Saudi Arabia in uncharted waters

Saudi economic officials have issued a slew of statements aimed at reassuring investors — particularly from abroad — following the unveiling of King Salman bin Abdel-Aziz’s anti-corruption committee — headed by his son, crown prince Mohammad bin Salman — and the near simultaneous arrest of 11 princes, tens of past and present ministers, and senior officials and businessmen for investigation by the committee.

Continue reading

Is complacency priced in?

There is a very strong possibility that tomorrow the basket price of Opec crude will start with a six for the first time since late June 2015. Ice Brent front-month futures have been sixed-up for a few days now.

Quite the fillip ahead of the group’s meeting at the end of this month, when the key – perhaps the only – point of discussion will be how to keep a good thing going.

Continue reading

November’s Vienna meet may be Opec, non-Opec lite

The November Opec and non-Opec gathering in Vienna looks set for a downgrade.

After the compliance meeting on 22 September, Russian oil minister Alexander Novak said the likely state of the market in April wouldnot be discernible until early 2018. Yesterday, he was explicit: “We need to take a decision in the first quarter of 2018. In November we will certainly discuss the market situation and prospects, but it makes no sense to take a decision.”

Continue reading

Does big data mean big profits for refiners?

At a recent refining conference in Brussels, Italian refiner Saras’ managing director, Dario Scaffardi, extolled the virtues of big data and digitisation to a packed auditorium.

The possibilities, he said, are huge. Maintenance activities, process control and commercial marketing all fall under its umbrella. Digitisation has a role to play in simulation, additive manufacturing, 3D manufacturing and robotics, and in using virtual reality to predict how a unit will run — and when it will fail.

Continue reading