WEEKLY ENERGY RECAP: All eyes on OPEC’s meet next week

OPEC’s own forecast for global oil demand growth remains unchanged in 2020 at 1.08 million bpd. (AFP)
Updated 30 November 2019

WEEKLY ENERGY RECAP: All eyes on OPEC’s meet next week

  • OPEC will meet next week on Dec. 5-6

Although Brent crude dropped below $63 per barrel by the week closing, oil prices are still very close to the levels that prevailed around OPEC’s meeting six months ago when an output cut rollover was suggested till March 2020.

OPEC will meet next week on Dec. 5-6 and so far the efforts of the OPEC+ group of producers have been successful in absorbing the market surplus.

At the end of 2016 OECD stocks were 299 million barrels above the latest five-year average, which was OPEC’s key measure for its oil output strategy for those three years.

OECD commercial oil stocks for March 2018 were 40 million barrels below the latest five-year average, which meant that the OPEC+ output cuts of 1.8 million barrels per day (bpd) since January 2017 were successful in driving OECD commercial oil stocks below the five-year average within just 15 months of the new  production cut strategy.

The continuing efforts in the past three years have ensured that the market is in balance and preventing any surplus building up.

By January this year OECD commercial oil stocks were at 19 million barrels above the latest five-year average — which coincided with the latest OPEC+ output cuts of 1.2 million bpd.

According to the OPEC monthly oil market report  of November 2019, OECD commercial oil stocks stand at 28.2 million barrels above the latest five-year average. This means that OECD commercial crude stocks have been increasing regardless of OPEC+ output cuts. However, OPEC monthly reports forecast a sharp fall in calls on its crude in the first half of next year, while non-OPEC supply is set to increase ahead of weak global demand growth.

OPEC’s own forecast for global oil demand growth remains unchanged in 2020 at 1.08 million bpd, but demand is projected to be flat in the first and second quarter, when non-OPEC supply is set to rise by 1.79 million bpd.

However, there are many non-OPEC supply uncertainties in 2020. 

According to OPEC’s own outlook, a rollover remains the most likely outcome of the 177th meeting.

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


BP said to be considering sale of Mideast ‘stranded assets’

Updated 08 August 2020

BP said to be considering sale of Mideast ‘stranded assets’

  • Major oil companies typically hold assets for the long term

LONDON: BP is preparing to sell a large chunk of its oil and gas assets even if crude prices bounce back from the COVID-19 crash because it wants to invest more in renewable energy, three sources familiar with BP’s thinking said.

The strategy was discussed at a BP executives meeting in July, the sources said, soon after the oil major lowered its long-term oil price forecast to $55 a barrel, meaning that $17.5 billion worth of its assets are no longer economically viable.

But even if crude prices bounce back to $65-$70 a barrel, BP is unlikely to put those assets back into its exploration plans and would instead use the better market conditions as an opportunity to sell them, the three sources said.

Major oil companies typically hold assets for the long term, even when crude prices plunge, with a view to start bringing more marginal production online when market conditions improve.

However, BP’s new divestment strategy, which has not previously been reported, means there will be no way back for the British energy company once it has offloaded its so-called stranded oil and gas assets.

BP did not respond to requests for comment.

The new strategy also sheds more light on chief executive Bernard Looney’s plan to reduce BP’s oil and gas production by 40 percent, or at least 1 million barrels per day, by 2030 while expanding into renewable energy.

“It is a simple calculation of natural production decline and planned divestment,” said a BP source, explaining how BP became the first big oil company to pledge a large cut in its oil output.

For decades, BP and rivals such as Royal Dutch Shell and Exxon Mobil have promised investors that production would continue to rise. But as climate activists, investors, banks and some governments raise pressure on the industry to reduce emissions to help cool the planet, European oil firms are changing tack and pledging to invest more in renewable energy sources.

US rivals are under less government pressure and have not made similar commitments on renewables.

“As we look at the outlook for BP over the next few years and as we see production declining by 40 percent it is clear we no longer need exploration to fund new growth,” Looney said this week. “We will not enter new countries to explore.”

He said that BP would continue to explore for oil near its existing production infrastructure as those barrels would be low cost — and help boost BP’s cash flow to fund its transition to cleaner energy.

BP also raised its target this week for returns from asset sales to $25 billion between 2020 and 2025, of which about $12 billion has already been lined up.

Parul Chopra, analyst at Rystad Energy, said in addition to Angola, he expected BP to move out of Azerbaijan, Oman, the UAE and Iraq.

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