Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Tema Oil Refinery has a new CEO

Kingsley Kwame Awuah-Darko


The Tema Oil Refinery (TOR) has a new Chief Executive Officer.

A communication from the presidency named Kingsley Awuah Darko, until now the acting MD of BOST.

He takes over from Dr Alphone Kwao Dorcoo, who is heading to the Ministry of Petroleum.

The changes are part of an ongoing restructuring of the leadership of government agencies, officials say.

Other changes include the Economic and Organised Crimes Office (EOCO) where a Deputy Executive Director, Justice Tsar, has been appointed Acting Executive Director. He replaces Kweku Biadela Mortey.

George Atta-Boateng of the Ghana Education Service is going to the National Information Technology as Acting Director General. He takes over from William Tevie who is headed to the National Communications Authority as Acting Director General.

Osman Suleman is the new Acting CEO of the Ghana Venture Capital Trust Fund.

PRECIOUS-Gold firms as Greece fears pressure global stock markets

* Gold pares gains after rallying on Greece fears
* European stocks, euro slide on Grexit threat
* Spot platinum prices fall to two-year low (Updates prices, adds comment)
By Marcy Nicholson and Jan Harvey
NEW YORK/LONDON, - Gold firmed on Monday, as the prospect of a Greek debt default hit global shares, offsetting wariness among investors over the metal's longer-term outlook.
U.S. stocks added to a global selloff as Greece veered toward a default on its debt, while the euro recovered from early sharp loss to turn higher against the dollar.
Greece will not pay a 1.6 billon euro loan installment due to the International Monetary Fund on Tuesday, a Greek government official told Reuters.
Gold, which often benefits from uncertainty in the wider financial markets, initially rallied to a near one-week high at $1,186.91, but later gave up some of those gains.
Spot gold was up 0.4 percent at $1,178.90 an ounce at 2:45 p.m. EDT (1845 GMT), on track to close the second quarter down 0.3 percent, the fourth straight weak quarter.
U.S. gold futures for August delivery settled up 0.5 percent at $1,179 an ounce.
The wider environment remains relatively unfriendly for gold, with the United States still likely to raise interest rates at some point this year. That would increase the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding gold.
"Gold historically has always been the safe, tangible commodity which had appeal in times of turbulence, but recently, gold has increasingly trading off U.S. rate hike expectations, and how the dollar performs against the euro," ING analyst Hamza Khan said.
"Today we have all of this concern around Grexit creating bullish sentiment for gold, but at the same time we have weakness in the euro creating bearish sentiment for gold, and they're effectively cancelling each other out."

Holdings of the world's largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, New York-listed SPDR Gold Shares, posted their biggest rise since early February last week at 9.5 tonnes.
"Broad investor interest has become relatively positive," Barclays Capital said in a note.
Spot palladium fell to a two-year low at $663.25 an ounce, and was on track to finish the quarter down 9.2 percent and fall for the second straight quarter.
"There is a large overhang of above-ground stocks out there, as per estimates. We're eating into that inventory each year," said Mike Dragosits, senior commodity strategist for TD Securities in Toronto.
Among other precious metals, silver was down 0.6 percent at $15.67 an ounce and platinum was down 0.04 percent at $1,074.50 an ounce.
(Additional reporting by A. Ananthalakshmi in Singapore; Editing by David Evans and Meredith Mazzilli)

Monday, June 29, 2015

Nigerian president dissolves state oil company board

President Muhammadu Buhari

Nigeria's new President Muhammadu Buhari dissolved the board of the state-owned oil company on Friday as a first step in cleaning up the sector in Africa's biggest crude producer.
Inaugurated on May 29, Buhari came to power on an anti-corruption ticket and a pledge to make the sector that provides 80 percent of government revenues more transparent.
"The president has said he will clean up the oil sector. That is the beginning of the clean up," said the president's spokesman Femi Adesina.
Buhari, who has yet to announce his cabinet, is likely to keep the oil portfolio for himself rather than trust others with the lifeblood of Africa's biggest economy and an industry that has long been mired in corruption scandals. 
A presidency source who declined to be named said the management team of the state-owned Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) was also likely to go in the coming weeks.
"It is significant," Bismarck Rewane, economist and CEO of Lagos consultancy Financial Derivatives. "The whole structure of the NNPC is completely and utterly dysfunctional."
In 2013, then central bank governor Lamido Sanusi said tens of billions of dollars in oil revenues had failed to make it into state coffers while watchdogs say the government may be losing billions more through opaque contracts in which crude oil is swapped for refined imports such as diesel.
The lower house of parliament decided on Wednesday to investigate whether the government had been short-changed by the state oil company scheme to swap crude for the refined products. 
"You can't possibly have the same board in place while the place is being investigated and with the intention to change the way things are being done there," said Adesina.
"It's the country's cash cow. It has a bright future. It's just that transparency and accountability have to be introduced into how it operates and this is the beginning of that process."
The NNPC will report to the presidency until a new board is appointed, said Ohi Alegbe, a spokesman for the oil company.
Nigeria's anti-corruption agency has investigated various oil scandals in the past, including a fuel subsidy fraud costing the government $6.8 billion between 2009-2011. But due to a lack of political will, only a handful were prosecuted.
The president has been advised to end a fuel subsidy programme by a 19-member transition committee formed from his All Progressives Congress (APC), senior party sources have told Reuters.
"The damage NNPC has done to the system, both culturally and economically is significant so it has to be followed up by the removal of subsidies, and restructuring," said Rewane.
Other recommendations include privatising Nigeria's four refineries, which often run below capacity and mean the country imports nearly all the fuel it needs to keep the economy going.

