MARKETS: Crude oil broke $80 in week as hedge funds steps up attack on Euro

(EnergyAsia, March 1 2010, Monday) — This article was written by Darrell Delamaide of www.OilPrice.com.

Crude oil broke through the US$80 a barrel ceiling repeatedly last week but kept falling back as hedge funds placed big bets on the Euro’s decline.

The fiscal drama in Greece held global markets hostage much of the week as worries about the impact of the Greek crisis on the euro outweighed comments from Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke about continued low interest rates in the US, pushing the euro down against the dollar and damping crude prices.

The euro recovered some ground last Friday (Februady 26) amid new reports of European aid for Greece after falling to a nine-month low of $1.3440 on Thursday. Germany’s state-owned bank KfW may take part in a planned Greek bond offering this week, according to market reports.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday that a small group of elite hedge fund traders have concluded that the euro could be headed to parity with the dollar and their bearish bets are increasing the downward pressure on the 16-nation currency.

The Journal compared the situation to the hedge fund attack on the dollar in 2008. However, the trades are not expected to lead to a collapse of the currency as the attacks of George Soros on the British pound did in 1992, the paper said.

Positive US economic data on Friday, including a revised fourth-quarter GDP annual growth rate of 5.9%, helped crude oil futures claw back some of Thursday’s losses and near the $80 threshold again. Nymex’s benchmark West Texas Intermediate settled at $79.66 on Friday, after topping $80 earlier in the week.

In spite of crude’s difficulties in staying above $80, some analysts issued bullish prognoses for energy futures. Goldman Sachs forecast a new trading range of $85 to $95, up from the $70 to $80 of the past several months, amid supply disruptions from the North Sea and Venezuela and the impact of the Total refinery strike, which was resolved earlier last week.

Other analysts, too, looked for fundamental supply and demand considerations to reassert themselves amid the currency turmoil and lift crude oil futures into a higher trading range. Oil futures prices gained more than 9% in February but remained below January’s highs.

VIETNAM: PetroVietnam expects oil revenue to fall further in 2010 after 20% drop last year

(EnergyAsia, March 1 2010, Monday) — State-owned PetroVietnam said its revenues fell 20% last year as compared with the previous year when crude oil prices reached record highs of more than $147 per barrel. Vietnam’s economy is dependent on oil exports, which account for 16% of the country’s gross domestic product. PetroVietnam said it expects…

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UAE: Petrochina to set up energy trading desk in Dubai

(EnergyAsia, March 1 2010, Monday) — Petrochina plans to establish an energy trading desk in Dubai in line with its goal to develop an international trading network. The desk will initially be manned by three crude oil traders, including a manager seconded from its Singapore office. PetroChina, Asia’s largest oil and gas producer, is keenly…

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THAILAND: Halted Map Ta Phut projects may cause 600 billion baht in losses

(EnergyAsia, March 1 2010, Monday) — The Thai government has estimated that a court order halting 65 oil, petrochemical and manufacturing projects in the Map Ta Phut industrial complex will cause 600 billion baht in job and revenue losses. (US$1=32 baht) In a trial in which companies have been accused of failing to comply with…

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SOUTH KOREA: Oil companies’ refining businesses perform poorly

(EnergyAsia, March 1 2010, Monday) — Two South Korean oil companies said losses at their refinery operations dragged down their sales and income for 2009. SK Energy’s operating profit fell to 901.4 billion won or less than half the previous year’s profit. Its petrochemicals business registered a record operating profit of about 600 billion won,…

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SAUDI ARABIA: Government sets budget of 540 billion riyals for 2010

(EnergyAsia, March 1 2010, Monday) — The Saudi Arabian government said it has set a budget of 540 billion riyals for 2010, 14% higher than last year’s budget and the largest on record. (US$1=3.75 riyal). The Kingdom has also forecast that its fiscal deficit will rise to 70 billion riyals this year as expenditures are…

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MARKETS: Saudi Aramco CEO downplays fears of peak oil production

(EnergyAsia, March 1 2010, Monday) — The CEO of Saudi state oil firm Saudi Aramco, the world’s biggest oil producer, has dismissed fears that global oil production is about to peak and then go into decline. Khalid al-Falih has insisted that oil companies have extracted only a quarter of the planet’s four trillion barrels of…

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QATAR: Ras Laffan 3 LNG train 7 begins production

(EnergyAsia, February 26 2010, Friday) — Ras Laffan Liquefied Natural Gas Company Limited 3 or Ras Laffan 3 said it has started up train 7 at Ras Laffan Industrial City in Qatar. The project, a joint venture of Qatar Petroleum (70%) and ExxonMobil Ras Laffan (3) Limited (30%), represents another expansion of LNG production facilities…

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INDIA: Middle East countries invited to store crude and products

(EnergyAsia, February 26 2010, Friday) — India is making a high-profile pitch for the oil producers of the Middle East to store crude and products in the country. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will lead a delegation including his petroleum minister and senior energy officials to the Middle East this week where he will offer Saudi…

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MARKETS: Obama adviser wants banks barred from risky financial activities like derivatives trading

(EnergyAsia, February 26 2010, Friday) — US President Barrak Obama’s economic recovery adviser Paul Volcker wants the government to prohibit banks from “risky financial activities” like derivatives trading and leave these only to hedge funds. Speaking recently in the UK, he said banks should stick to providing basic banking services, and let hedge funds undertake…

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MARKETS: CTFC proposes cap on traders’ positions on four energy contracts

(EnergyAsia, February 26 2010, Friday) — The US’ Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) has proposed putting a cap on the positions traders can hold on the four most traded energy contracts on the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX) and Intercontinental Exchange (ICE). The cap, which could equal a limit of 90,000 to 100,000 contracts across…

