Half of U.S. Fracking Companies Will Be Sold OR Dead This Year

Half of the 41 fracking companies operating in the U.S. will be dead or sold by year-end because of slashed spending by oil companies, an executive with Weatherford International Plc said.
There could be about 20 companies left that provide hydraulic fracturing services, Rob Fulks, pressure pumping marketing director at Weatherford, said in an interview Wednesday at the IHS CERAWeek conference in Houston. Demand for fracking, a production method that along with horizontal drilling spurred a boom in U.S. oil and natural gas output, has declined as customers leave wells uncompleted because of low prices.
There were 61 fracking service providers in the U.S., the world’s largest market, at the start of last year. Consolidation among bigger players began with Halliburton Co. announcing plans to buy Baker Hughes Inc. in November for $34.6 billion and C&J Energy Services Ltd. buying the pressure-pumping business of Nabors Industries Ltd.
Weatherford, which operates the fifth-largest fracking operation in the U.S., has been forced to cut costs “dramatically” in response to customer demand, Fulks said. The company has been able to negotiate price cuts from the mines that supply sand, which is used to prop open cracks in the rocks that allow hydrocarbons to flow.
Oil companies are cutting more than $100 billion in spending globally after prices fell. Frack pricing is expected to fall as much as 35 percent this year, according to PacWest, a unit of IHS Inc.
While many large private-equity firms are looking at fracking companies to buy, the spread between buyer and seller pricing is still too wide for now, Alex Robart, a principal at PacWest, said in an interview at CERAWeek.
Fulks declined to say whether Weatherford is seeking to acquire other fracking companies or their unused equipment.
“We go by and we see yards are locked up and the doors are closed he  said. “It’s not good for equipment to park anything, whether it’s an airplane, a frack pump or a car.”

Oil Extends Drop : Worsening Glut – With Oil Companies and Investors In Denial

Oil extended losses to trade below $45 a barrel amid speculation that U.S. crude stockpiles will increase, exacerbating a global supply glut that’s driven prices to the lowest in more than 5 1/2 years.

Futures fell as much as 2.6 percent in New York, declining for a third day. Crude inventories probably gained by 1.75 million barrels last week, a Bloomberg News survey shows before government data tomorrow. The United Arab Emirates, a member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, will stand by its plan to expand output capacity even with “unstable oil prices,” according to Energy Minister Suhail Al Mazrouei.

Oil slumped almost 50 percent last year, the most since the 2008 financial crisis, as the U.S. pumped at the fastest rate in more than three decades and OPEC resisted calls to cut production. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. said crude needs to drop to $40 a barrel to “re-balance” the market, while Societe Generale SA also reduced its price forecasts.

“There’s adequate supply,” David Lennox, a resource analyst at Fat Prophets in Sydney, said by phone today. “It’s really going to take someone from the supply side to step up and cut, and the only organization capable of doing something substantial is OPEC. I can’t see the U.S. reducing output.”

West Texas Intermediate for February delivery decreased as much as $1.19 to $44.88 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange and was at $44.94 at 2:26 p.m. Singapore time. The contract lost $2.29 to $46.07 yesterday, the lowest close since April 2009. The volume of all futures traded was about 51 percent above the 100-day average.

U.S. Supplies

Brent for February settlement slid as much as $1.31, or 2.8 percent, to $46.12 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange. The European benchmark crude traded at a premium of $1.24 to WTI. The spread was $1.36 yesterday, the narrowest based on closing prices since July 2013.

U.S. crude stockpiles probably rose to 384.1 million barrels in the week ended Jan. 9, according to the median estimate in the Bloomberg survey of six analysts before the Energy Information Administration’s report. Supplies have climbed to almost 8 percent above the five-year average level for this time of year, data from the Energy Department’s statistical arm show.

Production accelerated to 9.14 million barrels a day through Dec. 12, the most in weekly EIA records that started in January 1983. The nation’s oil boom has been driven by a combination of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, which has unlocked supplies from shale formations including the Eagle Ford and Permian in Texas and the Bakken in North Dakota.

OPEC Output

The U.A.E. will continue plans to boost its production capacity to 3.5 million barrels a day in 2017, Al Mazrouei said in a presentation in Abu Dhabi yesterday. The country currently has a capacity of 3 million and pumped 2.7 million a day last month, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

OPEC, whose 12 members supply about 40 percent of the world’s oil, agreed to maintain their collective output target at 30 million barrels a day at a Nov. 27 meeting in Vienna. Qatar estimates the global surplus at 2 million a day.

In China, the world’s biggest oil consumer after the U.S., crude imports surged to a new high in December, capping a record for last year. Overseas purchases rose 19.5 percent from the previous month to 30.4 million metric tons, according to preliminary data from the General Administration of Customs in Beijing today. For 2014, imports climbed 9.5 percent to 310 million tons, or about 6.2 million barrels a day.

Oil Companies and Investors In Denial : Portfolio Profits At Risk

My rant – the  curse of Cassandra :

Cassandra, daughter of the king and queen, in the temple of Apollo, exhausted from practising, is said to have fallen asleep – when Apollo wished to embrace her, she did not afford the opportunity of her body. On account of which thing :

when she prophesied true things, she was not believed.

I have written :

Managed Accounts Year End Review and Forecast

Oil Producers Betting on Price Drop : Goldman Calls $ 40

Photographer: Gabriela Maj/Bloomberg

The oil industry was listening as OPEC talked down crude prices to a more than five-year low.

