King Salman, Saudi Arabia’s new ruler, probably will stick to the oil policy of his predecessor, the late King Abdullah, maintaining production levels to preserve market share even at the cost of depressing prices. A key indicator will be whether Salman, 79, retains the oil minister, Ali al-Naimi, who has driven decision-making since 1995. Naimi, who turns 80 this year, has said he’d like to devote more time to his other job, chairman of the science and technology university named after the late sovereign.
Oman, the biggest Middle Eastern oil producer that’s not a member of OPEC, joined Venezuela and Iran in questioning the group’s decision to keep its output target unchanged even with crude prices falling. Oman is having a “really difficult time” because of low oil prices, Oman’s Oil Minister Mohammed Al-Rumhy said at a conference in Kuwait City. Standard & Poor’s lowered the country’s outlook to negative from stable on December 5, citing a risk that oil may drop more than expected.
Saudi Arabia’s oil exports rose to a seven-month high in November when it led OPEC to keep production unchanged as the largest crude shipper fought to keep market share with output rising from the US to Russia. Saudi Arabia’s oil exports rose to 7.3 million barrels a day from 6.9 million barrels in October, according to data yesterday on the website of the Joint Organisations Data Initiative. Crude stockpiles at the end of the month stood at 305.8 million barrels, the highest level since at least January 2002, figures on the group’s website showed.
Oversupply in crude markets could take months or even years to fix depending on when producers outside OPEC cut their output, Abu Dhabi-based The National reported, citing comments by UAE Energy Minister Suhail Al Mazrouei. “We are experiencing an obvious oversupply in the market that needs time to be absorbed,” the newspaper reported Mazrouei as saying. The United Arab Emirates supported the November decision by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to maintain production, The National reported Mazrouei as saying.
Gulf Keystone Petroleum said seven wells are now producing at its Shaikan production facilities. A further well is expected to come online this month in the Kurdistan region of Iraq where operations are taking place. The company said total daily production has been gradually increasing since last month, with the company’s 400,000 gross barrels of oil per day target being reached shortly before New Year.
Suicide attackers have targeted two natural gas facilities in the central Syrian province of Homs, killing eight people, officials said. State news agency Sana also reported the attacks, saying guards opened fire at the attackers as they drove towards the plants, forcing them to detonate their bombs before reaching their targets.
The company, which is in a consortium with Kuwait Energy, had success in its Faihaa-1 exploration well, after targeting the Yamama formation. A spokesman said the discovery was made at 4,000 metres at the site in Northern Basra.
Saudi authorities pledged to curb wages and push ahead with investments next year as the world’s largest oil exporter seeks to counter the effect of tumbling crude prices on the economy.
Iraq’s cabinet approved a smaller 2015 spending plan than the government expected because of the collapse in oil, which provides most government revenue. The budget, based on a $60 a barrel price for oil, stands at 123 trillion dinars ($103 billion), Saad Al-Hadithi, spokesman for the office of the prime minister, said. The budget deficit was set at 23 trillion dinars and total revenue at 99.8 trillion dinars, including oil revenue of 84 trillion dinars, Obaid Mahal, deputy secretary general of the cabinet, said.
Iran is said to be offering its main crude grade to customers in Asia at the deepest discount in 14 years, taking a cue from Saudi Arabia in trimming price differentials. National Iranian Oil Co. cut its official selling price for January shipments of light crude to Asia to a discount of $1.80 a barrel below the regional benchmark as Middle Eastern producers vie to keep selling in the region, according to four people with knowledge of the decision. An official at NIOC’s crude-marketing department in Tehran declined to comment.
Brent resumed its decline as an Iranian official predicted a further slump in prices if solidarity among OPEC members falters. West Texas Intermediate in New York also erased yesterday’s gains. Futures slid as much as 1.6% in London after snapping a five-day losing streak. Crude could fall to as low as $40 a barrel amid a price war or if divisions emerge in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, said an official at Iran’s oil ministry.
OAO Lukoil’s West Qurna-2 project in Iraq is beginning to pay back, adding $1.25 billion to earnings in the third quarter, according to the company. The addition helped prop up earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortization, which fell 2.4 percent to $5.34 billion after oil prices weakened, the Moscow-based company said in an e-mailed statement today. Net income dropped 48 percent to $1.62 billion. “Ebitda turned out stronger because of higher sales in Iraq,” Alexander Kornilov, an oil and gas analyst at Alfa Bank, said by e-mail. The Iraqi project contributed 22 percent to Ebitda, he said. Revenue rose 6.2 percent to $39 billion.
Governments should seize all oil tanker-trucks coming from or headed to Islamic State-held territories in Iraq and Syria to help stop smuggling by the extremist group, United Nations advisers said.
