Argus editors in the States have selected the following 10 quotes to sum up the year that was 2015. Apologies to David Letterman.
“It became a symbol too often used as a campaign cudgel by both parties rather than a serious policy matter. And all of this obscured the fact that this pipeline would neither be a silver bullet for the economy, as was promised by some, nor the express lane to climate disaster proclaimed by others.” – President Barack Obama on 6 November rejected Canadian midstream company TransCanada’s proposal to build the 830,000 b/d Keystone XL pipeline, ending a drama that had played out since 2008.
“My view is people need to kind of settle in for a while … Pick a country, pick a region of the world, there is a lot of supply capacity out there that if things stabilize in that region, there is another source coming.” – ExxonMobil chief executive Rex Tillerson, announcing a round of capital spending cuts in March, one of many such moves seen across the energy sector this year.
“The grim reality is when you have oil prices in the $40s as we saw in the third quarter, as you look across the sector, particularly in the US, it’s tough sledding … And if you’ve got natural gas prices where they are in the US, it’s a challenge.” – Chevron chief executive John Watson on 30 October, describing the company’s quarterly earnings, which were down by 64pc from a year earlier.
“It is also telling that Mr. Souki sold a great deal of his stock, which made it somewhat easier for him to ‘swing for the fences,’ making it a win-win for Mr Souki but not necessarily for the shareholders.” – Activist investor Carl Icahn on 14 December, regarding the firing of Charif Souki as chief executive of Cheniere, which is on the verge of the first large-scale LNG exports from the US.
“Constraints including but not limited to the E10 blendwall are real and can only be partially overcome by a responsive market in the near term.” – The US Environmental Protection Agency on 30 November published long-delayed biofuel mandates for 2014-2016. In its rule the agency maintained a controversial interpretation that reduced statutory volumes to account for limitations on the ability to distribute and consume higher-ethanol fuel, the so-called “blend wall.”
“It’s not like taking your Ferrari into the local garage that handles Chevrolets. They do it the right way.” — PBF Energy executive chairman Tom O’Malley on 29 October, discussing an extensive outage at ExxonMobil’s 155,000 b/d refinery in Torrance that helped tighten California gasoline supply and drove high Carbob premiums for refiners able to supply the market. ExxonMobil must fully restore the refinery in order to close its sale to PBF and complete that company’s rapid expansion to the Gulf and west coasts.
“I don’t think it’s going to be as big a deal as some people think.” — Phillips 66 chief executive Greg Garland in September, referring to the likely impact of lifting the 40-year-old ban on exporting most US crude oil. That ban was lifted in December as part of budget deal reached by lawmakers in the US Congress.
“Our members are speaking loud and clear. If it takes a global fight to win safe workplaces, so be it.” –United Steel Workers International vice president Gary Beevers, referring to a strike by US refinery workers that spurred the largest work stoppage in more than 30 years. Union workers at 15 refineries making up 20pc of US refining capacity went on strike on 1 February. Most refiners reached an agreement with the union in March, but strikes continued through late April.
“I thought May would be a down month.” — North Dakota’s Department of Mineral Resources director Lynn Helms on 10 July, discussing stubbornly resilient output from the Bakken formation. The state’s 3pc increase in crude output and 7pc rise in natural gas output in May surprised state officials who had expected a drop amid the lowest rig count in six years.
“You are limited in what you can do if you do not conserve cash … It is making everybody do exactly the same thing.” — Continental Resources chief executive Harold Hamm, at the Argus Americas Crude Summit in Houston, Texas, on 28 January. Hamm predicted that US producers would react quickly to lower crude prices by delaying final completion of shale wells and minimizing marginal output.