Nuke talks to miss target; Iran foreign minister heads home

VIENNA (AP) -- A senior U.S. official acknowledged Sunday that Iran nuclear talks will go past their June 30 target date, as Iran's foreign minister prepared to head home for consultations before returning to push for a breakthrough.
Iranian media said Mohammed Javad Zarif's trip was planned in advance. Still, the fact that he was leaving the talks so close to what had been the Tuesday deadline reflected both that the talks had a ways to go and his need to get instructions on how to proceed on issues where the sides remain apart - among them how much access Tehran should give to U.N. experts monitoring his country's compliance to any deal.
The United States insists on more intrusive monitoring than Iran is ready to give. With these and other disputes still unresolved, the likelihood that the Tuesday target deadline for an Iran nuclear deal could slip was increasingly growing even before the U.S. confirmation.

The dispute over access surfaced again Sunday, with Iranian Gen. Masoud Jazayeri saying that any inspection by foreigners of Iran's military centers is prohibited.
He said the attempt by the U.S. and its allies to "obtain Iran's military information for years ... by the pressure of sanctions" will not succeed.
But German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who joined the talks Friday, said Iran's "nuclear activities, no matter where they take place," must be verifiable.
Officials said they could not speculate on how many days' extension the talks would need. But Zarif told reporters that he planned to come back only on Tuesday, the day the negotiations were originally supposed to end with a deal.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Zarif met in Vienna for their third encounter since Saturday. The foreign ministers of Britain, France and Germany came - and then went, or planned to leave, in another reflection that the sides were not yet close to a deal.
For weeks, all seven nations at the negotiating table insisted that Tuesday remains the formal deadline for a deal. But with time running out, a senior U.S. official acknowledged that was unrealistic.
"Given the dates, and that we have some work to do ... the parties are planning to remain in Vienna beyond June 30 to continue working," said the official, who demanded anonymity in line with State Department practice.
Asked about the chances for a deal, Federica Mogherini, the European Union's top diplomat, told reporters: "It's going to be tough ... but not impossible." Hammond spoke of "major differences" in the way of a deal.
Steinmeier told German media: "I am convinced that if there is no agreement, everyone loses."
"Iran would remain isolated. A new arms race in a region that is already riven by conflict could be the dramatic consequence."
Both sides recognize that there is leeway to extend to July 9. As part of an agreement with the U.S. Congress, lawmakers then have 30 days to review the deal before suspending congressional sanctions.
But postponement beyond that would double the congressional review period to 60 days, giving both Iranian and U.S. critics more time to work on undermining an agreement.
Arguing for more time to allow the U.S. to drive a harder bargain, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu - a fierce opponent of the talks - weighed in on Sunday against "this bad agreement, which is becoming worse by the day."
"It is still not too late to go back and insist on demands that will genuinely deny Iran the ability to arm itself with nuclear weapons," he said.
The goal of the talks involving Iran and the U.S., Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia is a deal that would crimp Tehran's capacity to make nuclear weapons in exchange for sanctions relief. Iran insists it does not want such arms but is bargaining in exchange for sanctions relief.
On Saturday, diplomats told The Associated Press that Iran was considering a U.S.-backed plan for it to send enriched uranium to another country for sale as reactor fuel, a step that would resolve one of several outstanding issues.
Associated Press writers Bradley Klapper and Matthew Lee in Vienna, Ali Akbar Dareini in Tehran and Josef Federman in Jerusalem contributed to this report.

Friday, June 26, 2015

How Iranian Oil Tankers Keep Syria’s War Machine Alive

An oil tanker off the southern coast of Iran in 2012.
Photographer: Tta Kenare/AFP/GettyImages

It’s no secret that Iran provides critical support to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The trouble comes in trying to figure out how much Iran spends and what that support actually looks like.

Estimates of Iran’s largesse vary considerably depending on who you ask, as my Bloomberg View colleague Eli Lake reported earlier this month. The United Nations’ special envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, believes Iran spends about $6 billion annually propping up the Assad regime. Others believe that when you factor in Iran’s support for Hezbollah, which provides fighters to Assad, the number gets closer to $15 billion or $20 billion a year.

No matter the monetary total, a key component of Iran’s support for Assad is crude oil shipments. Syria once had a surplus of crude and even exported small amounts from its oil fields in the east. The civil war that broke out in 2011 has ravaged Syria’s crude production, which fell from about 400,000 barrels a day to roughly 20,000 barrels, according to recent estimates from the U.S. Department of Energy.
Syria's President Bashar Al-Assad
Syria's President Bashar Al-Assad.
Pankaj Nangia/Bloomber
Last summer, meanwhile, the U.S. Department of State confirmed what many had suspected: Iran was helping to make up that shortfall by sending oil directly to Syria. The frequency of those shipments has remained largely unclear. New Bloomberg analysis of tanker movement  suggests Iran has sent about 10 million barrels of crude to Syria so far this year—or about 60,000 barrels a day. With oil prices averaging $59 a barrel over the past six months, that’s about $600 million in aid since January.

So far this year, according to Bloomberg analysis, a total of 10 vessels have traveled from Iran to the Syrian port of Banias, which is still controlled by the Assad regime. The tankers appear to leave from one of two Iranian island ports, Kharg or Sirri, both in the Persian Gulf. The voyages last about two to three weeks and take the ships through the Strait of Hormuz, around the Arabian Peninsula, up the Red Sea, and through the Suez Canal.

