Author: Paul Harris

Do We Need to Re-think UK Energy Policy?

New inquiry to examine technologies and pricing

The future shape of the UK’s energy market – including sources of domestic supply and pricing strategies – is subject to a new inquiry launched last week.

Led by the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee, the inquiry will assess whether a combination of policy and subsidies have led to failures in the energy market, and what new action may be needed.

“Coal power stations are being closed and old nuclear stations are coming towards the end of their life,” said committee chair Lord Hollick. “But it is not clear how they will be replaced and at what cost.”

The inquiry centres on the premise that UK energy policy over the last decade has focused on three objectives: maintaining supply and minimizing threats to energy security; keeping supply costs competitive for businesses and consumers users; and, de-carbonization, sought primarily by closing coal-fired plants and offering subsidies to renewable energy infrastructure.

According to a House of Lords release yesterday, a report by the committee two years ago into the economic impact on UK energy policy of shale gas and oil concluded that there had been a lack of clarity and consistency in energy policy over many years.

“This failure of policy had left the UK dangerously close to lacking sufficient electricity generating capacity,” said Lord Hollick. “Over two years later, little has changed.”

The UK, with its history of offshore production, was a net exporter of oil, natural gas liquids and gas until 2005. Since that time, the UK has been reliant on overseas imports to meet domestic demand.

UK_OG_Measures_July_2016

Data from our Evaluate Energy team confirms that in the past decade that disparity has been greatest in 2013, when the UK imported 1.2 million boe/d more than it exported. In 2015, that figure was 1.05 million boe/d.

UK oil/NGL/gas production has declined every year since 2000, when it stood at 4.45 million boe/d, to 1.44 million boe/d in 2014. It increased slightly in 2015, to 1.6 million boe/d.

The committee will seek to identify emerging technologies that could materially alter the UK energy market over the next decade and beyond.

This will likely include discussion over the role played by on-shore shale gas and other alternatives. Earlier this year, former UK energy minister Andrea Leadsom described shale gas as an effective potential “bridging fuel” amid goals to reduce reliance on coal while seeking alternative future power supplies. She viewed shale as a homegrown solution that could create thousands of jobs during development and production.

Lord Hollick added: “The energy market involves an extraordinarily complicated mix of policy interventions and subsidies. Every investment in electricity generating supply is effectively determined by the government. This inquiry will seek to investigate whether current policy is delivering the best deal for energy users and whether it is striking the correct balance between private and public sector involvement.”

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Brexit latest: Disentangling energy policy after UK votes to leave EU

UK energy policy has become rather entangled in the dramatic reorganization of government that has taken place since the nation opted out of the European Union.

It’s barely a week since Theresa May became the new leader of the Conservative party, and by extension the new Prime Minister.

By all accounts, she’s settled in quickly: a major cabinet reshuffle involving major (and controversial) new roles for Brexit campaigners, early talks with Scotland’s first minister in view of Scotland’s significant pro-EU support, and preparations for meetings with German and French leaders this week.

She’s also found time to replace the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) with a larger, more extensive and over-arching Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

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There are two broad schools of thought about whether the switch is a good thing. One is that it is sensible to tie the energy needs of the country ever more tightly with business and industrial development. The flip side is concern that climate change – as an agenda issue – will slide down the priority list, subsumed by pressing business and industrial growth demands.

The creation of the new BEIS department has divided opinion between political groups and environmentalists.

Greg Clark will lead the new department. Under the reshuffle, government energy lead (and recent contender for Prime Minister) Andrea Leadsom becomes environment secretary.

Prime Minister May gave us some clues to her energy priorities at the launch of her national campaign to become Tory leader last week, where she spoke of the need for an energy policy “that emphasizes the reliability of supply and lower costs for users.”

The UK, with its history of offshore production, was a net exporter of oil, natural gas liquids and gas until 2005.

Since that time, however, the UK has been reliant on overseas imports to meet energy needs.

Data from our Evaluate Energy team confirms that in the past decade that disparity has been greatest in 2013, when the UK imported 1.2 million boe/d more than it exported. In 2015, that figure was down slightly, at 1.05 million boe/d.