Drillers, refiners and other merchantsincreased bets on lower prices to the most in three years in the week ended Jan. 6, government data show. Producers idled the most rigs since 1991, with some paying to break leases on drilling equipment.

Companies are hedging more and drilling less amid concern that the biggest slump in prices since 2008 will continue. Oil dropped for a seventh week after officials from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates andKuwait reiterated they won’t curb output to halt the decline.

Oil Prices

“Producers are desperately hedging their production in a drastically falling market,” Phil Flynn, a senior market analyst at the Price Futures Group in Chicago, said by phone Jan. 9. “They’re trying to lock in prices because they are convinced that the market will stay down for a while.”

WTI slid $6.19, or 11 percent, to $47.93 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange on Jan. 6, settling below $50 for the first time since April 2009. Futures for February delivery declined $1.53 to $46.83 in electronic trading at 8:09 a.m. local time.

OPEC Production

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, which pumps about 40 percent of the world’s oil, has stressed a dozen times in the past six weeks that it won’t curb output to halt the rout. The U.A.E. won’t cut production no matter how low prices fall, Yousef Al Otaiba, its ambassador to the U.S., said at a Bloomberg Government lunch in Washington on Jan. 8.

The group decided to maintain its collective quota at 30 million barrels a day at a Nov. 27 meeting in Vienna. Output averaged 30.24 million barrels a day in December, according to a Bloomberg survey.

U.S. crude production was 9.13 million barrels a day in the seven days ended Jan. 2 after reaching 9.14 million three weeks earlier, the highest in weekly Energy Information Administration data since 1983. Stockpiles were 382.4 million barrels as of Jan. 2, a seasonal high.

The nation’s oil boom has been driven by a combination of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, which have unlocked supplies from shale formations including the Eagle Ford and Permian in Texasand the Bakken in North Dakota. Global oil prices below $40 begin to make wells in such places unprofitable to operate, Wood Mackenzie, an Edinburgh-based consultant, said in a report Jan. 9.

Idling Rigs

Rigs seeking oil decreased by 61 to 1,421, Baker Hughes Inc. said Jan. 9, extending the five-week decline to 154. It was the largest drop since February 1991, which also followed a slide in prices before the start of the Persian Gulf War.

Helmerich & Payne Inc., the biggest rig operator in the U.S., and Pioneer Energy Services Corp. said last week that they had received early termination notices for rig contracts.

Producers and merchants boosted their net short position by 21 percent, or 17,577 futures and options, to 100,997 in the week ended Jan. 6, according to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the most since Jan. 10, 2012.

Hedge funds and other large speculators raised bullish bets by 7 to 199,395 contracts.

“You have this tension and lack of consensus among money managers of what to do with a price under $50,” Tim Evans, an energy analyst at Citi Futures Perspective in New York, said by phone Jan. 9. “People tend to think of money managers as a black box where they all use same strategy and march in lockstep, but this highlights that it’s not really the case.”

Other Markets

Bullish bets on Brent crude rose to the highest level in more than five months, according to ICE Futures Europe exchange.

Net-long positions gained by 24,598 contracts, or 21 percent, to 140,169 lots in the week to Jan. 6, the data show. That’s the highest since July 15.

In other markets, bearish wagers on U.S. ultra-low sulfur diesel decreased 12 percent to 23,789 contracts as the fuel sank 7.6 percent to $1.7262 a gallon.

Net short wagers on U.S. natural gas fell 15 percent to 10,323 contracts. The measure includes an index of four contracts adjusted to futures equivalents: Nymex natural gas futures, Nymex Henry Hub Swap Futures, Nymex ClearPort Henry Hub Penultimate Swaps and the ICE Futures U.S. Henry Hub contract. Nymex natural gas dropped 5 percent to $2.938 per million British thermal units.

Bullish bets on gasoline declined 0.4 percent to 44,050. Futures slumped 6.8 percent to $1.3543 a gallon on Nymex in the reporting period.

Regular gasoline slid 1.3 cents to an average of $2.139 on Jan. 10, the lowest since May 5, 2009, according to Heathrow, Florida-based AAA, the country’s largest motoring group.

The global crude oversupply is 2 million barrels a day, or 6.7 percent of OPEC output, Qatar estimates. Only 1.6 percent of supply would be unprofitable with prices at $40 a barrel, according to Wood Mackenzie.

“If you’re a producer and your cost is below the price in the market, if you hedge it even at depressed prices you can still make money,” Tom Finlon, Jupiter, Florida-based director of Energy Analytics Group LLC, said by phone Jan. 9. “Somebody’s locking in profits even at these low prices.”

Goldman Sees Need for $40 Oil as OPEC Cut Forecast Abandoned

Jan. 12 (Bloomberg) 

Goldman Sachs said U.S. oil prices need to trade near $40 a barrel in the first half of this year to curb shale investments as it gave up on OPEC cutting output to balance the market.

The bank reduced its forecasts for global benchmark crude prices, predicting inventories will increase over the first half of this year, according to an e-mailed report. Excess storage and tanker capacity suggests the market can run a surplus far longer than it has in the past, said Goldman analysts including Jeffrey Currie in New York.

The U.S. is pumping oil at the fastest pace in more than three decades, helped by a shale boom that’s unlocked supplies from formations including the Eagle Ford in Texas and the Bakken in North Dakota. Prices slumped almost 50 percent last year as the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries resisted output cuts even amid a global surplus that Qatar estimates at 2 million barrels a day.

