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Venezuela veers further from election vows

  • Market: Crude oil, Oil products
  • 29/05/24

Venezuela's government will no longer allow EU observers to witness the presidential election set for 28 July, a step that could provide a pretext for Washington to further tighten its sanctions against the country.

The government had previously informally invited the observers, but rescinded the invitation hours after the Unity Platform opposition coalition urged President Nicolas Maduro to send a formal request. Venezuela's government has continued to block the opposition's top candidate, Maria Corina Machado, from running.

Venezuela will block the observers because of the EU's "colonialist practices" of economic sanctions, CNE head Elvis Amoroso said. The sanctions have cost Venezuela more than $125bn in frozen assets and lost revenue, he added. Europe along with countries including the US, Canada, Panama and Switzerland have sanctioned Venezuela since 2018, after accusing Maduro of rigging that year's presidential election.

US president Joe Biden's administration last month reimposed most oil sanctions against Venezuela, citing the Maduro government's refusal to allow Machado to run for president. The US administration said it would impose additional restrictions if it determines that the 28 July election that it was not free — a determination that takes into account whether credible international observers are allowed to monitor the voting process.

Both the opposition coalition and the EU called for Venezuela to reconsider. The EU reminded Venezuela that allowing observers was part of the deal struck between Maduro's representatives in Barbados in October and the opposition coalition. The agreement aimed to ensure a path to free and fair elections, after which the US lifted oil sanctions for six months.

Maduro's latest move follows a pattern of intimidation and opacity designed to ensure his continuity, critics said.

The blocking of observers "is regrettable but not surprising," said R. Evan Ellis, a research professor of Latin American studies at the US Army War College.

Venezuela had allowed an EU mission to observe 2021 state and municipal elections, which it condemned as unfair and undemocratic. Maduro and allies claimed a landslide win at both state and city levels.

Polls in Caracas have Maduro losing in July by widening margins. Maduro was in second place with about 20pc of voter support for several weeks, but pollster Meganalisis said he would only get around 9pc of the vote if it were held this week. Machado's place-holder candidate Edmundo Gonzalez would win with 60pc of the vote, according to the poll.


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24/07/24

Indian budget lifts spending for refining, crude SPR

Indian budget lifts spending for refining, crude SPR

Mumbai, 24 July (Argus) — India allocated 1.19 trillion rupees ($14.2bn) to the oil ministry in its budget for the 2024-25 fiscal year ending 31 March, up from Rs1.12 trillion in the 2023-24 revised budget. The budget presented by finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman on 23 July was the first since the BJP-led administration was re-elected in June . Indian state-controlled refiner IOC was allocated Rs273bn for 2024-25, up from Rs270bn in the revised budget for 2023-24. Bharat Petroleum (BPCL) received an increased allocation of Rs110bn, up from 95bn, while Hindustan Petroleum (HPCL) was allotted Rs107bn that was up from Rs102bn previously. No capital support was allocated to the oil marketing companies in the budget given IOC, BPCL and HPCL all reported record profits in 2023-24. India's crude import dependency rose to 88.3pc in April-June from 88.8pc the previous year, oil ministry data show. India's crude imports during January-June were up by around 1pc on a year earlier at 4.65mn b/d, according to Vortexa data. ONGC's allocation rose to Rs308bn for 2024-25, while fellow state-controlled upstream firm Oil India's increased to Rs68bn from Rs305bn and Rs56bn rupees respectively in the revised budget for 2023-24. India has been trying to reduce its dependence on imports and will offer 25 oil and gas blocks in the tenth bidding round in August or September under the Hydrocarbon Exploration and Licensing Policy's Open Acreage Licensing Programme (OALP). It offered 136,596.45km² in 28 upstream oil and gas blocks in the ninth bidding round. ONGC in January secured seven of the 10 areas of exploration blocks offered under India's eighth OALP round. A private-sector consortium of Reliance Industries and BP, Oil India and private-sector Sun Petrochemicals received one block each. Allocation for the Indian Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) received a push to Rs4.08bn for the construction of caverns under its second phase against Rs400mn in the previous budget. The first phase of India's SPR built 1.33mn t (9.75mn bl) of crude storage at Vishakhapatnam, 1.5mn t at Mangalore and 2.5mn t at Padur. A provision of Rs119.25bn was made for LPG subsidies in 2024-25 compared with spending of Rs122.4bn in 2023-24. 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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Repsol 2Q profit doubles but cash flow turns negative


