Oil prices fall for second day on oversupply concerns

US oil output from seven major shale formations is expected to rise by 143,000 bpd to a record 7.47 million bpd in August, the US Energy Information Administration said in a monthly report on Monday. (AP)
Updated 17 July 2018
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Oil prices fall for second day on oversupply concerns

  • Goldman Sachs on Monday said it expects price volatility in oil markets to remain elevated
  • US oil output from seven major shale formations is expected to rise by 143,000 bpd to a record 7.47 million bpd in August

TOKYO: Oil prices fell for a second day on Tuesday as worries about possible disruptions to supply eased and as investors focused on potential damage to global growth from the festering Sino-US trade spat.
Brent crude futures fell 32 cents, or 0.5 percent, to $71.52 a barrel by 0638 GMT to the lowest since April 17. They fell 4.6 percent on Monday.
US West Texas Intermediate futures were down 31 cents, or 0.5 percent, at $67.75 a barrel. They declined 4.2 percent on Monday.
“It is growth fears all around and more about concerns that ... trade worries will come back and bite,” said Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist at CMC Markets in Sydney.
“(Oil trading) volumes are abysmal and there is very little commitment at current levels.”
China is still confident of hitting its economic growth target of around 6.5 percent this year despite views that it faces a bumpy second-half as a trade row with the United States intensifies, the state planning agency said on Tuesday.
The remarks came a day after China reported slightly slower growth for the second quarter and the weakest expansion in factory activity in June in two years, suggesting a further softening in business conditions in coming months as trade pressures build.
Goldman Sachs on Monday said it expects price volatility in oil markets to remain elevated, keeping Brent crude in a $70 to $80 per barrel range in the short-term.
“Supply shifts, alongside the ongoing surge in Saudi production, create the risk that the oil market moves into surplus” in the third quarter, the report said.
Meanwhile, an oil worker strike in Norway intensified on Monday when hundreds more walked out in a dispute over pay and pensions after employers failed to respond to union demands for a new offer.
The strike, which began last Tuesday, has had a limited impact on Norway’s oil production so far, but some drillers warned of possible contract cancelations if the dispute goes on for a month or more.
While Libyan ports are reopening, output at the country’s Sharara oilfield was expected to fall by at least 160,000 barrels per day (bpd) after two workers were abducted by an unknown group, the National Oil Corporation said on Saturday.
US oil output from seven major shale formations is expected to rise by 143,000 bpd to a record 7.47 million bpd in August, the US Energy Information Administration said in a monthly report on Monday.
Production is expected to climb in all seven formations, with the largest gain of 73,000 bpd seen in the Permian Basin of Texas and New Mexico. All shale regions except for Appalachia are at a high, according to the data.


India’s small renewables firms fighting consolidation wave

Updated 26 min 28 sec ago
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India’s small renewables firms fighting consolidation wave

  • With many smaller operators being gobbled up or offering themselves for sale, the number of projects being developed could fall
  • Besides loans, other funding options have been dead ends for the smaller companies, further limiting growth opportunities

MUMBAI: Small to mid-sized renewable energy companies in India are starting to look like attractive takeover targets as lenders and investors withhold funds, worried by the stiff competition, weak bond markets, low tariffs and high debt besetting the sector.
The small companies’ difficulty in raising cash is keeping them away from government power project auctions, restricting their growth and crippling their ability to refinance loans, said a consultant from a top global consultancy firm.
With many smaller operators being gobbled up or offering themselves for sale, the number of projects being developed could fall, potentially keeping India from its renewable energy targets, said the consultant, who did not wish to be named as he is directly involved with a company that canceled a bond issue.
“India’s solar industry is becoming a big boys’ club,” said Rahul Goswami, managing director of Greenstone Energy Advisers.
In a few years, there may be only a few big companies and a few regional firms active in India’s renewable sector, he said.
The trend goes back at least to 2016, when Tata Power bought solar and wind company Welspun Renewable Energy, but the pace is expected to pick up.
“Smaller players are being squeezed out ... due to two main factors: cost of equipment and ... financing,” said Alok Verma, executive director at Kotak Investment Banking, an arm of Kotak Mahindra Bank.
One of India’s largest renewables companies, Greenko Group, said in June that it was buying 750 megawatts (MWs) of solar and wind assets from Orange Renewables, because the Singapore-based company saw few opportunities for growth. The deal has yet to be closed.
Essel Infra, with a renewable power capacity of 685 MWs, and Shapoorji Pallonji Group’s 400-MW solar arm are also in talks to sell off their assets, one firm and two banks doing the due diligence for these companies have said.
Besides loans, other funding options have also been dead ends for the smaller companies, further limiting growth opportunities.
ACME Solar postponed an initial public offering (IPO) announced in September last year as the proposed share issue did not generate enough interest from investors, confirmed a banker who was directly involved in the listing attempt.
Mytrah Energy, a major mid-sized renewables company, called off a $300 million to $500 million bond issue earlier this year as that option also went dry for the sector, and it canned IPO plans as well, said a separate banker directly involved there.
The companies have all declined to comment.
This dearth of financing and trend toward consolidation could be a significant threat to India’s target of 175 gigawatts (GWs) of renewables capacity by 2022, up from 71 GWs now, some analysts said.
Others said a concentration of bigger players, with more cash and better financing, could mean things move faster.
“Consolidation in the renewable energy industry augurs well for the overall success of the program ... Large players have access to required capital at reasonable rates and can procure the latest technology,” said Debasish Mishra, head of Energy, Resources and Industrials at Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu India.
Tata Power, one of India’s largest power generators, said in May it plans to invest $5 billion to increase its renewable capacity in India fourfold over the next decade to 12 GWs.
More than doubling India’s renewables capacity by 2022 will require $76 billion, including debt of $53 billion, the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy said in July.
Another problem in India’s renewable sector is debt.
“Many mid-sized firms have taken debt to fund their equity,” the partner of an investment firm said, adding that many such companies will need financial restructuring or have to put themselves up for auction.
This model of financing debt through equity is called mezzanine financing and tends to involve high interest rates and an option to convert debt to equity in future.
Both ACME and Mytrah are funded by Piramal Finance Ltd. via mezzanine financing, according to statements by the companies at the time of funding.
For lending banks, this quasi-equity is seen as debt, making the liabilities of these companies look higher than usual, said the partner, who asked not to be named. The investment firm handles all kinds of financing, including mezzanine.
When companies with mezzanine financing go to banks for funds for upcoming projects, banks ask them for higher collateral or offer less cash in loan, said Kotak’s Verma.
Fitch Solutions said in a note last week that India would likely miss its renewable capacity targets due to “risks stemming from bureaucratic, financing and logistical delays.”