Oil Prices

“To keep all capital sidelined and curtail investment in shale until the market has re-balanced, we believe prices need to stay lower for longer,” Goldman said in the report. “The search for a new equilibrium in oil markets continues.”

West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. marker crude, will trade at $41 a barrel and global benchmark Brent at $42 in three months, the bank said. It had previously forecast WTI at $70 and Brent at $80 for the first quarter.


Photographer: Eddie Seal/Bloomberg

A floor hand signals to the driller to pull the pipe from the mouse hole on Orion… Read More

Forecasts Cut

Goldman reduced its six and 12-month WTI predictions to $39 a barrel and $65, from $75 and $80, respectively, while its estimate for Brent for the period were cut to $43 and $70, from $85 and $90, according to the report.

“We forecast that the one-year-ahead WTI swap needs to remain below this $65 a barrel marginal cost, near $55 a barrel for the next year to sideline capital and keep investment low enough to create a physical re-balancing of the market,” the bank said.

Goldman estimates there’s sufficient capacity to store a surplus of 1 million barrels a day of crude for almost a year. It expects the spread between WTI and Brent to widen in the next quarter as discounted U.S. crude prices and “strong margins lead U.S. refineries to export the glut to the other side of the Atlantic.”

The Brent-WTI spread will average $5 a barrel in 2016, according to the bank. The gap was at $1.50 today.

 

How $50 Oil Changes Almost Everything

 Investors are in denial but bankers see the problem:

  • Lenders are already doling out tough love to companies,  with some lenders wanting to see producer plans for handling further price drops while others are urging asset sales.
  • The 10 highest ratios of net debt/EBITDA from the last 12 months, according to S&P Capital IQ, belong to KWK, AR, WRES, GDP, REN, HK,XCO, REXX, MPO, EPE.


Photographer: Andrew Burton/Getty Images
U.S. shale oil production.

The plummeting price of oil means no more trout ice cream.

Coromoto, a parlor in Merida, Venezuela, famous for its 900 flavors,closed during its busiest season in November because of a milk shortage caused by the country’s 64 percent inflation rate, the world’s fastest.

That’s the plight of an oil-producing nation. At the same time, consuming countries like the U.S. are taking advantage. Trucks, which burn more gasoline, outsold cars in December by the most since 2005, according to data from Ward’s Automotive Group.

The biggest collapse in energy prices since the 2008 global recession is shifting wealth and power from autocratic petro-states to industrialized consumers, which could make the world safer, according to a Berenberg Bank AG report. Surging U.S. shale supply, weakening Asian and European demand and a stronger dollar are pushing oil past threshold after threshold to a five-and-half-year low, with a dip below $40 a barrel “not out of the question,” said Rob Haworth, a Seattle-based senior investment strategist at U.S. Bank Wealth Management, which oversees about $120 billion.

Oil prices are the big story for 2015,” said Kenneth Rogoff, a Harvard University economics professor. “They are a once-in-a-generation shock and will have huge reverberations.”


Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

Travis Simmons, a driver for Yo-Mac Transport, stores a filling hose after delivering..

Weak Prices

Brent crude, the international benchmark, fell as low as $49.66 a barrel today, dropping below $50 for first time since 2009. Prices dropped 48 percent in 2014 after three years of the highest average prices in history. West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. benchmark, plunged to as low as $46.83 today, about a 56 percent decline from its June high.

“We see prices remaining weak for the whole of the first half” of 2015, said Gareth Lewis-Davies, an analyst at BNP Paribas in London.

If the price falls past $39 a barrel, we could see it go as low as $30 a barrel, said Walter Zimmerman, chief technical strategist for United-ICAP in Jersey City, New Jersey, who projected the 2014 drop.

“Where prices bottom will be based on an emotional decision,” Zimmerman said. “It won’t be based on the supply-demand fundamentals, so it’s guaranteed to be overdone to the downside.”

The biggest winner would be the Philippines, whose economic growth would accelerate to 7.6 percent on average over the next two years if oil fell to $40, while Russia would contract 2.5 percent over the same period, according to an Oxford Economics Ltd.’s December analysis of 45 national economies.


Inflation Outlook

Among advanced economies, Hong Kong is the biggest winner, while Saudi Arabia, Russia and the United Arab Emirates fare the worst, according to Oxford Economics.

One concern of central bankers is the effect of falling oil prices on inflation. If crude remains below $60 per barrel this quarter, global inflation will reach levels not seen since the worldwide recession ended in 2009, according to JP Morgan Securities LLC economists led by Bruce Kasman in New York.

Kasman and his team are already predicting global inflation to reach 1.5 percent in the first half of this year, while sustained weakness in oil suggest a decline to 1 percent, they said.

Negative Inflation

The euro area would probably witness negative inflation, while rates in the U.S., U.K. and Japan also would weaken to about 0.5 percent. For what it calls price stability, the Federal Reserve’s inflationtarget is 2 percent. Emerging-market inflation would also fade although lower currencies and policies aimed at slowing the effects on retail prices may limit the fall.

As for growth, a long-lasting price of $60 would add 0.5 percentage point to global gross domestic product, they estimate.

Even as cheaper fuel stimulates the global economy, it could aggravate political tension by squeezing government revenue and social benefits, Citigroup Inc. analysts said in a Jan. 5 report.

Either way, previously unthinkable events now look more likely. Byron Wien, a Blackstone Group LP vice chairman, predicting that Russian President Vladimir Putin will resign in 2015 and Iran will agree to stop its nuclear program.

