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OGV Energy's Middle East Energy Review

OGV Energy's Middle East Energy Review


The OPEC+ group, led by the major oil producers in the Middle East and Russia, left in early February their output targets unchanged and signalled they would not hurry to change the policy even after Russia announced a cut in its oil production for March.

OPEC, meanwhile, raised slightly its global oil demand forecast, on the back of expectations that a Chinese rebound after the reopening will drive half of this year’s consumption growth worldwide.

OPEC+ Not Changing Production Policy For Now

The OPEC+ alliance agreed at the beginning of February that the target production – decided last year and effective by December 2023 – will be reaffirmed for the next few months.

The Joint Ministerial Monitoring Committee (JMMC) of the group, which recommends policy actions to the OPEC+ ministerial meetings, reaffirmed the commitment to the agreement from October 2022, which reduced the alliance’s collective production target by 2 million barrels per day (bpd).

OPEC+ does not plan to change its policy, delegates from the group told Reuters later in February, after Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak said that Russia, a member of OPEC+, would cut its oil production by 500,000 bpd in March, as a result of the Western sanctions and the price cap on Russian crude oil. According to the Kremlin, Russia discussed its plan to reduce production with some members of OPEC+, but Moscow had not formally consulted with the group before announcing the decision, a Russian government source told Reuters.

OPEC Sees Higher Oil Demand As China Reopens

OPEC raised by 100,000 bpd its world oil demand forecast for 2023 in its February Monthly Oil Market Report (MOMR). Oil demand growth is now expected at 2.3 million bpd, compared to 2.2 million bpd projected in the January report. Minor upward adjustments were made to OECD Asia Pacific in the first and second quarter of 2023, to “reflect the expected positive spillover from the opening of the Chinese economy on the region’s petrochemical sector.”

During the first quarter this year, global oil demand is expected to rise by 1.9 million bpd year over year, and to grow even more in the following quarters. Overall oil demand in 2023 is set to average 101.9 million bpd, OPEC said in its report.

The cartel cautioned “However, this forecast is subject to many uncertainties, including global economic activity, a possible shift in China’s COVID-19 policy, and ongoing geopolitical developments.”

Most of the growth in demand this year will come from the non-OECD countries, where oil demand is forecast to grow by around 2.0 million bpd year over year, surpassing pre-pandemic levels for the second consecutive year. China, Other Asia, and the Middle East are expected to drive oil demand growth, OPEC said. Global consumption of transportation fuels will be the key growth driver, with petrol and diesel demand set to jump well above pre-pandemic levels and supported by expected continued growth in mobility amid an ongoing rebound in the services sector. Jet fuel demand will also continue to rebound, although air travel would still be around 9 per cent below pre-Covid levels.

“Key to oil demand growth in 2023 will be the return of China from its mandated mobility restrictions and the effect this will have on the country, the region and the world. Concern hovers around the depth and pace of the country’s economic recovery and the consequent impact on oil demand,” OPEC said.

“Moreover, a number of global economic concerns − including the inflation levels, monetary tightening measures, sovereign debt levels, as well as geopolitical tensions − will weigh on global oil demand prospects,” the cartel noted.

Saudi Aramco Says ESG Bias Against Oil Could Threaten Energy Security

Environmental, social, and governance (ESG) policies implemented with a bias against the oil industry could have serious implications on energy affordability and energy security globally, the chief executive of Saudi Aramco, Amin Nasser, said in a speech at a capital markets forum in Saudi Arabia in February.

“As far as the future of capital markets is concerned, ESG is clearly a rising trend. And in my view, an increased emphasis on ESG is a move in the right direction,” Nasser said.

“However, if ESG-driven policies are implemented with an automatic bias against any and all conventional energy projects, the resulting underinvestment will have serious implications.

For the global economy. For energy affordability. And for energy security,” the top executive of the world’s biggest oil firm said.

