Saudi Arabia may not have the grip over oil prices that it once did, but it still knows how the prime the market. Earlier this month, Saudi’s deputy crown prince, Muhammad bin Salman, floated the idea to The Economist of a stock offering for Saudi Aramco, the state company that controls Saudi Arabia’s massive oil reserves.
On the last afternoon of 2015, an oil tanker filled with light, sweet crude from South Texas’ Eagle Ford Shale formation eased out of NuStar’s North Beach terminal in Corpus Christi, and headed for Trieste, Italy.
Perhaps the only thing more egregious than the prosecution of former BP engineer Kurt Mix was the way that prosecution ended: with a whimper so barely audible you may have missed it.
You may not have noticed it, but the planet was saved this week.
Before the Energy Transitions Commission was even launched here in Houston a few weeks ago, environmentalists had already dismissed it as a public relations ploy by major oil companies and other peddlers of fossil fuels. They immediately questioned the climate change credentials of companies like Shell, which is one of the leaders of the initiative to help meet the energy needs of growing world population without damaging the environment beyond repair. Just a few weeks ago, activists from the environmental community took to their kayaks and posed for pictures in front of Shell’s Polar Pioneer rig moored in Seattle. Paddles raised in defiance, they decried the company’s plans to drill in the Arctic.
In Texas, there’s an expression for action that comes too late: it’s like closing the barn door after the horses have run away. I found myself thinking of the term as I read the recent indictment of Black Elk Energy Offshore Operations. In this case, the barn is the Gulf of Mexico, where Black Elk operated for years despite regulators’ repeated warnings about safety violations by the company. The horses are Black Elk executives who left the company a year ago and sold off Black Elk’s shallow water operations long before the indictment came down. None of the executives were named in it. The indictment stems from a Nov. 16, 2013 explosion at a Black Elk rig in the shallow waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Three workers died and several others were severely burned, including Renato Dominguez, a maintenance worker assigned to the rig.
The record $18.7billion Deepwater Horizon settlement is, first and foremost, a victory for BP. The company’s shareholders clearly recognize this. After the settlement was announced Thursday, giddy investors sent the company’s shares up more than 5%, adding more than $5billion to its market value.
DALLAS — Amid all the pessimism surrounding the plunge in oil prices since mid-2014 and the havoc it has unleashed on the industry, there’s a sense of calm in the sprawling conference room just north of downtown Dallas. I’m sitting next to the legendary Texas oilman T. Boone Pickens, who doesn’t seem worried at all. Ask Pickens what’s going to happen with oil prices, and rattles off an optimistic scenario: The US rig count will drop to somewhere between 750 and 1,000 working rigs (currently, it’s at a five-year low of 1,192). Then, the market will balance off U.S. production and West Texas Intermediate crude will return to about $70 a barrel by year’s end.