oil & gas

By Mat Youkee of UK Colombia Trade

Colombia’s oil and gas industry – the key driver of the country’s growth over the last decade – is stuttering. In 2012 it reached its goal of producing 1m barrels per day, up from 600,000 bpd in 2008. But in 2014 attacks by insurgents on a key pipeline hit production figures and delays in obtaining drilling permits have prevented the development of new projects.

Most worryingly for the long-term health of the industry, however, has been a lack of major new discoveries. A handful of junior firms have made significant finds but much of the recent growth in production has been the result of optimizing previously discovered deposits, either by bringing online marginal fields or by boosting recovery rates through the application of new technology. At current production levels, the country’s 2.4bn barrels of proven reserves will last less than seven years. Continue reading »

As secondary legislation to enact Mexico’s historic energy reform chugs through Congress and the clock ticks towards a December 2015 deadline for state oil company, Pemex, to be transformed into a “state productive enterprise”, a new report from the Natural Resource Governance Institute (NRGI) makes for interesting reading.

The think-tank has studied a dozen national oil companies and distilled its findings into key recommendations. Pemex, a company about to discover competition as its nearly eight-decades-old monopoly on the sector is flung open, currently hands over the bulk of its revenues to the state in the form of taxes, and will face the challenge of how to invest like a private company while still propping up the state for years to come (the government says a transition to a lower tax burden will take a decade). Continue reading »

Medvedev out

Gazprom has been struggling to adapt to the tectonic changes in global gas markets and has finally decided a fresh face is needed at its foreign trade division. After 12 years in service, Alexander Medvedev has lost his job as head of Gazprom Export and been replaced by one of his former deputies.

Elena Burmistrova, formerly deputy director general for petroleum products, LNG and new gas markets at Gazprom Export has been appointed deputy director of Gazprom Export, replacing Medvedev, Gazprom said on Wednesday. Continue reading »

In the run-up to his election victory in 2012, Enrique Peña Nieto pledged to create a new 40,000-strong paramilitary gendarmerie for Mexico to help combat security problems stemming from the country’s war on drugs.

Plans for the force were whittled back to 10,000, and seemed to be eternally delayed. But next month Mexico’s new police force is finally ready for launch, albeit with a more slimmed-down starting line-up of 5,000 new officers. Continue reading »

Although the violence in Iraq has so far had a muted impact on global oil markets, if prices continue to rise there could be some nasty consequences in store for the more fragile of emerging market economies (see chart below).

And while a spike would hurt countries that rely on energy imports, it won’t necessarily translate into quick and easy economic gains for EM hydrocarbon exporters, say analysts. Continue reading »

Mozambique is one of the world’s poorest countries but the discovery of gas reserves off its coast could change that. The FT’s Andrew England looks at the preparations for a commodities boom and what impact upcoming elections could have on investor sentiment.

European advocates of shale gas – and they do exist – have been hoping that the Ukraine crisis might galvanise governments into dropping objections to controversial fracking. But despite a growing and belated recognition that Europe must do more to diversify its energy sources, in Bulgaria at least the unpopular shale movement is going backwards.

Last month, US energy giant Chevron quietly closed its Sofia office, three years after it was awarded a licence for shale exploration that was scrapped months later. The company did not publicise its withdrawal and it has gone largely unreported. But the move is indicative both of the political challenges that frackers still face and of Bulgaria’s frustratingly inconsistent treatment of energy investors. Continue reading »

Turkey and Azerbaijan have further cemented their close relations with the signing of a $3.29bn credit agreement for the Turkish subsidiary of Azeri state oil company Socar, for the construction of a 10bn tonnes a year oil refinery to be constructed at Aliaga on Turkey’s Aegean coast.

The credit package, formally agreed on Friday, is both the largest single project finance agreement in Turkish history and, at 18 years, the deal with the longest maturity to date. Continue reading »

It’s not often a country’s president flies more than 1,000 miles to inaugurate a gas storage tank – more of a job for the local mayor, you might think. But that’s what Michelle Bachelet, Chile’s president, has just done: in a country as energetically-challenged as Chile, a new gas tank is a big deal.

This one, the biggest in Latin America, represents one more step in Chile’s efforts to solve its chronic energy shortfall once and for all. Continue reading »

Is Pemex, the Mexican state oil company, close to dumping its 9 per cent stake in Spain’s Repsol petroleum company? It certainly looks like D-day is getting closer.

Here is what Mexico’s energy minister, Pedro Joaquín Coldwell, has to say on the subject:

“Selling the Repsol stake? Well, that’s a decision that is in the hands of the management and hasn’t been put before the board yet. But I have to say that the incentives for Pemex to remain in Repsol are very low.”

Pemex, Repsol’s third-largest shareholder, with a stake valued at just over $3bn, hinted last week that news could emerge this week – which certainly sounds like a sale is brewing. So far, though, nada official. Continue reading »

Croatia’s Adriatic coast is best known for its beautiful mountain scenery, clear blue sea and dozens of charming Venetian-influenced towns and cities. But the former Yugoslav country’s government hopes it will become equally well known for what may lie beneath those pristine waters – billions of dollars’ worth of oil and gas. Continue reading »

When is a pipeline not a pipeline? When it’s a highly-controversial Russian energy project that would cut Ukraine out of the European gas supply equation – at least according to Bulgaria’s parliament.

The EU member state is at loggerheads with the European Commission, the EU’s executive body, over the South Stream gas pipeline that would carry Russian gas from Bulgaria through Serbia to central Europe and Italy. Continue reading »

Lukoil has agreed to sell its stake in several oil projects in Kazakhstan to Sinopec for $1.2bn, in the latest of a string of Chinese investments in the country’s energy sector. The Russian company – the country’s largest private-sector oil producer – said the purpose of the sale was to “optimize Lukoil’s overseas hydrocarbon asset portfolio”.

But the deal is also symbolic of China’s rapid expansion in Central Asia, part of Russia’s traditional “sphere of influence”. Continue reading »

Namibia has until recently been largely overlooked by the oil majors. A spate of farm-in agreements over the last six months suggests that this is changing. International oil companies are keen to secure a stake in the southern African country’s oil boom, should one materialise.

Austria’s OMV and Murphy Oil Corporation from Arkansas are the latest companies to make their first foray into the Namibian oil and gas sector, buying 25 and 40 per cent, respectively, of Cowan Petroleum’s licence to explore two blocks off the Namibian coast. Continue reading »

By Edward Robinson, Culmer Raphael

Events in Algeria could be about to complicate the European Union’s response to Russia’s intervention in Ukraine.

As part of a second possible package of sanctions, the European Commission is drawing up options for “reducing energy dependence on Russia”, to be debated by EU heads of government at the June summit. The obvious options include substituting some Russian gas imports with supplies from Europe’s second and third largest gas suppliers: Norway and Algeria. The CEO of ENI crystallised it last week when he said that he expected a ‘gigantic’ effort to diversify gas imports in the absence of any agreement with Russia over Crimea. Continue reading »