Overall UK consumption of oil/NGL/gas peaked in 2005, at 3.5 million boe/d. It has declined virtually every year since, and stood at 2.6 million boe/d in 2015.

UK_OG_Measures_July_2016_1

Source: Evaluate Energy

UK_OG_Measures_July_2016

Source: Evaluate Energy

Meanwhile, our data confirms that UK oil/NGL/gas production has declined every year since 2000, when it stood at 4.45 million boe/d, to 1.44 million boe/d in 2014. It increased slightly in 2015, to 1.6 million boe/d.

Prime Minister May’s tone feels very much in tune with the former DECC list of energy priorities, where security of domestic energy supply ranked very high indeed.

Earlier this year, as energy minister, Leadsom reinforced the need for UK energy security. She was addressing the Shale World UK conference, which focused upon the potential for on-shore UK shale gas.

Leadsom positioned shale gas as an “effective low-carbon bridge” amid broader goals to reduce the nation’s reliance upon coal and secure alternative future power supplies. She viewed shale as a homegrown solution that would in turn create many thousands of jobs during development and ongoing production phases.

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Nigeria’s Oil Export Woes, Attacks on Majors and Why Merger Deals have Virtually Halted

Oil production has fallen dramatically and acquisition deals have ground to a virtual halt so far in 2016 in Nigeria, as the country continues to grapple with militant attacks on energy installations.

The concerns over export levels centre on oil installations in the Niger Delta that have been repeatedly targeted in recent months, creating significant unrest and threatening oil export volumes.

It hardly needs stating that energy production and exports are absolutely pivotal to the health of the economy of Nigeria, where several major international operators have significant stakes. Glacier Media’s Evaluate Energy data indicates that ExxonMobil produced 297,000 barrels a day (b/d), Royal Dutch Shell 275,000 b/d, Chevron 271,000 b/d, Total 228,000 b/d, and ENI SpA 132,000 b/d during 2015.

Crude oil production within the troubled West African state has plummeted during the first half of 2016. In May alone, output had fallen by 461,000 b/d when compared to fourth quarter averages in 2015, to 1.42 million b/d. May production was down 251,000 b/d compared to April as the slide continued, according to OPEC’s report on crude oil production from secondary sources.

Nigeria_Production_15-16

Source: OPEC Monthly Oil Market Report – June 2016 (Secondary sources)

Among Africa’s OPEC-member nations, the same OPEC data indicates Nigeria lagged behind Angola in terms of year-to-date crude oil production to May. Our Evaluate Energy data indicates that oil exports from Nigeria topped out in 2010 at 2.25 million b/d. With the exception of a small increase in 2014, exports have fallen every year since 2010, and stood at just over 2 million barrels in 2015.

As market uncertainty prevails in Nigeria, merger and acquisition activity has fallen dramatically. According to our 2016 data, so far this year just two deals have been announced. That compares to 13 deals announced in each of the two years prior.

The larger of the two deals in 2016 involved Canadian-listed Mart Resources Inc. (TSX: MMT), which agreed a Cdn$367 million deal (including debt) to be acquired by Midwestern Oil & Gas Company Ltd. and San Leon Energy Plc.

Midwestern had originally considered purchasing Mart in March 2015 – a deal that would have been worth around Cdn$524 million (including debt) at the time. Later that year, Mart was courted by Delta Oil Nigeria BV in a Cdn$394 million deal. That deal, however, was terminated due to deteriorating oil prices. Our Canoils Canadian asset team covered in-depth Mart’s various agreements to sell the company in our usual monthly M&A reviews: http://info.evaluateenergy.com/evaluate-energy-canoils-oil-gas-reports-studies-for-download

The second Nigerian M&A deal so far this year saw MX Oil plc acquired by GEC Petroleum Development Co. Ltd. for US$18 million.

