emissions from power plants, was illegal. It aimed to cut emissions by 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030.

Glencore to buy Chevron South Africa stake, Chevron Botswana

Miner and commodities trader Glencore said it had agreed to buy a 75 percent stake in Chevron's South Africa unit and all of Chevron Botswana for $973 million. The assets include Chevron's interests in its manufacturing, retail and industrial supply business in South Africa and Botswana, Glencore said in a statement. "Glencore believes that the assets provide an attractive downstream opportunity for its oil business," it said.

Reliance, Carrizo Oil Exit PA Shale Asset

Indian oil-to-telecoms conglomerate Reliance Industries Ltd signed a deal to exit a U.S. shale asset, a move that marks the end of its seven years of investment which slumped into losses due to the global oil price downturn. Houston-based Carrizo Oil & Gas Inc, the operator of the Marcellus shale in north-eastern and central Pennsylvania, also exited its investment, Reliance said in a statement on Friday. BKV Chelsea LLC…

Shell, Varo End Germany Refinery Sale Negotiations

File Image (CREDIT: AdobeStock / (c) Sharrif Che'Lah)

Royal Dutch Shell and Varo Energy have ended talks on Varo's potential acquisition of Shell's 37.5 percent stake in the 220,000 barrels per day PCK refinery in Schwedt, Germany, Varo said. The two companies announced last December that they had entered advanced talks on the stake sale, but the negotiations have been "discontinued", a spokeswoman for Varo told Reuters. The spokeswoman would not provide details about why the talks had ended.

Senators Object to EPA's Planned Biofuel Changes

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A group of 38 U.S. senators asked the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday to abandon plans to lower biofuels requirements for oil refiners in 2018, according to a letter made public by the office of Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota. The senators, including Republican Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa, said in the letter that the EPA should restructure its proposal for the 2018 version of a rule that each year forces producers of oil-based fuels to include renewable fuels like ethanol in their products.

Nigerian Lawmakers Probe Corruption Allegations

Nigerian lawmakers have set up a committee to investigate allegations of corruption at the state oil company contained in a letter from the minister of state for petroleum. In the letter from Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu to President Muhammadu Buhari, dated Aug. 30 and confirmed by the oil ministry, the minister said the conduct of the head of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) lacked transparency. He said recent appointments by NNPC's group managing director (GMD)…

Saudi Aramco IPO on Track for 2018

A plan to list Saudi Aramco in 2018 is on track, senior Saudi officials said in Moscow on Thursday, as Saudi Arabia gears up to sign a string of investment agreements with Russia. The plan to float around 5 percent of Aramco in an initial public offering (IPO) is a centrepiece of Vision 2030, a wide-ranging reform plan to diversify the Saudi economy beyond oil which is being championed by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman.

EPA Mulls Changes to Biofuels Policy

File Image: a midwest ethanol plant. CREDIT: AdobeStock) / (c) Jason Lee:

The Environmental Protection Agency is considering a change to U.S. biofuels policy that would allow exports of ethanol to count toward the country's annual biofuels volumes mandates, two sources familiar with the matter told Reuters on Wednesday. The proposal would represent a significant shift from the original mandate of the 2005 renewable fuel program, designed to increase the amount ethanol and biodiesel in the country's fuel pool while boosting the U.S. agricultural sector. The move would benefit U.S.

Philippines, China to Explore for Oil & Gas Near Disputed Waters

The Philippines said on Thursday it was pursuing a long-delayed oil and gas exploration project with Chinese state-owned entity CNOOC Ltd and a Canada-listed company in an area near disputed waters in the South China Sea. Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi said the Philippine government was also looking for a "win-win solution" with other South China Sea claimants, including China, to pave the way for oil and gas exploration within contested waters.

Maersk Oil CEO to Step Down after Total Takeover

Gretchen Watkins (Photo: Maersk Oil)

The chief executive of Maersk Oil, Gretchen Watkins, will leave the company when Total's acquisition of the company has been completed, Maersk said Wednesday. Watkins joined Maersk Oil as Chief Operating Officer in January 2014 and took the role of CEO in October last year. Prior to joining Maersk Oil, she had worked at Marathon Oil and BP. Total agreed last month to buy the oil and gas business of A.P. Moller-Maersk for $7.45 billion, strengthening the French major's operations in the North Sea.

Petrobras Oil Auction Strategy Drawn Up

Petróelo Brasileiro SA has drawn up a strategy to participate in Brazil's three upcoming oil auctions this year, as a declining debt burden has increased the state-controlled oil producer's firepower, Chief Executive Officer Pedro Parente said on Wednesday.   Reporting by Pedro Fonseca and Rodrigo Viga Gaier 

Chevron to Invest $4 billion to boost Permian Output

Chevron plans to boost its Permian output to over 400,000 bpd; expects that to happen over next few years. Oil major Chevron Corp will next year invest around $4 billion to ramp up its crude production in the Permian Basin area of the United States, a company executive said on Monday. Ryan Krogmeier, Chevron's vice president of crude supply and trading, told the S&P Global Platts APPEC conference in Singapore that the company would increase its output from the Permian Basin…

Total CEO: No Hurry to Shed Oil Sands Assets

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Total CEO Patrick Pouyanne said on Monday that the company was not in a hurry to "diversify" (sell) high break-even assets such as oil sands. Pouyanne told analysts during a call that the company would wait until oil prices rise before selling the assets. "We will see what we will do with this project in the coming years but... my priority is value over volumes and oil sands are among the high breakeven projects in the portfolio," Pouyanne said.

French Unions Block Fuel Depots

Roadblock outside Total's La Mede refinery as labour reform set to enter law in coming days. French trade unionists blocked access on Monday to several fuel depots in protest against an overhaul of employment laws, seeking to test the government's will to reform the economy. In southern France, protesters' unions set up a road-block in front of Total's La Mede refinery, while in western France fuel depots were blocked near Bordeaux and the coastal city of La Rochelle.