Iran is using just three tankers to send oil to Syria, all of them classified as Suezmax tankers capable of hauling 1 million barrels each. These are the biggest class of ships that can get through the Suez Canal with a full load. The most recent delivery appears to have been made on May 26, when the tanker Amin delivered about 1 million barrels to Banias. A second ship, the Tour 2, arrived in Banias on June 16 and is currently anchored just offshore with an apparent delivery of crude. Below is a chart of the Tour 2’s route from Iran to Syria over the past month.
With most of Syria’s oil and gas producing regions controlled by either the Kurds or Islamic State, these crude shipments from Iran are vital to the Assad regime’s ability to hang on to power, says Andrew Tabler, a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. This crude is likely being processed into fuel oil at the Banias refinery, he says, where it can be used for home heating oil, for power generation, and as fuel for what’s left of Assad’s military.

“Iran is basically fueling the entire country,” says Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. Cordesman and Tabler believe it’s unlikely that Syria is paying for this oil. Given the state of its economy after four years of intense civil war, and Assad’s dwindling currency reserves, it’s doubtful Syria has the money to pay.

By simply giving oil to Syria rather than charging for it, Iran is able to skirt U.S. and European Union sanctions designed to limit Iran’s crude exports. Under the sanctions regime imposed in mid-2012 as a penalty for its nuclear program, Iran is allowed to sell oil to only six countries: China, India, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and Turkey. “This is just a blatant violation of U.S. sanctions,” says Mark Dubowitz, executive director of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies in Washington and a supporter of tougher sanctions. “It’s allowing Iran to fund Assad’s war machine with no repercussions.”

It’s not clear how the U.S. or Europe would go about stopping Iran from giving its oil to Syria. There’s no financial transactions to target, no money trail to follow, and no bank accounts to freeze. Peter Harrell spent two years working on sanctions at the State Department as the deputy assistant secretary for counter threat finance and sanctions. While he admits that Iran’s oil trade with Syria is “clearly a sanctionable activity,” he doesn’t see a practical way to end it. “You can’t simply turn this off by going after banks,” Harrell says. “You’d have to figure out how to physically stop the tankers.”

Nigerian repair hub for large tankers

Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas Company (NLNG) plans to invest $1.5 bill in a local shipyard capable of accommodating large crude carriers, according to Reuters.
Nigeria, Africa’s biggest economy and world’s eighth largest crude producer, does not have a drydock capable of repairing large tankers.
Hyundai Heavy Industries and Samsung Heavy Industries have agreed a $30 mill commitment towards building the drydocking facilities in Badagry, some 40 miles west of Lagos.
Last December, NLNG unveiled the project to multi-national oil companies in Nigeria.
The yard’s construction is expected to take up to four years, and will start once the funding is secured, according to a report from Reuters.

Suez Canal convoy operations

Suez Canal in Shipping Dilemma. Source: HMX Maxton
During the construction of the new Suez Canal, which is approaching its final phase, Inchcape Shipping Services (ISS) has advised that the Suez Canal Authority (SCA) is operating the following programme, due to current dredging operations.
·         During the dredging period, only one convoy is allowed to transit the Suez canal - a convoy will not enter the canal until another convoy exits from Port Said or Suez.
·         Convoy timings are being decided by the SCA on a daily basis.
·         The SCA is currently operating only one convoy from the north and one per south per day.
·         Time of entering the canal is changeable as per the SCA daily decision.
·         To minimise disruption during this final dredging period the Suez canal is not stopping or closing, but reorganising convoy timings.
Digging and dredging is expected to be concluded by 15th July.
The new Suez canal measures from 60 kilometres to 95 kilometres in length, while the project also involves deepening and widening the Great Bitter Lakes and Ballah bypass to 37 kilometres in length.
On completion, the new Suez Canal will create a new parallel waterway to the existing one, increasing the doubled parts of the Suez Canal by 50%. The SCA has also advised that the new channel will accommodate vessels with up to a 24 m draught and is widening the existing western bypasses to 317 m.
Other project objectives detailed by the SCA for the new Suez Canal include:
·         Shortening the transit time from 18 hours to 11 hours for the southbound convoy.
·         Minimising waiting time for vessels to three hours instead of eight to 11 hours.
·         Increasing the daily average of transiting vessels to 97 ships from 49 by 2023.
·         Achieving direct through transit for 45 ships in both directions.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Iran’s 40 million barrels stored at sea hangs over oil market

NITC oil tanker file photo.

Iran is storing as much as 40 million barrels of oil on supertankers at sea as it prepares for a sales drive if a nuclear deal can be sealed.

Iran and six world powers are seeking to overcome remaining differences with a looming self-imposed June 30 deadline to reach a deal over Tehran’s disputed nuclear programme.

In the meantime, Iran has been parking oil off its coast, mainly on tankers belonging to its national carrier NITC.

“The first thing they will try and do is offload quite a lot of that storage. (Oil Minister Bijan) Zanganeh has already warned OPEC: make room for us. In other words, we are going to sell this oil at any price,” said Mehdi Varzi, a former official at the state-run National Iranian Oil Co.

“Floating storage is there to be put onto the market as soon as possible after some sort of agreement,” said Varzi, who now runs an energy consultancy in Britain.

Iran, once OPEC’s second-largest producer after Saudi Arabia, is seeking to clear space for its gradual return to the market after years in which Western sanctions have halved its oil exports to as little as 1 million barrels per day (bpd).

