Latest market news

Aruba close to suspending Venezuela oil ties

  • Market: Crude oil, Natural gas, Oil products
  • 22/01/20

Venezuela's opposition-run parallel administration is close to an agreement with Aruba to suspend a lease on oil assets managed by Citgo Petroleum, the US refining subsidiary of Venezuelan state-owned PdV.

RdA, the Aruban state entity that owns the island's former Valero refinery which PdV sought to transform into a heavy-crude upgrader, is expected to sign an agreement by the end of January. The counterparties would be Delaware-based Citgo Aruba Holding (CAH) and its local subsidiaries Citgo Aruba Refining (CAR) and Citgo Aruba Terminal (CAT), according to Aruban officials.

Subject to board and government approvals on both sides, the agreement would effectively end the long-term lease on the assets signed by PdV in 2016, before Venezuela's political opposition took administrative control of the company's US subsidiaries in 2019. CAR is expected to sign separate termination agreements with around 76 employees and a contractor after reaching verbal deals this week.

Venezuelan officials in PdV's opposition-controlled US corporate network tell Argus the Aruba obligations will be met, but without resorting to restricted funds from Citgo Petroleum, which is Venezuela's most valuable overseas asset and the target of myriad creditors. They say the project could be revived in the future once Venezuela's political conditions are transformed and US sanctions are lifted.

CAH is a subsidiary of Delaware-based PdV Holding, which is an indirect owner of Citgo Petroleum that managed the Aruba project under a service agreement. Until last year, Citgo had made use of the leased Aruba terminal to store and tranship oil cargoes, highlighting the Dutch Caribbean island's logistical value. DCO cargoes would often sit in storage there to allow excess water to settle, shipping sources told Argus.

PdV had planned to refurbish the 235,000 b/d San Nicolas refinery on the tiny island to upgrade Venezuela's extra-heavy Orinoco crude into lighter synthetic oil. The project would have helped to absorb Venezuelan production that could no longer be processed at mostly inoperable upgraders at PdV's Jose complex in Venezuela.

Only one of four such plants at Jose, PdV's PetroPiar joint venture with Chevron, recently resumed operating as designed, turning Orinoco crude into more valuable Hamaca syncrude for export.

Under the 2016 lease signed by late PdV chief executive and former Citgo chief executive Nelson Martinez with the Aruban government, CAR was to refurbish the installations and build a 110km (68mi) natural gas pipeline from Venezuela's Tiguadare gas treatment facility to run the complex, which includes two cokers. Around 209,000 b/d of diluted crude oil (DCO) from Venezuela's Orinoco heavy oil belt were to be upgraded into 125,000 b/d of 22.5° API Maya-like syncrude with 1.2pc-1.5pc sulfur. The stripped-out naphtha would have been recycled back to Venezuela, and sulfur and coke byproducts sold.

The refurbishment project was hobbled from the start. It was unpopular with Citgo Petroleum's senior US managers and was never approved by Venezuela's National Assembly. Amid repeated project delays, Aruba's authorities lacked confidence in Venezuela's ability to carry it out. PdV blamed US financial sanctions imposed on Venezuela in August 2017. Martinez and former Venezuelan oil minister Eulogio Del Pino were arrested in November 2017 on unrelated corruption charges. Martinez died in custody in December 2018.

The imminent agreements would sever Venezuela's longstanding oil ties with Aruba for now. The island is part of a Dutch Caribbean chain that PdV traditionally relied on to get its oil to market. Another island, Curacao, recently ended a lease with Caracas-based PdV to operate its own refinery and terminal.

The planned Aruba agreements would also close another chapter in the opposition's year-old campaign to oust the government of President Nicolas Maduro. US-backed opposition leader Juan Guaido, who is recognized by more than 50 Western countries as Venezuela's rightful president, is currently in Brussels after attending the World Economic Forum in Switzerland.

