Analysis by the father of American Geopolitics Dr. Daniel Fine, MIT.

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Fine: NAFTA, natural gas and the San Juan Basin

As seen here in the Farmington Daily Times->

The North American Free Trade Agreement is now in a final stage with the U.S. team looking over the “energy chapter,” which has been approved by Canada and Mexico. The Administration’s position, with a revisionist-protectionist core, offers President Trump a withdrawal-from-NAFTA option, at least a tactical move to shake up Canada and Mexico in the interest of American merchandise and agricultural exports.
However, not much is known from the inside on plans for natural gas exports to Mexico.  In 1992, the beginning of NAFTA, Mexico’s oil and gas industry was government owned and operated so it fell outside a free trade agreement.
Today, Mexico permits private capital to build, own and operate oil and gas exploration, production and transportation (pipelines) under its Energy Reform Law.
This admits natural gas into the NAFTA framework. Nearly $6 billion of Southwest natural gas was sold (exported) to Mexico last year.

Mexico imports 53 percent of its natural gas from the United States – with 60 percent on track. Needless to say, Mexico is dependent on American natural gas for its power generation.Texas natural gas pipeline entry points dominate the trade, while the Delaware and the San Juan basins are next as business and strategic sources.
The Mancos Shale natural gas below the Four Corners must access the expanding Mexican market in any revision of NAFTA terms. The Trump Administration’s understanding of American natural gas trade with Mexico should include regional economic integration. Energy is required for Mexican industrial growth, and Mexico has constructed the pipelines on its side border to receive and transport natural gas from the Permian and the San Juan Basin.

NAFTA revised should make natural gas exports from the U.S. Southwest a natural resource exemption from narrow foreign trade objectives. Natural gas reserves in the Southwest can be accessible to Mexican importers if pipelines to cross-border points attract American investment long-term. NAFTA changes
would create risk disincentives.

U.S. NAFTA negotiations can be aligned with the Trump-Zinke energy policy of world domination if the export “New Mexican natural gas” is designated a “win – win.”
If the Mexican market for American natural gas is lost, New Mexican natural gas would be mostly “stranded” without offset storage; and, it would push back on the Permian with an oil-only reality as the output of gas from Pennsylvania and Ohio output expands.

Unless Texas and New York media understand the history behind the oil price collapse history of 2014-2016 the industry and public will be compelled to repeat that history soon.

Oil prices are coupled into a “bubble”; or worse – speculation in a “coin” which exists as a product of computer software. Is Bitcoin speculation infecting the value of oil in commodity trading at least momentarily?
Will hedging create a trade?

With New Mexico oil production over 500,000 barrels per day (323,000 four years ago), the coming 30 days in Santa Fe (Legislative Session) should see a Democratic Party state budget expansion or plain spending offensive which would mirror 2018 primaries and general election conflict between progressives and centrists.
There is no threat from off-shore (Atlantic and Pacific Ocean) to New Mexican oil and gas development. President Trump is right to remove off-shore prohibitions, but now the market takes over. The cost of San Juan Basin natural gas is 80 percent less than exploration and production 50 miles out in North Carolina’s Atlantic Ocean.
Three or four dimensional seismic investments—yes; production—no; not as long as there is economic shale natural gas on-shore in New Mexico and the Southwest.

Daniel Fine is the associate director of New Mexico Tech’s Center for Energy Policy. The opinions expressed are his own.


ENERGY DOMINANCE NEEDS NAFTA 1/16/18 Heritage Foundation


Last year, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer notified Congress of the Trump Administration’s intent to modernize the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). After several rounds of negotiation among the United States, Canada, and Mexico, many critical issues remain unresolved.

Opportunities abound for negotiating a better NAFTA. As the Trump Administration pushes for modernization, one commonsense policy area that should be preserved and improved is energy. Canada and Mexico are two of America’s most important trade partners in energy markets. The Trump Administration should build off that success. Strengthening the integration of energy markets among the three countries will unleash the massive amount of energy abundance in North America.

Join us as we hear from experts on how enhancing energy trade with Canada and Mexico will result in more jobs and affordable power for American households and help achieve the Trump Administration’s goal of energy dominance.

