Mark Latham Commodity Equity Intelligence Service

Friday 29th July 2016
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    FAGA: French for scary.

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    Google parent Alphabet Inc. said quarterly profit soared 24%, the second internet giant in two days to report blockbuster earnings driven by consumers’ rapid shift to mobile devices. Inc. on Thursday reported in its third consecutive record profit, nearly doubling its prior high-water mark, and its fifth straight quarter in the black.

    Amazon’s revenue jumped 31% including a 58% gain at its Amazon Web Services cloud computing unit. The company also more than doubled its operating margin, which historically has been razor thin, and issued a cheery outlook for the coming quarter.

    Mark Zuckerberg has put Warren Buffett in his rearview mirror.

    Zuckerberg’s tech behemoth, Facebook Inc. FB, +1.35% edged out Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. BRK.B, +0.16%  moving ahead of the market capitalization of the Sage of Omaha’s investment conglomerate Thursday.

    Facebook added about $5 billion to its market cap and briefly touched a valuation of about $362 billion after the social network late Wednesday reported stellar second-quarter earnings underpinned by its growing mobile-advertising business. Facebook finished trading with a value of $363.8 billion Thursday, pushing it ahead of Berkshire’s Class B shares, which finished with a valuation of $355.7 billion, according to FactSet data.

    The stock AAPL, +1.35%  ran up 6.5% to close at a three-month high. The split-adjusted price gain of $6.28 was the second-biggest one-day rise in Apple’s history, in the wake of the technology giant’s better-than-expected quarterly results. It was just behind the biggest-ever gain of $7.10 on April 25, 2012.

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    Teck posts surprise profit as costs fall

    Teck Resources Ltd reported a surprise quarterly profit as its costs declined.

    Teck, the largest producer of steelmaking coal in North America, said on Thursday its operating costs fell 15 percent to C$691 million ($525 million) in the second quarter.

    A global commodity rout had pushed coal and copper prices to multi-year lows, forcing miners to sell assets, lay off workers, and cut dividends and capital spending to preserve cash and reduce debt.

    Teck also raised its 2016 production forecast for coal to 26 million-27 million tons from 25 million-26 million, and for copper to 310,000-320,000 tons from 305,000-320,000.

    "While the commodity cycle continues to be challenging, we are starting to see some positive changes in the direction of zinc and steelmaking coal prices," Chief Executive Don Lindsay said.

    Teck forecast coal sales of at least 6.8 million tons for the third quarter. The miner reported second-quarter coal sales of 6.3 million tons, below its forecast of 6.5 million.

    The Vancouver-based company cut its 2016 cost of sales forecast to $42-$46 per ton from $45-$49, citing a fall in expenses and lower diesel prices.

    Teck said the construction of the Fort Hills oil sands project in northern Alberta is more than 60 percent complete.

    The company reiterated that it was on track for first oil production by late 2017, despite a nearly four-week halt to construction due to wildfires in Fort McMurray.

    Teck owns a 20 percent stake in Fort Hills, which is majority owned by Suncor Energy Inc.

    Net profit attributable to shareholders fell by more than three-quarters to C$15 million, or 3 Canadian cents per share, in the quarter ended June 30.

    Excluding items, Teck earned 1 Canadian cent per share.

    Analysts had expected a loss of 1 Canadian cent per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

    Revenue fell nearly 13 percent to C$1.74 billion.
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    Oil and Gas

    Pioneer says some U.S. fracking costs competitive with Saudis

    Improved fracking techniques have helped cut Pioneer Natural Resources Co's production costs in the Permian Basin to about $2 a barrel, low enough to compete with oil rival Saudi Arabia, CEO Scott Sheffield said on Thursday.

    The comments from Sheffield, who is retiring soon, were perhaps the most concrete sign yet that the fittest U.S. shale oil producers will survive the price crash that started in mid-2014 when Saudi Arabia and OPEC moved to pump heavily to win back market share from higher-cost producers.

    Dozens of shale companies, many with marginal assets, have filed for credit protection in the biggest wave of corporate bankruptcies since the telecoms crash of the early 2000s. Sheffield said high costs would continue to make U.S. shale plays outside the Permian basin relatively less competitive.

    On Pioneer's second-quarter results call, Sheffield said that, excluding taxes, production costs have fallen to $2.25 a barrel on horizontal wells in the Permian Basin of West Texas, so it is nearly on even footing with low-cost producers of conventional oil.

    "Definitely we can compete with anything that Saudi Arabia has," he said.

    "My firm belief is the Permian is going to be the only driver of long-term oil growth in this country. And it's going to grow on up to about 5 million barrels a day from 2 million barrels," even in a $55 per barrel price environment, he added.

    Oil traded near $50 a barrel for much of the second quarter but is currently around $42. Pioneer's shares were up more than 3 percent on Thursday at $155.91 each.

    Sheffield said other U.S. shale plays, notably the Bakken in North Dakota and the Eagle Ford in South Texas, may not be able to weather the downturn as well given their higher costs.

    "The Bakken and the Eagle Ford I think there's no way they can recover to the levels that they've already had," he said.

