Crude oil prices could come under short-term pressure


There are unmistakable indications that the relentless rise in crude oil prices — especially seen in February — may be ending at least for the time-being.

On the one hand, major producers represented by OPEC+ adhered to the output cuts agreed upon and the US shale output was impacted by freezing cold.

On the other, demand received a boost with easing of lockdown restrictions. Investors waiting for such an opportunity increased their net long positions in the market.

The current week is expected to be a crucial time for the energy market as OPEC+ is scheduled to meet on Thursday to chalk out the future course of action in terms of the alliance’s strategy.

Already Brent has declined by $3 to $63 a barrel, while WTI has gone below the psychological $60-a-barrel level. In other words, much of the positive news so far has already been priced-in, while supply-demand expectations in the second and third quarters are sure to weigh in on the group’s discussion.

OPEC’s output

A major trigger for the February rally was lower production by OPEC to the extent of 8,70,000 barrels a day led of Saudi Arabia; but some producers cut production smaller than agreed. There is now expectation that many producers in the alliance would step up production in the months ahead. In the event, nothing can prevent Saudi Arabia to ramp up output. Russia, too, will produce more.

In the event, as much as 1.3 million barrels a day additional oil can come into the market in April. In the US, oil rig count has now crossed 300 and shale output is expected to be ramped up to take advantage of the lucrative prices. Norway, too, is raising its oil output.

Price outlook

At the same time, although improving, demand conditions are still fragile, especially in the western economies. All this will have an unsettling effect on the market. By implication, crude oil prices will be capped to the upside in the short-term. Financial investors holding long positions will, of course, be watching this market for signs that may suggest it’s time to exit.

Any decline in crude oil will be good news for India whose dependence on imported crude is at an alarmingly high 80 per cent. Rising petroleum and diesel prices have fanned inflationary tendencies in the country with hapless consumers the worst sufferers.

Brent crude could trade in the $58-62 a barrel range over the next 2-3 months, on current reckoning, providing a small relief to importing countries.

The author is a policy commentator and commodities market specialist. Views are personal

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Victorian growers become olive oil ‘sommeliers’ after trip abroad to consult the experts


The word sommelier is often associated with fine wine, but did you know that it can also be used when talking about olive oil?

Central Victorian growers Milly Byrne and Julie Howard are olive oil sommeliers and just like their counterparts in wine they can assess its quality, chemistry and flavour.

After receiving a Young Farmers Scholarship from the Victorian Government in 2018, Ms Byrne, along with Mrs Howard, travelled to Europe to learn the art.

“We decided we would either going to go to Greece or Spain because they’re the experts — they’ve had olives since before 800BC,” Ms Byrne said.

The trip didn’t disappoint.

“When we did our research, we discovered that yes, there was an equivalent reality with olive oil as there is with wine,” Mrs Howard said.

Over the course of a week the pair learnt to identify the characteristics and types of olive oil, its flavours and what kinds of food you can pair it with.

“We learnt when to identify that olive oil is off and what they call ‘lampante’, which means the oil is only fit for lighting a lamp, not for eating,” Mrs Howard said.

She said extra virgin was pressed, plain olive juice, whereas virgin was mixed or slightly damaged.

Mrs Howard said the flavour of olive oil depends on where and when the fruit was harvested.

“A lot of growers pick them very green and so you’ll get very pungent, spicy flavours, which can also indicate polyphenol, that can show health benefits,” she said.

“They can also take on fruity flavours — it could smell like apricots, it could smell like bananas or green tomatoes.

“The whole idea is to taste the freshest olive oil and to know how to identify it with your nose, using your sensory responses.

“And then your palate, which includes your tongue, your taste buds, the side of your tongue and the retro nasal down the back — you need lots of practice.”

When it comes to food, Mrs Howard said certain oils best suited certain meals.

“One of the qualities of olive oil is its texture — the arbequina olive is a very creamy buttery texture, so that can be used for an appetiser and I would use it as a dessert oil,” she said.

But she said that everyone’s taste buds were different.

“People should find some samples for tastings and discern what flavours there are, and the differences — someone else’s palate may not be the same as ours,” she said.

