Wednesday, February 4, 2009

P30 Pick Points

Half-a-dozen or so stories of interest:

Moving to undo some of the last actions of the Bush Administration Interior Secretary Salazar has cancelled the lease agreements that had earlier been approved (but then delayed when the government did not cash the checks) in Utah for oil and natural gas. At the same time, in Wyoming some sales are proceeding, while other leases have been withdrawn at the Governor’s request.

Adding additional numbers to the costs for drilling wells in the gas shales, Encore Acquisition have stated that their goal this year, in the Bakken, is to reduce costs from $5 million per well to $4 million. They are also planning refracs of some of the wells. These are done some 9 – 18 months after initial completion, and at a cost of $500,000 each can increase reserves by up to 80,000 boe. Over in the Woodford, Newfield Exploration have lowered (on a lateral foot basis) the cost of drilling wells by some 38% and are hoping to continue this trend by drilling longer wells (out to 5,000 ft from 4,436 ft last year and 2,700 ft in 2007.) Lease rates in the Marcellus were reported to be up to $4,000 an acre and 17.5% royalty, prior to the slackening of demand.

Public relations in the Barnett still appear to be becoming more difficult, as an application for a compressor station has just been withdrawn. Without the dramatic reductions in well costs, and without an increase in gas prices unlikely in the present glut of gas, the current economics of many operations are being further questioned by Arthur Berman.

Royal Dutch Shell said that the cost of producing oil from the oil sands of Alberta rose to $38 a barrel last year. Their production dropped last year to 80,000 bd falling 7,000 bd from 2007, while costs rose by $9 a barrel. More than $60 billion worth of projects have now been delayed, including the expansion of the Shell output to 250,000 bd, which was scheduled for next year. Meanwhile Marathon has written down the $1.4 billion cost of its oil sand operation. Canadian Oil Sands trust, the largest shareholder in Syncrude Canada cut its dividend 80% because of the drop in oil prices. Meanwhile BP and Husky have not yet gone forward with their investment on the Sunrise assets in Alberta. Yet the prospects are such that a firm that specializes in the construction side of the development has just been taken over by Aecon. They, however, do not have to deal with the stronger environmental rules that are now being applied to the tailings ponds.

Merrill Lynch says non-OPEC oil production has peaked, expecting that such production will be in the 49-50 mbd range by next year, while the IEA were predicting last summer that the peak would be next year at around 51 mbd. The Merrill Lynch projection is based on an increase in field decline rates which they set at 4.5% against the IEA figure of 4.2%. The IEA recognizes that the decline rate will rise to 4.7% in the next seven years, but this will slow, not stop increases in production. In contrast ML argue that some of the decline will come from the loss in capital availability and this will carry decline above 5% (and perhaps as high as 6%). Should this happen then within a year oil prices will be back where they were earlier last year. A year ago CERA were saying that a 4.5% rate was typical but they were saying this as rumors and reports of figures already above 5% were starting to circulate.

It looks as though Croatia is going to be the next meal for Gazprom as plans for the Pan European Pipeline start to collapse, and their experts head off to Moscow. With Nabucco also still not having enough gas commitment to be viable and Gazprom is making promises to Turkey about providing natural gas their dominance becomes more evident. With the upcoming North and South Stream deliveries giving Russia the chance to provide for 50% of Western European gas needs (up from the current 25%), the only question becomes where does Gazprom get all the money to fund these developments? It must find $10 billion in debt payments by the end of July, and just lost up to $2 billion in the dispute with Ukraine. As a result they are sweetening their stock offers, even as their production of natural gas falls 14% y-o-y . On the other hand, as deliveries through the Baku-Tblitsi-Ceyhan rise, those through the Baku-Novorossisk pipeline are falling.

Over at the European Tribune Luis has just finished his 3-part review of the plan to Secure the Energy Future of the EU, with earlier posts on the Action Plan and an Introduction. Given the outreaching hand of Gazprom, it is worth getting to know this background, before it gets more serious.

More stories can be found at The Energy Bulletin and Drumbeat at The Oil Drum

1 comment:

  1. Hi there. Time permitting there will be a few more posts on SER-2, the energy demand/import scenarios at least are worth a closer look.

    These daily news digest are really handy. I don't know how you manage to do it but thanks.