Saudi Arabia raises oil output amid fears of supply crunch

Gas is flared off at Khurais oilfield. Saudi crude shipments rose during May to 7.16 million bpd, up 250,000 bpd month-on-month. (Reuters)
Updated 13 June 2018
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Saudi Arabia raises oil output amid fears of supply crunch

  • The IEA noted that only Saudi Arabia and OPEC’s other Middle East members have the ability to ramp up production swiftly to alleviate any supply shortages in the market.
  • US President Donald Trump blamed OPEC for excessive oil prices. “Oil prices are too high, OPEC is at it again. Not good!”

LONDON: Saudi Arabia posted the biggest month-on-month increase in oil supply of any OPEC country in May, according to the latest report from the International Energy Agency (IEA).
The Kingdom’s production was up 100,000 barrels per day (bpd) to 10.02 million barrels. Domestically, more crude was burned in Saudi power plants during the month, partly due to higher air-conditioning use.
The IEA noted meanwhile that only Saudi Arabia and OPEC’s other Middle East members have the ability to ramp up production swiftly to alleviate any supply shortages in the market. That is viewed as vital in the event of further output drops from Venezuela, and expected shortfalls from Iran when US sanctions bite later this year.
The report estimated that Middle East OPEC countries could increase production in fairly short order by about 1.1 million bpd, and there could be more output from Russia.
After oil prices surged to $80 a barrel in mid-May, Saudi Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih said that the Kingdom, along with other producers, would ensure the availability of adequate supplies to offset any potential shortfalls.
According to information from data intelligence company Kpler, Saudi crude shipments rose during May to 7.16 million bpd, up 250,000 bpd month-on-month.
“However, even if the Iran-Venezuela supply gap is plugged, the market will be finely balanced next year, and vulnerable to prices rising higher in the event of further disruption. It is possible that the very small number of countries with spare capacity beyond what can be activated quickly will have to go the extra mile,” the IEA said.
US President Donald Trump yesterday blamed OPEC for excessive oil prices. “Oil prices are too high, OPEC is at it again. Not good!” Trump tweeted on Wednesday, the second time in two months he blamed the bloc for higher oil prices.
Saudi Aramco is moving ahead with plans to raise output from offshore oil fields by more than 1 million bpd by 2023 to compensate for declining onshore production and to sustain overall capacity, which now stands at around 12 million bpd.
Aramco has invited bids to build new units to expand the Marjan oil field from 500,000 bpd currently to 800,000 bpd. Aramco also recently invited bids to boost the 300,000 bpd Berri field by 250,000 bpd. The expansion effort also includes the 550,000 bpd Zuluf field, where capacity will be raised by 600,000 bpd.
In May, the IEA said, higher flows from Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Algeria outweighed a fall in Nigerian supply and further losses in Venezuela, lifting OPEC crude production by 50,000 bpd to 31.69 million bpd. Crude oil output was nonetheless down 610,000 bpd on 2017 due to Venezuela’s sharp decline.
For 2019, IEA anticipates growth of 1.4 million bpd due to a “solid” economic background and an assumption of more stable prices. Demand growth for 2018 is also forecast at 1.4 million bpd.
But downside risks were growing in the wake of the G-7 bust-up involving President Donald Trump and his Western allies.
Dangers included the possibility of higher prices amid trade disruptions prompted by the tariffs war unleashed by the US against China, but which has also sucked in the EU, Canada and Mexico.
There were already signs of a slowdown in the growth of global trade volumes, the IEA said, which was “a concern.”


Intel CEO resigns after probe of relationship with employee

Krzanich led Intel as rival chipmakers ate away at its dominance in the technology over several decades and he also presided over a series of high-level executive departures. (AP)
Updated 59 min 57 sec ago
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Intel CEO resigns after probe of relationship with employee

  • Corporations are under increasing pressure to “walk the walk” on executive behavior with the rise of the #MeToo movement
  • The board named Chief Financial Officer Robert Swan as interim CEO

