Ganiyu Obaaro, with Agency report
Saudi Arabia has seriously ramped up its oil exports to China in recent months.
The Saudi Kingdom’s crude shipments to China have doubled in the span of a year. During the same period, its oil exports to the U.S. have dropped by nearly two-thirds.
According to TankerTrackers.com, which tracks oil tankers and shipments based on satellite imagery and ships’ automatic identification systems, Saudi Arabia exported a whopping 1,802,788 barrels per day (bpd) to China in July, compared to 921,811 bpd in August of 2018.
U.S. sanctions on Iranian oil have helped the shift. Major Asian energy importers like China have been forced to shift business away from the Islamic Republic -OPEC’s third-largest producer -and start buying more Saudi barrels to make up for that shortfall.
The U.S. is now more self-reliant than ever, thanks to its own Shale oil revolution, which helped it become the world’s largest oil producer by the end of last year.
But the numbers also signal a mix of short-term tactics and long-term strategy for the Saudis, industry experts told CNBC.
“Saudi Arabia learned from the last OPEC production cut in 2017 that they got the biggest bang for their buck by cutting flows to the largest, most transparent and most timely market — the U.S.,” said Matt Smith, director of commodity research at commodities analytics firm ClipperData, referring to the coordinated production cut that OPEC and its allies orchestrated to put a floor under falling oil prices.
“Choking back on flows to the U.S. was the best way to draw down inventories and turn around bearish sentiment, and they are employing the same tactic once again.”
ClipperData’s figures, which differ from that of TankerTrackers due to different tracking methods, still show U.S. imports of Saudi crude in July down over 60 per cent from last October.
Meanwhile, Smith said, as Saudi Arabia “slams on the brakes to the most transparent market, it is sending more crude into the most opaque one, China.”
This is where some industry analysts say Riyadh is employing short-term tactics: “impacting what remains the most visible and closely-watched market indicator, U.S. crude stocks,” Antoine Halff, co-founder of energy market analytics firm Kayrros, told CNBC.
The market has largely traded on weekly U.S. numbers, which — up until the growth of satellite imagery to provide greater transparency on global stocks — provided the best available picture of market conditions.
In spite of the greater availability of global market inventory thanks to satellite data, “the goal of impacting the U.S. stock metric seems to remain very real for OPEC in general and the Kingdom in particular,” Halff said. “Rightly or wrongly, this is the benchmark that everybody watches.”
China, oh the other hand, is not as forthcoming as OECD countries about its stocks, and its data isn’t as visible to the market. Halff notes that there is no established benchmark of Chinese stocks as there is for the U.S.
“Producers are far less concerned about building Chinese stocks than they are about building U.S. or OECD stocks in terms of what that may signal to the market,” he said.
TankerTrackers.com co-founder Samir Madani has described China as a sort of “black hole” for the world’s oil exports, having the ability to “easily absorb oil barrels from the market, especially when prices dip.” Looking at this, many analysts see a clear strategy from Beijing.
“The Chinese are very savvy and astute buyers, exporters who supply them have very good reasons to do so,” Halff said. In the current low oil price climate, the world’s largest oil importer is happy to up its Saudi crude purchases as its appetite increases, particularly given its launch of two new refineries which will grow its refining capacity by 800,000 bpd.
Locking in Asian market share is also a key long-term goal for Riyadh, as it is for other regional producers competing to capture downstream capacity across the continent. Saudi Aramco’s plan to acquire a 20 per cent stake in Indian refining and petrochemicals giant Reliance is the most recent example of this.
Conveniently for the Saudis, there’s also no risk of losing the U.S. as a customer, thanks to its giant Aramco-owned Motiva refinery in Texas. Therefore, “Aramco is willing to increase or decrease to the U.S. based on its own needs,” says Ellen Wald, President of Transversal Consulting and author of the book “Saudi, Inc.”
FG Awards Licences for 161 Marginal Fields as 13 Remain Dormant
The Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC) has awarded Petroleum Prospecting Licences (PPLs) to 161 successful 2020 marginal fields awardees.
