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Friday 04 October 2019
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‘Performance Chasing’—and Why it Can Be Perilous For Your Portfolio

In August 2011, the SPDR Gold Shares ETF (GLD) briefly surpassed the S&P 500 SPDR ETF (SPY) as the largest exchange-traded fund in terms of assets. Since then, the investment performance of these two funds are night and day.

The S&P 500 is up roughly 190% in total since the end of August 2011 while gold remains nearly 20% below its high watermark from that summer. There's nothing magical about becoming the biggest ETF in the world but the aftermath of this honor was none too kind to the assets in GLD:

From a high of more than $77 billion in that late-summer of 2011, assets under management (AUM) in GLD fell all the way to $21 billion by the end of 2015. What's interesting in this scenario is how much more AUM fell than performance in the underlying fund.

Assets in GLD fell more than 72% in a little over 4 years while performance in GLD itself was only down 43%. That's a fairly substantial crash in price but an even more substantial outflow in terms of assets.

The flipside was true in the run-up to becoming the world's largest ETF. From 2007 through August 2011, GLD was up more than 180%. But assets in the fund grew nearly 700% in that time. Some of this could have been due to the fact that the financial crisis created a flight to hedge systemic risk, of which gold is a favored proxy for many. But it's clear there was also an element of performance chasing going on as well.

When the fund performed well, assets poured in. And then when the fund performed poorly, assets fled. This is nothing new in the fund space. There have always been performance chasers and there will always be performance chasers.

SPY now wears the crown as the largest ETF with more than $270 billion in assets. Surprisingly, the growth in assets for SPY since GLD passed it briefly in 2011 has come from market gains, not flows from investors. Assets under management in SPY have grown just shy of 194% since August 2011, not much more than the close to 190% total returns in the fund.

Index funds and ETFs aren't immune to performance chasing but the more non-traditional asset classes and strategies tend to see more performance chasing from investors.

Following the market crash in 2008, investors were eager for alternative investments that would either hedge the stock market or offer an uncorrelated return stream with high expected returns. Few funds in the liquid alt space delivered on these promises but one fund did gain investor attention because of its performance.

The Mainstay Marketfield Fund (MFLDX) saw strong returns, delivering a return of more than 100% from 2009 through the first quarter of 2014. The S&P 500 was up more than 130% in this time, but the fact that an alternative fund that switches between a number of asset classes and has the ability to short securities was able to keep up attracted huge inflows from investors.

Assets in MFLDX exploded from just $34 million at the outset of 2009 to more than $21 billion by early-2014. So while fund performance merely doubled, assets were up 60,000%. Warren Buffett once said, "Size is the enemy of outperformance," and the Marketfield Fund was no different.

Since the first quarter of 2014, MFLDX has gone nowhere, losing a total of more than 11% up to now. U.S. stocks are up nearly 80% in this time. The fast money that poured into this fund fled just as fast as it came in. Assets are now under $200 million, down 99% from the highs in 2014.

This was a performance chase of epic proportions, most likely caused by investors who were still somewhat scarred from the financial crisis and in search of an alternative to the stock market's crazy ways. The market can be fickle but so are investors.

Performance chasing is as old as the hills so this type of behavior is never going away. There will always be certain funds or esoteric strategies that do better than others at times. Unfortunately, most investors tend to put their money into these strategies only after they've already experienced strong outperformance.

Ben Carlson, CFA is the Director of Institutional Asset Management at Ritholtz Wealth Management.

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'Crisis? What Crisis?

News Daily: New Brexit plan and Trump call

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Facebook's Libra Backlash

Visa Inc., Mastercard Inc. MA -0.23% and other financial partners that signed on to help build and maintain the Libra payments network are reconsidering their involvement following backlash from U.S. and European government officials, according to people familiar with the matter. Wary of attracting regulatory scrutiny, executives of some of Libra’s backers have declined Facebook’s requests to publicly support the project, the people said.

Their reluctance has Facebook scrambling to keep Libra on track. Policy executives from Libra’s more than two dozen backers—a group called the Libra Association—have been summoned to a meeting in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, according to people familiar with the matter.

On Oct. 14, representatives from the companies are slated to meet in Geneva to review a charter for the Libra Association and appoint a board of directors, according to a memo reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

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The Digital Transformation: What does that mean exactly?

Digital transformation is the process of using digital technologies to create new — or modify existing — business processes, culture, and customer experiences to meet changing business and market requirements. This reimagining of business in the digital age is digital transformation.

Digital Transformation (DT or DX[1]) is the use of new, fast and frequently changing digital technology to solve problems often utilising cloud computing, reducing reliance on user owned hardware but increasing reliance on subscription based cloud services. Some of these digital solutions enhance capabilities of traditional software products (e.g. Microsoft Office compared to Office 365) whilst others are entirely cloud based (e.g. Google Docs).

As the companies providing the services are guaranteed of regular (usually monthly) recurring revenue from subscriptions, they are able to finance ongoing development with reduced risk (historically most software companies derived the majority of their revenue from users upgrading, and had to invest upfront in developing sufficient new features and benefits to encourage users to upgrade), and delivering more frequent updates often using forms of agile software development internally.

The change to the subscription model also reduces software piracy - which is a major benefit to the vendor.

Some of these digital solutions enable - in addition to efficiency via automation - new types of innovation and creativity, rather than simply enhance and support traditional methods.[2]

One aspect of digital transformation is the concept of 'going paperless' or reaching a 'digital business maturity'[3] affecting both individual businesses[4][page needed] and whole segments of society, such as government,[5] mass communications,[6][page needed] art,[7] medicine,[8] and science.[9]

Digital transformation is already underway, but is not proceeding at the same pace everywhere. According to the McKinsey Global Institute's 2016 Industry Digitization Index,[10] Europe is currently operating at 12% of its digital potential, while the United States is operating at 18%. Within Europe, Germany operates at 10% of its digital potential, while the United Kingdom is almost on par with the United States at 17%.

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Five External Shocks that could change the script.

Weather. A super cold winter. 

US-China Trade Deal.

President Warren bans fracking.

The global warming agenda collapses.

Iran throws a Nuke next time. 

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Chinese delegation to visit U.S. for 13th round of high-level economic, trade consultations - Xinhua

Source: Xinhua| 2019-09-29 23:42:36|Editor: huaxia

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Chinese Vice Premier Liu He (8th R), also a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chief of the Chinese side of the China-U.S. comprehensive economic dialogue, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer (8th L) and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin (7th L) hold the 12th round of China-U.S. high-level economic and trade consultations in east China's Shanghai from July 30 to 31, 2019. (Xinhua/Liu Bin)

The two sides should seek solutions through equal dialogues on the basis of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit, which is in line with the interests of both countries and peoples, as well as the world and people of the world.

BEIJING, Sept. 29 (Xinhua) -- Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chief of the Chinese side of the China-U.S. comprehensive economic dialogue, will lead the Chinese delegation to visit Washington D.C. for the 13th round of the China-U.S. high-level economic and trade consultations in the week following China's National Day holiday, an official said Sunday.

China and the United States previously held vice ministerial-level trade talks in Washington and conducted constructive discussions on economic and trade issues of common concern, said Chinese vice commerce minister Wang Shouwen, who is also deputy China International Trade Representative, at a press conference.

The two sides also exchanged views on the specific arrangement for the 13th round of China-U.S. high-level economic and trade consultations.

China's standpoint on the consultations remains consistent and clear, Wang said, adding that China has stressed its principles repeatedly.

The two sides should seek solutions through equal dialogues on the basis of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit, which is in line with the interests of both countries and peoples, as well as the world and people of the world, Wang said. ■

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Close contacts help prepare for trade talks


Any agreement next month between Washington, Beijing to be only first step

China and the United States are "in close communication" and making preparations for achieving "positive progress" in their next round of trade talks in October, the Ministry of Commerce said on Thursday.

But analysts cautioned that even if an agreement is reached next month, it would only be the first step toward ultimately resolving major differences between the two countries, and the US must be consistent in implementing any agreement reached to ensure healthy bilateral economic relations.

"Our stance is always consistent and clear," said Gao Feng, a Commerce Ministry spokesman, adding that the US should "meet China halfway" and find mutually beneficial, win-win solutions through dialogue and consultation on the basis of equality and mutual respect.

Gao also stressed that Chinese companies have recently concluded significant purchases of soybeans and pork from the US in line with World Trade Organization rules and market principles. The Customs Tariff Commission of the State Council will exclude these agricultural products from additional tariffs.

China made the move following the US announcement on Sept 17 that it was exempting over 400 categories of Chinese products from additional tariffs.

China has huge market demand for high-quality agricultural products, Gao said, adding that China and the US are highly complementary in the field of agriculture and have "broad prospects" for cooperation.

Analysts said that even if agreement is reached in the upcoming talks, its smooth implementation would hinge on the consistency of US policies.

Trade negotiations between the two countries are very complex, said Chen Dongqi, an economist at the National Development and Reform Commission's Academy of Macroeconomic Research. "Government officials from both sides are now coordinating among different government branches to lay the groundwork and settle details for the talks next month," Chen said.

Wang Huiyao, president of the Center for China and Globalization, a Beijing-based think tank, said both countries should be aware that reaching an agreement is only the beginning of the process. They should also continue to seek pragmatic solutions to end the prolonged dispute.

Wei Jianguo, vice-president of the Beijing-based China Center for International Economic Exchanges, said, "More importantly, the US must ensure the consistency of its policies to avoid back-and-forth in trade talks and unnecessary political conflicts."

Indicative of the complex economic relations of the two countries, Washington announced on Wednesday sanctions on six Chinese entities and five individuals for business links with Iran.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang expressed strong dissatisfaction and firm opposition to the US decision. China always opposes "long-arm jurisdiction" and unilateral sanctions, as well as US bullying practices based on its domestic laws, Geng said.

Geng urged the US to immediately correct its wrong practices. China has taken and will continue to take necessary measures to safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of its companies.

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China’s Caixin manufacturing PMI jumped to 51.4 in September

A private gauge of China’s factory activity showed an expansion for the second straight month in September, thanks to higher production and new orders from home, contrasting with official data indicating a contraction for the fifth consecutive month.

The Caixin China manufacturing purchasing managers index rose to 51.4 in September from 50.4 in August, Caixin Media Co. and research firm Markit said Monday. The reading stayed above the 50 mark that separates expansion in activity from contraction.

While total new orders grew at a faster rate in September, new export orders reported a further reduction as the protracted China-U.S. trade dispute continued to damp foreign sales, Caixin said.

“The recovery in China’s manufacturing industry in September benefited mainly from the potential growth of domestic demand,” Zhengsheng Zhong, director of macroeconomic analysis at CEBM Group said.

Faster construction of infrastructure projects, better implementation of upgrading the industrial sector, and tax and fee cuts are likely to offset the effects of subdued overseas demand and soften the downward pressure on China’s economic growth, said Mr. Zhong.

He also said trade conflicts have a marked impact on China’s exports, production costs and business confidence.

China’s official manufacturing PMI, a competing gauge, released earlier Monday, edged up to 49.8 in September from 49.5 in August, thanks to recoveries in production and total new orders.

The Caixin PMI more closely tracks small, private manufacturers, while the official index focuses more on large, state-owned firms. The official PMI has a larger sample base, surveying 3,000 manufacturers nationwide, while Caixin polls 500 companies.

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Plug Pulled on Shipping Cryptocurrency

Plug Pulled on Shipping Cryptocurrency


blockchain technology in shipping

By Sam Whelan, Asia correspondent (The Loadstar) – Hong Kong-based start-up 300cubits will suspend its container shipping cryptocurrency tomorrow, as the industry enters “crunch time” for freight-tech.

In 2017, the firm set out to solve container shipping’s “booking shortfall”, a $23bn problem created by five million teu of ‘no show’ and ‘rolled’ cargo every year.

By introducing a booking deposit in the form of the teu token, a cryptocurrency based on the Ethereum blockchain network, 300cubits hoped to help eliminate the industry’s “trust issue”.

Trial shipments began in March 2018, but Johnson Leung (pictured above), the company’s co-founder, said transaction volume had been “far from commercial”, despite participation from carriers Maersk, CMA CGM, MSC, and Cosco and shippers such as Li & Fung Logistics, BASF, JF Hillebrand and Esprit.

“Only a couple hundred containers have gone through the system,” Mr Leung said today.

“The lack of clarity in regulatory regimes surrounding digital currencies has proved the greatest hurdle in our marketing efforts. Many potential users simply shied away from trying, not sure about what regulatory measures the authorities may take.

“A potential partnership with INTTRA, one of the largest shipment booking portals in the world, had to be stopped at the eleventh hour, due to regulatory concerns,” he added.

And Mr Leung said the lack of liquidity in teu tokens and the volatility of cryptocurrencies in general had “cast a constant doubt among the users on whether the value of the tokens could be realised”.

300cubits also found that rolled cargo was not shippers’ biggest pain point in the booking process.

“Instead, they complain that often they could not get their bookings confirmed during peak season, despite booking volumes within contract commitment,” noted Mr Leung.

He told The Loadstar he believed blockchain still had a role to play in shipping, but “the jury is still out”.

He said: “So far, and across all sectors – shipping, banking etc – the only blockchain projects that are commercially viable are still the businesses surrounding cryptocurrencies, and particularly the crypto exchanges.

“Many blockchain features, like immutability, anonymity and avoidance of double sending, that make perfect sense for people interested in cryptocurrencies, are not particularly intuitive or appealing to most businesspeople.”

However, he believed the “equality features” in blockchain provide a good case for logistics service providers to participate in a blockchain-based platform, since this could solve the shipper pain point of using multiple platforms to manage their shipments.

“Shipping could benefit from some sort of aggregator platform, and blockchain has at least the system architecture that can attract operators to participate,” said Mr Leung.

Alphaliner chief analyst Tan Hua Joo said there were “limited applications that can effectively utilise blockchain solutions in container shipping. However, the same can also be said for many other industries outside of shipping”.

According to Lars Jensen, chief executive of SeaIntelligence Consulting, the move by 300cubits is “unsurprising”. In 2017, he predicted there would be a strong increase in the number of freight-tech companies in the short term.

“But following an initial period of a couple of years, it would be crunch time,” he explained. “The cash from initial funding rounds would be running dry and, in order to push forward, the companies would need to show real and tangible business uptake for their concepts.

“The outcome we now see from 300cubits is a sign of this anticipated change. We are getting to the point where the plethora of new freight-tech companies launched in recent years is reaching this important cut-off point in the digitalisation of the shipping industry.”

Mr Jensen is an advisor to, and former board member of, NYSHEX, a direct competitor to 300cubits.

300cubits is not the first blockchain logistics casualty this year, following the liquidation of OpenPort in January.

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Iran attack: Supreme leader 'ordered Saudi Arabia strike in blatant act of war' - report

The first missile landed at the Abqaiq Aramco oil plant in Western Saudi Arabia at 3.50am - followed by three more strikes. Workers at the plant initially thought there had been an explosion due to a malfunction, but by the fourth strike it was clear they were the subject of a targeted attack. Some 150 miles away, workers at the Khurais processing plant went through the same shocking realisation as they, too, were targeted in a drone attack.

A total of 25 drones and missiles were used in the attack on September 14, which forced the kingdom to shut down half of its oil production and sent prices soaring, Saudi Arabia has said. Authorities said the drone and missile debris recovered by investigators, as well as the direction of fire, suggested Iran was behind the strikes. Tehran has vehemently denied any involvement in the attacks on the oil facilities. But today, a report from the National Council of Resistance of Iran claims information from within the regime proves Iranian culpability.

Shahin Gobadi of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) said: “The simultaneous missile and drone attack on Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities on September 14, 2019 emanated from inside Iran and was a blatant act of war that Khamenei, Rouhani, Zarif, and other regime heads were responsible for in deciding, approving, and implementing. “The regime hopelessly tries to prevent a popular uprising and thwart the expansion of resistance units by using internal suppression and external sponsorship of terrorism. “It seeks to contain the deep-seated anger of society at its disastrous and inhuman rule. “It is quite telling that according to numerous reports from inside the IRGC, all IRGC forces were on full alert during and after the attack. “IRGC units implemented suppressive manoeuvres to intimidate Iranians in various cities and to fend off the threat to their rule that they see in a popular uprising inside Iran as their main concern. “The regime is counting on inaction of the international community in its aggression. As long as this regime exists, it will not cease its aggression.”

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Swachh Bharat: Akshay Kumar says he has got the plot for ‘Toilet’ part 2

Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar on Saturday said he has got the plot for Toilet - Ek Prem Katha 2. The actor was in a panel discussion in Delhi during the book launch of HarperCollins’ ‘The Swachh Bharat Revolution: Four Pillars of India’s Behavioural Transformation,’ when he made the remark.

During the course of the discussion, Unicef Representative in India, Dr Yasmin Ali Haque, mentioned how in a demographic shift, women have taken on the role of constructing toilets in India as Rani Mistris (Raj Mistri is a common term to describe someone with construction expertise and is a male dominated profession). She went on to narrate that last year, about 2,000 women in Jharkhand’s Simdega district managed to build 7,000 toilets in just five days. Reacting to this Akshay said, “Yasmin has given me the plot for Toilet - Ek Prem Katha 2”.

A file photo of Akshay Kumar

In June last year, the actor had tweeted that he will soon be coming out with Toilet 2. “Time to get ready for the next Blockbuster — Mission #Toilet2! Iss baar badlega poora desh (The whole country will change this time)! Coming soon,” Akshay had tweeted.

Akshay also shared a short video in which he said: “Toilet toh bana liya, par katha abhi bhi baaki hai. Main aa raha hun leke ‘Toilet’ part 2 bahut jald. (We made toilet, but the story is not over. I am coming soon with ‘Toilet’ part 2.” This led to the speculation about a sequel. However, Akshay later clarified that he had been appointed as the brand ambassador for a toilet cleaning product, and the teaser was a part of that campaign.

Toilet – Ek Prem Katha was inspired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM), and told the story of a woman (played by Bhumi Pednekar) fighting for her hygiene rights.

The PM Modi-led movement that was launched in 2014 with a promise to make India open defecation free (ODF) by 2019, has helped break taboos, according to Yasmin. “Earlier, people would not talk about toilets and defecation, and that has changed,” she said.

The October 2, 2019 deadline, which is Mahatma Gandhi’s 150th birth anniversary, to make India ODF, will be met by the government, said Parameswaran Iyer, Secretary, Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation, who is also the editor of the book.

The book contains essays by several prominent personalities such as late Arun Jaitley, former Finance Minister; Amitabh Kant, CEO, Niti Aayog; Ratan Tata, Chairman emeritus, Tata Sons; actors Amitabh Bachchan and Akshay Kumar; Tavleen Singh, journalist and author; Arvind Panagariya, former Niti Ayog Vice-Chairman; and Bibek Debroy, Chairman of the Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister.

The book aims to provide a wide range of perspectives on PM Modi’s Swachh Bharat Mission. The foreword has been written by the Prime Minister himself.

Speaking on Narendra Modi’s leadership and his role in the initiative, Akshay said, it is important to listen to what the “leader of the country” is saying. “If he is taking us in the right direction, everyone will be willing to follow...and that is what has happened with Swachh Bharat,” he said. He also added that he was motivated by Parameswaran Iyer to make the first ‘Toilet’ movie.

According to Parameswaran, who took up the role in the ministry in March 2016, it was a “little bit of business as usual” when he came on board. He went on to elaborate, “I realised we needed some disruption in the ministry. We got in youngsters, I started hanging out with Amitabh Kant who brought about great change with Niti Aayog. Then, we started doing grassroots trips and programmes to spread the word. We had PM Modi, our communicator-in-chief, and then we had Akshay with his movie Toilet, which was transformational. We did things that were different that created a buzz.”

Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, Union Minister for Jal Shakti, who was also present at the event, said that social taboos can only be broken by opinion makers like the media and Akshay. The government alone cannot do it without the participation of such influencers and people’s participation, he added.

Amitabh Kant concurred and said community participation is essential, otherwise such programmes cannot succeed. The Niti Aayog CEO went on to add that the most successful and revolutionary move by the Narendra Modi government has been the ‘Swachh Bharat Mission’. “And mind you, there have been GST, demonetisation, and several other crucial initiatives by this government,” he added.

According to the government, over the past five years, nearly 10 crore toilets have been built under the SBM-Grameen programme, and rural sanitation coverage has increased from 39 percent in 2014 to 99 percent in June 2019.

(Edited by Megha Reddy)

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China's imports of major commodities stayed resilient in September

China’s imports of major commodities, including crude oil, iron ore, liquefied natural gas (LNG) and coal, appeared to have once again shown resilience in September, challenging the prevailing narrative that the world’s second-largest economy is weakening.

While official customs data for the month will only be published next week after the national day holidays, vessel-tracking and port data compiled by Refinitiv suggest that imports held up in September.

The steady commodity imports sit somewhat at odds with soft readings in other economic data, with the both the official and private Purchasing Managers’ Indexes painting a picture of a sluggish manufacturing sector.

The official PMI stayed in negative territory in September, improving slightly to 49.8 points from 49.5 in August, while the private Caixin survey rose to 51.4 from 50.4, staying above the 50-level that separates expansion from contraction.

The PMI readings did little to convince markets that a recovery was underway in China, with the breakdown showing domestic demand was where there were signs of strength, but export orders remained weak in the face of the ongoing trade dispute with the United States.

But imports of major commodities have yet to feel a chill wind from the softer economic numbers in China.

Seaborne imports of crude oil in September were estimated by Refinitiv at 8.1 million barrels per day (bpd), down slightly from 8.3 million bpd in August, but up from the 7.85 million bpd in September last year.

There is also the possibility that the Refinitiv numbers will be adjusted higher depending on whether vessels that were discharging their cargoes managed to complete the offloading by the end of the month.

For LNG, China imported 4.46 million tonnes in September, down from 5.02 million in August, but about the same as volumes in May, June and July.

The September arrivals also exceeded the 4.02 million tonnes from the same month in 2018.


Seaborne iron ore imports were 86.1 million tonnes in September, down from 88.4 million in August, but at 2.87 million tonnes per day, September’s daily imports were above August’s 2.85 million.

Taken together, August and September have been the two strongest months for iron ore imports since March, a sign that China is now able to source sufficient supply following outages in top exporters Australia and Brazil earlier this year.

The only major commodity not showing strength was coal, with September seaborne arrivals totalling 22.2 million tonnes, down from 26.5 million in August.

However, the September imports were still well above the 16.8 million tonnes recorded in the same month last year,

Coal may be a special circumstance as its known that the authorities wish to restrict 2019 coal imports to the level in 2018.

Total coal imports, including both seaborne and overland, rose 8.1% in the first eight months of the year to 220.28 million tonnes, according to official customs data.

This leaves just 60 million tonnes available for the September to December period, if 2019 imports are to be kept to the 281.2 million tonnes total for 2018.

It would appear that September coal imports are well above the 15 million tonnes a month average needed for the final four months if the target of no increase is to be met.

This implies coal imports may pull back further in the final quarter of the year, but this should probably not be taken as a sign of economic weakness, rather it should be viewed as a policy imperative unrelated to supply and demand fundamentals.

But so far imports of the other major commodity imports have yet to mirror signs of slower growth in the Chinese economy.

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Construction industry facing ‘imminent paralysis’, MDA warns

Excavation and demolition contractors cannot find any legal dumping sites for construction waste and the industry risks “imminent paralysis”, the Malta Developers Association warned.

The warning follows similar cautions issued over the past couple of months as dumping prices in the only two quarries accepting construction waste started to rise.

However, the MDA is now lamenting that the problem is no longer a situation of escalating dumping costs pushing up property prices but members simply not finding any dumping sites that will accept their construction waste at any cost.

“The emergency situation over the shortage of dumping sites for construction waste, has now reached critical proportions as some 400 excavation and demolition contractors are facing a total standstill as they cannot find any legal dumping solution at any price,” the association said on Tuesday.

The warning precedes a conference on the property market that will be held tomorrow, and which is expected to be addressed by Prime Minister Joseph Muscat.

The MDA appealed to the government to take “immediate and definitive action” on the problem, which it insisted was not caused solely by private construction projects.

“The industry cannot be left in limbo indefinitely,” the MDA said, adding there were substantial public projects underway that generated construction waste.

There are a number of quarries with a permit to receive waste but only two were doing so. Others belong to large construction companies that are using them for their own waste, while in other instances quarries are still being used to extract stone.

The government has warned that it will expropriate quarry space to solve the problem unless the private sector finds its own solution.

Another possibility being considered is the dumping of construction waste at sea in a location earmarked for the purpose off Malta’s south eastern coast.

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Woman quits job to ‘spoil husband’ like a 1950s housewife

Katrina Holte is not a modern woman.

After three years of happy marriage, and getting stressed out by her job in a busy payroll department, she decided in 2018 to turn back time — and live like a 1950s housewife.

That’s when Holte, 30, transformed her Hillsboro, Oregon, home into a suburban shrine to the pre-ERA era, busying herself cleaning, making dresses using vintage patterns — and getting dinner on the table by the time her husband, Lars, 28, gets home from his job as an engineering manager.

“I feel like I’m living how I always wanted to. It’s my dream life and my husband shares my vision,” she says as a vinyl Doris Day soundtrack plays in the background. “It is a lot of work. I do tons of dishes, laundry and ironing, but I love it and it’s helping to take care of my husband and that makes me really happy.”

Yes, her closet is full of “flattering” frocks she sewed herself, and the home’s decor is retro as all get-out, but it’s not “like it’s a museum,” Holte tells PA Real Life.

“When I look at everything that is happening in the world now, I feel like I belong in a nicer, more old-fashioned time,” she says. “I agree with old-fashioned values, like being a housewife, taking care of your family, nurturing the people in it and keeping your house in excellent condition, so everyone feels relaxed.”

But of course the part-time seamstress of 10 years, who sells her handmade garments online, asked for Lars’ permission before leaving the workforce.

“I spoke to my husband and told him I want to be a housewife and he said that was fine with him,” Holte says. “It was a fantastic feeling when I quit. I can do what I want to now and run my house as I want to run it. Now I’m a full-time homemaker.”

A day in the retro life

Holte’s typical day starts at 6:30 a.m., when she wakes up and lays out Lars’ clothes before preparing his breakfast and packing his lunch. After feeding herself, she does 15 minutes of “gentler” exercises from yesteryear.

“We have the idea today that we have to push our bodies to the limit, but in the 1950s, the attitude was simply that you had to take care of it,” she says. “I have a vintage slant board, which is a small wooden ramp, to do core exercises like situps. I do them for about 10 to 15 minutes a day and they keep me in shape to fit into my 1950s dresses.”

After her workout, she heads upstairs for a shower and “full face of vintage makeup,” complete with Pond’s cold cream and Revlon red lipstick, with “well-drawn eyebrows” and “traditional hot rollers to curl my hair.”

When she looks her best, it’s time to get to her chores.

“I will then spend a good hour doing the laundry, dusting and sweeping. I make sure everything is kept in its place,” she says matter-of-factly. “After lunch, when my house is tidy and smelling fresh, I will go upstairs and sew either for myself, for my customers or to try out new patterns.”

Holte starts supper around 4 p.m. to ensure everything is ready when Lars arrives home from work.

“I usually cook recipes from the era like pot roasts or chicken pies and make sure there are vegetables,” she says. “In the 1950s, housewives liked to make sure all the food groups were there.”

As the man of the house returns

When Lars gets home, he actually likes to hang up his own coat, but Holte doesn’t mind: “I read in a 1950s book that if a man wants to hang his own coat up, you should not feel like it makes you a bad housewife.”

Instead, she serves him a refreshing glass of water and a plate of snacks — cheese, dried fruits or nuts — before putting the finishing touches on her entree.

“After dinner, we play board games like Scrabble, or watch our vintage shows like ‘I Love Lucy’ or ‘The Donna Reed Show,’ ” Holte says. “Sometimes we read. I like reading 1950s cookbooks and vintage beauty and sewing magazines.”

Yes, when they aren’t spinning Sinatra or Day on their record player, the couple does watch TV (no cable or streaming channels, thank you) — but when it’s not in use, they keep it hidden away so as not to disrupt the midcentury modern vibe.

But make no mistake, Holte says, Lars is not a controlling hubby.

“He grew up in a house where he helped his mom with the cooking and the cleaning, so he is not domineering in any way,” she says. “If I did, heaven forbid, have dinner late, he would not make a fuss, but I can tell it means a lot to him that it’s normally on time.”

The bottom line: “A man needs his wife to make him feel spoiled every once in a while.” Besides, that’s the payoff “because he makes a lot more money than I do. He works very long hours and makes my dreams come true, so I try to make his come true, too. It’s an equal partnership.”

Living by the Golden Rule

“I think we, as women, should support each other. If a woman says she wants to be a homemaker, we should not say that’s not right,” Katrina says. “What’s right for me might not be right for someone else. We all have to do what’s right for ourselves.”

Her ultimate goal is to embody a timeless “Do to others what you want them to do to you” mantra.

“No decade is perfect, definitely we had big social problems in the ’50s, but the people I talk to who lived through the era say it was a time when you could leave your door unlocked and you didn’t need to worry about people breaking in,” she says. “People today have forgotten how to talk to people they don’t agree with and they have lost all their manners.”

She longs for a bygone era when neighbors were neighborly.

“All the stories I’ve read are about women borrowing dishes or butter from each other, and the neighborhood kids all playing together. You find now neighbors will go from the car to the garage to the house and won’t speak to each other.”

Holte now looks forward to having four children — but realizes that could alter her domestic bliss.

“I’m not sure I’ll be able to keep my house in perfect order but we would love to have a big family,” she says. “I definitely plan to put my little girls in vintage dresses, petticoats and hats, but when they get older, they can make their own choices.”

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Chile economic activity growth up 3.7% as mining output surges

Chile’s economic activity rose 3.7 percent in August from the same month a year ago, the central bank said on Tuesday, beating expectations and boosted by a surge in mining following several months of sluggish growth.

The IMACEC economic activity index encompasses about 90 percent of the economy tallied in gross domestic product figures.

Mining activity in August grew 5.3 percent compared with the same month in 2018, an improvement over past sluggish performance this year.

Chile, which produces nearly one-third the world’s copper, has suffered amid floundering prices for the red metal. Heavy rains in the country’s normally parched northern desert that is home to many of its mines, labor strife and a blistering drought in its central agricultural region have added to the pain.

Non-mining activity grew by 3.5 percent, the bank said, boosted by growth in the construction and service sectors.

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Quarterly Presentation: Disruption and Commodity Equity.

In which we take a robust look at the scale of the secular issues facing our sector. 

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Ebola in Tanzania?

في أعقاب ورود إفادات عن رفض جمهورية تنزانيا المتحدة توفير معلومات مفصلة حول حالات الإصابة بفيروس الإيبولا المشتبه بها إلى منظمة الصحة العالمية ('دبليو إتش أو')، تدعو مؤسسة الرعاية الصحية لمرضى الإيدز 'إيه إتش إف' الحكومة التنزانية إلى إعتماد الشفافية والانفتاح، لأن عدم القيام بذلك يؤدي إلى تحديات هائلة في الحد من انتشار هذا الفيروس المميت ويهدد حياة ملايين الناس في أفريقيا وخارجها.

ووفقاً لبيان صادر عن منظمة الصحة العالمية في 21 سبتمبر، تلقت المنظمة معلومات غير رسمية تفيد بوفاة شخص يشتبه بإصابته بمرض فيروس الإيبولا في عاصمة البلاد المكتظة بالسكان، دار السلام، بالإضافة إلى تقارير غير رسمية تفيد بأن أشخاص يعرفهم المتوفي تم وضعهم في الحجر الصحي في مواقع مختلفة داخل البلاد.

كما ذكرت منظمة الصحة العالمية أنها تلقت بلاغاً غير رسمي بأن التحاليل الطبية أثبتت إصابة الشخص المتوفي بفيروس الإيبولا وبوجود حالتين جديدتين مشتبه بهما. في حين جاءت نتيجة اختبار الحالة الثانية سلبية في وقت لاحق، إلا أن المعلومات المتعلقة بنتائج الفحوص المختبرية للحالة الثالثة ظلت غير واضحة، وعلى الرغم من الطلبات الكثيرة التي وُجهت إليها، احتفظت السلطات التنزانية بالصمت.

تجدر الإشارة إلى أن تخلّف تنزانيا عن نشر تفاصيل مهمة حول حالات الإيبولا المشتبه فيها يشكّل انتهاكاً فاضحاً لمعايير اللوائح الصحية الدولية، التي تنص على أن 'فيروس مرض الإيبولا/ فيروس مرض الإيبولا المشتبه به يعتبر مرضاً ينبغي الإبلاغ عنه' باعتباره حالة طوارئ صحية عامة محتملة. ونظراً لقربها من جمهورية الكونغو الديمقراطية- التي تشهد تفشي وباء الإيبولا القاتل للمرة الثانية في تاريخها منذ 14 شهراً – يعتبر الصمت المستمر من جانب تنزانيا منافياً للسلامة العامة ويهدد الجهود في مجال تقييم المخاطر والتأهب لحالات الطوارئ داخل وخارج حدودها.

وفي معرض تعليقها على الأمر، قالت الدكتورة بينيناه أيوتانج، رئيسة مكتب 'إي إتش إف' في أفريقيا: 'ينبغي على الحكومة التنزانية أن تفهم أن هناك قضايا كثيرة على المحك، وأن افتقارها للشفافية بشأن فيروس الإيبولا يعرّض مواطنيها والدول المجاورة والمجتمع العالمي بأكمله للخطر'. وأضافت: 'فقدنا أكثر من 2100 شخص منذ بدء تفشي المرض في الكونغو، ويتعيّن على جميع الدول العمل معاً لضمان إبلاغ منظمة الصحة العالمية رسمياً بكل حالة يشتبه في إصابتها بفيروس الإيبولا بما يتماشى مع إرشادات اللوائح الصحية الدولية'.

ومما يبعث أكثر على القلق هو أن التفاصيل السريرية والنتائج المخبرية للمرضى لا تزال غامضة بالنسبة لمنظمة الصحة العالمية. وجاء في البيان ما يلي: 'لغاية الآن، لم تتم مشاركة التفاصيل السريرية ونتائج التحقيق، بما في ذلك الفحوصات المخبرية التي أجريت لتحديد التشخيصات الطبية الأخرى المحتملة لحالة هؤلاء المرضى، مع منظمة الصحة العالمية'. 'ولا تسمح المعلومات غير الكافية التي تلقتها منظمة الصحة العالمية بصياغة فرضيات تتعلق بالسبب المحتمل للمرض'.

وأضافت أيوتانج قائلةً: 'إن دعوتنا إلى المسؤولين في تنزانيا بسيطة للغاية - ليس الوقت مناسباً الآن لممارسة السياسة. يجب أن تتعاون تنزانيا بشكل كامل مع منظمة الصحة العالمية من خلال نشر المعلومات السريرية ونتائج الدراسات وقائمة الاشخاص الذين يحتمل أن تكون لهم صلة بالمرضى والامتثال لتوصيات الاختبار التأكيدي الثانوي - وكذلك الإبلاغ عن الحالات المشتبه فيها أو المؤكدة لتمكين المنظمة من تقييم المخاطر المحتملة لهذه الحالات. وعندما يتعلق الأمر بالتهديدات الصحية الخطيرة مثل الإيبولا، فإننا نعيش جميعاً في عالم واحد موحد - بلا حدود'.