    Pioneer expects output to grow 15 percent a year through 2020 after posting production of 233,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day this past quarter. It sees most of its growth in the Permian, though it also has acreage in the Eagle Ford.

    Pioneer helps limit costs by doing much of its oilfield services work in-house. It also has its own sand mine, and uses effluent water from the city of Odessa for frack jobs using pressurized sand, water and chemicals to unlock oil from rock.

    Pioneer said it is now introducing its third generation of well completion techniques, called version 3.0, that is using even more sand and water than the super-sized volumes introduced at the start of the price crash to pull more oil out of rock.

    Its newest wells are using up to 1,700 pounds per foot of sand, up to 50 barrels per foot of fluid, and frack points as often as every 15 feet with wells that are now nearly 10,000 feet long.

    Wells fracked using completion techniques known as version 2.0 have produced about 2,000 barrels per day in their early days, double what they were producing with earlier wells.

    While the newest wells appear more productive, the company declined to say what output from wells fracked with the third generation completion techniques would ultimately be, partly because it chokes, or restricts, initial output from new wells to ensure their longevity.

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    Pemex must take minimum 45 pct stake in deep water venture

    Mexico's oil regulator on Wednesday said state-owned oil company Pemex must take a minimum 45 percent stake in its first-ever proposed joint venture with would-be private partners to develop oil reserves in the Gulf of Mexico's deep waters.

    Global oil majors are widely expected to bid in the December auction to help develop the Trion light oil field in the Perdido Fold Belt just south of Mexico's maritime border with the United States.

    Companies such as Royal Dutch Shell and Exxon Mobil operate lucrative developments in nearby U.S. waters while Mexico has yet to achieve commercial production on its side of oil-rich Perdido due to a lack of technical expertise to tap such fields.

    The call for bids to partner with cash-strapped Pemex on Trion follows the constitutional energy reform enacted in 2013 which promised to reverse a decade-long slump in crude production by luring new players to explore for and produce oil.

    The regulator said the Trion joint venture will be bid out in the form of a license contract, which is similar to a concession, and will include two operators, one of which must have between a 30 to 45 percent stake in the project.

    Interested bidders have until Sept. 15 to pre-qualify for the auction by meeting both financial and technical minimum requirements, while the final version of the contract and bid terms will be published on Sept. 30.

    The license contract to partner with Pemex on the project will be awarded on Dec. 5. Mexico will also auction 10 separate deep water fields, including four that surround Trion, in December.

    Under the terms of the energy reform, Pemex can partner with companies in exploration and production projects, but rather than being allowed to pick its partners, they will instead be selected by an auction run by the oil regulator, known as the National Hydrocarbons Commission.

    The partnership will allow Pemex to share the investment needed to successfully develop the field, the company's first major deep water oil project.

    The Trion field holds some 480 million barrels and will require about $11 billion worth of investment.

    The field covers about 483 square miles (1,250 square km) and is located under more than 8,202 feet (2,500 meters) of water.

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    Dow Chemical's profit handily beats estimates as costs fall

    Dow Chemical Co, the No.1 U.S. chemical maker by sales, reported a better-than-expected quarterly profit as cost cuts helped boost margins.

    Dow, which is merging with DuPont, plans to slash costs by $300 million this year. Of that, $90 million was realized in the second quarter.

    Dow's operating margin expanded by 160 basis points to 21 percent on an earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) basis.

    Dow and DuPont have been clearing the decks ahead of the expected closure of their merger this year.

    The deal, valued at $130 billion when it was announced in December, is the first step toward breaking the businesses into three separate companies focused on agriculture, material science and specialty products.

    DuPont also reported a higher-than-expected quarterly profit on Tuesday, and forecast a 50 percent jump in third-quarter operating earnings as it steps up cost cutting.

    Dow's strategy to focus on high-margin products by shedding volatile commodity businesses such as its century-old chlorine business are also paying off.

    The company's net income attributable to shareholders nearly tripled to $3.12 billion, or $2.61 per share, in the quarter ended June 30.

    Excluding items, it earned 95 cents per share, much higher than the average analyst estimate of 85 cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

    These items included a $2.20 per share gain related to the Dow Corning deal.

    However, sales fell 7.4 percent to $11.95 billion.

    Dow said in December it would assume full control of Dow Corning, its venture with Gorilla glass maker Corning Inc.

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    Valero blames excess winter production for U.S. gasoline glut: Kemp

    The accumulation of gasoline stocks in the United States has been driven by excess gasoline production rather than lack of demand, according to Valero, the largest independent refiner in the United States.

    "A lot of it is really more a result of utilisation, especially utilisation in periods where we typically see refineries cut," the company noted during its second quarter earnings call on Tuesday.

    "Typically we see refineries cutting in the fourth quarter and the first quarter, and this year we saw refineries running very high utilisation rates" due to the steep contango in the gasoline futures market.

    Valero's comments corroborate data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration showing refineries running at record rates between November and March.

    Consumption of gasoline and distillate in the domestic and export markets "remain robust" executives told analysts (Conference call transcription, SeekingAlpha, Jul 28).

    The company exported record volumes of gasoline and distillate fuel combined in the second quarter, particularly to Latin America, but gasoline sales at home also showed strong growth.