Iran Losses

Iran is already missing tens of billions of dollars in oil revenue due to Western sanctions and years of economic mismanagement under former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

President Hassan Rouhani, elected on a pledge of prosperity to be achieved by ending Iran’s global isolation, is facing a falling stock market and weakening currency. Iranian officials are warning of spending and investment cuts in next year’s budget, which will be based on $72-a-barrel crude. Even that forecast is proving too optimistic.

“Iran will stumble along with less growth and development,” said Djavad Salehi-Isfahani, a professor of economics at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia, who specializes in Iran’s economy. “The oil price fall is not reason enough for Iran to compromise.”

The Russian economy may shrink 4.7 percent this year if oil averages $60 a barrel under a “stress scenario,” the central bank said in December. The plunge in crude prices prompted a selloff in the ruble with the Russian currency falling to a record low against the dollar last month and tumbling 46 percent last year, its worst performance since 1998, when Russia defaulted on local debt.

Russian Production

“The risk is that, as a badly-wounded and cornered bear, Russia may turn more aggressive in its increasing desperation, threatening global peace and the European economic outlook,” said Holger Schmieding, Berenberg Bank’s London-based chief economist. However, “the massive blow to Russia’s economic capabilities should –- over time –- make it less likely that Russia will wage another war.”

Russian oil production rose to a post-Soviet record last month, showing how pumping of the nation’s biggest source of revenue has so far been unaffected by U.S. and European sanctions or a price collapse. The nation increased output to 10.667 million barrels a day, according to preliminary data from the Energy Ministry on Jan. 2. That compares with global consumption of 93.3 million barrels a day, based on the International Energy Agency’s estimate for 2015.

Venezuela, which relies on oil for 95 percent of its export revenue, risks insolvency, Jefferies LLC said in a Jan. 6 note. The cost of insuring the country’s five-year debt has tripled since July, Citigroup said. President Nicolas Maduro is visiting China to discuss financing and expects to travel to other OPEC nations to work out a pricing strategy.

Confounding Investors

The U.S., still a net oil importer, would accelerate economic growth to 3.8 percent in the next two years with oil at $40 a barrel, compared with 3 percent at $84, the Oxford Economics study found. The boost to consumers could be offset by oil companies’ scaling back investments, according to Kate Moore, chief investment strategist at JPMorgan Private Bank. Producers are cutting spending by 20 percent to 40 percent, according to Fadel Gheit, an analyst at Oppenheimer & Co.

The mixed picture is confounding investors. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index of U.S. equities fell 1.9 percent on Jan. 5, the biggest decline since October, as oil brought down energy shares and stoked concerns that global growth is slowing.

While cheaper oil helps consumers, business spending has a bigger effect on equities, and oil companies are set to cut investments. Oil at $50 a barrel could trim $6 a share off earnings in theS&P 500 Index this year, according to Savita Subramanian and Dan Suzuki, New York-based strategists at Bank of America Corp.

Bets on high energy prices have mashed share prices of companies such as Ford Motor Co., Tesla Motors Inc. and Boeing Co.

Redistributes Income

Fifth Third Bancorp (FITB), one of the regional lenders that tried to chase the fracking boom, is down 12 percent since June 20.

Caterpillar Inc., Joy Global Inc., Allegheny Technologies Inc., Dover Corp., Jacobs Engineering Group and Quanta Services Inc. are all down more than 20 percent since oil peaked at almost $108.

Despite those losses, Morgan Stanley last month concluded cheaper fuel is a net benefit for the U.S. economy.

“Any massive redistribution of income can raise political tensions,” Schmieding of Berenberg Bank said in the Jan. 6 report. “But, net/net, strengthening the U.S., Europe, Japan, China and India, while weakening Russia, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela, is likely to make the world a safer place in the end.”

OIL Declines – (as we forecast) – Expect ” more of the same “

Oil Falls to 5 1/2-Year Low as Russia, Iraq Boost Output

Oil dropped to the lowest since May 2009 amid growing supply from Russia and Iraq and signs of manufacturing weakness in Europe and China.

Futures headed for a sixth weekly loss in New York and London. Oil output in Russia and Iraq surged to the highest level in decades in December, according to data from both countries’ governments. Euro-area factory output expanded less than initially estimated in December. A manufacturing gauge in China, the world’s second-largest oil consumer, fell to the weakest level in 18 months, government data showed yesterday.

Prices slumped 46 percent in New York in 2014, the steepest drop in six years and second-worst since trading began in 1983, as U.S. producers and the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries ceded no ground in their battle for market share. OPEC pumped above its quota for a seventh month in December even as U.S. output expanded to the highest in more than three decades, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Oil Prices

“We’re seeing more of the same,” John Kilduff, a partner at Again Capital LLC, a New York-based hedge fund that focuses on energy, said by phone. “The Chinese and European PMI figures signal weaker demand, while there’s ever-increasing supply. Nobody is cutting back on output and now the Russians are posting post-Soviet production highs.”

Brent for February settlement fell 53 cents, or 0.9 percent, to $56.80 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange at 11:31 a.m. It declined to $55.48, the lowest since May 7, 2009. Volume for all futures traded was 30 percent below the 100-day average. The European benchmark slumped 48 percent last year, the second-biggest annual loss on record behind a 51 percent tumble in the 2008 financial crisis. Brent traded at of $3.24 premium to WTI.

West Texas Intermediate for February delivery rose 32 cents, or 0.6 percent, to $53.59 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange after dropping to $52.03, the least since May 1, 2009. Volume for all futures traded was 34 percent below the 100-day average. Prices are down 3.2 percent this week.

