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Prices & supplies - July 25

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Many more articles are available through the Energy Bulletin homepage


Huge oil trading loss sinks energy trader SemGroup

Robert Campbell, Reuters via Guardian
SemGroup LP declared bankruptcy on Tuesday after $3.2 billion in oil trading losses torpedoed the formerly 12th-largest private U.S. company.

The Tulsa-based company racked up the massive losses as oil prices ran up record gains, undercutting short crude futures positions SemGroup bought to hedge against its 500,000 barrel-per-day trading business
(22 July 2008)



Polar power: vast oil find in Arctic

AFP via Sydney Morning Herald
In the Arctic circle 90 billion barrels of oil and vast quantities of natural gas are waiting to be tapped, most of it offshore, the government-run US Geological Survey said on Wednesday.

The top of the world, shared by half a dozen countries including the US, Russia, Canada, Sweden, Norway and Greenland, holds an estimated 90 billion barrels of crude, 1670 trillion cubic feet of gas and 44 million barrels of natural gas liquids, the USGS said in a report.

Eighty-four per cent of that potential energy resources is expected to lie offshore, said the report, which comes a week after the US Government lifted a 17-year ban on offshore drilling hoping to ease a spiralling fuel price crisis.
(24 July 2008)
Related: Survey predicts vast supplies of Arctic oil, gas (McClatchy)

Energy Bulletin editor emeritus Adam G. writes:
This article presents the 90 billion barrels (the equivalent of just under three years' global supply) as a "find" which the press release does not. The USGS makes estimates of undiscovered oil based primarily on the type of geology present rather than drilling data, which is often unavailable. Their past methods and overestimates of future oil discoveries have repeatedly been called into question .

The authors themselves stress in their official podcast that "these are probabilistic estimates with a great deal of uncertainty in them" and that the assessment includes all areas "irregardless of sea ice or water depth".

Much of this oil can't actually be "tapped" insofar as that implies ease of extraction. It is a cold, thick and sticky fluid which will not move easily though the pore spaces of the rocks which hold it, and may require heating or other high energy extraction techniques. Such marginal resources can not be developed quickly or cheaply and will have minimal impact on the timing of peak oil or the rate of decline.

Also, the article should say global oil consumption is "30 billion barrels a YEAR" rather than day. Otherwise the reporter sounds even more overexcited than they should.



The coming gas supply shock in the Gulf

Matein Khalid, Khaleej Times Online
It is ironic that the Arabian Gulf, which contains two thirds of the world’s proven oil reserves and is the epicentre of the energy business, faces a regular gas shortage, possibly as high as 7 billion cubic feet in the next decade. This is going to have a seismic impact on the GCC’s oil production, consumption and exports, a major factor in crude oil prices.

Only Qatar among the GCC states has the scale of reserves, production and infrastructure to ignore gas supply constraints in industrial production in some of the highest nominal GDP growth economies in the world.

Cheap energy is the feedstock for many of the GCC’s industrial diversification strategies, such as the giant aluminium smelting companies of Dubai and Oman or Saudi Arabian downstream petrochemicals venture at Yanbu. Gas, in particular, powers the electric utilities, aluminium, fertiliser and water desalination plants in the GCC.

These industries are the backbone, the very DNA of the Gulf’s new twenty first century industrial constellation.
(24 July 2008)

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