The post-COVID-19 rebound in economies and oil demand have left global spare oil production capacity at very low levels with a very small cushion to absorb possible supply-side shocks in the near term.
Despite the economic slowdown already underway in many parts of the world and fears of recessions in Europe and the United States, oil prices haven’t fallen too far below $90 per barrel. Fears of supply disruptions have increased as much as fears of recessions that could slow oil demand growth.
The thinnest spare capacity cushion in years is supportive of oil prices and will continue to be a bullish factor on the market, at least in the short term, considering that no forecaster or analyst can be certain how much global oil supply will be lost in just three months when the EU embargo on Russian oil imports by sea enters into force.
Certainly, there is one sure-fire way for the world to see rising spare capacity and oil inventories rebuilding from multi-year lows to more comfortable levels—recession. A serious slowdown in economic activity or an outright recession would be needed to bring global oil stocks up to five-year average levels, as Reuters’ senior market analyst John Kemp notes.
And right now, it looks like a recession is the only way to rebuild global oil inventories.
On the supply side, neither OPEC+ nor the U.S. can materially boost supply in the short term. OPEC+ is estimated to be a massive 3.6 million barrels per day (bpd) below its targeted oil production.
Moreover, global spare capacity is in the hands of just two OPEC producers, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The Saudis themselves admitted this week that the next rebound in economies would wipe out the spare capacity.
“Oil inventories are low, and effective global spare capacity is now about one and a half percent of global demand,” Saudi Aramco’s CEO Amin Nasser said this week.
“But when the global economy recovers, we can expect demand to rebound further, eliminating the little spare oil production capacity out there. And by the time the world wakes up to these blind spots, it may be too late to change course,” he added, reiterating the warning that years of underinvestment in oil and gas have brought about the current low spare capacity and tight markets.
At the same time, American oil executives say that the U.S. cannot come to the rescue for Europe this winter as oil and gas producers can’t ramp up current production levels too much to offset an expected drop in Russian oil supply when the EU embargo enters into force.
All this leaves the demand side to rebalance the market. If a severe recession with significantly slower oil demand growth or even a demand drop materializes, spare capacity and inventories could rise from multi-year lows.
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A recession may be coming for the world in 2023 as central banks aggressively hike interest rates to tame inflation, the World Bank said last week. Just this week, the Fed raised the key rate by another 75 basis points for a third consecutive time, and the Bank of England raised rates by 50 basis points to 2.25%, the highest rate since the start of the 2008 financial crisis.
Despite the decisively tightening monetary policy in major economies, both OPEC and the International Energy Agency (IEA) continue to see global oil demand growing annually both in 2022 and 2023.
Despite the deteriorating economic environment and concerns over Chinese demand due to COVID-19 lockdowns, the IEA expects world oil demand to grow by 2 million bpd in 2022 and by another 2.1 million bpd next year. OPEC, for its part, still sees global economic growth staying robust at 3.1% this year and another 3.1% next year in its latest forecast, suggesting that the cartel still expects healthy oil demand growth despite market fears of recession.
Moreover, analysts and forecasters say that gas to oil switching this winter and tight product markets—especially diesel in Europe—could also support oil demand even in a mildly recessionary environment.
Then there is the expected supply shock from Russian exports and the still unclear mechanism under which the West is seeking to keep Russian oil flowing by applying a price cap on Russian oil, which Putin may simply refuse to sell as he has already threatened.
A global recession would normally rebuild inventories and capacity buffers. But with the war in Ukraine, which Russia, the world’s second-largest crude oil exporter, has just escalated with the mobilization of 300,000 men, all bets are off.
By: Tsvetana Paraskova
Paraskova reports for Oilprice.com.
NNPCL Flares 100% Gas Output Earns Zero Revenue In Sept
In spite of the Federal Government’s gas monetisation policy and pledge to the United Nations to attain net zero by 2060, the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Ltd. flared 100 per cent of their gas output in September and earned no revenue from it during this period.
