Survey: US crude exports poised for record year

  • Market: Crude oil, Oil products
  • 13/01/23

US crude exports are poised to hit record highs this year as US shale output expands and European countries seek to diversify their import slates. But even as Europe has become a key market for US crude, high freight rates for some tanker classes could inhibit the trade.

The EU ban on Russian seaborne crude imports from 5 December has left some eastern and central European refiners looking to replace up to 40pc of their traditional supply. Germany and Poland have also been promoting a plan to impose an EU-wide ban on imports of Russian crude to their countries along the northern leg of the Druzhba pipeline. Germany opted to stop importing Russian crude through the line on 1 January, even though such deliveries are exempt from the import ban. The 226,000 b/d Schwedt refinery has been testing US WTI and Mars since August. The refinery was operating at around 55pc of nameplate capacity in early January following the halt to Russian crude supplies.

Poland's PKN Orlen says it will turn to North Sea, Mideast Gulf and possibly US and west African crudes when its 72,000 b/d term contract with Russian firm Rosneft for Russian pipeline imports along the Druzhba line expires at the end of January. And it is considering term contracts for US crude imports if its pipeline deliveries are sanctioned by the EU. The US shipped an estimated 13-16 cargoes of crude to Poland last year, up from two in 2021, according to an analysis of customs data, as well as data from oil analytics firm Vortexa.

High freight rates for Aframax tankers because of the increased demand for US crude in Europe continued to erode export economics for loading in January but have recently started trending lower, this week hitting a five-month bottom. Cooling transportation rates have helped improve the arbitrage and renewed interest from European participants has kicked off the February US trade month with an active waterborne market. Arbitrage economics appear even more favorable if exporters opt to load larger vessel sizes, which are assessed at less than half the Aframax rates.

Record rates

US crude is already flowing at record rates to Europe. Exports there were an estimated 1.5mn b/d in 2022, only slightly lower than the amount shipped to Asia-Pacific last year, as EU refiners sought out new supply.

Total US crude exports averaged 3.61mn b/d in 2022, according to an analysis of data published by the Energy Information Administration and Census Bureau. That rate reflects a roughly 22pc increase over 2021 and is the highest on record since the US Congress first lifted decades-old restrictions on exporting crude in December 2015. US crude exports eased by 2.7pc in November but remained above 4mn b/d for a second month as global demand remained strong, while loading operations experienced disruptions.

The Texas port of Corpus Christi should remain the top US export port in 2022, owing to its plentiful pipeline connections to the Permian basin and favorable export economics. Two Corpus Christi-area terminals account for the lion's share of the region's exports: the Enbridge Ingleside Energy Center and the South Texas Gateway Terminal. Both terminals are capable of partially loading very large crude carriers (VLCCs) up to 1.6mn bl, about 80pc of their 2mn bl capacity. An ongoing project to deepen and widen the Corpus Christi Ship Channel, expected to be complete in mid-2023, would allow the terminals to fully load VLCCs.

Enbridge in 2021 acquired a large crude export terminal at Ingleside near Corpus Christi from Moda Midstream, providing a direct dock-connected path to load VLCCs, the most efficient vessel option for long-haul exports. In Houston, Enterprise Products Partners' Houston Ship Channel Terminal saw the heaviest crude export activity, although flows through the Magellan/LBC Seabrook terminal have also increased in recent years.

Houston-area crude exports could also get a boost from an offshore terminal that Enterprise hopes to build off the coast of Freeport, Texas. The Sea Port Oil Terminal, which won preliminary approval from President Joe Biden's administration in November 2022, would be capable of fully loading VLCCs.

US crude exports have also been supported by rising domestic production, coupled with firmer international demand. Total output averaged 12.05mn b/d in the third quarter of 2022, up by about 870,000 b/d, or over 7pc, compared with the same period a year earlier.

The EIA expects crude production from the top US shale basins to climb further in January, led by record output from the Permian basin, where primary export grade WTI is produced. Shale production is forecast to rise by roughly 90,000 b/d from December estimates to 9.32mn b/d in January, with Permian growth comprising about 40pc of the total.

Overall US output in 2023 is forecast to hit 12.41mn b/d in 2023, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) said this week, surpassing the record 12.32mn b/d posted in 2019.

