Oil: Value trap or buying opportunity?

 

Oil Well cartoons, Oil Well cartoon, funny, Oil Well picture, Oil Well pictures, Oil Well image, Oil Well images, Oil Well illustration, Oil Well illustrations

 

Oil: Value trap or buying opportunity?

Depends if you are investing or a speculating/trading. The previous week’s oil inventory numbers show U.S. crude oil inventories are at the highest level for this time of year in at least the past 80 years. (Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration 11Feb15 for week ending 6Feb15) Investors reacted Tuesday to Citigroup indicating that $20 oil/barrel may soon be on the way. They must have an awful lot of short positions they need going back the right way: “Oil Could Plunge to $20 & this Might be the end of OPEC”: Citigroup goes on to say, “The recent surge in oil prices is just a “headfake,” and oil as cheap as $20 a barrel may soon be on the way, as it lowered its forecast for crude. Despite global declines in spending that have driven up oil prices in recent weeks, oil production in the U.S. is still rising, wrote Edward Morse, Citigroup’s global head of commodity research. Brazil and Russia are pumping oil at record levels, and Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Iran have been fighting to maintain their market share by cutting prices to Asia. The market is oversupplied, and storage tanks are topping out. A pullback in production isn’t likely until the third quarter, Morse said. In the meantime, West Texas Intermediate Crude, which currently trades at around $52 a barrel, could fall to the $20 range “for a while,” according to the report. The U.S. shale-oil revolution has broken OPEC’s ability to manipulate prices and maximize profits for oil-producing countries.

“It looks exceedingly unlikely for OPEC to return to its old way of doing business,” Morse wrote. “While many analysts have said in past market crises ‘the end of OPEC,’ this time around might well be different,” Morse said. Citi reduced its annual forecast for Brent crude for the second time in 2015. Prices in the $45- $55 range are unsustainable and will trigger “disinvestment from oil” and a fourth-quarter rebound to $75 a barrel, according to the report. Prices this year will likely average $54 a barrel.” (Bloomberg 9Feb2015)

Thursday, Swanzy Quarshie of Sentry Investments was on BNN and gave some of our historical favorites some exposure. Her macro-view of the sector/market is a positive outlook for energy and energy related equities for 2015, however, Sentry remains cautious in the short term. Although much of the issues inherent in the oil markets have been priced into the commodity, they see the possibility of a retest of the oil price lows of January driven by growing crude inventory levels globally (levels are at an 80 year high!). For now, they are firmly in the camp that the current demand/supply imbalance is driven by excess supply and expect the market to move closer to equilibrium towards the end of the year with a slowdown in North American drilling activity. At this time, they do not expect demand to have a negative impact on the imbalance. In this environment, they favour companies with strong balance sheets and good cost structures who can take advantage of this downturn to further strengthen their businesses. They prefer oil weighted producers in the short to midterm given the structural challenges in the North American gas market. In the longer term, they are optimistic that growing export channels and increasing industrial demand for natural gas will help to strengthen the North American gas market. Her Top picks: Bankers Petroleum (BNK-tsx), Raging River Exploration (RRX-t) and Whitecap Resources (WCP-t). Legendary value investor Seth Klarman has built a position in Bellatrix (BXE-tsx): According to reports, legendary value investor Seth Klarman has built a position in Bellatrix. Klarman has purchased 21,839,400 common shares of BXE, representing 11.4% of the company’s shares outstanding. Separately, Orange Capital, LLC at last report held 28,146,263 common shares of BXE, representing 14.7% of the company. This week, Canaccord Genuity Energy Analyst Anthony Petrucci initiated coverage on BXE and highlights the company is currently trading at 7.1x 2015E EV/DACF, which is a discount to its peer group at 10.3x. Likewise, its P/NAV of 0.6x is also discounted to the group average of -1.2

In Petrucci’s view, the discount for Bellatrix is too severe, particularly given the company’s asset base and growth profile. While a 2015E D/CF (trailing) of 4.8x is concerning, Petrucci notes BXE’s ability to spend JV dollars to bridge the gap during the current pricing environment. Forbes refers to Klarman as an “investing demigod.” Here is one of Klarman’s most notable quotes, “In capital markets, price is set by the most panicked seller at the end of a trading day. Value, which is determined by cash flows and assets, is not. In this environment, the chaos is so extreme, the panic selling so urgent, that there is almost no possibility that sellers are acting on superior information. Indeed, in situation after situation, it seems clear that fundamentals do not factor into their decision making at all.” (CG 11Feb2015) due to the length of the report, please call/email us if you would like it in its entirety.

 

Offshore Portfolio : http://www.youroffshoremoney.com

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

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) 

 

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.

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