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    U.S. Crude Inventories Fall Unexpectedly, Big Distillate Build (Friday, 2 December 2016)

    2 Dec 2016, 11:00 pm

    U.S. crude oil stockpiles fell unexpectedly last week, while distillate inventories rose sharply, the Energy Information Administration's data showed on Wednesday.

    Crude inventories USOILC=ECI fell 884,000 barrels in the week to Nov. 25, compared with analysts' expectations for an increase of 636,000 barrels.

    That came despite a notable increase in stocks at the key Cushing, Oklahoma, delivery hub for U.S. crude futures, where inventories USOICC=ECI rose by 2.4 million barrels, EIA said.


    Crude stocks fell sharply on the U.S. East Coast - the biggest weekly draw since May 2004 - to 14 million barrels, their lowest level since July 2015.

    "Crude inventories have yielded a modest surprise draw in this week's report, led by a big drop in crude inventories on the East coast amid lower imports - even though refinery runs also dropped off," said Matt Smith, director of commodity research at ClipperData.

    U.S. crude imports USOICI=ECI fell last week by 35,000 barrels per day while refinery crude runs USOICR=ECI slipped by 114,000 bpd as utilization rates USOIRU=ECI fell by 1 percentage point, EIA data showed.

    Oil prices were barely changed, as the weekly data was overshadowed by OPEC's decision to limit oil output for the first time in eight years.

    U.S. crude oil futures CLc1 were already sharply higher on the day, and last traded up $3.30 a barrel to $48.53 a barrel, a 7.2 percent increase. Brent crude LCOc1 rose 7.9 percent, or $3.64 a barrel, to $50.02 a barrel.

    "The report is fairly neutral; mildly bullish crude, modestly bearish for the products," Smith said.

    Distillate stockpiles USOILD=ECI, which include diesel and heating oil, rose 5 million barrels, versus expectations for a 1.3 million-barrel increase, the EIA data showed. Heating oil usage is anticipated to pick up in the next few months as winter sets in across the United States.

    Gasoline stocks USOILG=ECI rose 2.1 million barrels, compared with analysts' expectations in a Reuters poll for a 1.2 million-barrel gain.


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    North Dakota Governor Orders Pipeline Protesters Expelled (Friday, 2 December 2016)

    2 Dec 2016, 10:00 pm

    North Dakota's governor ordered the expulsion of thousands of Native American and environmental activists camped on federal property near an oil pipeline project they are trying to halt, citing hazards posed by harsh weather as a blizzard bore down on the area.

    The "emergency evacuation" order from Governor Jack Dalrymple came days after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which manages the site, set a Dec. 5 deadline for the demonstrators to vacate their encampment, about 45 miles (72 km) south of Bismarck, the state capital.

    The Army Corps has insisted, however, that it has no plans to forcibly remove protesters, many of them members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. The agency instead urged a "peaceful and orderly transition to a safer location."


    Late Monday, Standing Rock Chairman Dave Archambault II denounced Dalrymple's order as a "menacing action meant to cause fear," and accused the Republican governor of trying to "usurp and circumvent federal authority."

    Archambault noted that the evacuation order, which the governor said he issued for the campers' well-being in the face of dangerous winter weather, came a week after police turned water hoses on protesters in sub-freezing temperatures.

    Activists have spent months protesting against plans to route the $3.8 billion Dakota Access Pipeline beneath a lake near the Standing Rock Sioux reservation, saying the project poses a threat to water resources and sacred Native American sites.

    The governor did not specify how he intended to enforce his order other than by directing state and local agencies to refuse emergency assistance and other services to anyone who remained at the site. He said the order was effective immediately and would stay in force "until rescinded."

    But Standing Rock Sioux spokeswoman Phyllis Young told a news conference Monday night the tribe would stand its ground.

    "We have lived for generations in this setting. That is our camp. We will continue to provide for our people there," she said. "This is Lakota territory. This is treaty territory, and no one else has jurisdiction there."

    Protest leaders suggested a forced evacuation could prove more dangerous to the activists than staying put.

    "We're in the heart of winter now. To even think of a forced removal is terrifying," said Dallas Goldtooth, an organizer with Indigenous Environmental Network, who estimated there were about 5,000 people in the camp.

    Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier added to the pressure by issuing a video statement urging protesters to avoid subjecting themselves to "life-threatening conditions" by remaining exposed to the elements with little shelter.

    The National Weather Service has posted a storm warning for most of western and central North Dakota, forecasting the possibility of heavy snow through Wednesday.

    The 1,172-mile (1,885-km) pipeline project is mostly complete except for a segment that is supposed to run under Lake Oahe, a reservoir formed by a dam on the Missouri River.

    The Obama administration in September postponed final approval of an Army Corps permit required to allow tunneling beneath the lake, a move intended to give federal officials more time to consult tribal leaders. The delay also led to escalating tension over the project.

    The companies say the pipeline would carry Bakken shale oil more cheaply and safely from North Dakota to Illinois en route to U.S. Gulf Coast refineries than it could be shipped by railroad or tanker trucks.


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    Winners And Losers Of The OPEC Deal (Friday, 2 December 2016)

    2 Dec 2016, 7:00 pm

    This is an article by Julianne Geiger of - Source article available here

    It’s no secret I’ve been one of the consistent naysayers about the OEPC deal. I was confident a deal wouldn’t be had, and that if they did manage to reach a deal—which seemed an impossibility given Iran/Saudi relations—it would have little to no effect on the supply glut. I was wrong on one account—they did manage to solidify a deal.

    It’s important to note before we look at the cold, hard facts of the deal specifics that I’m a proponent of letting markets correct themselves, and as such, I found it disturbing that the world was expectant that OPEC needed to solve the world’s oil supply glut by essentially manipulating oil prices through a controlled production cut, but nonetheless, all eyes were on OPEC. “Solve the supply glut!” the world seemed to scream. This perplexed me.


    What was also fascinating about the deal, which began in April and mercifully concluded yesterday, was the carefully planned and constant rhetoric, “leaks” from OPEC officials to the media, Russia’s personality-disordered flip-floppy comments about their willingness to join OPEC in cutting production, their efforts to ramp up production, and their apparent disagreement between Russia’s oil ministers and Putin himself. Markets went up and down depending on the headlines of the day, which were duplicitous and vague, and could be—and were—interpreted any number of ways. Markets see-sawed in response, and I’m sure many an investor reveled in the ensuing volatility.

    Of course, no one cares what I think, and no one should care what the OPEC jawboning is from this point onward. Less talk, more action. And yesterday, they acted. Who knew? I will humbly eat my just portion of crow, although I may be eating it again in due time, because I still think it’s an extremely fast-moving shell game, with desperate countries who have almost their entire wellbeing tied up in oil willing to do whatever needs to be done to hold their head above water—everything, that is, except to cut production.

    But much more important than what I think, or what OPEC members or Russia have to say about the matter, is the fact that there are numbers now. There are actual production figures, actual cut figures by country, and actual timeframes—today, we have details. What do these numbers mean, without the commentary or spin?

    Let’s look at where OPEC was with production when the talks began at the April 17 meeting in Doha—a meeting that ended without resolution. First, the spot price for Brent was $41.32. The supply glut was looming large, and the markets were unhappy. The talks at that time, like this time, were aimed at a production cut—but it failed. Here’s what they were producing on average in the first quarter 2016, the quarter leading up to the Doha meeting when everyone was panicking about the glut and crying over the low prices.

    On average in Q1 2016, per secondary sources, OPEC was producing 32.5 million barrels per day. A couple of weeks later, they met to discuss a cut. They failed—or so everyone thought. In the months that followed, whilst jawboning and posturing relentlessly about how they would make it happen, they ramped up production (collectively), to 33.6 million barrels per day. Then yesterday, they agreed to “cut” this figure for production to… wait for it… 32.5 million barrels per day—exactly where they were before Doha, when everyone was calling for OPEC to cut. Brilliant move on OPEC’s part.

    The markets cheered! Prices rose! Brent spot prices today, with only a promise of a return to previously unacceptable production levels a month from now, is $50.47 per barrel. That’s a remarkable increase for steady-as-she-goes production—almost $9 per barrel! Not to mention that the deal only holds production at this level—a level that was far too high in April—for six months.