The pair hope to share their knowledge soon through classes.

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Thailand’s Stock Exchange (SET) welcomes leading oil and retail business operator OR on Feb 11


SET News 10/2021
February 10, 2021

SET welcomes leading oil and retail business operator OR on Feb 11

BANGKOK, February 10, 2021 – The Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET) will list PTT
Oil and Retail Business plc, a leading fuel retailer and retail business
operator, on February 11, under the ticker symbol “OR”. The company has a market
capitalization at its initial public offering (IPO) of THB 208.98 billion
(approx. USD 6.9 billion).

SET Senior Executive Vice President Manpong Senanarong said that OR would list
and start trading on SET in Resources industry group, Energy & Utilities sector.

OR is PTT Group’s flagship company in operating oil and retail business locally
and internationally, making a mark as leader in both retail and commercial
market for fuel, liquified petroleum gas and lubricants in Thailand. With
integrated business model and management, the company has fulfilled customer’s
with value added for all groups of stakeholders in a balanced and sustainable
manner. The company has operated through over 1,900 PTT’s stations across the
country (as of September 30, 2020), gaining 38.9 percent of market share in
terms of retail fuel sales volume in Thailand (according to the data collected
by Wood Mackenzie as of December 31, 2019). In addition, OR also has operated
Caf? Amazon, Thailand’s largest coffeehouse chain by number of branches, with
over 3,100 branches nationwide (as of September 30, 2020). Caf? Amazon is
considered the world’s sixth largest coffee cafe chain by number of branches (as
of December 2019 by Euromonitor). The company has an exclusive license to
operate Texas Chicken brand in Thailand, and master franchise right to operate
food business of Hua Seng Hong Dim Sum brand. Moreover, the company has also
secured a number of strategic partnerships with leading global and local brands.

On the day of the trading debut, OR’s registered paid-up capital will be THB
116.1 billion with a par value of THB 10.00 each. It offered 2.61 billion newly
issued shares to general public at THB 18 each, for a total of THB 46.98 billion
(excluding the over-allotment). Bualuang Securities pcl, Finansa Securities
Co., Ltd., Kasikorn Securities pcl, Kiatnakin Phatra Securities pcl, and Tisco
Securities Co., Ltd. are the five financial advisors and lead underwriters.

OR President & Chief Executive Officer Jiraphon Kawswat said that listing on SET
will strengthen OR’s positioning to be a market leader and enhance the company
to operate business in line with the OR’s vision, to be Thailand’s leading
global brand that creates values to communities through oil, retail and related
businesses. The fundraising will be used to expand gas station network,
penetrate further into commercial market business, invest in petroleum depot and
distribution center, grow entire retail network, as well as investing in
overseas business and new S-Curve business. This move is to ensure the…

Read More on Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET)

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Former AFL player Marlin Motlop among First Nations artists to open for Midnight Oil at Womadelaide


For a footballer who has starred in front of huge crowds, the buzz of a different audience is getting too loud to ignore for Marlon Motlop.

From a lead role in an SANFL premiership with Glenelg at a packed Adelaide Oval, to playing with Port Adelaide in the AFL, Motlop has tasted wide-ranging sporting success.

But now his calling is for music, a much smaller stage but just as big a thrill.

“I get a different type of excitement out of playing in front of people and singing in front of people as well,” Motlop said.

“There’s a certain type of vulnerability that you display I think and I get a different high out of that.”

Football in one hand, guitar in the other

As his football career was blossoming as a junior, his dad was insisting he also learn the guitar.

Along with his cousins and future fellow AFL footballers Daniel, Shannon and Steven, he’d write raps and play music.

Now Motlop can see the curtain coming down on his football career with a final season with Glenelg, with the itch to scratch with his music becoming overwhelming.

“Like a bull at a gate, I just can’t wait to get out there, It’s a really different feeling for me, it’s a new feeling,” he enthused.

Marlon Motlop and Rulla Kelly-Mansell will take to the stage to open for Midnight Oil at this year’s Womadelaide Festival.(Supplied: Rulla Kelly-Mansell)

“People from the industry started to book us for gigs and I made a promise to myself that I’d just say yes to a lot of opportunities and use it as an opportunity to work on my craft and just see where it goes.”