By Patricia Garip


Sharelinkedin-sharetwitter-sharefacebook-shareemail-share

Related news posts

Argus illuminates the markets by putting a lens on the areas that matter most to you. The market news and commentary we publish reveals vital insights that enable you to make stronger, well-informed decisions. Explore a selection of news stories related to this one.

News
18/07/24

'Urgent action' needed for UK to hit net zero goals

'Urgent action' needed for UK to hit net zero goals

London, 18 July (Argus) — The UK increased the rate at which it reduced greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions last year, but "urgent action" is needed for the country to meet its targets in 2030 and beyond, independent advisory body Climate Change Committee (CCC) said in its progress report published today. The report assesses the UK's progress towards its net zero goals against policy set out by the previous Conservative government. The new Labour government, which has been in power since 5 July, has already set the scene for a stronger decarbonisation agenda , but it "will have to act fast to hit the country's commitments", the report says. The committee tracked progress on 28 key indicators. Of the 22 that have a benchmark or target, only five are assessed as being "on track". The UK's GHG emissions last year stood at 393mn t/CO2 equivalent (CO2e), down on the year by 5.4pc, or 22mn t/CO2e, provisional data show. This estimate excludes contributions from international aviation and shipping, as these are not included in the UK's 2030 target of a 68pc cut in GHG emissions from a 1990 baseline. And last year's reduced emissions resulted primarily from a drop in gas demand, the CCC says. Combined gas demand in 2023 averaged 156mn m³/d, down from nearly 175mn m³/d a year earlier. While progress has been made, the previous administration "signalled a slowing of pace and reversed or delayed key policies", the report says. The reduction in emissions last year is "roughly in line with the annual pace of change needed" to reach the 2030 target, but the average annual rate over the previous seven years is "insufficient", the committee says. In its first days in office, the new government placed a strong emphasis on decarbonising electricity, but this is "not enough on its own", CCC acting chief executive James Richardson said. The average annual rate of GHG reduction outside the electricity supply sector over the previous seven years was 6.3mn t/CO2e, but this will need to more than double until 2030 if the UK is to meet its targets, the CCC says. In order to reach targets, "annual offshore wind installations must increase by at least three times, onshore wind installations will need to double and solar installations must increase by five times" by 2030. By comparison, oil and gas use should be "rapidly" reduced and the expansion of the production of fossil fuels should be limited, according to the report. The CCC also recommended that about 10pc of UK homes will need to be heated by a heat pump by 2030, in comparison with about 1pc today. The committee criticised the exemption of 20pc of properties from the 2035 phase-out gas boiler plan, saying it is "unclear" how the exemption would reduce costs as fewer consumers would have to pay to maintain the distribution grid. Gas-fired power generation in recent months has dropped on the back of high wind output and brisk power imports. Power-sector gas burn was 25mn m³/d in March-June, roughly half of the three-year average for the period. But if UK power demand increases with electrification, gas-fired power generation could maintain its role in the country's power mix, particularly if it is combined with carbon capture, use and storage technology, for which fast development and scale-up will need to happen this decade, the CCC says. "Biases" towards the use of natural gas or hydrogen must be removed where electrification is the most economical decarbonisation solution in an industry sector. Power prices need to be reduced "to a level that incentivises industrial electrification". Oil, gas industry to meet climate goals The UK's oil and gas sector "is on track to meet its own climate goals and is not slowing down", offshore industries association OEUK said today in reaction to the CCC's report. The UK needs a plan for reducing oil and gas demand and cutting its reliance on imports, according to OEUK chief executive David Whitehouse. "We should be prioritising our homegrown energy production," he said. The sector reduced its emissions by 24pc in 2022 from 2018, meaning it met its target to reduce emissions by 10pc by 2025 early. The industry halved its flaring and venting and cut methane emissions by 45pc in 2022 compared with 2018, Whitehouse said. OEUK plans to reduce emissions by a quarter by 2027 and by half by 2030 against 2018 levels. And it aims to achieve net zero by 2050. By Georgia Gratton and Jana Cervinkova Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

