Saturday, February 17, 2018

U.S. Largest Offshore Oil & Gas Auction set for March

File Image (CREDIT: DNV GL)

The Trump administration on Friday said it would offer the largest oil and gas offshore auction in U.S. history on March 21 for areas in federal waters off the Gulf Coast, less than a year after a similar sale yielded little corporate interest. The Interior Department said it would offer 77.3 million acres (31.3 mln hectares) offshore Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida for oil and gas development, an auction that includes all available unleased areas in the Gulf of Mexico. The blocks are from 3 to 231 miles (5 to 372 km) offshore and in waters 9 to 11,115 feet (3 to 3,390 meters) deep.

U.S. Drillers Add Rigs for Fourth Consecutive Week

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U.S. energy companies added oil rigs for a fourth week in a row even though crude pulled back from three-year highs over the past couple of weeks as more drillers boost their 2018 spending plans. Drillers added seven oil rigs in the week to Feb. 16, bringing the total count up to 798, the highest level since April 2015, General Electric Co's Baker Hughes energy services firm said in its closely followed report on Friday. That was the first time since June that drillers added rigs for four consecutive weeks. The U.S. crude prices began recovering from a two-year crash. U.S.

BP Plans No Azeri Platform Shutdowns in 2018

Photo: BP

British oil major BP, which operates a number of oil and gas fields in Azerbaijan, plans no maintenance shutdowns of platforms there this year and intends to advance with new projects, BP's regional president told Reuters. "There aren't any turnarounds planned for this year. I think there are some planned for 2019," Gary Jones, BP's head for Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey, said. He said the company would use different ways to conduct inspections, including the use of drones, to minimise the need for any shutdown. BP operates the giant Azeri-Chirag-Guneshli (ACG) oilfields in Azerbaijan as well as the Shah Deniz gas fields.

Turkish Blockade off Cyprus 'out of Eni's control'

A Turkish blockade of a ship hired by Eni to drill for gas off the Cyprus coast is a diplomatic issue that is out of the Italian oil company's hands, Eni's CEO said on Friday. Last week, the Saipem 12000 drill ship heading from a location southwest of Cyprus towards an area southeast of the island was stopped by Turkish military ships and told not to continue because of military activities in the destination area. The ship is still halted, a Saipem spokesman said. Asked about the incident, Claudio Descalzi said Italy, Europe, France, Cyprus and Turkey were discussing the issue.

Tidewater Names Rynd President, CEO

Tidewater Inc. (NYSE: TDW) appointed John T. Rynd as the company's new President and CEO and a member of the Board of Directors effective March 5. He replaces Larry T. Rigdon who has served as interim President and Chief Executive Officer since October of 2017. Tom Bates, Chairman of the Board of Directors, said "After completing a comprehensive search, the Board is very pleased to welcome John to the team. He brings with him considerable experience in the offshore drilling services sector and the global oil and gas industry as a whole.

U.S. Bill Expands Carbon Tax Credit

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A little-noticed addition to the U.S. budget deal approved last week will help Occidental Petroleum Corp and other oil producers by more than tripling a tax credit for injecting carbon dioxide back into the earth to increase crude output. The tax-credit expansion, although supported by environmentalists and energy producers, had failed to move out of Congress during the 2016 presidential election. Its passage now likely will further boost already surging U.S. oil output in a year that production is forecast to hit 11 million barrels per day.

Seadrill Close to Restructuring Deal with Bondholders

Photo: Seadrill

Seadrill's main owner, billionaire John Fredriksen, is close to a deal with unsecured bondholders and South Korean shipyards on a restructuring plan for the rig operator, sources familiar with the talks said on Thursday. The Norwegian company, which last year filed for bankruptcy protection in a U.S. court, has been working with creditors since last month on a restructuring plan to bring in more than $1 billion in fresh funding, allow it to maintain its fleet of rigs and pay creditors and staff. "The deal hasn't been signed yet, but I'm very hopeful...

Congo Defends Right to Explore for Oil in National Parks

Photo: Salonga National Park

Democratic Republic of Congo's oil minister on Thursday defended the country's right to explore for oil anywhere on its territory after media reports that President Joseph Kabila approved drilling in Africa's largest tropical rainforest reserve. Oil minister Aime Ngoy Mukena declined to confirm a report in Germany's Die Tageszeitung newspaper that Kabila had this month authorised exploration inside Salonga National Park, but he said that no land should be off-limits. Salonga, a UNESCO World Heritage site, covers 33,350 sq km of the Congo Basin, the world's second-largest rainforest.