The NNPCL gas production and utilisation data for September 2022, obtained by The Tide’s source described its subsidiary, Nigerian Petroleum Development Company as one of the worst offenders in gas flaring in September.
The firm and its Joint Venture partners, Seplat Petroleum Development Company and NPDC-Chevron Nigeria, flared 100 per cent of their entire gas output of 106 million standard cubic feet of gas and 7 million standard cubic feet of gas, respectively.
The firm further noted that Newcross Exploration and Production Ltd and Belema Oil flared about 96 per cent and 75 per cent of their 112 million standard cubic feet of gas and 21 million standard cubic feet of gas, respectively.
Also, about 8 billion SCF of gas was flared in September, representing 5 per cent of the total gas output for the month, compared with 10 billion SCF of gas flared in the month, of August, according to the report.
This is coming at a time the country is battling a cash crunch due to a drop in its oil revenue on the back of a significant decline in oil production which dipped to below 1million barrels per day, the lowest in 32 years.
The government has been relying heavily on borrowing to finance its activities, as its debt reached an all-time high of N42.84 trillion in June.
The NNPCL gas production and utilisation data did not state why the firm had flared the whole of its gas production for the month. The firm’s spokesperson, Garba Deen, did not also respond to both phone calls and messages sent to him.
Mobil emerged as the highest gas producer in the month under review with a total output of about 25 BSCF of gas, out of which it utilised 23 BSCF of gas and flared 1.6 BSCF of gas.
Shell Nigeria followed with a total gas output of about 25 BSCF of gas, utilising 24 BSCF and flaring 0.5 BSCF; Chevron Nigeria produced about 24 BSCF of gas, out of which it utilised 23 BSCF and flared 0.2 BSCF of gas and Total Energies Nigeria produced about 23 BSCF of gas, out of which it utilised 22 BSCF and flared 0.6 BSCF of gas.
LECAN Seeks Task Force On Electricity Standards Compliance
The Licensed Electrical Contractors Association of Nigeria (LECAN), a key stakeholder in the power sector saddled with the mandate of maintaining standards and professionalism in electricity services delivery, has called for the establishment of Monitoring Task Forces across the 36 states of Nigeria to effect compliance in standards.
National President of the body, Dr John Ekere Etim, gave the charge during the inauguration of the newly elected executives of LECAN in Rivers State, weekend.
Etim, who identified quackry as the bane of the power sector, blamed the Nigeria Electricity Management Services Agency (NIMSA) of compromising standards by issuing corporate licence to individuals and firms without any professional know- how in electricity services.
He urged members to always strive to apply their professional experiences to save the society from the risk of patronage of non-professionals.
“Such vigilance against the activities of infiltrators will sanitise the electricity sector and rid it of substandards in projects execution”, he said.
He said LECAN has since its establishment by law under the then Federal Ministry of Mines and Power, lived up to its mandate, but faced with the challenges of a compromised privatisation policy in power sector reforms, which “encourages substandards and incompetence in service delivery.”
The National President, who emphasised that electricity contracts should be handled by LECAN members who are certified electrical contractors, called for stronger synergy between the association and the government to address the challenges of the power sector.
He urged the newly elected executives to prioritise training and retraining of members to meet up with modern technological trends in the discharge of their professional obligations.
In his remark, a veteran member of the association, Elder Emmanuel Okas Wike, thanked God for the continuous existence of the body despite challenges, and called on the younger generation of membership not to renege on the mandate of the body.
Also speaking, the Senior Special Assistant to the National President on Special Duties, Elder Friday Kor, congratulated the newly inaugurated executive and called for the encouragement of skilled electrical personnel to do proper registration as licensed electrical service providers.
The newly elected executives of LECAN in Rivers State include: Pst Lekia Emmanuel (Chairman); Asuquo Effiong Udoh (Vice chairman); Order Nornubari Kor (Secretary); and Elder Mission T Sagbara (Treasurer).
Others are: Daniel Peter Udoh (Financial secretary); and Ifeanyi Love Omokuwho, who is to serve as Pubic Relations Officer.