Once the boots are hung up at year’s end and the smell of liniment becomes a distant if fond memory, Motlop wants to push his music as far as it can go.

“I’d love to be able to travel the world with my family, with my friends and share my music and sound with the world, if it ever gets to that point,” he said.

First Nations artists making big splash

Darwin-born Motlop is just one of many South Australian First Nations performers making audiences sit up and take notice.

Their success is being pushed by Letisha Ackland, who was employed by Music SA less than a year ago to get more Indigenous musicians into the sector and achieving success.

Thirty-six First Nations artists were nominated at the 2020 SA Music Awards, which Ackland said had been a long time coming.

“There’s actually a really great amount of talent that’s coming through and they’ve been there for many years and people just don’t know who they are,” Ms Ackland said.

Tilly Tjala Thomas, 18, is one of the freshest faces, with her mix of indie folk and electronic music proving popular.

A teenage girl looks toward the sky with a neutral expression
Tilly Tjala Thomas is one of a number of up and coming First Nations artists across the country.(Supplied: Tilly Tjala Thomas)

Like an increasing number of First Nations musicians, she is mixing English and native language in her songs, a blend Ackland said works perfectly.

“It’s really beautiful actually when you can pull the language into it, when it’s sung and spoken is really beautiful to put the melody behind it,” she said.

Thomas looks up to the likes of Australian hip hop duo A.B. Original and just like them, has a strong activist theme through her songs.

“I think a lot of my songs are quite political and I’d like to kind of use music to my advantage,” she admitted.

Letisha Ackland says she will continue pushing the case for the likes of Motlop and Thomas.

“Where we can be able to give the spotlight to First Nations artists, to pop them up on those stages and give them the opportunity is definitely where I’m driving,” she said.

Marlon Motlop and Rulla Kelly-Mansell will play at Womadelaide on Saturday March 6.

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Geelong’s Viva Energy records $95 million loss for oil refinery


Victoria’s last oil refinery and one of two remaining in Australia has recorded a multi-million dollar loss for the last financial year.

Geelong’s Viva Energy released its 2020 financial year results on Wednesday, reporting a $95.1 million loss to its oil refining arm and announcing a business recovery plan to boost the company’s earnings going forward.

The company employs about 700 people and supplies fuel to more than 1,250 Coles Express petrol stations.

The coronavirus pandemic struck a lasting blow to refineries in Australia as fuel demand sharply declined due to border closures and local restrictions on movement.

The major financial loss comes a week after ExxonMobil announced the closure of its Altona oil refinery in Melbourne due to it no longer being economically viable, and months after BP announced the closure of its 65-year-old Kwinana Refinery, which was also no longer economically viable.

The closures mean Australia has just two remaining oil refineries — Viva in Geelong and Ampol’s Lytton refinery in Brisbane — increasing Australia’s reliance on overseas markets for fuel.

On Monday, Ampol announced it was “reviewing” the future of its oil refinery after it recorded a $145 million loss.

The federal government offered refineries a $2.5 billion fuel security package last year, offering a 1 cent per litre subsidy for petrol, diesel and aviation fuel.

Viva took up an interim government subsidy until a long-term package begins in July and has announced a series of strategies to diversify the company away from oil.

In its business recovery plan for the next two years, released on Wednesday, Viva said it would continue to explore developing hydrogen, solar, gas-to-power and waste-to-energy capabilities.

The report said the company hoped the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine would boost sales at the pump and improve aviation and cruise ship fuel sales.

Viva announced last year its intention to build Australia’s first liquified natural gas (LNG) import terminal to supply and store natural gas, which would likely involve a floating gas terminal in Corio Bay, an extension of the existing Refinery Pier and dredging of the bay to accommodate the new berth and ship turning.

Viva chief executive Scott Wyatt said the gas terminal project was in an “engineering design stage”.

Last week, the company announced a partnership with hydrogen vehicle company Hyzon Motors to potentially develop a solar-powered green hydrogen energy hub.

It is hoped the gas terminal and energy hub will help underpin the future viability of the refinery.