“It actually makes sense for them to go in fairly hard in order to reclaim market share and hope that high cost producers above them are inched out quicker,” said Samuel Ciszuk, senior adviser on security of supply to the Swedish Energy Agency.

Shipping sources and tanker tracking data on Reuters showed over the past three months Iran had deployed at least 15 very large crude carriers (VLCCs), each capable of carrying 2 million barrels, to store oil.

“The approximate 38 million barrels of Iranian oil in floating storage, in addition to shore based stocks, could quickly add supply to the market,” tanker broker EA Gibson said in a report last week.
Broker Poten & Partners estimated 17 VLCC tankers were being used to store Iranian oil.

A separate source, who tracks tanker movements, said Iran was storing over 45 million barrels of oil on 23 tankers including a few vessels that were not part of NITC’s fleet.

“That compares with 25 million barrels stored on 12 to 14 tankers exactly a year ago, which is a major increase year-on-year,” the source said.

Two NITC tankers – Amber and Nancy – have been deployed for floating storage in recent weeks, tracking data showed. Among the non-NITC vessels being used for storage are Iran-flagged tanker Daryakaran, tracking data showed.


The International Energy Agency (IEA) said in a report last week that preliminary tanker tracking data showed Iran’s crude sales rose in May to 1.4 million bpd, up 235,000 bpd from April and were at their highest since June 2012, the last month before tough financial measures were imposed by Washington and Brussels.

“It is unclear how much, if any, of the May volume came out of floating storage,” the IEA said. “Tehran is expected to target Asia for its additional crude if and when sanctions are lifted.”

While Zanganeh has said Tehran would pump another 500,000 bpd within a month of lifting sanctions and up to 1 million bpd within six or seven months, most analysts believe it will be months or up to a year for any significant output increase.

Iran’s tanker arm NITC, still blacklisted by the United States and the European Union, has a fleet carrying capacity of over 76 million barrels of oil.

“In the context of the financial sanctions, there are still going to be problems on the insurance side,” the Swedish Energy Agency’s Ciszuk said. “And from that point of view, it will be very important for Iran to have as many tankers of their own ready to go and ready to deliver.”

Source: Reuters (By Jonathan Saul, Editing by William Hardy)

Judge blocks US fracking rules after petroleum groups and states object

Gas flare at a fracking site.
Gas flare at a fracking site. Photograph: Les Stone/Reuters
A US district judge in Wyoming has granted a request by four states and several energy industry groups to temporarily block new federal rules governing fracking on public lands.

The interior department rules due to come into force on Wednesday would require companies to provide data on chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing, and to take steps to prevent leakage from oil and gas wells on federally owned land.

But on Tuesday Judge Scott Skavdahl granted a stay to the new rules until 22 July, according to the Independent Petroleum Association of America, which said the judge’s decision on a preliminary injunction sought by IPAA and other opponents of the rules was now expected in mid-August.

IPAA and the Western Energy Alliance were joined by Colorado, Wyoming, North Dakota and Utah in seeking to stop the new rules from taking effect.

“We are pleased the court agreed that the new BLM regulations present serious and difficult questions that justified a stay of these rules’ effective date,” Colorado attorney general Cynthia Coffman said.

Fracking involves injection of large amounts of water, sand and chemicals underground at high pressure to extract gas. Environmental groups and some living near wells have linked the practice to water pollution and increased earthquake activity.

Industry and states producing gas and oil have long opposed federal rules on fracking. Preferring to keep regulation in state hands, IPAA and the Western Energy Alliance filed a lawsuit in the US district court in Wyoming challenging the rules minutes after they were issued in March.

The groups said the rules were “arbitrary and unnecessary”.

Wyoming and Colorado soon followed with their own lawsuit, arguing that the rules would infringe upon their sovereign authority to regulate hydraulic fracturing. North Dakota also intervened in the case against the regulations.

The groups and the states argue that allowing the rules to move forward before the resolution of the legal challenges would harm industry and waste state resources.

The interior department was not immediately available for comment on the judge’s decision.

In its brief opposing the injunction, the department argued that companies would only be affected by the rules if they chose to engage in fracking on federal lands.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Nigeria: President Buhari urged to end fuel subsidy and privatise oil refineries

Nigeria oil
New president Muhammadu Buhari urged to privatise Nigeria's four refineries and end oil subsidy to help economy

Nigeria's President Mohammadu Buhari has been advised to privatise the country's four refineries and end a fuel subsidy program.

Nigeria is Africa's biggest crude oil producer but its lack of refineries means that the country has to import fuel.

"The removal of the fuel subsidy is one of the recommendations of the transition committee," a senior All Progressives Congress (APC) told Reuters.
"The committee also suggested to Mr President that the four refineries be privatized so that the government stops wasting money on annual turnaround maintenance," he said.

Former president Goodluck Jonathan, defeated by Buhari in March's presidential election, had cut subsidies by 90% after oil prices slumped.

In 2012, the government attempted to end subsidies by doubling the price of a litre of petrol overnight, angering citizens who argued that low prices are the only benefit they have by living in the oil-rich nation. The government backtracked on its decision following protests.

According to Olayemi Akande, a prominent Nigerian blogger based in Lagos, some will oppose to the end of subsidy.

Akande told IBTimes UK: "There seems to be a cabal that profits a lot from the subsidy and will do everything it takes to fight the removal. I support the privatisation of the four refineries, which will likely increase efficiency in that sector."