OPEC Pact Likely to Evolve Rather Than Terminate

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"The lexicon of exit is not found in our vocabulary", OPEC Secretary-General Mohammad Barkindo told reporters on the sidelines of a conference in Cairo on Monday. Ministers from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries have been anxious to counter speculation about an early end to production curbs. Barkindo was reinforcing the message that the current curbs will be maintained until at least the end of this year and could be continued into 2019 ("Barkindo stresses ongoing cooperation, not exit", Argus, Feb. 12).

Vallourec Drilling Products Cuts Roughly 150 Jobs in Texas

Vallourec Drilling Products, a subsidiary of Paris, France-based steel pipe maker Vallourec , will lay off roughly 150 employees in Texas, according to a regulatory filing. Vallourec specializes in making tubular products for the energy and other industrial sectors. It has about 19,000 employees worldwide. The layoffs come as companies that supply equipment and services to the oilfield are still recovering from a three-year rout in oil prices. Although benchmark crude futures have traded above $60 a barrel for much of the year, they have fallen recently amid concerns of growing supply.

Italy to Turkey: Legal Solution to Dispute Expected

Italian Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano on Tuesday met with Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu and told him that he wanted a solution to the standoff preventing Italy's Eni from exploring for natural gas off the coast of Cyprus. The two, who are both attending an anti-Islamic State coalition meeting in Kuwait, agreed both countries should maintain a relationship of trust because of "possible further projects in the energy sector, beyond those that already exist", a statement from Italy's foreign ministry said. A drill ship run by Saipem…

Sonatrach Eyes More Vessels to Boost Asia Gas Sales

(Photo: Sonatrach)

Algeria will acquire more vessels to transport gas to Asia as it eyes increased sales in that region, the chief executive of state energy firm Sonatrach said on Monday. "With Russia and the U.S., gas competition is tough," Abdelmoumen Ould Kaddour told reporters during a visit to the Hassi Messaoud oilfield. He gave no details. Kaddour also said Sonatrach's oil drilling in Algeria's southern neighbour Niger, where a Sonatrach unit was awarded a production-sharing deal in 2015, had been "satisfying" so far. Oil was found in the Kafra region, some 80 km (50 miles) from the Algerian border, he said.

Seadrill Nears Comprehensive Restructuring Deal

(File photo: Seadrill)

Rig firm Seadrill, which last year filed for bankruptcy protection in a U.S. court, is working towards a comprehensive deal with all its creditors that could be concluded this week, it said in a court filing late on Friday. Once the largest drilling rig operator by market value, Oslo-listed Seadrill filed its bankruptcy case in Texas on Sept. 12 after being hit hard by cutbacks in oil company investment following a steep drop in crude prices. The company, controlled by Norwegian-born billionaire John Fredriksen, has been working with creditors on a restructuring plan to bring in more than $1 billion in fresh funding…

Eni Ramping up Production at Zohr Field

Production from Egypt's huge Zohr offshore gas field in the Mediterranean will reach 2.9 billion cubic feet per day by mid-2019, Italy's Eni said on Monday. Speaking at an industry event in Cairo, CEO Claudio Descalzi said the goal was to reach output of 1.8 bcf to 2 bcf per day by the end of 2018 and then ramp up to 2.9 bcf per day by mid-2019. Discovered in 2015 by Eni, the field contains an estimated 30 trillion cubic feet of gas. Descalzi confirmed that by mid-2019, seven trains would be operating. Egypt has been seeking to speed up production from recently discovered fields, with an eye to halting imports by 2019 and achieving self-sufficiency.

Diamond Offshore Revenue Beats Estimates

(File photo: Diamond Offshore)

Diamond Offshore Drilling Inc's fourth-quarter revenue beat analysts' estimates on Monday, helped by higher demand for its ultra-deepwater rigs. The company's revenue from its ultra-deepwater rigs rose more than 24 percent to $288.28 million in the fourth quarter. Total revenue fell nearly 12 percent to $346.21 million, but beat analysts' estimate of $331.91 million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. "Although market conditions continue to be challenging, we were able to secure additional work for the Ocean Valor and Ocean Valiant, extending both of the rigs' current contracts through 2020," Chief Executive Marc Edwards said in a statement.