كما قامت مؤسسة الرعاية الصحية لمرضى الإيدز 'إيه إتش إف' مؤخراً بمناشدة منظمة الصحة العالمية لتوفير شفافية كاملة فيما يتعلق باستراتيجيات التطعيم في جمهورية الكونغو الديمقراطية بعد اتهامات وجهتها منظمة أطباء بلا حدود بقيام منظمة الصحة العالمية بتقنين لقاح إيبولا من إنتاج شركة 'ميرك'، وحثت الأمين العام للأمم المتحدة أنطونيو غوتيريش خلال زيارته لبؤرة التفشي قبل أسبوعين لاتخاذ الخطوات اللازمة لضمان وضع نهاية لهذه الأزمة المدمرة التي استمرت عاماً كاملاً.

للمزيد من المعلومات، يرجى الاتصال بـ جيد كينسلي عبر البريد الإلكتروني التالي: أو على الرقم التالي: 3237915526

لمحة عن مؤسسة الرعاية الصحية لمرضى الإيدز ('إيه إتش إف')

تعتبر مؤسسة الرعاية الصحية لمرضى الإيدز 'إيه إتش إف' أكبر منظمة لمكافحة الإيدز حول العالم، وتوفر حالياً رعايةً و/أو خدماتٍ طبية لأكثر من 1.2 مليون عميل في 43 دولةً في العالم في كل من الولايات المتحدة الأمريكية، وأفريقيا وأمريكا اللاتينية/الكاريبي ومنطقة آسيا/المحيط الهادئ وأوروبا الشرقية. لمزيد من المعلومات عن المؤسسة، يرجى زيارة موقعنا الإلكتروني:، كما يمكنكم زيارة صفحتنا على موقع 'فيسبوك' على الرابط الإلكتروني التالي: ويمكن متابعتنا عبر 'تويتر' على: @aidshealthcare و'إنستغرام' على: @aidshealthcare.

يمكنكم الاطلاع على النسخة الأصلية من هذا البيان الصحفي على موقع 'بزنيس واير' ( على الرابط الإلكتروني التالي:

إنّ نص اللغة الأصلية لهذا البيان هو النسخة الرسمية المعتمدة. أما الترجمة فقد قدمت للمساعدة فقط، ويجب الرجوع لنص اللغة الأصلية الذي يمثل النسخة الوحيدة ذات التأثير القانوني.

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Onyx Insight to replace generator main bearing for South Korean wind farm


Provider of predictive maintenance in the wind energy industry Onyx InSight has been selected by Dongkuk S&C to replace the main bearing on a wind turbine generator at their wind farm in the Jollanam Province, South Korea.

Onyx InSight was chosen by Dongkuk S&C to replace one of the three main bearings at its Shinan project in South Korea. Following a competitive tender, the company was awarded the contract based on its previous experience of wind turbine main bearing replacements with one of the biggest wind energy companies in South Korea. The project involves a turbine model largely unique in South Korea, with only three others in operation in the country.

On this particular turbine an abnormal sound and vibration was initially detected by a Dongkuk service engineer. After the detection of this condition, Onyx was requested to conduct a full site inspection. As a result of the inspection, the company recommended Dongkuk stop operations on the faulty turbine immediately and replace the mainbearing to avoid a potentially catastrophic failure.

“Regular technician inspections are important for tracking turbine health” said Kyunghyun Lee, Prediction team leader at Onyx InSight. “However, because data is only collected intermittently, some health indicators can get overlooked, reducing the amount of warning maintenance teams might get of failure. A condition monitoring system (CMS) installed in the turbine and capable of collecting continuous data on drive train vibration would likely have identified the fault sooner. In this instance, without more warning of the failure, Onyx InSight had to recommend the complete replacement of the main bearing for the wind turbine. Installed CMS allow owners and operators to manage the health of their turbine to extend the useful working life of parts.”

The company has many years experience and expertise across a multi-brand portfolio of turbine models in the field, and was therefore well positioned to complete this replacement project. The company has developed a new methodology, which allows the replacement of wind turbine parts quickly and efficiently and therefore presenting a saving of up to 50 percent on this replacement project.

South Korea has a target to increase the amount of renewable energy it generates, from 6 percent to 20 percent of total energy production by 2030. The country will therefore need to both build new renewable energy sources and maintain and improve the efficiency of older renewable energy generators in the country. This means that Onyx InSight will have an important role in predictive maintenance and providing solutions to wind farm owners in the country by allowing older wind turbines to remain operational and efficient.

With main bearings operating in harsh environments, wear and tear is an unavoidable fact and, if ignored, it can be catastrophic. Proper installation and condition monitoring of the main bearing is essential if a wind turbine is to be safely operated and reach its expected useful life.

For additional information:

Onyx InSight

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‘Flash drought’ worsening across 14 Southern US states

ATLANTA (AP) — More than 45 million people across 14 Southern states are now in the midst of what’s being called a “flash drought” that’s cracking farm soil, drying up ponds and raising the risk of wildfires, scientists said Thursday.

The weekly U.S. Drought Monitor report released Thursday shows extreme drought conditions in parts of Texas, Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, South Carolina and the Florida panhandle. Lesser drought conditions also have expanded in parts of Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi.

Overall, nearly 20 percent of the lower 48 U.S. states is experiencing drought conditions.

The drought accelerated rapidly in September, as record heat combined with little rainfall to worsen the parched conditions, said Brian Fuchs, a climatologist at the National Drought Mitigation Center in Nebraska.

“Typically we look at drought as being a slow onset, slow-developing type phenomenon compared to other disasters that rapidly happen, so this flash drought term came about,” Fuchs said. “The idea is that it’s more of a rapidly developing drought situation compared to what we typically see.”

Fuchs said he expects scientists to have further discussions about flash droughts, and perhaps develop parameters for what constitutes a flash drought.

The drought has been putting stress on a wide variety of crops across the South, including cotton in Alabama, peanuts in Georgia and tobacco in Virginia, according to reports from the National Drought Mitigation Center.

Pumpkins are faring better in Alabama, though they’re somewhat smaller this year due to the drought.

“We would have liked to have had a few more pumpkins this year, but we do have pumpkins and we are selling pumpkins _ that’s the good news,” said Doug Chapman, a commercial horticulture expert with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System.

In Mississippi, wildfires have been on the rise, Gov. Phil Bryant said this week, as he ordered a statewide burn ban. Outdoor burning is also restricted in parts of several other states including Texas, Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee and West Virginia, according to the drought center.

The drought was also affecting some water supplies across the region. Lake levels have been falling throughout Georgia, including at Lake Lanier, which provides much of Atlanta’s drinking water.

In North Carolina, rivers and streams are running low, Rebecca Cumbie-Ward, the state climatologist, said in a statement. Some North Carolina water systems are limiting use, and state officials are asking residents to follow those water restrictions .

Alabama Power said last week it was reducing water releases from its hydroelectric dams because of the drought. The move was intended to prevent lakes from shrinking too much.

The Drought Monitor is produced by researchers at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

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Lower oil prices — bullish for the Philippines

In our article three weeks ago, we cited lower crude oil prices as one of the key reasons to remain bullish on the Philippines (see Bullish on the Philippines, Sept. 9). The decline of oil prices helped ease inflation pressures and tempered the country’s current account and trade deficits. These, in turn, contributed to the stability of the Philippine peso and enabled the BSP to cut key interest rates for the third time this year.

BSP lowers inflation target for 2019, 2020

Last week, the BSP lowered its inflation forecasts for 2019 and 2020 to 2.5 percent and 2.9 percent, respectively. BSP’s economic team cited slower global economic growth, as well as low crude oil prices, as the basis for their reduced inflation projections. The Philippine inflation rate, which peaked at 6.7 percent in October of 2018 dropped to a 31-month low of 1.7 percent last August.

A long-term perspective on oil prices

Since oil prices peaked at $147 per barrel in 2008, it has been on a decade-long decline. It fell to the $30-$35 levels twice (2009 and 2016). From these levels, oil prices rebounded and formed lower highs of $110 in 2011-2014 and $75 in 2018. Since 2015, oil prices have remained on the lower half of the 11-year $30-$140 price range.

Source:, Wealth Securities Research

US shale oil – the game changer

Shale oil fracking has been the game changer this past decade. With advances in fracking technology, the US, which previously was the biggest oil importer in the world, is now self-sufficient. Over the last decade alone, advances in shale oil production have enabled the US to increase its oil output from 5.4 million barrels per day to 12.3 million barrels per day.

EIA, IEA and OPEC forecast lower oil prices

All three of the major oil organizations (EIA, IEA and OPEC) see lower oil prices going forward. In its latest energy outlook, the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) reduced its 2019 and 2020 price forecasts on West Texas Intermediate and Brent crude oil. EIA cited the continued decline in global manufacturing Purchasing Manager’s Indices (PMIs), which is a leading indicator of economic growth.

In its monthly oil market report, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) cut its oil demand growth forecast in 2020 by 60,000 barrels per day (BPD) to 1.08 million BPD. OPEC pointed out the continuation of the US-China trade dispute and the ongoing slowdown in major economies as the reasons for lowering its oil demand forecast.

Huge oil surplus projected for 2020

Despite production cuts by OPEC and the drop in Iran and Venezuelan output due to sanctions, there is a growing surplus in the oil market led by non-OPEC oil. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), the US had been the main driver of oil supply growth this year, briefly overtaking Saudi Arabia as the world’s top oil exporter in June. Brazil and Norway also expanded their production this year, adding to the considerable oil surplus well into 2020.

Oil price spikes were short-lived

Geopolitical risk also plays a part in the pricing of crude oil. In recent months, several high-profile incidents have increased tensions in the Middle East. Attacks on oil tankers, tanker seizures and most recently, a drone attack on Saudi Arabia’s oil infrastructure, have increased the geopolitical risk premium of oil. However, while it led to heightened volatility, the effects so far have proven to be transitory, and the price spikes were short-lived.

Saudi restores oil production capacity

Oil futures spiked as much as 20 percent during the aftermath of the drone strike last Sept. 14. Today, the prices are back to the levels before the attack as Saudi Arabia restores oil production capacity to 11.3 million barrels per day – the level before the attacks on its oil facilities.

Crude prices remain in a long-term downtrend

Despite the rise in geopolitical risk, oil prices have failed to recover above the 11-month downward trend line. From its most recent peak of $76.88 per barrel in October 2018, WTI crude prices are down 27 percent, while the Asian benchmark Dubai crude is down 28 percent to $60.72 per barrel over the same period.

It appears that the market is less worried about the rising geopolitical tensions and is focused more on the global oil supply-demand outlook. Given the weak demand and the supply surplus, low crude oil prices will likely persist. Lower oil prices, low inflation, and a steady peso mean more room for the BSP to cut rates to ease financial conditions and sustain economic growth.

Philequity Management is the fund manager of the leading mutual funds in the Philippines. Visit to learn more about Philequity’s managed funds or to view previous articles. For inquiries or to send feedback, please call (02) 689-8080 or email

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Delaware Basin Producers, Midstreamers Scramble To Add Crude Gathering Pipelines

There already are indications that newly available takeaway-pipeline capacity out of the Permian Basin is goosing crude oil production growth there. Flows on those new pipes — Plains All American’s Cactus II and the EPIC system — are ramping up, crude exports are setting new records, and the end of big price discounts for oil at Midland versus Cushing and the Gulf Coast are giving Permian producers an economic incentive to produce more. And more takeaway capacity is on the way, including the 900-Mb/d Gray Oak Pipeline, which is slated to come online in the fourth quarter. Fast-rising production is putting new pressure on producers and their midstream partners to build and expand crude gathering systems and shuttle pipelines — especially in the Permian’s Delaware Basin, which has a lot less gathering pipe in the ground than the Midland Basin and which is poised for phenomenal production growth the next few months and years. Today, we discuss highlights from our second Drill Down Report on Permian gathering systems, this one focusing on developments in the fast-growing Delaware Basin in West Texas and southeastern New Mexico.

The greater Permian Basin, which includes all or part of 54 counties in the two states, has been producing crude oil in commercial volumes since the early 1920s. By 1960, the region’s crude output was averaging 1 MMb/d, and through most of the 1970s, production there hovered around the 2-MMb/d mark. That’s a lot of oil, and transporting it all to market efficiently and economically required the development of extensive crude gathering systems. As followers of the Permian’s up-down-and-up-again story know, however, the region’s crude output declined over the next three decades to less than 1 MMb/d, leaving unused much of the gathering capacity that had been installed. So, when Permian production finally started rebounding in the early 2010s with the use of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing there was a good bit of gathering pipe in the ground, much of which producers could use to help gather crude produced at their new horizontal wells. By 2016, though, Permian production was back above 2 MMb/d, crude gathering pipelines — and takeaway pipes — were filling up fast and a big push was underway to expand existing systems and build new ones.

Figure 1. Sub-Basins Within the Permian. Source: RBN

This has been especially true in the Permian’s Delaware Basin, which until the mid-2010s produced considerably less crude than the Midland Basin and had much less crude pipeline, storage and other infrastructure in place than the Midland. (It still does, but it’s catching up.) The Delaware Basin — the focus of the newly released Part 2 of our Drill Down Report on Permian crude gathering systems —includes all or part of seven counties in West Texas (Culberson, Reeves, Loving, Winkler, Ward, Pecos and Jeff Davis) and four counties in southeastern New Mexico (Eddy, Lea, Chaves and Roosevelt). Figure 2 shows historical and forecasted Permian production by sub-basin (burnt orange yellow, brown and orange layers) from 2012 through 2024, as well the price of West Texas Intermediate (WTI) — the basin’s primary crude oil product — over that same period. (The solid black line shows historical WTI prices, and the dashed black line shows RBN’s Base Price Scenario of $55/bbl WTI through 2024.) At the start of 2012, the Delaware Basin accounted for 29% of total Permian crude production (322 Mb/d of the 1.118 MMb/d total), with the Midland Basin accounting for 50% and the Central Basin 21%. By the end of the summer of 2019, Delaware Basin production had increased more than seven-fold to 2.4 MMb/d, and it now accounts for just over half of total Permian production.

Figure 2. Permian Crude Oil Production by Sub-Basin, 2012-24. Source: RBN

The Delaware Basin’s share of total Permian production is expected to continue rising through the early 2020s. Under RBN’s Base Price Scenario (again, a WTI price of $55/bbl through 2024), production in the Delaware is seen increasing to nearly 4.0 MMb/d by the end of 2024, a gain of about 65% from current volumes. The Midland Basin, in turn, is forecasted to be producing nearly 2.9 MMb/d by late 2024, with Central Basin production lagging at about 320 Mb/d.

Gathering systems play a critically important role in the Delaware Basin. They transport the vast majority of the crude oil produced in the region; generally speaking, the use of tanker trucks to move crude to downstream pipelines is limited to wells that are too remote, that produce too little crude to justify the investment in a gathering system, or that are new and have not yet been connected to a nearby system. Several types of entities are involved in developing crude oil gathering systems in the Delaware, including (1) producers themselves; (2) midstream affiliates of producers; and (3) producers partnering with unaffiliated midstream companies to help them develop systems to meet their crude-gathering needs — and, often, the needs of producers with wells close by. And sometimes, individual midstream companies or joint ventures of two or more such firms have pursued the development of gathering systems in areas where drilling activity is intensifying — in these cases, the midstreamer or midstreamers often seek to line up an “anchor” producer to jump-start the project, then work to sign on additional producers in the same area.

The ownership of crude gathering systems and other midstream assets within the Permian has also evolved over time. In many instances, the systems have been expanded through a combination of organic growth and acquisitions, often with the involvement of new midstream companies backed by private equity. As some of these systems grew, established good relationships with producers, and increased their fee-based revenue streams, they became attractive targets for acquisition themselves.

The aim of our newly released Drill Down Report is to describe and discuss a representative sample of the Delaware Basin ’s expanding gathering systems. These range from smaller networks like EnLink Midstream’s new, 115-mile Avenger gathering system in Eddy and Lea counties, NM, which started coming online in late 2018, to the far more extensive Oryx Trans-Permian (OTP) gathering and regional transport system, which has been developed from scratch by Oryx Midstream Services over the past five-plus years.

Oryx’s OTP network provides a prime example of how sophisticated and well-connected these systems can become. As shown in Figure 3, the OTP system includes gathering lines (red lines) and trunk lines (green lines) that serve more than 20 producers that have dedicated a total of nearly 1 million acres; OTP also has regional transport pipelines (blue lines). The gathering and trunk lines — the latter mostly 10 or 12 inches in diameter — move crude to six existing gathering hubs: Reeves Station (southeast of Pecos, TX), Pecos Station (northwest of Pecos), Pyote Station and 285 Station (both northeast of Pecos), Stateline Station (on the Texas side of the Texas/New Mexico border), and Carlsbad Station (near Carlsbad, NM). Two additional gathering hubs are being added: 128 Station and Lynch Station (both in Lea County, NM). At the gathering hubs, crude is fed into the OTP regional transport system — long-distance runs of 16-, 20- and 24-inch-diameter pipes (again, blue lines) that together have the capacity to move between 650 Mb/d (without drag-reducing agents) and 850 Mb/d-plus (with DRAs) to the marketing hubs in Crane and Midland.

Figure 3. The Oryx Trans-Permian Gathering and Regional Transport System. Sources: Oryx Midstream and RBN

From Crane, crude can flow onto Magellan Midstream Partners’ Longhorn Pipeline to the Houston area — and will be able to flow onto Phillips 66 Partners, Enbridge, Marathon Petroleum and Rattler Midstream’s new Gray Oak Pipeline to Corpus Christi when Gray Oak begins operating in the fourth quarter of 2019. At Midland, OTP connects to Enterprise Products Partners’ Midland Terminal and soon will tie into Plains’ Midland South Station as well. From those terminals, Delaware Basin crude transported via OTP can flow onto a number of pipelines (either directly or via pump-over), including Enterprise’s Midland-to-ECHO I and II; Energy Transfer’s Permian Express II and III and Amdel Pipeline; ExxonMobil’s PELA pipeline; Plains’ Basin pipeline system; and Lotus Midstream’s Centurion Pipeline — and, starting in the first half of 2021, to the Wink-to-Webster Pipeline being co-developed by ExxonMobil, Plains, Lotus Midstream and MPLX, among others.

Our new Drill Down Report discusses in depth Delaware Basin gathering systems and shuttle pipelines owned by 10 joint ventures or individual companies, as well as the takeaway pipelines to which those systems connect.

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Saudi Arabia Agrees Partial Cease-Fire in War-Shattered Yemen

Saudi Arabia has moved to impose a partial cease-fire in Yemen, say people familiar with the plans, as Riyadh and the Houthi militants the kingdom is fighting try to bring an end to the four-year war that has become a front line in the broader regional clash with Iran.

Saudi Arabia’s decision follows a surprise move by Houthi forces to declare a unilateral cease-fire in Yemen last week, just days after claiming responsibility for the Sept. 14 drone and cruise missile strike on Saudi Arabia’s oil industry. While the Houthis fired two missiles at Saudi Arabia earlier this week, the strike wasn’t seen by Saudi leaders as a serious attack that would undermine the new cease-fire efforts.

Houthi leaders initially said they were responsible for the attack on the oil facilities, but Saudi, U.S. and European officials have dismissed the claims as a transparent attempt to obscure Iran’s role in the strike. Yemeni fighters, these officials say, have neither the weapons nor the skills to carry out such a sophisticated strike.

In the days that followed the attack, an internal Houthi rift expanded between those who want to distance themselves from Iran and those who want to strengthen ties.

Some Houthi leaders privately disavowed the group’s claim of responsibility for the Sept. 14 attack, according to two Saudi officials who asked not to be identified. And Houthi officials told foreign diplomats that Iran was preparing a follow-on attack, says one of these officials and other people familiar with the evolving plans.

Official Houthi spokesmen have rejected any suggestions that they disavowed their initial claim or warned Riyadh about future strikes by Iran. The group didn’t immediately respond Friday to requests for comment.

Yemen’s war has become a political and military morass for Saudi Arabia and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the country’s de facto ruler and original architect of the war plans. The war has eroded support for his country in Washington, where bipartisan opposition to the conflict has solidified.

The Houthis’ unilateral cease-fire last week has raised hopes in Riyadh and Washington that the Yemeni fighters might be willing to distance themselves from Tehran. The U.S. has accused Iran of providing the Houthis with missiles, drones and training they have used to target Saudi Arabia for years. Iran has dismissed the claims, but Tehran has moved to deepen its ties with the Houthi forces.

In response to the Houthi move, Riyadh has agreed to a limited cease-fire in four areas, including San’a, the Yemeni capital Houthi forces have controlled since 2014.

If the mutual cease-fire in these areas takes hold, the Saudis would look to broaden the truce to other parts of Yemen, according to people familiar with the discussions.

The new cease-fire faces steep odds, as similar arrangements have crumbled before. Both sides continue to carry out attacks, including a Saudi airstrike north of San’a on Tuesday that killed several civilians. The internal Houthi divisions could undermine the peace efforts, as they have in the past.

“Yemen needs to break from this vicious cycle of violence now and be safeguarded from the recent tension in the region that could risk its prospects for peace,” said Martin Griffiths, the U.N.’s special envoy for Yemen who brokered peace talks last December in Stockholm that helped defuse tensions and pave the way for new diplomatic initiatives.

Saudi Arabia has been accused of carrying out errant airstrikes that have killed thousands of civilians. Yemen is home to what the U.N. calls the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. Millions are on the brink of famine, and cholera remains a constant danger. Nearly 100,000 people have died since the Houthis seized San’a, according to the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project, a non-profit organization that tracks global violence.

The U.A.E., Saudi Arabia’s most important ally in the fight, withdrew most of its forces from Yemen earlier this year in a move that created friction between the two countries.

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Venezuela's biggest refinery complex still halted

Both units at Venezuela’s 955,000 barrel-per-day capacity Paraguana Refining Center remain down one week after a blackout halted operations, workers said on Friday.

The Amuay and Cardon refineries, which make up the OPEC nation’s largest refining complex, were already operating well below capacity, before a lightning storm eight days ago knocked out power and caused a fire.

Though electricity was quickly restored and the fire at Amuay was controlled, output is still halted, the sources said. “There’s no output at all. The restart is planned for Tuesday or Wednesday of next week,” an Amuay worker told Reuters.

At the Cardon refinery, one operator said only a steam generator had been restarted.

Both refineries had anyway been operating under a third of capacity in recent months due to shortages of both crude and parts for maintenance.

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40ft containers, for crude from Canada.

A test shipment of bitumen oil from Alberta is on its way to China, but it didn’t get to a B.C. port by pipeline – it was moved by train through Prince Rupert in a semi-solid form commonly known as neatbit.

Melius Energy in Calgary is not the first company to propose moving bitumen through B.C. in a semi-solid form by train, but it appears to be the first to actually land a potential customer in China and start shipping semi-solid bitumen by train.

It has sent its first container, containing 130 barrels of bitumen, to China in a test shipment, and is currently building a new demonstration plant in Edmonton that turns diluted bitumen into a solid called TrueCrude.

Using existing rail infrastructure, Melius says it could potentially move 120,000 barrels per day of pure bitumen in 100-unit trains through the Port of Prince Rupert.

“Prince Rupert is expanding and they’re looking for lot of containers to move through there,” said Yuri Butler, Melius’ manager of logistics and supply. “That’s one of the reasons we’re excited about working with Prince Rupert is they’re looking for a lot of containers. We’re looking to export a lot of containers. Right now there’s a lot of containers coming into Prince Rupert, but there’s not necessarily a lot leaving.”

Moving bitumen in semi-solid form addresses environmental concerns associated with moving diluted bitumen by rail, pipeline and oil tanker.

The concern is that an oil spill on either land or at sea could have serious environmental impacts. Shipping it in a solid, non-flammable form addresses those concerns. Should a container of TrueCrude ever crack open and end up in the ocean, it would float in one large block that could easily be recovered, the company says.

Bitumen is a thick, tarry form of oil that has to be diluted with lighter oils – condensate – in order to transport it in liquid form. Melius developed a process, called BitCrude, whereby the diluent is taken back out of the diluted bitumen. The diluent can be recycled back to dilbit producers.

The pure bitumen is heated so it can be poured into modified shipping containers, where it then solidifies when it cools. It is then shipped by train and put onto container ships. When it reaches its destination, the bitumen is heated to allow to flow into a refinery.

Melius is currently building a demonstration diluent recovery plant in Edmonton. Butler said the plants could be built and sold as turn-key operations to oil producers in Alberta.

Melius says transporting bitumen by train and container ship is cost competitive with pipeline and oil tanker transport. For one thing, there are no capital costs associated with the transportation, since the railway lines already exist.

“We’re moving on existing rail lines, it’s a safe product and we can efficiently move volume at scale,” Butler said.

There are also economies of scale associated with moving products by container ship, as opposed to oil tanker, since there are so many containers ships plying the ocean.

“When you ship in a container, your costs to ship that container are very competitive because there’s so much volume of containers moving,” Butler said.

He said there is a huge demand in China for bitumen, largely because China’s Belt and Road project will require so much asphalt.

Because of its high asphaltene content, bitumen is a highly desired feedstock for making asphalt. Roughly half of a barrel of bitumen can be turned into asphalt, with the rest being turned into other petroleum products.

“The demand from Asia right now for heavy crude oil is growing and it’s almost insatiable, especially with what’s happening with Venezuela, and Iran and Saudi Arabia,” Butler said. 

“They’re looking for supply, and right now they’re struggling to find it. Whereas here in Alberta we have quite a bit of supply and we’re trying to export it to the U.S., where we’re fighting to get a low dollar. If we can get this to the China, we can get a much better dollar and sell our premium product at a premium price.”

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Two more Saudi Arabian petrochemical firms announce normal feedstock supplies

Singapore — Two more petrochemical companies in Saudi Arabia announced over the weekend that feedstock supplies from Saudi Aramco have returned to normal levels.

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Sadara and Advanced Petrochemical Co. were the two companies that announced resumption of normal supplies.

Late last week, six of Saudi Arabia's petrochemical firms said feedstock ethane supplies from Saudi Aramco returned to normal. The companies were -- Sipchem, Saudi Kayan, Tasnee, Yansab, Sabic and Petro Rabigh.

Feedstock supplies were cut to crucial Saudi petrochemical companies after the attacks on key Saudi Aramco oil facilities on September 14. The attacked oil field also produces and supplies gas for petrochemical production, and the country's petrochemical industry was particularly hit by the gas supply cut.

Feedstock ethane supplies were cut 16%-50% just after the attacks.


Sadara Basic Services Company (Sadara)

Current feedstock supply cut: 10% from 16%

Key production:

Ethylene: 1.5 million mt/year

PE: 1.1 million mt/year

Advanced Petrochemical Company

Current feedstock supply cut: 20% from 40%

Key production:

Propylene: 500,000 mt/year

PP: 450,000 mt/year



Key production:

Ethylene: 1.3 million mt/year

VAM: 330,000 mt/year

AA: 400,000 mt/year

LDPE: 400,000 mt/year

Saudi Kayan

Key production:

Ethylene: 1.5 million mt/year

Propylene: 430,000 mt/year

PP: 350,000 mt/year

PE: 600,000 mt/year

National Industrialization Co (Tasnee)

Key production:

Ethylene: 1 million mt/year

Propylene: 740,000 mt/year

PP: 450,000 mt/year

PE: 800,000 mt/year

(Note: Combined capacity of Saudi Polyolefins Company and Saudi Ethylene and Polyethylene Company)

Yanbu National Petrochemical Company (Yansab)

Key production:

Ethylene: 1.3 million mt/year

Propylene: 400,000 mt/year

PE: 900,000 mt/year

MEG: 700,000 mt/year

PP: 400,000 mt/year

Benzene, MX toluene: 250,000 mt/year

Butene-1 and butene-2: 100,000 mt/year

Saudi Basic Industries Corp (Sabic)

Key production:

Ethylene: around 9 million mt/year

MEG: around 6.1 million mt/year (including JV)

Petro Rabigh

Current feedstock supply cut: 20% from 8%

Key production:

Ethylene: 1.6 million mt/year

MEG: 600,000 mt/year

PE: 1.06 million mt/year

PP: 700,000 mt/year

-- Fumiko Dobashi,

-- Edited by Manish Parashar,

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Neptune Energy taps Valaris jackup for Seagull development

Neptune Energy taps Valaris jackup for Seagull development


LONDON - Neptune Energy and its joint venture partners BP and JAPEX announced Valaris has been awarded a contract to provide a heavy-duty jack-up drilling rig for the Seagull development oil project in the UK North Sea.

Valaris will provide the Rowan Gorilla VI (VALARIS JU-248) to drill four firm wells for the development, which is located in the Central North Sea.

The approximately 18-month drilling campaign is scheduled to start Q3 2020.

Neptune Energy’s UK managing director, Pete Jones, said: “This is an important milestone for the Seagull project and a further demonstration of how the development is progressing at pace, following the award of the SPS and SURF contract to TechnipFMC in July.”

“We are pleased to be working again with Valaris which continues to demonstrate strong safety and operational performance.”

“Seagull is a very positive example of what our industry is working hard to achieve in terms of MER UK; the project partners have embraced a collaborative, commercially-innovative approach and extended the life of operating assets through the use of existing infrastructure in order to maximize recovery of North Sea hydrocarbons.”

Seagull is a high pressure, high temperature development located on UK license P1622 Block 22/29C, 17km south of the BP Operated ETAP Central Processing Facility (CPF). Seagull will be tied back to the ETAP CPF partially utilizing existing subsea infrastructure which would otherwise have been decommissioned. Gas from the development will come onshore at the CATS processing terminal at Teesside, while oil will come onshore through the Forties Pipeline System to the Kinneil Terminal, Grangemouth.

The development is expected to initially produce around 50,000 boepd (80% oil) across its 10-year design life. Proved plus probable gross reserves are estimated at 50 million boe.

Work on the Seagull project has continued at pace since the Field Development Plan (FDP) was submitted to and approved by the Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) in March this year.

Neptune is the operator of Seagull and has a 35% equity interest. Its joint venture partners are BP with 50% and JAPEX with 15%. Neptune acquired its 35% interest in Seagull from Apache North Sea Limited in 2018.

Related News ///


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SCCL allotted one of the biggest coal blocks in the country

KOLKATA ( – India’s Singareni Collieries Company Limited (SCCL) has been allotted a second coal block in the eastern state of Odisha, boosting the miner’s plans to expand beyond its traditional operational hinterland in the south.

SCCL has been allotted New Patrapada coal block, the second in Odisha after the Naini coal block with barely 15 km separating the two assets.

SCCL has sought additional coal blocks to expand its mining operations across the country beyond its existing 48 mines predominantly in southern India to achieve its target of 100-million tons a year of coal production, up from 68-million tons a year at present.

SCCL is a 51:49 joint venture of the Telangana government in southern India and the central government.

The New Patrapada coal block allotted to the company through the preferential dispensation route permitted for government miners, is billed as one of the largest, with estimated coal reserves of 1.04-billion tons, and almost thrice the size of the Naini coal block already bagged by SCCL.

As per mining plans drawn up by the company, both the assets would be brought into production by 2021 in phases.

Meanwhile, in a significant development, SCCL would be able to resume operation of one of its opencast mine after the Supreme Court last week, set aside a ruling by National Green Tribunal (NGT) which had directed the miner to stop all operations at an opencast mine in Telangana.

The apex court allowed SCCL to resume operations of the mine as long as it adhered to the environmental clearances granted to the mine in 2016. NGT had ruled that blasting operations at the mine would affected local habitants. However, it was argued by SCCL that all mining operations, including blasting, would be conducted as per guidelines laid down in the environmental clearance. The resumption of operations of the opencast mine would enable the country’s second largest coal producer to achieve production target for 2019/20.

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General Moly receives final permit for Mt. Hope molybdenum project in Nevada GMO

2019-09-30 06:02:52 General Moly $0.20 -0.0016 (-0.81%) GMO 06:02 09/30/19 09/30 06:02 09/30/19 06:02

General Moly receives final permit for Mt. Hope molybdenum project in Nevada General Moly announced that it has received the final federal permit in the form of a Record of Decision from the Bureau of Land Management for the Mt. Hope Project on September 27, 2019. The Mt. Hope Project has now received all permits from the State of Nevada and the federal government to allow construction and operation of the proposed molybdenum mine. Receipt of the ROD marks completion of the National Environmental Policy Act process and approval of the Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement by the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Department of Interior for the Mt. Hope Project. General Moly owns an 80% interest in the world-class Mt. Hope molybdenum project in Nevada through the Eureka Moly LLC joint venture. POS-Minerals Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of POSCO, the Korean steel company, owns the remaining 20% interest. Engineering remains approximately 65% complete at the Mt. Hope moly project. Some preconstruction site work also was previously completed. A development decision to proceed with construction of the Mt. Hope Project requires approval from POS-M and the company's Board of Directors, following receipt of project financing.

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Brazil approves 14 firms to bid in massive November oil auction

Fourteen companies have been officially approved by Brazilian authorities to participate in an oil bidding round in November, in which total signing bonuses are expected to be the biggest so far, exceeding $25 billion, national oil regulator ANP said on Monday.

As widely expected, the companies participating include a broad swath of global oil majors.

In addition to Brazilian state-run oil firm Petroleo Brasileiro SA, or Petrobras, authorities have approved the Brazilian units of:


-Chevron Corp

-China National Oil and Gas Exploration and Development Co (CNODC), a unit of China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC)

-China National Offshore Oil Corp (CNOOC)

-Ecopetrol SA

-Equinor ASA

-Exxon Mobil Corp

-Galp Energia SGPS SA

-Petronas Dagangan Berhad

-Qatar Petroleum

-Royal Dutch Shell PLC

-Total SA

-Wintershall Dea GmbH

The so-called transfer-of-rights auction is scheduled for Nov. 6, and concerns a zone of Brazil’s southeastern coast. Petrobras has already done significant exploratory work in the zone, boosting the area’s value, as they are largely devoid of exploratory risk.

Another offshore oil bidding round - much smaller but still sizeable by historical standards - will be held in Brazil the following day.

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Canada regulator orders Enbridge to halt pipeline overhaul plan due to 'perception of abuse'

The Canada Energy Regulator on Friday stopped Enbridge Inc from auctioning the right to send crude oil through its Mainline pipeline system due to the “perception of abuse of Enbridge’s market power.”

Major producers in Canada, including Suncor Energy, have been protesting Enbridge’s plans to switch to longer-term contracts from monthly agreements.

They and smaller producers complain that Enbridge’s position as the dominant pipeline company in Canada, where oil producers have been forced to cut output due to a lack of shipping capacity, gave them too much power.

In a highly unusual decision, the regulator agreed, saying Enbridge will not be allowed to offer contracted space on the Mainline to shippers until the regulator approves of the terms. Typically the regulator approves or denies a pipeline tolling application after the bidding has finished.

The CER noted Enbridge’s control of much of the pipelines out of western Canada, the lack of alternatives for oil shippers and the “considerable opposition” to the open season.

“The Commission has concerns regarding the fairness of Enbridge’s open season process and the perception of abuse of Enbridge’s market power,” the CER said.

The nearly 3 million barrel-per-day Mainline is North America’s largest pipeline system and carries the bulk of Canadian crude exports to the United States.