    The numbers don’t lie, and what really happened was nothing. We are right back where we started. OPEC is producing exactly what they were when everyone was badgering them to slow their roll. But now the narrative has changed. The bar or expectation has changed over the last few months, and now everyone is suddenly pacified with a return to pre-Doha levels. OPEC did what they needed to do: change the sentiment, not the fundamentals.


    Now, for individual OPEC members, the distribution of the cuts is interesting. Saudi Arabia, who was taking a hardline throughout the whole process, said repeatedly that they wouldn’t bear the brunt of the cuts unless Iran joined, is seemingly taking the brunt of the cuts if you were to match the figures from yesterday to October production. But that’s not the case if you look at pre-Doha figures. In Q1 2016, Saudi Arabia was producing 10.147 million barrels per day. The cut agreed to would have them cut back to 10.058 million barrels per day, or a 0.9 percent cut. So while Saudi Arabia is one of the members to cut (although collectively it’s not really a “cut”), they are indeed cutting a small percentage. But since this is a zero sum game, another member must be ramping up. Which lucky countries get this distinction? Let’s see what the numbers say about which countries benefitted from the Doha meeting failure:

    The biggest winners just so happen to be some of the biggest producers, with UAE, Iraq, and Iran—three of the four largest OPEC producers—actually increasing production from the pre-Doha era. Win. Indonesia, although they are operating outside of OPEC now with a frozen OPEC membership, are producing more than pre-Doha levels as well, at 722,000 barrels per day. Win. Libya and Nigeria are also exempt from the cuts and will be ramping up as they are able. Win.

    Meanwhile, Venezuela, who has been one of the OPEC cut’s loudest champions, is actually taking a huge 13 percent cut, as is tiny-producer Gabon. Qatar is also taking a hefty cut at over 7 percent.

    So while the overall OPEC production figures will not change from pre-Doha to now, the distribution of production within the group is shifting.

    Regardless of this internal shakeup, before we get too excited about the production cuts from yesterday, it should be noted that this meeting was the same exact result that came out of the failed Doha meeting—production is stagnate. No cuts have been proposed or agreed to. But while Doha was viewed as a failure, yesterday’s meeting in Vienna is viewed as a success. And in some ways, I guess you can say it was. Success in pulling up markets, despite the supply fundamentals staying the same.

    Source: Oil Price

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    Shell Workers Threaten To Shut Half Of Refinery (Friday, 2 December 2016)

    2 Dec 2016, 5:00 pm

    Shell is currently embroiled in a pay dispute with workers at its Pernis oil refinery in the Netherlands which refines 404,000 bpd.

    Egbert Schellenberg of FNV Union told reporters that employees were prepared to close half of the Pernis Refinery on December 7th after Shell only offered them a 1% raise.

    If Industrial action proceeds it is suspected it will alsoimpact Shell's adjacent Moerdijk petrochemical plants


    The workers in question are believed to be holding out for a 1.5% pay rise, otherwise they will close down the plant. 

    A Shell spokeswoman was cited as saying: “The unions indicated that they intend to continue activities [as early as next Wednesday]. Should this be the case, they will have a financial consequence. We are confident that we are going to reach a solution.”

    Source: London South East

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    BP And Shell Have Egyptian Bids Accepted (Friday, 2 December 2016)

    2 Dec 2016, 3:00 pm

    The North African country’s Petroleum Ministry said it had approved six applications for exploration with investment values of at least $200million.

    Apache and Apex were also among the successful bidders who were identified.

    Shell released the following statement: "Shell Egypt confirms it has been awarded the North UmBaraka Block located in the Western Desert, covering an area of approximately 5623.7 km2."

    "Shell’s bid builds on more than 30 years of expertise in exploration and production in the Western Desert. We have ambitious plans for the exploration drilling and quick production ramp-up for our expected discoveries. We look forward to working with the Government of Egypt to help meet its energy needs."


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    One Dead After Fire On Eni Platform (Friday, 2 December 2016)

    2 Dec 2016, 1:00 pm

    A worker died yesterday after a fire broke out on an Eni platform off the Republic of Congo.

    The incident occurred on the Foukanda platform, located on a field operated by Eni.

    The platform was evacuated and emergency teams manage to get the blaze under control.


    One crane operator who worked for Afrimel was however unaccounted for and was later found dead.

