WEEKLY ENERGY RECAP: Strength in adversity

Damage at Saudi Arabia’s Abqaiq oil processing plant. (AFP)
Updated 22 September 2019

WEEKLY ENERGY RECAP: Strength in adversity

  • Saudi Aramco was able to continue with its deliveries which reassured the market

The week started with the largest “force majeure” in the history of the oil industry following the attacks on Saudi Aramco oil and gas facilities in Abqaiq and Khurais. 

It represented a supply disruption of some 5.7 million barrels per day (bpd). 

Still, Saudi crude oil exports were suspended for only 36 hours before resuming. Brent crude’s price started the week on levels not seen since late April, above $70.

The market calmed down after Saudi Aramco customers confirmed that their near-term crude oil term allocations were not affected by the attacks and that there was sufficient stockpiles to cover for lost production.

This clearly demonstrated the robust and resilient infrastructure of Saudi Aramco oil and gas facilities.

The immediate risk management response greatly mitigated the losses despite suggestions from parts of the oil industry media that the attacks highlighted the vulnerability of Saudi oil supplies.

Saudi Aramco was able to continue with its deliveries which reassured the market and was the main factor in the gradual retreat of the oil price over the week.

Brent softened to $64.28 per barrel and WTI fell to $58.09 — but that was still up almost $4 from a week earlier.

That represented the biggest weekly gain this year since, with prices moving mostly in a very narrow band until this week.

Elsewhere, the US EIA reported that Cushing oil stocks were at their lowest level since October 2018. 

Storms in Texas also triggered the shutdown of some pipeline and terminal capacity, but the impact on the market is not yet clear as it coincides with a period of extensive refinery turnarounds in the region.

Softening crude oil futures show that the physical market is more concerned than the paper market as Arabian Gulf sour crude grades continue to strengthen. 

Platts reported that the backwardation (where the spot price of oil is higher than the future price) in the Dubai forward price structure rose to a six-year high of $2.90 per barrel. 

• Faisal Faeq is an energy and oil marketing adviser. He was formerly with OPEC and Saudi Aramco. Twitter:@faisalfaeq


Huawei’s third-quarter revenue jumps 27% as smartphone sales surge

Updated 17 October 2019

Huawei’s third-quarter revenue jumps 27% as smartphone sales surge

  • American companies, significantly disrupting its ability to source key parts
  • Huawei was all but banned by the United States in May from doing business with American companies

SHENZHEN, SHANGHAI: Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd’s third-quarter revenue jumped 27%, driven by a surge in shipments of smartphones launched before a trade blacklisting by the United States expected to hammer its business.
Huawei, the world’s biggest maker of telecom network equipment and the No. 2 manufacturer of smartphones, was all but banned by the United States in May from doing business with American companies, significantly disrupting its ability to source key parts.
The company has been granted a reprieve until November, meaning it will lose access to some technology next month. Huawei has so far mainly sold smartphones that were launched before the ban.
Its newest Mate 30 smartphone — which lacks access to a licensed version of Google’s Android operating system — started sales last month.
Huawei in August said the curbs would hurt less than initially feared, but could still push its smartphone unit’s revenue lower by about $10 billion this year.
The tech giant did not break down third-quarter figures but said on Wednesday revenue for the first three quarters of the year grew 24.4% to 610.8 billion yuan.
Revenue in the quarter ended Sept. 30 rose to 165.29 billion yuan ($23.28 billion) according to Reuters calculations based on previous statements from Huawei.
“Huawei’s overseas shipments bounced back quickly in the third quarter although they are yet to return to pre-US ban levels,” said Nicole Peng, vice president for mobility at consultancy Canalys.
“The Q3 result is truly impressive given the tremendous pressure the company is facing. But it is worth noting that strong shipments were driven by devices launched pre-US ban, and the long-term outlook is still dim,” she added.
The company said it has shipped 185 million smartphones so far this year. Based on the company’s previous statements and estimates from market research firm Strategy Analytics, that indicates a 29% surge in third-quarter smartphone shipments.
Still, growth in the third quarter slowed from the 39% increase the company reported in the first quarter. Huawei did not break out figures for the second quarter either, but has said revenue rose 23.2% in the first half of the year.
“Our continued strong performance in Q3 shows our customers’ trust in Huawei, our technology and services, despite the actions and unfounded allegations against us by some national governments,” Huawei spokesman Joe Kelly told Reuters.
The US government alleges Huawei is a national security risk as its equipment could be used by Beijing to spy. Huawei has repeatedly denied its products pose a security threat.
The company, which is now trying to reduce its reliance on foreign technology, said last month that it has started making 5G base stations without US components.
It is also developing its own mobile operating system as the curbs cut its access to Google’s Android operating system, though analysts are skeptical that Huawei’s Harmony system is yet a viable alternative.
Still, promotions and patriotic purchases have driven Huawei’s smartphone sales in China — surging by a nearly a third compared to a record high in the June quarter — helping it more than offset a shipments slump in the global market.