A number of producers, including Canadian Natural Resources Ltd and Suncor, wrote to the CER in August, urging the regulator to intervene and protesting the conditions offered by Enbridge.

Jackie Forrest, director of research at the ARC Energy Institute, welcomed the “unprecedented” decision given the scale of producer opposition to Enbridge’s plan.

“These were very unique circumstances where you had producers who represented 2.7 million bpd of production very concerned that the proposal did not meet regulatory requirements for open access,” she said.

Calgary-based Enbridge negotiated with shippers for commitments on Mainline for 18 months before launching a two-month bidding period in August.

“Enbridge remains committed to moving ahead with contract carriage on the Mainline and has strong support for our offering. We will evaluate this decision and the next steps that we will take towards implementing contract carriage,” Enbridge spokesman Jesse Semko said in a statement.

Canadian producers Cenovus Energy and Imperial Oil, as well as some large U.S. refiners, spoke out in favor of the Mainline overhaul, arguing it would give more certainty on shipping capacity.

Canada holds the world’s third-largest crude reserves but years of regulatory delays and environmental opposition have stymied development of new export pipelines, contributing to falling capital investment and slowing growth in the oil sands.

This year the government of Alberta, Canada’s main oil-producing province, introduced production curtailments to ease congestion on pipelines.

Industry sources said the decision was a blow to Enbridge, but not entirely surprising given the scale of opposition to the Mainline overhaul.

“Back to the drawing board for them,” one trading source said.

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Saudi Aramco restored oil output to pre-attack level: trading unit chief

Saudi Aramco has restored full oil production and capacity to the levels they were at before attacks on its facilities on Sept. 14, the chief executive officer of its trading arm, Ibrahim Al-Buainain, said on Monday.

Oil output capacity was restored on Sept. 25, he told a conference in the United Arab Emirates’ city of Fujairah. Oil production was restored to its pre-attack level of about 9.7 million barrels per day or even “a little higher” to replenish inventories, he said.

Saudi Arabia pumped about 9.78 million bpd in August.

“By Sept. 25 we were able to restore all capacity that we had before the attacks,” Al-Buainain said.

The attacks targeted the Abqaiq and the Khurais plants, causing a spike in oil prices, fires and damage that halved the crude output of the world’s top oil exporter, by shutting down 5.7 million bpd of production.

Saudi Arabia has managed to maintain supplies to customers at levels before the attacks by drawing from its huge oil inventories and offering other crude grades from other fields, Saudi officials have said.

Aramco’s oil output capacity was restored to 11.3 million bpd, sources told Reuters last week.

Saudi officials have said Aramco will reach 12 million bpd of capacity by November.

Yemen’s Houthi group claimed responsibility for the attacks but a U.S. official said they originated from southwestern Iran and Riyadh blamed Tehran. Iran, which support the Houthis in Yemen’s war, has denied any involvement in the attacks.

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Teekay Tankers daily rates for oil tankers jump 50% over U.S. sanctions

Teekay Tankers said average daily rates for Aframax and Suezmax tankers have jumped 50% in the days following United States sanctions on two units of Chinese shipping giant COSCO.

Average rates for Aframax and Suezmax tankers since Sept. 25 when the sanctions were levied have hit $30,000 a day, up from $20,000, said Teekay spokesman Ryan Hamilton. On some Aframax routes the rates have run as high as $40,000 a day, he said.

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Can Value Investors Consider Continental Resources (CLR) Now?

On this front, Continental Resources has a trailing twelve months PE ratio of 11.8, as you can see in the chart below:

This level actually compares pretty favorably with the market at large, as the PE for the S&P 500 stands at about 18.34. If we focus on the long-term PE trend, Continental Resources’ current PE level puts it below its midpoint of 14.75 over the past five years. Moreover, the current level stands well below the highs for the stock, suggesting that it can be a solid entry point.

Further, the stock’s PE also compares favorably with the Zacks Oils-Energy sector’s trailing twelve months PE ratio, which stands at 13.59. At the very least, this indicates that the stock is relatively undervalued right now, compared to its peers.

We should also point out that Continental Resources has a forward PE ratio (price relative to this year’s earnings) of just 13.43, which is higher than the current level. So, it is fair to expect an increase in the company’s share price in the near term.

P/S Ratio

Another key metric to note is the Price/Sales ratio. This approach compares a given stock’s price to its total sales, where a lower reading is generally considered better. Some people like this metric more than other value-focused ones because it looks at sales, something that is far harder to manipulate with accounting tricks than earnings.

Right now, Continental Resources has a P/S ratio of about 2.42. This is a bit lower than the S&P 500 average, which comes in at 3.22x right now. Also, as we can see in the chart below, this is well below the highs for this stock in particular over the past few years.

If anything, this suggests some level of undervalued trading—at least compared to historical norms.

Broad Value Outlook

In aggregate, Continental Resources currently has a Value Score of A, putting it into the top 20% of all stocks we cover from this look. This makes Continental Resources a solid choice for value investors, and some of its other key metrics make this pretty clear too.

What About the Stock Overall?

Though Continental Resources might be a good choice for value investors, there are plenty of other factors to consider before investing in this name. In particular, it is worth noting that the company has a Growth Score of C and a Momentum Score of F. This gives CLR a Zacks VGM score — or its overarching fundamental grade — of B. (You can read more about the Zacks Style Scores here >>)

Meanwhile, the company’s recent earnings estimates have been dismal at best. The current year has seen one estimate go higher in the past sixty days compared to eleven lower, while the next year estimate has seen three up and eight down in the same time period.

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Mexico's Pemex seeks control of U.S. oil firm's billion-barrel find

When U.S. oil firm Talos Energy (TALO.N) found nearly a billion barrels off Mexico’s southern Gulf coast two years ago, it marked the first discovery by a foreign firm since the oil industry was nationalized eight decades earlier.

Now Mexico’s state-run oil firm Pemex wants to take over the lucrative project, according to two former Mexican energy officials and two company executives with knowledge of internal Pemex discussions.

The Pemex push to run drilling in the oilfield comes amid the ongoing drive by leftist President Andres Lopez Obrador to return more control of Mexico’s energy sector to its state oil firm. His predecessor, Enrique Pena Nieto, ended Pemex’s monopoly and started auctioning off oilfields to private companies in 2015.

Talos was the first to find oil, in a shallow-water field it named Zama after the Maya word for dawn. Wresting control of the project from the company now would strike a symbolic blow to Mexico’s biggest economic policy change in decades and could further chill investment by the world’s top energy firms, oil executives and industry experts told Reuters.

Pemex has a potential claim to control over Zama because it has drilling rights to an adjacent field. The oil deposit likely extends into Pemex territory – although the firm has yet to prove that by drilling. The two companies began talks last year about a merged project and will later negotiate how to split revenues and who gets operational control. If the talks deadlock, Lopez Obrador’s Energy Ministry would settle disputes and appoint one company to oversee drilling.

“If Pemex does end up operating it, that would not send a good signal to private investors,” said one executive from an oil major with several offshore projects in Mexico.

Neither Pemex nor the Energy Ministry responded to requests for comment. Lopez Obrador’s office did not respond to written questions.

The liberalization of Mexico’s energy sector has stalled since Lopez Obrador took office in December. The president last week heaped new criticism on his predecessor’s energy policy, calling it a “giveaway” of public resources to corporations.

Under Pena Nieto, from 2015 to 2018, Royal Dutch Shell (RDSa.L), ExxonMobil (XOM.N) and BP (BP.L) snapped up drilling rights at auctions. At the time, executives lauded Mexico for competitive investment terms that made drilling there as attractive as Brazil’s prolific deepwater acreage or the booming shale fields of Texas.

While Lopez Obrador’s government vows to respect existing contracts, it has indefinitely suspended further auctions and is instead offering private oilfield services firms more restrictive partnerships that give Pemex more control. The shift has made Mexico less attractive to oil firms as Brazil prepares another huge auction later this year and Guyana recently announced a series of offshore discoveries.

“The door is closed on newcomers in Mexico right now while it’s wide open in places like Brazil and Guyana,” said George Baker, the Houston-based publisher of Mexico Energy Intelligence.

Some firms are already packing up, including some of the original stakeholders with Talos in Zama. Sierra Oil & Gas sold its 40% stake in Zama, along with the rest of its assets - all of them in Mexico - to the company now known as Wintershall DEA. Premier Oil said last month that its 25% stake was for sale.

Premier said in a statement that it continues to see a “significant opportunity” in Mexico and that it remains committed to developing three other energy projects in the country.

Wintershall DEA, which absorbed Sierra, in a statement expressed confidence the government understood how “critical” it was to be fair in the negotiations over Zama.

The company added it had a long-term commitment to Mexico and was eager to participate in any future oil auctions.

One of the two industry sources who told Reuters of Pemex’s plans for Zama said Sierra sold in part because Lopez Obrador’s energy policies cast a “dark cloud” over the sector that made it hard to raise capital.


Energy Minister Rocio Nahle, who also serves as the chairwoman of the Pemex board, hinted in a news conference with Lopez Obrador last month that the government might steer the project to Pemex.

“We definitely have to talk to Pemex, to Talos - another company that’s there - to see who will be in charge of the operations, because Pemex has a big part of it,” she said.

If Pemex takes over, Talos would retain its 35% stake but give up operational control, undermining its attempt to establish itself as an international operator with its first project outside the United States.

Talos would also have to rely on Pemex to execute drilling efficiently and profitably. That is no sure bet given that Pemex - the world’s most indebted oil firm - has seen its production decline by half since 2004 as the company struggled with aging fields and underinvestment.

Earlier this month, Lopez Obrador’s finance ministry gave Pemex $5 billion to pay down debt, the latest in a series of subsidies. The government has so far failed to convince international investors that the bailouts will work or that it can finance ambitious plans to expand Pemex. In June, rating agency Fitch downgraded Pemex debt to junk status..

Pemex likely has a claim to about a third of the oil in the deposit that extends into the Zama field, Consultancy Wood Mackenzie wrote in an unpublished draft report reviewed by Reuters. But the firm’s efforts to prove its share by drilling have been delayed “multiple times.”

The Talos-led consortium, by contrast, has drilled four wells and spent $250 million. Talos Energy Chief Executive Tim Duncan said the partners could spend another $3.5 billion over the life of the contract.

The two companies have until September 2020 to conclude a preliminary negotiation over a merged project. Under Talos’ current contract, the Mexican government would get nearly 70% of net profits from Zama.

Talos CEO Duncan declined to comment on Pemex’s takeover plans or what he called confidential negotiations with the company. He said Talos was best placed to run the project, citing its progress so far and Pemex’s large portfolio of competing projects.

“We’re fully prepared to go execute this project, finish it, wrap it up and get it into production,” Duncan said in an interview.

Pemex is determined to operate Zama, said one of the industry sources with knowledge of Pemex’s plans. “For them, there is no other scenario,” the source said.


Last month, Lopez Obrador’s energy ministry laid the groundwork for a claim on Zama by requesting and receiving an “exceptional” lease renewal from Mexico’s oil regulator for Pemex’s next-door block, along with 63 others. Pemex needed the renewals because it had not discovered oil on the leases in the past five years. The renewal sidestepped a policy instituted by the previous government, which sought to force oil firms to explore their holdings or risk losing them.

Three of the regulator’s four commissioners backed the renewals, citing Lopez Obrador’s suspension of oil auctions. The dissenting vote came from Sergio Pimentel, one of the few Mexican officials who has publicly criticized Lopez Obrador’s energy policy.

“I think we are demanding too much of Pemex - much more than is desirable or logical,” Pimentel said.

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API data reportedly show a weekly decline of nearly 6 million barrels in U.S. crude stocks

The American Petroleum Institute reported late Tuesday that U.S. crude supplies fell by 5.9 million barrels for the week ended Sept. 27, according to sources. The API also reportedly showed a stockpile increase of 2.1 million barrels for gasoline, while distillate inventories fell by 1.7 million barrels.

Inventory data from the Energy Information Administration will be released Wednesday. The EIA data are expected to show crude inventories up by 1.3 million barrels last week, according to analysts polled by S&P Global Platts. They also forecast an increase of 308,000 barrels for gasoline, but distillate supplies are seen down by 2.2 million barrels.

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Key deadline passes in Petrobras wage talks without agreement

Brazilian state-run oil firm Petroleo Brasileiro SA has failed to reach a new labor agreement with the company’s main unions by a Sept. 30 deadline, Petrobras said on Tuesday.

In a securities filing, Petrobras, as the company is known, said the current contract had also expired, a development that could increase the likelihood of strikes.

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After the Saudi attack, are Russia and Saudi Arabia still pumping too much oil?

After the Saudi attack, are Russia and Saudi Arabia still pumping too much oil?

By Dina Khrennikova and Olga Tanas on 10/2/2019

MOSCOW (Bloomberg) - This year, the oil market has faced some of the worst supply disruptions in recent times and yet prices remain stuck in the $60s.

OPEC’s oil production tumbled the most in 16 years last month after the worst-ever attack on Saudi Arabia’s energy infrastructure temporarily halved its output. Earlier in the summer, Russia’s Druzhba contamination crisis forced it to make sharp output cuts and U.S. financial sanctions on Iran remain in force.

And yet, Brent crude has averaged around $66/bbl for most of 2019, far from a price which suggests the world faces an oil shortage. As Russian energy minister Alexander Novak and his newly-appointed Saudi counterpart Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman meet on Wednesday at a conference in Moscow, the world may be wondering whether they’re still pumping too much oil.

“Minister Novak and Prince Abdulaziz recognize they face considerable peril next year” as prices may continue their slide, said Bob McNally, president of Rapidan Energy Group. “Oil-demand growth is hitting the skids as macroeconomic, trade, and political risk drivers continue to intensify, from Brexit to impeachment through Persian Gulf conflict risk and the U.S.-China trade war,” he said.

Oil has just ended its worst quarter since late last year on demand risks, putting pressure on Saudi Arabia, which is heavily dependent on petrodollars and aims to start the initial public offering for its state crude giant Saudi Aramco this month. For Russia’s surplus-running budget, weaker oil is less of a problem, yet the country will need full coffers as it plans to increase spending in the next three years to revive its sluggish economy.

Novak said on Wednesday uncertainty over global crude demand and price volatility are making it difficult to forecast how the oil market will behave this winter in the northern hemisphere.

Market Reassurance

Meeting at Russian Energy Week, both countries’ energy ministers will likely focus on reassuring the market that the Saudi attacks have left global supply unscathed. They may also advocate for continued production cuts from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies, Joe McMonigle, Senior Energy Advisor at Hedgeye Risk Management LLC, said.

“I think they will want to plow ahead of keeping OPEC+ cuts in place and will start using concerns about the global economy and trade war to stay the course,” McMonigle said. “This gives an opportunity to provide some lift to prices, especially with the pending Aramco IPO.”

To be sure, Novak and Prince Abdulaziz will be careful when outlining the future of the cuts. As history has shown, “it’s a prerogative of leaders to take such decisions on strategic partnership,” said Ildar Davletshin, London-based energy analyst at Wood & Co.

In September, Russia’s average daily oil output still exceeded its OPEC+ target even after producers made deeper cuts from a month earlier. The country pumped about 11.25 MMbbl of crude and condensate last month, according to government data, meaning Russia produced 60,000 bpd more than its OPEC+ cap. Novak said on Wednesday that Russia was “aiming to comply” with the OPEC+ deal in October.

Not There Yet

It was Russian President Vladimir Putin, who announced the most recent extension to OPEC+ production cuts in late June after meeting the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman in Japan. His statement, made just two days before OPEC+ officially gathered to discuss future cooperation on output curbs, showed it was decisions made by Russia and Saudi which drove action across the whole group.

Putin is also making a keynote speech at the conference, although he’s unlikely to reveal whether Russia intends to commit to further cuts before the extension deadline, in March 2020. Putin said in June that oil at $60-$65/bbl suits Russia “just fine.”

Whatever efforts Russia and Saudi Arabia may make this week to reassure that they can balance the oil market, they may have to redouble them by the end of the year.

“When we get to December, the outlook for 2020 will seem more oversupplied than it does today,” McNally said. By then, the question will be “less whether Moscow and Riyadh will signal unity and resolve to keep a floor under oil prices next year, but instead whether their signaling and supply policies will be sufficient to keep pace with fast-shifting fundamentals.”

Related News ///


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Oil extending losses after surprise U.S. stockpile increase

Oil extending losses after surprise U.S. stockpile increase

By Catherine Ngai on 10/2/2019

NEW YORK (Bloomberg) - Oil extended losses and headed toward a two-month low after crude inventories in the world’s biggest economy swelled more than expected.

Futures fell as much as 2% on Wednesday in New York. U.S. oil stockpiles rose by 3.1 MMbbl last week, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The increase exceeded the median forecast from analysts and was bigger than any rise since May.

The U.S. benchmark crude has fallen about 16% from the peak reached on the first trading day after crippling aerial attacks damaged key Saudi Arabian oil installations. Speedy repairs by the Saudis dovetailed with signals of weakening global energy demand to undermine prices.

“The restoration of Saudi oil and demand destruction fears have the market in its grips today and today’s build in U.S. crude stocks doesn’t help that,” said Gene McGillian, manager of market research at Tradition Energy.

Meanwhile, domestic gasoline inventories dropped by 228,000 bbldespite forecasts for a 600,000 bbl increase.

West Texas Intermediate for November delivery fell $0.92 to $52.75 a barrel at 10:52 a.m. on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Brent for December settlement slipped $0.98 to $57.91 on the ICE Futures Europe Exchange. The global benchmark crude traded at a $5.33 premium to WTI for the same month.

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Rosneft issues Oil tender in Euros.

By Sherry Su and Jake Rudnitsky

(Bloomberg) -- Russia’s state oil giant Rosneft tendered to

sell a cargo of crude, asking would-be buyers to pay in euros

for the consignment, just weeks after doing the same for refined


The company is seeking to sell 100,000 tons of Urals crude

from the Baltic port of Primorsk, with delivery late this month,

according to a notice on its website. The default currency for

the transaction is the euro. Since late August, Rosneft has also

sought payment in euros for cargoes of marine diesel and fuel


Rosneft’s move toward the euro -- the U.S. dollar is the

traditional currency for oil transactions -- occurs amid a

flurry of American sanctions in recent months on entities in

Russia, Iran, China and Venezuela. Russia is one of the world’s

top three oil-producing nations and a major energy supplier to

Western Europe.

“This could be a step to reduce U.S. dollar exposure, which

makes sense for Russia, given the sanctions risk,” said Carsten

Fritsch, an analyst at Commerzbank AG.

The latest tender appears to be for an additional cargo in

a monthly loading program. Russia is increasing its crude

exports from both Primorsk and Ust-Luga, another Baltic Sea

port, after recovering from an oil-contamination crisis earlier

this year.

“I don’t know how deep the market would be, but wouldn’t be

surprised to see more of those tenders,” said Giovanni Staunovo,

an analyst at UBS Group AG.

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Japan delivered Marine Fuel 0.5% bunker premium hits record high on growing demand

The premium which delivered Marine Fuel 0.5% bunker commands over the Mean of Platts Singapore marine fuel 0.5% FOB cargo assessment spiked to $119.68/mt at the Asian close Tuesday, the highest to-date since Platts started assessing IMO-compliant Marine Fuel 0.5% bunker assessments at key global ports on July 1, 2019, S&P Global Platts data showed.

The delivered premium widened by $25.70/mt or 27.4% from Monday on the back of growing demand for the IMO-compliant bunker fuel as the industry speeds towards the January 1, 2020 start date to the changes in the IMO regulations.

The premium was last highest at $93.98/mt on Monday and was first assessed at $40.78/mt on July 1, Platts data showed.

Demand for low sulfur marine fuel is expected to further strengthen across key Asian ports starting this quarter as IMO 2020 nears, market sources said.

During the Platts Market on Close assessment process on Tuesday, Japanese fuel oil and bunker trader Mitsui and Co. Petroleum had bid for 1,300-1,500 mt of Marine Fuel 0.5% for delivery over October 6-8 at $573/mt.

The bid remained standing at the close of the MOC process. Platts had assessed the delivered 0.5% bunker grade at Japan at $573.25/mt Tuesday, up $13/mt day on day, Platts data showed.

Market activity in low sulfur marine fuel has been gradually emerging in recent weeks at Japan.

Mitsui and Co. Petroleum and Toyota Tsusho will start supplying 0.5% sulfur bunker fuels this month as demand for cleaner fuels accelerates, Platts had earlier reported.

"Our first LSFO delivery will be this week, latest on October 5. It will be delivered at Osaka/Kobe, West Japan. The volume is 300-400 mt," a company source at Mitsui told Platts this week.

Toyota Tsusho will also be supplying 0.5% sulfur bunker fuels at Japan from mid-October onwards.

While current demand for LSFO is mainly from major Japanese shipowners who had secured term contracts, spot market fundamentals were likely to remain robust, the sources said.

Platts began publishing Marine Fuel 0.5% bunker prices globally on July 1, 2019. This comes ahead of the planned introduction of new sulfur limits in marine fuels by the International Maritime Organization from January 1, 2020.

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Chevron's shale allies are its secret weapon in Exxon race

U.S. oil company Chevron Corp (CVX.N) is turning to joint ventures and drilling alliances in its bid to dominate the Permian Basin after abandoning a takeover that would have made it the leading producer in the world’s biggest shale field.

It is now in a race with Exxon Mobil (XOM.N) to be the first to pump a million barrels of shale oil a day from the field in the U.S. southwest, using a strategy that depends on a host of partners sharing their expertise and their output.

Chevron’s joint venture with Cimarex Energy (XEC.N), one of the few Permian operators that has been consistently profitable since late 2016, is well known.

But it also has dozens of other agreements with companies including Concho Resources (CXO.N), Devon Energy (DVN.N), EOG Resources (EOG.N), and even arch-rivals Exxon and Occidental Petroleum (OXY.N), people familiar with the matter told Reuters.

“We’re partners with all of the great operators,” said Scott Neal, a Chevron exploration executive. He declined to name any partners, besides Cimarex. Concho, Devon, EOG, Occidental and Exxon declined to comment.

Chevron’s deals, ranging from large-scale joint ventures to small deals where it has leased land to other operators, give it a share of the oil its partners produce.

They also provide data from thousands of wells stretching back years, allowing Chevron to hone drilling strategies. In return, partners get access to areas adjacent to their wells and pipelines, reducing their costs.

Shale drilling has helped the United States reverse decades of declines in output to become the world’s largest oil producer and all the major U.S. oil companies have jumped on the shale bandwagon to boost their own production.

Unlike conventional oil fields, however, shale wells decline quickly, producing most of their oil in the first few years, so fields such as the Permian Basin require constant, and costly, drilling just to keep production steady.

“If there’s a downside, that’s the downside,” said Jeff Gustavson, who oversees Chevron’s Permian operations. “You’re always having to put more in.”


At a site near Midland, Texas, know-how gleaned from Cimarex and other partners is helping Chevron drill a series of ultra-deep wells - named after the mythical three-headed hound Cerberus - to reach an oil-rich layer more than a mile underground.

The alliances and vast land holdings Chevron can tap allow it to drill longer wells than some rivals, giving it an edge as long wells generally pump more oil and save money.

Chevron said its Permian wells average nearly 9,000 feet (2,743 meters) this year, while consultancy Wood Mackenzie said the industry average is 8,500 feet. Next year, its wells will stretch almost 10,000 feet on average.

In one formation near Midland, Chevron’s peak average production rate runs at 760 barrels per day (bpd) for each well while rivals are producing at 705 bpd, according to IHS Markit.

Shale drilling combines horizontal wells with hydraulic fracturing, the process of pumping water, sand and chemicals at high pressure to crack rocks that hold oil and gas.

Those wells and partnerships in the Permian, the fastest growing shale field, are critical to Chevron’s future.

It missed the first phase of the shale boom early this decade but reversed course in 2014 when it drilled its first horizontal well in Permian and embarked on an investment spree to try to become the world’s largest shale oil producer.

It has been shedding assets in the North Sea, Africa and Asia and expects to sell up to another $10 billion worth of properties to focus on projects including the Permian, where it has controlled some of the best and cheapest acreage since the 1920s.

Those holdings helped lift Chevron’s oil and gas output to a record high in the second quarter. In the Permian, output leapt 56% from a year earlier to 421,000 bpd and Chevron’s goal is to pump 900,000 bpd from the oilfield by 2023.

Chevron’s Gustavson said its long-standing relationships provide it with “all of the data, all of the cost information” from wells across the basin. “It’s a huge advantage. Huge.”

Chevron has started fewer new Permian Basin wells this year than rival Exxon Mobil, which runs more drilling rigs. Both companies project they will produce around 1 million barrels per day in the field in the next five years.


Chevron is not the only energy company claiming a unique position in the Permian Basin.

Occidental outbid Chevron for Anadarko Petroleum in a takeover battle this year, spending $38 billion and vowing to use its technology to squeeze more oil from the deal which gave it a combined 3 million Permian acres.

Exxon, meanwhile, spent $6.6 billion two years ago to buy more Permian land and is now running nearly three times more rigs than Chevron in a race to reach its target of producing 1 million bpd of shale by 2024.

But Chevron has two key advantages: it holds 2.2 million Permian acres, second only to the Occidental-Anadarko trove, and it owns mineral rights on much of its land so it doesn’t pay the 20%-25% production royalties most rivals face.

Chevron’s Permian oil and gas output last quarter was second to Occidental’s 533,000 bpd, but rising faster. Exxon is in the top 10 with production of 274,000 bpd.

Chevron’s mineral rights reduce its breakeven, or the oil price it needs to make a profit, while other savings come from drilling ventures. Chevron operates 20 rigs, far fewer than the 56 Exxon operated in June and Occidental-Anadarko’s 27.

But Chevron estimates its partners contributed the equivalent of another seven to 10 rigs.

Cimarex struck a small deal with Chevron in 2009 to drill on its land and share data, and then broadened the agreement in 2013, said Michael DeShazer, Permian manager at Cimarex.

He said the two companies were able to learn faster, deploy faster and, by sharing resources, they could more easily invest in infrastructure such as pipelines, roads and electricity.

Shale output drops sharply the first year and declines 80% to 90% over two to three years, but Chevron has been able to slow the decrease.

In the formation near Midland, Chevron’s wells lost 52% of their output after the first 12 months compared with an average decline of 70% for rivals, according to IHS Markit. Output from Chevron’s wells in the first two years was also 40% higher.

While most shale firms have spent heavily but failed to deliver the returns demanded by investors, Chevron’s “slow and steady” approach to the Permian is welcomed by investor Matrix Asset Advisors, which holds 55,000 Chevron shares.

“They’ve got a game plan. They’re executing on the plan,” said Matrix President David Katz.

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SK Energy charters supertanker for record $10 million to ship U.S. crude to South Korea: sources

South Korea’s top refiner SK Energy chartered a supertanker to ship U.S. crude to South Korea in November for a record $10 million as freight rates surge after U.S. sanctions on a Chinese firm, sources familiar with the matter said on Wednesday.

The company fixed the Very Large Crude Carrier (VLCC) Maxim to load between Nov. 8-12, three shipping sources said. It was the highest-priced shipment from the U.S. Gulf Coast to Asia on record, based on data going back to about 2013, before a ban on U.S. crude exports was lifted, two of the sources said.

South Korea is one of the biggest buyers of U.S. crude this year, with U.S. shipments totaling 531,000 barrels per day (bpd) in July, up from 226,000 bpd in the same month last year, according to the latest available data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

SK could not immediately be reached for comment.

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Thai government invests in Map Ta Phut LNG terminal construction

Government of Thailand has decided to invest in the construction of Gulf MPT’s Map Ta Phut $1.3 billion gas terminal and port on the country’s east coast.

According to the Industrial Estate Authority of Thailand (IEAT), the government’s investment partnership with the Gulf MPT LNG Terminal Company will bring more investment to the industrial east and boost economic growth. The commercial operation of the project is scheduled to start by 2025.

Gulf MPT is a joint venture between a unit of Gulf Energy with a 70 percent stake and a unit of PTT with a 30 percent stake.

The Map Ta Phut project will include the design and construction of the port and an LNG terminal that will have an annual capacity of at least 5 million metric tons per year in the first phase and up to 10.8 million tons per year at a later stage.

IEAT said that the project is one of five mega infrastructure projects of the Eastern Economic Corridor.

According to a report by Reuters, other mega infrastructure projects include a high-speed train linking two of Bangkok’s international airports with U-Tapao airport in eastern Thailand, the expansion of U-Tapao airport, and the expansion of the Lam Chabang deep seaport.

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Alcoa’s Baie-Comeau Smelter in Québec Receives Certification From Aluminium Stewardship Initiative

PITTSBURGH--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Alcoa Corporation, a global leader in bauxite, alumina and aluminum, today announced that the Aluminium Stewardship Initiative (ASI) has certified the Company’s Baie-Comeau aluminum smelter in Québec, Canada.

The three-year certification from ASI represents additional recognition for Alcoa’s leadership in sustainability. Earlier this year, Alcoa announced ASI certifications for three locations that represent the full upstream aluminum value chain. The Company now has locations certified against ASI’s Performance Standard in three countries – Brazil, Canada and Spain. Also, Alcoa was recently named the Aluminum Industry Leader in the annual Dow Jones Sustainable Indices (DJSI).

“From mine to metal, Alcoa is recognized as a sustainability leader,” said Michelle O’Neill, Alcoa’s Senior Vice President of Government Affairs and Sustainability. “This latest ASI certification demonstrates our ongoing commitment to operate in a responsible manner while bringing long-lasting value to our stakeholders.”

ASI is a global sustainability certification program for the aluminum industry, representing both upstream producers and downstream manufacturers who use the metal in their products. The certification process includes independent, third-party auditors to verify responsible production, sourcing and stewardship as part of ASI’s standards.

“We congratulate Alcoa on their latest ASI Certification in Canada, joining previous certifications in Brazil and Spain that cover mining to casthouse,” said ASI’s Chief Executive Officer Fiona Solomon. “The ASI Certification of the Baie-Comeau facility shows their commitment to supporting a responsible aluminum value chain.”

About Alcoa

Alcoa (NYSE: AA) is a global industry leader in bauxite, alumina, and aluminum products, and is built on a foundation of strong values and operating excellence dating back more than 130 years to the world-changing discovery that made aluminum an affordable and vital part of modern life. Since developing the aluminum industry, and throughout our history, our talented Alcoans have followed on with breakthrough innovations and best practices that have led to efficiency, safety, sustainability, and stronger communities wherever we operate. Visit us online on, follow @Alcoa on Twitter, and on Facebook at

Dissemination of Company Information

Alcoa Corporation intends to make future announcements regarding company developments and financial performance through its website at

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Oil Sinks To Two-Month Low On String Of Bearish News

The oil market was rocked just weeks ago by a major attack on Saudi Oil infrastructure that saw 5.7 million bpd taken offline, but looking at oil prices, you’d never know it. Oil prices fell early on Thursday to their lowest level since early August as mounting evidence of a global economic slowdown and rising U.S. oil inventories more than offset all the price gains from last month’s attack on Saudi oil infrastructure.

As of 10:23 a.m. EDT on Thursday, WTI Crude was down 2.83 percent at US$51.15 and Brent Crude was trading down 2.27 percent at US$56.38.

Oil prices are now lower than they were just before the September 14 attacks on critical Saudi oil facilities, after the Kingdom was quick to reassure the market in the past weeks that no oil shipment would be skipped and production capacity would be restored. The market, however, turned decisively bearish this week with a string of economic data and forecasts showing that global economic growth is slowing down.

“We see the global economy going through a gradual, synchronized slowdown,” David Lipton, First Deputy Managing Director at the International Monetary Fund (IMF), said on Tuesday.

Also on Tuesday, the World Trade Organization (WTO) slashed its trade growth forecasts for 2019 and 2020, citing “escalating trade tensions and a slowing global economy” and macroeconomic risks “firmly tilted to the downside.”

On Wednesday came the weekly inventory report from the Energy Information Administration, which showed an inventory build of 3.1 million barrels for the week to September 27, more than analyst expectations for a relatively modest build of 1.57 million barrels, and contrary to the American Petroleum Institute (API) estimate of a large crude oil inventory draw of 5.92 million barrels.

“The oil market continues to grind lower, with ICE Brent now trading well below US$58/bbl- which is 4.5% below where the market was trading prior to the Saudi attack. Negative macro data this week, with the US ISM manufacturing report falling to a 10-year low, has not helped,” Warren Patterson, ING’s Head of Commodities Strategy and Senior Commodities Strategist Wenyu Yao, said on Thursday.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for

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Is Libya’s Oil Output Set For A Steep Drop?

Libya’s National Oil Corporation has warned that the country’s crude oil production could drop sharply over the next nine months if the government in Tripoli does not release funds already approved for disbursement to NOC.

Chinese Xinhua news agency quoted a statement by NOC’s chairman Mustafa Sanalla that said, "If the corporation's allocations are not released without delay, Libyan oil production will be hundreds of thousands of barrels per day lower than it should be. That will have an extremely negative effect on national income."

Libya’s oil industry has had more than its fair share of problems, from pipeline and field blockades and sabotages that have been causing production outages on a pretty regular basis to political trouble.

The latest in this respect was the formation of a parallel board of directors for a subsidiary of NOC, Brega Petroleum Marketing Company (BPMC), earlier this year.

BPMC, which is based in eastern Libya, has seen some board members break away and accuse parent company NOC of deliberately cutting jet fuel and kerosene supply to the eastern part of the country, controlled by eastern strongman General Khalifa Haftar.

At the time, NOC’s Sanalla slammed the move as an attempt “to serve narrow interests and foreign agendas,” and added “The real motive behind this attempt is to set up a new illegitimate entity for the illegal export of oil from Libya.”

Despite these dire straits, NOC has big plans for the future. At the moment, the North African country’s production is hovering around the 1-million-bpd mark, which is in itself an achievement given the difficult security situation and the constant risk of yet another field outage or pipeline blockade as we have seen in the past three years.

Even so, according to an IHS Markit analyst, Libya could boost its oil production to as much as 2 million bpd. NOC is already talking to foreign companies that might be willing to return to the country and invest in more production.

By Irina Slav for

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IMO-compliant fuel builds in Singapore floating storage

Singapore stockpiles of low sulfur marine fuels held in floating storage are swelling ahead of a 2020 global deadline for rules that are said to mark the shipping industry’s biggest fuel transition since it moved from burning coal to oil.

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has banned ships from using marine fuels, or bunkers, with a sulfur content exceeding 0.5% from Jan. 1, 2020 - compared with a cap of 3.5% now - unless they are equipped with so-called “scrubbers” to clean sulfur from exhaust emissions.

Concerns of supply shortages as the new rules kick in have eased as the amount of low-sulfur fuel oil (LSFO) and components to produce it that are being held in tankers around Singapore - by far the world’s largest bunkering hub - have risen steadily over the past few months.

“The LSFO stock-build in these floating storage (tanks) eases the transition into 2020, and shows that it is not going to be as catastrophic as some previously thought,” said Serena Huang, senior market analyst at oil analytics firm Vortexa.

About 4 million tonnes of LSFO are being stored on board 18 very large crude carriers (VLCCs) around Singapore, according to Vortexa’s latest assessments, up around 14% from industry estimates for IMO-compliant LSFO and components being held in tankers in July.