24/07/24
News
24/07/24

Repsol 2Q profit doubles but cash flow turns negative

Madrid, 24 July (Argus) — Spanish integrated Repsol's profit more than doubled on the year in the second quarter, as lower one-time losses and better results in the upstream and customer divisions more than offset a weaker refining performance. But its cash flow turned negative as it completed the buyout of its UK joint venture with China's state-controlled Sinopec, raised investments and experienced weaker refining margins. Net debt was sharply higher, largely reflecting share buy-backs. Repsol has said it will acquire and cancel a further 20mn of its own shares before the end of the year, which will probably further increase its debt. It completed a 40mn buy-back in the first half of the year. Repsol's profit climbed to €657mn ($714mn) in April-June from €308mn a year earlier, when earnings were hit by a large provision against an arbitration ruling that obliged it to acquire Sinopec's stake in their UK joint venture. Excluding this and other special items, such as a near threefold reduction in the negative inventory effect to €85mn, Repsol's adjusted profit increased by 4pc on the year to €859mn. Repsol confirmed the fall in refining margins and upstream production reported earlier in July . Liquids output increased by 3pc on the year to 214,000 b/d, and gas production fell by 4pc to 2.1bn ft³/d. Adjusted upstream profit increased by 4pc on the year to €427mn. The higher crude production and a 13pc rise in realised prices to $78.6/bl more than offset lower gas production and prices, which fell by 6pc to $3.1/'000 ft³ over the same period. Adjusted profit at Repsol's industrial division — which includes 1mn b/d of Spanish and Peruvian refining capacity, an olefins-focused petrochemicals division, and a gas and oil product trading business — was down by 16pc on the year at €288mn. Profit fell at the 117,000 b/d Pampilla refinery in Peru after a turnaround and weak refining margins, and there was lower income from gas trading. Spanish refining profit rose on a higher utilisation rate and gains in oil product trading. Repsol's customer-focused division reported adjusted profit of €158mn in April-June, 7pc higher on the year thanks to higher retail electricity margins, a jump in sales from an expanded customer base, higher margins in aviation fuels and higher sales volumes in lubricants. Repsol swung to a negative free cash flow, before shareholder remuneration and buy-backs, of €574mn in the second quarter, from a positive €392mn a year earlier. After shareholder remuneration, including the share buy-backs and dividends, Repsol had a negative cash position of €1.12bn compared with a positive €133mn a year earlier. Repsol's net debt more than doubled to €4.595bn at the end of June from €2.096bn on 31 December 2023, reflecting the share buy-backs and new leases of equipment. By Jonathan Gleave Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

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Equinor 2Q profit supported by higher European output


24/07/24
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24/07/24

Equinor 2Q profit supported by higher European output

London, 24 July (Argus) — Norway's state-controlled Equinor posted a small rise in profit on the year in the April-June period, as a lift in its European production offset lower gas prices. Equinor reported a profit of $1.87bn in the second quarter, up by 2.2pc on the year but down by 30pc from the first three months of 2024. The company paid two Norwegian corporation tax instalments, totalling $6.98bn, in the second quarter, compared with one in the first quarter. Equinor paid $7.85bn in tax in April-June in total. Its average liquids price in the second quarter was $77.6/bl, up by 10pc from the second quarter of 2023. But average gas prices for Equinor's Norwegian and US production fell in the same period by 17pc and 6pc, respectively. The company noted "strong operational performance and lower impact from turnarounds" on the Norwegian offshore, including new output from the Breidablikk field . Equinor's entitlement production was 1.92mn b/d of oil equivalent (boe/d) in April-June, up by 3pc on the year. The company cited "high production" from Norway's Troll and Oseberg fields in the second quarter, as well as new output from the UK's Buzzard field. But US output slid, owing to offshore turnarounds and "planned curtailments onshore to capture higher value when demand is higher", the company said. It estimates oil and gas production across 2024 will be "stable" compared with last year, while its renewable power generation is expected to increase by around 70pc across the same timespan. Equinor's share of power generation rose by 14pc on the year to 1.1TWh in April-June. Of this, 655GWh was renewables — almost doubling on the year — driven by new onshore wind capacity in Brazil and Poland. "Construction is progressing" on the UK's 1.2GW Dogger Bank A offshore windfarm , Equinor said. It is aiming for full commercial operations in the first half of 2025 at Dogger Bank A — a joint venture with UK utility SSE. Equinor was granted three new licences in June to develop CO2 storage in Norway and Denmark. The Norwegian licences — Albondigas and Kinno — together have CO2 storage potential of 10mn t/yr. The Danish onshore licence, for which Equinor was awarded a 60pc stake, has potential capacity of 12mn t/yr. Equinor has a goal of 30mn-50mn t/yr of CO2 transport and storage capacity by 2035. The company's scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions amounted to 5.6mn t/CO2 equivalent (CO2e) in the first half of the year, edging lower from 5.8mn t/CO2e in January-June 2023. It also incrementally cut its upstream CO2 intensity, from 6.7 kg/boe across 2023, to 6.3 kg/boe in the first half of this year. Equinor has kept its ordinary cash dividend steady , at $0.35/share, and will continue the extraordinary cash dividend of $0.35/share for the second quarter. It will launch a third $1.6bn tranche of its share buyback programme on 24 July. By Georgia Gratton Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