    There were 44 other crew on board of which five reported slight burns but the rest were unharmed.

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    Shell Studies Green Energy Deals to Prepare for Future After Oil (Friday, 2 December 2016)

    2 Dec 2016, 12:00 pm

    Royal Dutch Shell, the world's second-biggest publicly listed oil company, is studying acquisitions in the green energy sector, its CEO told Reuters, as it bows to shareholder demands for a strategy beyond fossil fuels.

    Shell, which has a market value of $200 billion, produces two percent of the world's oil and gas but rapid technological change coupled with policies to protect the climate have kick-started a shift in energy markets that has put enormous pressure on oil companies to plan for a time after fossil fuels.

    "The idea that you can just be a very clever observer and step in when the moment is right, forget about it," Shell Chief Executive Ben van Beurden told Reuters.


    "I am convinced that in this space we will play an active role, a leading role and we will plan acquisitions in it."

    Major investors, including Dutch pension fund PGGM, have criticised Shell's climate change policies in the past, saying the company should do more to mitigate climate change risks.

    "We don't just want them to pay lip service and do it because the industry is under pressure," said Rohan Murphy, co-manager of Allianz' Global Energy Fund, a Shell shareholder.

    "Shell do seem to be taking the issue of a less hydrocarbon dependent world seriously and are looking at it properly rather than just talking about becoming greener," Murphy said.

    Shell owns about 500 megawatts (MW) of onshore wind power capacity in the United States and has a growing biofuels business in Brazil which produces ethanol from sugar that is mixed with petrol and diesel to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

    It also recently bid to build an offshore wind farm in the Netherlands in a consortium with two other Dutch companies.

    "Of course we do believe in renewables but probably more in building the utilities and integrating them into our existing operations," van Beurden said.

    That is where Shell's strategy appears to diverge from French oil company Total, which is often referred to as one of the most progressive oil company when it comes to moving away from fossil fuels.

    Earlier this year, Total splashed out $1.1 billion to buy Saft, which makes batteries to store solar energy, and bought a stake in AutoGrid, a startup that has developed a platform to optimize the use of home energy appliances.

    Total is also majority shareholder in SunPower, a manufacturer of highly efficient solar panels.

    While Total is focusing on investment in green energy technologies, van Beurden hinted that Shell would become an electricity and gas provider, through the integration of utilities. He said there may be value in delivering a service, rather than being the owner of a technology.

    In Britain, so-called demand aggregation is already a profitable business model. Aggregators secure commitments from businesses to cut their energy consumption and in return earn a fee from the network operator.


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    SpeedCast Awarded Multi-Year North Sea Service Contract (Friday, 2 December 2016)

    2 Dec 2016, 11:00 am

    SpeedCast has announced that it has been awarded a 3-year contract to provide a fully managed VSAT network service for INEOS platforms in the Clipper South and Breagh gas fields in the North Sea, United Kingdom. The service consists of two VSAT terminals connecting the platforms to the SpeedCast earth station in Shrewsbury, United Kingdom, providing both voice services and internet access. Internet access is used for mission-critical services for operation efficiency as well as crew welfare. The voice services allow local UK rate calls to be made and itemised call charges to be provided for better cost management.

    Mervyn Williams, Supply Chain Manager, INEOS Breagh, says, “We are delighted to continue our partnership with SpeedCast. We regard uninterrupted offshore communication as vital to the safe and efficient operation of our assets in the Southern North Sea. The high reliability of the SpeedCast system was the key factor in our decision making.”

    Keith Johnson, Senior Vice President & General Manager – Energy, SpeedCast, says, “This contract validates our long-term relationship with INEOS. SpeedCast has demonstrated its ability to deliver customer satisfaction in a particularly challenging environment and this reaffirms INEOS’s confidence in our ability to provide a reliable service with demonstrated SLA’s.”


    “SpeedCast’s partnership approach creates significant value for INEOS, as we deliver an ‘end-to-end’ service, managing and controlling all aspects of the network, which enables us to react quickly to new requirements and provide service to new sites seamlessly. We continue to build on our relationship with INEOS and are confident that the network is likely to grow further as SpeedCast grows its global capabilities”, Johnson adds.

    Source: Scandoil

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