Dr. Daniel Fine: Oil and gas: A look at what 2018 may bring

by Daniel Fine, Energy Magazine – Daily Times USA TODAY

Trump leads mass deregulation effort; comeback seen for San Juan Basin

For more of the article go here->

“The price of oil in 2018 will be volatile with commodity market traders selling on signals of OPEC-Russia “cheating” or members producing more oil than the extended Algiers Agreement output quotas. This should be expected as U.S. shale producers push past 10 million barrels per day and exceed 1970 as the all-time high for the United States.
At 10.4 million bpd (barrels per day), American oil production will surpass Saudi Arabia and Russia.  Herein lies the price range: 2015 all over again.
Real OPEC and Russian output will break Algiers (1.8 million barrels off the world market until September). Price range to $62.50 WTI high in the first half of the year and $38.65 at end of the second half or one year from today; 2019 would resemble most of 2015.
There is a second threat to price and production in the Southwest and Dakota. Hedge funds invested in public or listed companies want share buy-backs or dividends. In short, they want to make money now as opposed to operators sinking more cashflow into new production projects. The conflict inside Hess is the first example.
Traditional oil operators are 5-year business planners for returns on investment while the new private equity owners or investors are quarterly or payback pressure points for higher stock market share prices and distribution. OPEC/Russia is the external market threat leading to the lower price range alongside an internal investor/owner threat of less cash flow plow back for future production projects and more for short-term return on investment.
Oil price and production will also reflect Saudi Arabian domestic instability over its simultaneous offensive against Iranian influence in the Middle East and social and economic modernization against traditionalism. The plan is for less dependence on oil exports with technology and manufacturing in the national economy: social change and the status of women in the “revolution.”



Dr. Daniel Fine: Trump’s approach to oil and gas: a new course in the San Juan Basin


The full article is here->

It has been 70 years since a President of the United States has considered domestic oil and gas as a “power” in world affairs. With Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke charting a new course, the Trump Administration is considering a transfer of Federal Land management with natural resources to the Western States.
Coupled with Zinke’s proclamation of American energy world domination, a revolution on how to think about oil and gas in the San Juan Basin is taking place.
The Four Corners BLM management could move across Farmington to the New Mexico state office.  The Bureau of Land Management’s Washington control might move to Denver.
It is more than speeding up Applications for Petroleum Drilling (APD): it is who decides and implements Trump-Zinke. How is San Juan natural gas to advance American oil and gas first in a redesign of domestic resources on a world stage?
Farmington and Carlsbad would control, as New Mexico State offices of oil and gas, new rules with national and global meaning. The San Juan Basin future would have natural gas reserves managed for strategic and economic purposes in the Baltic and Black Seas.  Management would be drawn from New Mexico.
What is the cost for this historic transfer of power from Washington or a non-oil and gas Potomac?
The State of New Mexico must legislate expansion budgets to overcome the limitations of Santa Fe staff in numbers and expertise. Under State Oil and Gas Law, inspectors are needed to inspect wells (62,000).
Inspection of Federal oil and gas wells (transfer from Washington BLM) requires a budgetary alignment with the strategy and vision of Secretary Zinke.
There is a return to the economic development history of America. San Juan Basin natural gas does not depend on localized manufacturing alternatives into natural gas in the Four Corners.  Pipelines take care of markets.  The expansion to ultimate economic recovery is in the new policy of this Administration.
I was the lunch keynote speaker at the Jicarilla Apache Energy Conference in Dulce.  Indian nation natural gas must not be outside American oil and gas first. Investment and production is now a different opportunity. Deals with conventional oil and gas companies were part of the excitement.
Readers of this column in the Energy Magazine have followed a forecast made 11 months ago, in which I have seen warning signs of oversupply of world oil in 2019.
The Initial Public Offering (IPO) shares in Saudi Aramco is doubtful.  China or BP could buy non-controlling blocks of shares as an alternative. If this IPO fails, Saudi Aramco will have little reason to throttle OPEC production downward.
This would open the way for a trend-line similar to 2014. Saudi Arabia is in the first phase of instability.  What happens to Mohammed bin Salmon, the Crown Prince, lies in Qatar, and with the Kurds.
It is important to recognize that the IPO process called for the right of women to obtain driving permits. Underwriters were on notice that such discrimination would distract buyers of Saudi Aramco shares.
Hilcorp’s female staff at Dulce added that they (women in Saudi Arabia) must be 30 years of age and will not be able to drive at night.

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Daniel Fine is the associate director of New Mexico


Hedging threat and Venezuela Oil By Dr. Daniel Fine

The full article is here->

“How can Saudi Arabia and OPEC behind them strike a second blow against shale oil producers in the Southwest? The first was the 2014-2017 price and market share war in which they raised production to put the higher cost Americans out of business.
This was partially abandoned at Algiers in a reversal to opt for a higher price for crude oil from $26 to the high $40 range. The marketing tool is lowering their production by 1,800,000 barrels per day.

The second blow is process.

The Saudi Arabian Oil Ministry and its state company, Saudi Aramco, negotiated in London with Glencore (world’s largest trading combined with mining), banks and hedge funds to see if they could reduce the liquidity necessary for American oil and gas shale producers to hedge forward to obtain a higher price.

Without access at only financial transactions costs to the “strip” or the forward price of oil at at least 10 percent higher than current prices “spot,” WPX and all the Permian-Delaware significant producers would not have survived the recent downturn in their current form.

