Oil prices fall as increased US drilling points to higher output

Soaring US output, as well as rising output in Canada and Brazil, is undermining efforts by the OPEC to curb supplies and bolster prices. (Reuters)
Updated 19 March 2018
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Oil prices fall as increased US drilling points to higher output

SINGAPORE: Oil prices fell on Monday as increased drilling in the United States pointed to more output, raising concerns about a return of oversupply.
US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $62.02 a barrel at 0350 GMT, down 32 cents, or 0.5 percent, from their previous close.
Brent crude futures were at $65.85 per barrel, down 36 cents, or 0.5 percent.
Monday’s price falls in part reversed increases last Friday, which came on concerns over tensions in the Middle East.
On a simple supply versus demand basis, however, oil markets are facing the possibility of a renewed glut after being in a slight deficit for much of last year.
US drillers added four oil rigs in the week to March 16, bringing the total count to 800, the weekly Baker Hughes drilling report said on Friday.
“Surging US production will hamper exponential growth in crude oil prices,” Singapore-based brokerage Phillip Futures said on Monday.
The US rig count, an early indicator of future output, is much higher than a year ago as energy companies have boosted spending.
Thanks to the high drilling activity, US crude oil production has risen by more than a fifth since mid-2016, to 10.38 million barrels per day (bpd), pushing it past top exporter Saudi Arabia.
Only Russia produces more, at around 11 million bpd, although US output is expected to overtake Russia’s later this year as well.
Soaring US output, as well as rising output in Canada and Brazil, is undermining efforts by the Middle East dominated Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to curb supplies and bolster prices.
Many analysts expect global oil markets to flip from slight undersupply in 2017 and early this year into oversupply later in 2018.
One risk to supplies, however, is Venezuela.
“Concerns that Venezuelan output is on the verge of collapse continue to swirl around the market,” ANZ bank said.
The International Energy Agency said last week that Venezuela, where an economic crisis has cut oil production by almost half since early 2005 to well below 2 million bpd, was “clearly vulnerable to an accelerated decline,” and that such a disruption could tip global markets into deficit despite soaring US output.
“We remain bearish on the future direction of its (Venezuela’s) oil sector, with production ... averaging 1.535 million bpd, down 379,000 bpd on average over the year,” BMI Research said.


Energy giants spent $1bn on climate lobbying, PR since Paris: watchdog

Updated 23 March 2019
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Energy giants spent $1bn on climate lobbying, PR since Paris: watchdog

  • Firms under pressure to explain how greener laws will hit business models

PARIS: The five largest publicly listed oil and gas majors have spent $1 billion since the 2015 Paris climate deal on public relations or lobbying that is “overwhelmingly in conflict” with the landmark accord’s goals, a watchdog said Friday.
Despite outwardly committing to support the Paris agreement and its aim to limit global temperature rises, ExxonMobil, Shell, Chevron, BP and Total spend a total of $200 million a year on efforts “to operate and expand fossil fuel operations,” according to InfluenceMap, a pro-transparency monitor.
Two of the companies — Shell and Chevron — said they rejected the watchdog’s findings.
“The fossil fuel sector has ramped up a quite strategic program of influencing the climate agenda,” InfluenceMap Executive Director Dylan Tanner told AFP.
“It’s a continuum of activity from their lobby trade groups attacking the details of regulations, controlling them all the way up, to controlling the way the media thinks about the oil majors and climate.”
The report comes as oil and gas giants are under increasing pressure from shareholders to come clean over how greener lawmaking will impact their business models.
As planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions hit their highest levels in human history in 2018, the five companies wracked up total profits of $55 billion.
At the same time, the International Panel on Climate Change — composed of the world’s leading climate scientists — issued a call for a radical drawdown in fossil fuel use in order to hit the 1.5C (2.7 Fahrenheit) cap laid out in the Paris accord.
InfluenceMap looked at accounts, lobbying registers and communications releases since 2015, and alleged a large gap between the climate commitments companies make and the action they take.

 

It said all five engaged in lobbying and “narrative capture” through direct contact with lawmakers and officials, spending millions on climate branding, and by employing trade associations to represent the sector’s interests in policy discussions.
“The research reveals a trend of carefully devised campaigns of positive messaging combined with negative policy lobbying on climate change,” it said.
It added that of the more than $110 billion the five had earmarked for capital investment in 2019, just $3.6bn was given over to low-carbon schemes.
The report came one day after the European Parliament was urged to strip ExxonMobil lobbyists of their access, after the US giant failed to attend a hearing where expert witnesses said the oil giant has knowingly misled the public over climate change.
“How can we accept that companies spending hundreds of millions on lobbying against the EU’s goal of reaching the Paris agreement are still granted privileged access to decision makers?” said Pascoe Sabido, Corporate Europe Observatory’s climate policy researcher, who was not involved in the InfluenceMap report.
The report said Exxon alone spent $56 million a year on “climate branding” and $41 million annually on lobbying efforts.
In 2017 the company’s shareholders voted to push it to disclose what tougher emissions policies in the wake of Paris would mean for its portfolio.
With the exception of France’s Total, each oil major had largely focused climate lobbying expenditure in the US, the report said.
Chevron alone has spent more than $28 million in US political donations since 1990, according to the report.
AFP contacted all five oil and gas companies mentioned in the report for comment.
“We disagree with the assertion that Chevron has engaged in ‘climate-related branding and lobbying’ that is ‘overwhelmingly in conflict’ with the Paris Agreement,” said a Chevron spokesman.
“We are taking action to address potential climate change risks to our business and investing in technology and low carbon business opportunities that could reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”
A spokeswoman for Shell — which the report said spends $49 million annually on climate lobbying — said it “firmly rejected” the findings.
“We are very clear about our support for the Paris Agreement, and the steps that we are taking to help meet society’s needs for more and cleaner energy,” they told AFP.
BP, ExxonMobil and Total did not provide comment to AFP.

FACTOID

$ 28m

Chevron alone has spent more than $28 million in US political donations since 1990, according to the report.