BP signs $12bn deal to develop Egypt gas field

Updated 13 March 2015

BP signs $12bn deal to develop Egypt gas field

BP has announced that it has signed the final agreements of the West Nile Delta project to develop 5 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of gas resources and 55 million barrels (mmbbls) of condensates with an estimated investment of around $12 billion by BP and its partner.
The project underlines BP’s commitment to the Egyptian market and is a vote of confidence in Egypt’s investment climate and economic potential.
Production from WND is expected to reach up to 1.2 billion cubic feet a day (bcf/d), equivalent to about 25 percent of Egypt’s current gas production and significantly contribute to increasing the supply of energy in Egypt.
All the produced gas will be fed into the country’s national gas grid, helping to meet the anticipated growth in local demand for energy. Production is expected to start in 2017.
“BP is proud of its record in Egypt over the past 50 years and we are looking forward to many more years in the country,” said Bob Dudley, BP Group CEO.
“The WND project investment is the largest foreign direct investment in Egypt, and demonstrates our continued confidence in Egypt and our commitment to unlock its energy potential. WND production is key to Egypt’s energy security,” said the CEO.
Gas will be produced from two BP-operated offshore concession blocks, North Alexandria and West Mediterranean Deepwater.
BP believes that there is the potential through future exploration to add a further 5-7 tcf which could boost WND production with additional investments.
Commenting on the project, Hesham Mekawi, BP North Africa regional president said, “This is a critical milestone in the Egyptian oil and gas history.”
He said: “It marks the start of a major national project to add significant production to the domestic market. BP expects to double its current gas supply to the Egyptian domestic market during this decade when the WND project reaches its peak production.”
He said: “BP will also continue to invest in our existing oil operations at the Gulf of Suez (through GUPCO) and gas operations in the East Nile Delta (through Pharaonic Petroleum Co.), as well as progressing our recently discovered resources to allow for the next new major development after WND.”
The scale of investment and activities of the WND project are expected to significantly contribute to the growth of petroleum-related industries and to Egyptian employment.
During the construction phase, the project is projected to employ thousands of direct and indirect personnel.
In line with BP’s commitment to support the development of Egyptian capability, the WND project will encourage technology transfer and know-how through training and on-the-job development.
This will help to create strategic national capabilities to unlock the country’s future hydrocarbon potential.
As part of the WND project, BP will also undertake a social investment program directed to various sustainable development projects in coordination with the local communities and utilizing local service providers.
This will be in addition to the project’s principal approach, which is focused on increasing local labor, with a commitment to employ significant local labor during operations.


Exxon turnaround sapped by chemicals, refining

Updated 2 min 58 sec ago

Exxon turnaround sapped by chemicals, refining

  • Chemicals and refining businesses blamed for weak fourth-quarter results

HOUSTON: At Exxon Mobil Corp, CEO Darren Woods’ plan to revive earnings at the largest US oil and gas company is being sidetracked by the two businesses he knows best: Chemicals and refining.

Another year of poor profit could require Exxon to re-evaluate its bold spending plans or weaken its ability to weather the next oil-price downturn, say oil analysts. Exxon already must borrow or sell assets to help cover shareholder dividends.

The world’s biggest publicly traded oil firm after Saudi Arabian Oil Co, Exxon was long considered one of the best-managed majors and most capable of coping with volatile prices due to its size.

Those advantages have slipped in recent years, however, with the drop in once-steady earnings from chemicals. Its total shareholder returns of negative 13 percent in the five years through this month compared with a 25 percent gain at Chevron Corp. and 82 percent at BP, according to Refinitiv.

Two years ago, CEO Woods promised to restore flagging earnings by heavily investing in operations even as rivals cut spending. The plan to crank up chemicals, refining and increase oil output pushes capital expenditures to as much as $35 billion this year, up from $19 billion in 2016, the year before Woods took over as CEO after running Exxon’s refining and chemical businesses.

Last March, he forecast potential earnings could hit $25 billion this year and nearly $31 billion in 2021, close to the $32.5 billion it earned in 2014 before the oil-price collapse.

The hoped-for payoff, however, has run headlong into a global chemicals glut, tariffs on US exports to China, and lower margins in fuels. Exxon’s refining profit last year fell on equipment outages.

The company declined to comment ahead of quarterly earnings, expected on Friday.

On Monday, Exxon shares traded under $65 — close to their level of 10 years ago.

The company recently telegraphed weak fourth-quarter results because of chemicals and refining businesses. Wall Street cut profit forecasts through 2021 on the sour outlook for both. Exxon “seems to be tracking way behind their own expectations,” said Evercore ISI analyst Doug Terreson, who slashed his quarterly forecast by a third, to 55 cents a share.

In chemicals, Woods expanded the company’s output of polyethylene, a business where it has 9 percent of global production capacity, to benefit from demand for plastic bags, food packaging and consumer goods. Output rose last summer at the depth of the US-China trade dispute, and industry margins for a key polyethylene fell 30 percent compared with levels between 2016 and 2018, said James Wilson, analyst at pricing provider ICIS.

“The industry ended up overbuilding,” said Pavel Molchanov, an analyst with investment firm Raymond James. “Exxon, of course, is among the companies that led that build-out.”

In refining, outages and higher maintenance costs at Exxon refineries in the US, Canada and Saudi Arabia hurt profit, according to regulatory filings.

Crude oil prices and slack global demand from the trade dispute are squeezing profit across the industry, said Garfield Miller, chief executive at Aegis Energy Advisers.

This month, an Exxon regulatory filing implied a loss in chemicals of about $200 million for the fourth quarter, and refining earnings of just $400 million.

In contrast, chemicals and refining delivered $7 billion to $11 billion annually for Exxon between 2013 and 2018. In the first nine months of last year, the combined profit was $2.37 billion. Exxon’s regulatory filing indicates 2019 earnings for the two at about $2.52 billion, the lowest in at least a decade.

Woods has halted the company’s oil output declines by ramping up in shale. Oil volume has risen year-over-year for five straight quarters, reversing annual declines between 2016 and 2018.

Ending the trade dispute represents the biggest challenge. Global demand for the plastic resins and pellets that Exxon makes is rising, said Marc Levine, chief executive of Plantgistix, which provides logistics for US plastic manufacturers.

“This is the first time in my lifetime and in the plastics industry’s lifetime where we make plastics resin for export,” said Levine.

China in 2018 placed an additional 25 percent tariff on US polyethylene imports, a move that helped send North American margins to the lowest levels since 2011, said Joel Morales, a polymers analyst at consultancy IHS Markit.

“Imagine having a lot of something and your biggest, easiest consumer you can’t do business with,” Morales said.

The January US-China agreement does not remove Chinese or US tariffs on chemicals, plastics or oil.

Exxon has ramped up asset sales, aiming to collect $15 billion by next year to balance spending. So far, results have been tepid. It expects to receive about $3.6 billion from selling Norwegian oil and gas production assets.

Weak demand for those assets comes as rivals have written off the value of their own properties. BP, Chevron, Equinor, Repsol and Royal Dutch Shell last year cut a total of $22 billion primarily on US assets due to sharply lower gas prices. Exxon has not signaled whether it expects any writedowns.