    Valero executives were quizzed by analysts on whether demand had been overstated or whether the problem was on the supply side.

    Valero chief Joseph Gorder responded: "our gasoline volumes through the wholesale are up 3 percent, and even on the distillate side, we're moving about 1 percent more through the wholesale channel of diesel than we did last year."

    "We've seen very strong product demand", the company's head of supply and operations explained, but "refinery utilisation has been such that we have been able to keep up and even outpace demand."

    "With the steep contango in the market, especially early in the year, some marginal refining capacity that typically you would see cut in the winter had incentive to go ahead and run and produce summer grade gasoline".

    Very high rates of refinery utilisation, especially in January and February, resulted in an overhang of refined products that has persisted through the middle of the year.

    The steep contango in futures prices at the start of the year encouraged refiners to produce summer-grade gasoline and send it into storage ("U.S. refiners pay price for making too much gasoline", Reuters, Jul 14).


    The big premium for gasoline over middle distillates also encouraged refiners to shift their refining operations to produce as much gasoline as possible and reduce production of heating oil, diesel and jet fuel ( and

    "We've been in a strong maximum gasoline signal for the most part up until about a month ago," the company's head of engineering explained, "so our assets we just had them pointed to make as much gasoline as possible".

    The company foresees the need for some run cuts by the refining industry during the third and fourth quarter to rebalance the market though it would not be drawn on its own plans.

    But the company did note that it had switched from maximising gasoline production to maximising the output of jet fuel by changing the cut points in its distillation process.


    The company denied it would use the forthcoming maintenance period to implement additional cuts in refinery throughput though it noted that other refiners might try to do so.

    "We have a strategy of planning our turnarounds a couple of years in advance ... We have a big system and we don't try to move our turnarounds based on what prompt economics are. But in the rest of the industry there may be some of that," the company's engineering chief observed.

    "I'm sure that people are looking at whether the refineries are struggling from a maintenance perspective and they may bring maintenance forward" and fix systems early as an effective economic run cut, he added.


    Valero executives were also asked why the United States was still importing so much gasoline, especially to the East Coast, where the build up of stockpiles has also been highest.

    The continued importation of so much gasoline, as well as crude oil, at a time when domestic oil producers and refiners are struggling, has become politically controversial.

    Valero explained its big refineries along the U.S. Gulf Coast have a "competitive advantage" exporting to Mexico and South America rather than moving gasoline to U.S. Northeast because of the Jones Act shipping restrictions.

    Shipping gasoline from the Gulf Coast to the U.S. Northeast is more expensive because the law requires Valero to use U.S. flagged and built vessels with U.S. officers and crews.

    "The natural flow of our barrels is to south into South America and there's been an incentive to send barrels from Northwest Europe into New York Harbor."

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    National Oilwell loss smaller than expected on cost cutting

    National Oilwell Varco Inc, the largest U.S. oilfield equipment provider, reported a smaller-than-expected quarterly loss as cost cutting helped cushion the impact of a slump in demand from oilfield service providers.

    The company, like other oilfield equipment providers, has been hard hit by a slump in crude prices that has forced customers to limit spending and cut back on drilling.

    National Oilwell has been aggressively cutting costs to weather the downturn by reducing its dividend and slashing jobs.

    The company has also said it is the process of closing about 200 facilities since the downturn began in mid-2014.

    Oil rig count fell to 316 in May, its lowest since October 2009 and about half the 646 rigs a year earlier, according to Baker Hughes Inc rig count data.

    However, drillers have added a net 46 oil rigs since early June after crude prices topped $50 a barrel. U.S. drillers added 14 oil rigs in the week to July 22, the fourth straight week of additions.

    Net loss attributable to National Oilwell was $217 million, or 58 cents per share, in the second quarter ended June 30, compared with a profit of $289 million, or 74 cents per share, a year earlier.

    Excluding items, the company lost 30 cents per share, smaller than the average analyst estimate of 32 cents loss, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

    The Houston-based company's revenue more than halved to $1.72 billion, missing the average estimate of $1.79 billion.
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    ConocoPhillips cuts 2016 budget again amid oil slump

    U.S. oil producer ConocoPhillips reported a bigger-than-expected quarterly loss and cut its 2016 budget for the third time this year amid a crude oil slump that has lasted for two years.

    ConocoPhillips, whose shares were down 1.7 percent in premarket trading, cut its capital budget to $5.5 billion from $5.7 billion.

    Global oil prices have slumped 60 percent since mid-2014, prompting oil producers to scale back drilling and severely curtail spending.

    ConocoPhillips said its total realized price fell to $27.79 per barrel of oil equivalent (boe) in the second quarter from $39.06 per boe, a year earlier.

    The company's production dipped by 49,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boe/d) to 1.546 million boe/d due to the impact of wildfires in Canada among other things.

    ConocoPhillips's net loss widened to $1.07 billion, or 86 cents per share, in the second quarter ended June 30 from $179 million, or 15 cents per share, a year earlier.