Adrian Panow, director of Deakin Energy at Deakin University said Viva was a good player to transition to renewable energy and gas.

“The type of input an emerging industry really needs it needs traditional players knowledge and a solid balance sheet,” Dr Panow said.

“Companies like Viva understand what it takes to run logistics for transport, how do you run 1,200 petrol stations, how do you operate 24/7, who are your customers, these are practical decisions that require that larger company behind them.”

Dr Panow also said the transition of skills from refining oil to gas production would be relatively easy, meaning jobs would be saved.

“There’s a different training component, but most of that industry knowledge is retained, which makes refinery skills even more valuable” he said.

Federal member for Corio and deputy Labor leader Richard Marles said the federal government needed to do more to help Australia’s domestic production of fuel remain viable.

“The sector is so important to Australia’s national security, and with 700 workers at Viva Energy, the company is incredibly important to Geelong,” Mr Marles said.

“After the announcement from the refinery in Altona, we are still hearing crickets from Scott Morrison and Angus Taylor about what their plan is, it’s not good enough.”

Labor intends to announce its own plan for the sector before the next election.

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crude oil price today: Oil holds near year-long highs as Covid lockdowns seen easing


LONDON: Oil prices were steady on Tuesday, trading close to more than year-long highs on signs that global coronavirus restrictions were being eased although concerns about the pace of a US economic recovery kept gains in check.

Brent crude was up 7 cents, or 0.1%, at $65.31 a barrel by 1505 GMT, still close to its highest levels since January 2020. US crude fell 14 cents, or 0.2%, to $61.56 a barrel.

Both contracts rose more than $1 earlier before retreating.

“Vaccine news is helping oil, as the likely removal of mobility restrictions over the coming months on the back of vaccine rollouts should further boost the oil demand and price recovery,” UBS oil analyst Giovanni Staunovo said.

But, tempering the upbeat mood, the chair of the US Federal Reserve, Jerome Powell, said the US economic recovery remained “uneven and far from complete” and it would be “some time” before the central bank considered changing policies it had adopted to help the country back to full employment.

Commerzbank analyst Eugen Weinberg said the recent oil price rise was buoyed by upbeat price forecasts from US brokers.

Goldman Sachs expects Brent prices to reach $70 per barrel in the second quarter from the $60 it predicted previously, and $75 in the third quarter from $65 forecast earlier.

Morgan Stanley, which expects Brent to reach $70 in the third quarter, said new COVID-19 cases were falling while “mobility statistics are bottoming out and are starting to improve”.

Bank of America said Brent prices could temporarily spike to $70 per barrel in the second quarter.

In the United States, traffic at the Houston ship channel was slowly returning to normal after last week’s winter storm, although production was not expected to fully restart soon.

Some US shale producers forecast lower oil output in the first quarter.

Stockpiles of US crude oil and refined products likely declined last week, a preliminary Reuters poll showed on Monday, due to the disruption in Texas.



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Amid Texas freeze, oil producers still shut; governor bans natural gas exports



Alvin Williams, 66, checks on his smartphone while taking a shelter at Gallery Furniture store which opened its door and transformed into a warming station after winter weather caused electricity blackouts in Houston, Texas, U.S. February 17, 2021. REUTERS/Go Nakamura

February 18, 2021

By Devika Krishna Kumar, Gary McWilliams and Jennifer Hiller

HOUSTON (Reuters) – Texas oil producers and refiners remained shut for a fifth day on Wednesday after several days of blistering cold, and the governor ordered a ban on natural gas exports from the state to try to speed the restoration of power.

The cold snap, which has killed at least 21 people and knocked out power to more than 4 million people in Texas, is not expected to let up until this weekend.

Governor Greg Abbott directed Texas natural gas providers not to ship outside the state until Sunday and asked the state energy regulator to enforce his export ban.

“That will also increase the power that’s going to be produced and sent to homes here in Texas,” Abbott said at a news conference Wednesday.

The ban prompted a response from officials in Mexico, which relies on imports via pipeline from Texas. More than 40% of U.S. natural gas exports come from Texas.

Texas produces more natural gas and oil than any other U.S. state, and its operators, unlike those in North Dakota or Alaska, are not used to dealing with frigid temperatures.

