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Global Unrest Breeds Bullish Sentiment in Oil Prices

A recent series of major geopolitical developments have caused volatility in Brent crude prices, which steadied on Friday after earlier losses. In particular, the volatility was triggered following renewed tensions in the Middle East after the United States slapped new sanctions on Iran as a response for the missile attack on an Iraqi military base where U.S. forces were present. Additionally, a Russian navy ship “aggressively approached” a U.S. Navy destroyer in the North Arabian Sea on Thursday, the U.S. Navy’s Bahrain-based Fifth Fleet said in a statement on Friday. “With the standing down of Iran there was a sense that oil supplies were pretty safe but now with the institution of sanctions and this report that a Russian ship was acting aggressively toward a U.S. ship, it’s put a little bit of fear back into the market place,” said Phil Flynn, oil analyst at Price Futures Group in Chicago, according to a report by Reuters. Brent crude LCOc1, the global benchmark, was up 11 cents to USD 65.48 by 10:32 a.m. Friday, while West Texas Intermediate crude CLc1 slipped 17 cents to USD 59.39. Torchlight Energy Resources, Inc. (NASDAQ: TRCH), Occidental Petroleum Corp. (NYSE: OXY), Enbridge Inc. (NYSE: ENB), Exxon Mobil Corp. (NYSE: XOM), BP Plc (NYSE: BP)

Outside the world of geopolitics, oil exploration continued to gather steam in 2019. According to data estimates provided by Rystad Energy global oil and gas explorers discovered 12.2 billion barrels of oil equivalent (boe) in 2019, the highest volume since 2015. Last year also marked 26 discoveries of more than 100 million boe, with offshore regions dominating the list of new oil and gas deposits. The success of ExxonMobil in Guyana from 2018 continued in 2019, with Exxon adding four new discoveries within the offshore Stabroek block. Meanwhile, Tullow Oil’s Jethro and Joe exploration wells established the presence of working petroleum systems to the west of the Stabroek block. Overall, the discoveries in Guyana hold cumulative recoverable resources of around 1.8 billion boe according to Rystad Energy’s estimates. “ExxonMobil can be declared explorer of the year for a second year in a row thanks to its ongoing efforts and results in Guyana, along with significant investments in Cyprus. The supermajor was exceptional, both in terms of discovered volumes and value creation from exploration,” explained Palzor Shenga, a senior analyst on Rystad Energy’s upstream team.

Torchlight Energy Resources, Inc. (NASDAQ: TRCH) announced breaking news earlier last week that, “the Company is flowing back frac fluid on the recently completed Cactus A35 #1H well and is seeing an initial positive oil and gas result early in the process.

Following a discontinuous contractor schedule during the holidays, Maverick Operating installed tubing and an electric submersible pump in the last four days and has begun pumping back frac fluid load on the Cactus A35 #1H well. This pump is designed to move 500 barrels of liquid per day. Fracture stimulation load water was 9,900 barrels used in the single stage short lateral. A smaller pump is being utilized based on the frac size and a variable speed drive is also installed allowing for the increase or decrease in production volumes based on well conditions. The well is currently producing 160 to 180 barrels of fluid per day with approximately 15% load recovery. Intake pressure remains over 1000 psi and the Company is anticipating increased hydrocarbon content as the frac load and intake pressure both decline.

‘We are very encouraged to be seeing oil and gas shows from this well early in the frac flowback process,’ stated John Brda, Torchlight’s CEO. ‘With the frac size and design used, we have stimulated both the matrix and fracture system in the Penn formation’s dual porosity composition. Once we establish an Initial Potential (IP) production rate we will have necessary data to both estimate initial production potential and reserves from extended length laterals using multi-stage fracture stimulation techniques. The stimulation of this 100-foot lateral interval should provide us the evidence required to prove commercial viability in the oil window of the Pennsylvanian formation, which is critical to project marketability.’

Occidental Petroleum Corp. (NYSE: OXY) announced earlier in October the start-up of the company’s first solar facility to directly power an enhanced oil recovery field operation in the Permian Basin. The company, through its Oxy Low Carbon Ventures (OLCV) subsidiary, also announced that it has signed a long-term power purchase agreement for 109 MW of solar energy, beginning in 2021, for use in its Permian operations. “Occidental is taking an important step toward realizing our aspiration to become carbon neutral through the use of emissions-free solar electricity,” President and CEO Vicki Hollub said. “Using solar energy in our operations is another way Oxy Low Carbon Ventures is enhancing the profitability and sustainability of our business while meeting the challenge of reducing atmospheric greenhouse gases.” The Goldsmith field solar facility, built by Occidental in Ector County near Odessa, Texas, expands on the company’s commitment to economically lower its carbon footprint by using emissions-free power sources in operations. The 120-acre field is the first large-scale solar facility of its kind to directly power oil and gas operations in Texas and features 174,000 photovoltaic panels with a total capacity of 16 MW — enough to power the operations at the Goldsmith field. First Solar manufactured the photovoltaic panels and is under contract with OLCV to operate the facility.

Enbridge Inc. (NYSE: ENB) announced at the end of last year, the closing of the agreement through which Enbridge has sold a number of federally-regulated natural gas gathering and processing assets in British Columbia to Brookfield Infrastructure and its institutional partners (collectively, “Brookfield”). These federally-regulated assets represent the second phase of the $4.3 B transaction, previously announced on July 4, 2018. Enbridge has now closed the complete sale of the Canadian G&P Business, which includes 19 provincially and federally-regulated natural gas processing plants and 3,550 kilometres of natural gas gathering pipelines in British Columbia and Alberta. Under Brookfield’s ownership, the G&P Business is named NorthRiver Midstream Inc.

Exxon Mobil Corp. (NYSE: XOM) reported earlier in December it has secured more than 1.7 million acres for exploration offshore Egypt. “These awards strengthen our exploration portfolio in the Eastern Mediterranean,” said Mike Cousins, senior vice president of exploration and new ventures at ExxonMobil. “We look forward to working with the government and deploying our proven expertise and advanced technology.” The acquisition includes acreage in the 1.2 million North Marakia Offshore block, which is located approximately five miles offshore Egypt’s northern coast in the Herodotus basin. The remaining 543,000 acres is in the North East El Amriya Offshore block in the Nile Delta.

BP Plc (NYSE: BP) announced last week that it has agreed to sell its interests in the Andrew area in the central UK North Sea and its non-operating interest in the Shearwater field. BP operates the Andrew assets – comprising the Andrew platform, the Andrew (62.75%), Arundel (100%), Cyrus (100%), Farragon (50%) and Kinnoull (77.06%) fields and associated subsea infrastructure. It holds a 27.5% stake in the Shell-operated Shearwater field. Under the terms of the deal, Premier Oil will pay BP $625 million. Ariel Flores, BP North Sea regional president, said: “BP has been reshaping its portfolio in the North Sea to focus on core growth areas, including the Clair, Quad 204 and ETAP hubs. We’re adding advantaged production to our hubs through the Alligin, Vorlich and Seagull tieback projects… As a result of this focus, we have also now decided to divest our Andrew and Shearwater interests, believing them to be a better strategic fit for another owner. We are confident that Premier Oil, already a significant operator in the North Sea, is the right owner of these assets as they seek to maximise their value and extend their life.”
Source: Financial Buzz

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