The surge in oil supplies in Iraq and Russia signaled no respite in early 2015 from the glut that’s pushed crude prices lower. The two countries provided 15 percent of world oil supply in November, according to the International Energy Agency.

Russian oil output rose 0.3 percent in December to a post-Soviet record of 10.667 million barrels a day, according to preliminary data e-mailed today by CDU-TEK, part of the Energy Ministry. Iraq exported 2.94 million barrels a day in December, the most since the 1980s, Oil Ministry spokesmanAsim Jihad said.

The final two burning crude-storage tanks were extinguished at Es Sider, Libya’s biggest oil port, National Oil Corp. spokesman Mohammed Elharari said by phone from Tripoli. The fires started Dec. 25, when Islamist militants shot rockets at the port in a second attempt to capture it.

OPEC Production

OPEC’s production slid by 122,000 barrels a day from November to 30.24 million last month, led by losses in Saudi Arabia, Libya and the United Arab Emirates, a Bloomberg survey of companies, producers and analysts shows. The 12-member group has a collective target of 30 million a day.

U.S. oil production averaged 9.12 million barrels a day in the week ended Dec. 26, according to the Energy Information Administration. Output increased to 9.14 million a day through Dec. 12, the most in weekly data that started in January 1983.

Inventories of gasoline surged in the week ended Dec. 26 as production climbed to a record, EIA data showed.

Gasoline futures declined 3.14 cents, or 2.1 percent, to $1.4407 a gallon in New York. Diesel decreased 3.18 cents, or 1.7 percent, to $1.8018.

Regular gasoline at U.S. pumps fell to the lowest level since May 2010. The average retail price slipped 0.9 cent to $2.231 a gallon yesterday, according to Heathrow, Florida-based AAA, the nation’s biggest motoring group.

Sector will respond to the lower commodity price but their share price will decline – example;

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) — Linn Energy LLC LINE, +15.20% said Friday it has approved a 2015 budget that cuts oil and natural gas capital spending to $730 million from about $1.55 billion in 2014, the latest company to respond to the recent slide in crude oil prices. “After careful consideration, LINN’s senior management proposed and the Board of Directors approved a 2015 budget that contemplates a significantly lower current crude oil price than in 2014,” Chief Executive Mark Ellis said in a statement. The budget assumes an unhedged NYMEX price of $60 a barrel. The company is cutting its annual dividend to $1.25 a share from $2.90, he said. Linn Energy has signed a non-binding letter of intent with GSO Capital Partners LP, the credit arm of The Blackstone Group LP BX, +0.56% to fund oil and gas development. GSO has agreed to commit up to $500 million to fund drilling programs. Shares were down 6.2% in premarket trade.

Three weeks after Chairman Steve Schwarzman said it’s going to be the best time in years to invest in energy, Blackstone Group LP (BX) is putting money to work.

Blackstone’s $70 billion credit arm, GSO Capital Partners, committed as much as $500 million to fund oil and natural gas development for Linn Energy LLC (LINE), according to a statement today. The Houston-based energy producer rose as much as 18 percent after the announcement, after losing almost 70 percent of its value in six months as crude prices plummeted.

Private equity firms, while taking steps to shore up energy companies in their portfolios, are hunting for investments in oil and gas producers after Brent tumbled more than 50 percent since June. Energy presents the best opportunity for Blackstone in many years, especially for the New York-based firm’s credit unit, Schwarzman said at a Dec. 11 conference.

“There are a lot of people who borrowed a lot of money based on higher price levels, and they’re going to need more capital,” he said at the conference in New York. “There are going to be restructurings to do. There’s going to be a fallout. It’s going to be one of the best opportunities we’ve had in many, many years.”


Photographer: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg

Steve Schwarzman, co-founder, chairman and chief executive officer of Blackstone Group

Under the five-year agreement with Linn, Blackstone would fund drilling programs at locations selected by Linn for an 85 percent working interest in the wells, according to the statement. If the projects produce a 15 percent annualized return for Blackstone, its stake will drop to 5 percent.

Oil ‘Crisis’

The plunge in oil may usher in a new era for investing in distressed debt, according to Howard Marks, the billionaire co-founder of Oaktree Capital Group LLC. In a letter to clients last month, Marks said his Los Angeles-based firm is becoming more aggressive as companies that borrowed heavily in the low-interest rate environment now come under pressure.

“We knew great buying opportunities wouldn’t arrive until a negative ‘igniter’ caused the tide to go out, exposing the debt’s weaknesses,” Marks wrote. “The current oil crisis is an example of something with the potential to grow into that role.”

Linn, a master-limited partnership, is the latest producer to cut spending on expectations of lower oil and gas prices. The company said today it expects oil to average $60 a barrel in 2015, although it has hedged about 70 percent of its expected output at higher prices. Brent fell 1.9 percent to $56.23 a barrel at 2:38 p.m. in New York.

Active Developer

The agreement with Blackstone, which is non-binding, is “designed to allow Linn to be an active developer of assets with growth capital,” Mark Ellis, Linn’s chief executive officer, said in the statement. “This agreement creates a dynamic alliance.”

The company’s shares rose 13 percent to $11.44 at 2:47 p.m. in New York.

Please see our recent articles published this week on  2015 Energy Sector Forecasts ( archived) 

 

Devon Energy / GeoSouthern Energy

DVN : NYSE : US$62.77
BUY 
Target: US$86.00

COMPANY DESCRIPTION:
Devon Energy is an oil and gas E&P company with assets in the U.S. and Canada. The company also has a significant midstream operation. It is headquartered in Oklahoma City, OK.
All amounts in US$ unless otherwise noted.

