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Category Archives: Offshore

Exclusive: Algeria’s Sonatrach in talks to begin offshore drilling – source – Reuters

Posted: February 26, 2017 at 11:37 pm

By Lamine Chikhi | ALGIERS

ALGIERS Algeria’s Sonatrach wants to start offshore oil drilling and has begun discussions with U.S. operators Exxon Mobil Corp (XOM.N) and Anadarko (APC.N) as well as Italy’s Eni (ENI.MI), a source at the state energy company told Reuters on Sunday.

The North African OPEC member nation has struggled to attract oil investment in recent years because of tough terms that have made foreign companies wary.

Sonatrach last year began a more flexible approach to bilateral talks with foreign partners.

Low oil prices have also pressured Sonatrach, prompting it to focus on developing production at more mature fields in the southern Sahara and bringing online delayed gas projects. Offshore drilling could offer another area for growth.

“Seismic operations carried out by Sonatrach have shown an interesting potential in the areas including Bejaia and Oran,” said the source, who asked not to be identified. Bejaia is an eastern port and Oran is a port city in western Algeria.

Algeria needs the know-how and expertise of major international firms to launch offshore drilling, the source said.

“Foreign partners, including Anadarko, Exxon Mobil and Eni were invited by Sonatrach to provide technical assistance given the experience they acquired in the Gulf of Mexico and deep water in Mozambique,” the Sonatrach source said.

“The offshore is complementary to our operations in the south. It will also contribute to boosting our output,” the source said.

The source did not give any information on the timing or scale of any offshore projects.

Such details, including when the drilling will start, are expected to be announced soon by Sonatrach’s leadership, the source said.

Algeria’s earnings from oil and gas fell to $27.5 billion in 2016 from $35.7 billion in 2015 and more than $60 billion in 2014.

Algeria’s oil output was previously estimated at 1.1 million barrels per day (bpd) but it has cut production by 50,000 bpd under an agreement between OPEC and non-OPEC producers aimed at raising crude prices.

(Editing by Patrick Markey and Jason Neely)

BAGHDAD Iraq signed a $500 million agreement with ABB to implement energy projects, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s office said in a statement on Sunday.

SYDNEY Australian gold output hit a 17-year high of 298 tonnes in 2016 as higher bullion prices drove mining companies to dig deeper, a sector survey released on Sunday showed.

CANNON BALL, N.D. Opponents of the Dakota Access Pipeline who were pushed out of their protest camp this week have vowed to keep up efforts to stop the multibillion-dollar project and take the fight to other pipelines as well.

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Eidesvik offloads offshore construction vessel – Splash 247

Posted: at 11:37 pm

February 26th, 2017 Grant Rowles Europe, Offshore 0 comments

Norways Eidesvik Offshore has sold 2009-built offshore construction vessel Viking Poseidon to an unnamed buyer.

Eidesvik says a deposit has already been paid and delivery is expected to take place mid-March.

The sale will have a positive effect of around NOK180m ($21.5) according to Eidesvik, after it recorded a NOK130m ($15.5m) impairment charge on the vessel in the fourth quarter of 2016.

Viking Poseidonrecently came off a contract with Siemens Wind Power supporting operations in the German sector.

The vessel was previously on charter to Harkand, who cancelled the contractin May 2016 after into went into administration.

Grant Rowles

Grant spent nine years at Informa Group based in London, Sydney, Hong Kong and Singapore. He gained strong management experience in publishing, conferences and awards schemes in the shipping and legal areas, working on a number of titles including Lloyd’s List. In 2009 Grant joined Seatrade responsible for the commercial development of Seatrades Asia products. In 2012, with Sam Chambers, he co-founded Asia Shipping Media.

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Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group: More Questions Than Answers (Negative Rates, Offshore Funding, And LNG Exposure) – Seeking Alpha

Posted: February 25, 2017 at 3:45 pm

Last year, I was endlessly ringing the alarm bells about Japanese financials, particularly the impact of negative rates on profitability (e.g. net interest margin) and of money market reform and dollar strength on offshore funding, i.e. funding for overseas operations. (See here, here, and here.)