Patterson-UTI Energy Reports Bigger Loss than Expected

Oil and gas driller Patterson-UTI Energy Inc, dealing with the fallout of a drilling accident that killed five workers last month, reported a bigger-than-expected quarterly loss on Thursday as expenses more than doubled. The accident at an oil well in Oklahoma in January has turned the spotlight on the Houston-based company's safety record and on safety in the shale industry in general as President Donald Trump seeks to boost U.S. oil output. The accident is still being investigated and Patterson CEO Andy Hendricks did not give any update on Thursday.

Texas Flood: U.S. Oil Pours into Global Markets

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United States taking share from OPEC nations in Asia, Europe, as China’s biggest U.S. crude buyer to double imports. In the two years since Washington lifted a 40-year ban on oil exports, tankers filled with U.S. crude have landed in more than 30 countries, ranging from massive economies like China and India to tiny Togo. The repeal has unleashed a flood of U.S. shale oil, undercutting global crude prices, eroding the clout of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and seizing market share from many of its member countries.

California to Ban Crude from Trump Offshore Drilling Plan

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California will block the transport of petroleum from new offshore oil rigs through its state, officials told Reuters, a move meant to hobble the Trump administration’s effort to vastly expand drilling in U.S. federal waters. California's threat to deny pipeline permits for transporting oil from new leases off the Pacific Coast is the latest step by states trying to halt the biggest proposed expansion in decades of federal oil and gas leasing. Officials in Florida, North and South Carolina, Delaware and Washington, have also warned drilling could despoil beaches, harm wildlife and hurt lucrative tourism industries.

Chevron Mulling Participation in Brazil's March Oil Auction

Chevron Corp is considering taking part in an oil auction next month in Brazil as part of a consortium of companies, Brazilian oil regulator ANP said on Tuesday on its website. The auction, slated for March 29, will offer 70 blocks in the offshore Ceará, Potiguar, Sergipe-Alagoas, Campos and Santos basins and on-shore basins of Parnaíba and Paraná. The deadline to register for the auction is Wednesday. Chevron did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Chevron did not bid in an October auction that opened Brazil's offshore pre-salt play to foreign operators and was dominated by Royal Dutch Shell Plc.

Deep Sea Mooring Bags Quadrant Contract

(Photo: Deep Sea Mooring)

Deep Sea Mooring (DSM), a Vryhof company, said it has secured a contract with Quadrant Energy to provide turnkey pre-lay mooring solutions to the Transocean GSF Development Driller 1 semisubmersible drilling rig offshore Australia. The deal – a continuation of previous work for Quadrant Energy – begins in March 2018. The agreement, with the project scope and engineering consultancy coordinated out of Perth, will enable Quadrant to have access to DSM and Vryhof Anchors’ portfolio of pre-lay mooring solutions that include chains, fiber ropes, anchors, connectors, buoyancy and handling equipment.

Seadrill Postpones Restructuring Hearing

File Image: A Seadrill offshore rig (CREDIT: Seadrill)

Drilling rig company Seadrill said in a court filing it postponed an initial hearing on its restructuring plan to Feb. 26, buying more time to consider alternative plans. Seadrill, one of the world's largest offshore drilling rig operators, filed for bankruptcy in September after a steep drop in crude prices caused drastic cutbacks in oil company investment. The company, controlled by Norwegian-born billionaire John Fredriksen, had been working with creditors on a restructuring plan to bring in more than $1 billion in fresh funding, allow it to maintain its fleet of drilling units and pay creditors and staff.

Midstates Petroleum Seeks Merger with SandRidge Energy

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A merger could create $1 bln producer in the Mississippian Lime. Midstates Petroleum Co Inc on Tuesday sought to merge with larger rival SandRidge Energy Inc in a deal that could create the biggest oil producer in the Mississippian Lime shale formation. Both companies have a large presence in the Mississippian Lime, which is primarily an oil producing area spread across Northern Oklahoma and Southern Kansas. The basin was largely considered tapped out but horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing have kindled hopes of new reserves there.

