Weekly Energy Market Review
This week's Canadian economic news:
Industrial capacity utilization rose to 85.5% in the second quarter, the highest reading since 2007. Utilization rates in oil and gas extraction rose for the fifth quarter in a row, rising from 82.7% in Q1 to 87.1% in Q2. The construction sector reported operating at 93.0% of capacity.
The country's total net worth (excluding financial assets) rose 1.9% to $11.12 trillion at the end of Q2, primarily due to higher real-estate and commodity prices, particularly crude and forestry products. On a per capita basis, each Canadian is worth approximately $298,777.
Debt to disposable income increased to 169.1% in the second quarter, up from 168.3% in Q1.
Canadian households borrowed $19.6 billion in Q2, down from $22.2 billion in the previous quarter. Consumer credit debt rose $1.7 billion, offsetting a $4.4 billion decline in mortgage and non-mortgage loans.
This week's notable US economic data:
After a strong showing in July, retail sales rose just 0.1% in August on weak auto sales.
Industrial output rose 0.4% in August, thanks to higher activity in the mining and energy sectors.
Consumer confidence improved from 96.2 last month to 100.8 in September, the highest reading since March.
CPI rose 0.2% m/m in August, attributed mainly to a 3% increase in gas prices. Core-CPI, excluding food and energy, grew just 0.1%. On an annualized-basis, CPI declined from 2.9% to 2.7%, while core-CPI fell from 2.4% to 2.2%.
This week's central bank action:
The Turkish central bank raised its benchmark rate from 17.75% to 24% in an effort to prop up its weak currency. The government has banned the use of Euros or US dollars within the country.
Russia also raised its benchmark interest rate this week by 0.25 basis point to 7.25%, the first increase since 2014.
The bank of England unanimously voted to keep interest rates unchanged this week at 0.75%.
President Trump has instructed his government to proceed with tariffs on another US$200 billion worth of Chinese imports, despite ongoing efforts to restart trade negotiations. These latest tariffs are in addition to another US$50 billion in Chinese imports currently subject to a 25% tax.
Despite trade jitters and soft inflation numbers, US bond yields rose across the board this week, with the yield curve declining to 0.21% (10 vs 2-year rate). Despite little progress on NAFTA talks, Canadian bond yields rose 0.05 basis points to 2.34%.
The US dollar dipped below 95 again this week, while the loonie gained almost 1% to 76.68. The Japanese yen was one of this week's biggest losers on currency markets, falling almost 1%. The pound rose over 1% to 130.70.
WTI and Brent posted strong gains for the week, as both benchmarks touched US$70 and US$80, respectively, before pulling back on Thursday. Despite concerns of gas shortages due to Hurricane Florence, wholesale gasoline prices ended the week unchanged, likely due to reports of rising inventories south of the border.
The WCS discount to WTI hit US$29.50 a barrel on Friday. The discount is likely to widen on Monday as the October WCS contract expired today, while the October contract for WTI expires next Thursday.
The Edmonton Condensate discount to WTI also widened from about zero in August to almost US$11 a barrel on Friday, sending C5+ prices lower by almost 6% for the week.
In this month's Short Term Energy Outlook, the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) raised expectations for oil and gas prices across the board, with WTI expected to average about US$67 this year and next, while Brent prices forecasted to hover closer to US$73 a barrel. Gasoline prices are expected to average US$2.82 a gallon in 2019, while the average Henry Hub natural gas price was revised higher to US$3.12/MMBtu.
This week's revised demand forecasts:
For the second month in a row, OPEC reduced its 2019 world oil demand growth forecast by 1.41 million bbl/day, down 20,000 bbl/day from its previous forecast.
According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), demand from non-OECD countries "remains resilient" but at risk due to currency depreciation and trade disputes. Demand from China and India is expected to grow by 910,000 bbl/day this year, but slow to 640,000 bbl/day in 2019.
This week's production updates:
The EIA tweaked its 2019 forecast for US crude production from 11.7 to 11.5 million bbl/day, while expectations for natural gas volumes were revised higher by almost 1% to 84.65 Bcf/day.
According to the IEA, world crude oil supply rose to a record 100 million bbl/day in August. Non-OPEC supply is up 2.6 million bbl/day in the past year, led by higher output from the US, and is expected to grow another 1.8 million bbl/day in 2019.
OPEC production reached a nine-month high of 32.6 million bbl/day in August, on higher output from Libya, Iraq, Nigeria and Saudi Arabia. The cartel warned oil markets will be oversupplied by 500,000 bbl/day in 2019, if OPEC output remains unchanged at these levels.
