ExxonMobil, Nigeria-based Taleveras, Ophir Win E’Guinea Oil Blocks

United States oil giant, ExxonMobil, Nigeria-based Taleveras, UK’s Ophir Energy and Clonterf Energy have been announced winners of Equatorial Guinea’s oil acreages, after the latest licensing bid round held by the central African country.

Equatorial Guinea’s Minister of Mines and Hydrocarbons Gabriel Obiag-Lima made this known at a press conference Monday during the African Oil and Gas Conference held in Cape Town, South Africa, saying ExxonMobil has signed a Production Sharing Contract (PSC) with his country for oil acreage EG-11, effectively leading the list of acreage winners during the licensing bid round.

UK-based Ophir Energy won the Block EG-24, Taleveras, founded by Mr. Igho Sanomi, picked the highly potential Block EG-07, while Clonterf Energy landed Block EG-18.
According to the minister, the country’s 2016 open and competitive bid round was declared a success by industry analysts and watchers.

But as Equatorial Guinea announced the outcome of its licensing round, oil prices fell by about one per cent Monday on concerns that the cutting of ties with Qatar by top crude exporter, Saudi Arabia and other Arab states could hamper a global deal to reduce oil production.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Egypt and Bahrain closed transport links with top Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) and condensate shipper, Qatar, accusing it of supporting extremism and undermining regional stability.

Reuters reported that retaliatory measures by Qatar, such as suspending LNG supply deals, could force trading houses such as Trafigura, Glencore and Vitol, which frequently take LNG from Qatar and deliver to Egypt, to turn to Nigeria, U.S. and Algeria for LNG cargoes.

This development will also potentially leave Qatar free to push more LNG volumes into Europe where it has access to several import terminals.

The Middle East rift had initially pushed Brent crude prices up as much as one per cent Monday, as geopolitical fears rippled through the market.

But Brent later reversed gains, trading down 58 cents, or 1.12 per cent at $49.37 a barrel, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate futures were at $47.15 a barrel, down 51 cents, or 1.1 per cent.

With production capacity of about 600,000 barrels per day (bpd), Qatar’s crude output ranks as one of OPEC’s smallest, but tension within the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) could weaken the supply deal, aimed at supporting prices.

There were already doubts that the effort to curb production by almost 1.8 million bpd was seriously denting crude exports.

Brent futures have fallen more than eight per cent from their open on May 25, when OPEC opted to extend production cuts into 2018.

Outside of OPEC, South Sudan will drill 30 new wells this year and significantly boost oil output, as it chases a peak 350,000 bpd target by mid-2018, the petroleum minister said Monday.

Crude output in the U.S., which is not participating in the supply cuts, has also jumped more than 10 per cent since mid-2016 to 9.34 million bpd, close to levels of top producers Saudi Arabia and Russia.

Qatar accounts roughly for a third of global LNG and as the Middle East rift impacted oil prices, LNG traders adopted a wait-and-see approach, alert to potential disruption in supply.

However, there was an assumption that any trade shocks could be contained, given the well-supplied global LNG markets.
Qatar’s top clients in Japan and India have quickly received reassurances that supplies would continue as usual.

Still, traders startled by the development reportedly started to plan for any eventualities, especially any upsets to piped gas supplies from Qatar to the UAE, which consumes 1.8 billion cubic feet/day of Qatari gas.

Egypt also relies heavily on Qatari LNG brought in by Swiss commodity trade houses – Trafigura, Vitol and Glencore.

Qatar can block LNG exports to certain countries by issuing so-called destination restrictions.
Egypt is halfway through its annual LNG cargo delivery programme for 2017, with 50 shipments yet to arrive, of which at least 10 would come from Qatari, Reuters quoted a Cairo-based energy source as saying.

Under that scenario, trading houses with supply commitments to Egypt could turn to the United States, Algeria and Nigeria for replacement cargoes.

The deterioration in ties between Qatar and Egypt contrasts with 2013 when the LNG producer reportedly sent a gift of five LNG cargoes to Egypt when Mohamed Mursi, leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, served as Egyptian president.

Qatar is accused of backing militant groups — Muslim Brotherhood, ISIS (Islamic State) and al-Qaeda — some also backed by Iran — and broadcasting their ideology, an apparent reference to Qatar’s influential state-owned satellite channel, Al Jazeera.

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