When Will Geothermal Energy Go Mainstream?
As governments worldwide encourage greater innovation in renewable energy beyond wind and solar power, with significant funding opportunities available, alternative green energy sources are popping up around the globe, having been long neglected.
Despite the knowledge of a variety of renewable energy sources for several decades, most countries have focused on the low-cost sources that are easiest to produce. But the potential for many alternative energies is significant, requiring greater research and development to establish fruitful operations.
One such power source is geothermal, with the potential to harness the power of the Earth’s heat to produce abundant clean energy.
Yet, overcoming the barriers of access, with the need to drill deep into the Earth’s surface, has deterred many companies from investing in geothermal projects. Yet, both the EU and the U.S. Department of Energy (DoE) have highlighted the significant potential for geothermal energy in supporting a transition to green.
Now, French automaker, Renault, has announced it is betting big on the power source, but will others follow in its footsteps?
The EU has established an Implementation Working Group for deep geothermal (DG working group) to encourage greater investigation into geothermal energy in Europe, and to provide a clean heating and electricity source.
The DG working group is overseeing the rollout of the Deep geothermal implementation plan (IP). DG believes that establishing a geothermal energy industry in Europe will support the achievement of the European Green Deal and the Horizon Europe goals, with a switch from fossil fuels to geothermal expected to help decarbonise up to 25 percent of the region’s energy needs.
It is also thought that with the existing technology, 25 percent of the European population can cost-effectively deploy geothermal heating.
European Commission (EC) research showed that geothermal energy could help Europe in its aim to become the first carbon-neutral continent by 2050.
Geothermal energy is expected to contribute to Europe’s green energy mix, supporting modernised district and communal heating systems and helping achieve the EU’s 2022 REPowerEU Plantargets.
The development of a geothermal industry is also expected to help advance other renewable energy operations, with the potential for mineral extraction from geothermal fluids to enable sustainable lithium production.
Therefore, the EC is supporting several research projects into geothermal energy innovations that will help with Europe’s green transition.
Geothermal energy is generated by accessing underground heat pockets by drilling down into the surface of the Earth.
Thermal energy can be accessed in the rocks and water just a few miles underground by drilling into underground reservoirs to tap into geothermal sources. The heat can then drive turbines for electricity production.
Some projects have already been rolled out. For example, Croatia, which sits on top of an area of land with strong geothermal potential, has developed a geothermal plant, which stands out in the landscape due to its resemblance to a flying saucer.
The hope is to establish a 24-hour supply of energy for a carbon-free electricity grid, providing the green print for future projects in neighbouring Austria, Hungary, and Serbia.
The CEO of the Croatian Hydrocarbon Agency, Marijan Krpan, stated, “There is a huge potential to generate a lot of electricity out of this. There is a huge potential for district heating. And there is a huge potential for agriculture.”
However, despite the growing interest in geothermal energy, it is still little talked about at the international level, with most governments and energy firms continuing to invest heavily in wind and solar power. But this might be set to change.
In November, the automaker, Renault, announced it would be partnering with French utility Engie for the next 15 years to develop and run a geothermal project at its Douai facility.
Drilling operations are expected to commence in 2023, with plans to extract hot water at a depth of 4,000 meters.
The work is expected to meet the industrial and heating process needs by as early as 2025, with water temperatures between 130 and 140oc.
Renault stated that “Once implemented, this geothermal technology would provide a power of nearly 40 MW continuously.”
In addition, “In summer, when the need for heat is lower, geothermal energy could be used to produce carbon-free electricity,” it added.
But will this encourage other companies to follow in its footsteps? The once little-talked-about energy source is gradually gaining traction, especially as major political powers such as the EU and the U.S. provide funding for innovative geothermal solutions.
It may require a greater number of major private energy, automotive, and industry players to publicly make the move for others to understand the potential of geothermal and invest in this green energy source.
By: Felicity Bradstock
Bradstock reports for Oilprice.com
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