This week's crude inventory updates:
The EIA reported another hefty drawdown in US crude stockpiles last week, as refineries crank production of gasoline and distillates. The agency is forecasting a global inventory drawdown of 150 million barrels this year, followed by an increase of about 40 million barrels in 2019.
The IEA reported a build in OECD commercial stocks, rising 245 million barrels in July to 2.82 billion barrels. The agency says US and Japanese stockpiles are likely to build again in August, while Europe will likely report a decline.
The EIA says US crude oil output surpassed Russia and Saudi Arabia this past summer, officially taking the top spot as the world's largest crude producer. The agency expects to hold on to the #1 spot through 2019.
After being stagnant for a few weeks, the US added 7 new oil rigs on Friday, bringing the total to 867. Canada added 15 oil rigs to a total of 148.
US equity markets all ticked higher this week, led by the industrial, technology and energy sectors. The Dow Transportation index hit a record, generally considered a very good omen for equity markets in general. A softer yen helped boost the Nikkei 3.5% this week, one of this week's best performers.
Toronto's TSX Composite bucked the uptrend this week, falling 0.5%. The Shanghai market also retreated 0.8% due to ongoing trade tensions with President Trump.
Canadian and US energy stocks diverged this week, with the TSX energy basket declining almost 2%, while US counterparts rose 2%. All Canadian subsectors declined, led lower by heavily-weighted integrated names. On the S&P 500, services and producers posted the biggest gains. European majors listed on the NYSE all gained ground this week due to a weaker US dollar.
This week's Canadian political news:
Premier Rachel Notley visited the oil sands this week, showcasing two recent major investments in the sector - the new Fort Hills Mine and Nexen's Long Lake SAGD facility. When asked about the recent work stoppage on the Trans Mountain Expansion (TMEP), the premier says she remains frustrated and angry, once again calling on the federal government to get a "clear and reliable path forward" to get construction restarted "not in months, but in weeks." Notley says her province has no intention of launching an appeal to the Supreme Court, but would apply for intervenor status if the appeal goes forward. Federal Natural Resources Minister Amarjeet Sohi also attended the event, telling reporters his government is still considering an appeal and/or legislation to get construction restarted, but hasn't made any decisions yet.
Speaking at the Barclay's Energy-Power Conference in New York City last week, Suncor Energy (SU) CEO Steve Williams told investors he's in no hurry to green-light any more oil sands expansions until new pipelines get built. Williams points out that the cancelation of TMEP and a constantly-evolving regulatory process raises the bigger issue of business confidence, posing a "big risk" to future investments.
Royal Dutch Shell's (NYSE:RDS.A) Canadian subsidiary voluntarily released 50,000 square kilometres of exploratory permits off the coast of BC, located in the Queen Charlotte and Tofino basins, covering "environmentally rich areas." Despite showing the potential for hydrocarbon resources in both basins, the area has been under a federal moratorium, prohibiting exploration in the region since 1972.
This week's Canadian energy news:
A subsidiary of China's Sinopec (NYSE:SNP) has partnered up with a First Nations consortium to develop plans to build a bitumen refinery near Edmonton. The $8.5 billion Alberta First Nations Energy Centre will include a bitumen upgrader/refinery and petrochemical facility with the capacity to process 167,000 bbl/day of diluted bitumen. The group plans to undertake scoping work over the next 24 months, while Stantec kicks-off the regulatory review process. Funding expected to be provided by Sinopec and a Chinese construction firm. Construction is slated to begin in 2021 with commissioning targeted for 2025. Sinopec is the world's largest oil refining, gas and petrochemical conglomerate, headquartered in Beijing.
Pengrowth Energy (PGF) says its Lindbergh in-situ facility has now topped 18,000 bbl/day, producing 18,137 bbl/day for five consecutive days. Three of eight infill wells drilled this year are now producing bitumen, adding to the project's total output. CEO Pete Sametz warned that production will be reduced by approximately 40% for seven days, while the facility undergoes scheduled maintenance work later this month.
Canadian National Railway's (CNR) CFO says his company has already moved 50% more crude by rail during the third quarter to date, with higher volumes expected in Q4. Speaking at an industry conference this week, Ghislain Houle told investors that CN is locking customers into multiyear contracts "at very favourable" rates. The company also says the recent court decision to overturn approvals for Trans Mountain has "added years to crude by rail." Last week, Reuters reported that Cenovus Energy (CVE) signed a deal with CN to move additional volumes out its oil sands facilities in Alberta.
