WEEKLY ENERGY RECAP: Oil prices move up despite bearish outlook

An oil pump is seen at sunset outside Scheibenhard, near Strasbourg, France, October 6, 2017. (REUTERS)
Updated 14 July 2019

WEEKLY ENERGY RECAP: Oil prices move up despite bearish outlook

  • It forecast US oil production to average 12.36 million bpd in 2019, up about 40,000 bpd from last month’s forecast, and 13.26 million bpd in 2020

OPEC kept its modest global oil demand growth forecast at 1.14 million bpd for 2020, suggesting that the world would need 29.27 million bpd of crude from its 14 members in 2020, down 1.34 million bpd this year.
After holding stable below $65 and $60 for nearly two months respectively, Brent crude’s price jumped to $66.72 and WTI’s to $60.21 per barrel. Oil prices are higher over sharpening US crude inventories and concerns over US Gulf of Mexico production ahead of Tropical Storm Barry, as well as tensions in the Arabian Gulf after Iran’s alleged attempt to block a British-owned tanker in the Strait of Hormuz.
The Atlantic hurricane season threatened offshore oil production and began soaking Louisiana with heavy rains, leading to 15 production platforms and four rigs being evacuated in the Gulf of Mexico. So far, oil companies operating in the area have halted about 1 million barrels per day (bpd) of offshore oil output, or 53 percent of the region’s total production.
The Gulf of Mexico and the Texas coast produce about 5 percent of US natural gas and 17 percent of crude oil. Onshore facilities account for about 45 percent of US refining capacity and 51 percent of its gas processing. The Louisiana Offshore Oil Port will be closely monitoring Atlantic storm activity.
The weather has added to the headaches caused by the increasing demand for refined products while US inventories continued to recede more than expected for the fourth consecutive week. As US oil producers in the gulf cut more than half their output, commercial crude stocks fell 9.5 million barrels to 459 million barrels, a 12-week low.
Meanwhile, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries’ (OPEC) monthly oil market report MOMR concluded that OPEC+ output cuts will not change the fundamental outlook of an already oversupplied market. OPEC kept its modest global oil demand growth forecast at 1.14 million bpd for 2020, suggesting that the world would need 29.27 million bpd of crude from its 14 members in 2020, down 1.34 million bpd this year.
The International Energy Agency’s (IEA) also suggested an oversupply forecast for 2020, with a 2.1 million bpd expansion from non-OPEC supply led by US shale producers. The IEA still sees weak oil demand growth and surging US shale oil output, estimating 2019 oil demand growth at 1.2 million bpd and 1.4 million bpd for 2020.
The EIA, in its short-term energy outlook, sees crude oil demand growing more slowly than previously expected. It forecast US oil production to average 12.36 million bpd in 2019, up about 40,000 bpd from last month’s forecast, and 13.26 million bpd in 2020.

Faisal Faeq is an energy and oil marketing adviser. He was formerly with OPEC and Saudi Aramco. Twitter:@faisalfaeq


Japan receives first shipment of blue ammonia from Saudi Aramco, SABIC

Updated 28 September 2020

Japan receives first shipment of blue ammonia from Saudi Aramco, SABIC

JAPAN: Saudi Aramco and Japan’s Institute of Energy Economics (IEEJ) announced the first shipment of blue ammonia from Saudi Arabia to Japan on Sunday.

The shipment, which was in partnership with Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC), contained forty tons of high-grade blue ammonia, and is meant for use in zero-carbon power generation.

Saudi Aramco said in a statement that shipping challenges were overcome with 30 tons of CO2 captured during the process designated for use in methanol production at one of SABIC’s facilities and another 20 tons of captured CO2 being used for enhanced oil recovery at Aramco’s field.

Mitsubishi Corporation, which is representing IEEJ’s study team, is working with SABIC to monitor the transport logistics in partnership with JGC Corporation, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Engineering, Mitsubishi Shipbuilding Co and UBE Industries.

“The shipment is considered the first around the world, and it represents a crucial opportunity for Aramco to introduce hydrocarbons as a reliable and affordable source of low-carbon hydrogen and ammonia,” said Ahmad Al-Khowaiter, Chief Technology Officer, Saudi Aramco, according to Saudi media.

Fahad Al-Sherehy, SABIC’s Vice President of Energy Efficiency and Carbon Management, also said: “At SABIC, we can economically leverage our existing infrastructure for hydrogen and ammonia production with CO2 capture. Our experience in the full supply chain along with integrated petrochemicals facilities will play an important role in providing the world with the blue ammonia.”

Ammonia can help supply the world’s increasing demand for energy through reliable and sustainable methods. 

The Saudi-Japan blue ammonia supply network involved a full value chain; including the conversion of hydrocarbons to hydrogen and then to ammonia, as well as the capture of associated carbon dioxide emissions.