Taking into account Malaysian port areas, including Linggi about 200 km (125 miles) northwest of Singapore in the Malacca Strait, estimates of LSFO stockpiles rise further.

Analysts for Refinitiv in Singapore said on Thursday that there are about 7 million tonnes of LSFO and related blendstocks in floating storage in the city-state and neighboring Malaysia, with another 2 million tonnes of fuel fitting the new specifications in landed storage.

Adding to regional supplies, ultra-large crude carrier (ULCC) Oceania - one of the world’s largest super tankers - arrived at Linggi this week filled with about 420,000 tonnes of LSFO and components, according to Refinitiv ship tracking data.

Refiners around the world, from Brazil to India and across East Asia, are also ramping up production of LSFO ahead of the 2020 deadline to meet the expected spike in demand as global shippers transition away from higher sulfur fuels.

“Concerns within the industry over the stability of (LSFO) have abated considerably, opening the door to much more rapid adoption of (LSFO) than we previously thought,” said research consultancy Energy Aspects in a note issued on Wednesday.

Energy Aspects as a result revised its demand estimate for the fuel to 1.5 million barrels per day (bpd), up by 50% from its forecast in 2018.

But while suppliers have stockpiled inventories of IMO-compliant fuels for months, other industry participants remain on alert over issues such as availability and how some of the new LSFO blends will perform in ship engines and holding tanks.

“I still anticipate mild chaos,” said a Singapore-based marine fuels trader who declined to be identified as he is unauthorized to speak to the media.

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Saudi Arabia increases Asia selling price of its Arab light crude for Nov

Saudi Arabia has set its November Arab light crude oil official selling price to Asia at a premium of $3 to the Oman/Dubai average, up 70 cents a barrel from October, according to a statement from state oil company Aramco on Thursday.

Aramco lowered its selling price for Arab light crude oil to Northwestern Europe to a discount of $2.85 a barrel to ICE Brent settlement, down $1.60 a barrel from the previous month.

Saudi Arabia kept its November Arab light crude oil official selling price to the United States at plus $2.95 versus ASCI, unchanged from October.

Top oil exporter Saudi Arabia was expected to hike its prices for all crude grades it sells to Asia in November after an attack on its oil facilities led to a spike in Middle East benchmarks last month, industry sources said.

The strike against key Saudi oil processing facilities on Sept. 14 caused the kingdom’s output of Arab Light and Arab Extra Light to fall by half, or 5.7 million barrels per day.

The disruption forced state oil company Saudi Aramco to draw down inventories, switch grades, delay loadings and cut domestic refinery throughput to meet supply commitments to customers.

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Acknowledging demand risks, OPEC+ ministers maintain production strategy

As crude prices sink again, completely erasing the surge caused by attacks on Saudi Arabia, OPEC+ ministers acknowledged the growing risks to oil demand but gave no indication of a change in strategy.

“Of course, demand is affected by the status of the global economy, and the economy is slowing down,” Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said in Moscow. “There are no crisis events that call for an emergency meeting.”

Less than three weeks after missile and drone strikes on Saudi Arabia’s main oil facility caused a record price spike, crude has slipped below $60 again in London. The kingdom has now stabilized output back at pre-attack levels and investors are once again turning their focus to signs of an economic slowdown.

Just these last few days have brought a surprise increase in America’s crude stockpiles, signs of stagnation in the euro-area economy and slowing growth in U.S. payrolls.

Recessionary Forces

“There are some concerns about recessionary forces,” said Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz Bin Salman, who was appearing alongside Novak at the Russian Energy Week conference in Moscow. “There is a gloomy picture that has been drawn.”

However, the minister added that many assumptions about the economy were too pessimistic.

“There are things that are real, and things that are perceived. We are driven by negative expectations,” Prince Abdulaziz said. “On the demand side, yes it’s been lower, but people need to understand that supply also may become lower” than current forecasts.

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies, collectively known as OPEC+, are scheduled to meet again in the first week of December. Their current agreement for production cuts of 1.2 MMbpd expires at the end of March, and the group may come under pressure to extend or deepen those curbs if the outlook for oil demand worsens.

“The market is well balanced now as far as demand and supply are concerned,” said Novak. “We are monitoring the situation” and if circumstances change “there are all the necessary tools available,” he said.

The International Energy Agency, which advises developed economies on energy policy, currently sees global demand expanding by 1.1 MMbpd this year and 1.3 million in 2020, well below the anticipated increase in supply. The IEA’s consumption estimates may be revised even lower, Executive Director Fatih Birol said this week.

The outlook for oil demand in 2020 will be “very challenging,” Nigerian Oil Minister Timipre Sylva said at the same event in Moscow. The group may discuss the future of its production cuts in December, he said.

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Venezuela's PDVSA, China's CNPC halt oil blending over high stocks: sources

Venezuela’s state-run PDVSA and China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) this week halted oil blending at their joint venture, Petrosinovensa, because of an accumulation of crude stocks arising from U.S. sanctions on the OPEC-member nation, four people familiar with the matter said.

Venezuela reshuffled oil output in June to focus on producing Merey heavy crude, a blend of heavy and light oil most preferred by Asian refiners, hoping to secure exports. PDVSA lost its largest U.S. customers after its buyers were banned by Washington from dealing with PDVSA, controlled by President Nicolas Maduro.

Petrosinovensa and Petropiar were ordered to produce as much Merey as possible for Asian customers. But in August CNPC suspended purchases of Venezuelan oil due to the U.S. measures, adding to an accumulation of inventories that has forced PDVSA to cut back output.

“Petrosinovensa’s blending facilities have been halted as inventories reached their maximum level. They have been unable to market the oil,” one of the sources said.

Petrosinovensa was the only project blending oil in Venezuela after another joint venture, Petropiar, halted operations earlier this year for the same reason.

The country’s total crude inventories climbed to 38.8 million barrels at the end of September, almost 3 million barrels over the level reached a month earlier, according to data intelligence firm Kpler.

U.S President Donald Trump’s administration has imposed several rounds of sanctions on Venezuela this year to increase pressure to oust Maduro, whose 2018 re-election was considered a sham by most Western countries.

Petrosinovensa produced 72,000 barrels per day (bpd) of Merey heavy crude in September, versus a planned 110,000 bpd. Petropiar stopped blending in mid-September, according to PDVSA internal documents seen by Reuters.

PDVSA and CNPC also suspended expansion activity at one of Petrosinovensa’s two blending production facilities, and workers there were ordered to return home, two of the people added.

Venezuela’s production fell to around 650,000 bpd in September, according to independent estimates. But oil exports increased slightly to 845,000 bpd that month as a result of larger shipments to Cuba and Europe.

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Oil and Gas

Schlumberger and TIBCO collaborate to provide advanced analytics in the DELFI environment

Schlumberger and TIBCO collaborate to provide advanced analytics in the DELFI environment


LONDON - Schlumberger announced the integration of industry-leading TIBCO Spotfire and TIBCO Data Virtualization technologies into the DELFI cognitive E&P environment. The collaboration will augment Schlumberger domain science applications with new analytics capabilities, significantly expanding DELFI environment user access to intuitive data virtualization tools and analytical workflows.

Schlumberger and TIBCO will leverage both organizations’ ongoing investments in digital innovation by working together on the joint development of descriptive and advanced analytics to deliver powerful new insights into an ever-expanding volume of E&P data.

“Our collaboration with TIBCO is an important development in our commitment to embrace leading ideas and digital technologies. By combining advanced analytics with the deep scientific knowledge and expertise available in the DELFI environment, we’re enriching our petrotechnical platforms with powerful solutions available in the cloud, to enhance our customers’ ability to drive operational performance,” said Trygve Randen, president, Software Integrated Solutions, Schlumberger.

Dan Streetman, chief executive officer, TIBCO, commented, “Every organization now has the opportunity to make better decisions and take faster, smarter actions. Schlumberger and TIBCO are focused on helping our customers achieve breakthrough results through our robust partnership and integrated technologies. Bringing our data management and analytics capabilities to the DELFI environment will improve the speed of decision-making and foster even greater innovation in every aspect of E&P.”

The TIBCO technologies will form part of the DELFI environment, which includes the Schlumberger E&P application portfolio of market-leading petrotechnical platforms and cloud-native solutions including the DrillPlan coherent well construction planning solution, FDPlan agile field development planning solution and ProdOps tuned production operations solution. Integrating leading analytics capabilities into the DELFI environment is an important step that will help improve decision making and foster greater innovation in E&P.

Related News ///


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Erdogan says Turkey will continue oil, natural gas trade with Iran: NTV

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday it was impossible for Turkey to stop buying oil and natural gas from Iran, despite the threat of U.S. sanctions, and added that trade between the two countries would continue, according to broadcaster NTV.

Speaking to reporters on his return flight from the United Nations General Assembly in New York, Erdogan said Turkey was not afraid of possible U.S. sanctions over its trade with Iran, adding that Ankara did not want to sever its cooperation with Tehran.

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Malaysian PM Mahathir says mulling listing of Petronas' exploration unit - Bernama

Malaysian PM Mahathir says mulling listing of Petronas' exploration unit - Bernama

Malaysia is considering listing Petronas Carigali, the exploration and production arm of state energy company Petronas, state news agency Bernama reported on Friday citing Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad.

Mahathir has previously said that the government was looking to sell state assets to reduce debt.

“We may sell off the shares of the (Petronas) subsidiaries because that will not affect Petronas that much. One of them is Carigali but there are also a few others,” Mahathir said in a dialogue session in New York, according to Bernama.

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U.S. drillers cut oil rigs for record 10 straight months -Baker Hughes

U.S. energy firms reduced the number of oil rigs this week and for a record 10th month in a row as producers follow through on plans to cut spending on new drilling this year.

Drillers cut six oil rigs in the week to Sept. 27, bringing the total count down to 713, the lowest since May 2017, General Electric Co’s Baker Hughes energy services firm said in its closely followed report on Friday. RIG-OL-USA-BHI

In the same week a year ago, there were 863 active rigs.

The rig count fell 29 in September, and 80 during the third quarter, the biggest quarterly decline since the first quarter of 2016.

The oil rig count, an early indicator of future output, has declined over a record 10 months as independent exploration and production companies cut spending on new drilling as they focus more on earnings growth instead of increased output.

That reduction in activity showed up in an energy survey released on Wednesday by the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.

Although oil production rose, service firms reported declines in activity, a sign that operators have figured out how to pull more oil from the ground with fewer rigs. Overall, the outlook from 55 oilfield services executives surveyed was negative.

U.S. oil output from seven major shale formations is expected to rise by 74,000 barrels per day (bpd) in October to a record high 8.843 million bpd, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said in its monthly drilling productivity report on Monday.

U.S. crude futures traded below $56 per barrel on Friday, putting the contract on track for its biggest weekly loss since mid July on a faster-than-expected recovery in Saudi output and concerns about global demand amid slowing Chinese economic growth.

Looking ahead, U.S. crude futures were trading under $56 a barrel for the balance of 2019 and $53 in calendar 2020.

U.S. financial services firm Cowen & Co this week said that projections from the exploration and production (E&P) companies it tracks point to a 5% decline in capital expenditures for drilling and completions in 2019 versus 2018.

Cowen said independent producers expect to spend about 11% less in 2019, while major oil companies plan to spend about 16% more.

In total, Cowen said all of the E&P companies it tracks that have reported plan to spend about $80.5 billion in 2019 versus $84.6 billion in 2018.

Year-to-date, the total number of oil and gas rigs active in the United States has averaged 984. Most rigs produce both oil and gas.

Analysts at Simmons & Co, energy specialists at U.S. investment bank Piper Jaffray, forecast the average combined oil and gas rig count will slide from a four-year high of 1,032 in 2018 to 951 in 2019 and 906 in 2020 before rising to 957 in 2021.

That is a reduction from Simmons last forecast in late July of 970 in 2019 and 955 in 2020 and 997 in 2021.

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Mozambique Sees $880 Million Tax Windfall From Occidental Deal

Mozambique expects to get $880 million in capital gains tax from Occidental Petroleum Corp.’s deal to sell its Africa assets, which it acquired as part of he Anadarko merger, to Total SA.

Mozambique expects to get $880 million in capital gains tax from Occidental Petroleum Corp.’s deal to sell its Africa assets to Total SA, the presidency said in a statement.

The nation, already cashing in on a liquefied natural gas boom even before it starts exporting the fuel in 2023, is home to a $23 billion project that Anadarko Petroleum Corp. finalized in June. Occidental had the month before agreed to buy the company and offload the African projects that came with it to Total for $8.8 billion.

The windfall will be welcome to Mozambique, which will hold general elections on Oct. 15. The world’s seventh-poorest nation by GDP per capita, according to World Bank data, is struggling to recover from two powerful tropical cyclones that struck it in quick succession earlier this year. Rebuilding will cost about $3.2 billion.

The government is still trying to climb out of debt default after a $2 billion loan scandal erupted in 2016, prompting the International Monetary Fund and donor countries to freeze financing.

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Most of Europe to see above-normal temperatures in Q4: Weather Company

The majority of Europe will see above-normal temperatures through the fourth quarter of 2019, according to the latest forecastfrom the Weather Company, which will likely add to the bearish sentiment for European gas and power markets.

The closely watched guidance from the Weather Company (formerly WSI) published late Thursday is for temperatures to be "consistently warm across most of Europe" in October-December.

"For now, we have focused the more intense cold risks in January and February, with milder temperatures in general for November and December," Weather Company chief meteorologist Todd Crawford said.

With the start of the winter season due on October 1, European gas storage stocks are filled almost to 100% capacity, LNG deliveries into Europe are expected to increase from November and there is no expected let-up in imports from Russia and Norway.

Analysts at Bank of America Merrill Lynch see mild starts to the winter across the US, Europe and northeast Asia as having a major impact on gas prices in Q4.

"For better or worse, global gas markets are more connected than ever before," they said. "A mild winter across the northern hemisphere or a worsening macro backdrop could be catastrophic for gas in all regions."


The impact of the weather on gas demand cannot be underestimated, with the wild swing in consumption in March 2018 in Europe triggered by the Beast from the East weather system still fresh in people's minds.

Gas demand in northwest Europe has witnessed 16 Bcm swings over the past five winters, according to S&P Global Platts Analytics, so the prevailing weather conditions will play a key role in how the system balances.

A warm start to most of Europe would likely keep a lid on any demand-driven price spikes through Q4.

In its October-December forecast, the Weather Company also sees higher wind than normal across northern Europe, including the UK and Germany.

However, wind is expected at below normal levels in across southern Europe and France, it said.

Strong wind power generation reduces the need for CCGT gas demand and other flexible power generation, sending bearish signalsto the power market.



Temperature                       October                   November                    December

UK/Scandinavia                  Below                         Above                           Above

Germany                             Above                        Above                           Above

Iberia/France/Alps              Above                         Above                           Above

Southeast Europe               Above                        Above                           Above


UK/Scandinavia                 Above                         Above                           Above

Germany                            Above                         Above                           Above

Iberia/France/Alps              Below                         Above                           Below

Southeast Europe               Below                        Below                           Below

Source: The Weather Company

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Essar Steel India seeks 12 LNG cargoes for 2020 delivery -sources

Essar Steel India has issued a tender for 12 liquefied natural gas (LNG) cargoes for 2020 delivery, after previous tender was cancelled, two market sources said on Friday.

The company held a similar tender in August but the sources said they believed it did not award it. Essar previously denied it cancelled the tender.

It did not respond to a Reuters request for comment on the current tender which closes on Sept. 28.

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More LNG!

Excelerate gets notice to proceed with Philippine LNG project

Texas-based Excelerate Energy received the Notice to Proceed (NTP) from the Philippine Department of Energy (DOE) to develop a floating liquefied natural gas (LNG) import terminal in the Bay of Batangas.

MISC, Mitsubishi and NYK to co-own LNG newbuild pair

Malaysian LNG shipping giant MISC, a unit of Petronas, said it has signed a deal with Mitsubishi Corporation and Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha (NYK) to co-own two newbuild LNG vessels.

MOL names LNG carrier for Yamal project

Mitsui O.S.K. Lines held a naming ceremony for a conventional LNG carrier, jointly ordered by MOL and China COSCO Shipping Corporation, was held at Hudong-Zhonghua Shipbuilding.

NYK orders ‘world’s largest’ LNG fueled car carrier

Japanese shipping giant Nippon Yusen Kaisha (NYK) has placed an order for the world largest pure car and truck carrier (PCTC) fueled by liquefied natural gas.

Annova LNG requests swift FERC project approval

Annova LNG filed a request with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission seeking prompt issuance of an order to site, build and operate an LNG export facility on the Brownsville Ship Channel in Cameron County, Texas.

LNG World News Staff

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G S Caltex India Pvt Ltd images in Andheri East, Mumbai

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PetroChina Discovers Shale Gas Reserves in the Sichuan Basin

This largest integrated oil company in China has explored additional shale gas reserves at two new blocks in southwest China’s Sichuan Basin. The blocks, namely Changning-Weiyuan and Taiyang consist of a total 740.97 billion cubic meters of shale gas in the reserves. PetroChina intends to extract 7.7 billion cubic meters of shale gas this year while expanding its entire output to nearly 10 billion cubic meters shortly.

The company, which is China’s state-run energy giant, is raising its expenditure on domestic oil and gas drilling to a multi-year high in 2019. The drilling and exploration segment spending is expected to be RMB 228,200 million and will be mainly concentrated on the major basins, such as Sichuan, Erdos, Tarim, Bohai Bay and Songliao Basins.  

In addition to shale gas reserves in the Sichuan Basin, PetroChina — a subsidiary of the China National Petroleum Corporation — has discovered a major oil field called Qingcheng in northwest China’s Ordos Basin with reserves of more than 1 billion tonnes. The total oil production in the current year is estimated to be 6,40,000 tons while the annual production is projected to hit almost 3 million tons.

NYSE and AMEX data is at least 20 minutes delayed. NASDAQ data is at least 15 minutes delayed.

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Nano One Materials advancing new battery project with fresh round of funding from Sustainable Development Technology Canada

The funds will support the company’s Demonstration Pilot Plant project and the recently launched Scaling Advanced Battery Materials project

The company received its final payment of nearly C$1.2 million from Sustainable Development Technology Canada

Corp ( ) (OTCMKTS:NNOMF) received its final payment of nearly C$1.2 million from Sustainable Development Technology Canada for its lithium-ion battery cathode materials projects.

The funds will go towards supporting the Vancouver-based clean technology company’s Demonstration Pilot Plant project and the recently launched Scaling Advanced Battery Materials project.

Nano One told shareholders on Monday that it has satisfied all commitments and reporting requirements on the Demonstration Pilot Plant project, which was completed in March.

The firm also said that Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC), a governmental program, has released the 10% holdback portion of its contribution, totaling around C$208,000.

Nano One was approved in May 2019 for an additional C$5 million from SDTC for its Scaling Advanced Battery Materials project. The company recently entered a funding agreement with SDTC which sees Nano One receive an initial payment of nearly C$974,000.

The new round of support from SDTC extends and leverages the success Nano One achieved during its demonstration pilot project, according to Dan Blondal, Nano One’s CEO.

The first contribution strengthens Nano One’s financial position, the first of five such installments from SDTC over the next three years, Blondal told shareholders on Monday.

“The goals are to expand our laboratory, pilot plant and staffing to support the advancement of next generation lithium ion battery cathode materials, used in electric vehicles and renewable energy storage,” Blondal said in a statement.

The upcoming funding round will support activities on various cathode materials initiatives with consortium partners Volkswagen, Pulead Technology and Saint-Gobain, including detailed supply chain validation, process optimization and plant design for the full-scale production of Lithium Iron Phosphate (LFP).

Nano One aims to demonstrate improved durability and production of high energy density lithium nickel manganese cobalt oxides (NMC).

Proceeds from SDTC funding are non-dilutive, non-repayable and will be awarded in five installments and dispersed at the beginning of four sequential project phases with a 10% holdback awarded upon completion of the project, according to Nano One.

Blondal said the firm is “proud” to be a recipient of SDTC support, telling shareholders: “It validates our unique approach and provides valuable leverage to investors and our strategic partners.”

Nano One has developed patented technology and pilot scale demonstration for the low-cost production of high-performance lithium-ion battery cathode materials used in electric vehicles, energy storage and consumer electronics.

Contact Angela at [email protected]

Follow her on Twitter @AHarmantas

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Downhole valve brings benefits for electric submersible pump deployments

Offshore staff

ABERDEEN, UK – Pragma has developed a downhole safety valve, designed to provide improved well control for cable-deployed electric submersible pumps (ESPs) retrofitted to production wells.

An API 14A-qualified subsurface safety valve (SSSV) is a legal requirement for producing wells in many regions, the company said.

Typically, these devices employ a flapper style mechanism and are incorporated in the production tubing during completion. However, when an ESP is retrofitted to a well, its surface control lines run through the inside of the production tubing, which obstructs the SSSVs and necessitating an additional safety valve.

Normally a rig would be mobilized to deploy the valve and then the ESP in separate runs. But a cable deployment provides significant cost and efficiency savings, Pragma said.

The ESP safety valve is said to be compact, integrated within the lower portion of the ESP assembly, and deployed and retrieved through the production tubing in the same run as the ESP.

According to Pragma, it is the sole valve available that offers wellbore closure below the ESP control lines.

The valve is designed to fail-safe close when the ESP is switched off and can be opened and closed as many times as needed.

It can be deployed for artificial lift systems such as capillary strings, gas lift velocity strings, progressive cavity pump and jet pump systems. A high-temperature version is also available.

Matt Manning, Pragma Technology Manager, said: “The technology has been developed in-house and we are conducting prototype testing, with field trials and API 14A certification planned later this year.”


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Is The Permian Natural Gas Price Rally Real?

After months of severe natural gas pipeline constraints, Permian producers and shippers are reveling in the relief of new takeaway capacity. Kinder Morgan’s Gulf Coast Express (GCX) Pipeline, which began flowing initial volumes in mid-August, last week began full commercial service on its 2-Bcf/d greenfield route from the Permian to South Texas. Actual volumes on GCX are hard to come by, but all indications are that flows are ramping to near capacity. That surge in Permian outflows in recent weeks has propelled natural gas prices at the regional benchmark Waha Hub — which traded as low as $5.00/MMBtu below zero earlier this year and fell into negative territory as recently as August 8 — to nearly $2/MMBtu, levels not seen at the hub since last winter. However, with the sting from negative prices only now just fading, many in the market are wondering if this rally is here to stay or just a temporary reprieve. Today, we look at the latest developments in the Permian natural gas market.

Permian gas prices have been fun to follow, if not trade, this year, and have provided the fodder for many an RBN blog of late. We covered the dramatic unraveling of Permian gas prices to below zero in Don’t Dream It’s Over, and then, more recently, we looked at the budding rise in Permian gas prices with the initial start of GCX in Higher Ground. Now, with GCX entering full service, it looks like prices have really turned the corner, at least for a little while. As an intrastate pipeline — entirely situated within Texas state lines — GCX isn’t required to post daily flow data like federally regulated interstate pipelines do. But comments from the company suggest the pipe was flowing close to 1 Bcf/d a couple of weeks ago, and industry chatter since then suggests that it has continued to ramp up and is perhaps now close to its capacity of 2 Bcf/d. Kinder Morgan also confirmed on September 24 that the pipeline is now fully operational. The incremental takeaway capacity from GCX has almost instantaneously eased what had become crippling transportation constraints for moving gas supply out of the Permian. That, in turn, has allowed regional gas prices to soar, at least on a relative basis compared to where they were in the summer, providing much-needed relief to Permian producers and their likely exhausted gas marketers.

Figure 1 charts the daily average price at the region’s main gas hub, Waha. If you’re not familiar with the hub or need a refresher, you might reference our series on it from the summer of 2017. Also, note that all the historical price date in today’s charts have been provided to us by our good friends at Natural Gas Intelligence (NGI). As you can see, Waha prices have been on a steady trend upward since early August, after falling into the abyss in April and then dipping below zero again a few times over the summer. The good news — for  producers at least — is that Waha has remained above zero now on a sustained basis for the first time in months. Further, prices over the last couple of weeks have been holding steady above $1.50/MMBtu. While that might not sound all that impressive at first, consider that many Permian Basin operators realized essentially zero dollars per MMBtu in the second quarter of this year. For them, $1.50/MMBtu represents a nice addition to third-quarter cash flow and comes at a time when the industry is looking to become as efficient as possible. Consider this: if the entire 10 Bcf/d of Permian natural gas benefitted from the same uplift in price, simple math says that’s about $15 million per day in incremental industry-wide revenue over last quarter. If prices can hold at this level through the end of the year, the additional revenue adds up to almost $1.5 billion. That’s nothing to sneeze at and certainly benefits producers in areas of the basin where wells produce a higher percentage of natural gas, such as Apache Corp.’s Alpine High field. Notably, production at that field had been curtailed since April due to the low prices and just last week has ramped back up to levels last seen in March. That ramp-up is being driven by the fact that Apache holds firm transportation capacity on GCX. In fact, Permian natural gas production overall appears to have increased by almost 0.5 Bcf/d on September 25, the day after Kinder announced the official start-up of GCX.

Figure 1. Waha Daily Average Price. Source: Natural Gas Intelligence (NGI)

So, the outright Permian gas price has been staging quite a rally of late. The same can also be said for Permian gas basis prices. Basis is calculated as the difference between a particular price location, in this case Waha, and the national benchmark Henry Hub in Louisiana. Figure 2 plots Waha basis, which had dipped to staggeringly low levels — as much as $8.00/MMBtu below Henry Hub — earlier this year, but has shown steady improvement since, now sitting at about $1.00/MMBtu under the benchmark. In fact, Permian gas basis prices are now on par with those in the Midcontinent region, where a lot of Permian gas has been flowing over the last few months. [See our Omaha blog for more on Permian to Midcontinent (Midcon) flow patterns.] With Waha now trading within just a few cents of the Midcon markets, Permian outflows north to the region have started to drop and are being diverted instead to GCX for delivery into South Texas. (For more detail on Waha gas flows, you might reference our weekly report on the subject, the NATGAS Permian.) And while Waha basis still lags well behind South Texas, where gas is trading just 5-10 cents under Henry Hub, it’s recently pulled ahead of prices in Appalachia, where the major hubs have dipped to as much as $1.00/MMBtu below Henry Hub. Not bad, considering that gas is generally just a byproduct of crude oil-focused drilling in the Permian, versus being the primary target in many areas of the Northeast.

Figure 2. Waha Daily Basis Price. Source: NGI

With the start-up of GCX (red line in Figure 3) and the corresponding price rally, many market participants are trying to determine just what it all means for future gas prices in the Permian Basin. But, beyond the quite predictable price improvement over the short-term, drawing definitive conclusions is going to be difficult. There are many reasons for this, but the main issue stems from the fact that only one company, GCX operator Kinder Morgan, really knows how much is flowing on the pipeline. While all market participants can see the clear price impact, as well as some gas flows between GCX and the interconnecting interstate pipelines that are required to publish flow data to electronic bulletin boards (EBBs), the fact that GCX is a Texas intrastate pipeline means it has to publish relatively little data to an EBB. As a result, its true operational status will be the subject of much speculation over the days ahead. No one really knows just how much of the gas flowing on GCX has been gleaned from competitor pipelines and how much is coming from new production that has been brought online recently, excluding the returned volumes from Alpine High.

Figure 3. Map of Permian Natural Gas Pipeline Projects. Source: RBN

Despite the pitfalls that come with evaluating this event, we think it’s fair to say the price improvement should last through the end of the year. That’s because while GCX may currently be full, what flows and pricing data we can see suggest the new route likely siphoned some of its volumes away from not just the Midcon but also the other Texas intrastate pipelines leaving the region. That means those other pipelines possess spare capacity and will be able to accommodate expected gas production growth during the last three months of this year. In fact, we wouldn’t be surprised if Waha basis strengthens even more in the weeks ahead as the competitor pipelines look to backfill volumes that have been lost to GCX.

That said, our prediction comes with the usual set of caveats and there are many factors that could derail that rosey near-term outlook. The first thing that comes to mind is maintenance. Many of the pipelines leaving the Permian have experienced unplanned outages over the last couple of years that have proven quite punishing to Waha prices, and those types of disruptions will remain a risk. Production growth could also play a factor. While drilling activity in the Permian has slowed somewhat this year, the basin’s supply growth has until recently been constrained by pipeline takeaway capacity for both natural gas and oil. With GCX now relieving the bottleneck on the gas side, and two new crude oil pipelines currently starting up (with a third on the way by the end of the year on the oil side; see Takeaway), the Permian has reached a point, at least for now, where production growth is no longer capacity-constrained. That could lead to upside production surprises, especially if oil prices are able to maintain recent levels in the $50-60/bbl range.

Looking out past the end of this year, however, our outlook turns more decidedly bearish for Waha prices. In fact, we see production growing so strongly early next year that a repeat of this past spring’s price weakness isn’t out of the question. That could lead to another painful period for Permian natural gas until the next gas pipeline — Kinder Morgan’s Permian Highway Pipeline (PHP) to South Texas (dashed orange line in Figure 3) — starts up around this time next year. But that’s next year. For now, and likely through the holidays, Permian gas prices look set to get a much-needed break from the takeaway-induced headaches that dominated the first three-quarters of the year.

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Oil, Gas Stocks Hang Out With Coal Now. Yay?: Liam Denning

By Liam Denning

(Bloomberg Opinion) -- Name-calling can hurt people’s

feelings, even if the name is an apt one. A somewhat esoteric

spat about what to call energy companies in FTSE Russell’s stock

indexes says a lot about the siege mentality taking hold in

certain quarters of the industry.

It was announced in July that FTSE Russell would designate

U.K. oil and gas producers as “non-renewable energy” companies.

Meanwhile, companies engaging mainly in such things as operating

solar or wind farms would switch classification from

“alternative energy” to “renewable energy.” At the time, this

was hailed by some as a recognition of the fundamental changes

taking place in the sector under the shadow of climate change,

and criticized by others as political correctness piling onto an

important industry.

Now FTSE Russell has largely reversed itself, as reported

in the Financial Times on Monday. Now there will be a group

classified as “oil, gas and coal,” while “alternative energy”

will remain as is.

There is speculation that the London Stock Exchange —

which, like FTSE Russell, is part of London Stock Exchange Group

Plc — kicked up a stink about the “renewable/non-renewable” re-

branding messing with its plans to attract the planned listing

of Saudi Arabian Oil Co., or Saudi Aramco. July’s praise for

far-sightedness from fans of the earlier move has turned to

dismay at a seemingly retrograde step. For its part, FTSE

Russell rejects this, citing “a robust, independent and

objective governance process” and that the latest changes

resulted after “feedback from market participants.”

In any case, the episode highlights a particularly sore

spot for the oil and gas business. Oil and gas stocks are

suffering from what appears to be a mixture of apathy and fear;

apathy at a record of weak returns and fear about peak demand

linked to climate change (see this, this and this). The growing

ranks of major fund managers setting targets for divesting from

investments linked to fossil fuels is where this all starts to

get existential. Hence, FTSE Russell’s earlier reclassification

plan, which sent a signal to money managers worldwide, may seem

like housekeeping to some but was quite a bit more significant

to the treasury departments of oil and gas producers.

Keeping renewable energy sources classified as

“alternative” does help oil and gas on the margin by confining

such things as wind and solar to an old designation that

emphasizes their currently small role and obscures their outsize

role in marginal growth — which is, as it happens, what

financial markets tend to care about more. On that score, FTSE

Russell’s move represents a disservice to the market. Just

because it dispensed with the “non-renewable” category doesn’t

mean it had to ditch “renewable,” too.

Yet in other respects, this looks like a Pyrrhic victory

for the oil and gas sector. While dodging the “non-renewable”

designation may help on the surface, the underlying reality of

which energy sources are renewable versus those that aren’t

still rests with science, not index compilers. This episode,

regardless of outcome, has highlighted the fundamental shift

going on in the energy market, regardless of nomenclature.

Moreover, the industry has spent years (and millions)

emphasizing the increasing role of natural gas as a bridge fuel

to a lower carbon future at the expense of coal. Now oil and gas

producers will be explicitly lumped in with coal in the new

group’s name. Coal is the easiest target for climate-change

regulation. More importantly, it has suffered a decade of

bankruptcies and declining financial strength that offers

something like a foretaste of what could ultimately befall the

oil industry. As names go, being called “non-renewable” looks

better than suffering that sort of association.

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Halliburton introduces automated drilling telemetry service

Halliburton released its QuickPulse Automated Directional Gamma Service, a new measurement while drilling (MWD) technology, that provides quick and reliable downhole information at extended depths to deliver wells faster. This capability helps operators drill longer laterals, make improved geosteering decisions and reduce well time to maximize their asset value.

The QuickPulse system combines directional, vibration and gamma ray sensors with a strong transmission signal that overcomes most downhole interference. The system automatically prioritizes critical vibration, tool face and downhole inclination measurements enabling rapid drilling decisions. It transmits data in intervals as fast as three seconds and full survey measurements in as little as 24 seconds.

“As operators drill longer laterals, obtaining quality data at greater depths can be difficult because of noise and interference,” said Lamar Duhon, vice president of Sperry Drilling. “We designed the QuickPulse system with advanced sensors that detect and automatically transmit data so operators can drill faster and more accurately.”

The system also has a small footprint for up to 70% faster rig-up time and the fully automated signal detection helps increase rig efficiency.

In Canada, QuickPulse recently helped an operator reduce connection time by 30% due to faster survey transmission. In the Bakken formation, another operator reported a significant increase in sliding efficiency and delivered the wells below their targeted cycle time.

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New identity for BP in the shale fields

BP launched BPX Energy as the new operating company to drill its North American shale holdings following its acquisition of the shale assets of the Australian company BHP

British oil major BP is drilling under a new name in Texas and Louisiana.

Nearly a year after buying the onshore North American assets of Australian conglomerate BHP in a $10.5 billion deal, BP has launched BPX Energy as the new operating company for the combined drilling operations. With a statewide footprint that includes hundreds of leases in the Permian Basin, Eagle Ford Shale and Haynesville Shale, BPX Energy, headquartered in Denver, registered with the Railroad Commission of Texas in August.

BP America filed more than 1,300 drilling permits across the Texas since January 2002 while BHP had filed nearly 1,100 since July 2013. The two companies filed the last drilling permits in Texas under their previous names in late July.

Over the past two months, BP has filed 28 drilling permits with the Railroad Commission under the name BPX Energy for projects split between the Permian Basin and Eagle Ford Shale.

Permian Basin

Recently formed Titus Oil & Gas is planning to develop four horizontal wells in Reeves County. Located on the company’s Nighthawk State lease, the wells target the Ford West field of the Wolfcamp geological layer to total depths of 9,634 feet. Formed in May and headquartered in Fort Worth, the company has filed 10 drilling permits so far this year.

Eagle Ford Shale

Houston-based Verdun Oil & Gas is staying true to its World War I theme. Named after a battle in the Western Front of France, Verdun also gives World War I names to its oil leases. The company is seeking permission to develop three horizontal oil wells targeting the Eagle Ford Shale on its Teufel Hunden lease in McMullen County. Teufel Hunden, or Devil Dogs, was the nickname German soldiers gave to U.S. Marines at the Battle of Belleau Wood.