Nwafor Chizoba, a copy-editor from Onitsha, Anambra state, told IBTimes UK that Nigeria should not rely on fuel imports. However, he believes that subsidy is currently "the only way Nigerians benefit from their government."

He said: "Buhari shouldn't remove the subsidy as he will incur the wrath of the populace if he does. Subsidy is the only way the ordinary Nigerians benefit from their government.

"Things are not easy here. You may be wondering why the fuel issue seems to be the cardinal issue in Nigeria. Well, it is because fuel is at the centre of everything here: We cook, commute, produce and even rely on it for electricity.This is the reason why the price of everything is affected once fuel price rises in the country.

"They [government] should ask themselves why is it that other countries are growing and we are declining."
Nigeria oil
Former senator Kabir Marafa also called for an end of subsidies arguing that it would solve the problem of lack of petroleum products in the country. According to Marafa, oil destined for Nigeria is sold in other African countries at higher prices.

"This thing called fuel subsidy, I don't believe there is one, I don't believe it is benefiting the masses and it doesn't help them in any way as far as I am concerned," he was quoted by PM News Nigeria.

"So long as fuel is selling at a lower price than some other neighbouring countries, you will continue to have fuel going through the borders out. If you deregulate the market, you allow whoever wants to bring petroleum products into the country to go ahead and bring it, you regulate only, fuel will not sell as much as it is selling now."

Oil production in Nigeria is also marred by widespread oil tanker explosions, attacks on pipelines, and corruption.

In 2013, the head of the Nigerian Central Bank, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, was suspended after he claimed that $20bn (£12bn) of oil revenue "went missing" from state oil company Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation.

Many Nigerians see Buhari, the first president to be democratically elected since military rule and a long list of coup d'états, as the answer to tackling problems, such as the crippled economy and army's indiscipline, that the previous administrations failed to address.

After being sworn in, Buhari said his administration will "kill corruption". During his campaign, he also promised to promote women's empowerment and tackle youth unemployment.

Monday, June 22, 2015

OPEC Revenues Tumble Below $1 Trillion in 2014

Demonocracy.info - $1,000,000,000,000 - One Trillion Dollars

The value of the oil exported by the 12 member nations of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) fell from $1.112 trillion in 2013 to $993.3 billion last year. Last year was the first since 2010 when the cartel’s oil revenues fell below $1 trillion. OPEC countries relied on oil exports for 70% of total exports in 2013, compared with just 67% in 2014.
The current account balance of the dozen OPEC countries fell from $417.7 billion in 2013 to $273.6 billion in 2014, a decline of 35%, as the member nations were forced to import more even as they exported less. The data come from the OPEC 2014 Annual Report released Wednesday.

Much of the report reinforces data presented in the cartel’s monthly oil market reports, and even the revelation about the cartel’s finances is not a big surprise. The Financial Times reported in early May that the Saudis had to draw some $36 billion from the country’s sovereign wealth fund to cover expenses for the months of March and April.

The cartel reported that its production fell by 157,000 barrels a day from 2013 to 30.075 million barrels a day. The data, as is usual with OPEC, is based on an “assessment of selected secondary sources.”

Total global demand for oil rose by a million barrels a day year-over-year to 91.3 million barrels a day, while total global supply rose to 92.4 million barrels a day. That 1.3 million barrel daily surplus is the target of OPEC’s announced policy of letting the market find its own price without the cartel cutting its own production. At the end of 2014, the OPEC reference basket of 12 crudes had dropped 9% year-over-year from $105.87 to $96.29 in 2014.

In the fourth quarter last year, the OPEC reference basket averaged $73.69 a barrel. In the cartel’s June Oil Market Report, the reference basket averaged $62.16 a barrel, a new high for the year to date.

As low as OPEC revenues were in 2014, 2015 is shaping up to be an even more disappointing year.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Markets---Still more orders as tanker rates firm

Marine Management (Trade & Transport) was believed to be close to ordering two option two Suezmaxes and two option two Aframaxes from CIC Jiangsu.
The larger tankers were thought to cost about $57 mill each, while the Aframxes were quoted at $50 mill each, according to brokers reports.

In addition, Knutsen NYK Offshore Tankers (KNOT) has ordered another Suezmax capacity DP2 shuttle tanker on the back of BG exercising its option to charter a third  newbuilding for operation in Brazil.

BG still has a remaining option for one more shuttle tanker.

The new vessel will be constructed by Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) ithe builder of the first two vessels in the series.

Upon delivery, expected to be in mid-2017, the vessel will commence operations under a timecharter with BG for a minimum term of five years. If BG exercises all the extension options, the vessel could operate under charter for 20 years.

Elsewhere, Norwegian based Yara was believed to have ordered two MRs at SPP for 2017 deliveries.
Following last week’s news regarding Euronav, the company has now confirmed the purchase of four newbuilding VLCCs for $96 mill each.

Paddy Rodgers, CEO, said; “Euronav is delighted to enhance our fleet with the addition of four high specification modern VLCCs. The tanker sector continues to perform strongly with a positive outlook. This accretive transaction further cements Euronav’s position as the largest, independent quoted crude tanker platform.”

The vessels are due to be delivered as early as September 2015, January, March and May 2016. In addition and against the payment of an option fee of an aggregate amount of $8 mill, the seller has also agreed to grant Euronav an option to acquire up to a further four VLCCs sisters for $98 mill each.

