Searching for the bottom line

The European oil majors’ first-quarter results are in, and the headlines are unanimous: the sector is roaring as profits are soaring.

The latter cannot be denied. Statoil’s profit was up by 74pc, Total’s by 56pc. Shell turned a four-fold increase in profit. Even BP was in the black. Compare with last year – as we must – and the bottom line is looking fine.

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Many a true word…

“I want to be the second to answer that,” Total chief executive Patrick Pouyanne joked with a big smile.

The smile was in response to a question addressed to him and to state-owned Saudi Aramco chief executive Amin Nasser on whether Total would like to buy a stake in Aramco, and whether Aramco wants to see Total as a shareholder.

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Venezuela´s last chirp?

One wonders if Venezuela’s energy minister Nelson Martinez has packed extra underwear on his new tour of Opec and non-Opec oil producers. The streets of Caracas are ablaze with protests, and Opec’s traditional price hawk has become a crippled bird.

It is a rich irony that the accelerating downfall of Venezuela´s once-thriving oil industry isn´t enough to realize the country´s ambitious oil price aspirations. The Orinoco oil belt is still mostly an undeveloped wasteland, and grand schemes for offshore gas have given way to gruesome images of spiraling canisters of tear gas.

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Just how fragile is the GCC consensus?

The third GCC Media Forum in Abu Dhabi last week flashed a glimmer of light on the inner political workings of the six-month Opec and non-Opec production cut deal and portends a potential extension.

Following the arrival of the prerequisite Saudi Arabian oil minister Khalid al-Falih, the GCC energy ministers convened in a majlis on the sidelines of the forum and hashed out a settlement that will see the block unanimously support extending production cuts into the second half of this year.

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