Haynesville Shale

Tyler oil and gas company Tanos Exploration is planning to develop four wells in Harrison County. Three horizontal natural gas wells on the company’s Mia Austin lease target the Carthage field of the Haynesville Shale to total depths up to 11,096 feet. A recompletion of a vertical gas well on the company’s Jenkins A lease targets the Blocker field of the Page geological layer to a depth of 10,800 feet.

Barnett Shale

Dallas natural gas company Atmos Energy plans to recomplete a horizontal well on its Lake Dallas Gas Storage Unit lease near Lewisville Lake in Denton County. The storage well targets the Lake Dallas field of the Strawn geological layer down to a total depth of 2,933 feet.


Beeville wildcatter Dan A. Hughes Company obtained a permit to drill a new gas well on its West Santa Fe Ranch field in Brooks County in South Texas. The well targets the Santa Fe East field to a depth of 9,000 feet.

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SAN FRANCISCO--(BUSINESS WIRE), a pioneer in edge-native containers and analytics for the Internet of Things (IoT), today launched its Developer Edition with support for the Raspberry Pi and BeagleBone platforms. With, programmers have access to a library of sensors, analytics and tiny services that leverage open source languages and prepackaged functions to create IoT applications in minutes.’s patent-pending, edge-native container technology provides a unique develop-once, deploy-anywhere capability that enables developers to utilize the same code across platforms. Purpose-built for the constraints of microcontrollers and single board computers (SBCs),’s tiny containers enable rapid deployment on tiny edge devices such as Raspberry Pi and BeagleBone.

Common cloud solutions, like Docker, can’t be used for most IoT applications because they are both too large and require memory management features not available on tiny devices. In fact, most applications could never be downsized to run on edge devices. While IoT gateways bring some processing closer to the source of streaming data, only containers are sized in kilobytes, not megabytes, which is easily 100 times smaller than a Docker container, and small enough to be placed at the real edge—right on to the chips and sensors used by IoT devices. technology solves other challenges commonly associated with IoT gateways. Environments with limited or intermittent connectivity can cause delays and moving massive amounts of data generated by IoT devices can be costly. However,’s edge-native technology expands the capabilities of IoT systems by providing analytics functionality directly on the IoT device, eliminating the latency, bandwidth, connectivity and cost constraints of moving massive amounts of data from a vast number of connected sensors.

“There’s tremendous analytic, machine learning and AI intelligence to unlock from sensors and chips being used in the billions of IoT sensors and devices on the market. But even small sensors can generate more than a terabyte of data a day. It’s expensive, impractical - or even impossible - to move that much data to IoT gateways or the cloud for real-time analysis,” said Rachel Taylor, CEO of, Inc. “ brings the familiarity of open, cloud-based programming and containers to a platform purpose-built to run directly on sensors and microcontrollers that won’t disrupt the rigid architecture and condition of billions of IoT devices deployed worldwide.” Edge-Native Analytics and Intelligence

With, companies reap the benefits of IoT analytics with the same agility and scalability they are accustomed to receiving from the cloud-native technologies, but without the latency, costs and complexity of moving data to and from sensors for processing at “edge-near” architectures.

The Developer Edition of features:

Easy-to-Use Application Development Platform . Prepackaged, drag-and-drop components and functions allow developers to rapidly build and test applications. Prepackaged sensor support means developers can start working on application logic and analytics immediately, instead of focusing on low-level hardware plumbing. Simplified programming in a high-level, open source language is faster and less error-prone than C/C++, while eliminating the need for developers to learn complex or proprietary programming languages and the associated lock-in and skill availability issues.

. Prepackaged, drag-and-drop components and functions allow developers to rapidly build and test applications. Instant, Container-Based Deployment Over the Air (OTA) with Hardware Abstraction . Using prepackaged components and containers, developers have a true develop-once, deploy-anywhere capability for IoT applications. Out-of-the-Box Sensors BME280 SGP30 ADXL345 ADS1015 Platforms Raspberry Pi 3B and later BeagleBone Black

. Using prepackaged components and containers, developers have a true develop-once, deploy-anywhere capability for IoT applications. Tiny Services for Edge-Native Applications . provides tiny analytics and tiny services for common tasks required in IoT applications. Some representative capabilities are: Tiny Analytics Cumulative Moving Average Simple Moving Average Exponential-Weighted Moving Average Tiny Data Services Store and Forward via a Durable Ring Buffer Coalesce Downsample Spark contexts via Stuart,’s Lua-based Apache Spark runtime for embedding and edge computing Tiny Scripts Access to hundreds of open source functions Custom application logic using a full-featured, open source language

. provides tiny analytics and tiny services for common tasks required in IoT applications. Some representative capabilities are:

Developers can sign up for a free account at and read more about the capabilities the service offers via the Blog. Visit online for a list of supported platforms and sensors.

About, Inc. provides the industry's first edge-native containers, bringing cloud-like operations to the smallest microcontrollers used for IoT applications. At least 100x smaller than standard Linux containers, only moves analytics right to the source of the data—the absolute edge—eliminating the cost, complexity and latency of moving massive amounts of data to and from IoT devices. Using's out-of-the-box tiny services, developers can create and deploy IoT applications in just minutes, no C/C++ required. For more information, visit https:///

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PTTEP taps Halliburton for digital transformation program

PTTEP taps Halliburton for digital transformation program


HOUSTON - Halliburton announced PTTEP, a national petroleum exploration and production company in Thailand, selected Halliburton Landmark’s Digital Well Program application to automate drilling, completions and engineering processes across the well lifecycle.

Digital Well Program, an application within DecisionSpace 365, transforms how wells are constructed and delivered by combining a digitalized planning and design process with engineering models on a single and open platform. The product, running on a public cloud platform, will support all new wells drilled and leverage data from over 1,500 existing wells to reduce planning cycle times, enable automation, advanced analytics and optimize well design using machine learning and artificial intelligence.

“We are excited to collaborate with PTTEP to improve drilling performance. Digital Well Program, as an out of the box product with best in class workflows, will allow PTTEP to extend their existing drilling and completions practices for faster and more accurate well delivery,” said Sid Whyte, senior vice president of Halliburton Asia Pacific. “This contract demonstrates Halliburton’s commitment to understanding customer challenges and applying the right technology that maximizes their asset value.”

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Oil price seen steady in 2019 on Mideast tension, global downturn

Oil price seen steady in 2019 on Mideast tension, global downturn

LONDON: Oil prices are likely to remain steady this year as supply shocks from Saudi Arabia fail to lift prices in a market grappling with flagging demand, a Reuters survey showed on Monday, as warnings of a global economic deceleration mount.

The survey of 53 economists and analysts forecast Brent crude would average $65.19 a barrel in 2019, little changed from $65.02 forecast last month. This was however, slightly higher than the $64.76 average for the global benchmark so far this year.

West Texas Intermediate crude futures were seen averaging $57.96 per barrel against last month’s $57.90 forecast. WTI prices have averaged $57.11 so far this year. “The oil market is facing challenging times. Recent attacks on oil facilities in Saudi Arabia have painfully demonstrated the risks to oil supply, which is why short-term price spikes are possible at any time,” said Carsten Fritsch, senior commodity analyst at Commerzbank.

“The oil market fundamentals, on the other hand, are deteriorating. Demand growth is weakening, oil supply outside OPEC is rising significantly and OPEC+’s production discipline has recently faded ... We therefore do not consider the recent price surge to be sustainable.”

Brent prices posted their biggest one-day price jump in 30 years after an attack on Saudi Aramco facilities earlier this month halved crude oil supply from the world’s top oil exporter. The attacks spurred market uncertainty and ratcheted up tensions in a region already on edge from the lingering rivalry between the kingdom’s ally the United States and Iran.

“Ultimately, the impact of the drone strikes on oil prices will depend on two main factors: how long it takes for Saudi to bring these facilities back on stream, and whether or not further direct strikes are carried out,” said Cailin Birch, an analyst at the Economist Intelligence Unit.

Despite the attacks, most analysts said the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, with Saudi as the de facto leader, could extend the output cuts until the end of next year, and sanctions on Iran and Venezuela were unlikely to ease soon.

While there is enough spare capacity to compensate for the lost production, analysts said the festering U.S.-China trade dispute, along with robust output from non-OPEC countries, will keep oil prices in check over the long term.

Analysts expect growth in global oil demand to range between 0.9-1.3 million bpd in 2019 and 0.8-1.5 mbpd next year. The U.S. Energy Information Administration cut its 2019 world oil demand growth forecast for an eighth straight month in September to 0.89 million barrels per day.

On the supply side, non-OPEC production would continue to rise, poll respondents said, with United States dominating the global supply growth with modest increases from Brazil, Norway and Mexico.

“If Trump remains the frontrunner, expectations for U.S. production to rise to fresh record highs will continue with 2020 possibly topping 13.5 million bpd,” said Edward Moya, a senior market analyst at OANDA.

“Trump’s pro-energy policies will remain very supportive for U.S. becoming the world’s top oil exporter.” Meanwhile oil prices fell more than one percent on Monday after Saudi Arabia´s de facto leader said war with Iran would destroy the world economy and hinted instead at a non-military solution.

Washington, Riyadh, Berlin, London and Paris blame Iran for attacks that damaged the Saudi oil sector on September 14 and forced the world´s largest crude exporter to sharply reduce production.

In terms of geopolitical concerns, common sense is prevailing for now in Saudi Arabia," noted analyst Naeem Aslam at traders ThinkMarkets, in reference to the comments by Saudi Arabia´s crown prince in an interview with CBS show "60 minutes" broadcast over the weekend.

Mohammed bin Salman said a war would be catastrophic for global growth. "Oil supplies will be disrupted and oil prices will jump to unimaginably high numbers that we haven´t seen in our lifetimes," the prince said.

"The region represents about 30 percent of the world´s energy supplies, about 20 percent of global trade passages, about four percent of the world GDP. Imagine all of these three things stop," he said. "This means a total collapse of the global economy, and not just Saudi Arabia or the Middle East countries."

Iran´s oil minister meanwhile on Sunday ordered his country´s energy sector to be on high alert to the threat of "physical and cyber" attacks.

Bijan Namdar Zanganeh said "it is necessary for all companies and installations of the oil industry to be on full alert against physical and cyber threats", in a statement published on the oil ministry´s Shana website.

Tehran has denied any link to the Saudi strikes, which were claimed by Huthi rebels in Yemen. Iran supports the rebels against a Saudi-led coalition that has been fighting the Huthis since 2015.

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Cabot (COG) to Sell 20% Stake in Meade Pipeline for $256M

Cabot Oil and Gas Corporation (COG - Free Report) recently entered into an agreement with NextEra Energy Partner, LP (NEP - Free Report) wherein the former will sell all its 20% stake in Meade Pipeline Co LLC to the latter.

The deal proceeds of $256 million together with Cabot’s existing operating free cash flow will help the company boost its shareholder value. This will be achieved by combining the growing dividend base with a favorable share repurchase program.

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Shell urges US Congress to withhold Nord Stream 2 sanctions

Royal Dutch Shell has asked the United States Congress not to enact sanctions against the Russia-led Nord Stream 2 subsea gas pipeline to Germany, Cederic Cremers, head of Shell's business in Russia said.

A US Senate committee passed a bill in July to place sanctions on companies and individuals involved in building the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia to Germany.

The administration of US President Donald Trump has said the project would strengthen Moscow's economic grip on Europe.

"If the current legislation under consideration in the US Congress is passed, it will affect all of the companies involved with the project, including Shell. We therefore respectfully urge legislators not to enact these sanctions," Shell's Cremers said in emailed comments.

Russian gas producer Gazprom leads the project while other participants, including Shell, Germany's Uniper and Wintershall, Austria's OMV and France's Engie, provide financial support.

OMV has also publicly voiced its support for Nord Stream 2.

The project will double the annual capacity of the existing Nord Stream pipeline to 110 billion cubic metres and account for more than half of Russia's piped gas exports to Europe, allowing it to bypass Ukraine, currently its main transit route.

In the wake of Russia's 2014 annexation of Crimea, its relations with Ukraine have soured and the European Commission has stepped up calls for member states to reduce their reliance on Russian energy imports.

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Is CNX Resources (CNX) a Great Stock for Value Investors?

Value investing is easily one of the most popular ways to find great stocks in any market environment. After all, who wouldn’t want to find stocks that are either flying under the radar and are compelling buys, or offer up tantalizing discounts when compared to fair value?

One way to find these companies is by looking at several key metrics and financial ratios, many of which are crucial in the value stock selection process. Let’s put CNX Resource Corporation (CNX - Free Report) stock into this equation and find out if it is a good choice for value-oriented investors right now, or if investors subscribing to this methodology should look elsewhere for top picks:

PE Ratio

A key metric that value investors always look at is the Price to Earnings Ratio, or PE for short. This shows us how much investors are willing to pay for each dollar of earnings in a given stock, and is easily one of the most popular financial ratios in the world. The best use of the PE ratio is to compare the stock’s current PE ratio with: a) where this ratio has been in the past; b) how it compares to the average for the industry/sector; and c) how it compares to the market as a whole.

On this front, CNX Resources has a trailing twelve months PE ratio of 6.98, as you can see in the chart below:

This level actually compares pretty favorably with the market at large, as the PE for the S&P 500 stands at about 18.26. If we focus on the long-term PE trend, CNX Resources’ current PE level puts it below its midpoint of 9.30 over the past five years. Moreover, the current level stands well below the highs for the stock, suggesting that it can be a solid entry point.

Further, the stock’s PE also compares favorably with the Zacks Oils-Energy sector’s trailing twelve months PE ratio, which stands at 13.59. At the very least, this indicates that the stock is relatively undervalued right now, compared to its peers.

We should also point out that CNX Resources has a forward PE ratio (price relative to this year’s earnings) of just 11, so it is fair to say that a slightly more value-oriented path may be ahead for CNX Resources stock in the near term too.

P/S Ratio

Another key metric to note is the Price/Sales ratio. This approach compares a given stock’s price to its total sales, where a lower reading is generally considered better. Some people like this metric more than other value-focused ones because it looks at sales, something that is far harder to manipulate with accounting tricks than earnings.

Right now, CNX Resources has a P/S ratio of about 0.82. This is a bit lower than the S&P 500 average, which comes in at 3.22x right now. Also, as we can see in the chart below, this is well below the highs for this stock in particular over the past few years.

CNX Resources Corporation. Price and Consensus

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Sempra, CTG sign first US-China LNG agreement since tariff implementation

US-based Sempra LNG has entered into a memorandum of understanding with China Three Gorges Corporation, or CTG, for the supply of LNG -- the first US-China LNG agreement in 12 months following retaliatory tariffs imposed by the Chinese Ministry of Commerce on US imports last year -- according to a statement released by Sempra Energy on Monday.

Parent company Sempra Energy also announced an agreement to sell an 83.6% stake in the Peruvian Luz del Sur for $3.59 billion in cash to China Yangtze Power International, or CYP, a subsidiary of CTG, a company statement showed.

"This initial agreement with CTG represents an opportunity to support strong growth in natural gas demand in Asia, with future expansions of our LNG projects right here in North America," Jeffrey W. Martin, chairman and CEO of Sempra Energy, said.


The agreement between Sempra LNG and CTG marks the first US-China LNG agreement in 12 months, following retaliatory tariffs first imposed by the Chinese Ministry of Commerce on US imports on September 24, 2018.

The initial 10% tariff on US LNG was further leveled up to 25% on June 1 as trade tensions escalated.

There were discussions in March between Sinopec and Cheniere for a potential long-term LNG supply deal on the premise of easing trade tensions, according to sources with knowledge of the matter.

As trade talks stagnated, Chinese LNG market participants were uncertain of the outlook surrounding US LNG amid a wave of global oversupply.

"While a trade deal has not yet to be reached [between US and China], it is unlikely that Chinese buyers would firm up agreements for spot or short term LNG supply at least," an end-user said.

US LNG suppliers might have to consider a long term scenario as this issue extends into a structural one, the same source said.

Prior to the US-China trade dispute, Cheniere had announced two sale and purchase agreements with CNPC in February 2018 for the supply of 1.28 million mt/year of LNG in two tranches till 2043.

PetroChina, a subsidary of CNPC, was reported to have diverted its US term cargoes this year through optimization and cargo swaps, according to market sources. The Chinese importer was heard to be taking only a handful of cargoes from Cheniere for the term deal, according to an industry source. Further details remain unclear.

To-date in 2019, China has received four cargoes, or 277,000 mt of LNG, from the US Sabine Pass LNG terminal, with three of these cargoes having been delivered to PetroChina's Rudong and Tangshan terminals over January-March, and one to CNOOC's Hainan LNG terminal in January. This is compared with 33 cargoes received from the US in 2018, totaling 2.32 million mt of LNG, cFlow, Platts trade flow software, showed.

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China private refiner spends big on petchem, seeks JV with LyondellBasell

China’s privately owned Bora Enterprise Group has started construction of a $2.5 billion petrochemicals plant in northeast China as it looks to finalize a planned joint venture with LyondellBasell Industries (LYB.N), company sources said.

The steam cracker, which is due for start-up by mid-2020, marks the biggest investment yet in petrochemicals by one of China’s private refiners as the country’s so-called “teapots” look to diversify away from the saturated local fuel market.

Bora and LyondellBasell last month signed a preliminary agreement to set up a 50-50 joint venture for petrochemical projects, and are currently in talks to finalize the deal, said two Bora sources and an official at LyondellBasell.

The 18 billion yuan ($2.5 billion) complex in the city of Panjin, Liaoning province, will produce 800,000 tonnes per year (tpy) of polyethylene and 600,000 tpy of polypropylene, used to make products ranging from pipes and plastic containers to agricultural films, the sources said.

Bora is one of more than 40 independent Chinese refiners that have grown rapidly since late 2015 to account for a fifth of China’s total crude oil imports, but which are now facing threats to their survival.

Demand for gasoline and diesel in the country is slipping, while the start-up of mammoth, more efficient refineries like Hengli Petrochemical (600346.SS) and Zhejiang Petrochemical has led to a growing supply glut.

Many are now scrambling to enter the higher margin petrochemicals sector, where China is expected to account for around 40% of global demand growth over the next decade.

Bora, which operates a 140,000 barrels per day refinery and is also a bitumen producer, was among the first to respond.

The $2.5 billion plant was approved in 2017 by the Liaoning provincial government as a key industrial project, while Bora in June secured a 10-year, 10.8 billion yuan ($1.5 billion) syndicated loan from Chinese banks, two company sources with direct knowledge of the matter said.

The new facilities are slated for start-up in the second quarter next year, said the two sources.

A Bora spokesperson declined comment.

“By combining the project management and construction proficiency of Bora with LyondellBasell’s technology and commercial experience, this joint venture will leverage the expertise of both companies,” Veronica Adamcik, a Houston-based spokeswoman for LyondellBasell, told Reuters.

LyondellBasell already invests in several chemical plants in China, including a joint venture with a unit of state refiner Sinopec Corp (0386.HK).

The Panjin complex, which LyondellBasell said is led by a 1.1 million tpy ethylene unit, will source 1.64 million tonnes of feedstock such as naphtha from the Bora refinery, but will need to procure another 1.1 million tonnes of propane or butane from the market, Bora sources said.

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Weak oil prices hit Exxon's third-quarter earnings: filing

Exxon Mobil Corp’s (XOM.N) operating profits fell last quarter for the fourth consecutive period, according to a regulatory filing on Tuesday that showed all three of its major businesses slumping from a year ago.

Lower oil prices, weaker results in its chemical business and the lack of a tax benefit from the year-ago period combined to cut earnings to about $4 billion for the third quarter ended Sept. 30, according to a securities filing.

Exxon this year began disclosing quarterly comparisons just after the period ended to deliver more timely information on its businesses to investors. Official results are due Oct. 31.

The biggest hit to profits came from weaker oil prices. Earnings in the company’s oil and gas production unit are expected to fall about 45% from last year’s $4.23 billion in operating profit, Exxon’s data showed.

Its refining business had improved margins that were offset by higher logistics costs, the filing showed. That business is expected to report profits fell about 18% from last year’s $1.64 billion.

Its chemicals unit earnings were projected to fall about 72% from the year ago’s $713 million.

Exxon shares fell 2.4% on Tuesday to $68.95.

The company had warned analysts it was spending heavily to replace production and will not reach its profit goals until next year.

Last quarter the company posted a 21% drop in profit as sharply higher oil production was offset by weakness in its refining and chemicals businesses.

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LOTOS to supply natural gas produced in Norway to Polish firm

PGNiG Supply & Trading (PST), a member of the Polish Oil and Gas Company Group (PGNiG), has become the exclusive recipient of natural gas produced in Norway by LOTOS Norge, a LOTOS Group company.

LOTOS Norge is engaged in exploration and production activities on the Norwegian Continental Shelf.

Under contracts signed by the two companies, gas purchases will be carried out from October 1, 2019, to October 1, 2021, with an option to extend the contract term until October 1, 2025. The supply volumes will depend on LOTOS Norge’s output, PGNiG said on Wednesday.

“With its immense gas and oil production potential, Norway is one of the key directions of expansion for PGNiG,” said Maciej Woźniak, Vice President for Trade at PGNiG.

“The LOTOS Group is our strategic customer for gas in Poland. We are glad that we have been able to extend our cooperation to the Norwegian market. As PGNiG, we implement a strategy of diversifying natural gas supplies and we are getting ready to start importing Norwegian gas to Poland. In 2022, after the launch of the Baltic Pipe gas pipeline, we will start direct and uninterrupted gas supplies from Norway to Poland on competitive terms. The implementation of this project will also open the possibility of deepening cooperation between LOTOS and PGNiG,” added Woźniak.

Tomasz Maj, President of the Management Board at LOTOS Upstream, entity responsible for the implementation of the LOTOS E&P segment’s strategy, said: “The production segment is crucial for LOTOS not only for economic reasons, but also because it ensures uninterrupted feedstock supplies from the company’s own fields. The agreement reached with PGNiG is attractive business-wise, all the more so because natural gas accounts for approximately three quarters of our output in Norway. The contract we have signed proves that Polish companies are able to build a strong position on the international commodity markets through synergies,’” said

“The current 2P hydrocarbon reserves in Norway amount to 35 mboe, of which as much as 40% is natural gas,” stressed Maj.

At the end of 2017, LOTOS held interests in 26 licenses for exploration, appraisal and production of hydrocarbon reserves in the Norwegian Continental Shelf.

Since 2010, PGNiG has been a strategic supplier of natural gas to the LOTOS Group, and since 2015 it has also supplied crude oil for processing at the Gdańsk refinery. In 2019, the two companies have worked together to develop the LNG market on the Baltic Sea, offering commercial bunkering of LNG sourced from the President Lech Kaczyński LNG Terminal in Świnoujście.

Meanwhile, PGNiG has been granted a license to drill an appraisal well in the Norwegian Sea. The drilling will begin following the completion of the Shrek exploration well in the same license, which PGNiG spudded in August.

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Spanish natural gas demand hits record figures

The demand for natural gas in Spain increased by 16.9 percent in the first nine months of 2019 over the same period the previous year, reaching 294 TWh, the highest cumulative figure since 2009.

This increase was mainly due to demand for natural gas for electricity generation and higher industrial consumption of natural gas, the LNG terminal operator Enagás said.

The demand for natural gas for electricity generation reached 85 TWh from January to September, an increase of 99 percent compared to the same months in 2018. This increase is due to the greater use of natural gas as opposed to coal in the thermal gap in a context with more competitive natural gas prices, in addition to low hydroelectricity generation.

Industrial demand, which represents around 54 percent of total natural gas consumption, reached 160 TWh in the first nine months of the year, up 3 percent on the same period last year. This is the highest figure at the end of September since disaggregated data for industrial consumption has been collected.

Demand grew in almost all industrial sectors, particularly in services and paper manufacturing Enagás said.

Additionally, the replacement of coal by natural gas has been the main factor that has led to a 20 percent reduction in CO2 emissions in the power generation mix from January to September 2019 with respect to the same period last year.

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Israel to increase gas exports to Egypt, companies say

Israel is significantly increasing the amount of natural gas it plans to export to Egypt under a landmark deal, Israeli energy companies said on Wednesday, sending their shares higher.

Partners in Israel’s Leviathan and Tamar offshore gas fields agreed last year to sell $15 billion worth of gas to a customer in Egypt in what Israeli officials called the most significant deal to emerge since the neighbors made peace in 1979.

The amended agreement sees a 34% increase in exports to about 85 billion cubic meters (bcm). One source in the Israeli energy industry estimated the value of gas was now $19.5 billion - $14 billion coming from Leviathan and $5.5 billion from Tamar.

Texas-based Noble Energy, Israel’s Delek Drilling and Ratio Oil own Leviathan. Noble, Delek Drilling, Isramco and Tamar Petroleum are leading partners in the Tamar field.

In a joint statement the Israeli companies said the amount to be sold from the Leviathan field will nearly double to 60 bcm of gas over 15 years. Exports from the nearby Tamar field will be reduced to 25.3 bcm from 32 bcm over the same period.

The customer in Egypt is a private firm, Dolphinus Holdings, that according to the original agreement plans to supply large industrial and commercial consumers in Egypt.

Under the amended deal, supplies will begin on Jan. 1 and continue through 2034. The companies will sell 2.1 bcm a year, which will grow to 6.7 bcm annually from the third year on.

The companies had initially hoped commercial exports would begin in 2019.

“This transaction will open the door for further investments in the regional energy market, providing cheaper and cleaner energy to the citizens of the region,” Delek Drilling CEO Yossi Abu said.

The Tel Aviv Stock Exchange’s oil and gas index was up 4.8%. Delek Drilling shares rose 8.7%, Ratio was up 9.5%, and Tamar Petroleum was 10% higher.

Barclays analyst Tavy Rosner said the announcement was “another sign of Israeli gas attractiveness”, adding he saw a potential upside of 23.8% to 87% in the share prices of local exploration and production companies, depending on the share.

Noble and Delek Drilling have also partnered Egyptian East Gas Co in a venture called EMED, which agreed around a year ago to buy into the subsea EMG pipeline that will carry the gas.

An Israeli antitrust regulator gave approval on Wednesday for the EMG deal, but said the export price could not be lower than the price of gas they sold to the domestic market.

Delek Drilling said EMED has deposited $370 million and expects to pay the remainder of a total $520 million payment in the coming days ahead of the completion of the EMG transaction and pipeline performance tests.

The Tamar and Leviathan partners have also agreed on the allocation of capacity in the pipeline, Delek Drilling said.

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Saipem unveils new LNG tech solution

Italian oil and gas industry contractor Saipem unveiled its new technological solution targeted at the small and medium scale natural gas liquefaction market, such as the local distribution of LNG.

The technology named Liqueflex technology consists of a process of liquefaction of natural gas applied to LNG plants conceived according to a standardized design that can be installed on a modular basis with a productive capacity ranging from 200,000 to 1,200,000 tonnes per year.

Since it does not require the use of hydrocarbon liquid refrigerants, the new liquefaction technology reduces the risks associated with safety problems, Saipem said in its statement.

This solution is adaptable to variations in the composition of natural gas and is particularly suitable for installation in congested industrial areas and on floating and offshore facilities.

For onshore applications, Liqueflex has been designed for application in ports that have a nearby natural gas pipeline from which the pre-treated gas can be drawn. The system can also be used as a small hub that both produces and distributes LNG through filling stations for vessels and truck loading facilities for land transport. The diffusion of such an integrated system would also allow for significant reductions in investments in maritime infrastructures for the docking of large-size LNG transport vessels and associated permit costs, according to Saipem.

Eric Zielinski, Saipem’s upstream and LNG product manager, said, “the design of Liqueflex emerged from the need to adopt strategies that reduce the environmental impact associated with sea and road transport and to enable the development of alternatives to traditional liquid fuels.”

He added that the replacement of petrol and diesel with LNG is a strategy promoted by the authorities and by energy companies the world over, particularly in those areas where infrastructures have not been developed, or have been developed only partially, and where the lack of LNG supply is felt.

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Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap? – Naftogaz Ukrainy

Gazprom's statement regarding the need to sign a new gas supply contract is illogical in light of the non-fulfillment of the current contact, Naftogaz Ukrainy Executive Director Yuriy Vitrenko wrote on Facebook.

"At the last meeting, the Russian side raised the issue of supplying gas to Ukraine, and it insists that this issue be of fundamental importance with respect to transit. How will this question be settled? Especially given that Gazprom currently isn't fulfilling its contractual obligations for supplies of gas to Naftogaz, and also that Naftogaz demands with good reason that Gazprom unblock the possibility of receiving gas from Turkmenistan at the Ukraine-Russia border, the gas of independent producers in Russia, and gas for Gazprom's European counterparties," Vitrenko wrote.

When Russian President Vladimir Putin said there are two ways to solve the issue of the transit of Russian gas through Ukraine after 2019 – signing a long-term contact under European rules or extending the current contract by a year – he did not mention the possibility of swap deliveries, Vitrenko wrote.

"It's also important not to forget about the third option, so-called 'swap' operations. This option is better than extending the current contract and allows us to apply European rules for these operations right away," he wrote.

Earlier, Vitrenko said that if Ukraine does not manage to fully implement European legislation regarding gas, Naftogaz is ready to switch to gas swaps, under which Gazprom would deliver a certain volume at the Ukraine-Russia border, and Naftogaz would transfer the same volume at the Ukraine-EU border, with transfers confirmed by operators in bordering countries (Slovakia, Hungary, Poland, Romania).

A swap contract could be based on Swedish law, with payment for transit agreed upon ahead of time by the parties. Naftogaz would independently conclude a transportation contract with the standalone operator of Ukraine's gas transportation system.

In December 2017, the Arbitration Institute of the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce revised the formula in the contract between Naftogaz and Gazprom to make the price of gas for Naftogaz equal to the price at the hub in Germany. Previously it was tied to gas oil and fuel oil prices.

On March 1, 2018, Gazprom decided not to resume deliveries of gas to Ukraine, returning Naftogaz's advance payment of $127.624 million despite the decision of the Arbitration Institute. This made it impossible for Naftogaz to fulfill the tribunal's decision on minimum yearly gas purchases.

Naftogaz estimates its losses from Gazprom's non-fulfillment of the contract at hundreds of millions of dollars, for which the Ukrainian company is trying to obtain compensation through the Arbitration Institute.

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Is Denbury Resources (DNR) a Great Pick for Value Investors?

This page has not been authorized, sponsored, or otherwise approved or endorsed by the companies represented herein. Each of the company logos represented herein are trademarks of Verizon Media; Microsoft Corporation; Nasdaq, Inc.; Dow Jones & Company; Forbes Media, LLC; Investor's Business Daily, Inc.; and Morningstar, Inc.

Copyright 2019 Zacks Investment Research | 10 S Riverside Plaza Suite #1600 | Chicago, IL 60606

At the center of everything we do is a strong commitment to independent research and sharing its profitable discoveries with investors. This dedication to giving investors a trading advantage led to the creation of our proven Zacks Rank stock-rating system. Since 1988 it has more than doubled the S&P 500 with an average gain of +24.50% per year. These returns cover a period from January 1, 1988 through September 2, 2019. Zacks Rank stock-rating system returns are computed monthly based on the beginning of the month and end of the month Zacks Rank stock prices plus any dividends received during that particular month. A simple, equally-weighted average return of all Zacks Rank stocks is calculated to determine the monthly return. The monthly returns are then compounded to arrive at the annual return. Only Zacks Rank stocks included in Zacks hypothetical portfolios at the beginning of each month are included in the return calculations. Zacks Ranks stocks can, and often do, change throughout the month. Certain Zacks Rank stocks for which no month-end price was available, pricing information was not collected, or for certain other reasons have been excluded from these return calculations.

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Can Value Investors Consider Encana Corporation (ECA) Stock?

PE Ratio

A key metric that value investors always look at is the Price to Earnings Ratio, or PE for short. This shows us how much investors are willing to pay for each dollar of earnings in a given stock, and is easily one of the most popular financial ratios in the world. The best use of the PE ratio is to compare the stock’s current PE ratio with: a) where this ratio has been in the past; b) how it compares to the average for the industry/sector; and c) how it compares to the market as a whole.

On this front, Encana Corporation has a trailing twelve months PE ratio of 5.07, as you can see in the chart below:

This level actually compares quite favorably with the market at large, as the PE for the S&P 500 stands at about 18.12. Also, if we focus on the long-term PE trend, Encana Corporation’s current PE level puts it way below its midpoint of 24.04 over the past five years.

The stock’s PE also compares favorably with the Oils-Energy Market’s trailing twelve months PE ratio, which stands at 13.36. This indicates that the stock is quite undervalued right now, compared to its peers.

Meanwhile, Encana Corporation has a forward PE ratio (price relative to this year’s earnings) of 7.47, which is higher than the current level. So, so it is fair to expect an increase in the share price in the near term.

P/S Ratio

Another key metric to note is the Price/Sales ratio. This approach compares a given stock’s price to its total sales, where a lower reading is generally considered better. Some people like this metric more than other value-focused ones because it looks at sales, something that is far harder to manipulate with accounting tricks than earnings.

Right now, Encana Corporation has a P/S ratio of just 0.85. This is quite lower than the S&P 500 average, which comes in at 3.2x right now. Also, as we can see in the chart below, this is much below the highs for this stock in particular over the past few years.

Broad Value Outlook

In aggregate, Encana Corporation currently has a Value Score of A, putting it into the top 20% of all stocks we cover from this look. This makes Encana Corporation a solid choice for value investors and some of its other key metrics make this pretty clear too.

For example, the PEG ratio for Encana Corporation is 1.29, a level that is lower than the industry average of 1.40. The PEG ratio is a modified PE ratio that takes into account the stock’s earnings growth rate.

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Is Enerplus Corporation (ERF) a Good Value Investor Stock?

This page has not been authorized, sponsored, or otherwise approved or endorsed by the companies represented herein. Each of the company logos represented herein are trademarks of Verizon Media; Microsoft Corporation; Nasdaq, Inc.; Dow Jones & Company; Forbes Media, LLC; Investor's Business Daily, Inc.; and Morningstar, Inc.

Copyright 2019 Zacks Investment Research | 10 S Riverside Plaza Suite #1600 | Chicago, IL 60606

At the center of everything we do is a strong commitment to independent research and sharing its profitable discoveries with investors. This dedication to giving investors a trading advantage led to the creation of our proven Zacks Rank stock-rating system. Since 1988 it has more than doubled the S&P 500 with an average gain of +24.50% per year. These returns cover a period from January 1, 1988 through September 2, 2019. Zacks Rank stock-rating system returns are computed monthly based on the beginning of the month and end of the month Zacks Rank stock prices plus any dividends received during that particular month. A simple, equally-weighted average return of all Zacks Rank stocks is calculated to determine the monthly return. The monthly returns are then compounded to arrive at the annual return. Only Zacks Rank stocks included in Zacks hypothetical portfolios at the beginning of each month are included in the return calculations. Zacks Ranks stocks can, and often do, change throughout the month. Certain Zacks Rank stocks for which no month-end price was available, pricing information was not collected, or for certain other reasons have been excluded from these return calculations.

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Is EOG Resources (EOG) a Suitable Stock for Value Investors?