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Air passenger traffic up at Australia’s Sydney, Perth


24/07/24
News
24/07/24

Air passenger traffic up at Australia’s Sydney, Perth

Sydney, 24 July (Argus) — Australia's Perth airport logged its highest ever passenger numbers in the 2023-24 fiscal year to 30 June, breaking a record set in 2013-14, while Sydney remained behind pre-Covid-19 pandemic levels. About 16.1mn passengers used Perth airport topping the previous 14.9mn high a decade earlier. Perth's regional passenger numbers for 2023-24 edged over 6mn, outstripping interstate passengers of 5.7mn and international at 4.3mn, likely showing an increase in mining and resources activity in the state's minerals and gas provinces. Fly-in, fly-out passengers comprise a major part of Perth's total because of the remote location of many of the state's resources projects. Sydney airport, Australia's largest, reported 9.74mn passengers for April-June, led by increased international traffic and representing a 94pc recovery rate on international passengers recorded in pre-pandemic April-June 2019. Sydney's passenger numbers for this year's first half remained 7pc below 2019 but 10pc higher than the same time last year. Australia's second-largest airport Melbourne reported 35.13mn passengers for 2023-24 . Australian jet fuel sales averaged 158,000 b/d for January-May, behind the 161,000 b/d in 2019 but 8pc above 2023's average of 146,000 b/d, according to Australian Petroleum Statistics. Imports were also up by 11pc on a year earlier for the same period. By Tom Major Sydney air passenger traffic (mn) Apr-Jun '24 Jan-Mar '24 Apr-Jun '23 Jan-Jun '24 Jan-Jun '23 Jan-Jun '19 q-o-q % ± y-o-y % ± Total 9.74 10.30 9.16 20.06 18.17 21.60 -5 6 International 3.77 4.16 3.36 7.93 6.69 8.30 -9 12 Domestic 5.97 6.16 5.80 12.13 11.49 13.30 -3 3 Source Sydney Airport Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

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US House passes waterways bill


23/07/24
News
23/07/24

US House passes waterways bill

Houston, 23 July (Argus) — The US House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved a bill on Monday authorizing the US Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) to tackle a dozen port, inland waterway and other water infrastructure projects. The Republican-led House voted 359-13 to pass the Waterways Resources Development Act (WRDA), which authorizes the Corps to proceed with plans to upgrade the Seagirt Loop Channel near Baltimore Harbor in Maryland. The bill also will enable the Corps to move forward with 160 feasibility studies, including a $314mn resiliency study of the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, which connects ports along the Gulf of Mexico from St Marks, Florida, to Brownsville, Texas. Water project authorization bills typically are passed every two years and generally garner strong bipartisan support because they affect numerous congressional districts. The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee unanimously passed its own version of the bill on 22 May. That bill does not include an adjustment to the cost-sharing structure for lock and dam construction and other rehabilitation projects. The Senate's version is expected to reach the floor before 2 August, before lawmakers break for their August recess. The Senate is not scheduled to reconvene until 9 September. If the Senate does not pass an identical version of the bill, lawmakers will have to meet in a conference committee to work out the differences. WRDA is "our legislative commitment to investing in and protecting our communities from flooding and droughts, restoring our environment and ecosystems and keeping our nation's competitiveness by supporting out ports and harbors", representative Grace Napolitano (D-California) said. By Meghan Yoyotte Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

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