Project Delays Lower Oil Sands Production

Planned Canadian Oil Sands projects are being pushed back in response to further delays in pipeline egress and the mandated output cuts by the Alberta provincial government. The outlook for Oil Sands production in 2019 has worsened, with production now forecast to be almost 230,000 b/d lower than last year, averaging 2.7 million b/d. In 2019, lower levels of production will reduce the call on rail, lowering crude-by-rail volumes from the record highs set in the fourth quarter of 2018.

Nigeria Steps Up Crude Capacity, but Threats Remain

The January start of the Egina field added to Nigeria’s crude oil productive capacity, but Nigerian production will remain close to 1.65 million b/d while the OPEC+ production deal is in place. By the end of 2019, production could grow to 1.70 million b/d. While bigger gains are possible, prospects are clouded by renewed threats from insurgent groups in the Niger Delta, whose campaigns have crippled oil infrastructure in recent years. The January start of the Egina field added to Nigeria’s crude oil productive capacity, but Nigerian production will remain close to 1.65 million b/d while the OPEC+ production deal is in place. By the end of 2019, production could grow to 1.70 million b/d. While bigger gains are possible, prospects are clouded by renewed threats from insurgent groups in the Niger Delta, whose campaigns have crippled oil infrastructure in recent years.

The U.S. Turning Away from the Middle East

Since replacing the British Navy as the guarantor of regional peace after World War Two, the United States has had a heavy presence in the Middle East. Now, as the U.S. comes closer to net oil exports, the country’s engagement with the Middle East, especially under President Trump, is diminishing. Even more than the Obama pivot to the East, the Trump Administration is moving the United States out of the region. That will implications for U.S. influence in the region, not to mention military conflict.

Refiners Stung by Venezuela Sanctions Face U.S. Gulf Oil Exodus

Bloomberg:

Crude exports from the Gulf of Mexico are picking up at the worst time for American refiners.

Rising production and falling freight rates are behind a surge of overseas shipments of Mars crude, a medium sour oil produced in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico. This comes as sanctions on Venezuela and OPEC’s production cut agreement are limiting the availability of similar types of oil that U.S. refiners are optimized to process.

AMLO’s Battle Against Fuel Theft

World Pipelines: 

Mexico’s new President, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, hoped to kill two birds with one stone: reduce theft from gasoline pipelines and diminish Mexico’s reliance on gasoline imports from the US. Instead, the recent pipeline closures and related explosion that resulted in the deaths of at least 96 people have caused a spike in gasoline imports from the US in January. This increase in imports, notes ESAI Energy’s recent Latin America Watch, comes even as supply shortages have dented demand for motor gasoline by as much as 40 000 bpd this month.

Competition Drowning Out Collaboration in 2019

As 2019 stretches out ahead of us, the World Economic Forum will meet this week and is likely to highlight the rise of competition over collaboration between countries, and the implications for the global economy. The global oil market is not immune to these forces. Notwithstanding the “cooperation” represented by the recent OPEC deal, falling OPEC exports and rising US exports will be unsettling this year. Competition in the oil markets is likely to intensify by the end of 2019. That is generally bearish for oil prices.