On this front, EOG Resources has a trailing twelve months PE ratio of 12.71, as you can see in the chart below:


This level actually compares favorably with the market at large, as the PE for the S&P 500 stands at about 18.12. If we focus on the long-term PE trend, EOG Resources’ current PE level puts it below its midpoint of 18.23 over the past five years, with the number having risen rapidly over the past few months. However, the current level stands below the highs for the stock, suggesting that it can be a solid entry point.

Moreover, the stock’s PE also compares favorably with the Zacks Oils-Energy Market sector’s trailing twelve months PE ratio, which stands at 13.36. At the very least, this indicates that the stock is relatively undervalued right now, compared to its peers.

We should also point out that EOG Resources has a forward PE ratio (price relative to this year’s earnings) of 14.31, so it is fair to expect an increase in the company’s share price in the near future.

P/S Ratio

Another key metric to note is the Price/Sales ratio. This approach compares a given stock’s price to its total sales, where a lower reading is generally considered better. Some people like this metric more than other value-focused ones because it looks at sales, something that is far harder to manipulate with accounting tricks than earnings.

Right now, EOG Resources has a P/S ratio of about 2.24 This is much lower than the S&P 500 average, which comes in at 3.2 right now. Also, as we can see in the chart below, this is well below the highs for this stock in particular over the past few years.

Broad Value Outlook

In aggregate, EOG Resources currently has a Value Score of B, putting it into the top 40% of all stocks we cover from this look. This makes EOG Resources a solid choice for value investors.

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Kevin Bullock takes the reins at Anaconda

Credited with building Volta Resources from its inception to its US$63 million all-scrip acquisition by B2Gold in 2013, Bullock joined Anaconda as CEO in April.

Anaconda said it made the move to streamline costs as it renewed its focus on developing the Goldboro project as a flagship asset in Nova Scotia, while simultaneously pursing resource and production growth at its Point Rousse Complex in Newfoundland.

The Point Rousse mine put in a poor performance in the June-quarter due to lower mill availability resulting from planned maintenance activities on the main ball mill and unplanned and accelerated planned maintenance of the regrind mill.

Successful infill and expansion drilling at the Pine Cove openpit mine early this year prompted the company to defer development of the Argyle deposit to 2020 that brought a consequent drop in full-year production guidance from 19,000-20,000oz gold to 16,000-17,000oz.

Meanwhile, the company has been enjoying exploration success at Goldboro, returning high-grade intercepts as part of an infill drilling programme on the EG deposit. Recent highlights included 27.12 grams per tonne gold over 2.5m, 16.65g/t over 2m, 50.6g/t over 1m and 102.43g/t over 0.7m.

The company is currently embroiled in a legal spat with a service provider that was supposed to ship the Goldboro 10,000t bulk sample to the Pine Cove mill for processing and has now appointed another contractor to finish the job.

Anaconda expects the sample to be fully processed in October, with results to follow soon after. The bulk sample is expected to support a feasibility study for Goldboro, slated for publication before year-end, which will also draw on a resource update before then.

Anaconda shares (TSX:ANX) closed in the red Wednesday, down 9% or C2c to 20c, which gives it a market capitalisation of $26.8 million.

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PetroChina still negotiating prices of extra gas supplies from Russia

PetroChina Co, Asia’s largest oil and gas producer, is still in talks with Russia’s Gazprom on the price of additional volumes of gas supplies, PetroChina Vice President Ling Xiao said on Thursday.

PetroChina has already in place an agreement with Gazprom on gas prices for Power of Siberia pipelines, he said.

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Alternative Energy

4 ways innovation can change the energy sector

Innovation has helped humankind tackle some of its biggest challenges. Compasses made sea voyages safer, electric lightbulbs pushed back the limits of darkness, and vaccinations and antibiotics saved lives.

With global emissions on the rise, the world is facing an exceptional challenge that demands a giant leap in innovation. The energy sector, which produces the majority of greenhouse gases, is at the heart of the issue. Right now, the picture isn't good. Energy-related carbon emissions hit a high last year, making it increasingly hard for the world to meet international climate goals.

Image: CNN

Turning this around will require major efforts across a wide range of sectors. First, we need to get emissions on a downward trend — and fast. That will require power companies to generate a lot more energy from renewables like wind and solar, and businesses and consumers to rapidly shift to more energy-efficient cars, trucks, buildings and industrial equipment. Smart policies focused on the near term are critical to ensure we start moving in a positive direction.

But more solar panels, wind turbines and electric cars aren't enough to get emissions down to zero, which is what the United Kingdom and a growing number of other countries are aiming to do. Going carbon-neutral will demand significant innovations — and they will have to happen soon enough for the new technologies to become widely used in time to make a meaningful difference.

Governments must do their part by enacting energy policies that provide long-term certainty. Public-sector investment in research and development for clean energy technologies isn't growing quickly enough. In the world's major economies, it's less than 0.1% of total government spending, according to the latest analysis by the International Energy Agency.

Companies can help by being less risk-averse and placing more small bets across a wider range of emerging energy technologies and sticking with them. They can also team up with governments in some areas to share the risks.

The IEA is tracking the annual progress of 45 key technologies and sectors in reducing their carbon footprint and air pollution. Our latest analysis found that only seven of them are on track to meet climate and other sustainability goals. The biggest laggards include fuel economy in cars and trucks, emissions from industrial processes, and advanced biofuels in transportation. To help focus efforts, we have identified more than 100 technology areas where more work and funding from governments and businesses are needed.

Many of those technologies can help with two of the overarching challenges we face: decarbonizing electricity generation, which today is the single largest source of emissions, and cleaning up major sectors like transportation and heavy industry. Innovation can help make a difference in several key areas.


Wind and solar power have made remarkable gains and now account for a growing share of global energy supply. But further technology advances are necessary for renewable energy sources to expand more quickly. That could include innovations such as wind farms that can float on the ocean, enabling us to capture the rich wind energy available over deep waters.

Nuclear power

With advanced digital technology, energy grids are getting better at handling the challenges that come with relying more on renewable sources, such as a lack of wind or sun when large numbers of consumers start turning up their heating or air-conditioning. But we still need other sources of clean electricity, such as nuclear power, to help keep overall energy systems reliable and resilient.

Nuclear power has been a vital source of low-carbon electricity for decades, reducing emissions by more than 60 billion tons over the past 50 years. Unlike renewables, it can easily send energy into the grid as and when required. But it's now in danger of going into decline worldwide unless countries move to extend the lifetimes of existing plants and figure out affordable ways to build new ones. That could involve new advanced technologies like small modular reactors, which have the potential to avoid the cost and time overruns that have plagued the construction of some high-profile nuclear plants in recent years.


Clean electricity can't reach all corners of the economy, though. Some important sectors, such as long-distance transportation and iron and steel, may require other approaches to tackle their emissions. Hydrogen produced from low-carbon sources could fill some of those gaps by fueling ships and long-haul trucks, and providing a key raw material for industries like iron, steel and chemicals. It can also help store wind and solar power longer than batteries can.Hydrogen is enjoying unprecedented momentum around the world right now. In an encouraging sign, the United States, the European Union and Japan signed an agreement on the sidelines of the recent G20 meeting with energy and environment ministers to accelerate the development of hydrogen and fuel-cell technologies.

Carbon capture

Reducing emissions from the more challenging sectors will almost certainly require capturing and storing the CO2 they produce on a massive scale.

More and more carbon capture projects are coming online, but we still have a long way to go. The ones in operation worldwide today only trap 30 million tons of CO2 a year. To meet sustainable energy goals, that would need to increase dramatically to 2.3 billion tons by 2040. Meeting that target requires pushing the technology forward.

Innovation can also help reduce emissions with designs for cars and buildings that contain less material with a high carbon footprint — such as steel, aluminium and cement — or that use recycled materials.

Finding and backing the right energy technologies for the future is tricky for investors, especially at such an uncertain time. As the global authority on energy, covering all fuels and all technologies, the IEA is ready to help governments, industries and citizens make good choices.

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Ocean DEMO opens 2nd call

ocean energy

Ocean DEMO opens 2nd call

The EU-funded Ocean DEMO project has today (30th September) launched its 2nd call at Ocean Energy Europe Conference & Exhibition 2019 in Dublin.

The project has also awarded recommendations for support to 12 offshore renewable energy projects under its 1st call which closed in July 2019. The high number of successful applicants shows the growing demand for - and readiness to - testing innovative offshore renewable technologies at sea.

Funded by Interreg North-West Europe, Ocean DEMO is a 13 million project aiming to accelerate ocean energy’s transition from single prototype to multi-device farms by providing free access to world-leading test centres: EMEC (UK), DMEC (NL), SEM REV (FR) and SmartBay (IE).

Successful applicants will receive free access to test their ocean energy products and services in real sea environments at the project’s network of test centres. Technology developers can apply for support packages to test multi-device farms or single devices able to scale up to multi-device in the future. Preference will be given to technologies ready to test by spring 2020.

Ocean DEMO’s 2nd call for applications is open until 31st January 2020. Call documents are available on the Ocean DEMO website.

The following technology developers were granted support packages under the 1st call by the Ocean DEMO Selection Board:

Flumill AS

Waves4Power UK


Sinn Power


Orbital Marine Power


Green Marine UK


Magallanes Renovables SL

FlexMarine Power

Bombora Wave Power

The awards will provide a real boost to technology developers by allowing them to test their innovative products and services at sea. It will also help them attract further investment and move along the path to commercialisation.

“Europe remains to be leading the world in ocean energy development and it is great to see that the appetite for real sea testing from a number of offshore energy technologies remains strong” said EMEC Project Manager and Ocean DEMO Project Leader Nicolas Wallet. “Ocean DEMO will help these companies scale up their technologies through demonstration whilst reducing technical risks and overall costs. We look forward to working with these developers across Europe’s leading test centres collaboratively bringing ocean energy to commercialisation”

Rémi Gruet, CEO of Ocean Energy Europe, added that the high number and quality of applications received through the 1st call gives a very promising view of what’s to come for the sector in 2020 and that it proves once again how close ocean energy is to being propelled into the mainstream, and how important a steady European support is to make it happen.

For additional information:

Ocean DEMO

European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC)

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Cobalt prices continue rally despite poor trades, lithium salt prices fall further

Prices of cobalt-related products continued their upward trend in the week to September 27. Discounts of cobalt sulphate against cobalt chloride widened, and the trend may continue after the holiday.

Prices of cobalt intermediate products will inch up further as high margins at smelters drove intermediate product suppliers to firm up offers.

Stable demand from battery anode will cap the decline in lithium salt prices. Shipments at lithium salt producers will be monitored in the short term, while the depletion of inventories and demand growth will determine long-term prices of lithium products.

China will continue to drive the development of new energy vehicles (NEVs) as a national strategy and accelerate developing intelligent automobiles, said Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) Minister Miao Wei at a recent briefing.

Official data showed that China produced some 799,000 NEVs during the first eight months of 2019, reaching 53% of MIIT’s previous estimates of 1.5 million units for 2019. The completion rate compared with 47.8% of the same period last year. However, current weak consumption will see domestic NEV makers struggling to meet the annual production targets, despite expectations of installation rush at the year-end.

SMM lowered its estimates of NEV production this year to 1.4 million units, without any new supportive policy or other stimuli on demand.

Last week, domestic prices of refined cobalt further trended highers as some downstream consumers restocked in small volume on bullish outlook. However, limited growth in downstream alloy demand and macroeconomic uncertainty will constrain any upward momentum in prices in the weeks ahead.

Producers of cobalt hydroxide held their offers firm at 30-32% discounts for futures delivery, with spot offers at ports standing at $12.5/lb. High profits at smelters prompted intermediate product suppliers to keep offers at high.

SMM assessed traded prices of refined cobalt climbed 5,000 yuan/mt from a week ago, to stand at 285,000-295,000 yuan/mt in the week of September 27. Prices of cobalt hydroxide rose $0.5/lb on the week to $11-12/lb.

Producers of cobalt, nickel salts also raised quotes further. Major cobalt sulphate makers offered as high as 63,000 yuan/mt, but actual trades were few and made only by smaller precursor producers, given continued weak demand from power batteries.

Tight spot supply of cobalt chloride drove up its offers to 75,000 yuan/mt as of Friday, and widened its premiums over cobalt sulphate.

SMM assessed prices of cobalt sulphate at 56,000-60,000 yuan/mt in the week of September 27, up 1,000 yuan/mt on the week, with prices of cobalt chloride standing at 70,000-75,000 yuan/mt, up 3,000 yuan/mt. Prices of battery-grade nickel sulphate climbed 750 yuan/mt on the week to 30,500-31,500 yuan/mt.

Peak demand season in the digital industry triggered downstream restocking of cobalt (II, III) oxide, a raw material to produce batteries for digital devices. This, combined with higher offers of cobalt chloride, which is used to produce cobalt (II, III) oxide, sent prices of cobalt (II, III) oxide up by 8,000 yuan/mt on the week to 218,000- 228,000 yuan/mt as of September 27, according to SMM assessments.

Prices of ternary precursor also rose on higher costs of raw materials, but a sluggish power battery market and market talk of fewer orders from power battery producers after the National Day holiday slowed the growth in ternary precursor prices.

SMM assessed prices of NCM523 rose 1,000 yuan/mt on the week to 100,000-105,000 yuan/mt, with NCM622 increasing 1,000 yuan/mt to 107,000-111,000 yuan/mt.

Prices of lithium carbonate again moved lower as cash-in inclination drove cargo holders to destock amid a limited pick-up in demand from the power battery sector and sufficient supply of ore and smelting raw materials. Growing demand for lower costs across downstream producers also forced lithium salts mills to surrender profits.

The decline in prices, however, was at slow paces given current low inventories of lithium salts at downstream plants. SMM learned that previous sharp declines in lithium carbonate have pushed producers of mica to the verge of losses.

Market participants told SMM that price spread widened among industrial-grade lithium carbonate with different grades, with prices of products containing less than 99% lithium carbonate fell to as low as 40,000 yuan/mt. The market remains bearish about post-holiday prices.

SMM assessed prices of battery-grade lithium carbonate lost an average 1,250 yuan/mt on the week to 59,000-62,000 yuan/mt, while prices of industrial-grade lithium carbonate dropped 500 yuan/mt, to stand at 49,500-53,500 yuan/mt.

Subdued trades and growing supplies continued to weigh prices of battery-grade lithium hydroxide (coarse particle), by 1,250 yuan/mt on the week to 65,000-68,000 yuan/mt, SMM assessed. Producers reaching full operation this month boosted supplies. Some suppliers were sidelined and did not provide offers in a quiet market.

Prices of LCO, which is used to produce 4.35V batteries, rose an average 10,000 yuan/mt week on week to 230,000-240,000 yuan/mt, supported by steady consumption from the 5G sector. Offers as high as 250,000 yuan/mt were heard in the market, which touched the key psychological price level of digital battery producers.

Limited acceptance of higher prices by downstream consumers kept prices of ternary materials from rising in the week to September 27. The market took a pessimistic outlook on the recovery of ternary materials consumption in the fourth quarter.

SMM assessed that trades of NCM523 were at 146,000-154,000 yuan/mt, and deals of NCM622 at 164,000-171,000 yuan/mt, both flat on the week.

Prices of lithium iron phosphate (LFP) material, used to produce power batteries, also held unchanged at 46,000-49,000 yuan/mt last week.

Bargaining power of makers of battery material LFP weakened as the battery market became more concentrated to large producers. This prevented LFP prices from continuously rising even as prices of raw material phosphoric acid grew and demand for LFP built up. There is even downward pressure on LFP prices post-holiday as producers will seek to use cheaper industrial-grade lithium carbonate as feedstock.

Stable supply and demand kept prices of lithium manganese oxide (LMO) flat last week. SMM assessed prices of LMO used in high-energy-density lithium-ion batteries at 28,500-33,500 yuan/mt and prices of LMO used in motive batteries at 44,000-46,000 yuan/mt.

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Industry Leaders Join Forces to Kickstart California's Offshore Wind Sector, Urge 10 GW Goal to Generate Jobs, Green Growth & 100% Renewable Power for State

SAN FRANCISCO, Oct. 1, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Today, a coalition of wind industry leaders announced the launch of Offshore Wind California (OWC). Committed to providing industry expertise, innovative solutions, and a dedicated voice for offshore wind in California, OWC is poised to lead the promotion of responsible and sustainable deployment of offshore wind power in the state's energy system.

California is well-positioned to break out as the next investment hot spot for America's booming offshore wind industry, which is taking off with more than 22 gigawatts (GW) in commitments by East Coast states and $70 billion in supply chain spending by 2030, said industry leaders today at the Pacific Rim Offshore Wind conference. Citing advances in floating platform technology and declining cost, OWC urged California to set a goal of reaching a minimum of 10 GW of offshore wind by 2040, to generate jobs, growth and meet the state's commitment to 100 percent renewable power by 2045.

"It's time for California, a renewable energy leader with one of the world's best offshore wind resources, to stake its claim to the growing benefits of offshore wind, including jobs, economic development, lower emissions, and potential savings for ratepayers," said Adam Stern, newly hired Executive Director for OWC, who has broad experience with California environmental and renewable energy issues and is based in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Founding member companies of Offshore Wind California are Aker Solutions, Equinor, Magellan Wind, Mainstream Renewable Power, Northland Power, Ørsted and Principle Power. The nonprofit Pacific Ocean Energy Trust is supporting the formation of OWC and is also a founding member.

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) estimates California's technical potential for offshore wind at an enormous 112 GW, including up to 8.4 GW in the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management's three designated call areas. While deeper West Coast waters require floating technologies, this technology is now being deployed in various markets around the world. Technology advances and economies of scale have established the commercial case for floating offshore wind. NREL estimates that building 10 GW of offshore wind power in California would create 18,000 jobs and generate $20 billion in GDP by 2050.

"Offshore wind is poised to play a major role helping California meet its renewable energy goals," said David Hochschild, Chair, California Energy Commission. "Working together, industry leaders, policy makers, environmental advocates, labor unions, and power providers can advance the technology and make this renewable resource a mainstream, competitive clean energy source. Offshore wind holds great promise as part of the diverse power portfolio and transformative clean energy change California is looking for."

"California is committed to 100 percent power from renewable energy by 2045," said Sunny Gupta, Head of New Markets, Ørsted and Board Chair, OWC. "Offshore wind is critical to reach this mark, and will create jobs and green growth. It's an ideal complement to existing renewable resources, with steady and powerful winds that grow even stronger after sunset. We want California to seize its opportunity to be a leading offshore wind market − in the U.S. and across the Pacific Rim."

About OWC − Offshore Wind California is a coalition of industry partners with a shared interest in promoting policies and public support for responsible development of offshore wind power in California. Its members are dedicated to providing an independent voice and industry expertise to facilitate offshore wind deployment off California's coast. OWC will undertake public education and advocacy of this renewable resource as part of a comprehensive solution to California's energy needs. For more information, please go to Follow us @offshorewindCA.

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SOURCE Offshore Wind California

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This kite could harness more of the world's wind energy

San Francisco (CNN Business) One company's self-flying energy kite may be the answer to increasing wind power around the world.

California-based Makani -- which is owned by Google's parent company, Alphabet -- is using power from the strongest winds found out in the middle of the ocean, typically in spots where it's a challenge to install traditional wind turbines. Makani hopes to create electricity to power communities across the world.

Despite a growing number of wind farms in the United States and the potential of this energy source, only 6% of the world's electricity comes from wind due to the the difficulty of setting up and maintaining turbines, according to the World Wind Energy Association.

Makani's energy kite launches from a floating platform in the North Sea off the coast of Norway.

When the company's co-founders, who were fond of kiteboarding, realized deep-sea winds were largely untapped, they sought to make that energy more accessible. So they built an autonomous kite, which looks like an airplane tethered to a base, to install on a floating platform in water. Tests are currently underway off the coast of Norway.

"There are many areas around the world that really don't have a good resource for renewable power but do have offshore wind resources," Makani CEO Fort Felker told Rachel Crane, CNN's innovation correspondent. "Our lightweight kites create the possibility that we could tap that resource very economically and bring renewable power to hundreds of millions of people."

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World’s largest turbines picked for biggest offshore wind farm in Yorkshire

The largest turbines in the world are to be used by Dogger Bank Wind Farms, which is developing what will become the world’s biggest offshore wind farm upon completion.

The 50:50 joint venture between Equinor and SSE Renewables has appointed GE Renewable Energy to supply it with its Haliade-X turbine, claimed to be the longest in the world.

The 12MW offshore turbine blade is 107 metres long and is said to be bigger than nine London buses or the pitch at Wembley Stadium or the Statue of Liberty.

The Dogger Bank Wind Farms, located 130km off the Yorkshire coast, consist of three projects with a total capacity of up to 3.6GW – enough to power more than 4.5 million homes a year.

The projects, equivalent to around 5% of the UK’s estimated electricity generation, were successful in the government’s latest Contracts for Difference (CfD) scheme, which achieved record low prices for offshore wind.

Bjørn Ivar Bergemo, Dogger Bank Wind Farms Project Director said: “Our success in the CfD auction was due in large part to the relationships we have built with our supply chain, which enabled the lowest ever strike prices. The Haliade-X represents a step change in turbine technology and we look forward to working with GE Renewable Energy to maximise innovation and supply chain benefits for the UK.”

SSE Renewables will lead the development and construction phases of the projects while Equinor will lead on operations once completed.

The projects are expected to trigger around £9 billion of capital investment between 2020 and 2026 and first electricity generation is scheduled for 2023.

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Investments in hands-on education needed to close skill gap, prepare larger workforce to build, maintain electrical infrastructure

The establishment of training programs for early and mid-career professionals like Eaton’s Power Up curriculum help advance on-the-job education to keep pace with evolving codes and technologies. Image courtesy of Eaton.

A focus on industry partnerships such as Eaton’s collaboration with San Jacinto College yields powerful advantages for power industry professionals and adds more qualified, certified professionals to industrial talent pipelines. Image courtesy of Eaton.

Eaton’s partnerships with institutions such as the University of Pittsburgh prepare electrical engineers for long-term success through state-of-the-art facilities, training courses and research. Image courtesy of Eaton.

PITTSBURGH--(BUSINESS WIRE)--A strong talent pipeline is needed to address the power industry’s skilled labor shortage. Power management company Eaton is addressing this growing skills gap through long-term investment in educational programs designed to prepare current and next generation professionals for success in the power industry.

Analysts indicate the current skills gap created by a steadily retiring workforce may leave an estimated 2.4 million industrial positions unfilled through 2028, with global productivity losses potentially reaching $2.5 trillion as a result. (Source: Deloitte)

“Electrical power is at the heart of what makes our homes, businesses and infrastructure work. Yet, there are not enough people with the specialized training needed to support the power industry into the future,” said Jeff Krakowiak, senior vice president, marketing and commercial operations – Electrical Sector at Eaton. “To help our customers, Eaton is continuing to invest in industry education, training and partnerships to prepare the current and next generation power industry workforce for success.”

Eaton’s multipronged effort to advance a skilled industry workforce includes:

Investments in higher education, like Eaton’s long-term collaboration with the University of Pittsburgh, that prepare power industry engineers and professionals for the challenges ahead

Partnerships with recognized industry and regional organizations to foster hands-on training for power industry professionals, including recent work with San Jacinto College

Targeted training programs like Power Up to help early and mid-career professionals keep pace with codes and technology advancement

To learn more about Eaton’s commitment to bridging the gap between industry and education, visit

Eaton’s electrical business is a global leader with expertise in power distribution and circuit protection; backup power protection; control and automation; lighting and security; structural solutions and wiring devices; solutions for harsh and hazardous environments; and engineering services. Eaton is positioned through its global solutions to answer today’s most critical electrical power management challenges.

Eaton is a power management company with 2018 sales of $21.6 billion. We provide energy-efficient solutions that help our customers effectively manage electrical, hydraulic and mechanical power more efficiently, safely and sustainably. Eaton is dedicated to improving the quality of life and the environment through the use of power management technologies and services. Eaton has approximately 100,000 employees and sells products to customers in more than 175 countries. For more information, visit

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EMEC supporting KRISO wave energy test site in South Korea

ocean energy

The European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) has entered an agreement to continue to support the development of the Korea Research Institute of Ships and Ocean Engineering - Wave Energy Test Site (KRISO-WETS) on the western coast of Jeju Island, South Korea.

The agreement builds on three years of strong collaboration and strengthens the ties between EMEC and KRISO. Previous collaborative work focused on test site design aspects such as electrical infrastructure, data acquisition and SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) systems, and operational aspects such as environmental monitoring and consenting guidance. As KRISO-WETS enters operational mode, EMEC will provide further operational guidance around environmental impacts, metocean data, commercial guidance, and third-party verification.

“As the world’s largest shipbuilder, Korea brings considerable and very welcome expertise to the wave energy challenge” said Rob Flynn, International Development Manager, EMEC. “KRISO’s maritime engineering expertise runs very deep and EMEC is proud to support our Korean colleagues in the development of KRISO-WETS. The EMEC team has learnt a lot about how to do things, and how not to do things over the years, and we want to share that information for the benefit of our test site colleagues around the world.”

Jong-Su Choi, principal investigator for KRISO-WETS, added that EMEC is the most experienced organisation in the world for operating both wave and tidal energy test sites and that KRISO has been developing the wave energy test site very efficiently with the support of EMEC since 2016. KRISO seeks to become an advanced technology hub for wave energy open sea test sites based on this international cooperation.

For additional information:

European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC)

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GE Renewable Energy Delivers PPA to Google to Sell Energy from Swedish Onshore Wind Farm


GE Renewable Energy Delivers PPA to Google to Sell Energy from Swedish Onshore Wind Farm

Google recently announced it has made its largest ever purchase of renewable energy, totaling more than $2 billion in new energy infrastructure produced by solar panels and wind turbines located around the world.

“Sustainability has been one of Google’s core values from our earliest days, and a cornerstone of our related efforts is our commitment to clean energy,” said Neha Palmer, Director of Operations, Google. “Today’s announcement will add new renewable energy to the grids where we consume it, creating new construction jobs and making clean power accessible to nearby communities.”

GE Renewable Energy announced earlier in September that it will supply 33 of its 5.3 MW Cypress turbines for the Björkvattnet Onshore Wind Farm in Sweden. Located approximately 470km north of Stockholm, the 175 MW site will generate enough renewable energy to power the equivalent of 175,000 homes in Sweden. The project was developed by Vindparken and WindSpace, with support from GE Renewable Energy, and sold to InfraVia European Fund IV, managed by InfraVia Capital Partners, a private equity firm specialized in the infrastructure sector. The wind farm is expected to reach commercial operations by the end of 2020.

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Why I hate living in my tiny house

I still live there—partly because rents in Oakland have surged more than 50% in less than a decade, and in a neighborhood where a typical one-bedroom now goes for more than $2,800, I can’t afford to move. I recognize the value of this type of tiny house, called an accessory dwelling unit or ADU, in theory. In built-up cities with little extra land and residents who fight development, adding tiny cottages in backyards is one way to help address the housing shortage. The small size saves energy and curbs my shopping habits, since there literally isn’t any room for, say, another pair of shoes. But I also question how well tiny homes make sense as a solution for long-term housing—and in some cases, as in the even tinier houses sometimes used as housing for people experiencing homelessness, I wonder if they can sometimes distract from other, more systemic solutions that are necessary.

As tiny houses go, mine is larger than some. One nearby shed-like cottage currently for rent on Craigslist is 120 square feet; another, which rents for $1,600 a month, is 200 square feet. A few miles away from me, a village of 8-by-10-foot tiny houses on wheels is under construction for homeless youth, with a separate communal kitchen and communal bathrooms. Hundreds of others are currently living on the street in much tighter quarters in vehicles or tents. While there’s no official definition for a tiny house, they’re generally said to be around 500 or fewer square feet, making my place somewhat medium-size as far as tiny houses go. (The average size of a new apartment in the U.S., as of 2018, is 941 square feet.)

It’s small enough that doing anything—getting the vacuum from a tiny closet or something out of a drawer in the kitchen—often involves a Tetris-like game of moving multiple other things out of the way. Right now, because I have one chair too many, lowering my Murphy bed from the wall means moving the chair, which then blocks something else. I can relate to a moment in a Portlandia episode about a tiny house village when Fred Armisen tries to open the fridge and the door bangs into a ladder from the loft. (Armisen’s character, like me, works from home, and in another scene he sits on the toilet with a fold-down desk and his laptop, explaining that the bathroom doubles as a home office as he hands Carrie Brownstein shower gel.) My bathroom, a 3-by-6-foot “wet room” with a walk-in shower, is so small that it doesn’t have a sink, and I have to use the nearby kitchen sink to brush my teeth. Though the apartment is fast to clean, it gets messy equally quickly. Invariably, I meet friends elsewhere, since there aren’t enough places to sit. Even as a minimalist who once happily lived with an ex-boyfriend in a space that was only a little larger, I think it’s too small.

To be fair, the house is beautifully designed, with huge windows and a full, if diminutive, kitchen. For a few days or a couple of weeks, it would be a very comfortable place to stay. With some tweaks, it could be a better fit for long-term living; if the ceiling in the loft was a couple of inches higher, for example, I wouldn’t hit my head when I sat up and it could be used for sleeping, freeing up space on the main level for a more normal-size living room. For someone who spends long hours at an office and only comes home to sleep, the tiny size might be manageable. But for anyone not making a tech industry salary, the main problem with living in a tiny house is feeling like there isn’t another option: The tiniest apartment might be cheap, but there’s little available at a larger size that’s still affordable. Like friends who’ve lived in the same rent-controlled apartment for several years, I feel like I have nowhere to move.

There’s a clearer case for larger ADUs, which can be as big as 1,200 square feet under California law. One study suggests that the average size is around 600 square feet, which seems spacious from my perspective now. And there are so many underused backyards in the Bay Area—and in many other overpriced parts of the country—that building more ADUs could make a meaningful difference.

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Shell buys 20% stake in Indian solar energy company

Shell’s business unit that focuses on new fuels and power generation has bought a 20% stake in Indian solar company Orb Energy.

The latter firm, based in Bengaluru in south India, provides small and medium sized companies with financing to invest in solar power projects.

Founded in 2006, Orb Energy has sold more than 160,000 rooftop solar power systems in India, with a total capacity of around 75MW.

Brian Davis, Vice President, Shell Energy Solutions, said: “We were attracted by Orb Energy’s focus on providing cleaner and affordable energy solutions to SMEs in India. This is a vital and growing sector, with great potential to contribute to the country’s renewable energy ambitions.”

“We look forward to supporting this company in reaching its potential as we move closer to Shell’s energy access ambition. That is, to provide a reliable electricity supply to 100 million people in the developing world by 2030.”

Damian Miller, Chief Executive Officer of Orb Energy added the investment from Shell New Energies will help the company provide additional financing to SMEs in India so they can benefit from “clean, lower cost electricity” from solar.

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CVE:PSH - Petroshale Stock Price, News & Analysis

PetroShale Inc., a junior oil and natural gas company, engages in the acquisition, development, and consolidation of interests primarily in the North Dakota Bakken/Three Forks. It owns interests in the Antelope field covering an area of 1,639 net acres located in North Dakota; approximately 1,931 net acres in the South Berthold area of North Dakota; approximately 340 net acres in the North Nesson area; and approximately 120 acres in the Stockyard Creek area of North Dakota, the United States. The company is headquartered in Calgary, Canada.

MarketBeat Community Rating for Petroshale (CVE PSH)

Community Ranking: 2.7 out of 5 ( ) Outperform Votes: 18 (Vote Outperform) Underperform Votes: 15 (Vote Underperform) Total Votes: 33

MarketBeat's community ratings are surveys of what our community members think about Petroshale and other stocks. Vote "Outperform" if you believe PSH will outperform the S&P 500 over the long term. Vote "Underperform" if you believe PSH will underperform the S&P 500 over the long term. You may vote once every thirty days.

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UK commits £220m for nuclear fusion power plant by 2040

The government has made a commitment to provide £220 million of funding towards developing a commercially-viable nuclear fusion power station by 2040.

Business and Energy Secretary Andrea Leadsom made the announcement during a visit to the UK Atomic Energy Authority’s (UKAEA) Culham Science Centre in Oxfordshire for the Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production (STEP) project.

Fusion research aims to copy the process which powers the Sun for a new large-scale source of clean energy on Earth.

The investment will enable engineers and scientists to produce a conceptual design for the reactor – called tokamak – that will generate fusion energy and convert it into electricity.

The STEP programme, expected to create 300 direct jobs, builds on UKAEA’s expertise in developing spherical tokamaks, which are compact and efficient fusion devices that are expected to offer an economical route to commercial fusion power.

UKAEA and industry partners, along with academics, aim to pool their expertise to complete the design by 2024.

Business and Energy Secretary Andrea Leadsom said: “This is a bold and ambitious investment in the energy technology of the future. Nuclear fusion has the potential to be an unlimited clean, safe and carbon-free energy source and we want the first commercially viable machine to be in the UK.

“This long-term investment will build on the UK’s scientific leadership, driving advancements in materials science, plasma physics and robotics to support new hi-tech jobs and exports.”

Oxford-based start-up First Light Fusion believes gas will no longer be needed in the UK’s energy mix by the 2030s as it will be replaced with fusion energy.

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Canada's Fortune Minerals scales back mine on weak cobalt prices

Canada’s Fortune Minerals Ltd said on Thursday it would shelve plans to upsize its early-stage cobalt mine in the country’s far north while it continues to hunt for a strategic partner.

The company’s decision to scale back plans at its proposed Nico development in Canada’s Northwest Territories comes after cobalt prices, hit by oversupply, have fallen from $47,000 per tonne in January to around $35,470.

Falling prices for the critical battery ingredient prompted Glencore in August to halt output for two years at its giant Mutanda copper and cobalt mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

London, Ontario-based Fortune Minerals said current prices do not justify expanding the daily mill production rate to 6,000 tonnes from 4,650 tonnes at its proposed Nico project, which would also produce gold and bismuth.

“An environment that has seen curtailment from the world’s largest cobalt mines is not conducive for an expanded, capital intensive project at this time,” Chief Executive Robin Goad said in a statement.

The company said it is continuing discussions with potential strategic partners.

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Ohio AG to investigate reports of ‘aggressive’ activity by opponents of House Bill 6 referendum

TWINSBURG, Ohio – Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost has a message for so-called petition blockers who harass or intimidate people trying to sign or circulate petitions for the proposed House Bill 6 referendum: “Knock it off" or risk prosecution.

Speaking Monday morning in Twinsburg, Yost encouraged signature gatherers to report incidents of intimidation to his office by calling his office at 1-800-282-0515. If a local prosecutor declines to press charges, Yost’s office might do so, he said.

Efforts to repeal HB6, Ohio’s bailout of FirstEnergy Solutions’ nuclear power plants and two coal-fired plants owned by Ohio utility companies, have become volatile of late. HB6 defenders earlier this month hired workers to follow and interfere with people circulating petitions for a repeal referendum. Some of the petition circulators have reported being harassed, and in at least one case, police got involved.

Yost said his office has heard about “petition educators or petition blockers who are working for the opponents to the referendum” either educating potential signers about why signing is a bad idea, or in some cases "they’re kind of blocking, getting in the way of people even being able to get to the person circulating the petition.

“We have anecdotal evidence that there have been instances where it’s actually escalated,” Yost said. “One instance where someone may have been struck, another instance where people may have been surrounded by multiple petition blockers, another instance where maybe there was somebody who was followed into another town.”