Energy — Oil and Gas, Exploration and Production
REPORTED GEOSOUTHERN ACQUISITION WOULD BE POSITIVE
Investment recommendation
We view the possible acquisition of GeoSouthern Energy very positively since it would give DVN added running room to grow its oil volumes from a new position in the Eagle Ford Shale. A deal would bolster the already solid U.S. oil production growth it is getting from its emerging Permian and Miss-Woodford plays. We believe that greater oil growth and a higher mix of oil as a share of its total output are key elements to DVN receiving a higher valuation for its deeply undervalued E&P business.
Key points:
 Acquisition would substantially add to DVN’s U.S. oil production:
U.S. oil currently accounts for 12% of DVN’s total volumes and we project growth of 31% in 2014 and 23% in 2015. This deal would likely increase DVN’s oil production by a significant amount, as GeoSouthern is the 4th largest oil producer in the Eagle Ford. The private company produced 23 MBopd in 2012 – that amount alone would increase DVN’s U.S. oil volumes by over 25%.
 GeoSouthern has a very attractive acreage position in the Eagle Ford from being a “first mover” in this play: GeoSouthern has a 50% working interest in 173,000 gross acres in the Black Hawk field; its partner is BHP Billiton. The company also has 68,000 net acres further north in Fayette County.
 Eagle Ford is a great fit for DVN’s shale expertise: DVN famously was first to develop on a “mass manufacturing basis” in the Barnett Shale (TX); we believe it could achieve similar results in the Eagle Ford.
 DVN’s very strong balance sheet allows for a $6B acquisition: DVN’s net debt/cap ratio (pro forma for the Crosstex deal) is just 18%. With $4.3B of cash on hand, we believe the company is very much able to not only grow this asset quickly, but acquire other assets as well.

The Hype About America’s Energy Boom

Oil Guru Destroys All Of The Hype About America’s Energy Boom

 

5/14

   

The gap between production and consumption is 9 million barrels of oil a day. “It is unlikely that the U.S. will become energy independent,” Berman argues.

The gap between production and consumption is 9 million barrels of oil a day.

Arthur Berman

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/arthur-berman-shale-is-magical-thinking-2013-1?op=1#ixzz2IXJjv61y

BP Writes Down Shale Gas Acreage By $2.8 B : Storage Figures Into Values

English: Point of Ayr Gas Terminal This termin...

English: Point of Ayr Gas Terminal This terminal, owned by BHP Billiton Petroleum, processes gas extracted by the Liverpool Bay platforms via a 33 km subsea pipeline. The gas is then supplied to the Powergen combined cycle gas turbine (CCGT) power station, which went into operation at Connah’s Quay in July 1996. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

August 5

Marius Kloppers is right to take his lumps.

The BHP Billiton chief executive has waived his 2012 bonus after the mining giant took a $2.8 billion writedown on some of its U.S. shale gas acreage. The hit looks small when compared with BHP’s $170 billion market cap, and wasn’t unexpected. But BHP paid almost $5 billion for the asset just 18 months ago. That’s embarrassing for a company that trades on its reputation as a canny operator.

In February last year, BHP’s purchase of 487,000 acres of Fayetteville shale reserves from Chesapeake Energy was seen as a breakthrough after a string of failed mega-deals. BHP is one of the few big miners to own a substantial petroleum business. Gaining a foothold in the U.S. shale revolution seemed to make good strategic sense.

The $4.75 billion price tag looked stretched from the outset. When the deal was announced it was already clear that booming shale production was creating a gas glut that would threaten the profitability of wells that mainly produce gas. At the time, U.S. gas prices stood at about $4.50 per million British Thermal Units, down by a quarter from 2010 highs. They plunged to below $2 per mbtu earlier this year. Even at today’s price of about $3 per mbtu, drillers are still losing money.

BHP’s decision to write down the Chesapeake assets suggests it doesn’t see the glut easing anytime soon. Like other gas drillers, it is shifting its focus to the more oil-rich shale deposits it acquired when it bought U.S. driller Petrohawk for $12 billion in July last year. That bigger, more ambitious purchase is not affected by the writedowns.

BHP is hardly the only company to fess up to overpaying for shale. Shell, BG and Encana Energy all took impairments in the second quarter. The 1.9 percent rise in BHP’s London-listed shares following the announcement suggests investors expected Kloppers to bite the bullet.

Still, the timing isn’t ideal. Rising costs and cooling demand mean BHP and other big miners are under pressure to return more cash or else explain how multi-billion dollar growth projects can still make attractive returns. In January, Deutsche Bank estimated that BHP would have to spend about $50 billion to achieve a near-fourfold increase in shale output by the end of the decade. The writedowns will make it harder for Kloppers to make his case.

Storage: The theoretical working storage is about 4,400 Bcf (though demonstrated capacity is close to 4,100 Bcf), and we are sitting on 3,217 Bcf as of July 27. Back in January, pundits were making prediction that an overfill scenario would take a mini-miracle to avoid. The latest EIA forecast points to a 4,000 Bcf storage peak scenario. Depending on weather going forward, it is very likely that we will come close to the 4,100 number that produces a scare much like 2009, when price dropped 42% in a month. One difference between stocks/bonds and hard commodities such as natural gas is that the prices are still largely representative of exchanges of physical goods. What this means is that if we approach the storage peak season in late October/early November with a level close to the physical storage limit, there is a danger that producers can scramble to offload gas causing a short-term panic.