    Excluding items, the company lost 79 cents per share, well above the average analyst estimate of 61 cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
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    Hess project to bring Bakken oil to Dakota Access

    The buildout of a pipeline system that likely spells the end of the truck and train boom in the Bakken is continuing.

    The latest in the series involves a short segment of 12-inch pipeline that travels a mere 1.1 miles, but could have a major impact on Bakken crude. The line is being built by the Hess Corp.; and while short, it connects to something long indeed: the Dakota Access pipeline, which travels 1,172 miles to Patoka, Ill. Its maximum overall capacity is listed online as up to 570,000 barrels a day.

    That line, which is being built by Energy Transfer Partners, can ultimately tie North Dakota’s sweet Bakken crude — naturally low in sulfur —  to other markets, including Texas, where ExxonMobil announced on Tuesday that it is expanding its ultra-low-sulfur fuel production at the Beaumont Refinery by 40,000 barrels a day.

    The capacity of the Hess pipeline segment is listed as a maximum of 70,000 barrels, but is estimated to have a more normal throughput of 50,000 barrels a day.

    The cost of the Hess midstream project is $4.5 million. A request for a building permit filed on behalf of Energy Transfer Partners with Williams County lists a Ramberg Truck Terminal project as $2.6 million. The application lists a pump house and a main meter as parts of the project.

    The Hess connecting pipeline is to originate at the existing Ramberg Truck Facility, and extend to a new Energy Transfer Partners facility, which will be located 7 miles south of Tioga.

    A representative with Dakota Access confirmed the Hess pipeline will tie directly into the Dakota Access project.

    At the hearing in Tioga on Tuesday, company officials talked about the extra measures they will take for this short segment of pipeline, which will pass by a wetland on its way to Dakota Access. The area is also in the vicinity of the whooping crane’s fall migration pathway.

    Since construction is scheduled for the fall, they will be monitoring for the whooping crane, and if one is sighted within a half mile of the project, use of heavy equipment will be halted while it is within that range.

    They will minimize water body crossings and avoid all wetland crossings entirely, according to documents filed with the PSC. A Hess representative did not immediately respond to a request for further clarification on the measures being taken for the wetlands safety.

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    Baker Hughes loss widens despite Halliburton payout and 3,000 jobs cut

    Houston-based Baker Hughes reported Thursday that its second quarter loss widened to $911 million  even though the oilfield services firm received a $3.5 billion payout from Halliburton from its failed merger.

    Baker Hughes’ net loss was significantly worse than the $188 million loss in the second quarter of 2015. Revenues plunged 40 percent to $2.4 billion $4 billion, the company said.

    Baker Hughes cut about 3,000 jobs in the second quarter, bringing its 18-month tally to more than 25,000 positions.

    Halliburton had planned to acquire Baker Hughes, but the deal fell through in May after the Justice Department intervened because of anti-competitiveness concerns.

    Baker Hughes received a $3.5 billion termination fee, but it was almost entirely offset by restructuring and impairment charges.

    Baker Hughes employs about 36,000 people globally now, down 26,000 people from a headcount of more than 62,000 employees before the oil bust began in late 2014.

    “Although we expect the market dynamics to remain challenging near term, the structural changes we implemented this quarter have created a stronger foundation for delivering on our strategy,” Baker Hughes Chairman and CEO Martin Craighead said in a prepared statement. “We have made significant progress in a short amount of time, and we remain focused on accelerating our momentum.”
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    Exxon Said in Advanced Talks Over Eni Mozambique Gas Stake

    Exxon Mobil Corp. is in advanced negotiations with Eni SpA over acquiring a minority stake in natural-gas discoveries off Mozambique, according to two people with knowledge of the talks.

    Exxon Chief Executive Officer Rex Tillerson discussed the plan with Mozambique President Filipe Nyusi last week in Maputo, the African nation’s capital, according to one of the people, asking not to be identified because the matter isn’t public. The U.S. oil major’s participation would potentially accelerate development of one of the world’s largest liquefied natural gas projects.

    Exxon is also in talks with Anadarko Petroleum Corp. over acquiring a stake in the adjacent Area 1 in Mozambique’s offshore Rovuma Basin, the people said. Three years ago, China National Petroleum Corp. purchased 20 percent of Eni’s Area 4 for $4.2 billion.

    The talks underline Exxon’s focus on gas assets after the company last weekagreed to acquire explorer InterOil Corp. for as much as $3.6 billion to add gas discoveries in Papua New Guinea.

    Eni CEO Claudio Descalzi said May 12 that the company is in talks on selling a stake in its Mozambique discovery and expects to reach a final investment decision on an LNG project this year.

    Exxon is already focused on Mozambique after winning three exploration licenses in October for offshore blocks to the south of the Anadarko and Eni discoveries. It has teamed up with Qatar Petroleum to look at assets in the country, four people familiar with the plans said earlier this month.

    Exxon also has a working interest in Statoil’s Block 2 in Tanzania, north of the Rovuma Basin.

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    Shell defers decision on Louisiana LNG investment

    Royal Dutch Shell PLC is deferring a final investment decision this year on a big facility to export liquefied natural gas from Lake Charles, Louisiana, citing a current oversupply of the fuel and affordability of the project amid lower oil prices, the company's chief executive said Thursday.