The Republican attorney general cited a section Ohio’s election fraud law, which makes it a crime to use threats or intimidation to keep someone from signing a petition, or to get them to sign, or to circulate or not circulate a petition.

“There’s a lot of different ways you can intimidate somebody or coerce them, but the bottom line is, that’s against the law,” Yost said. “People that oppose this referendum have a First Amendment right to oppose it and to speak out, but that right ends where intimidation and coercion begin.”

Opponents of HB6 have until Oct. 21 to collect 265,000 signatures from registered voters in order to get on the November 2020 ballot. Republican Gov. Mike DeWine signed HB6 in July.

In one recent case, a woman hired as a petition blocker has been charged with criminal damaging. She is accused of breaking a man’s cell phone as he collected signatures outside a central Ohio library.

Yost said he sent a letter to Ohio’s U.S. attorneys on Monday informing them that his office is gathering evidence of possible violations.

“Federal law makes it a crime to conspire between two or more people to accomplish the same things that are prohibited by Ohio statute, and I’ve offered to work with them [U.S. attorneys] in case of any efforts that they may undertake to avoid duplication,” Yost said.

Yost said he was not sure about the accuracy of “anecdotal” reports, which mostly surfaced on social media.

“There’s a lot of disinformation out there swirling around the referendum campaign," he said. "But respect your neighbors. Respect their rights. And most of all, respect our society and our system here in Ohio that allows for a referendum, allows for petitions, allows for free speech.”

The new law raises $900 million over six years for two Ohio nuclear plants owned by FirstEnergy Solutions, and $120 million for two coal plants owned by Ohio utility companies. The subsidy is paid for by fees tacked onto Ohioans’ electrical bills.

Generation Now, the pro-HB6 group that has hired petition blockers, said in a statement that most of its staffers have acted within the confines of the law.

“Generation Now agrees with Attorney General Yost that FieldWorks staffers in the field should not intimidate petition circulators or any citizens they encounter,” said spokesman Curt Steiner. “Field staffers have been reminded repeatedly to act appropriately and generally it appears they are. One staffer was fired after misbehavior was documented and FieldWorks will follow up on any documented incidents.”

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Hong Kong crisis threatens to spoil China's 70th party

Hong Kong is in tumult over the erosion of its special freedoms by Beijing (AFP Photo/Nicolas ASFOURI)

Beijing (AFP) - China's tightly choreographed 70th birthday bash next week risks being upstaged by pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, which offer a starkly different take on the strength and power of the Communist Party being feted in Beijing.

As President Xi Jinping gets ready to preside over a huge military parade and gala event on Tuesday, the former British colony is in tumult over the erosion of its special freedoms by Beijing.

Hong Kong has been rocked by the worst political unrest since its handover to China in 1997, with another round of clashes between protesters and riot police on Saturday and Sunday.

The city's summer of discontent -- first triggered by an extradition bill to the mainland that has since been shelved -- has morphed into a call for free elections and less intervention from Beijing.

With tanks and military aircraft to parade in Beijing on October 1, Hong Kong protest organisers have promised their own major rallies.

"It's safe to say that the Hong Kong protests have already wrecked the (Communist) Party's party even before it's begun," said author and activist Kong Tsung-gan.

Under the policy of "one country, two systems", China has offered tiny Hong Kong certain liberties denied to citizens on the mainland -– including freedom of expression, unfettered access to the internet and an independent judiciary.

But the arrangement is due to expire in 2047.

The financial hub has seen waves of civil disobedience over the last decade, particularly the 2014 Umbrella movement, when demonstrators occupied major intersections and government buildings demanding universal suffrage.

These protests have undermined the party's closely-crafted narrative that the masses would settle for prosperity without political rights, Kong said.

China has deployed elements of the People's Armed Police in Shenzhen, the city bordering Hong Kong, fuelling speculation that Beijing might be prepared to intervene if necessary.

By rallying on October 1, Hong Kong protesters will attempt to "underscore the difference between dictatorial China and free Hong Kong", said Willy Lam, a professor at Chinese University of Hong Kong.

- 'Hong Kong burning' -

Hong Kong police in the past have denied permission to hold some protests citing public safety concerns, and it isn't clear whether organisers have the green light for events on October 1.

"Crowds have still turned up even when protests have been cancelled due to lack of permissions," said Michael Chugani, a broadcaster and political commentator in Hong Kong.

"Images flashed around the world would not be of China partying but of Hong Kong burning, tarnishing the carefully crafted image of stability and prosperity that China's propaganda machinery wants to project."

The city government has cancelled the national day fireworks at Hong Kong's glittering waterfront near Victoria Harbour.

"It would embarrass Beijing even more if there is a repetition of what happened on July 1, when Hong Kong marked the 22nd anniversary of reunification," Chugani said.

In July, Hong Kong officials had to watch the flag-raising ceremony on large screens locked up inside a convention centre, while hundreds of thousands marched in the streets and a group of radical protesters stormed the city's parliament.

The flag-raising ceremony on October 1 will also be held indoors.

The city's under fire chief executive Carrie Lam, meanwhile, will be in the Chinese capital to attend the national day festivities as Beijing continues to throw its support behind her despite calls for her resignation.

A notorious symbol of the protests -- a Hong Kong officer who made international news in July when he pointed a shotgun at protesters who had thrown objects at him -- arrived in Beijing on Sunday, telling the state-run Global Times he looked forward to seeing the parade.

- 'Lost hope' -

China has portrayed the protesters as rioters backed by "external forces" and lashed out at criticism from the United States and Britain.

But attempts to insulate mainland audiences from being "infected by the virulent ideas" of freedom coming from Hong Kong hasn't been totally successful, said Jean-Pierre Cabestan, a political science professor at Hong Kong Baptist University.

One 25-year-old woman from Beijing, who travelled to Hong Kong to participate in a human chain protest in late August, was among the mainland Chinese to have expressed support for the city's pro-democracy movement.

"I understand why they do this... They have lost hope in the system, they don't trust the government," she told AFP, requesting anonymity in fear of reprisal.

When asked about what she wanted for China as it marks its 70th anniversary, she said: "I hope we can have the freedom not to be afraid."

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Handal to operate and service Shell cranes in Malaysia

Malaysia’s Handal Energy Berhad has been awarded a contract for the provision of offshore crane operations and maintenance services by subsidiaries of oil major Shell.

Handal said on Monday that the contract was won by its subsidiary Handal Cranes, formerly known as Handal Offshore Services.

The contract entails the provision of operations, maintenance, repair services, and provision of manpower services for a total of 29 offshore cranes used by Shell subsidiaries Sarawak Shell Berhad and Sabah Shell Petroleum Company.

According to the company, the cranes are located off the waters of Sarawak and Sabah and the contract for services on the cranes will last for two years with an extension option of one year. It will start on October 15, 2019.

The contract does not have a specified value as it is on a call-out basis. The work orders will be awarded at the discretion of the two Shell subsidiaries based on its activity, maintenance, and repair schedule for the duration of the contract.

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Australia's Nufarm sells S.American assets for $800 mln to repay debt

Australia’s Nufarm will sell its South American crop protection and seed treatment assets to its biggest shareholder, Japan’s Sumitomo Chemical, for A$1.19 billion ($804.80 million) to help pay down debt amid a severe domestic drought.

Australian farming companies are struggling to boost cashflows as profits are hurt by severe dry weather that has threatened grain production across Australia’s east coast. Nufarm has also taken a hit from flooding in parts of the United States, where it operates several plants.

Nufarm tapped the Japanese investor for money in August as well, selling it A$97.5 million worth of stock. The Melbourne-headquartered company said on Monday it will buy back these shares after the asset sale is completed.

The sale of assets will allow Nufarm to focus on high-margin crop protection markets in Europe and across North America and the company hopes that its exposure to Australia will prop up earnings after the industry recovers from two years of drought, Nufarm said in a statement on Monday.

“There are concerns that the drought has affected Nufarm’s local operations,” said Michael McCarthy, chief strategist at CMC Markets and Stockbroking.

“Being able to realise the value out of their South American business has alleviated a lot of the concerns that there might be balance sheet pressure from the drought on Nufarm,” he said.

The drought led the herbicide maker to cut its annual earnings guidance in August, while bulk grain handler GrainCorp Ltd flagged its first annual loss in a decade.

Nufarm, which said the transaction includes assets in Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Colombia, has net debt of A$1.25 billion as of July 31. This was down 9% from a year earlier after the company raised money in the first half of the year, Nufarm said in a separate earnings release on Monday.

For Sumitomo Chemical, which owned about 16% of Nufarm as of October last year, the deal will help triple its crop protection revenue in South America, surpassing revenue from the North American region, the Japanese firm said in a statement. The company expects to benefit from the expected growth in the South American crop protection market, particularly in Brazil.

The two companies will also enter into a two-year supply and transitional services agreement as part of the deal, for Nufarm to provide procurement services and the continued supply of some products to the South American businesses.

Nufarm said its annual underlying net profit after tax fell about 10% to A$89.1 million for year ended July 31 and that tight supply conditions experienced in 2019 for some technical ingredients sourced from China were expected to continue to push up raw material costs in 2020.

Still, Nufarm said the cost reduction programme it implemented a few years back will boost earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation by A$10 million to A$15 million in 2020, as will the resolution of supply issues that hurt availability of some products in Europe in the last fiscal year.

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Chemical maker DSM sees strong demand for methane-reducing cow food additive

Dutch specialty chemicals company DSM is expecting strong demand for its food additive which limits the amount of methane burped into the air by cows, its contribution to the global fight against climate change.

Methane has a much larger effect on global warming than carbon dioxide (CO2) and reducing methane emissions could buy time to confront the much bigger challenge of cutting the amount of CO2 released into the atmosphere.

“We see a lot of demand already, from food producers and farmers”, DSM’s Clean Cow program director Mark van Nieuwland told Reuters in an interview, even though the launch of the additive, Bovaer, is still more than a year away.

“Large (food) companies have clear climate targets, and they need farms to change to meet those. Also consumers are increasing pressure on farmers and many farmers themselves want to limit emissions.”

Swiss KitKat and Nescafe maker Nestle this month said it wanted to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050, while French dairy maker Danone has said it wants to halve its CO2 emissions by 2030.

Cows constantly burp up the powerful greenhouse gas methane but DSM says including Bovaer in a cow’s diet could cut these emissions by at least 30%.

“Giving this to only three cows will have the same effect as taking one car off the road”, Van Nieuwland said.

DSM expects to launch Bovaer in Europe either late next year or in early 2021. It is currently waiting for authorisation from the European Union to label it as an environmentally beneficial product.

The company estimates that Bovaer has a potential global market value of 1 to 2 billion euros and aims to expand into other markets soon after the European launch.

DSM has made a profitable switch from bulk chemicals to sustainable food ingredients and materials, growing sales of animal food products to around 30% of its 9 billion euros ($9.8 billion) in total sales last year.

“We have to deal with methane in the next 5 to 10 years if we want to limit the rise in temperatures to 1.5 degrees”, Van Nieuwland said.

Bovaer cuts methane emissions when mixed into a cow’s feed by inhibiting an enzyme in the digestion process which normally causes the release of the gas.

After ten years of research the Dutch company says it has dozens of global peer reviewed studies backing its claims, and showing no effect on the health of cows or the milk they deliver.

“This can have a real impact and we want to make it as big as possible”, Van Nieuwland said. “The faster we move, the better.”

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Death to Fertiliser.

Mathiowetz is one of a handful of farmers in Minnesota who are testing the approach on their corn fields. The bacteria, which have been genetically modified and developed by California-based Pivot Bio, will help the corn plants convert nitrogen from the atmosphere into a form the corn plants can use as fertilizer. The idea is to eventually replace synthetic nitrogen fertilizer with microbes.

They're not commercially available in Minnesota yet, but Mathiowetz is in his second year of testing the microbes on his farm. 

It's a fairly simple process: "I push some fish food-looking material into a solution and activate the microbes prior to applying it to our field," said Mathiowetz, who raises corn, soybeans and peas with several family members on 2,500 acres in southern Minnesota.

Last year, the test plots where he used the microbes produced six bushels of corn more per acre than the fields where he used only fertilizer.

It's a symbiotic relationship. As the corn starts to grow, the bacteria attaches to the roots of the plant. It then feeds on a sugar in the corn roots and converts nitrogen in the air into a form the plant can use as fertilizer.

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Highest Indian monsoon rains in 25 years to boost winter crops

Monsoon rains in India were 10% above average in 2019 and the highest in 25 years as seasonal rainfall continued longer than expected, the weather department said on Monday.

Extra June-September monsoon rainfall will help farmers expand areas under winter-sown crops such as wheat, rice rapeseed and chick peas, improving their earning potential and helping revive tepid rural demand that has stung Indian economic growth.

The longer monsoon could also restock reservoirs and help replenish ground water, helping assuage water shortages in pockets of the country of 1.3 billion people.

But heavy rainfall in some areas has damaged summer-sown crops like cotton, soybean and pulses that are close to harvest.

The monsoon delivers about 70% of India’s annual rainfall and determines the yield of rice, wheat, sugarcane and oilseeds, such as soybeans.

Farming accounts for about 15% of India’s $2.5 trillion economy but employs more than half of its people.

“Even in the first half of October, above average rainfall is expected due to a delay in the withdrawal of the monsoon,” said an official with the India Meteorological Department (IMD), declining to be named as he was not authorized to speak with media.

The monsoon generally begins in June and starts to retreat by Sept. 1, but rains have lasted longer this year, triggering fatal floods and killing hundreds of people.

Rains are unlikely to start receding before early October, more than a month later than usual, the head of the weather office said on Friday.

“Excessive rainfall wasn’t of much benefit to summer crops due to erratic weather patterns, but it will help winter crops. Reservoirs are holding more water than normal,” said Harish Galipelli, head of commodities and currencies at Inditrade Derivatives & Commodities in Mumbai.

The 2019 monsoon season got off to a bleak start with the driest June in five years and below-average precipitation in July, suggesting an initial prediction for lower than normal rainfall from the country’s only private forecaster, Skymet, could come to pass.

The weather department had also said in May that rains this year would amount to 96% of the long-term average.

But August saw heavy rains and flooding in some states and the strong monsoon has stretched into this month.

Water levels in India’s main reservoirs were at 89% of their storage capacity as on Sept. 27 against 74% a year earlier, government data shows. The average for the past 10 years is 72%.

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OPINION | Surviving the drought is the first priority

news, local-news,

Council at its meeting on September 26 resolved to declare a "Climate Emergency", a motion I voted against alongside councillors Col Price and Jeff Smith. We would have voted in favour of a motion that focused on this current drought crisis, for instance by declaring a "drought" or "weather" emergency. I thought it was worth explaining why. There is no question that we are going through an extreme dry period which is causing significant stress on our farming community with flow on effects to other local businesses. The uncertainty of when the season will improve adds to this stress. I feel very concerned regarding these problems and the time for recovery that will follow once rainfall returns to more predictable levels. Drought has major emotional and economic impacts testing the most resilient landowner. I have always believed local government is about our local community and what we can materially do and advocate for on its behalf. This drought is front and centre for everyone, by one means or another. Council has a role to show empathy and tangible support to help people through this current challenge. Council has been assisting with the current bushfires and provision of water. Plans are underway for a new sheep selling centre. Our climate may be changing. The world's human population has tripled since 1951. The increase must place stress on the earth's resources. That is a global issue. The world population increase has strengthened the demand for meat products. Animal agriculture is a core part of our local economy and we have seen improved demand for our produce. The issue of 'climate change' is a long term global issue, with global solutions. What we face now is a current and local lack of rainfall impacting on both water availability and vegetation. The need is for compassion, not political opportunism. The discussion does not need to divide us locally. It won't if we focus on the issues facing us at the local level. For now, we need to support each other through this most challenging time. I appeal to anyone suffering emotionally through this drought to seek help and support, even if pride says no. We are all in this together. If you cannot find the right help, please shout louder. It will rain again. MORE NEWS AND OPINION:

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Johannesburg, 2 October 2019: In his keynote address to the 2019 Joburg Indaba, Minerals Council South Africa president Mxolisi Mgojo today reflected on the mining industry’s journey to Zero Harm, and outlined the steps the industry still needs to take towards eliminating fatal accidents and deaths due to occupational health issues in the industry.

In reflecting on the industry’s historical health and safety record which has improved markedly over time, Mgojo acknowledged the thousands of mineworkers that had died at work over the past 100 years.

He noted the almost uninterrupted improving trend since the advent of the democratic era, in which time the number of deaths due to mining accidents fell by 87% from 1993 to 2018, and the fatality rate (measured in relation to the number of hours worked) by 80%. In 2019, as at 23 September, there had been a further significant improvement, with 35 deaths having been reported in accidents compared with 63 in the same period the previous year.

In the health sphere, he noted improvements in dust incidence trends which address the most serious occupational health challenges. He also noted the recent silicosis and TB class action settlement and progress towards its implementation, as well as the successes of the multi-stakeholder Masoyise Health Programme, whose goal is to bring tuberculosis incidence in the industry to or below the national average.

However, he reiterated the industry’s determination to eliminate all workplace fatalities, with the Khumbul'ekhaya campaign launched by the Minerals Council yesterday focused on achieving this.

“In January this year, 34 mining company CEOs came together in what we named Heartfelt Conversations. And they were heartfelt indeed – they were meaningful and open, they were introspective and reflective, they were uncomfortable and challenging. And what arose from that is the Khumbul’ekhaya strategy.

Khumbul’ekhaya, a Nguni word for “remember home”, because we recognise that fatalities have the greatest impacts on loved ones, at home.

“A key driver of the strategy is that, while we recognise that there have been significant improvements in safety and health performance in the last two decades, a step-change is needed for Zero Harm, and to achieve the 2024 MHSC milestones agreed by companies, government and labour.

“We have resolved to become even more focused in our approach over the next two years on the elimination of fatalities from safety and health. There is growing evidence that the actions that need to be taken to eliminate fatalities are different from those that need to be taken to eliminate the less serious injuries.

“We have also resolved to place equal emphasis on fatalities that result from accidents and occupational health. Importantly, we are concerned about the health of employees both during their employment, and after. We know that fatalities are often the result of a complicated set of circumstances and need to be dealt with through a holistic approach.

“Lastly, Khumbul’ekhaya is clear on the fact that all industry players need to learn better and faster from one another. Companies need to identify aids and barriers to learning, as well as take heed of global leading practice and implement these lessons effectively.

The full version of this address may be found at:

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'World first' tomato greenhouses - bigger than O2 Arena - with one near Bury St Edmunds will create hundreds of jobs

A massive tomato greenhouse which will be larger than the O2 Arena is being built near Bury St Edmunds in a £120 million project creating 360 jobs in Suffolk and Norfolk.

Construction has started at a farmland site, in Ingham, on the ‘world first low carbon’ development, which will be warmed using waste heat from a nearby Anglian Water recycling centre.

It is one of two greenhouses being built by Greencoat Capital, with the other outside Norwich, and will be among the largest ever constructed in the country as each cover more than 13 hectares - larger than the 10 hectare O2 Arena.

A similar development built by the same manufacturers. Picture: BOM Group

The company, which is the UK’s biggest investor in renewable energy, says they will be able to produce more than 20 tonnes of tomatoes every day, which would be 12 per cent of the tomatoes grown in the country.

A Greencoat spokesman said: “Decarbonisation of the heating and agriculture sectors has so far been disappointingly slow despite their enormous carbon output.

“These pioneering greenhouses make a significant step towards solving both problems at scale, reducing the carbon footprint of food produce by 75 per cent compared to European equivalents and increasing UK food security.”

A similar development built by the same manufacturers. Picture: BOM Group

The greenhouses, developed by Oasthouse Ventures, will create 360 permanent jobs, rising to 480 during high season.

Construction is expected to be completed in autumn 2020. Commercial-scale growers from the UK and Netherlands have committed to leasing the space.

Closed loop pumps will transfer the heat from the water recycling centres to the greenhouses.

Electricity for the pumps will be provided by a combined heat and power plant.

The greenhouses will be capable of producing more than one in 10 of the country's tomatoes. Picture: BOM Group

Andy Allen, director at Oasthouse Ventures, said the environmental, social and political benefits of the ‘world first’ systems are significant and they ‘look forward to further disrupting the traditional carbon heavy models of agriculture’.

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Precious Metals

Mincor Resources Stock Price, News & Analysis

Mincor Resources NL engages in the exploration, development, and mining of mineral resources in Australia. It explores for gold, nickel, and copper deposits. The company holds interests in the Durkin North, Miitel/Burnett, and Cassini nickel projects, as well as the Widgiemooltha gold project located in Kambalda, Western Australia. It also holds interests in the Tottenham copper-gold project located in the Lachlan Fold Belt of New South Wales. The company was formerly known as Africwest Gold NL and changed its name to Mincor Resources NL in October 1999. Mincor Resources NL is headquartered in West Perth, Australia.

MarketBeat Community Rating for Mincor Resources (ASX MCR)

Community Ranking: 3.8 out of 5 ( ) Outperform Votes: 6 (Vote Outperform) Underperform Votes: 2 (Vote Underperform) Total Votes: 8

MarketBeat's community ratings are surveys of what our community members think about Mincor Resources and other stocks. Vote "Outperform" if you believe MCR will outperform the S&P 500 over the long term. Vote "Underperform" if you believe MCR will underperform the S&P 500 over the long term. You may vote once every thirty days.

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Document Controller jobs in Muscat - Oman at Petrofac International

Job Description


Under directions, manage company documents while also ensuring their accuracy, quality and integrity Render assistance to the project for proper upkeep of all documents pertaining to project correspondences between the clients and the vendors and any third parties


schedule for creating databases for tracking all technical and non-technical documents and provide status update on a regular basis Receive technical drawings from various discipline engineers and ensure revision accuracy before issuing to the clientVendor & any third parties

Assist in setting up the Document control system for head officeSite and engineering support centers Prepare all project document control related procedures during the entire duration of a project

Issue regular reports to client on Drawings status, Technical Query status and exception reporting Issue regular reports to Project, engineering and construction team on overdue documents from Client, vendor and also issue statistical vendor document status purchase order wise

Take initiative in setting up Site Document control and support site Document control activities until site document control stabilizes

Closely co-ordinate with IT team in setting up petrocept and Documentum in Sharjah office & site Document Control

Ensure data accuracy in Petrocept and Documentum

Distribute internally copy of transmittals within the project team and site (if deemed fit) as per distribution matrix assigned Receive reviewed documents from client and make respective log entries and assign the approval codes for the commented drawings in TDR (Technical Document Register) Also transfer these approvals internally as per the project distribution matrix

Responsible to ensure all Technical deliverables are issued, returned, logged within an acceptable time frame

On request send vendor documents to the client for review Communicate all comments received from client to the vendor

Liaise with vendors and expedite for timely submission of all documents as mentioned in the VDR

Answer all day to day queries from DisciplinesProjects in regard to document status

Verify if the MRB (Manufacturing Record Book) and the Operating Maintenance Manual is in conformance with the quality standards in co-ordination with QAQC Team Maintain a comprehensive list of the entire quality test plans needed to be conducted on materials

Perform other related duties incidental to the work described in support of the department


Bachelors degree with minimum of 5-7 years of related experience as a document controller on EPC projects

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Palladium breaks through $1,700 on supply concerns; dollar pressures gold

Palladium hit a record peak on Monday, passing $1,700 an ounce, as tight supply of the autocatalyst metal stoked fears the deficit could only widen amid rising industrial demand, while a stronger dollar hurt gold prices.

Spot palladium rose 0.4% to $1,687.19 an ounce by 1250 GMT, having touched a record $1,700.71. The metal, up for a third straight session, gained 2.4% last week.

“Underlying fundamentals have been supportive all year for palladium and there is a shortfall in supply ... It will extend until the music stops, and right now there’s nothing that really is calling for that music to stop,” said Saxo Bank commodity strategist Ole Hansen.

“If we see some breakdown in some of the other metals, such as gold or platinum, we may start to see some profit taking that could spill into palladium.”

Concerns that supply of the metal used in car exhaust systems could run out has helped to lift prices by more than 33% this year alone, despite a weakening auto sector.

“We think palladium’s recovery from August lows is due to a resumption of fundamental tightness as well as some speculative interest. Despite palladium’s robust fundamentals, bouts of risk-off would weigh on the market,” UBS analysts said in a note.

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Burst dam at Brazil gold mine leaves two injured, no fatalities

A dam at a gold mine in western Brazil burst on Tuesday, leaving a 2-km (1.2-mile) trail of mining waste and injuring two people, according to the country’s National Mining Agency (ANM).

No one was killed in the incident in Mato Grosso state, ANM said in a statement. The dam is registered under the name of an individual wildcat miner rather than in the name of a mining company.

Inspections of the dam had not turned up any problems, and it had been declared as stable on Sept. 25, the agency said.

Brazil remains on high alert for dam ruptures after a tailings dam at a Vale SA iron ore mine burst in January, killing at least 250 people in the second major disaster of its kind in four years.

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Base Metals

Japan Q4 aluminium premiums fall amid ample supplies and soft demand

Premiums for aluminium shipments to Japan for October to December were set at $97 per tonne, down 10% from the previous quarter amid ample supplies in Asia and softening demand from the electronics and auto industries, three sources directly involved in the pricing talks said.

The figure is lower than the $108 per tonne paid in the July-September quarter and marks a first quarterly drop in three. It is also lower than the initial offers of $105-$115 made by producers.

Japan is Asia’s biggest importer of the light metal and the premiums PREM-ALUM-JP for primary metal shipments it agrees to pay each quarter over the benchmark London Metal Exchange (LME) cash price set the benchmark for the region.

“We had settled all of our October-December term contacts at $97 a tonne,” a source at a buyer said. “Producers came down from their initial offers due to weaker demand, especially in electronics and automobile segments.”

Japanese manufacturing activity shrank at the fastest pace in seven months in September, underscoring the broadening economic impact of the Sino-U.S. trade dispute and keeping policymakers under pressure to step up stimulus.

Abundant supplies in Asia also forced producers to compromise, the source said, citing higher supplies from Australia after U.S. pressure to reduce its aluminium export and increased output in India and the Middle East.

“All Q4 deals were done at $97 a tonne to reflect slow demand and lower spot premiums in Japan,” a source at a producer said, pointing to around $90 a tonne.

The sources declined to be named due to the sensitivity of the talks.

The latest quarterly pricing negotiations began last month between Japanese buyers and global producers.

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مصفاة الطويلة للألومينا ترفع إنتاجها لمليون طن بنهاية 2019

أعلنت، أمس، الإمارات العالمية للألمنيوم، أكبر شركة صناعية في دولة الإمارات، عن إنجاز مهم في مصفاة الطويلة للألومينا في إمارة أبوظبي، حيث بلغ إجمالي الإنتاج من الألومينا 600 ألف طن منذ بدء العمليات في المصفاة الجديدة في أبريل الماضي.

ومن المتوقع أن يتجاوز إجمالي إنتاج مصفاة الطويلة للألومينا مليون طن بحلول نهاية عام 2019، وخلال أغسطس الماضي، بلغ متوسط الإنتاج اليومي من الألومينا 88% من الطاقة الإنتاجية لمصفاة الطويلة للألومينا، ومن المتوقع أن تبلغ مصفاة الطويلة للألومينا مستوى الإنتاج المستمر أو ما يُعرف بحد الطاقة الإنتاجية خلال عام 2020.

وبمجرد أن يبلغ معدل الإنتاج إلى حدوده القصوى، من المتوقع أن يصل إلى نحو مليوني طن من الألومينا سنوياً، وهو ما يكفي لتلبية 40% من احتياجات شركة الإمارات العالمية للألمنيوم من الألومينا. ويعمل نحو 589 شخصاً ضمن فريق العمليات بمصفاة الطويلة للألومينا، ومن بينهم خبراء متمكنون تم تعيينهم من كل أنحاء العالم، كما يضم الفريق مواطنين إماراتيين مدربين على لعب أدوار وظيفية مختلفة في هذا النشاط الصناعي الجديد في دولة الإمارات العربية المتحدة.

وذكر عبد الله جاسم بن كلبان، العضو المنتدب الرئيس التنفيذي في شركة الإمارات العالمية للألمنيوم ان زيادة الإنتاج في مصفاة الألومينا الجديدة مهمة معقدة ومليئة بالتحديات، وقد أعددنا العدة لزيادة الإنتاج حتى من قبل إنشائها، ولدينا فريق عالمي المستوى يتولى تشغيل مصفاة الألومينا التابعة لشركة الإمارات العالمية للألمنيوم، وهو يحقق تقدماً كبيراً. واستغرقت الاستعدادات لتشغيل مصفاة الطويلة للألومينا أكثر من 500 ألف ساعة عمل. وتقوم مصافي الألومينا بتحويل خام البوكسيت إلى الألومينا، وهي المادة الأولية التي تستخدمها مَصاهر الألمنيوم، وتستورد شركة الإمارات العالمية للألمنيوم خام البوكسيت من جمهورية غينيا، بهدف معالجته في مصفاة الطويلة للألومينا.

وبدأت شركة الإمارات العالمية للألمنيوم في أغسطس الماضي عملية الإنتاج في شركة غينيا للألومينا في جمهورية غينيا، ويُشحَن البوكسيت الناتج من مشروع شركة غينيا ألومينا كوربوريشن إلى عملاء آخرين في أنحاء العالم. وتعد مصفاة الطويلة للألومينا ومشروع شركة غينيا ألومينا خطوة هامة نحو التوسع الاستراتيجي لشركة الإمارات العالمية للألمنيوم في سلسلة القيمة الخاصة بها للألمنيوم، ويوفر هذان المشروعان موارد جديدة للإيرادات لدى شركة الإمارات العالمية للألمنيوم، إلى جانب تأمين عملية توريد المواد الخام التي يحتاج إليها قطاع الألمنيوم في دولة الإمارات وبأسعار تنافسية.

وتعتبر مصفاة الطويلة للألومينا أول مصفاة من نوعها في دولة الإمارات والثانية على مستوى منطقة الشرق الأوسط، واستثمرت شركة الإمارات العالمية للألمنيوم نحو 3,3 مليارات دولار أمريكي لإنشاء مصفاة الطويلة للألومينا. وبلغت عدد القوى العاملة التي استُخدمت في عملية الإنشاء 11542 عاملاً من 20 دولة. وقد استغرقت عمليات الإنشاء 72 مليون ساعة عمل، وهو ما يعادل عمل شخص واحد لمدة تزيد على 25 ألف سنة. ويحتوي المصنع الجديد على نحو 9500 من الآلات والأجهزة و222 خزاناً وعدد من الأنابيب يكفي لأن يمتد من أبوظبي إلى مسقط، وكبلات يعادل طولها المسافة بين أبوظبي والقاهرة، ويقع المصنع على مساحة تكافئ 200 ملعب كرة قدم، ويشتمل على كميات من الفولاذ تكفي لبناء سبعة أبراج مثل برج إيفل.


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Sanctions are over, Rusal's clients say, as aluminium 'mating season' starts

Aluminium group Rusal is in talks with customers to agree 2020 supply contracts, six industry sources told Reuters, marking the first round of autumn negotiations since sanctions against the Russian company were lifted in January.

Rusal starts the aluminium industry’s so called “mating season” hoping to win back customers lost a year ago due to the sanctions which hit the company’s bottom line and roiled world aluminium markets.

Washington lifted the sanctions on Rusal in late January, after intense negotiations and a series of organizational changes within Rusal. The measures on its co-owner Oleg Deripaska remain in place.

“Sanctions are over. No one is talking about sanctions, nobody... There’s no threat of that,” said one of Rusal’s largest clients, when asked if they would take into account any associated risks when discussing next year’s contract.

Rusal and other aluminium producers are under pressure to cut prices for 2020 contacts because of weak market conditions, sources said.

Rusal, the world’s largest aluminium producer outside China, cannot be certain of regaining customers lost a year ago, as the mating season has just started and very few contracts have been signed so far, sources said.

Potential customers are also trying to use Rusal’s sanctions experience “as leverage”, an aluminium trader said, but this is also a consequence of a well-supplied market, where the trader said it was hard to find anyone bullish.

“If the market was very strong there would not be the same pressure on producers, Rusal included, to concede to lower terms,” the trader added.

Benchmark aluminium prices on the London Metal Exchange at around $1,720, are at their lowest since January 2017.

Rusal has been willing to boost its share of value-added products (VAP) such as alloyed ingots and slabs, in its sales from 2020, but has said that it could prove tough due to weaker market conditions for the metal that caused a 38% slump in the company’s first-half net profit.

Last autumn, Rusal signed fewer sales contracts for 2019 for its value-added products due to sanctions. But this season Rusal is pushing VAPs and is also trying to focus on by-passing traders and going straight to end-users, another trader said.

The trader said his firm had not been offered a discount by Rusal to reflect any sanctions risk. Rusal’s offer was priced similarly to competitors, he said.

Rusal is offering an average price - in the same range as its competitors this season - a customer from the Middle East said.

“They assured us that there are no sanctions risks anymore,” he said. “Whether we buy this year just depends on the price.”

A lot of customers are not too concerned by the sanctions risk because those people who entered into contracts with Rusal before the sanctions were introduced were subsequently allowed to fulfil those contracts, a European industry player said.

He also said that Rusal could improve its market share in the Spanish market in the new season.

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Rising Nickel Costs Squeeze Stainless Steel Producers’ Margins

Rising nickel prices have lifted the input costs for most stainless steel producers, significantly, in recent months. In many parts of the world, however, suppliers have been unable to pass the total amount of this increase on to their customers. The steelmakers, therefore, are forced to absorb the rising price of raw materials, thus cutting – or eliminating – their profit margins.

Only in North America have recent increases in alloy extras been fully applied, without cuts in basis values. This may become more difficult to sustain, in the coming months, as surcharges continue to rise, but end-user demand remains modest.

The price of nickel has been pushed up by predictions of future supply tightness. Consumption will be boosted by the metal’s use in batteries for the growing number of electric vehicles. Fears of possible shortages were raised, recently, by confirmation of an imminent ban on nickel ore exports, by the authorities in Indonesia. Although outside parties have announced plans to invest in nickel refining facilities in Indonesia, the ban will result in reduced supply, from the country, in the short-to-medium term.

Demand for stainless steel, conversely, is rather subdued. Trade actions, by the United States, have slashed the volume of shipments – of steel, and manufactured goods – from China, and other Asian countries. In turn, this has negatively affected the ability of consumers, in these emerging economies, to buy goods from prestige suppliers in many developed countries.

Producers, particularly in the traditional stainless steelmaking regions, continue to struggle with growing global excess capacity. European mills find it increasingly difficult to compete with price offers from Asia, for commodity grades. However, they may receive some temporary respite, in the near future, as the EC Safeguarding quota tonnages for several stainless steel product forms are projected to be exhausted, before the end of the quota period.

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Natixis succeeds against Marex in metals fraud case

A high court judge ruled on Wednesday that commodities broker Marex Spectron must pay French bank Natixis $32 million following a complex fraud lawsuit concerning nickel stored at warehouses in Asia.

The court also ruled that Marex could recover part of the $32 million that it had in turn sought from Glencore unit Access World, which stored the metal.

Marex, Natixis and Glencore officials were not immediately available for comment.