Navios Maritime Acquisition Corp announced that it had agreed to sell the 2000-built VLCC ‘C Dream’ and the ‘Nave Celeste’, a 2003-built VLCC, to Navios Maritime Midstream Partners for $100 mill, payable in $73 mill in cash and $27 mill in a new class of subordinated units.

Finland’s Neste Corp is to sell two of its product tankers to Swedish-based Donsötank for around $15 mill each.

The vessels are the last to be fully owned by the refining company, which in 2013 announced its plans to divest its shipping operations.

The two vessels- ‘Purha’ (25,000 dwt, built 2003) and ‘Jurmo’ (25,000 dwt, built 2004) will be delivered to Donsötank in September. Prior to their handover, they will continue to be managed by OSM Ship Management Finland.

Other sales reported include the 2000-built VLCC ‘Kalymnos’ thought sold to Murmansk Shipping for $39 mill. She is scheduled for drydocking in September, brokers said.

The 1998-built MR ‘Kara Sea’ was said to have been committed to unknown buyers for $9.5 mill and the 2005-built Handysize ‘Faouet’ was said to have been sold to Thenamaris for $16.2 mill.

In the charter market, Capital Product Partners (CPP) newly delivered MR ‘Active’ was fixed on a two-year timecharter to Cargill for $17,700 daily.

The NASDAQ-listed company bought the vessel in April from its sponsor Capital Maritime & Trading Corp for $33.5m.

Active‘s previous charter to Capital Maritime was due to expire in 2017 but was terminated early to enable Cargill to commence the contract in early June. Capital Maritime was paying a gross rate of $17,000 per day for the vessel, plus a 50/50 profit share.

Capital Maritime has also extended its existing timecharter of CPP’s MR ‘Anemos I’ (built 2007) by another year at a gross rate of $17,250 per day. This is an increase on the gross $14,850 per day fixed in the current charter, which expires in mid-June.

CPP’s sister company Capital Maritime has also extended its timecharter of the MR ‘Atrotos’ (built 2007) for another year at a gross daily rate of $15,250, which is $500 per day more than the current rate. The new charter expires in April next year.

BP Shipping was thought to have fixed the 2003-built Aframax ‘CSK Valiant’ for 12 months at $22,000 per day, while the oil major was also linked to the charter of the 2008-built LR1 ‘Athina’for 12 months at $21,000 per day. 

Hafnia was believed to have taken the 2008-built MR ‘FSL Singapore’ for $15,000 per day, plus a profit sharing scheme. Morgan Stanley was said to have taken the 2000-built MR ‘Iver Experience’ for 12 months at $14,250 per day, while Trafigura was believed to have fixed her sister - ‘Iver Exporter’- for the same period and same rate.

Finally, Koch was thought to have fixed the 2010-built MR ‘Swarna Mala’ for 12 months at $16,750 per day.  

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Gold and silver are surging

Gold and other precious metals are rallying.

On Thursday morning, Gold climbed nearly 2%, crossing the key level of $1,200 an ounce before settling near $1,198 per ounce. 

The metal is now up $22 from the lows reached on Wednesday before the Federal Reserve updated its monetary policy statement.

Silver rallied more than 2% to as high as $16.30 an ounce. Platinum also jumped 2% to around $1,094.65 an ounce.

The Fed lowered its projected trajectory of rate hikes this year through its "dot plot." More members now see zero or just one rate hike by the end of this year.

Here's a chart showing the rise in gold from Wednesday:


And in silver:


Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/gold-price-june-18-2015-6#ixzz3dQth0Rap

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

IFC sign loan agreement for Ghana petroleum storage

A loan agreement of $8 million (€7 million) has been signed by the International Finance Corporation (IFC) to help construct a petroleum products storage facility in Ghana.

The loan agreement is between the IFC and Quantum Oil Terminal, which is developing a 55,000 metric tonne facility near the port of Tema, close to the country's capital Accra.

The project will help alleviate storage constraints in the products distribution value chain and reduce shortages in Ghana.

The OPEC Fund for International Development also provided an $8 million (€7 million) loan.Quantum's group executive chairman and CEO Emmanuel Egyei-Mensah says:

'This collaboration with IFC on the Tema Tank Farm project is critical for us and for Ghana.'Ronke-Amoni Ogunsulire, IFC country manager for Ghana adds:

'The energy is a priority for IFC, and we are working on projects in every part of the value chain. We are pleased that, together with Quantum, we can help reduce fuel shortages in Ghana.'

- See more at: http://www.tankstoragemag.com/industry_news.php?item_id=9195#sthash.JqAcoQ7M.dpuf

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

pumping gas at wawa


Story Highlights

  • 57% say cheaper gas in the last year is making some monetary difference
  • "Paying down bills" most popular way to spend money saved on gas
  • The bigger the effect on finances, the more likely to pay down bills
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- U.S. gas prices are nearly a dollar lower than they were a year ago and have been running below their 2014 peak since last spring. But what is the effect of the increase in disposable income on Americans? And where is that money going?

A majority of Americans, 57%, say lower gas prices are making a noticeable difference in their household finances, including 27% who say they are making a "big difference."

The Effect of Gas Prices on Americans' Finances

The June 2-7 Gallup poll finds only modest differences by income, meaning lower gas prices are not disproportionately helping lower- or middle-income Americans more.

Oil prices began a rapid slide last summer because of oversupply, increased efficiency in production and Saudi Arabia's willingness to allow prices to drop lower than they had been in recent years. After years of prices being higher than $3 per gallon for regular gas, the average price in the U.S. has been lower than $3 since November of last year. In much of the country, gas fell below $2 per gallon as 2015 began, though the average price in the U.S. has been rising recently.