The commission also officially unveiled the Host Communities Development Regulations and model Petroleum Prospecting Licences (PPLs).
Chief Timipre Sylva, the Minister of State Petroleum Resources, at the unveiling and licences presentation on Tuesday in Abuja said the maiden presentation of the PPL was part of the implementation of Petroleum Industry Act (PIA), 2021.
This is as the Federal Government revealed that 13 out of the 30 marginal fields awarded since 1999 were not producing crude oil, as only 17 of the fields were currently meeting the target of crude oil production, adding that a total of N202.91bn was raked in by the government from the just concluded 2020 marginal field bid round.
The award, the government said was pursuant to the provisions of the Petroleum Industry Act 2021.
This came as successful awardees, such as Matrix Energy Group, Petrogas Energy, among others, promised to begin oil search from the fields in earnest to boost the country’s crude oil production.
In his address at the event, the Chief Executive Officer, Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission, Gbenga Komolafe, stated that one of the major tasks inherited by the NUPRC upon its inauguration last year, was the need to conclude the 2020 bid round.
“Consequently, we pursued the matter frontally and are delighted to inform you that the exercise which commenced in June 2020 is being concluded today,” he stated.
Komolafe explained that historically, the marginal fields award initiative began in 1999 and was borne out of the need to entrench the indigenisation policy of government in the upstream sector of the oil and gas industry and build local content capacity.
He said, “Besides, the initiative was also targeted at creating employment opportunities and encouraging increased capital inflow to the sector.
“Since its inception, a total of 30 fields have been awarded, with 17 currently producing. A breakdown of the allocation of the fields to indigenous operators is as follows: two fields awarded in 1999, 24 in 2003/2004, one each in 2006 and 2007, and two in 2010.
He added, “Ten years after, in 2020, 57 fields were put up for bidding. Again, it is noteworthy that the 2020 marginal field bid round exercise in respect of which PPLs are being issued today has attracted government revenue of about N200bn and $7m (N2.91bn at official exchange rate of N415.64/$) respectively.”
Speaking to journalists on the sidelines of the event, the Group Chief Executive Officer, Matrix Energy Group, Adisa Aliu, said successful investors in the bid round would commence oil search as fast as possible.
Aliu, who’s company emerged successful in the exercise, said the contributions of marginal field operators would help the country in meeting the monthly oil production quota approved for Nigeria by the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries.
For several months running, Nigeria has been failing to meet its crude oil production quota approved by OPEC, a development that has further depleted the country’s revenue from oil.
“We are delighted at the conclusion of this exercise and we are ready to contribute our quota in assisting to meet the target approved for Nigeria and as well help in shoring up revenue for our county,” he stated.
He, however, noted that security should be improved in the Niger Delta, as this had been a challenge to not just the production of crude oil, but to the meaningful progress of the sector.
Meanwhile, the NUPRC in its presentation at the event, stated that the passage of the Petroleum Industry Act had brought an end to the era of marginal field awards.
Section 94(9) of the Act stated that “No new marginal field shall be declared under this Act”.
The agency stated that the Minister of Petroleum Resources shall now award PPL on undeveloped fields following an open, fair, transparent, competitive, and non-discriminatory bidding process in line with Sections 73 and 74 of the Act.
It urged the new investors to hit the ground running in developing their awarded assets in line with industry best practices.
“Also, we shall continue to provide a predictable and enabling regulatory environment to operators in line with our technical and commercial statutory
mandates with a view to optimising the development and exploitation of the nation’s hydrocarbon resources,” it stated.
It said it was worthy of note that the average price of crude oil in recent months had been above $100/barrel, adding that investors in the fields should take advantage of this upward swing in market fundamentals, caused by the Russian/Ukraine conflict.
Breaking: Reps Raise Crack Team to Probe Oil Subsidy Regime Under Buhari
By Ubong Ukpong, Abuja
The House of Representatives yesterday, raised a crack adhoc committee, to Probe the petroleum Products subsidy Regime in the last five years, from 2017 to 2021
The committee was given eight weeks to carryout this investigation and report back to the House for further legislative action.