The state accounts for roughly one-quarter of U.S. natural gas production, about 27.8 billion cubic feet per day, but it consumes only part of that, shipping the rest to other states or via pipeline to Mexico, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Texas’ energy sector has been hit hard by the cold, with about 4 million barrels per day (bpd) of daily refining capacity shuttered and at least 1 million bpd of oil production out as well.

Natural gas output also slumped. At this time a week ago, Texas was producing about 7.9 billion cubic feet per day, but that fell to 1.9 billion on Wednesday, according to preliminary data from Refinitiv Eikon. Natural gas accounts for half of Texas’ power generation.

Christi Craddick, chair of the Texas Railroad Commission, the state’s oil and gas regulator, said late Wednesday the agency had received the governor’s request and was reviewing it.

The request set up a game of political football, according to a person familiar with the matter, between groups that do not have the authority to interfere with interstate commerce.

U.S. gas pipeline exports to Mexico dropped to 3.8 billion cubic feet (bcf) per day on Wednesday, down from an average over the past 30 days of 5.7 bcf, according to data from Refinitiv, about three-quarters of which comes from Texas.

Mexico’s economy minister, Tatiana Clouthier, said Wednesday she had contacted the U.S. government’s representative in Mexico, seeking to guarantee supplies of natural gas for Mexico during the cold snap.

“By not acting together, the results could be more complicated,” she said on Twitter.

One cargo of liquefied natural gas (LNG) loaded at Freeport LNG in Texas on Wednesday had been slated to sail to Mexico, according to Refinitiv Eikon data. The tanker remained off the coast of Texas. A Freeport LNG spokeswoman declined to comment.

Operations at Cheniere Energy’s Corpus Christi plant, the state’s largest LNG producer, were halted by weather disruptions this week. A spokesman declined to comment on the governor’s order.

Overall, daily U.S. natural gas production is down by roughly 19% from the end of last week to 71.9 bcf per day on Wednesday, according to preliminary Eikon data.

With more snow expected in key oil-and-gas production areas like the Permian and northern Louisiana, production is expected to stay offline through Friday, said Anna Lenzmeier, energy analyst at BTU Analytics.

“The second half of this week is shaping up to be just as tumultuous as the long weekend, and natural gas prices could continue to top triple digits before the weekend,” she said.

Several Texas ports, including Houston, Galveston and key LNG exporting sites at Freeport and Sabine Pass were closed due to weather, according to U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer Jonathan Lally.

One bcf of gas can supply about 5 million U.S. homes per day.

Producers in the Permian Basin, the largest U.S. oilfield, said electrical outages were the main issue, and that until power was restored, restarting any frozen equipment would be challenging.

Roughly 1 million bpd of crude production has been halted, according to Wood Mackenzie analysts, and it could be weeks before it is fully restored.

The supply disruptions drove further increases in oil prices, which ended the session up more than 1.5%. U.S. natural gas climbed to a more than three-month high after rising more than 10% on Tuesday.

The freeze has also sent Canadian natural gas exports to the United States soaring to levels last seen in 2010, said IHS Markit analyst Ian Archer.

Net Canadian exports have jumped above 7.5 bcf a day for the last couple of days and Archer estimated they were close to 8 bcf per day on Wednesday.

“We are seeing just absolutely huge withdrawals and exports to the U.S.,” Archer said.

(Graphic: U.S. natural gas production slumps, https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/ce/gjnvwzalmpw/Pasted%20image%201613575433245.png)

(Reporting by Devika Krishna Kumar in New York and Gary McWilliams in Houston; Additional reporting by Stephanie Kelly, Laila Kearney and Scott DiSavino in New York, Nia Williams in Calgary and Arpan Varghese and Diptendu Lahiri in Bengaluru; Editing by Matthew Lewis, Leslie Adler and Kim Coghill)



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How Inter Pipeline could emerge as a key asset in Brookfield’s budding oil and gas empire


Inter Pipeline operates oilsands pipelines that run to Edmonton, starting point for federally owned Trans Mountain

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CALGARY – Brookfield Infrastructure has spent billions of dollars buying up hydrocarbons infrastructure in Western Canada, primarily in the natural gas business, but its proposed acquisition of Inter Pipeline Ltd. marks a major foray into oil infrastructure — and some analysts believe the company isn’t done yet.

