OIL: The Reality now

As I write WTI crude is now below 60 USD on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The projected 2 million barrels of surplus oil per day being placed on international markets for which there is no demand is now being augmented by the Saudi strategy to sell its oil discounted to Asian and US markets. What then is the Saudi strategy? The public explanation is to reduce US shale energy production forcing the US to become a swing shift producer nothing else. It is then an attempt to blunt the geo-political impact of US energy independence. But in this supposed assault the Saudis are willingly executing a strategy that has placed Venezuela and Iran in a position of opposition to the Saudi strategy. Is there then a sectarian weapon aimed at Iran in this Saudi strategy? To refuse to slash production and then to slash prices in a glutted market speaks to a move to change the power relations of OPEC and that of the Middle East. In this scenario as oil plumbs unknown depths and LNG prices in Asia and Europe follow oil prices down the revenue base of the T&T government is then up in the air in light of the spending patterns established since May 2010. In the present market realities ultra-deep water production of oil is under cost/price pressures much less for gas production from this source in light of US shale gas. The government of T&T will then be placed under grave pressure under present market realities to reduce the revenue collected from the ultra-deep margins in order to encourage production. The issue is not then increased exploration and production but production in the face of lower revenue accruing to the nation. The paradigm has then failed. The reality of how we as a nation derive revenue from Atlantic must never be forgotten.The Business Guardian of week 4, November 2014 page 10 revealed that there were two different operational/ownership structures of the 4 trains at Atlantic. All the production of trains 1-3 are sold on contract to the offtakers whilst Atlantic has no sight of where the production of train 4 is sold and at what prices as Atlantic is simply a gas processor paid by the owners of the input gas. A series of questions arise concerning the revenue take of T&T from this double reality which are not in the public domain. For example is the contract price paid by the offtakers of trains 1-3 based on US Henry Hub? What of transfer pricing between the offtakers, the local arms of the transnationals and the entities selling the LNG? Anyway it was reported by Atlantic that as at October 2014 trains 1-3 sold some 48% of its LNG in Latin America, 9% in the US and 8% in the Far East. Given the high price of LNG in Asia why only 9% of production sold in Asia? In keeping with the tradition of silence by governments of T&T on our energy resource we are yet to find out what is going on with train 4 at Atlantic. The core issue is then not production but are we maximising our take from a wasting asset that belongs to the people of T&T? Click the links and experience the Saudi strategy.


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