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While M&A deal-flow has dried up, the activities of a militant group, known as the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA), have continued. The NDA’s demands are varied and are reported to include the ownership structure of oil blocks:  http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/who-are-niger-delta-avengers-nigerias-oil-gas-production-threatened-by-new-militants-1559022

Unrest naturally breeds uncertainty. Production continues, but disruption to operations has been painful: http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2016/07/07/world/africa/ap-af-nigeria-oil-crisis.html?_r=0

In the past week, the militants struck again. According to reports, the NDA blew up three manifolds operated by Chevron Corp. The NDA claims to have also blown up a well and pipelines in the country’s southern oil hub: http://www.reuters.com/article/us-nigeria-delta-chevron-idUSKCN0ZM2O9

While efforts are made to tackle the disruption, markets will watch on in hope of a resolution. As a side note, a Nigerian, Dr. Mohammed Sanusi Barkindo, takes the helm as secretary general of OPEC next month: http://www.opec.org/opec_web/en/press_room/3529.htm. Dr. Barkindo is formerly a managing director of state enterprise the Nigerian National Petroleum Corp.

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New Deal for Oil Workers in Norway Averts Strike Action

Offshore oil production in Norway flowed as usual today after strike action by workers was averted.

Norway’s net oil exports in 2015 averaged 1.714 million barrels a day, an increase of 58,000 barrels compared to 2014, according to data from Evaluate Energy and the BP Statistical Review of 2015.

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The majority-state-owned Statoil (Oslo:STL) is by far the country’s biggest oil and gas producer, with 1.23 million boe/d. The second largest producer is ExxonMobil (NYSE:XOM) at 233,000 boe/d followed by Total (Paris:FP) at 227,000 boe/d. Royal Dutch Shell (LSE:RDSA), ConocoPhillips (NYSE:COP), ENI (Milan:ENI), ENGIE (Paris:ENGI), Centrica Plc (LSE:CNA), BP (LSE:BP) and Det Norske (Oslo:DETNOR) are also in the top 10.

norway_production

Source: Evaluate Energy

About 7,500 employees working in Norway’s offshore oil fields as either drilling personnel or in catering are covered by a new offshore pay settlement, according to the Norwegian Oil and Gas Association in a weekend statement. The Association said the deal was reached between the Norwegian Union of Industry and Energy Workers (Industry Energy), the Norwegian Union of Energy Workers (Safe) and the Norwegian Organization of Managers and Executives.

“These negotiations have been demanding, with a number of different issues which had to be resolved,” said Jan Hodneland, lead negotiator for Norwegian Oil and Gas.

“Given the demanding position which the industry currently finds itself in, it was nevertheless crucial for us to find a solution which ensured that a strike could be avoided.”

The agreement includes a decision to appoint one or more committees during the period covered by the 2016-2018 settlement, “to assess issues related to time spent offshore, as well as changes to the work plan, workplace and work periods.” This is intended to tackle cost challenges faced by companies covered by the offshore agreements, said the Association. “The expectation is that such mutually binding committee discussions will help to strengthen the competitiveness of the Norwegian continental shelf.”

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EU Shock Wave: The Latest from London as Market Upheaval Continues

Enormous political and economic upheaval continued this morning in the aftermath of the UK’s historic decision to leave the European Union.

Stock traders and commentators struggled to keep pace with changing events in London, amid political interventions to calm markets on the one hand, and talk of political coups on the other.

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At the start of Monday trading, chancellor George Osborne sought to reassure markets that had been sent into a tailspin on Friday after the shock EU referendum decision.

“The Bank of England stands ready to provide GBP250 billion of funds through its normal facilities to continue to support banks and the smooth functioning of markets,” said Osborne, himself under enormous pressure having been a key figure in the failed campaign to remain within the EU.

“It will not be plain sailing in the days ahead. But let me be clear. You should not underestimate our resolve. We were prepared for the unexpected and we are equipped for whatever happens.

“We are determined that unlike eight years ago Britain’s financial system will help our country deal with any shocks and dampen them, not contribute to those shocks and make them worse.”

As of 4am MDT, the pound continued to struggle against the U.S. dollar. It was down to GBP1.3221. Among the banks, shares in Barclays and RBS were also down significantly. Brent oil was up 5 cents, to US$48.46.

For the latest market update visit: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-36636853

For an overview of the initial reactions to the UK Brexit vote, click here for Friday’s article.

The UK also witnessed today tremendous upheaval within the Labour Party, the official opposition to outgoing Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservative Party.