The Toronto-based asset manager labelled Inter Pipeline’s share price performance as “strained” this week as it launched a  takeover bid for the Calgary-based pipeline operator, which sent the target company’s shares soaring.

Inter Pipeline’s shares soared more than $4 per share to $17.43 by close on Friday, from $13.29 when trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange opened on Monday. The closing price was well above Brookfield’s offer price of $16.50 per share.

Inter Pipeline responded that it has not received a formal offer from Brookfield and its previous offers of $17 per share and $18.25 per share “did not reflect the intrinsic value of the company.”

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Brookfield likely has room to sweeten the deal given the number of “bells and whistles” among Inter Pipeline’s assets that are valuable to the acquirer, said Rafi Tahmazian, director and senior portfolio manager with Canoe Financial, whose fund is invested in Inter Pipeline.

He said he was very pleased to see the bid for the company.

“Mainstream capital has entered the market,” Tahmazian said, adding that he believes Brookfield’s presence could bring other institutional investors into the Western Canadian energy sector given the size of its proposed investment, and a recent uptick in oil and gas mergers and acquisitions activity in Calgary.

“There’s a chance this’ll be the sweetest and easiest of the deals to do,” Tahmazian said.

There’s a chance this’ll be the sweetest and easiest of the deals to do

Rafi Tahmazian, Canoe Financial

Robert Hope, an analyst at Scotiabank, wrote in a note that “bidding starts at $16.50,” suggesting a higher price may materialize, but believes Inter Pipeline may struggle to find a competing offer, given — among other things — the risks associated with the company completing and contracting the $4-billion Heartland petrochemicals project.

“While we expect Pembina (Pipeline Corp.) will take a look, we don’t believe that it is interested in adding leverage and commodity exposure at this point,” Hope said in a note. “Of the large U.S. midstreamers, we feel the leverage would be too much for Kinder Morgan, and Enterprise Products is more focused on (petrochemicals) on the U.S. Gulf Coast. Energy Transfer (Partners) and Plains (All American Pipeline) have some minor Canadian operations, but we think IPL would be too large to buy.”

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In recent years, Brookfield Infrastructure has been eyeing assets in the wider energy infrastructure space. In 2020, the company generated 15 per cent of its cash flows from its midstream business and the company has said it continues to see more opportunities to invest in midstream companies and assets.

The Toronto-based asset manager could also be a logical bidder for the federally owned Trans Mountain pipeline and expansion project, especially if its hostile takeover of Inter Pipeline is successful, National Bank Financial analyst Patrick Kenny said.

“From a long-term perspective with the Trans Mountain expansion, if all goes well, I definitely think they would look at owning that project,” Kenny told the Financial Post.

nter Pipeline's Heartland Petrochemical Complex is shown under construction in Fort Saskatchewan, Alta.
Inter Pipeline’s Heartland Petrochemical Complex is shown under construction in Fort Saskatchewan, Alta. Photo by Jason Franson/The Canadian Press files

Inter Pipeline operates oilsands pipelines that run from northeastern Alberta to the Edmonton area, which is the starting point for the federally owned Trans Mountain pipeline and expansion project that runs from Edmonton to an export point in Burnaby, British Columbia.

The 590,000-barrels-per-day Trans Mountain expansion project is currently under construction, and will expand the ability of heavy oil producers to export their product off the West Coast.

“It would make sense within Inter Pipeline’s footprint, but I don’t think Inter Pipeline can do it by itself,” Stifel FirstEnergy analyst and managing director Ian Gillies said of the potential fit between Inter Pipeline’s assets and the Trans Mountain project.

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Brookfield declined to comment on potential interest in acquiring the Trans Mountain project.

Brookfield, which owns nearly 20 per cent of Inter Pipeline, has yet to formalize its bid and Inter Pipeline may yet choose to negotiate a deal, but “the shareholder base is definitely looking at this as a positive,” National Bank’s Kenny said.