By Amanda Hilow and Chris Baltimore

Top 10 US Gulf coast crude export terminals mn bl

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24/05/24

Dangote refinery to export 10ppm diesel in June

Dangote refinery to export 10ppm diesel in June

London, 24 May (Argus) — Nigeria's 650,000 b/d Dangote refinery will start exporting diesel conforming to European specifications along with gasoline sales in June, its vice president for oil and gas Devakumar Edwin has said. "We expect before the end of next month we'll also have gasoline in the market, and we'll also have Euro V diesel for export, that is below 10ppm", Edwin said this week at a Society of Petroleum Engineers event in Lagos. Dangote chief executive Aliko Dangote reiterated the planned June start for gasoline on 17 May. Dangote started its crude distillation unit in January, and received approval to start up a mild hydrocracker with its desulphurisation units in March. A source at Nigeria's downstream regulator NMDPRA said the refinery has now received approval to start its residual fluid catalytic cracker. Dangote started naphtha exports in March, low-sulphur straight run fuel oil (LSSR) exports in May and began selling diesel and jet fuel domestically in April. It has a waiver from NMDPRA to sell diesel with sulphur levels above 600ppm into the local market. At full capacity Dangote will be able to more than meet Nigerian domestic gasoline demand. But a trader in the region said gasoline production is unlikely to start next month, citing the amount of cargoes to be delivered to the country. Exports of naphtha, a key blending component in finished-grade gasoline, are continuing from the refinery, with 80,000t due to load on 31 May according to Kpler. And Edwin hinted at a slowing of spot sales. "We had a meeting to see, probably, how we can slow down our sales because we've already made quite a few forward bookings," he said this week. "Export, for example, aviation/jet, the last vessel went to the Caribbean islands. The next vessel, we are booking for US market." Dangote recently added TotalEnergies as a buyer in a deal that could see the French company take refined products for its African network of 4,800 retail fuel stations, including more than 540 in Nigeria. The deal could also see the oil major supply crude to the refinery. A source told Argus there is a deal for TotalEnergies to supply two crude cargoes each month, or around 2mn bl. Indications based on the refinery's slate to date and TotalEnergies' Nigerian crude equity suggest one cargo of the very light Amenam blend one of Bonny Light. By Adebiyi Olusolape and George Maher-Bonnett Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

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Q&A: Shell Oman to balance upstream with renewables


24/05/24
News
24/05/24

Q&A: Shell Oman to balance upstream with renewables

Dubai, 24 May (Argus) — Shell has been in Oman for decades now and had a front row seat to its energy evolution from primarily an oil producing nation to now a very gas-rich and gas-leaning hydrocarbons producer. Argus spoke to Shell Oman's country chairman Walid Hadi about the company's energy strategy in the sultanate. Edited highlights follow: How would you characterize Oman's energy sector today, and where do new energies fit into that? Oman is one of the countries where there is quite a bit of overlap between how we see the energy transition and how the country sees it. Oman is clear that hydrocarbons will continue to play a role in its energy system for a long period of time. But it is also looking to decrease the carbon intensity to the most extent which is viable. We need to work on creating new energy systems or new components of energy system like hydrogen and EV charging to facilitate that. It is what we would like to call a 'just transition' because you think about it from macroeconomic perspective of the country and its economic health. Shell is involved across the energy spectrum in Oman – from upstream gas to alternative, clean energies. What is Shell's overall strategy for the country? In Oman, our strategic foundation has three main pillars. The first is around oil and liquids and our ambition is to sustain oil and liquids production. At the same time, we aim to significantly reduce carbon intensity from the oil production coming from PDO. The second strategic pillar is gas, and our ambition here is to grow the amount of gas we are producing in Oman and also to help Oman grow its LNG export capabilities. The more committed we are in unlocking the gas reserves in the country, the more we can support Oman's growth, diversification, and the resilience of its economy through investments and LNG revenue. Gas also offers a very logical and nice link into blue and green hydrogen, whether in sequence or as a stepping stone to scale the hydrogen economy in the country. The last strategic pillar is to establish low-carbon value chains, predominantly centered around hydrogen, more likely blue hydrogen in the short term and very likely material green in the long term, which is subject to regulations and markets developing. How would you view Oman's potential to be a major exporter of green hydrogen? When examining the foundational aspects of green hydrogen manufacturing, such as the quality of solar and wind resources and their onshore complementarity, Oman emerges as a highly competitive country in terms of its capabilities. But where we are in technology and where we are in global markets and on policy frameworks — the demand centers for green hydrogen are maturing but not yet matured. I think there will be a period of discovery for green hydrogen globally, not just for Oman, in the way LNG started 20-30 years ago. When it does, Oman will be well-positioned to play global role in the global hydrogen economy. But the question is, how much time it is going to take us and what kind of multi-collaboration needs to be in place to enable that? The realisation of this potential hinges on several factors: the policies of the Omani government, its bilateral ties with Japan, Korea, and the EU, and the technological advancements within the industry. Shell has also been looking at developing CCUS opportunities in the country. How big a role can CCUS play in the region's energy transition? CCUS is going to be an important tool in decarbonising the global energy system. We have several projects globally that we are pursuing for own scope 1, scope 2 emissions reductions, as well as to enable scope 3 emissions with the customers and partners In Oman, we are pursuing a blue hydrogen project where CCUS is a clear component. This initiative serves as a demonstrative case, helping us gauge the country's potential for CCUS implementation. We are using that as a proof point to understand the potential for CCUS in the country. At this stage, it's too early to gauge the scale of CCUS adoption in Oman or our specific role within it. However, we are among the pioneers in establishing the initial proof point through our Blue Hydrogen initiative. You were able to kick off production in block 10 in just over a year after signing the agreement. How are things progressing there? We have started producing at the plateau levels that we agreed with the government, which is just above 500mn ft³/d. 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Opec+ to take June meetings online