    It is the second delay Shell has made to a big LNG project. Earlier this month the Anglo-Dutch oil giant said it was delaying FID on an LNG export project in Kitimat in Canada.

    "This is not the moment to commit to large-scale capital outlays, even though the fundamentals of these projects in their life cycle still look good," Ben Van Beurden said on a conference call.

    Shell's Chief Financial Officer Simon Henry said gearing at the company, which in February completed a roughly $50 billion acquisition of BG Group PLC, could increase further to its 30% limit if oil prices don't rise from current levels.

    Gearing, a measure of the extent to which a company's operations are funded by debt, rose sharply to 28.1% at the end of the second quarter, compared with 12.7% in the second quarter of 2015, reflecting the BG acquisition, Shell said.

    "It [gearing] may go up before it comes down again, simply because the oil price today is at a level that we would not generate positive cash flow unless we were doing the divestments," Mr. Henry said, referring to the company's plan to sell assets.

    Shell's net debt at June 30, 2016 was $75.1 billion versus $25.96 billion in the same period a year ago.

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    Suncor Energy announces second quarter 2016 results

    'The forest fires in the Fort McMurray area significantly impacted the region,' said Steve Williams, president and chief executive officer. 'We shut in our Oil Sands production and focused on the safe evacuation of employees, their families and the community. I'm tremendously proud of the Suncor team. Their resilience and professionalism was readily apparent throughout our response and ensured our assets safely returned to service.'

    Highlights of the second quarter of 2016 include:

    * Cash flow from operations of $916 million ($0.58 per common share).
    * Operating loss was $565 million ($0.36 per common share), driven by the shut in of Oil Sands production in response to the forest fires, combined with low benchmark prices for crude oil. Net loss was $735 million ($0.46 per common share).
    * By mid-July, all Oil Sands assets had returned to normal production rates after being shut in due to the forest fires and the completion of turnarounds at Oil Sands Base and Syncrude.
    * The forest fires reduced second quarter Oil Sands production by approximately 20 million barrels. The company also incurred $50 million of after-tax incremental costs related to evacuation and restart activities, which was more than offset by operating cost reductions of $180 million after-tax while operations were shut in.
    * Strong realized refining margins resulted in Refining and Marketing operating earnings of $689 million and cash flow from operations of $885 million, which included a first-in, first-out (FIFO) gain of $275 million.
    * Acquired an additional 5% interest in Syncrude from Murphy Oil Company Ltd. (Murphy), adding 17,500 barrels per day (bbls/d) of synthetic crude oil (SCO) capacity and increasing the company's ownership interest to 53.74%.
    * Completed a common share offering for net proceeds of $2.8 billion to fund the acquisition of an additional 5% interest in Syncrude and to reduce debt to provide ongoing balance sheet flexibility.
    * Suncor's total upstream production decreased to 330,700 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boe/d) in the second quarter of 2016, compared with 559,900 boe/d in the prior year quarter, due primarily to shutting in production at Oil Sands operations and Syncrude as a result of the forest fires in the Fort McMurray region, being partially offset by a higher working interest in Syncrude and increased production from E&P.
    * Oil Sands operations production was 177,500 bbls/d in the second quarter of 2016, compared to 423,800 bbls/d in the prior year quarter, with the decrease primarily due to the forest fires noted above, as well as the completion of a turnaround at the Upgrader 2 facilities, the first completed since the company moved to a five-year turnaround cycle.
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    Statoil buys Petrobras assets in Carcará oil discovery for $2.5 billion

    Norwegian oil major Statoil ASA said on Friday it had agreed to buy Petrobras' 66 pct operated interest in the BM-S-8 offshore license in Brazil's Santos basin for $2.5 billion.

    The acquisition also includes a substantial part of the Carcará oil discovery, one of the largest discoveries in the world in recent years, which was discovered in 2012, it said in a statement.

    Statoil estimated the recoverable volume within the BM-S-8 license to be in the range of 700 to 1,300 million barrels of oil equivalents (boe) and said it would significantly increase production volumes "in the 2020s and beyond".

    The two firms are also in discussions regarding a long-term strategic cooperation.

    "The focus will be in the Campos and Espírito Santo basins, as well as new cooperation within gas and technology projects in the Santos basin", Statoil said.

    Half of the money it will be paid on completing the deal, which is subject to partners' and government approval, while the remainder will be paid when certain milestones have been met, Statoil said, adding that the effective date for the transaction is July 1 2016.
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    National Oilwell sees 'isolated green shoots of activity'

    National Oilwell Varco Inc, the largest U.S. oilfield equipment provider, said demand rose for some of its products and services in North America in recent weeks, as drillers put rigs back to work.

    "Like others in our space, we believe we are seeing some isolated green shoots of activity," Chief Executive Clay Williams said on a post-earnings call.

    A 60 percent fall in global oil prices since mid-2014 has forced producers to scale back drilling and idle rigs, weighing on demand for equipment manufactured by companies such as National Oilwell.

    But some producers have begun to return rigs to work, encouraged by U.S. crude prices touching $50 in late May.

    U.S. drillers have since added about 55 oil rigs.