Find out more
News

EU’s von der Leyen re-elected as Commission president


18/07/24
News
18/07/24

EU’s von der Leyen re-elected as Commission president

Brussels, 18 July (Argus) — The European Parliament today approved Ursula von der Leyen's re-election as president of the European Commission. Nominated by EU states in June, von der Leyen received 401 votes, by secret ballot, from parliament's 720 newly elected members. Von der Leyen called for continuing climate and energy policy in her 2024-29 mandate to achieve greenhouse gas (GHG) cuts of at least 90pc by 2040 from 1990 levels. "I have not forgotten how [Russian president Vladimir] Putin blackmailed us by cutting us off from Russian fossil fuels. We invested massively in homegrown cheap renewables. And this enabled us to break free from dirty Russian fossil fuels," said von der Leyen, promising to end the "era of dependency on Russian fossil fuels". She did not give an end date for this, nor did she specify if this includes a commitment to end Russian LNG imports. Von der Leyen went on to detail political guidelines for 2024-29. In the first 100 days of her new mandate, she pledged to propose a "clean industrial deal", albeit without giving concrete figures about how much investment this would channel to infrastructure and industry, particularly for energy-intensive sectors. The clean industrial deal will help bring down energy bills, she said. Von der Leyen told parliament the commission would propose legislation, under the European Climate Law, establishing a 90pc emission-reduction target for 2040. Her political guidelines also call for scaling up and prioritising clean-tech investment, including in grid infrastructure, storage capacity, transport infrastructure for captured CO2, energy efficiency, power digitalization, and deployment of a hydrogen network. She will also extend aggregate demand mechanisms beyond gas to include hydrogen and critical raw materials. Her political guidelines note the dangers of dependencies or fraying supply chains, from Putin's "energy blackmail" or China's monopoly on battery and chip raw materials. Majority report Passing the necessary legislation to implement her stated policies will now require approval from EU states and from parliament. Unless amplified by Germany's election next year, election victories by far-right parties in France and elsewhere appear not to threaten EU state majorities for specific legislation. Parliament's political centre-left S&D and liberal Renew groups, as well as von der Leyen's own centre-right EPP, have elaborated key policy requests . These broadly call for the continuation of von der Leyen's Green Deal, the set of legislation and policy measures aimed at 55pc GHG emission reduction by 2030, compared with 1990 levels. A symbolic issue for von der Leyen to decide, or compromise on, is the internal combustion engine (ICE). Her EPP group wants to stick to technological neutrality and to revise the phase-out, by 2035, of new ICE cars if they cannot run exclusively on carbon-neutral fuels. The EPP wants an EU e-fuel, biofuel, and low-carbon fuel strategy. Von der Leyen's guidelines reflect the need to gain support from centre-right, centre-left, and greens. For the ICE phase-out, she said the 2035 climate neutrality target for new cars creates investor and manufacturer "predictability" but requires a "technology-neutral approach, in which e-fuels have a role to play." She made no mention of carbon-neutral biofuels. It will be impossible for von der Leyen to satisfy all demands in her second mandate. That includes policy asks put forward by the EPP, ranging from a "pragmatic" definition of low-carbon hydrogen, market rules for carbon capture and storage, postponing the EU's deforestation regulation, to catering more for farmers, even by scrapping EU wildlife protection for wolves and bears. EU member states are expected to propose their candidates for commissioners in August, including those responsible for energy, climate, and trade policies. When parliament has held hearings for candidates in late October, von der Leyen's new commission would then be subject to a final vote. By Dafydd ab Iago Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