Intel Corp. Chief Executive Brian Krzanich resigned on Thursday after an investigation found he had a consensual relationship with an employee in breach of company policy.
The head of the largest US chipmaker is the latest in a line of men in business and politics to lose their jobs or resign over relationships viewed as inappropriate, a phenomenon highlighted by the #MeToo social media movement.
Krzanich led Intel as rival chipmakers ate away at its dominance in the technology over several decades and he also presided over a series of high-level executive departures.
The change in leadership comes as Intel expands beyond personal computers and servers into areas such as artificial intelligence and self-driving cars, where smaller competitors including Nvidia Corp. are strong. Qualcomm Inc. leads in the mobile chip market.
The board named Chief Financial Officer Robert Swan as interim CEO and said it has begun a search for a permanent CEO, including internal and external candidates.
“An ongoing investigation by internal and external counsel has confirmed a violation of Intel’s non-fraternization policy, which applies to all managers,” Intel said in a statement, declining to give any further information about the probe. Its shares fell 2.4 percent.
The company’s board was informed a week ago that Krzanich had a mutual relationship with an employee in his chain of command in the past, according to a source familiar with the matter who asked not to be named. The relationship began before Krzanich became CEO in 2013 and ended several years ago, the person said.

‘BK’ out
Krzanich, who did not have an employment contract, is entitled to a $38 million “walk-away” payment in the event of a voluntary termination, according to Intel’s regulatory filings.
Of that, $31 million is in the form of accelerated stock awards and $4.1 million in the form of deferred compensation, based on Intel’s share price on Dec. 29.
An Intel spokesman declined to say whether the walk-away payment applied to Krzanich’s resignation, but said the investigation into Krzanich’s conduct continued and that the board reserved the right to take further action.
Corporations are under increasing pressure to “walk the walk” on executive behavior with the rise of the #MeToo movement, said Ivan Feinseth, chief investment officer at Tigress Financial Partners.
In the last few months Martin Sorrell, founder of advertising giant WPP Plc, and casino mogul Steve Wynn of Wynn Resorts Ltd. resigned after accusations of impropriety. Wynn has denied the accusations and Sorrell has denied any wrongdoing.
Krzanich, 58, an engineer and Intel veteran known at the company as “BK,” was appointed CEO in May 2013. Intel shares more than doubled during his tenure as the company expanded into new markets.
He was recently credited with containing the fallout from the discovery of security flaws in the company’s chips that could allow hackers to steal data from computers, although his sale of much of his Intel stock before the flaws were disclosed to investors attracted some criticism.

Time for an outsider?
His temporary replacement, Robert Swan, has been Intel’s CFO since October 2016 and previously spent nine years as CFO of eBay Inc. Given his short tenure and lack of experience in manufacturing, he is not likely to be named permanent CEO, Cowen analyst Matthew Ramsay said.
While Intel dominates in processors for servers and data centers, global competitors are catching up with its manufacturing technology, said Bernstein analyst Stacy Rasgon.
“BK will go down in history as the CEO that let Intel’s process leadership advantage slip away,” he said, adding that a change at the top could bring in fresh ideas.
Kevin Cassidy, an analyst at Stifel, said that Intel would take the change in stride.
“Although we respect Krzanich’s efforts in redirecting Intel’s strategy from a computer-centric to a data-centric company, we view Intel as a process-driven company with a deep bench of CEO candidates that can continue to drive the corporate strategy,” he said.
In its 50-year history, Intel has never appointed a permanent CEO who did not come up through the company’s ranks.
But those ranks are thinner than they used to be, with prominent Intel executives such as former CFO and manufacturing chief Stacy Smith, former president Renee James, ex-architecture chief Dadi Perlmutter and Dianne Bryant, who headed the data center group, leaving in recent years.
Instead, Krzanich’s replacement could end up being one of the outsiders he brought into the company’s executive ranks, a sort of “insider outsider” such as Murthy Renduchintala, Intel’s chief engineering officer who joined Intel in 2015 after helping lead Qualcomm’s chip business.
“They’ve got some very good people they’ve brought in,” said Dan Hutcheson, CEO of VLSI Research Inc, who “know the company, know the new direction. It’s not a turnaround story.”
UBS analyst Tim Arcuri wrote to clients that “the door is open to hire from the outside.”
Intel on Thursday raised its second-quarter revenue and profit forecast, saying it expects quarterly revenue of about $16.9 billion and adjusted profit of about 99 cents per share, up from a previous forecast of $16.3 billion in revenue and adjusted earnings per share of 85 cents.
Analysts on average were expecting revenue of $16.29 billion and adjusted profit of 85 cents per share.
“There are no new payments as part of his departure,” a source familiar with the company told Reuters.