The decision was sequel to a motion on the “Need to Investigate the Petroleum Products Subsidy Regime in Nigeria from 2017 to 2021”, brought before the Honda by Hon.
The lawmaker had said that his motion was informed by section 88 (1) and (2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (As Amended) , which empowered the National Assembly to conduct investigations into the activities of any authority executing
or administering laws made by the National Assembly;.
He also noted that Section 32 of the Petroleum Industry Act, 2021 saddled the Petroleum Midstream and
Downstream Regulatory Authority with the task of regulating and monitoring technical and commercial
midstream and downstream petroleum operations in Nigeria.
Ogun informed the House that as of 2002, the NNPC’s purchase of crude oil at international market prices stood at 445,000 barrels per day in order to enable it to provide petroleum products for local consumption.
He was concerned that as at 2002, the installed capacity of Nigeria’s local refineries stood at 445,000 barrels per
day, however, their capacity utilization began to nosedive and eventually fell completely to zero due to the
ineffectiveness and alleged corruption of critical stakeholders in the value chain.
The lawmaker said he was aware that due to the decline in the production capacity of the refineries, NNPC found it more convenient to export domestic crude in exchange for petroleum products on trade by barter basis described as Direct Sales Direct Purchase (DSDP) arrangement.
He said he was further aware that component costs in the petroleum products subsidy value chain claimed by the NNPC was highly over-bloated while the transfer pump price per litre used by the NNPC in relation to PPMC was
underquoted as N123-N128 instead of N162-N165 and this fraudulent under-reporting of N37-N39 per
litre translates into over 70 billion naira a month or 840 billion naira a year.
The legislator worried that the consumption rate of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) was 40million to 45million litres per day, however, the NNPC used 65 million to 100 million litres per day to determine subsidy as discoverable
from NNPC’s monthly reports to the Federal Allocation Committee (FAAC).
He also worried that the subsidy regime has been unscrupulously used by the NNPC and other critical
stakeholders to subvert the nation’s crude oil revenue to the tune of over 10 billion US dollars, with records
showing that as at 2021, over 7 billion US dollars in over 120 million barrels have been so diverted.
The lawmaker was disturbed that “there exists evidence that subsidy amounts are being duplicated, thus subsidy is charged against petroleum products sales in the books of NNPC as well as against crude oil revenue in the books
of NAPIMS to the tune of over N2 trillion.”
Wabote Tasks Security Agencies on Enforcement of Nigerian Content in Oil and Gas Sector
From Tayese Mike, Yenagoa
The Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) has tasked security agencies in the country to intensify their efforts in the enforcement of the Nigerian Content in the oil and gas sector in other to boost the local participation in the sector.
Executive Secretary of the board, Engr Simbi Wabote, stated this during a sensitization workshop for law enforcement agencies on the approach to Nigerian Content enforcement in the oil and gas industry yesterday in Yenagoa.
He explained that the workshop becomes imperative to sustain the achievements made by the board in boosting indigenous participation in the oil and gas industry.
He said it was significant to enlighten stakeholders on how to encourage the indigenous participation in the oil and gas sector.
“With the results we have been able to achieved in boosting indigenous participation in the oil and gas industry, it is pertinent to enlighten law enforcement agent on how to enforce the NOGIC act.
“We have custom, EFCC, ICPC, DSS, and these are all law agents that all have a role to play as we implement the NOGIC act, that is why we schedule the workshop,” he said.
Head, Legal Services of NCDMB, Barrister Naboth Onyesoh, said the essence of the workshop was to bring in relevant stakeholders to support local content in the implementation and enforcement of the Nigerian Content act.
The workshop is part of the national economic agenda gear towards employment, creating industrialization, ensuring capital retention in the country and so many other activities revolving around the oil and gas industry.
Representatives of the security operatives from Nigerian Army, Customs, police, EFCC, ICPC, DSS, and several others attended the workshop.
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