A fleet of Labour shadow cabinet and shadow ministers have resigned their positions in protest at the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn, in what has been described by many as an attempted “political coup” to oust the left-wing leader.  Corbyn announced this morning a new shadow cabinet. Further developments are anticipated within the next 48 hours.

And within the nation at large, there continues to be widespread dismay among the 48% of the UK that voted to remain within the EU. While London and Scotland voted resoundingly to remain, large parts of the rest of the UK voted to leave, a choice that has largely been characterized as a vote against immigration and a protest at governance from Brussels.

With Prime Minister Cameron announcing his decision last Friday to resign by the fall, debate is intensifying over who should take his place. Boris Johnson, the former Mayor of London and the chief figurehead of the successful “Leave” campaign, is the front-runner.

Before the vote took place last week, chief executives at three of the top four UK oil and gas producers publicly urged voters to remain within the European Union. Among them were CEOs at Anglo-Dutch Royal Dutch Shell, BP Plc. and France’s Total, who featured in media outlets in a list of prominent pro-EU business leaders, together with executives from Centrica plc and smaller producers active in the UK such as EnQuest plc, ENGIE, MOL and BHP Billiton.

According to data from Evaluate Energy, the energy executives who declared in favour of staying control approximately 510,000 boe/d of UK North Sea production.

Brexit_Chart

Source: Evaluate Energy

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Oil Industry and Markets React to UK Vote to Leave European Union

Markets and the oil and gas industry reacted this morning after the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union in a historic decision that triggered Prime Minister David Cameron to resign.

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“Leave” campaigners polled 52% in a vote that rebutted economic and political arguments for staying within the EU provided by Prime Minister Cameron and other prominent “Remain” supporters. Voting was heavily split regionally – with a majority of voters in London and Scotland expressing a desire to remain within Europe.

Canadian Mark Carney, governor of the Bank of England, said today the UK could expect market volatility as it begins the process of renegotiating trade agreements with the EU and wider world.

“The Treasury and the Bank of England have engaged in extensive contingency planning and the chancellor and I have been in close contact, including through the night and this morning,” he said in a statement.

“The Bank will not hesitate to take additional measures as required as those markets adjust and the UK economy moves forward. These adjustments will be supported by a resilient UK financial system – one that the Bank of England has consistently strengthened over the last seven years. The capital requirements of our largest banks are now ten times higher than before the crisis. The Bank of England has stress tested them against scenarios more severe than the country currently faces.”

Read Mark Carney’s full statement here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-36618560

The expected volatility was seen as markets opened this morning. The FTSE fell 8% and the value of the UK pound dropped while the price of Brent oil fell by 5.2%. Both the FTSE and Brent regained some ground in later morning UK trading.

Prime Minister Cameron had staked his political future on the outcome of the referendum. He announced his intention to resign in the hours that followed the “Brexit” result, as well as providing a sense of the timing for new leadership to take his place by this fall.

Oil & Gas UK, the leading representatives for the UK’s offshore oil and gas industry, this morning hoped that all those involved will now come together and “work constructively” to make the EU transition as smooth as possible.

“We ask that the UK Government clearly outlines the process which will follow to minimize any potential period of uncertainty. The UK oil and gas industry is at a critical juncture and we need to ensure the UK Continental Shelf continues to attract investment and be seen as a great place to do business.”

The UK Government identifies security of domestic energy supply as a key part of the UK’s energy plan. It has been exploring alternative sources of domestic energy, including the creation of a shale gas sector. The UK became a net importer of oil in 2006, of gas in 2004 and for a combination of oil and gas in BOE in 2005.

Earlier this week, chief executives at three of the top four UK oil and gas producers publicly urged voters to remain within the European Union. Among them were CEOs at Anglo-Dutch Royal Dutch Shell, BP Plc. and France’s Total, who featured in media outlets in a list of prominent pro-EU business leaders, together with executives from Centrica plc and smaller producers active in the UK such as EnQuest plc, ENGIE, MOL and BHP Billiton.

According to data from Evaluate Energy, the energy executives who declared in favour of staying control approximately 510,000 boe/d of UK North Sea production.

Brexit_Chart

Source: Evaluate Energy

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