Greenpeace Appeals after Losing Norwegian Arctic Lawsuit

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Environmental groups launched an appeal on Monday after an Oslo court rejected their arguments that Norway's oil and gas exploration in the Arctic violates citizens' right to a clean environment. Greenpeace and Nature and Youth disputed the Oslo District Court's verdict last month, particularly that Norway could not be held responsible for greenhouse gas emissions from the use of its oil and gas exported abroad. The Oslo court said a 2015 licensing round that granted offshore exploration rights to companies including Statoil, Chevron, Lukoil and ConocoPhillips was acceptable under Norway's anti-pollution laws.

Statoil Contracts West Hercules Rig

The West Hercules drilling rig in the Barents Sea. (Photos: Ole Jørgen Bratland)

The West Hercules semi-submersible rig has been contracted for drilling two exploration wells in the Barents Sea in 2018, and options to drill another five exploration wells. Statoil and the licence partners have signed a contract with North Atlantic Norway Ltd for use of the 6th generation West Hercules rig. The total estimated contract value is USD 15-20 million for the two permanent wells. Portrait - Geir TungesvikGeir Tungesvik, head of Drilling and Well in Statoil. Mobilisation and demobilization are included in the amount, but remotely operated vehicles (ROV) and other services will be charged extra. Planned drilling start is summer 2018.

Weatherford Reports Larger-than-expected Loss

(File photo: Weatherford)

Weatherford International Plc on Friday reported a larger-than-expected fourth-quarter loss on $1.6 billion in charges, casting doubt among Wall Street analysts that the oilfield firm is turning around after years of losses. The quarterly loss widened from a year earlier, despite a general upturn in demand for oilfield services that has benefited rivals. The weaker results could accelerate planned asset sales to pare its $7.5 billion debt pile. Weatherford reported a fourth-quarter loss of 33 cents per share, excluding items, exceeding analysts' expectations for a 21 cents per share loss, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

The Role of Safety in the Offshore Environment

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On rigs and offshore vessels, the safety of crew and passengers is a top priority in the energy industry. However, with the particularly hazardous environments of remote offshore worksites, accidents can happen, and it’s up to the operators to ensure their crew members are well-equipped to handle an emergency situation. One of the ways they can provide safe conditions on their assets is to invest in the newest, most advanced technologies with enhanced safety features and better automation, keeping more of their crew out of harm’s way.

Shell Makes Big Deepwater Oil Discovery in Gulf of Mexico

Oil major Royal Dutch Shell said its U.S. unit had made one of its biggest oil discoveries in the past decade in the Whale deepwater well in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico. The Whale is operated by Shell and co-owned by U.S. oil giant Chevron Corp. "Evaluation of the discovery was ongoing, and appraisal drilling is underway to further delineate the discovery and define development options," Shell Offshore Inc said in a statement without giving figures. Shell has three Gulf of Mexico deepwater projects under construction -- Appomattox, Kaikias and Coulomb Phase 2.

Long wait Ends for Big Oil as Mexico Auctions Prized Blocks

Mexico will on Wednesday offer foreign energy firms the right to drill beneath prized deep waters in the Gulf of Mexico that may contain billions of barrels of oil, the climax of an historic energy reform just five months before a presidential election. The auction of 29 blocks is the biggest since the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto enacted a wide-ranging reform that aimed to attract hundreds of billions of dollars of investment to turn around a state-run oil industry in decline. The stakes are high for Pena Nieto and his ruling party, which is keen to showcase the results of the liberalisation ahead of a presidential election in July.

Petrobras Making 'Interesting Discoveries' in Campos Basin -CEO

Brazil's state-controlled oil company Petroleo Brasileiro SA is making 'interesting discoveries' in blocs at the Campos basin, off the Rio de Janeiro coast, where it is drilling deeper to reach the pre-salt layer, Chief Executive Pedro Parente said on Wednesday.   Parente did not give details about the discoveries, which have been made in mature fields being operated for years by the company. Only recently Petrobras, as the oil company is known, decided to drill deeper on those fields.     (Reporting by Marcelo Teixeira)

Alaska Requests Limits on US Offshore Drilling

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Alaska Governor Bill Walker said on Tuesday he has asked U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to pare back a Trump administration plan for oil and gas leasing off the state's coast. While Walker supports offshore oil development, he said the Interior Department should focus on the most prospective areas off Alaska – the Beaufort and Chukchi seas in the Arctic and Cook Inlet in southern Alaska – and drop all others from the leasing plan. In asking for proposed lease sales to be dropped, Walker, an independent, joins governors…

Samsung Heavy Sells Drilling Rig for $500 Mln

South Korea's Samsung Heavy Industries Co Ltd said on Monday it has agreed to sell a semi-submersible drilling rig for $500 million to an unidentified European company.   The world's third-largest shipbuilder by orderbook said Sweden's Stena, which originally ordered the drilling rig, had cancelled the order last year.   Last week, Samsung Heavy agreed to sell the rig to a European third party, resolving the risk of non-payment, the firm said in a regulatory filing. (Reporting by Joyce Lee; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)

Why Canada is the Next Frontier for Shale Oil

File photo: Suncor Energy Inc.