News

Australia’s Santos delays FID on Dorado oil field


18/07/24
News
18/07/24

Australia’s Santos delays FID on Dorado oil field

Sydney, 18 July (Argus) — Australian independent Santos will now target a 2025 final investment decision (FID) on its 80pc-owned Dorado oil project in Western Australia (WA), after deferring it in 2022 and last year indicating a 2024 decision. Dorado's 10pc stakeholder Australian independent Carnarvon Energy said the joint venture (JV) will evaluate a lower capital expenditure (capex) option by reducing capacity below the previously guided 75,000-100,000 b/d and phasing development wells, targeting front-end engineering and design re-entry later in 2024 "once the JV secures the best option vessel or hull". Carnarvon said overall capex prior to the first oil from the offshore field will now be below its previous guidance of $2bn. Dorado JV's other shareholder is Taiwan's state-owned CPC with 10pc. Santos reported higher April-June oil and gas output than the previous quarter on 18 July, with production from the 7.8mn t/yr Gladstone LNG (GLNG) in Queensland state up on a year earlier. It produced 22.2mn bl of oil equivalent (boe), up by 2pc from 21.8mn boe during January-March because of the return of WA's Devil Creek gas plant following a maintenance shutdown, as well as higher liquids production following cyclone-related disconnections during January-March. But output was 3pc below the year-earlier figure of 22.8mn boe. GLNG is on track to swap 18PJ (480mn m³) of gas into the domestic market over April-September 2024, Santos said, with the project maintaining its guidance of around 6mn t of LNG shipped for the year to 31 December. Production at the 6.9mn t/yr ExxonMobil-operated PNG LNG in Papua New Guinea (PNG) was down on January-March with natural decline at the Hides field, partially offset by high compression reliability from the Santos-operated Gobe and Kutubu fields. Finalisation of drilling and completion of operations activities at PNG LNG's Angore C1 and C2 wells has been achieved with both wells perforated for production. Angore project teams are now starting tie-in execution with production of 350mn ft³/d (10mn m³/d) expected during October-December. The $4.6bn Barossa backfill project in the Timor Sea is 77pc complete, Santos said, with pipeline testing completed in June and on track for its first gas in July-September 2025 within its cost guidance. Santos' 1.7mn t/yr Moomba carbon capture and storage project in South Australia is mechanically complete and on track to raise injection of Cooper basin gas plant carbon dioxide during July-December. Santos maintained its 2024 production guidance of 84mn-90mn boe and will release its half-year results on 21 August. By Tom Major Santos results Apr-Jun '24 Jan-Mar '24 Apr-Jun '23 y-o-y % ± q-o-q % ± Volumes ('000 t) GLNG (100pc) 1,338 1,649 1,263 6 -19 Darwin LNG (100pc) 0 0 134 100 0 PNG LNG (100pc) 2,001 2,009 2,065 -3 0 Santos' equity share of LNG sales 1,264 1,352 1,333 -5 -7 Financial LNG sales revenue ($mn) 762 901 838 -9 -15 Total sales revenue ($mn) 1,313 1,398 1,336 -2 -6 LNG average realised price ($/mn Btu) 11 13 12 -4 -10 Oil price ($/bl) 89 89 83 7 0 Source: Santos Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