The analyst also said Brookfield has invested in other oil and gas assets in Western Canada and there’s a “value chain” the company could put together if the Inter Pipeline deal closes and the company is taken private.

Trans Mountain pipeline construction in Acheson, Alberta.
Trans Mountain pipeline construction in Acheson, Alberta. Photo by Candace Elliott/Reuters files

In an investor presentation last September, BIP said that midstream assets were “out of favour,” and “energy markets dislocation were creating value opportunities” for the company. BIP was also eyeing assets from oil majors that were eager “to sell assets to redeploy in core businesses and renewables.”

While the company is eager to maintain its sustainable investment credentials, Bahir Manios, BIP’s chief financial office, told investors in a Feb. 3 earnings call that the company will continue to own and operate certain essential infrastructure assets globally that transport fuel.

“While natural gas related assets make up only a portion of our diversified portfolio, we believe that they play an important role in the global energy transition that is well underway, particularly in Asia, and as a bridge to renewables and potentially hydrogen,” Manios said.

In Sept. 2020, the company and its partners spent $1.5 billion to purchase a 21 per cent interest in Houston-based Cheniere Energy Partners L.P., which operates two liquefied natural gas export terminals on the U.S. Gulf Coast.

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Brookfield Infrastructure also spent $4.3 billion in July 2018 to acquire natural gas gathering and processing facilities in Western Canada from Calgary-based pipeline giant Enbridge Inc. to create NorthRiver Midstream.

The company already owns a gas processing and storage business with assets in Alberta called RockPoint Gas Storage and has also spent billions on customer-oriented energy businesses including its Aug. 2018, $4.3-billion purchase of Enercare Inc., which sells and distributes heating systems.

Brookfield Infrastructure’s investor presentation says its “energy business has no direct commodity exposure,” though other companies in the broader Brookfield group have invested in companies such as Calgary-based Second Wave Petroleum in the past.

Indeed, other Brookfield businesses have also spent billions in the oil and gas sector in recent years. Brookfield Asset Management, Brookfield Infrastructure’s parent company, invested alongside Ontario Teachers Pension Plan and other funds in June 2020 for a 49 per cent stake in a natural gas pipeline in Abu Dhabi valued at US$10.1 billion.

In 2016, BIP and other institutional clients of Brookfield Asset Management acquired a 90 per cent stake in Nova Transportadora do Sudeste S.A., a system of natural gas transmission assets in the southeast of Brazil from Petróleo Brasileiro S.A., better known as Petrobras, for approximately US$5.2 billion.

Financial Post

• Email: gmorgan@nationalpost.com | Twitter:

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Nigerian communities allowed to sue Shell in English courts over oil spills after years-long fight | World News


A group of tens of thousands of Nigerian farmers and fishermen will be allowed to sue oil giant Shell in English courts after years of oil spills in the Niger Delta.

Around 50,000 people live in the Ogale and Bille communities of Nigeria and allege they have suffered systematic oil pollution for years which has impacted their drinking water supply and destroyed livelihoods.

The communities wanted to bring forward the case against the British-Dutch company in English courts because they believe they will not be able to get justice in Nigeria.

Image:
Oil from a leaking pipeline burns in Goi-Bodo, a swamp area of the Niger Delta in October 2004

The UK Supreme Court has now ruled there is an arguable case that Royal Dutch Shell and its Nigerian subsidiary are legally responsible for the pollution and that it can be brought in front of an English court.

A Shell spokesperson has called the decision “disappointing” and said sabotages are the “main sources” of pollution in the Niger Delta.

Shell did not dispute that both communities have been severely polluted, or that there has not been an adequate clean-up yet.

It had instead argued it could not be held legally responsible for the harm suffered and therefore the cases should not be heard in England.

The case is the latest to test whether multinational companies can be held accountable for the actions of their overseas subsidiaries, and could pave the way for more cases against Shell.

Two weeks ago, the Dutch Court of Appeal made a landmark ruling against Royal Dutch Shell that held it liable for pollution caused by its Nigerian subsidiary, ordering it to improve its pipeline network.

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Nigeria farmers win 13 year battle with Shell

Four Nigerian farmers and Friends of the Earth Netherlands had brought forward the case.