The revolution in U.S. shale oil has battered Canada's energy industry in recent years, ending two decades of rapid expansion and job creation in the nation's vast oil sands. Now Canada is looking to its own shale fields to repair the economic damage. Canadian producers and global oil majors are increasingly exploring the Duvernay and Montney formations, which they say could rival the most prolific U.S. shale fields. Canada is the first country outside the United States to see large-scale development of shale resources, which already account for 8 percent of total Canadian oil output.

Seadrill Postpones Court Hearing for Restructuring Talks

(Photo: Seadrill)

Drilling rig company Seadrill said in a court filing it postponed an initial hearing on its restructuring plan to Feb. 7, which sources told Reuters will give the company more time to consider alternative restructuring plans. Once the largest drilling rig operator by market value, Seadrill filed for bankruptcy protection in Texas on Sept. 12 after being hit hard by cutbacks in oil company investment following a steep drop in crude prices. Wednesday's court filing also said the deadline for objecting to Seadrill's plan had been extended to Feb. 1 for the official committee of unsecured creditors, an ad hoc group of bondholders and Barclays Capital.

Eni Halts Drilling in Rosneft-led Offshore Project Over US Sanctions

Italian oil and gas group Eni has suspended drilling in the Black Sea in a Rosneft-led offshore project because of U.S. sanctions, the company's chairwoman said on Wednesday. "We asked authorisation to the U.S. and so we obtained the authorisation from the U.S. so we started to drill this well, but then now we have to stop because… sanctions are hitting this," Emma Marcegaglia said at the World Economic Forum in Davos. Reporting by Denis Pinchuk; Writing by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber

Baker Hughes Beats Street on Higher N.America Demand

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Oilfield services company Baker Hughes posted fourth-quarter revenue that topped analysts' estimates as growing U.S. production spurred demand for its products. The GE unit, which provides drilling bits and fracking equipment to the oil industry, said revenue from its oilfield services business rose 10.2 percent to $2.77 billion. The U.S. rig count is up about 35 percent in 2018 as global recovery in oil prices pushed U.S. shale companies to ramp up operations. Baker Hughes' revenue rose 64 percent to $5.76 billion in the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31. Analysts had expected revenue of $5.61 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Five Missing after Oklahoma Oil & Gas Blast

Five workers were missing after a fiery explosion on Monday at an oil and gas drilling site in eastern Oklahoma, officials said. The fire had been fed by gas from a well being drilled for Red Mountain Energy by Patterson-UTI Energy Inc, preventing a full search of the scene throughout the day, but was later extinguished, the Pittsburg County Emergency Management Department (PCEMD) said in a statement. Houston-based Patterson-UTI said in a statement late on Monday the cause of the well explosion remained unclear. It said three of the five missing workers were its employees.

Five Missing in Explosion at US Drilling Site

Five workers were missing on Monday after a gas explosion at an oil and gas drilling site in eastern Oklahoma, authorities said. The blast occurred at around 9 a.m. local time (1500 GMT) near Quinton, Oklahoma, about 146 miles (235 km) from Oklahoma City. Five of 22 workers at the site were still listed as missing, said Kevin Enloe, director of the Pittsburg County Emergency Management Department. No one was transported to local hospitals, he added. The search for the missing workers was ongoing, said a spokeswoman at the Pittsburg Sheriff's Department. The names of the missing were not disclosed.

Raptor Oil Closes $5.8 Mln in a Series C Funding Round

Photo: Raptor Oil

Aberdeen-based technology start-up Raptor Oil said it has secured £4.2 million ($5.8 million) of investment in a Series C funding round. The round, led by Statoil Technology Invest (STI), was completed on December 15, 2017. It includes investment from ConocoPhillips and new investor Scottish Investment Bank, the investment arm of Scottish Enterprise. In addition, funds were granted by The Oil & Gas Technology Center. Raptor, formed in Aberdeen in 2011 by Dr. Colin MacLean and Gordon Cowie, is developing an acoustic telemetry system for use during well construction and production.