    The company was in discussions with customers in North America, Middle East and other markets about equipment upgrades and new field opportunities, Chief Financial Officer Jose Bayardo said on the call.

    These talks centered around land activity, with offshore opportunities expected to remain limited for the foreseeable future, he said.

    "We believe our land business will bottom in Q3 and begin to recover as we enter 2017."

    However, the company said it was "not ready to call bottom yet".

    The comment echoed that of Baker Hughes Inc, which said on Thursday it did not expect a "meaningful" recovery in North America this year.

    National Oilwell, which has been aggressively cutting costs to offset the impact of low crude oil prices, said it slashed about 10 percent of its workforce during the quarter.

    The company had about 44,000 employees at the end of the first quarter.

    National Oilwell also said it is in the process of shutting down about 250 facilities since the downturn began in mid-2014.

    Net loss attributable to National Oilwell was $217 million, or 58 cents per share, in the second quarter ended June 30, compared with a profit of $289 million, or 74 cents per share, a year earlier.

    Excluding items, the company lost 30 cents per share, smaller than the average analyst estimate of 32 cents loss, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

    The Houston-based company's revenue more than halved to $1.72 billion, missing the average estimate of $1.79 billion.
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    Baker Hughes says North America recovery unlikely this year

    Oilfield services provider Baker Hughes Inc said it did not expect a substantial recovery in drilling and pricing in North America this year, in contrast with comments from bigger rivals Schlumberger Ltd and Halliburton Co.

    Baker Hughes' shares, however, rose about 3 percent to $45.88 after the company said it expected margins to improve across its businesses due to recent job cuts and other restructuring actions.

    "I don't subscribe to the hopeful commentary," Baker Hughes Chief Executive Martin Craighead said on a post-earnings conference call on Thursday.

    Schlumberger said last week the oil downturn appeared to have bottomed out, while Halliburton said it expected a "modest uptick" in North American rig count in the second half of 2016.

    "I believe oil prices in the upper $50s (per barrel) at a minimum are required for a sustainable recovery in North America," Craighead said.

    Baker Hughes' outlook was more "sanguine" than its peers', said Evercore ISI analyst James West, noting that oil prices have slid from last week, when Schlumberger and Halliburton reported results.

    Prices for both globally traded Brent futures and U.S. crude are down about 5 percent this week.

    In May, Baker Hughes and Halliburton scrapped their long-stalled deal - valued at about $35 billion when it was announced in 2014 - due to opposition from U.S. and European antitrust regulators. The companies had hoped the merger would help them weather the worst oil price crash in a generation.

    Baker Hughes said in May proceeds from a $3.5 billion breakup fee from Halliburton would fund a $1.5 billion share buyback and a $1 billion debt repayment.

    Baker Hughes, which expects to save an annualized $500 million in cost by the end of 2016, said it cut 3,000 jobs in the second quarter.

    The company had laid off 2,000 employees in the first quarter and 18,000 last year. Baker Hughes had about 43,000 employees at the end of 2015.

    The company also said it was planning to launch new products this year, most of them for lowering costs and optimizing oil production.

    Net loss attributable to the company widened to $911 million, or $2.08 per share, in the quarter ended June 30.

    Excluding charges related to restructuring and asset writedown, the company reported a loss of 90 cents per share, bigger than the 62 cents analysts had expected, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

    Revenue fell 39.3 percent to $2.41 billion.

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    Eni Misses Estimates to Post Second-Quarter Loss Amid Oil Slump

    Eni SpA posted a second-quarter loss, missing analysts’ estimates as the Italian oil major suffered the effects of the collapse in crude prices.

    The company’s adjusted net loss was 290 million euros ($321 million) compared with a profit of 505 million euros a year earlier, the company said in a statement Friday. That compares with the 78.2 million-euro average profit estimate from 13 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. The company maintained its dividend at 40 euro cents a share.

    “Our strategy, including the optimization initiatives and a reduced cost base, has allowed us to absorb part of the impact of a low oil price,” Chief Executive Officer Claudio Descalzi said in the statement. “We are maintaining our strong balance sheet, funding capex with our cash flow at a Brent price of $50 a barrel.”

    The plunge in crude prices since the middle of 2014 has weighed on oil company earnings, forcing them to cut costs, postpone or cancel expensive projects and in some cases reduce dividends. BP Plc,Royal Dutch Shell Plc and Total SA all reported sharp declines in second-quarter profit. Eni reiterated that it would cut capital expenditure by 20 percent this year, exceeding the 17 percent drop last year.

    Brent averaged $47.03 a barrel in the quarter compared with $63.50 a year earlier and $35.21 in the first quarter of this year.

    Production of oil and gas fell 2.2 percent from a year earlier to 1.72 million barrels of oil equivalent a day. That compares to an average forecast of 1.7 million barrels a day in eight analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Output was disrupted in Nigeria and Italy in the second quarter, while full-year output should be little changed from 2015, the company said.

    Eni shares have risen 1.8 percent so far this year, compared with 6.3 percent increase for the Stoxx Europe 600 Oil and Gas Index.