TransCanada (TRP) has signed agreements with 100% of Indigenous bands along the Coastal GasLink Pipeline route. The agreements will provide contracting and employment opportunities, as well as long-term benefits sharing for 20 groups located along the right-of-way. Coastal GasLink is subject to a positive final investment decision on the $40 billion LNG Canada project, currently being led by Royal Dutch Shell (NYSE:RDS.A). The pipeline's approval is being challenged by a BC-based litigation team, who would like to see a full-scale federal environmental assessment, putting both the pipeline and LNG project at risk of being cancelled or delayed for several years. A group of 14 mayors from northern BC have penned an open letter to the project's opponents, outlining the social and economic benefits of both projects. Coastal GasLink currently falls under provincial jurisdiction since the project lies completely within BC's borders. The lawyers argue the project should undergo a full-scale federal assessment since the gas is intended to be exported.
After closing on the sale of its Trans Mountain assets to the federal government last week, Kinder Morgan (NYSE:KMI) has hired TD Securities to find buyers for the remainder of its Canadian assets. Last week, KMI CEO Steve Kean told investors his company would like to sell Kinder Morgan Canada (KML) in order to raise funds and pay down debt at the Houston-based parent company. KML's holdings include the Vancouver Wharves terminal, the Canadian portion of the Cochin condensate pipeline and various storage facilities in Alberta. The Canadian subsidiary was spun-off from its parent company last year in order to fund the Trans Mountain Expansion Project.
Privately-held Enhance Energy has partnered up with Wolf Midstream to develop the long-awaited Alberta Carbon Trunk Line (ACTL). ACTL is a 240 km pipeline that transports carbon dioxide (CO₂) from Alberta’s Industrial Heartland to aging reservoirs throughout central and southern Alberta for storage and enhanced oil recovery (EOR). Wolf will construct, own, and operate the CO₂ capture and pipeline assets, while Enhance will own and operate the CO₂ utilization and sequestration through its EOR operations. Initial CO₂ flow rates are expected to start at 800 t/day in the fourth quarter of 2019, rising to 4,400 t/day by the end of next year. Carbon will be supplied by the Sturgeon Refinery and the Redwater Fertilizer facility, operated by Nutrien (NTR). The project received over $550 million in federal and provincial subsidies over 10 years ago, but construction was delayed due to lack of funding. Wolf Midstream is backed by the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB).
This week's Canadian investing news:
Canadian Natural Resources (CNQ) has closed on its acquisition of Laricina Energy, with almost 98% of Laricina shareholders tendering their shares. Laricina Energy owns two core in-situ properties, Germain and Saleski, both located about 100 km southwest of Fort McMurray, AB.
Altagas (ALA) announced plans to IPO its Canadian utilities business, raising as much as $1 billion to be put towards debt reduction. The company also agreed to sell non-core natural gas-processing and other midstream assets in Western Canada and California to private-equity firm Birch Hill Equity Partners for $560 million. Net proceeds will be used to repay a bridge loan acquired in its $8.4 billion acquisition of WGL Holdings. Post-sale and IPO, the company will still have about US$1.1 billion remaining on its bridge loan.
Trinidad Drilling (TDG) has advised its shareholders to reject a takeover offer from Ensign Energy Services (ESI). TDG says the $1.68 per share offer is "significantly" undervalued and "not in the best interest of the company." Trinidad says it has initiated a new formal process to find alternative buyers, with the intention of finding a better deal before the Ensign offer expires in mid-December.
Prairie Provident Resources (PPR) has agreed to acquire Marquee Energy (TSXV:MQX) for $55 million in stock, including debt. Upon closing, PPR's production will increase to about 7,700 boe/day, weighted 69% liquids. The deal is subject to a break-up fee of $2.5 million.
This week's US energy news:
A group of Native American tribes from Montana and South Dakota are suing the US Administration over President Trump's issuance of a federal permit for TransCanada's (TRP) Keystone XL Pipeline in the spring of 2017. The group accuses the president of several violations, including the trampling of treaty rights and failing to properly assess the impacts of a spill on cultural sites. Lawyers for the group are asking the US State Department to rescind the pipeline's permit. The American Civil Liberties Union is also suing the Trump Administration for leaking details of planned protests against the project. Last August, a US district judge ordered a more thorough review of Keystone XL's approved route through the state of Nebraska. TransCanada has yet to comment on any of the lawsuits or intentions to eventually sanction the US$8 billion project.