Iraqi government forces have driven Islamic State militants out from their remaining strongholds inside the oil refinery town of Beiji. Officials said it is a key victory over the terror group that has captured much of northern and western Iraq in a summer offensive. The Iraqi troops, backed by allied Sunni militiamen, also lifted the Islamic State group’s siege of the oil refinery, Iraq’s largest, and hoisted Iraq’s red, white and black flags atop the sprawling complex hosting the facility. The officials said the army used loudspeakers to warn the small number of residents still holed up in the town to stay indoors while bomb squads detonated booby-trapped houses and remaining bombs planted on the roads. State Iraqi television also reported the “liberation of Beiji”, quoting the top army commander there, General Abdul-Wahab al-Saadi. Islamic State extremists captured Beiji during their summer offensive. The Iraqi forces had collapsed in the face of that onslaught but have since partially regrouped and went on the offensive, with Beiji the biggest area they have recaptured to date. Since August, the Iraqi military has been aided by air strikes from a US-led coalition targeting Islamic State positions in Iraq and in neighbouring Syria. The two officials said fierce battles were fought early on Friday around the refinery and that government warplanes hit Islamic State positions around the facility on the northern edge of the town. The refinery’s capacity of some 320,000 barrels a day accounts for a quarter of Iraq’s refining capacity. Beiji will now likely be a base for staging a push to take back Saddam Hussein’s home town of Tikrit to the south. Government forces tried to retake Tikrit earlier this year, but their campaign stalled and the city remains in Islamic State hands.
Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdish government approved plans to create an oil exploration and production company separate from the central government and a sovereign wealth fund to take in all energy revenue. A bill to create the company for oil exploration and production, with shares to be sold to the public, was approved by the cabinet of the Kurdistan Regional Government, Kurdish Prime Minister Nechirvian Barzani said in a statement yesterday. A separate initiative approved by the cabinet would create a Kurdish fund for oil and gas revenue. Both draft laws need to be approved by the KRG’s parliament. The KRG, which started crude oil exports by pipeline through Turkey this year, wants to control sales of oil pumped from fields in the Kurdish region in the north of Iraq to boost its financial independence from the central government in Baghdad. The Kurdish region holds 45 billion barrels of oil reserves, while the rest of Iraq has 150 billion barrels, the world’s fifth-largest known deposits.
The Middle East will be one of the key markets for oilfield services companies, it has been suggested. Corporate advisory firm Simmons & Company International believe that with countries in the area maximising recovery from maturing assets the region will be central to the industry for decades. The Aberdeen-headquartered company has claimed there is an increasing willingness amongst governments and the national oil companies to build relationships with foreign companies to sector bring know-how and technology into the region.
Iraqi soldiers battling the Islamic State group have reportedly recaptured the heart of the town of Beiji, home to the country’s largest oil refinery. Retaking Beiji could allow Iraqi forces a base to attack neighbouring Tikrit, taken by the extremists after their lightning advance this summer. It also represents a morale boost for Iraq’s beleaguered security forces after many of its troops fled the militant offensive. State television quoted the top army commander in Beiji, General Abdul-Wahab al-Saadi, as saying troops recaptured the city’s local government and police headquarters at the centre of the town. He later spoke to the station by telephone but the line appeared to be cut off after he said his forces were meeting stiff resistance. A senior military official in Beiji confirmed the recapture of the city centre but added that intense clashes continued elsewhere in the town. He said 75% of Beiji was now in the hands of government troops.
The UN nuclear agency is expected to say that Iran is stalling its attempts to probe allegations that Tehran worked on nuclear weapons.
Chevron today confirmed its Bangladesh subsidiary started natural gas production from its Bibiyana Expansion Project in the northeastern part of the country.
Libya’s warring factions have pledged to keep the North African country’s crude flowing, putting pressure on other OPEC nations to curb output when the group supplying 40% of the world’s oil meets next month.
Iran, eager for an end to sanctions that have restricted its oil exports, is shunning its image as OPEC’s price hawk by avoiding calls for an emergency session of the group to support prices
The Kurdish government is unable to pay government salaries as the cost of battling Islamic State puts strain on the finances of a US partner in the struggle against the militant group. Peshmerga fighters have played a central role in slowing the advance of Islamic State militants even as the semi- autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq has been locked in a dispute with the central government in Baghdad over oil. The Kurdish Regional Government has struck deals with oil companies and collected the revenue. The Iraqi government says it should control the country’s oil deals, and has withheld the budget for the region since the beginning of the year.
US-led coalition warplanes bombed Islamic State group positions across four provinces in northern and eastern Syria overnight, hitting a grain silo as well as the country’s largest gas plant, activists said. Washington and its Arab allies opened their air assault against the extremist group last week, going after its military facilities, training camps, heavy weapons and oil installations. The campaign expands on the air strikes the United States has been carrying out against the militants in Iraq since early August.
The US is said to have made a step in the right direction with Iran regarding the country’s nuclear ambitions.
A missing oil tanker at the centre of a heated ownership debate has suddenly reappeared.