Oil Edges Lower as Libyan Output Undermines 2018 Rally

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Restarting Libyan oilfield puts brake on rally. Oil slipped on Monday under pressure from rising Libyan output and concerns that a rally that had sent prices to their highest since December 2014 had run out of steam. But losses were limited by comments from top exporter Saudi Arabia that OPEC and other producers would continue to cooperate on their oil cuts beyond 2018 and prices also found some support from strong economic growth that underpinned demand. Brent crude slipped 7 cents to $68.54 a barrel at 1215 GMT, reversing course after earlier modest gains. Brent had hit $70.37 on Jan. 15, the highest since December 2014. U.S.

US Oil Drillers Cut Rigs for Second Week in Three

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U.S. energy companies this week cut oil rigs for the second time in three weeks even though crude prices traded near their highest level since 2014. Drillers cut five oil rigs in the week to Jan. 19, bringing the total count down to 747, General Electric Co's Baker Hughes energy services firm said in its closely followed report on Friday. The U.S. rig count, an early indicator of future output, is much higher than a year ago when only 551 rigs were active after energy companies boosted spending in 2017 as crude started recovering from a two-year price crash. U.S.

DSM Begins Work for New Mooring Contract

Photo: DSM

Deep Sea Mooring (DSM), a Vryhof company, has commenced operations as part of a newly awarded contract to provide pre-lay mooring products and services to the Deepsea Bergen semisubmersible drilling rig on the Norwegian Continental Shelf. Austrian oil & gas company OMV has deployed the semi-submersible rig to support drilling activities in the region. With operations coordinated out of DSM’s equipment base in Mongstad, Norway the pre-lay mooring Equipment and services provided will include chain, fiber ropes, anchors, connectors, buoyancy and handling equipment as well as mobilization and demobilization services.

Mexico's Energy Sector Faces Deepwater Auction Test

FileImage: an offshore Mexico oil installation. CREDIT: AdobeStock / (c) Mike Mareen)

An auction of deepwater oil and gas fields in Mexico this month may prove the last major opportunity for President Enrique Pena Nieto's government to capitalize on its opening of the energy sector, the central plank of its economic agenda. The Jan. 31 tender of licenses to explore and drill in 29 blocks in the Gulf of Mexico is the biggest chunk of oil and gas wealth on offer since the completion of a 2013-14 legislative overhaul that ended state oil firm Pemex's decades-long monopoly. Many of the biggest global oil firms have registered to take part, including Exxon Mobil Corp, Royal Dutch Shell Plc , BP Plc, Total SA and China Offshore Oil Corp.

Peak Oil Demand and its Implications for Prices: Kemp

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Even if oil consumption reaches a peak and then starts to fall, the world will still need large quantities of oil for many decades to come. The prediction is contained in a thoughtful paper co-authored by Spencer Dale, chief economist of BP, and Bassam Fattouh, director of the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies. "Global oil demand is likely to continue growing for a period, driven by rising prosperity in fast-growing developing economies," they wrote in a paper published on Monday. The implication is that consumption is likely to reach a maximum at some point and then start to fall…

Schlumberger Q4 Profit Beats Street, Venezuela Write-Down Weighs

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Schlumberger reported a bigger-than-expected quarterly profit on Friday as the oilfield services provider benefited from higher oil prices, while also taking $2.7 billion in charges for restructuring and investment in Venezuela. A rise in drilling by shale producers helped the company's revenue in North America rose 59 percent to $2.81 billion for the fourth quarter, pushing total revenue up 15 percent to $8.18 billion. Excluding items, Schlumberger 48 cents a share, beating average analyst estimates of 44 cents per share, as per Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

India to Auction 55 Oil and Gas Exploration Blocks

India will begin the auction of 55 oil and gas exploration blocks from Thursday under new rules, the country's first licensing round after eight years, as it seeks to unlock its vast hydrocarbon resources, the upstream regulator said. The world's third biggest oil importer last year eased rules and allowed companies to carve out areas where they want to drill to attract greater interest and quickly monetise as much as 220 billion barrels of oil and gas resources. The identified blocks, spread over a 59,000 sq. km area, will now go under the hammer with some advantages given to companies that first identified the area.