    Oil majors have produced a mixed set of second-quarter results, with Shell posting the lowest earnings in 11 years while Totalmanaged to beat estimates thanks to deepening cost cuts.
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    Alternative Energy

    China's H1 wind power capacity surges 30pct on year

    China's installed wind power capacity jumped 30% on the year to 137 GW by the end of June, with 7.74 GW newly added during the first half..
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    Cameco posts surprise loss on weak uranium prices

    Cameco Corp, the world's No.2 uranium producer, reported a surprise quarterly loss due to weak uranium demand and prices.

    The Canadian company said uranium sales volumes fell 37 percent to 4.6 million pounds in the second quarter, while its average realized price per pound fell about 8 percent.

    The 2011 Fukushima meltdown led to shutdowns of all of Japan's nuclear reactors, sending uranium prices into a five-year drought.

    The company reported a net loss attributable to shareholders of C$137 million ($104 million), or 35 Canadian cents per share, for the quarter ended June 30. This included an impairment charge of C$124.4 million related to the suspension of its Rabbit Lake operation in northern Saskatchewan.

    Cameco had a profit of C$88 million, or 22 Canadian cents per share, a year earlier.

    Excluding items, Cameco posted a loss of 14 Canadian cents per share, compared with the average analyst estimate of a profit of 11 Canadian cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

    Revenue fell 17.5 percent to C$466 million, well below analysts' estimate of C$572.7 million.
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    Potash Corp cuts dividend, profit forecast again, shares fall

    Potash Corp of Saskatchewan, the world's biggest fertilizer company by capacity, cut its full-year profit forecast and dividend for the second time this year on Thursday, and said that potash markets had reached their low point.

    Prices for the crop nutrient have fallen to their lowest in about a decade, weighed down by excessive mining capacity and soft demand in key export markets.

    "We believe the uncertainty that weighed on potash market sentiment is now lifting and a recovery is beginning," Chief Executive Jochen Tilk said in a statement.

    Potash plans to cut its quarterly dividend to 10 cents per share from 25 cents.

    Potash Corp "could sit at the bottom here for another year," said Bryden Teich, portfolio manager at Avenue Investment Management, which sold its Potash position in late June.

    "A year out, the fundamentals for the potash market still look murky," he said.

    Canpotex Ltd, the export company owned by Potash, Mosaic Co (MOS.N) and Agrium Inc (AGU.TO), is still negotiating a second-half supply contract with Chinese buyers, Potash said, unlike some rivals who have struck agreements.

    Canpotex has reached deals with Indian buyers for shipments during the next three months, Potash said.

    Tilk said the company sees potential for record demand in 2017 of 61 million to 64 million tonnes.

    Potash cut its full-year profit forecast to a range of 40 to 55 cents, from the 60 to 80 cents it forecast in April.

    The company maintained its forecast for full-year potash sales volumes in the range of 8.3 million to 8.8 million tonnes but said it expected lower prices earlier in the year to weigh on results.

    Potash's net earnings fell to $121 million, or 14 cents per share, in the second quarter ended June 30 from $417 million, or 50 cents per share, a year earlier, pressured by weaker-than-expected prices.

    The company's average realized potash price fell 44 percent year over year to $154 per tonne during the quarter.

    On an adjusted basis, earnings were 18 cents per share, in line with expectations. Sales fell 39 percent to $1.05 billion.

    Analysts on average had expected revenue of $1.18 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

    Attached Files
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    Potash supplier group will only sign China contracts for 2016

    Canpotex, the Canadian joint venture that represents potash export sales from Potash Corp, Mosaic and Agrium, will only sign contracts to supply China and India with the crop nutrient for the remainder of 2016 as it expects prices to rise next year.

    Canpotex is taking a cautious approach, Potash Corp. Chief Executive Officer Jochen Tilk said on an earnings conference call on Thursday. Stronger demand in 2017 is expected to lift spot prices and “that’s what we think contract negotiations should be based on,” Tilk said.

    India and China typically sign accords at the start of eachagriculture year to buy the nutrient used on farmers’ fields. Delayed contracts with China and India weighed on shipments in Potash Corp.’s second quarter, the company said in a statement.

    “They’re ongoing as we speak and we’ll see what comes out of it,” Tilk said. “The approach is really to commit only through the end of 2016.”

    Belarusian Potash Co. agreed to supply potash to India at the cheapest price in almost a decade. That still topped estimates and indicated renewed demand for the crop nutrient. The contract may prompt further deals for other suppliers, RBC Capital Markets analyst Andrew Wong said in a report July 12.
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    Precious Metals

    This deal will make Newmont the world's top gold miner

    The world's number one and two gold producers both released second quarter results and production guidance the past week.

    For Barrick Gold, 2015 year was the last period of 6m-plus ounces of production which was already substantially down from its peak of 7.7 million ounces in 2010 and 2011.

    While its financials came in slightly below expectations the Toronto-based company stuck to its annual output forecast of between 5 million and 5.5 million ounces.

    Barrick has been shedding assets at a clip in an effort to tackle its heavy debt load and to achieve its 2016 target will have to find another $1 billion before the end of the year.

