Monthly Archives: February 2011

Sheila McNulty

US regulators have issued the first deepwater drilling permit since BP’s accident last April. But does it mean the end of the slowdown to drilling in the Gulf of Mexico? The oil industry still thinks not.

Oil companies note that the permit which was issued was for a project by Noble Energy that was active before the accident and, therefore, did not need to meet the full suite of new regulatory requirements.

Kiran Stacey

Terry Duffy

Craig Donohue

In this week’s readers’ Q&A session, Terry Duffy and Craig Donohue, chairman and chief executive of the CME Group, answer your questions. The CME is one of the largest commodities exchanges in the world, and is home to the WTI crude benchmark, making them perfectly placed to answer any questions on oil price volatility.

Below, they answer questions on the spread between WTI and Brent crude, the future direction of the oil price and whether the group willbe involved in trading European carbon emissions.

The Q&A sessions are taking a break for three weeks, but will be back in March with Francesco Starace, chief executive of Enel Green Power, in the hotseat. We will publish more details closer to the time.

But for now, over to Terry and Craig:

1) Are any changes to the terms of the WTI contract being considered, to make it less dependent on factors that are strictly local to Cushing?

Kiran Stacey

Apologies to our readers, but we’ve had to delay the planned Q&A session with the CME Group. We hope to be able to publish it on Monday, so keep watching this site.

David Blair

We now have confirmation from the International Energy Agency that the Saudis have indeed raised their output.

The IEA has not disclosed its estimate of the scale of the increase, but nor has it denied earlier suggestions that Saudi Arabia has begun producing above 9m barrels per day. Its level of output in January was 8.6m b/d, so the kingdom appears to have raised its output by some 400,000 b/d.

A Saudi oil official declined to confirm or deny any of these figures earlier today. But it seems that the talks with European refiners on the quantity and quality of oil they required have indeed borne fruit.

The news confirms what has been priced into the market since last night (note: this chart is WTI, rather than our usual Brent, because of some chart formatting errors – but the direction is the same).

All four BP-nominated directors failed to turn up for an extraordinary meeting of TNK-BP’s board on Friday, torpedoing a crucial vote on whether the Russian oil venture should participate in the UK oil group’s alliance with Rosneft.

“The board was not able to vote because the BP directors did not show up,” said Stan Polovets, chief executive of AAR, BP’s Russian partners in TNK-BP. “There was no quorum.”

The no-show by BP raises the stake in a stand-off between BP and the Russian billionaire partners in TNK-BP who claim BP’s alliance with Rosneft, the state-controlled oil company, is a breach of their shareholder agreement with BP.

By David Blair

The fact that active negotiations are taking place between Saudi Arabia and European refiners to establish how the kingdom might replace Libyan supplies has calmed the market after Thursday’s panic-buying sent a barrel of Brent crude above $119.

But the most crucial question of all remains unanswered: has Saudi Arabia actually begun to produce more oil?

Kiran Stacey

Reuters and Upstream are reporting what looks like good news for those relying on Libyan oil supplies. According to both sources, Jammal bin Nour a judge and member of the coalition that says it is in charge in Benghazi, has said:

The oil deals (with foreign companies) that are legal and to the benefit of the Libyan people we will keep.

FT Energy Source

- Saudis seek to calm oil panic – FT

- Saudis hold talks with refiners amid warnings of oil crisis – The Guardian

- Saudi ‘Royal gift’ fails to woo activists – FT

- Chinese oil interests attacked in Libya – FT

- Oil drops a second day as Libya supply concern eases – Bloomberg

- Oil groups outperform on back of oil surge – FT

- Oil surge puts fragile US recovery at risk – FT

- Must recession follow an oil price surge? – FT Lex

- Texas power costs ‘ballooned after deregulation’ – WSJ (£)

- Big profits mean big investment in energy – Sam Laidlaw, The Telegraph

- RWE expects earnings to drop 30% – FT

- Iberdrola’s profit edges higher as output grows – WSJ (£)

- Petrobras results expected to pave way for increased production – FT

- Sinopec buys stake in Australian gas venture – Bloomberg

- Gas: Who’s got the biggest reserves? – The Telegraph

- US bill to bar oil groups with Cuban links – FT

- California senate passes 33% renewable bill – Argus

- Italy to install 5,000 MW solar capacity in 2011 – Reuters

- Using solar power to extract oil – NY Times Green blog

- Interview: The man driving Microsoft’s green agenda – The Guardian

Kiran Stacey

The row about UK solar feed-in tariffs rumbles on. This morning, Energy Secretary Chris Huhne tried to persuade people in the South West that solar subsidies should not go to the kind of large-scale solar farms that are being developed in that part of the country.

His words seemed to back some of the arguments used by large-scale solar developers, who are up in arms about the government’s move. Firstly, even though the government is only announcing a review of which projects are eligible for subsidies, Huhne seems to have prejudged its outcome:

A 5MW solar farm could deny around 1500 homes from claiming FITs for solar panels on their roofs… At the moment the risk is, if we don’t deal with the excesses, then the whole thing will come grinding to a halt.

Kiran Stacey

Just yesterday I was listening to the chief economist at the Centre for Global Energy Studies explain calmly why the oil price was unlikely to hit $150 a barrel. Today, it has taken a huge jump in that direction, peaking at more than $119.

Analysts are scrambling to update their forecasts. Here are some of their more important/interesting thoughts:

Energy Source is no longer updated but it remains open as an archive.

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