Shale Production Depressing Oil – (as well as nat gas) ( Bloomberg)

 

August 2

The shale boom that sent natural-gas prices to a 10-year low is being felt for the first time in the oil markets.

Williams Partners LP (WPZ) joined Marathon Oil Corp. (MRO) and Devon Energy Corp. (DVN) yesterday in blaming a glut of propane and related products for lower profits in the second quarter. Spectra Energy Corp. (SE) and Apache Corp. (APA) followed suit today. Next week more companies are expected to show the effects of falling prices for so-called natural-gas liquids used in backyard barbecues and motor fuels as producer Chesapeake Energy Corp. (CHK) and Targa Resources Partners LP (NGLS), a pipeline and storage company whose trading symbol is NGLS, release earnings.

Enlarge image Gas Liquids ‘Bloodbath’ Brings Shale Pain to Oil Market: Energy

Gas Liquids ‘Bloodbath’ Brings Shale Pain to Oil Market: Energy

Gas Liquids ‘Bloodbath’ Brings Shale Pain to Oil Market: Energy

George Frey/Bloomberg

Gas liquids supply from the Rocky Mountain region of the U.S. has increased at a 47 percent compound annual growth rate since 2006, when explorers first started seeking to add more liquids to production, Tudor Pickering said in a July 12 report.

Gas liquids supply from the Rocky Mountain region of the U.S. has increased at a 47 percent compound annual growth rate since 2006, when explorers first started seeking to add more liquids to production, Tudor Pickering said in a July 12 report. Photographer: George Frey/Bloomberg

The “NGL bloodbath,” as it was dubbed by Tudor, Pickering, Holt & Co. last month, is rippling across the oil and gas industry as explorers cut production and reduce cash flow projections, service companies forecast lower demand for drilling rigs, and pipeline partnerships suffer falling revenue for their gas liquids processing plants. The price of an ethane- propane NGL mix was down 58 percent yesterday from a high in January, outpacing the 19 percent drop in crude from a February peak.

“The same thing is now happening to liquids that happened to natural gas itself,” said James Williams, an energy economist at WTRG Economics in London, Arkansas. “We now have too much. We have an oversupply, so it’s depressing the price.”

NGL Disappointment

U.S. energy producers had counted on more lucrative oil and gas liquids to lift profits as the price of gas in New York tumbled earlier this year to an intraday low of $1.902 in April. As companies drilled for more liquids, the same oversupplies that gutted gas prices began to deflate NGLs.

Gas liquids are a heavier, or “wetter” component produced along with natural gas, and can include ethane, propane, butane, isobutane and natural gasoline. Gas liquids supply from the Rocky Mountain region of the U.S. has increased at a 47 percent compound annual growth rate since 2006, when explorers first started seeking to add more liquids to production, Tudor Pickering said in a July 12 report.

With demand staying flat while supplies rose, the average price of a mixture of ethane and propane plunged 53 percent in the second quarter from a year earlier, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

Williams, which gathers and processes gas from the Gulf of Mexico to Wyoming, said its net income fell to 29 cents per unit from 91 cents in the same quarter of 2011.

Negative Effects

“Our earnings were negatively affected by a rapid, significant decline in NGL prices,” Alan Armstrong, chief executive officer of parent Williams Cos. (WMB) said in a statement. The warm winter and downtime at chemical plants that consume NGLs were the main drivers of the decrease, he said.

Pipeline companies Targa and Enbridge Energy Partners LP (EEP), both based in Houston, which process gas to separate NGLs, warned of lower earnings in part because of the collapse of liquids prices. Both companies get revenue by keeping and selling a portion of the liquids they produce at their gas- processing plants, according to T.J. Schultz, an analyst with RBC Capital Markets.

Enterprise Products Partners LP (EPD), the second biggest U.S. pipeline operator, is moving away from that practice in favor of charging a flat fee for processing, Chief Executive Officer Mike Creel said in a conference call yesterday. The company claimed 96,000 barrels a day of NGLs in the second quarter compared to 120,000 a year earlier.

Devon Shift

Rapidly falling gas liquids prices and NGL plant shutdowns contributed to earnings declines at Devon, which sold NGLs for an average of $31.42 a barrel in the second quarter, 26 percent less than a year earlier. Oklahoma City-based Devon now is moving some of its drilling rigs away from gas and gas liquids fields to look for oil, Chief Executive Officer John Richels said on a conference call.

Marathon, based in Houston, cut its rig count in Oklahoma’s Anadarko Woodford formation to two from six because of lower NGL prices, which were to blame in part for a 5.8 percent decline in second-quarter net income from the first quarter, the company said yesterday.

Apache’s net income dropped 72 percent from a year earlier after realizing less than $34 per barrel for NGLs in the second quarter, the company said in a statement. That was less than the $38 that Eliot Javanmardi, an analyst at Capital One Southcoast in New Orleans, estimated.

Spectra’s profit fell 25% to 33 cents per share, and low NGL prices will affect its earnings for the rest of 2012, according to the company’s statement today.

Chesapeake Energy

Because NGLs comprise about 60 percent of Chesapeake’s overall liquids production, lower prices will have a significant impact on the Oklahoma City-based company when it reports earnings Aug. 6, said Mark Hanson, an analyst at Morningstar Investor Service in Chicago.

“There’s lots of moving pieces with Chesapeake but we’ll probably see a downward revision for operating cash flow this year” as a result of falling NGL prices, Hanson said in a telephone interview. The negative effects will extend into the rest of 2012 if the NGL market continues to deteriorate and Chesapeake accelerates production of those commodities, he said.