Natixis sued Marex in 2017 over fraudulent receipts. Marex had rejected the lawsuit and a trial was held in January this year at London’s High Court.

Marex in turn issued a claim against Access World and also filed a claim for indemnity to its insurers. Both Glencore’s and Marex’s insurers denied responsibility.

The receipts were part of a repurchase agreement, arranged by Marex, between Natixis and a Hong Kong firm. None of the parties in the case have disputed that the receipts were fraudulent but it is unclear who faked them.

In January 2019, Access World said it had become aware of fake warehouse receipts circulating in its name and urged holders to seek authentication.

In April, Marex reported a record pre-tax profit of $45.2 million for 2018 and also took a provision of $31.9 million linked to the court action.

The practice of using metal as collateral in warehouse repo deals has come under increasing scrutiny since a $3 billion fraud four years ago at Qingdao port in China, which led to a $440 million fine for the firm involved, Dezheng Resources, and a 23-year jail sentence for its chairman.

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Vietnam imposes anti-dumping tax on Chinese aluminium products

Vietnam has imposed an anti-dumping tax on some aluminium products from China, just months after a similar levy targeting steel items, as the Southeast Asian nation looks to rein in an ever-increasing trade deficit with its giant neighbour.

An investigation launched in January found that Chinese dumping activities had seriously hurt domestic producers of aluminium, with some having to suspend output, the Ministry of Industry and Trade said.

The anti-dumping tax on some aluminium products from 16 Chinese companies ranges from 2.49% to 35.58% and took effect for five years from Sept. 28, the government said on its website on Wednesday.

Aluminium imports from China nearly doubled last year to at least 62,000 tonnes, the ministry added. The figure excluded the amount of aluminium that transited through Vietnam.

In June, Vietnam had imposed an anti-dumping tax of 3.45% to 34.27% on some Chinese steel products.

This year, Vietnam said it would crack down on goods of Chinese origin illegally labelled “Made in Vietnam” by exporters seeking to avoid U.S. tariffs on products made in China.

Vietnam relies on China, its largest trading partner, for materials and equipment for its labour-intensive manufacturing.

Vietnam’s trade deficit with China widened to $25.11 billion in the first eight months of this year, from $17.23 billion a year earlier.

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China’s non-ferrous metals output grows in Jan-Aug

China’s 10 major non-ferrous medals saw faster output expansion in the first eight months of this year, official data showed.

Total output reached 38.63 million tons in the Jan-Aug period, up 4.6 percent year-on-year, 0.8 percentage points faster over one year ago, according to the National Development and Reform Commission.

Output of copper reached 6.15 million tons, up 5.8 percent year-on-year. The country’s lead production expanded 18.8 percent to 3.96 million tons.

Profits in the nonferrous metals sector rose 9.7 percent year-on-year in the period, and the growth rate was 3.7 percentage points higher than that of the first seven months, data from the National Bureau of Statistics showed.

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Chile's Antofagasta seeks to stave off strike at small Antucoya copper mine and larger Los Palambres

Chile’s Antofagasta , one of the world’s top copper miners, negotiated on Thursday with workers in hopes of staving off a strike at its small Antucoya deposit in northern Chile, though union leaders said there had been little progress in discussions.

The government-mediated negotiations follow the union’s decision to reject Antofagasta Plc’s final contract offer, raising the specter of a strike.

The union’s president, Cesar Garcia, told Reuters the company had delivered a proposal “the same as the one it had previously offered.”

“That’s no way to reach an agreement,” Garcia said.

The talks at Antucoya, which in 2018 produced 72,200 tonnes of copper, are set to continue for five days. The parties may then request an extension of negotiations.

The union of supervisors at Antofagasta’s larger Los Pelambres mine, which produced 370,500 tonnes of copper in 2018, also recently rejected a final contract offer. Union leaders there told Reuters they expected the company would seek a government-mediated negotiation.

Antofagasta declined to comment on either of the ongoing negotiations.

Chile is the world’s top copper producer.

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People will breathe easier with closing of coal plants

It was a slap in the face but no shock when Texas-based Vistra Energy announced its closing of four somewhat modernized coal-burning power plants in downstate Illinois to meet terms of a deal negotiated with the state, but that the comparably filthy Edwards plant south of Peoria would stay open.

It was a slap in the face but no shock when Texas-based Vistra Energy announced its closing of four somewhat modernized coal-burning power plants in downstate Illinois to meet terms of a deal negotiated with the state, but that the comparably filthy Edwards plant south of Peoria would stay open.

The REAL shock came Sept. 16, when environmental groups disclosed a proposed settlement of a 2013 lawsuit that will also close Edwards in three years.

The public will literally breathe a bit easier, as the shutdowns will cut millions of pounds of climate-changing carbon dioxide and sulphur dioxide emissions annually.

Vistra last year became Illinois’ biggest producer of coal-burning electricity when it bought power plants from Dynegy Inc., but the coal industry faces dwindling customers and legal woes, like that six-year-old Clean Air Act lawsuit.

If approved by the Department of Justice, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. District Court for the Central District of Illinois, and Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO, which operates the regional power grid), the settlement would provide for retiring the Edwards plant by Dec. 31, 2022.

“After many years of hard work, our efforts have finally paid off,” said Ryan Hidden of the Heart of Illinois Sierra Club.

The market for coal-based energy isn’t sustainable. Moody’s Investor Service in August blamed economic, environmental and social factors in its “negative outlook for the North American coal industry. Profitability will worsen in the next 12-18 months.” Also, the country’s largest commercial insurer, Chubb, last month became the first U.S. insurance company to restrict coal insurance, announcing it “recognizes the reality of climate change [and] will not underwrite risks related to the construction and operation of new coal-fired plants.”

Final details of the Edwards settlement are expected by Oct. 3, but plaintiffs’ representatives say proposed terms include Vistra:

* setting aside $6.88 million for projects for public health or environmental projects that benefit Central Illinois, such as funding for electric buses, energy-efficiency improvements, solar-power projects, and programs to improve lung health;

* paying $3 million toward legal expenses; and

* providing $1.72 million for economic transition, mainly in job training at area schools and community organizations.

That provision is significant since other communities affected by Vistra shutdowns haven’t received such assurances, and 11 coal-fired power plants remain open in Illinois.

State Sen. Dave Koehler (D-Peoria) says the state has an obligation to help those affected.

“As we transition to an energy economy that focuses on limiting emissions,” he said, “we must be proactive in helping communities that [closures] will adversely effect. If we know this is causing hardship, then we [need to] make sure we make up some of that difference. We have to make sure counties like Fulton County aren’t paying the price alone,”

Koehler says he and State Sen. Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) are drafting a bill addressing such shutdowns.

“We should ‘hold harmless’ taxing bodies, from counties to schools,” he says.

Legislation on the issue also has faced resistance from business for years.

Ten years ago, Illinois coal operators agreed to clean up or shut down by now, but corporations convinced regulators to extend deadlines. In 2017, ex-Gov. Bruce Rauner proposed making it easier to keep operating the dirtiest but less expensive coal plants, but current Gov. J.B. Pritzker dropped that after objections from Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul’s office and others.

Meanwhile, hundreds of green businesses, consumer-advocate organizations and environmental groups are promoting the Clean Energy Jobs Act, a bill funding assistance to laid-off workers and local governments losing lost revenue. Supporters the CEJA would boost energy efficiency, take advantage of better costs for solar and wind power, and enact market reforms to protect ratepayers from higher energy prices.

“Illinois needs to pass the Clean Energy Jobs Act as soon as possible,” says Heart of Illinois conservation chair Joyce Blumenshine. “It is the best pathway forward so for-profit corporations don't keep shifting more costs for public health and the environment on the public.”

Knight has been a reporter, editor and columnist for more than 50 years. Also an author, Knight is a journalism professor emeritus from WIU, where he taught for more than 20 years. Contact him at; for archives, go to

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Coal is Piling Up in Europe as Utilities Prefer Natural Gas

Stockpiles of coal are surging at some of Europe’s largest ports as utilities from Germany to Spain are increasingly favouring cleaner gas in power generation.

Reserves at ports in Rotterdam, Amsterdam and Vlissingen last week rose to their highest levels since July. The uptake after the summer has slowed because of mild weather so far this autumn. Crashing natural gas prices have also made it more attractive for utilities to burn the fuel, just as solar and wind continues to eat into the overall share of fossil fuels.

The latest statistics is yet another sign of how energy economics is supporting nations weaning themselves off the dirtiest fossil fuel to curb emissions to slow climate change. For most of this decade it was more profitable to burn coal in Germany, but that relationship was turned on its head early this year because of a glut of gas.

“With the flood of gas in the global markets, it has made it harder for coal generators to compete economically against gas,” said Joe Aldina, head of coal analytics at S&P Global Platts in New York.

Coal inventories at the three ports on Sept. 16 stood at 6.5 million tons. At the same time, water levels at Kaub on the Rhine fell to their lowest since December. The river is a vital transport route for barges to coal-fired plants in Germany. In the U.K., coal-fired power generation fell below 1% of the total in the second quarter, the government said on Thursday. That’s the lowest share since the 19th century.

Stocks are well-above average levels for the past five years, even if they have declined from multiyear highs this spring, said Aldina. The pace of thermal coal imports should continue to slow and keep stockpiles in check, he said.

In the gas market, a record number of liquefied natural cargoes to Europe this year, coupled with stable flows from both Russia and Norway helped fill up storage levels much earlier-than-usual this autumn. Benchmark prices have plunged almost 60% in the past year.

“European coal burn is at a very low level because of ultra-low gas prices,” said Hans Gunnar Navik, a senior analyst at StormGeo AS in Oslo.

Although coal for 2020 has been buoyed by recent macro events ranging from French nuclear supply risks to surging oil prices after the recent attack in Saudi Arabia, the benchmark contract has declined 22% this year.

“With these issues abating, the market is losing its once supportive drivers and reverting back to its supply and demand fundamentals,” Hui Heng Tan, a coal analyst at Marex Spectron Group Ltd., said by email.

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Steel, Iron Ore and Coal

Markets To Rise Further As RBI Expected To Cut Rates, Say Experts

In August, RBI reduced its key lending rate by 35 basis points.

The expected easing of the monetary policy as well as fresh foreign fund inflows are likely to lift the equity markets in the coming week, say experts.

However, analysts warn that continued decline in automobile sales and any rethink on the accommodative monetary policy stance on account of fiscal pressure emerging from stimulus measures might arrest the market's upward trajectory.

According to market observers, the monetary policy committee of the RBI is expected to go ahead and further reduce the key lending rate, to give further impetus to growth.

According to Edelweiss Professional Investor Research's Chief Market Strategist Sahil Kapoor: "The markets are looking forward to a rate cut in the upcoming RBI policy."

The RBI's monetary policy committee (MPC) will conduct the fourth policy review of the current fiscal from October 3-4.

"The RBI monetary policy announced on October 4 can further set the tone for the rupee movement. We expect a base case cut of 25 basis points and may be even 40 BPS. The expected range for rupee can be 70.20 to 71.20...," said Sajal Gupta, Head, Forex and Rates, Edelweiss Securities.

In August, the Reserve Bank broke from convention to reduce its key lending rate by 35 basis points in a bid to unleash consumption-led demand.

The MPC had reduced the repo, or short-term lending rate for commercial banks, by 35 basis points to 5.40 per cent from 5.75 per cent.

"A muted trend may occur in the short-term as the market is still cautious. It is watching if the RBI will maintain its stance now that the steep cut in tax revenue is expected to impact the government's fiscal strength," said Vinod Nair, Head of Research at Geojit Financial Services.

Besides the monetary policy, investors will also watch out for macro-economic data points such as the output of eight core industries (ECI) and the current account deficit figure.

In addition, the country's fiscal deficit data will be released during the week, while, monthly auto sales numbers will be analysed for signs of a turnaround in consumer spending.

"Auto sales, rate cuts, global events and anticipation of upcoming earning season will drive short-term market moves," Kapoor said.

"Over the next few quarters Nifty is likely to head towards 13,000 to 13,500 by June 2020," he added.

Apart from the macro-data point, Indian rupee's movement will also have a bearing on the market movement.

On technical charts, the bulls are expected to remain in control at the NSE Nifty50, even a week after the index rallied.

"The intermediate uptrend is likely to continue once the immediate resistance of 11,695 is taken out. Crucial support to watch for resumption of weakness is at 11,416," said Deepak Jasani, Head of HDFC Securities Research.

Get Breaking news, live coverage, and Latest News from India and around the world on Catch all the Live TV action on NDTV 24x7 and NDTV India. Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and Instagram for latest news and live news updates.

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China coking coal posts steepest weekly fall in nearly 11 months on demand worries

Chinese coking coal futures slipped on Friday and logged their biggest weekly loss since November 2018, as slowing economic growth and a bruising U.S.-China trade war clouded demand outlook for the steelmaking raw material.

Trading volumes were thin, however, in China’s ferrous complex ahead of a long holiday in the world’s top metals consumer.

The most-traded coking coal on the Dalian Commodity Exchange, for delivery in January 2020, ended down 1.5% at 1,236 yuan ($173.38) a tonne and was down 4.4% for the week.

Coke, the steelmaking material produced by heating coking coal, dropped 0.9% to 1,876 yuan a tonne and was down 3.6% this week, its biggest weekly drop in two months.

Many Chinese steel mills have been ordered to shut or limit operations starting this week under a strict anti-pollution campaign as the nation prepares to mark the 70th anniversary of the People’s Republic on Oct. 1, when the week-long holidays will begin.

Beyond the holidays, the demand outlook for steel products and raw materials in China is uncertain as latest economic indicators show a deepening slowdown, with profits at industrial firms contracting in August.

Doubts remain on whether China and the United States would be able to settle their trade conflict soon, despite U.S. President Donald Trump’s remarks on Wednesday saying a deal could happen sooner than people think.

The key near-term event to watch will be whether Trump delays the proposed additional 5% tariff hike on $250 billion of Chinese imports that will take effect on Oct. 15.

“If this tariff is implemented, we would expect trade tensions to escalate sharply, with China likely announcing counter-measures such as its new unreliable entity list,” Nomura said in a note.

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Indian mills cut steel inventory amid declining production of finished product

India’s mills are working to reduce their steel inventories as domestic production of finished steel fell for a third-straight month in August amid poor demand.

Production in August amounted to 8.39 million mt, while consumption fell to 8.23 million mt from 8.85 million mt in July, data released by the Joint Plant Committee showed.

“Every mill has decided to cut back production instead of going the whole hog,” a New Delhi-based mill source said, adding his company is producing at 85% capacity utilization, down from 90%-92% earlier.

The steel sector has witnessed a continuous declining trend in production since June, the ministry of steel said, citing low demand from sectors such as “the auto sector, capital goods, real estate and infrastructure. Global factors have also added to the present situation.”

In August, India produced 2.30 million vehicles, an 18.4% fall on the year, data from the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers showed.

“Demand has to return for three reasons in October. First, post-monsoon demand, second, festival demand … and third, because inventory build up in the previous months has naturally been less,” a Mumbai-based trader said

Meanwhile, Indian steel exports posted increases in both July and August.

“Higher inventory levels and subdued domestic demand resulted in an increase in the export volumes,” the steel ministry said, adding that August was the second time in 2019 that India was a net exporter of finished steel. The first occurrence was in February.

“India’s exports to Vietnam, Italy, Nepal, Hong Kong, and UAE have increased. Exports of HRC and Semis have witnessed a significant increase to these countries,” the ministry said. “July and August 2019 exports registered a significant growth of 53.8% and 113.7%, respectively, surpassing imports in volume terms during the month of August 2019.”

Although still an overall net importer of finished steel, India plans to boost its exports.

“Our overall capacity is around 140 million mt/year and our production is around 100 million mt/year. We want to be a net exporter of steel for a long period of time in the next three years,” Dharmendra Pradhan, India’s minister of steel, said on Monday.

“The order book positions of Indian mills don’t look good [at the moment] … mills still can do end-October shipment [to Southeast Asia], which is a really short lead time,” a Singapore-based trader sourcing Indian material said.

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Sugar price falls on lower demand, higher imports

Market News Sugar price falls on lower demand, higher imports

Imported sugar at the port of Mombasa. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Retail prices of sugar have started easing in what the sector regulator attributes to lower demand and sufficient stocks resulting from enhanced imports.

A two-kilo packet is now retailing at Sh210 on average from a high of Sh230 in July.

The Sugar Directorate said the desirable price should be Sh205 for the same quantity.

Kabras Sugar is retailing at a low of Sh205 for a two kilogramme packet, while local non-branded sugar is going for as low as Sh200 for the same quantity.

The head of the sugar directorate, Solomon Odera, said they had scaled up imports to cover up for dwindling local production.


The directorate normally issues import permits to traders to allow them ship in duty free sugar from regional countries.

“The directorate has endeavoured to ensure that we bring in imports that are commensurate with deficit and this has ensured that we have adequate stocks in the market that has helped to check high cost of sugar,” said Mr Odera.

“The current retail price can be considered reasonable and as a directorate we have always wanted the price to maintain a range of Sh205 and Sh210 in order to protect consumers from high cost of the commodity,” he added.

However, Mr Odera warned that the upward price pressure is likely to be felt from later this month as the country moves towards December festive season when consumption ordinarily spikes.

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Brazil's Vale receives 82 positive structural safety certificates: filing

Brazilian iron ore miner Vale SA said on Tuesday it has received 82 positive structural stability certificates at its domestic operations, with three dams being awarded positive certificates after negative evaluations in March.

In a securities filing, the miner also said six deactivated high dams still have negative structural stability certificates, while the Vargem Grande dam at its Vargem Grande complex still has a negative certificate too, it added.

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Vale Officially Facing Criminal Charges from Brazilian Authorities

The world’s largest iron mining company, Vale (NYSE:VALE), was hit by another piece of bad news recently. Brazilian authorities announced charges against several Vale employees who deceived regulators about the structural integrity of the Brumadinho dam that collapsed in January. The incident, which resulted in the deaths of 248 people, was the deadliest dam collapse in over 50 years and arguably the worst disaster in Vale’s mining history.

What happened?

Brazilian federal police have announced criminal charges against seven employees of Vale as well as six workers from TÜV SÜD, a safety inspection firm and auditor that certified the Brumadinho dam in Minas Gerais safe just months before it ruptured. All the workers accused were either engineers, managers, or technicians; no one in senior management has been charged.

While there has been plenty of speculation about criminal charges for some of Vale’s executives or directors, it appears this current round of charges is targeting those who were personally involved in the certification process. However, it’s likely that more criminal charges will follow in the near future, and senior executives could face jail time. According to The Financial Times, a parliamentary commission in Minas Gerais, the state where the Brumadinho mine is located, authored a report arguing that Vale’s CEO at the time of the disaster, Fabio Schvartsman, should receive criminal charges.

Why is this important?

We now know not only that criminal charges are underway but also that further, more severe charges are possible in the future. Brazilian authorities told The Wall Street Journal that they are preparing further charges that may include manslaughter and homicide.

The ongoing fallout from the Brumadinho disaster also continues to play a role in pushing down Vale’s stock. Shares are down 14.9% so far in 2019, underperforming against rivals such as BHP (NYSE:BBL) and Rio Tinto (NYSE:RIO), which are up 6.5% and 11.9% respectively across the same period. With the prospect of further legal actions on the horizon, investors need to recognize that these developments will likely continue to depress the company’s stock while other iron miners continue to grow.

What’s next for Vale?

At this point, there seems to be no easy way out for the company. Back in Q1 2019, Vale reported a onetime $4.95 billion charge in regard to the Brumadinho disaster before posting a second major charge in Q2 of $1.5 billion. These losses are independent of potential legal fines or further environmental damages, which could easily amount to billions in additional charges for the company. Earlier this year, an anonymous source close to the Brazilian investigation suggested that Vale could face a further $7 billion fine if convicted under the nation’s anticorruption laws.

Amidst Vale’s ongoing decline, the stock might seem like an appealing value stock to some investors, simply from a financial perspective. The company’s price to book value ratio is at 1.38, much cheaper than BHP’s 2.71 and Rio Tinto’s 2.26. Other key metrics, such as price to sales, also show that Vale is cheaper than other major iron producers. However, this isn’t enough to make the stock attractive.

Even putting aside the possibility of further declines in the months to come as more news surrounding these legal cases comes out, other factors are weighing down the company. The biggest of these is evidenced by the weak macroeconomic data from China. Recent figures from August showed industrial production was up only 4.4%, the lowest rate since 2002. Couple this with the uncertainty surrounding the ongoing U.S.-China trade war, and demand from China for iron ore will likely continue to fall.

Iron prices have also taken a significant hit over the past couple of months. After reaching a five-year high in July at a price of $123.10 per tonne, prices have fallen by 24.8%, to $92.54 per tonne. While declining demand from China played a role, there’s also the fact that many of Vale’s iron-producing facilities have come back online, adding tens of millions of iron ore output back into the global market.

With low iron ore prices on the horizon alongside weak Chinese manufacturing data, Vale’s long-term prognosis doesn’t look very good. When you also consider the legal challenges the company is facing, it seems best to stay away from the stock at the moment.

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Brazil miner Vale expects to mostly finish paying for burst dam by 2021

Brazilian miner Vale SA on Wednesday said it expects to finish paying for most of the expenses related to the disaster at one of its facilities that killed at least 250 people by 2021.

In securities filings, Vale laid out its expectations for expenses related to the rupture of a mining dam at its facility in the town of Brumadinho in January, which released a torrent of mud burying buildings and people.

Lawmakers and prosecutors have questioned how the company allowed that disaster to happen only four years after a similar dam containing mining waste collapsed in 2015. Vale faces a variety of legal actions related to the disaster including lawsuits in Brazil, U.S. class actions and Brazilian exchange regulator probes.

For this year, Vale said it expected expenses related to halted operations because of the Brumadinho disaster to fall from $3-$4 per tonne of iron ore in the third quarter to $2.5-$3.5 per tonne in the fourth quarter.

Annual expenses related to taking down similar risky dams, repairing the environment and compensating victims are expected to peak at $1.5 billion to $2.1 billion next year before falling through 2022.

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Resource nationalism takes hold of Indonesian coal

When House of Representatives Speaker Bambang Soesatyo finally bowed to President Joko Widodo’s request to leave four crucial pieces of legislation to the next parliament, not all of the outgoing lawmakers leapt to his command.

Under pressure from heavy hitters in the country’s US$32 billion coal industry, the parliamentary mining commission was still scheduling meetings days later, vainly trying to find a way to get the newly revised Mining Law through a plenary session of the outgoing House.

The crux of the matter is a new amendment to the 2009 Mining Law which will lift the 15,000 hectare restriction on the size of coal miners’ concessions when they are compelled to convert their expiring Coal Contracts of Work (CCoW) to new Special Business Licenses (IUPK).

“The commission members had to prove to the coal lobbyists they were doing everything possible to get it done, even if they did appear to be defying Jokowi (Widodo),” says one industry source familiar with day-to-day developments.

Although chaired by Gus Irawan Pasaribu, an opposition Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra) lawmaker, 25 of the commission’s 41 members belonged to Widodo’s ruling coalition, including eight from Widodo’s Indonesian Democratic Party for Struggle (PDI-P).

They will soon be replaced by an entirely different line-up now that a new parliament has been installed. “It’s going to be a whole new ball game,” says one outgoing commission member. “There will be a whole lot of new interests involved. We have no idea what the new commission will do. It might even start all over again.”

Underlying the property restriction is a concerted move by the State Enterprise Ministry to take over the balance of concessions, currently operated by some of the largest private sector coal firms, which unlike foreign miners wield considerable political influence.

Over the past year, Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Ignasius Jonan, who could be replaced in the next Cabinet reshuffle, has called in coal producers one-by-one to urge them to relinquish parts of their concessions, in one case by as much as 72,000 hectares.

“There is clear evidence of an ongoing struggle between the public sector and the private sector for the control of the Indonesian coal industry,” says lawyer Bill Sullivan, who specializes in mining issues. “This is very much a battle of the giants, and it’s not clear who the winner will be.”

Coupled with ongoing global economic issues and the move away from coal to renewable energy sources, the lack of legal certainty has hard hit the industry, with companies finding it difficult to raise finance and interest potential investors.

Last March, State Enterprise Minister Rini Soemarno returned the proposed Mining Law amendment to the State Secretariat, challenging the lifting of the 15,000 ha restriction and seeking additional regulations that will give SOEs priority in taking over expiring contracts.

In an accompanying letter, she reminded the government that the country’s natural resources, including minerals and coal, belong to the state “and their commercialization must be optimized for the people’s prosperity and well-being.”

Soemarno’s job may also be on the line when the new Cabinet is announced later this month, but in the meantime she is holding tough. “State-owned companies, as an extension of the state, require a greater role in representing state control over natural resources,” she said.

State-run PT Bukit Asam is Indonesia’s seventh biggest coal company with seven subsidiaries covering 87,000 ha, in South and West Sumatra and East Kalimantan. It is currently developing a series of mine-mouth power plants to connect to the newly integrated Sumatran power grid.

Soemarno insisted in the letter that policies are needed to support the role of SOEs in downstream processing, part of a wider government effort to add value to the country’s coal and other minerals, and help boost foreign exchange reserves.

Industry sources say mining magnate Aburizal Bakrie, owner of Bumi Resources, the country’s largest producer of thermal coal, and his protege, Andi Syamsuddin Arsyad, a former motorcycle taxi driver, have been leading the charge to get the bill passed in its current form.

Kalimantan mine owner Kiki Barki, owner of PT Tanito Harum, whose CCOC was surprisingly extended by the minister of energy and mineral resources earlier this year, then revoked when the Anti-Corruption Commission (KPK) questioned its legality, is also at the forefront of the fight.

According to reports, the KPK wrote directly to Widodo in June asking him to cancel Tanito Haram’s IUPK – a clear sign that it saw the potential risk of a financial loss to the state, which the Attorney General’s Office often uses as grounds for a corruption charge even when personal enrichment is not involved.

Although the KPK has generally steered clear of such cases, Widodo supported the revisions to the new law seeking more oversight of the commission because he believes its uncompromising war on corruption is inhibiting bureaucrats from making timely business-related decisions and thus contributing to slowing economic growth.

Between now and 2025, seven other so-called “generation one” contracts are due to expire, including Kalimantan-based PT Arutmin and PT Kaltim Prima Coal, both of which fall under the umbrella of Bumi Resources, whose concessions are up in 2020 and 2021.

Between them, Kaltim Prime and Arutmin have a total concession area of 147,000 hectares across South and East Kalimantan, producing about 60 million tons of coal a year and with export markets across India, China and nine other Asian countries.

Other contracts due to run their course over the same period are PT Adaro Indonesia (2021), PT Kendilo Coal Indonesia (2021), PT Multi Harapan Utama (2022), PT Kindeco Jaya Agung (2023) and PT Berau Coal Tbk (2025), all owned by politically connected figures who stand to see their holdings diminished.

Mine owners don’t want to be put in the same position as US mining giant Freeport, which was forced to relinquish a controlling interest in its profitable Grasberg copper and gold mine in Papua to state-owned holding company Inalum in exchange for a contract extension.

Coal firms invariably belong to Indonesian businessmen because they are open-pit excavations with little of the expensive processing and general expertise needed for the exploitation of minerals, particularly in complex underground operations like at Grasberg.

Resource nationalization has also continued apace in the oil and gas sector, with state-owned PT Pertamina taking over the Mahakam gas block from French firm Total in late 2017. The state energy firm is now preparing to assume control of Chevron’s Rokan block, Indonesia’s biggest oil field.

Both, however, are maturing fields and Pertamina is already fighting a losing battle to maintain production at the Mahakam field, off the east coast of Kalimantan, because of a shortage of finance to drill the required number of wells each year.

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Nippon Steel's damaged Kimitsu plant to be shut until end-December

Japan’s biggest steelmaker, Nippon Steel Corp, said on Thursday one of the two steelmaking plants at its Kimitsu Steel Works will be shut until the end of December, to repair a chimney that collapsed in a typhoon last month.

The plant where work was suspended is located in Japan’s prefecture of Chiba east of Tokyo, the capital, and produces about 150,000 tonnes of semi-finished products each month to make wire rods used in automobiles, among other applications.

“We plan to complete repair work by the end of December and resume operations in January,” a company spokesman said.

Until then, Nippon Steel plans to produce substitutes at plants elsewhere as well as ask other Japanese steelmakers to provide substitute material to reduce disruption to supply for customers, including automakers, the spokesman said.

He did not elaborate, and declined to say what impact the suspension may have on the company’s earnings for the current financial year to March 31.

The typhoon in early September was one of the strongest to hit eastern Japan in recent years, killing one woman and bringing record-breaking winds and stinging rain that damaged buildings and disrupted transport.

The No. 1 steelmaking plant at Kimitsu, which makes semi-finished products using a basic-oxygen furnace to adjust iron ingredients, has halted operations since Sept. 9 after the chimney collapse, Nippon Steel has said.

Blast furnaces are operating at lower output to adjust to the reduced capacity of the steel-making process, the spokesman added, without giving specific volumes.

Another steelmaking plant at a Nippon Steel subsidiary in western Hiroshima, Kure Works, has also suspended operation since a fire damaged its operating room in late August, the spokesman added.

“We are still investigating the damage at the Kure Works and we don’t know when the plant will resume operations,” he added.

In early August, Nippon Steel forecast it would produce 41 million tonnes of crude steel for the year through March 2020, flat with a year earlier.

It also predicted a drop of 56% in annual profit, blaming an erosion in its margins on surging prices of iron ore and slumping demand in Asia.

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Chinese steel city steps up fines, prosecutions in pollution battle

China’s smog-prone northern city of Tangshan has issued new guidelines to punish and prosecute companies and individuals found guilty of pollution offences, amid warnings it might miss its air quality goals for this year.

Tangshan, which produces more steel each year than the whole of the United States, is about 180 km (112 miles) from Beijing, the capital, and is on the frontline of China’s “war on pollution”, which is now in its sixth year.

But despite closing dozens of foundries and cracking down on coal use, Tangshan continues to rank among China’s smoggiest cities, with officials saying in July it would struggle to reach its targets over the 2019-2020 period.

The tough new measures published on Wednesday threaten heavy fines and closure for firms that do not install proper monitoring equipment, tamper with pollution sensors or falsify or remove emissions data, and allow the arrest of offenders.

“(Tangshan) will be granted policy support for companies to implement technological renovations, equipment updates and energy substitutions that are tougher than the state and provincial level,” the guidelines said.

The measures, which take effect from Nov. 1, also prescribe fines of up to 10,000 yuan ($1,399.05) for drivers and owners whose vehicles fall short of state fuel standards or those who try to falsify their emission readings.

They also spell out punishments for companies or individuals responsible for burning agricultural waste, rubber, plastic or garbage in the open air, and for the use of unauthorized and polluting street barbecue equipment.

Government officials found to have abused their powers or failed in their duty to monitor and control emissions will be fired, and could also face criminal prosecution, the guidelines said.

Tangshan was one of several cities to implement industrial output cuts in late September in a regional effort to curb emissions and ensure blue skies during China’s National Day celebrations on Oct. 1.

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Brazil miner Vale considers making low-emission iron if gas prices fall: sources

Brazil’s Vale SA, the world’s largest miner of iron ore, is considering producing a type of iron with lower carbon emissions if the price of natural gas needed to produce it falls significantly, three sources with the company said on Thursday.

The company is interested in making “hot briquetted iron” (HBI) if the price of gas falls to $4 per million British thermal units (mmBtu), according to the three people, who requested anonymity. That would be roughly 60% lower than the current market price.

Brazil is in the midst of overhauling its natural gas sector, reducing state-owned Petroleo Brasileiro SA’s dominance of the market amid other measures to increase competition and reduce the price of gas.

HBI fetches $250-$300 per tonne on the global market, more than three times the price of iron ore, helped by demand from countries around the world striving to cut greenhouse gas emissions to curb climate change.

The product is a compacted brick of 93% iron with low levels of contaminants. It eliminates the need to use coking coal, a major source of greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants, when processing the briquette into steel. Steelmakers are responsible for an estimated 9% of global carbon emissions, according to a Vale investor presentation disclosed in an exchange filing on Wednesday.

That would enhance Vale’s existing advantage from the higher-than-average purity of its iron ore, which already produces fewer emissions than lower-grade ores.

“Vale is interested in building HBI plants,” one of the people said. “But the price of gas has to be drastically reduced.”

The exact model for producing HBI is still under discussion, and is not yet in the company’s investment plan, the person said.

Other than iron ore, natural gas is the main input required in making HBI. Its production is so far restricted to locations, such as the Middle East, where gas prices are low.

Brazil Economy Minister Paulo Guedes said the government’s reforms to the gas sector aim to deliver a “cheap energy shock” to feed Brazil’s growth, saying that gas prices could be reduced by up to 50%.

Gas prices could also come down as Brazil ramps up output of its massive “pre-salt” offshore oil find.

If Vale goes forward with HBI production, it could produce about 20 million tonnes of the material per year, accounting for about 5% of its planned future iron ore production.

Production could begin starting in the middle of the next decade, the source said.

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South Africa Seeks Coal Price Cuts to Avert Eskom Collapse

South Africa is pushing coal producers to cut prices to help save Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd., the debt-stricken power utility that threatens to unravel the country’s finances.

“At these prices of electricity, this economy is going to collapse,” Mineral and Energy Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe said Thursday at a mining conference in Johannesburg. “You have got to reduce the prices — what we are saying is coal producers must contribute in ensuring that is actually addressed.”

President Cyril Ramaphosa’s government is searching for ways to halt a rapidly accelerating financial crisis at a monopoly that’s seen as the biggest threat to the country’s budget and economy. Securing concessions from coal producers is the latest attempt to cut costs after labor unions repeatedly rejected suggestions to reduce the company’s bloated workforce.

Eskom, which provides about 95% of South Africa’s electricity, relies on coal to generate most of its power. Several ministries last week approached both coal and renewable energy producers to ask for lower-cost supplies.

“We are talking to them, we are not instructing them,” Mantashe said. “The steps are, one you talk to coal producers, they make a commitment, talk to renewables, they make a commitment.”

Coal producers plan more talks with the government over the supply and cost of the fuel, according to the Minerals Council South Africa, the country’s mining lobby.

“Careful consideration is being given to being mindful of competition regulation,” it said in a statement.

Miners have charged Eskom a wide range of prices for coal in contracts varying in length. The cost of the fuel at South Africa’s Richards Bay port, from where some producers export, has already dropped 32% over the past year, also putting pressure on the companies.

Seriti Resources Holdings Ltd., which is in talks to buy the South African coal assets of South32 Ltd., has taken part in the talks with the government.

“It’s in all of our interests to get Eskom back on its feet,” the company said in a statement, without saying whether it would lower prices.

Eskom’s primary energy costs rose 17% in its most recent financial year, due to higher coal charges and increased production from independent power producers. The utility has burned over 100 million tons of coal annually for at least a decade.

The utility is seeking to renegotiate unfavorable contracts with the so-called IPPs, said Eskom Chairman and acting Chief Executive Officer Jabu Mabuza. The company is also holding talks with creditors, he said, without saying what Eskom was asking for.

“The funders are being engaged on an ongoing basis and I wouldn’t want to preempt that,” Mabuza said. “Everybody has to contribute in finding the solutions. I wouldn’t want to be picking on anyone but am just saying in the entire value chain.”

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