Norway: We Must Prepare for Arctic Oil Race with Russia

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Norway must identify potential offshore oil and gas reserves near its northern maritime border with Russia to better protect its economic interest in the remote Arctic region, energy minister Terje Soeviknes said on Wednesday. The two countries agreed in 2010 to split previously disputed areas of the Barents Sea between them, allowing each to exploit resources hidden beneath the seabed. An increase in drilling activity on the Russian side of the border should lead Norway to push its own agenda, the minister said. "We need to start the discussion about what to do in the far north.

Greece Attracts Interest for Offshore Oil & Gas Tenders

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Tenders for offshore oil and gas exploration and exploitation west and south of Greece have attracted "strong interest" from companies exploring in the Mediterranean, the head of Greece's oil and gas resources management company said on Wednesday. Greece launched the tenders after expressions of interest by a consortium of Exxon Mobil, Total and Hellenic Petroleum for two sites off the island of Crete and by Greece's Energean for a block in the Ionian Sea. Offers must be submitted to the Hellenic Hydrocarbons Resources Management (HHRM) company.

US Oil Industry Set to Break Record, Upend Global Trade

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Surging shale production is poised to push U.S. oil output to more than 10 million barrels per day - toppling a record set in 1970 and crossing a threshold few could have imagined even a decade ago. And this new record, expected within days, likely won't last long. The U.S. government forecasts that the nation's production will climb to 11 million barrels a day by late 2019, a level that would rival Russia, the world's top producer. The economic and political impacts of soaring U.S. output are breathtaking, cutting the nation's oil imports by a fifth over a decade…

Chevron to Resume Drilling in Iraqi Kurdistan

Chevron will resume oil and gas drilling operations at the Sarta 3 block in Iraqi Kurdistan "in the near future", a company spokeswoman said in an email.   The San Ramon, California-based company temporarily suspended its operations in the region in October in the wake of unrest following a controversial independence referendum.   (Reporting by Ron Bousso; editing by Jason Neely)

Shell Announces Plan for Penguins Filed Redevelopment

Photo: Sevan Marine ASA

Shell announced the final investment decision for the Penguins field redevelopment project in the U.K. sector, which includes the construction of a new-build Sevan Marine designed cylindrical floating production, storage and offloading (FPSO) vessel. The Penguins field is in 165 metres of water, approximately 150 miles north east of the Shetland Islands. Discovered in 1974, the field was first developed in 2002 and is a joint venture between Shell (50 percent and operator) and ExxonMobil (50 percent). The Penguins field currently processes oil and gas using four existing drill centres tied back to the Brent Charlie platform.

Aker BP Raises 2018 Dividend Forecast

File Image: An offshore Aker BP oil installation (CREDIT: Aker BP)

Norway's Aker BP will pay out $450 million in dividends for 2018, $100 million more than previously indicated, and has "a clear ambition" to raise them by the same amount each year to 2021, the oil company said on Monday. "Our financial position has been strengthened. We have seen a rapid de-leveraging, and foresee a solid cash generation combined with a strong liquidity position," the company, 30 percent owned by BP, said in a statement. Aker BP expects its production to be between 155,000 and 160,000 barrels of oil equivalents per day (boepd) in 2018 compared with a proforma output of 160,000 boepd in 2017, it added.

Oil Teases $70 but U.S. Output Looms

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Oil propped up by OPEC/Russia-led production cuts, but rising North American output threatens to undermine cuts. Oil hovered below a three-year high near $70 a barrel on Monday on signs that production cuts by OPEC and Russia are tightening supplies, but analysts warned of "red flags" due to surging U.S. production. International benchmark Brent crude futures were trading 18 cents lower at $69.69 by 1004 GMT, having risen above $70 earlier in the session. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $64.22, down 8 cents from their last settlement. Trading was relatively slow due to a national holiday in the United States.

US Supreme Court to Hear Schlumberger Fight over Patent Damages

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The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday agreed to review a bid by Schlumberger NV, the world's largest oilfield services provider, to allow companies to recoup profits lost due to patent infringement when patented technology is used overseas. The case involves a fight over how much rival ION Geophysical Corp must pay for infringing Schlumberger technology that helps search for oil and gas beneath the ocean floor. The justices will hear Schlumberger's appeal of a lower court ruling that barred it from recovering more than $93 million stemming from foreign contracts the company said it lost as a result of the infringement.