    Earlier this week there were reports the miner is close to selling its 64% stake in Tanzania's Acacia Mining (LON:ACA) for as much as $1.9 billion. And buried in Barrick's Q2 release was an announcement that it's looking for a buyer for half of Australia's Kalgoorlie Consolidated Gold Mines.

    Newmont Mining owns the other half and Barrick handed over operational control of the the iconic mine called the Super Pit to Denver-based Newmont a year ago. The mine some 600km west of Perth has produced 50 million ounces over 30 years and fully developed the cut will be 3.6 kilometers long, 1.6 kilometers wide and up to 650 meters deep.

    Newmont would be the natural buyer and has expressed interest in the mine in the past which couldfetch as much as $1 billion. The company sports one of the stronger balance sheets in the sector having embarked on a debt reduction program earlier than its rivals and recently selling its Indonesian Batu Hijau copper-gold operation for $1.3 billion.

    Unlike many of its rivals Newmont has been building its portfolio and last year acquired the Cripple Creek & Victor gold mine in Colorado. Newmont also has five key projects that are in execution stage including the Turf Vent project in Nevada and Merian mine in South America expected to start production late in 2016.

    Newmont said in its results its Northwest Exodus project in Nevada is approved and will start production this quarter. In addition unapproved projects "represent upside of between 200,000 and 300,000 ounces of gold production beginning in 2018."

    While far from certainties should Barrick's deals go ahead, Newmont picks up Kalgoorlie, the companies' production guidance pans out and all things being equal (which they never are in gold mining) next year Denver and not Toronto will be the home of the world's number one gold mining company.
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    Base Metals

    Iluka plans all-cash offer for Sierra Rutile

    Australian mineral sands miner Iluka Resources has confirmed that it is considering an offer for Aim-listed Sierra Rutile, noting that discussions are at an advanced stage.

    Iluka revealed the potential deal in a request for a trading halt on the ASX on Friday, stating that confidentially had been lost in relation to its discussions with Sierra Rutile.

    The Australia-based miner intends to make an all-cash bid and Sierra Rutile has confirmed separately that Iluka plans an offer of 36p an ordinary share.

    Sierra Rutile, which owns rutile assets in Sierra Leone, traded at 38p a share on the London market on Friday morning, giving it a market capitalisation of about £225-million ($297-million).

    Sierra Rutile is ramping up a new mine, Gangama in Sierra Leone, which is expected to achieve steady state production in the third quarter of this year. The new mine will help increase production to between 120 000 t and 135 000 t this year.

    Iluka is a major producer of zircon and the largest producer of the high-grade titanium dioxide products of rutile and synthetic rutile, with operations in Australia and the US.

    Iluka expects to make an announcement regarding the takeover on or before Tuesday.
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    Steel, Iron Ore and Coal

    Macro driving steel names higher

    Abe Plans Stimulus Package of More Than 28 Trillion Yen

    IMF admits disastrous love affair with the euro, apologises for the immolation of Greece

    Brexit: EU considers migration ‘emergency brake’ for UK for up to seven years

    In the Trump view, the American economy is weak and underperforming and working-class Americans are sliding backward. In the Clinton view, the economy “is so much stronger” than when President Barack Obama took office while the auto industry just had “its best year ever.

    Attached Files
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    Large, Medium Chinese Steelmakers Saw H1 Profits Soar 427%

    The China Iron and Steel Association posts that 99 large and medium Chinese steelmakers gained CNY 243.34 billion incomes and made CNY 4.09 billion gross profits in June. Up to 25 of them incurred losses and the 25 incurred CNY 1.25 billion losses.

    The steelmakers brought in CNY 1.29 trillion incomes in the first half of the year, down 11.9% year on year; the companies made CNY 12.59 billion profits, soaring 427.25%. Up to 26 companies incurred losses, and aggregate losses they incurred came to CNY 13.69 billion , narrowing 22.8%.
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    Iron ore breaks the $60 per tonne barrier, extending week’s rally to 9%

    Iron ore prices continued its strong week Thursday, taking the gains seen since Monday to nearly 9% and to almost 40% so far this year.

    Iron ore has spent much of this year defying analysts’ predictions for a sustained slump due to a flood of new supply.

    The spot price for benchmark 62% fines added $2.07 to $60.70 overnight, according to The Metal Bulletin, afterjumping the previous day to $58.57, the highest since July 13.

    The commodity has spent much of this year defying analysts’ predictions for a sustained slump due to a flood of new supply that was supposed to overwhelm demand as China's economy slowed.

    Analysts at The Metal Bulletin noted the gains coincided with a surge in Chinese steel prices, following a steep rally in rebar futures.

    Those at Goldman Sachs have now hiked their short-term outlook for iron ore, saying the commodity will trade at $50 a tonne in three months and $40 in six months.

    "We maintain the long-term target of $35/t but highlight the potential for continued price volatility until steel inventories normalise," the analysts wrote on July 27.

    A supply glut fed by the world’s biggest producers, Vale, Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton, drove prices down about 70% in the past five years, pushing higher-cost companies out of the market.

    Still, new supply from Roy Hill in Australia, Anglo American’s Minas Rio and Vale’s S11D in Brazil is expected to outpace demand for some time.
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