News

Urgent action needed for UK to hit net zero goals: CCC


17/07/24
News
17/07/24

Urgent action needed for UK to hit net zero goals: CCC

London, 17 July (Argus) — The UK increased the rate of reduction in its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in 2023, but "urgent action" is needed if the country is to hit its targets in 2030 and beyond, the independent advisory Climate Change Committee (CCC) found today. The report assessed the UK's progress towards its net zero goals against policy set out by the previous Conservative government. The new Labour government, which has been in power since 5 July, has already set the scene for a stronger decarbonisation agenda . But it "will have to act fast to hit the country's commitments", the CCC said. The committee tracked progress on 28 key indicators. Of the 22 that have a benchmark or target, just five are assessed as "on track". The UK's GHG emissions stood at 393mn t/CO2 equivalent (CO2e) in 2023, down by 5.4pc, or 22mn t/CO2e, on the year, provisional data show. This estimate excludes contributions from international aviation and shipping, as these are not included in the UK's 2030 target of a 68pc cut in GHG emissions, from a 1990 baseline. The UK's GHG emissions including the country's share of international aviation and shipping were 423.3mn t/CO2e in 2023, preliminary data show, 49.5pc lower than in 1990. The drop in GHGs has largely been driven by the decrease in coal-fired power generation over that time span. Although progress has been made, the previous administration "signalled a slowing of pace and reversed or delayed key policies", the CCC noted. The reduction in GHG emissions in 2023 is "roughly in line with the annual pace of change needed" to hit the 2030 target, but the average annual rate over the previous seven years is "insufficient", the committee added. The UK's 2030 emissions reduction goal is the first in line with reaching net zero by 2050. The new government has placed strong focus on decarbonising electricity in its first days in office, but this is "not enough on its own", CCC acting chief executive James Richardson said. The average annual rate of GHG reduction outside the electricity supply sector over the previous seven years was 6.3mn t/CO2e, but this will need to more than double to 2030 if the UK is to meet its targets, the CCC found. The committee found that in order to reach targets, "annual offshore wind installations must increase by at least three times, onshore wind installations will need to double and solar installations must increase by five times" by 2030, while oil and gas use should be "rapidly" reduced. The CCC also recommended that around 10pc of UK homes will need to be heated by a heat pump by 2030, in comparison to approximately 1pc today. And the market share of new electric cars needs to increase to "nearly 100pc" by 2030, from a current share of 16.5pc. Labour pledged in its manifesto to restore the 2030 phase-out date for sales of new gasoline or diesel-fuelled cars, while it has set ambitious targets for renewable energy installations and pledged zero-carbon power by 2030. It has also committed to no new oil, gas or coal licences. By Georgia Gratton Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

News

TotalEnergies agrees to sell stake in Nigeria SPDC JV


17/07/24
News
17/07/24

TotalEnergies agrees to sell stake in Nigeria SPDC JV

London, 17 July (Argus) — TotalEnergies has agreed to sell its 10pc stake in Nigeria's SPDC onshore oil and gas joint venture to Africa-focused independent Chappal Energies for $860mn. Other partners in the SPDC joint venture comprise operator Shell with a 30pc interest, state-owned NNPC with 55pc and Italy's Eni with 5pc. Shell agreed to sell its stake in the joint venture to a consortium of five companies for up to $2.4bn in January. That deal remains subject to a due diligence process by regulators. The joint venture's assets include around 50 producing oil and gas fields across 18 licences. TotalEnergies will transfer its 10pc interest and all its rights and obligations in 15 of the licences to Chappal. These licences mainly produce oil and netted TotalEnergies around 14,000 b/d of oil equivalent last year. The other three licences — OML 23, OML 28 and OML 77 — mainly produce gas and account for 40pc of supply to the Nigeria LNG (NLNG) joint venture, in which TotalEnergies has a 15pc stake. TotalEnergies will also transfer its 10pc stake in these licences to Chappal but it will retain "full economic interest" in them, it said. The divestment "allows us to focus our onshore Nigeria presence solely on the integrated gas value chain and is designed to ensure the continuity of feed gas supply to Nigeria LNG in the future", said TotalEnergies' exploration and production president Nicolas Terraz. Chappal specialises in taking over and operating mature fields. It agreed a deal in November last year to acquire Norwegian firm Equinor's stake in Nigeria's OML 128 block, a transaction that was finally approved earlier this month . The company said last month that it is contemplating issuing a bond to raise up to $450mn to help it finance acquisitions. By Jon Mainwaring Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

Generic Hero Banner

Business intelligence reports

Get concise, trustworthy and unbiased analysis of the latest trends and developments in oil and energy markets. These reports are specially created for decision makers who don’t have time to track markets day-by-day, minute-by-minute.

Learn more