US Senators from 12 States Seek Offshore Drilling Exemptions like Florida's

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Twenty-two Democratic U.S. senators from 12 states on Thursday joined the chorus of local representatives seeking exemptions from Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke's newly proposed offshore drilling plan, after his surprise move on Tuesday to shield Florida. Zinke surprised lawmakers, governors, and industry groups on Tuesday night by announcing that Florida would be removed from the Interior Department's proposal to open up over 90 percent of federal waters to oil and gas leasing. Zinke had met in Tallahasee with Republican Governor Rick Scott who told the Interior chief that drilling puts his state's coastal tourism economy at risk.

Oil to Trade at $60-$70 Through 2020: Kemp

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Oil prices are expected to remain close to current levels, averaging around $60 to $70 per barrel through the end of the decade, according to the annual survey of energy professionals conducted by Reuters. Forecast prices have changed very little since the last survey a year ago, and are only modestly higher than in the first survey conducted in 2016, when spot prices were much lower than they are today and near the bottom of the cycle. Long-term price expectations have become anchored around $70 per barrel - with forecasts clustered in a range of $60-$70 for 2018 widening to $60-$80 by 2020 (http://tmsnrt.rs/2DjWDNK).

Trump Offshore Oil Proposal Could Unlock 65 Bln BOE

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The Trump administration's proposal to open up almost all of U.S. offshore waters to oil and gas drilling could unlock up to 65 billion barrels of oil equivalent (boe), attracting billions of dollars in investment, consultancy Rystad Energy said. Last week, U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said a draft program would make over 90 percent of the outer continental shelf's total acreage available for leasing to drillers, a national record. "Looking purely at areas that are potentially going to come out of restriction, we are talking about something closer to 65 billion boe…

After Florida, more States Press US for Offshore Drilling Exemptions

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Governors and other officials from several U.S. coastal states ramped up pressure on the Trump administration on Wednesday to exempt their waters from an offshore drilling plan, hours after the Interior Department granted Florida's request to opt out. The backlash could complicate President Donald Trump's efforts to expand oil and gas production offshore. A proposed leasing plan unveiled last week aims to open up all U.S. coasts to drillers over the next five years. Alaska and Maine are the only two U.S. states whose governors have expressed support for the plan.

Seadrill Bondholders Post Cash Deposit for Rival Restructuring

(Photo: Seadrill)

Owners of unsecured bonds in rig firm Seadrill have posted a cash deposit to back an alternative financial restructuring, paving the way for talks with the drilling operator over its future, the two sides said on Monday. Seadrill, once the largest drilling rig operator by market value, filed for bankruptcy protection in a U.S. court on Sept. 12 after being hit hard by cutbacks in oil company investment following a steep drop in crude prices. The company's main owner, Norwegian-born billionaire John Fredriksen, drew up Seadrill's original $1.1 billion restructuring plan with Centerbridge Partners L.P. and a group of hedge funds in September. A U.S.

Oil Above $68 on Tighter Markets, Lower Inventories

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OPEC-led output cuts, dip in U.S. rig count support prices; U.S. crude inventories expected to fall for 8th week. Oil rose further above $68 a barrel on Tuesday, touching its highest since May 2015, supported by OPEC-led production cuts and expectations U.S. crude inventories fell for an eighth week. The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies including Russia are keeping supply limits in place in 2018, a second year of restraint, to reduce a price-denting glut of oil held in inventories. Brent crude, the international benchmark, was up 32 cents at $68.10 a barrel at 1311 GMT and earlier touched $68.29, its highest since May 2015.

Reassessing Alaska's Energy Frontier

Permafrost forms a grid-like pattern in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, a 22.8 million acre region managed by the Bureau of Land Management on Alaska's North Slope. USGS has periodically assessed oil and gas resource potential there. (Credit: David Houseknecht, USGS.)

Less than 80 miles from Prudhoe Bay, home to the giant oil fields that feed the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, lies the site of USGS’ latest oil and gas assessment: the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska and adjacent areas. Managed by the Bureau of Land Management, the NPR-A covers 22.8 million acres, more than the entire state of South Carolina. The new USGS assessment estimates 8.7 billion barrels of oil and 25 trillion cubic feet of natural gas resources. This is a more than sixfold increase from the previous USGS estimates in the region, which include parts of the 2005 Central North Slope assessment and the 2010 NPR-A assessment.