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CHINA: Trade with Saudi Arabia could reach US$60 billion by 2015

(EnergyAsia, February 26 2010, Friday) — Trade between China and Saudi Arabia, its leading oil supplier, could rise by 50% to US$60 billion by 2015, predicted the Chinese Commerce Minister Chen Deming. China has just become Saudi Arabia’s leading oil customer, importing more than one million b/d in 2009 to surpass the US which saw…

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CHINA: MoU signed with Arab League to step up energy cooperation

(EnergyAsia, February 26 2010, Friday) — The Arab League (AL) and China’s National Energy Administration have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to step up energy cooperation between the two organisations. The agreement was signed at last month’s China-Arab Energy Cooperation of the China-Arab Cooperation Forum in Khartoum in Sudan where Chinese and Arab officials…

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AUSTRALIA: Caltex to pay A$0.25 per share dividend on “good operating performance” for 2009

(EnergyAsia, February 26 2010, Friday) — Refiner Caltex Australia said it will pay shareholders a final dividend of A$0.25 per share after it reported a 9.1% rise in its 2009 net profit to A$203 million. (US$1=A$1.15). The country’s biggest and only listed oil refiner measures its net profit on a replacement cost of sales basis,…

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MIDDLE EAST: Iran and Iraq feuding over al-Fakkah oil field

(EnergyAsia, February 25 2010, Thursday) — Traditional enemies Iran and Iraq are feuding over the abandoned al-Fakkah oil field along the two nations’ poorly defined borders after the brief occupation of one of the wells by Iranian troops. The troops, which occupied well no. 4 on December 17, withdrew after a few days and Iran’s…

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SINGAPORE: CarbonNeutral signs up six organisations on carbon management pilot

(EnergyAsia, February 25 2010, Thursday) — The CarbonNeutral Company, a world-leading provider of carbon reductions solutions, said it has signed up six organisations to launch an innovative web based carbon management solution that is supported by the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB) as part of the country’s urban solutions programme. Within the pilot programme, the…

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JAPAN: Saudi officials frustrated with Tokyo over delays in implementing oil storage deal

(EnergyAsia, February 25 2010, Thursday) — The Saudi Arabian government is expressing impatience with the slow progress in its plans to use Japan’s Okinawa Islands as a hub for storing, handling and distributing crude oil to serve the fast-growing Asian market. State oil company Aramco had been eager to follow through with plans to store…

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QATAR: Qatar Petroleum, ExxonMobil start up second phase of Al Khaleej gas project

(EnergyAsia, February 25 2010, Thursday) — Qatar Petroleum and Exxon Mobil Corporation said they have started up operations at their Al Khaleej Gas-Phase 2 (AKG-2) project which has the capacity to produce 1,250 million cubic feet per day (mcfd) of gas. Operations began in December. The new facilities are designed to meet the growing demand…

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CHINA: State firms building oil storage tanks in Lanzhou and Tianjin

(EnergyAsia, February 25 2010, Thursday) — Chinese state firms have begun building storage tanks for holding the nation’s strategic oil reserves in the municipalities of Lanzhou and Tianjin. Officials of state-run oil firm CNPC, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) and the National Energy Administration attended the groundbreaking ceremony of a reserve base in…

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QATAR: Brazil’s Petrobras may consider investment offer

(EnergyAsia, February 25 2010, Thursday) — Brazil’s state oil and gas giant Petrobras may consider selling a small equity stake to Qatar to raise cash for its ambitious upstream development projects. Cash-rich Qatar has made known its interest to buy into Petrobras and have a stake in the fast-growing Brazilian economy. Last December, Petrobras chief…

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AUSTRALIA: Security concerns raised with Caltex plan to shut down part of Kurnell oil refinery

(EnergyAsia, February 25 2010, Thursday) — Caltex Australia Ltd has decided to shut down part of its Kurnell oil refinery that helps supply lubricants to the Australian Defence Force, raising concerns about national security. The company has stated one of the refinery units is no longer viable because it produced outmoded lubricant products and faced…

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MALAYSIA: Langsat Terminal officially starts up RM500 million storage terminal in Johor state

(EnergyAsia, February 24 2010, Wednesday) — Langsat Terminal (One) Sdn Bhd has officially started up its RM500 million oil storage facility in Tanjung Langsat in the southern Malaysian state of Johor. (US$1=RM3.40). Abdul Ghani Bin Othman, the state’s Menteri Besar or chief minister, officiated Monday’s opening of the terminal, which is jointly owned by Malaysia’s…

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SINGAPORE: PEC Ltd reports 66% increase in net profit for October-December quarter

(EnergyAsia, February 24 2010, Wednesday) — Singapore engineering firm PEC Ltd said its net profit for the latest quarter to December 2009 surged 66% to S$9.2 million on improved margins. (US$1=S$1.4). For the six months ending December 31, its net profit rose 50% to S$16.3 million. Revenue, however, fell 3% to S$213.4 million due to…

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CHINA: Gas imports and work on infrastructure to be stepped up

(EnergyAsia, February 24 2010, Wednesday) — China has promised to increase the importation of liquefied natural gas (LNG) and speed up the development of facilities to support gas transport and handling. Zhang Guobao, head of the National Energy Administration, said the government is seeking to take advantage of excess supply in the global market to…

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VIETNAM: Foster Wheeler wins additional work for refinery and petrochemicals complex

(EnergyAsia, February 24 2010, Wednesday) — Engineering giant Foster Wheeler AG said its global engineering and construction group has been awarded a contract to provide technical and commercial services for the planned Nghi Son Refinery and Petrochemicals Complex in Vietnam The contract, the value of which was not disclosed, was awarded by Nghi Son Refinery…

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