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has put forth a number of amendments to its oil and gas GHG reporting regulations, particularly in reference to fugitive emissions at well sites. The EPA is proposing changes to reporting frequency and measurement systems, allowing companies to use state regulations, even if they are less stringent than federal guidelines. The move is seen as a watering-down President Obama's methane reduction program. The proposed changes are being applauded by the American Petroleum Institute (API), and is expected to save the industry up to $75 million annually.
Exxon Mobil (XOM) has agreed to supply Alaska Gasline Development Corp (AGDC) with 13.8 Tcf of LNG from Alaska's North Slope, to be used as feedstock for the future Alaska LNG Project. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, although state-owned AGDC struck a similar deal with BP (BP) last spring. A final investment decision on the US$43 billion project is expected sometime next year.
A series of gas-line explosions ripped through a Boston suburb this week, sparking over 80 fires and forcing the evacuation of 8,600 residents. The explosion was thought to be caused by an over-pressurization of the mainline, owned and operating by Columbia Gas, who had been upgrading gas lines in the neighbourhood. The company says it will visit 8,600 affected customers to manually shut-off each gas meter and conduct safety inspections. One person was killed in the incident, while 10 others were reported injured. Columbia Gas is owned by utility company NiSource (NI).
Buckeye Partners (BPL) has begun repairs on a closed jet fuel pipeline that spilled 8,000 gallons of fuel into the St. Marys River in Indiana. The company says clean-up efforts continues, but replacement of the line was delayed due to heavy rain and high river levels.
This week's US investing news:
Devon Energy (DVN) approved another US$1 billion in share buybacks this week, representing another 6% of its outstanding float. The move brings total buybacks to US$4 billion by the spring of 2019, or 20% of all outstanding common shares. The company also boosted its quarterly dividend 33% to US$0.08 per share.
Sandridge Energy (SD) ended its strategic review this week and warned investors all of the proposed deals significantly undervalued the company and its resources. The company's implied liquidation value is estimated at US$12 to US$13 per share, sending the stock plunging 23%.
Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A) cut its stake in Phillips 66 (PSX) from 7.5% in July to 4.8% in August, resulting in the sale of 12.5 million shares during the month.
Around the world this week:
Exxon Mobil (XOM) announced plans to spend more than US$650 million to upgrade its Fawley Refinery, located in Hampshire, England. The 270,000 bbl/day refinery is the largest in the UK, accounting for one-fifth of the country's refining capacity. The upgrade would include a new hydrotreater and hydrogen plant, increasing the facility's capacity to convert heavy, sour crude into low-sulphur diesel, and reducing the UK's reliance on diesel imports. The upgrade is subject to a final investment decision, expected sometime in the second quarter of next year.
Saudi Basic Industries Corp (SABIC) signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the government of China to build a "world-scale mega petrochemical" complex in the Fujian province. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. This is the third major investment in the country's petrochemical sector announced in the past two months, which included deals with ExxonMobil (XOM) and Germany's BASF (BASFY).
PetroChina (PTR) signed a 22-year agreement with Qatargas for the supply of 4.3 million t/yr of LNG, beginning later this month. Qatargas is a joint-venture between Qatar Petroleum, ExxonMobil (XOM) and Total (TOT).
French energy major Total (TOT) has exercised an option to buy a 25% interest in the Orinduik exploration block off the coast of Guyana. The block is operated by Tullow Oil (TUWOY), who estimates the field containes about 3 billion barrels of oil and gas. Tullow plans to begin drilling in the third quarter of next year.
Cenovus Energy (CVE): Upgraded from Neutral to Outperform at JPMorgan Chase.
Eclipse Resources (NYSE:ECR): Upgraded from Sell to Neutral at Goldman Sachs.
Equinor (NYSE:EQNR): Upgraded from Underweight to Equal Weight at Barclays.
Helmerich & Payne (NYSE:HP): Upgraded from Underweight to Neutral at JPMorgan.
Plains GP (NYSE:PAGP): Upgraded from Neutral to Buy at BofA.
API Weekly Statistical Bulletin released @ 4:30pm ET
IEA Key World Energy Statistics 2018 released in Paris, France
G7 Environment, Energy and Ocean Ministers meet in Halifax, NS
EIA Weekly Petroleum Status Report released @ 10:30am ET
July Employment Insurance data released by StatsCan @ 8:30am ET
EIA Weekly Natural Gas Storage Report released @ 10:30pm ET
October contract expiry for WTI
August CPI and July Retail Trade data released by StatsCan @ 8:30am ET
Baker Hughes Rig Count released @ 1:00pm ET