Americans Say They Are Paying Down Bills With Gas Savings

When asked what they are doing with the money they are saving because of lower gas prices, 42% say they are "paying down bills," as opposed to "spending it" (24%) or "saving it" (28%). This suggests that the extra money in Americans' pockets is not bolstering the economy as some predicted in 2014.

What Americans Are Doing With the Money They're Saving on Gas, \nby Effect on Household Finances

While paying down bills could technically be considered a form of spending, it is not spending that generally helps the economy because it covers previous purchases that were already recorded in the nation's gross domestic product. With spending across the U.S. sluggish in the early months of 2015, it is possible that lower gas prices are not contributing to greater spending or GDP growth.

Paying down bills is the most common way consumers are using the money they are saving on gas, regardless of whether they say the savings make "a big difference," "some difference" or "little to no difference" to them financially. Among those who say savings from lower gas prices are making a big difference, a majority (53%) say they are using the extra money to pay down bills, greater than the overall average nationwide. However, using this extra money to pay bills diminishes with lessening financial effect, as those who say lower gas prices have made little to no difference are the least likely to say they are using the extra cash to pay down bills.

Bottom Line

As gas prices remain below $3 per gallon nationwide, with analysts saying that prices will stay that way for the foreseeable future, many Americans have more money to spend. With GDP growth in negative territory in the first quarter of 2015, the money Americans are not spending on gas isn't necessarily being spent on goods and services, which would bolster the economy. It is possible that people are buying more gas, however, as driving is up from last year, according to researchers at New York brokerage Convergex.

Americans using their newfound savings on gas to pay down bills is not unexpected, as that seems to be their normal inclination when they get extra money. For example, when President George W. Bush spearheaded a rebate for U.S. taxpayers in 2001, more Americans then said they planned to pay bills than opted for saving or spending. Some forecasters have said that the drop in oil has stabilized, so it is also conceivable that Americans may enter a "new normal" of expecting more disposable income and that it may not seem like extra money in time after all.

Survey Methods

Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted June 2-7, 2015, on the Gallup U.S. Daily survey, with a random sample of 1,527 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.

Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 50% cellphone respondents and 50% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by time zone within region. Landline and cellular telephone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods.

Learn more about how the Gallup U.S. Daily works

Opec crude output hits three-year high in May

The crude oil production from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) increased to 31.11 million barrels per day (bpd) in May, up 180,000 bpd from the previous month, said a new report.

This was the group's highest monthly volume since October 2012, according to the latest Platts survey of Opec and oil industry officials and analysts.

"Opec's communique after the June 5 meeting mentioned that members had been urged to adhere to its production ceiling," said Margaret McQuaile, senior correspondent for Platts, a leading global provider of energy and commodities information.

"That's something of a tall order, given that there are no quotas and that the 30 million bpd ceiling is supposed to cover production from Iraq, which hasn't been part of Opec's production management system for years. With market share now pretty much the main theme - for the bigger players, at least - it seems likely that, for the time being, the only cuts in output will be involuntary ones," he noted.

In terms of production increases in May, Saudi Arabia led the upward charge with a 150,000-bpd increase to 10.25 million bpd, while Angola and Iraq boosted output by 70,000 bpd and 50,000 bpd, respectively. Smaller increments came from Angola, Algeria, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Venezuela.

These extra volumes, which totaled 340,000 bpd, were partly offset by a 90,000 bpd-drop in Libyan production to 430,000 bpd and smaller dips in Iran, Kuwait, Nigeria and Qatar.

Saudi Arabia looks set to keep output high in the near term. Arriving in Vienna last week for Opec talks, Saudi oil minister Ali Naimi said the kingdom's market share policy was working, with oil demand picking up and supply slowing. However, he said, although world oil markets are stabilizing a rebalancing will take time.

Angolan production recovered after a dip in April that was linked largely to problems at the Plutonio field that have since been resolved. There was also a short force majeure on liftings of Saturno between late April and early May.

The government has been striving to maximize output levels but has been struggling with technical problems that have affected production in recent months. The force majeure on Saturno was the second in two months. In Vienna, Angolan oil minister Jose Maria Botelho de Vasconcelos estimated current output at 1.79 million bpd.

Despite ongoing political and infrastructural challenges, Iraq has continued to push out more oil, partly thanks to higher output from the south and partly to a deal with semi-autonomous Kurdistan late last year that has enabled Baghdad to resume exports from Turkish Mediterranean port Ceyhan via the Kurdistan Regional Government's pipeline system.

Output from the Wafra field in the Neutral Zone between Saudi Arabia and Kuwait remains shut in after a maintenance program that operator Chevron said on May 11 would take two weeks.

Another Neutral Zone field, Khafji, has been shut in since October last year. Kuwait said at the time that the field had been shut by Saudi Arabia for "technical reasons," but analysts said they believed Riyadh's decision to close Khafji signaled deeper problems between the two countries.

Libyan production continues to be defined by large swings up and down as the country's situation remains mired in political chaos. After several months of increases, Libyan production went back into reverse with a 90,000 bpd drop to 430,000 bpd.

The May estimate leaves Opec pumping more than 1 million bpd in excess of the 30 million bpd ceiling that ministers rubber-stamped on June 5 in Vienna and some 1.8 million bpd above the 29.3 million bpd that Opec sees as the call on its crude this year.