“The cost of capital for oil and gas projects has risen due to a higher perceived risk, and capital scarcity is a common phenomenon, driven by ESG.”

Aramco’s CEO also pointed out the chronic underinvestment in oil and gas. Last year, upstream investment stood at around $400 billion – less than half of the peak in 2014.

“The primary reason: pressure from multiple directions to discontinue all new investments in oil and gas. Pressure based on what I strongly believe are flawed assumptions and arguments,” Nasser said.

For some global equity investors, any expression of interest in oil and gas is challenged by their investment committees.

“As a result, even projects offering solid returns will face a shortage of available capital,” he added.

Deals & Contracts

In deals, Aramco has signed more than 100 agreements and memoranda of understanding (MoU), valued at a total of $7.2 billion, to help advance a diverse, sustainable, and globally competitive industrial ecosystem in Saudi Arabia.

Aramco also launched Aramco Digital Company, a wholly owned subsidiary which aims to accelerate digital transformation within the Kingdom and the MENA region, during the In-Kingdom Total Value Add (iktva) Forum and Exhibition at the end of January and early February.

“The launch of Aramco Digital Company is a great example of such innovation in action, providing state-of-the-art AI and emerging technology expertise in a vital sector of the economy,” said Ahmad A. Al-Sa’adi, Aramco Executive Vice President of Technical Services.

QatarEnergy has joined TotalEnergies and Eni on two exploration blocks in Lebanon. The agreement comes just a few months after Lebanon and Israel reached in October a historic agreement to settle the dispute over their maritime border—an agreement that could pave the way to more oil and gas exploration in the Eastern Mediterranean.

At the end of January, TotalEnergies and Eni said they had completed the transfer to QatarEnergy of a 30 per cent interest in exploration Blocks 4 and 9 off the coast of Lebanon. Under the terms of the agreements, Eni and the operator TotalEnergies will each have a 35 per cent interest in the blocks while QatarEnergy will hold the remaining 30 per cent.

“The recent delineation of Lebanon’s maritime border with Israel has created a new momentum for the exploration of its hydrocarbon potential. Along with our partners, we are committed to drilling as soon as possible in 2023 an exploration well in Block 9, and our teams are mobilised to conduct these operations”, TotalEnergies Chairman and CEO Patrick Pouyanné said.

In the United Arab Emirates (UAE), ADNOC has signed agreements with 23 UAE and international companies for local manufacturing opportunities across a wide range of critical industrial products worth a total of AED 17 billion, or $4.63 billion. The agreements outline the intention of the companies to manufacture these products in the UAE, supporting the ‘Make it in the Emirates’ initiative and the ‘Abu Dhabi Industrial Strategy’, the Abu Dhabi-based company said.

ADNOC was also the company to deliver the first LNG cargo from the Middle East to Germany. ADNOC and RWE Aktiengesellschaft announced in the middle of February the successful delivery of the first shipment of LNG from Abu Dhabi to the Elbehafen floating LNG terminal in Brunsbüttel, Germany. Produced by ADNOC Gas at Das Island, the shipment of 137,000 cubic metres of LNG is the commissioning cargo for the new floating LNG terminal in Brunsbüttel and the first-ever LNG cargo to be shipped to Germany from the Middle East.

QatarEnergy said on 20 February that it would be taking over all the marketing and related activities currently managed by Qatargas Operating Company Limited. The integration of the activities into QatarEnergy is expected to be completed by the end of 2023.

“The integration of the LNG marketing activities into QatarEnergy is a strategic decision taken as part of its growth journey and reaffirms our commitment to delivering excellence in everything we do,” said Saad bin Sherida Al-Kaabi, the Minister of State for Energy Affairs, the President and CEO of QatarEnergy.

“It is also aimed at further strengthening the State of Qatar’s global LNG offering to our customers and enabling us to provide a unified customer and stakeholder interface with greater value.”

Read the latest issue of the OGV Energy magazine HERE

Published: 21-03-2023

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