Service Companies

Service companies also felt the effect as cutbacks trickled down to drilling operations. Nabors Industries Ltd. (NBR), the world’s largest provider of land drilling rigs, said the market deteriorated sharply toward the end of the second quarter.

“Operators are even more reluctant to sign contract extensions of meaningful length since both cash flow and drilling budgets are declining,” Tony Petrello, chief executive officer, said on a conference call.

In some areas, Houston-based Baker Hughes Inc. (BHI), an energy service provider, is seeing its own pricing pressured by the declines.

“I characterize it as a knife fight right now in terms of pricing,” Martin Craighead, chief executive officer at Baker Hughes, said July 20 on a conference call.

There may be some rebound in pricing in the second half of the year as winter temperatures trigger more demand for the heating fuel propane and a ramp-up in exports provides a bigger market for ethane, according to Tudor Pickering analyst Bradley Olsen.

Ethane supply will likely outpace incremental demand increases until new chemical plants that use the liquids as raw materials for their products come on line around the middle of the decade, Devon’s Richels said.

“As long as natural gas prices remain low, we’d expect ethane prices also to be weak in this period,” he said.

Natural Gas Headed to $ 8

Texas Barnett Shale gas drilling rig near Alva...

Texas Barnett Shale gas drilling rig near Alvarado, Texas (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

by Richard Finger

 

“There is a glut of natural gas. Everybody knows that. There’s so much of the latest multi stage hydraulic fracturing going on from New York State
to Texas and all places in between, prices will be low forever. But just as a full watering hole can deplete quickly the current gas storage glut can recede.
In fact it already has been and at an alarmingly brisk pace and there may be a confluence of other events which could hasten the process. Consider
this. The weekly EIA natural gas storage numbers reported each Thursday came in with a 28 billion cubic feet (bcf) injection. The inventory
increase last year at this time was 67 bcf while the five year average accretion was 74 bcf. So true that one week does not a trend make. But this
makes eleven straight weeks that have experienced below average storage injections. After Thursday’s numbers were released inventories stood at
3.163 Trillion Cubic Feet or 19.2% above last year but only 17.5% above the five year average. A seemingly decent cushion until you consider as recently as May 10 stockpiles were 48.4% and 49.9% ahead of the previous year and the five year averages respectively. So the question becomes,
why are rates of gas injection dropping so precipitously unless the shale plays are actually unable to produce the necessary incremental volumes.
A Little History And Some Facts
Natural Gas production in the US was declining steadily until 2005 into what many perceived as an irreversible trend with an implication of persistent shortages. Enter the knight in shining armor; horizontal resource drilling. Daily gas production increased from 51 bcfd in 2005 to an average of 66.2 bcfd (billion cubic feet per day) in 2011. Some months have even spiked above 70 bcfd. The natural gas rig count peaked at 1,600 in the summer of 2008.

No coincidence gas prices topped out concurrently the first few days in July at $13.28 per mcf. So in six plus years while gas drillers
were able to increase daily supply by 30% demand has increased only half that amount. The result has been a spot gas price that bottomed on
April 17, 2012 at $1.89 per mcf (thousand cubic feet). But the pendulum is now trending in the other direction as power suppliers and the transportation industry begin to capitalize on the low price of natural gas.

The EIA (US Energy Information Association) has
prognosticated a 2012 daily production average of 68.98 bcfd and consumption of 69.91 bcfd. Methinks those production
numbers extravagantly optimistic and yet the agency continues to publicly adhere to them. Firstly, actual output over the last two months has already slipped to a bit under 64 bcfd.

Next, the natural gas rig count collapsed to 486, a thirteen year low, on June 22 and had made only minimal recovery to 518 rigs as of last week.
Lastly, numerous major gas producers such as COP and CHK have shut in parts of their dry gas production and are switching their drilling programs away from dry gas to natural gas liquids and oil. Conversely, consumption may exceed EIA projections.
Here’s why. Hotter than usual temperatures across much of the country especially in the population heavy
northeast is causing excess energy demand. Another thought provoking data point from the EIA last week reported that for the first time in history natural gas fired power plants generated more electricity than coal fired plants. That’s quite a milestone. Each now comprise 32% of U.S. power generation. Gas is cleaner and at current prices is a cost effective coal alternative. Adding to short term supply pressures, four nuclear power plants are down, all effecting east coast residents. Though still in early stages numerous fortune 500 companies such as Fed Ex and UPS are transitioning to natural gas powered trucks. A national fueling system is near completion with locations along the major interstate arteries.
Drilling Economics
The earliest horizontal resource drilling was done by Mitchell Energy (now part of DVN) in 2005 in the Barnett Shale which is in and around Fort Worth, Texas. Horizontal fracturing into shale has become much more sophisticated since those early days, with enhanced recovery of
gas in place, although at much greater cost per well. An  average 20 stage horizontal dry gas well in the South Texas Eagle Ford Shale or the East Texas/North Louisiana Haynesville play may cost $8.5 to $12 million. It will be drilled to vertical depths of 8,000 to 12,000 feet below surface.

Let’s assume an average well cost of $10 million with an estimated ultimate recovery (EUR) of 6 bcf. At $2.00 per mcf gross expected
revenues are $12 million and at $3.00 mcf revenues are $18 million and so on. Don’t forget about the expense side of the ledger. There is the mineral owner royalty payment which is often ¼ or 25% which comes right off the top.

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