Earlier this week, Opec said in a regular monthly report that it expected the current oversupply on world oil markets to ease in the months ahead, with world oil demand picking up pace in the second half of the year and non-Opec supply showing a decline.

Non-Opec oil is projected to slip from roughly 57.4 million bpd in the first half of 2015 to 56.82 million bpd in the third quarter and 56.97 million bpd in the fourth, attributable to low oil price expectations, declining numbers of active rigs in North America and insufficient investment in upstream projects.

Opec's 30 million bpd ceiling has been in place since January 2012. It does not include individual country quotas.-TradeArabia News Service

Monday, June 15, 2015

TOR, Saudi Aramco collaborate on oil refining

The Tema Oil Refinery (TOR) is entering into a strategic partnership with Saudi Aramco of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia that will see TOR refining more than 60,000 barrels of crude oil daily.

The Head of Energy, Oil and Gas Unit of the Ministry of Finance, Dr Joseph Kwadwo Asenso, who made this known, said the discussion between TOR and Saudi Aramco was at the final stage.

He was, however, unable to say when the discussion would be concluded or when the project would take off.

Dr Asenso was presenting a paper on "The Upstream Petroleum Sector: the Challenges and Prospects" at a seminar on development economics in Accra on Thursday.

It was organised by the Economy of Ghana Network (EGN) of the Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research (ISSER) of the University of Ghana.

Saudi Aramco, officially the Saudi Arabian Oil Company, most popularly known as Aramco, is a Saudi Arabian national petroleum and natural gas company based in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia.

Dr Asenso said the plan was to get TOR to a level where it would become self-sufficient; not to rely on government subvention every now and then. "Now TOR is in a discussion with Saudi Aramco to help get us there. It has not been finalised so I cannot tell when they will come on board. But discussions are ongoing," he said.

Dr Asenso said the current refinery capacity of TOR was 45,000 barrels per day, and indicated that: "We are targeting 60,000 a day and beyond."

He said the increased refinery of crude oil by TOR would create jobs and save the government from the burden of giving subvention to TOR.

Dr Asenso said revenue from the oil sector supported the country's economy. However, he said, Ghana had not reached a stage where the country would be solely dependent on oil revenue.

For instance, Dr Asenso said of the 102,000 barrels produced daily by oil companies in Ghana, the country got only 17 per cent from the oil produced with the exclusion of corporate taxes. He said the drop in the price of oil had reduced the estimated oil revenue for 2015 significantly.

A Senior Research Fellow at ISSER, Dr Robert Darko Osei, said if the divergence between government revenue and expenditure continued to widen, there would be more pressure on the exchange rate.

He warned that if such a pressure continued, people would invest outside the manufacturing and agriculture sectors. Dr Osei, therefore, asked the government to control its expenditure, saying: "We need to nip the divergence between revenue and expenditure in the bud."

Oil Falls a Third Day as U.S., OPEC Output Seen Inflating Glut

Crude Oil To Fall On Oversupply And Stronger USD

Oil fell for a third day on speculation the highest production in decades from the U.S. and OPEC’s largest members will keep global markets oversupplied.

The drop in crude accelerated as the dollar advanced against its major peers after weekend negotiations between Greece and its creditors broke down. A stronger dollar makes raw materials priced in the U.S. currency less attractive as a store of value.

Oil’s recovery from a six-year low has faltered as a rebound of almost 40 percent since March spurs production. While data from Baker Hughes Inc. showed drillers in the U.S. cut the number of active oil rigs for a 27th week, the nation’s output still advanced to a three-decade high of 9.61 million barrels a day. Saudi Arabia, Iraq and the United Arab Emirates are pumping record amounts of crude as OPEC agreed June 5 to maintain its output quota to defend market share.

“The realization that there’s more than enough oil to meet demand is weighing on the market right now,” Gene McGillian, senior analyst at Tradition Energy in Stamford, Connecticut, said by phone. “The dollar’s strength is adding to the weakness of the market today.”

West Texas Intermediate for July delivery fell 95 cents, or 1.6 percent, to $59.01 a barrel at 9:25 a.m. on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The volume of trading was 36 percent below the 100-day average for the time of day. Prices are up 10 percent this year.

Brent Expiry

Brent for July settlement, which expires Monday, declined $1.30, or 2 percent, to $62.57 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange. The European benchmark crude traded at a $3.60 premium to WTI. The more-active August contract dropped 1.2 percent to $63.87.

The dollar rose after the latest round of bailout talks between Greece and its creditors ended in acrimony after leaders met for just 45 minutes in Brussels on Sunday. The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index, which tracks the U.S. currency versus 10 of its major peers, increased 0.2 percent.

Drillers in the U.S. seeking oil reduced the number of active rigs by seven to 635 in the week ended June 12, Baker Hughes, an oilfield-services company, said Friday. The nation’s rig count has shrunk 60 percent since December.

OPEC, whose 12 members pump about 40 percent of the world’s oil, has been boosting supply as it seeks to force higher-cost producers to cut output. The group has exceeded its target of 30 million barrels a day for a year, data compiled by Bloomberg show. Saudi Arabia, Iraq and the U.A.E., the three largest producers in the group, pumped at a record in May, the International Energy Agency reported June 11.

Libya’s output has climbed to 500,000 barrels a day, Libya News Agency reported, citing an unidentified official at National Oil Corp.

Hedge funds cut bullish wagers on WTI to the lowest level in eight weeks, according to Commodity Futures Trading Commission data. Net-long positions fell by 3.7 percent in the seven days to June 9, while longs declined to a five-month low.