Total renounces oil survey work off Western Sahara

Updated 21 December 2015
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Total renounces oil survey work off Western Sahara

RABAT: French oil giant Total will halt preliminary oil survey work off disputed Western Sahara, a region controlled by Morocco, due to disappointing results, a source said.
“Total has informed the Moroccan authorities that it would not request a new extension of its reconnaissance authorization in the Anzarane block,” said the source.
“The first analysis of seismic data didn’t find anything,” added the source.
However the decision comes less than two weeks after a farm trade deal between the European Union and Morocco was annulled by the EU’s top court because it illegally involved the disputed region of Western Sahara.
It also comes as oil companies are slashing investment as oil prices slide to 11-year lows, making many offshore projects no longer financially attractive.
Total received the contract to conduct geological survey work in the vast 100,000 block off Western Sahara in December 2011 and it was extended to December 2015, according to Total’s website.
The agreement excluded formal exploration work.
“The results of the geological surveys conducted in the Anzarane block... were not encouraging and the reconnaissance authorization will not be transformed into an exploration license,” a Total spokesman told AFP. Total’s work off Western Sahara had been controversial as the region has been disputed since Morocco took control of most of the territory in November 1975 after the end of Spanish colonization, unleashing a war for independence that lasted until 1991.
A UN-brokered cease-fire between Morocco and the Polisario Front, a movement in Western Sahara that has been campaigning for independence for decades with the backing of Morocco’s arch-rival Algeria, has held since then, but UN efforts to organize a referendum on the territory’s future have been resisted by Rabat.
Total insists on its website that independent experts it had consulted said the geological and geophysical works it carried out in the Anzarane block were “not legally in breach with international law or the United Nations charter.”
The Total spokesman said the company remains committed to the Moroccan market, noting in particular its filling station network had listed on the Casablanca stock exchange, as well as discussions on importing liquefied natural gas.


Oil mixed on tighter US outlook

Updated 21 August 2018
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Oil mixed on tighter US outlook

  • Traders said US markets were lifted by a tightening outlook for fuel markets in the coming months
  • The Iran supply cut may also be more than compensated for by production increases outside OPEC

SINGAPORE: Oil prices were mixed on Tuesday, with US fuel markets seen to be tightening while the Sino-US trade dispute dragged on international crude contracts.
US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures for September delivery were up 27 cents, or 0.4 percent, at 0306 GMT, at $66.70 per barrel. The contract expires on Tuesday.
The more active October futures were up 7 cents, or 0.1 percent, to $65.49 a barrel.
Traders said US markets were lifted by a tightening outlook for fuel markets in the coming months.
Inventories in the United States for refined products such as diesel and heating oil for this time of year are at their lowest in four years.
This is occurring just ahead of the peak demand period for these fuels, with diesel needed for tractors to harvest crops and the arrival of colder weather during the Northern Hemisphere autumn raising consumption of heating oil.
Outside the United States, Brent crude oil futures were somewhat weaker, trading at $72.18 per barrel, down 3 cents from their last close.
This followed the United States offering on Monday 11 million barrels of crude from its Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) for delivery from Oct. 1 to Nov. 30.
The released oil could offset expected supply shortfalls from US sanctions against Iran, which will target its oil industry from November.
Because of the sanctions, French bank BNP Paribas said it expected oil production from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), of which Iran is a member, to fall from an average of 32.1 million barrels per day (bpd) in 2018 to 31.7 million bpd in 2019.
Still, traders said overall market sentiment was cautious because of concerns over the demand outlook amid the trade dispute between the United States and China.
A Chinese trade delegation is due in Washington this week to resolve the dispute, but US President Donald Trump told Reuters in an interview on Monday he does not expect much progress, and that resolving the trade dispute with China will “take time.”
The impact of the Iran sanctions is not yet clear.
China has indicated that it will continue to buy Iranian oil despite the US sanctions.
The Iran supply cut may also be more than compensated for by production increases outside OPEC.
BNP Paribas said non-OPEC output would likely grow by 2 million bpd in 2018 and by 1.9 million bpd next year.
“Depending on when pipeline infrastructure constraints are lifted in the US, non-OPEC supply growth by the end of 2019 may prove higher than currently assumed,” the bank said.
The search for new oil has increased globally in the last two years, with the worldwide rig count rising from 1,013 at the end of July 2016 to 1,664 in August 2018, according to energy services firm Baker Hughes.
The biggest increase was in North America, where the rig count shot up from 491 to 1,057 in the last two years.
How prices develop will also depend on demand.
“We see global oil demand growing by 1.4 million barrels per day in both 2018 and 2019,” BNP Paribas said, implying that global markets are likely to remain sufficiently supplied.