24/05/24
News
24/05/24

Opec+ to take June meetings online

Dubai, 24 May (Argus) — Meetings to discuss Opec+ crude output policy that had been scheduled to take place in Vienna at the start of June have been pushed back by a day and will now be held online. The meetings — one involving Opec ministers, another involving the wider Opec+ coalition and a third consisting of the group's Joint Ministerial Monitoring Committee (JMMC) — will "convene via videoconference on Sunday 2 June 2024", the Opec secretariat said on Friday. The original schedule was for Opec+ ministers to meet in person on 1 June. The announcement puts to bed more than a week of rumours and delegate chatter about whether or not the meeting would take place in person as speculation mounts around what policy decision the group would need, or be prepared, to take. Effectively, the only thing up for debate at these meetings is the fate of the 2.2mn b/d supply cut that eight member countries, led by Saudi Arabia and Russia, committed to after the Opec+ group's last meeting in late November. That cut was originally due to last for just three months, but it was later extended for another three months until the end of June. Several weeks ago, when oil prices were under sustained upward pressure in the face of tightening fundamentals and rising geopolitical tensions, expectations were high that the group would agree to begin unwinding at least part of the 2.2mn b/d from July. But a relative easing of tensions in the Middle East, coupled with signs of continued restrictive monetary policy by the US Federal Reserve and other major central banks, has since led to a softening of oil prices and with that a change in sentiment among Opec+ delegates about what the group should do next. Delegates today argue that the market is on the whole well-supplied and in no need of additional supply from the group, particularly given the uncertainty around the outlook for oil demand, highlighted by the wide range of growth projections for 2024. At one end of the spectrum, Opec sees oil demand growth of 2.25mn b/d this year. At the other end, the IEA recently revised down its 2024 growth forecast for a second consecutive month. It now stands at 1.06mn b/d. Two Opec+ delegates said earlier this week that they expect the eight countries to extend the 2.2mn b/d cut in its entirety beyond the second quarter. One said they could extend it through to the end of the year. Compensation plans A renewed emphasis by Opec+ in recent weeks on the need for those member countries producing above their targets to not only scale back but also compensate fully for their past overproduction could be interpreted as acknowledgement by the group that the market is indeed well-supplied. Iraq and Kazakhstan, the group's biggest overproducers this year, this month issued detailed programmes outlining how they plan to compensate , while Russia this week acknowledged it had exceeded its Opec+ target for April and said it would soon submit a plan to the Opec secretariat detailing how it will make up it. Although all eyes will be on the fate of the 2.2mn b/d cut at the upcoming meetings, the fact it is a voluntary pledge and one agreed by only a handful of countries means, in theory, a decision need not happen at the ministerial meeting. As the eight countries participating in that cut are all members of the JMMC, there is a good chance the decision gets announced at the committee's meeting instead. By Nader Itayim Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

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Richmond City Council proposes Chevron refinery tax