This latest Supreme Court ruling has overturned a split decision of the Court of Appeal, ending a five-year fight by the communities to have their cases heard in the English courts.

Daniel Leader from Leigh Day, a law firm representing the Nigerian communities, said: “This Supreme Court judgment gives real hope to the people of Ogale and Bille who have been asking Shell to clean up their oil for years. We hope that now, finally, Shell will act.

“But it also represents a watershed moment in the accountability of multinational companies. Increasingly impoverished communities are seeking to hold powerful corporate actors to account and this judgment will significantly increase their ability to do so.”

The Bonny oil terminal in the Niger Delta, which is operated by Royal Dutch Shell
Image:
The Bonny oil terminal in the Niger Delta, which is operated by Royal Dutch Shell

A Shell spokesperson said: “The spills at issue happened in communities that are heavily impacted by oil theft, illegal oil refining, and the sabotage of pipelines.

“Regardless of the cause of a spill, SPDC cleans up and remediates. It also works hard to prevent these sabotage spills, by using technology, increasing surveillance and by promoting alternative livelihoods for those who might damage pipes and equipment. Unfortunately, such criminal acts remain the main sources of pollution across the Niger Delta today.”

A similar case was brought by farmers against Shell in 2013, but it was rejected by the Dutch Hague Civil Court as it backed the oil firm’s argument that the spills were caused by sabotage and not poor maintenance.

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BPCL to buyout Oman Oil stake in Bina refinery for Rs 2,400 cr


NEW DELHI: Privatisation-bound (BPCL) on Wednesday said it will buyout Oman Oil Company’s shares in the Bina refinery project for about Rs 2,400 crore.

BPCL holds a 63.68 per cent stake in Bharat Oman Refineries Ltd (BORL), which built and operates a 7.8 million tonne oil refinery at Bina in Madhya Pradesh.

In a stock exchange filing, BPCL said it has “finalised commercial terms in connection with the purchase of the 88.86 crore equity shares of Bharat Oman Refineries Limited (BORL), constituting 36.62 per cent of the equity share capital from OQ S.A.0.C. (formerly known as Oman Oil Company S.A.0.C.) for a consideration of approx Rs 2,399.26 crore”.

The transaction, it said, is subject to the execution of the relevant transaction documentation and other conditions agreed upon among the parties.

“Upon completion, BPCL will hold 100 per cent of the equity share capital in BORL,” it said.

On Tuesday, BPCL Director (Finance) N Vijayagopal had said that discussions with OQ S.A.O.C. had concluded.

BORL was incorporated in February 1994 to build a refinery at Bina in Madhya Pradesh. The unit initially could turn 6 million tonnes of crude oil annually into fuel, which was subsequently raised to 7.8 million tonnes.

Before the company is privatised, BPCL will exit Numaligarh Refinery Ltd (NRL) by selling its 61.65 per cent stake to a consortium of

and Engineers India Ltd, Vijayagopal had said.

It is selling stake because the government had as per the Assam Peace Accord agreed to keep NRL in the public sector.

“The consortium of OIL and Engineers India Ltd will acquire 49 per cent and the rest 13.65 per cent will be sold to the government of Assam,” he had said.

OIL currently holds 26 per cent equity in NRL, while the government of Assam has around 12.35 per cent.

The value for 61.65 per cent stake in NRL is reportedly around Rs 7,000 crore.

Post NRL sale, BPCL would be left with three refineries at Mumbai, Kochi in Kerala and Bina.

The government is selling its entire 52.98 per cent stake in BPCL in the nation’s biggest privatisation till date.

Vedanta Group and private equity firms Apollo Global and I Squared Capital’s Indian unit Think Gas have put in an expression of interest for buying the government stake.

The sale of NRL is the first step towards the disinvestment of BPCL.

The government has already indicated that it expects to complete BPCL privatisation by the first half of the fiscal beginning April (2021-22).

The sale is key to achieving the Rs 1.75 lakh crore disinvestment target set for 2021-22.

BPCL will give the buyer ownership of around 15.33 per cent of India’s oil refining capacity and 22 per cent of the fuel marketing share.



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