If there is no difference between the price oil today and September 2018,  which is called the “contango,” this would be a problem of liquidity – no entity taking the other side against the oil and gas producer on a contract.  No cash would be bet against the oil and gas producer who sells forward one year. One side, for example, sells 70 percent of 2018 oil production at June 2018 prices in the present while the other side buys or covers, as the counterpart, the contract.

Saudi Arabia correctly followed data which demonstrated that despite the decline in the price of oil from $100 in 2014 to a low of $26 per barrel, oil producers hedged against the fall and largely survived.  Without hedging the producers would have negative cash flows and serious problems of debt to keep going.”


Oil and the Saudi Arabia threat by Dr. Daniel Fine

Dr. Daniel Fine, New Mexico Center for Energy Policy

The article by Dr. Daniel Fine is here->

There is instability in the leading oil producer within OPEC and the lowest cost producer in the World. Nothing like this has happened in Saudi Arabia since the middle of the last century.

It is only a matter of the short term before the price of world oil is affected. And its Implications will reach the Four Corners and New Mexico no matter what Congress or The White House does.

First, the instability begins from a dynastic change with an ailing and aging King and a young crown prince ousting his cousin as the successor to the throne as King of Saudi Arabia.  This divides the rulers into two factions:   the traditionalists or old guard (Ali Al-Naimi) against the modernists and a take-over generation.  Second, the oil ministry and Saudi Aramco (the Government-owned and monopoly oil company) is now controlled by the take- over generation.

No doubt President Trump was influential in the recent diplomatic visit to the Kingdom. He gave support to the take-over faction with closer ties to the take-overs through Mohammed bin Salman, now the heir to the throne. Billions in American service company projects with Saudi Arabian petroleum expansion were announced. President Trump concluded with a strategy and tactic of eliminating radical  Islam in Saudi Arabia and the Middle East.  He said it must be attacked at the roots of the social and political order.

Qatar was next.  It has been isolated and diminished by the take-over generation adding more resentment among the traditionalists in Saudi Arabia.  While it is the largest producer and exporter of liquid natural gas in the world, it also produces as much as 80 percent of the oil output of the Permian Basin. The big picture is struggle between Iran and Saudi Arabia to dominate the region or Islamic Middle East.

It was the take-over generation that switched Saudi Arabia oil strategy from an anti-American shale and sand price and market share war against West Texas Intermediate oil to a reduction of output in OPEC. This was the decision of Algiers to raise prices in anticipation of a Saudi Aramco initial public offering of shares next year.

Share prices would be sold at higher prices with this cutback of OPEC production.

The Crown Prince moved to restore subsidies and salaries, based on oil revenue, which were reduced or eliminated as the oil price fell because of market share strategy to lower oil prices to shut down or slow American shale competition from 2014 to late last year. Prices moved upward as OPEC withheld some 1.8 barrels from the World Market.  But the commodity market has displayed skepticism after an initial rally that not enough supply has been pushed back to “balance supply and demand” this year.

Oil and the emergence of Saudi Arabian instability should converge in a struggle between the traditionalists or old guard over the control of the Ministry of Oil and indirectly Saudi Aramco as a pre-public company. The new crown prince now in control of the country must not fail as head of the take-over generation. The price of oil must increase another 50 percent to $65 per barrel before the  Saudi Aramco sale of its stock worldwide – minimum 5 percent and maximum 10 percent.

If this fails or the sale does not meet expectations, the traditionalist  or Old Guard will combine an attack on modernism with a return of Saudi Arabia as the residual or swing world supplier of oil with price setting supply actions of higher output for lower prices or lower output for higher prices.

The outcome will impact the future of American exporters of oil. The  take-over modernist will accommodate a “balance” which includes a market for Permian exports.  The Old Guard will not.  A Second Downturn in 2019, forecast in this column seven months ago, will take place with either outcome, but with mitigation from the take-over generation. President Trump will have lost the Crown Prince and the modernists in the coalition to root out radical Islam as he readies for 2020.

Shale oil producers in the Southwest and North Dakota would be losers, if the Trump strategy is stalled or fails because a traditionalist recovery of civil and oil power in Saudi Arabia. This would occur as Saudi Arabia and OPEC could resort to the market share flood of the world market as in 2014.

As never before, President Trump’s 2020 campaign would then strike a new campaign strategy toward a North American oil and gas market with prices determined as continentalist and world oceans imports of oil limited.

The San Juan Basin natural gas future increasingly depends on new markets in Mexico and short-term advantages if Qatar’s half of world’s supply of LNG is isolated or neutered.


Watch Energy Expert Dr. Daniel Fine As He Discusses President Trump’s New Policy Of “Energy Dominance”



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