23/05/24
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23/05/24

Richmond City Council proposes Chevron refinery tax

Houston, 23 May (Argus) — The Richmond City Council in California's Bay Area has paved the way for a tax on Chevron's 245,000 b/d refinery, voting unanimously at a 21 May meeting for the city's attorney to prepare a ballot initiative. The newly proposed excise tax would be based on the Richmond refinery's feedstock throughputs, according to a presentation given by Communities for a Better Environment (CBE) at the meeting. It is a "…legally defensible strategy to generate new revenue for the city," CBE attorney Kerry Guerin said. The city has previously looked to tax the refinery, with voters passing ‘Measure T' in 2008 before it was struck down in court in 2009. This led to a 15-year settlement agreement freezing any new taxes on Chevron's refinery, but the agreement expires on 30 June 2025. The city is projecting a $34mn budget shortfall for the 2024 to 2025 fiscal year and is seeking to shore up its finances with additional revenue. Ballot initiatives allow Californian citizens to bring laws to a vote without the support of the state's governor or legislature, and the tax proposal could go to voters as early as November this year, according to CBE's Guerin. "Richmond has been the refinery town for more than 100 years, but it won't be 100 years from now," Richmond Mayor Eduardo Martinez said during the meeting. Chevron reiterates risk to renewables A tax on the refinery is the "wrong approach to encourage investment in our facility and in the city that could lead to new energy solutions and reductions in emissions from the refinery," Chevron senior public affairs representative Brian Hubinger said during the meeting's public comments. Hubinger's comment echoes prior warnings from Chevron that a potential cap on California refining profit in the process of being implemented by the California Energy Commission (CEC) would make the company less willing to investment in renewable energy . "An additional punitive tax burden reduces our ability to make investments in our facility to provide the affordable, reliable and ever-cleaner energy our community depends on every day, along with the job opportunities and emission reductions that go with these investments," Chevron said in an emailed statement. The Richmond refinery tax is a "hasty proposal, brought forward by activist interests," the company said. The company last year finished converting a hydrotreating unit at its 269,000 b/d El Segundo, California, refinery to process both renewable and crude feedstocks. The facility was processing 2,000 b/d of bio feedstock to produce renewable diesel (RD) and sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) and said it expected to up production to 10,000 b/d last year. But Chevron has so far lagged its California refining peers in terms of RD volumes with Marathon's Martinez plant running at about 24,000 b/d in the first quarter — half of its nameplate capacity — and Phillips 66's Rodeo refinery producing 30,000 b/d with plans to up runs to over 50,000 b/d by the end of the second quarter . Chevron did not immediately respond to a request for current RD volumes at its California refineries. By Nathan Risser Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

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India's RIL seeks use of state-run jet fuel pipelines


23/05/24
News
23/05/24

India's RIL seeks use of state-run jet fuel pipelines

Mumbai, 23 May (Argus) — Indian private-sector refiner Reliance Industries (RIL) is seeking access to pipelines and storage facilities built by state-controlled firms to supply jet fuel from their refineries and depots to airports. India's Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board (PNGRB) had invited comments on the development of pipelines to distribute jet fuel to existing and planned airports, to encourage competition and reduce fuel costs. Fuel costs account for 30-40pc of Indian airlines' expenses. RIL suggested that for the common carrier pipeline scope should encompass the associated storage facilities and pumping stations at the "off-site" terminal facilities. The state-controlled refiners in their feedback to the PNGRB said they were open to declaring and developing new pipelines as common carriers. They also claimed that existing jet fuel pipelines are not monopolies as they compete with other modes of transport like roads. But state-controlled refiner IOC in its submission noted that "captive/self-use ATF pipeline being operated were designed with infrastructure of IOCL at both ends and are out of purview of [the] PNGRB Act and its congruent regulations." Hindustan Petroleum suggested that the existing jet fuel pipeline from its 190,000 b/d Mumbai refinery should not be declared as a common carrier pipeline as it will affect refinery production or transport. Bharat Petroleum suggested that all major airports be connected through at least one pipeline. For pipelines operating at more than 70pc capacity, it said the PNGRB should invite bids for a new pipeline to ensure redundancy and offset the risk of dependency on a single pipeline. India's production of jet fuel for the 2023-24 fiscal year ending 31 March rose by 14pc from a year earlier to 369,000 b/d, while demand rose by 11pc to 178,045 b/d, according to oil ministry data. RIL produces around a quarter of India's jet fuel at its 1.24mn b/d Jamnagar refinery complex and exports a large part of it. By Roshni Devi Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

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