With all of the ‘happenings’ going on in the U.S. currently as it relates to politics and financials, it’s been easy to forget about the global reality… that is, that a third of the world’s credit assets are still negative-yielding, that deflationary pressures are still alive and well despite the positive trend shift in the U.S. and other key areas (e.g. PPI in China), and that the Japanese financial sector is still under significant stress.

So, returning to the topic of Japanese financials, in its CLSA Japan Investors Forum presentation this year, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (NYSE:MTU), one of the “Big 4” of the Japanese financial institutions, sought to lay out how it is addressing these ongoing situations and how it plans to achieve growth in the future. Of particular note was the focus on negative rate impact and non-JPY (i.e. offshore) funding for its foreign operations; if MUFG felt it necessary to address these issues in front of its large institutional investor clients, it must be of ongoing concern.

Negative Rate Impact and Offshore Funding

On negative rate impact, MUFG states its impact on lending has generally been in line with expectations. If you’ve been a follower of mine, you’re probably well aware of the “in-line expectations” of the effects of NIRP in Japan, but to review, the effects have been namely:

What is most concerning is MUFG’s “initiatives” to counter the effects of NIRP. MUFG offers little substance on how it is trying to counter its declining profits as a result of NIRP; the details it does present amount to mere sales promotion, pushing customers into alternative investment products and other strategies. That’s all well and good, but where is the concrete guidance? No mention of the impact of NIRP as it relates to exposure to synthetic derivatives, e.g. IRSs or CDSs, (not that any bank provides proper info on derivatives exposure anyway) or MUFG’s high exposure to variable rate products on the asset side of the BS leaves me with more questions and concerns than before.

As for offshore funding crunch concerns, MUFG does seek to allay fears of any such contagion occurring.

By relative comparison, MUFG’s exposure to the commercial paper (CD/CP) market – where most of this contagion related to dollar strength and money market reform has taken place – is smaller than that of other institutions. And that 70% of its offshore funding is backed by customer deposits is reassuring. However, regardless, overseas business will continue to suffer the effects of a stronger dollar, as we’ve already seen, from H1’15 to H1’16, the impact from exchange rate losses for overseas business with Japanese corporates depressed gross profits to the tune of ~20 billion.

Light Natural Gas Exposure

Now, losses from money markets or forex are negative but are small enough to be mitigated. What is most concerning to me is recent events regarding the LNG (light natural gas) sector. Japan is the world’s largest importer of LNG, mainly from the U.S. and Canada. For much of the past several years, natural gas prices have remained depressed along with crude and other energy products. However, as recently as this Tuesday, futures plunged by nearly 10% as the possibility of an El Nio event, i.e. warmer climate, in the U.S. increased; natural gas prices are down over 30% year-to-date and it’s only been two and a half months. (See here, here, and here.)

From a macroeconomic perspective, this may sound great as Japan now gets to import energy on the cheap, however, from the perspective of a financial institution underwriting the finances of an LNG E&P or shipping company, this could spell big trouble.

The question we need to ask is: How much exposure does MUFG actually have to energy price volatility, specifically the latest LNG volatility?

Total and net exposure to the energy/mining sectors has been decreasing over time and now sits at ~9.1 trillion, or $80 billion; most large-scale financial institutions have pretty sizeable exposure to energy and commodities so this is not inherently unusual or negative. However, let’s take a closer look.

Most of that exposure is concentrated in midstream (pipelines/vessels) and upstream (E&Ps) corporate credit in the Americas (mainly U.S. and Canada producers) and Japan (LNG ships/transport). If prices are plunging (in an environment of already depressed prices), this could disrupt the entire “LNG Revolution” which had promised to be Japan’s cheap energy alternative to nuclear.

MUFG states that exposure to commodity price risk is limited in that only 38% of MUFG’s project finance credit exposure contains such risk, however it bases such a definition on the notion that “…projects whose revenues are determined based on oil/gas process volume or facility operational days [is not exposed to commodity price risk].” This is questionable. If the natural gas market is in severe stress, that will affect volumes and whether or not those facilities remain operational, no? Thus, I am skeptical at how MUFG determines projects are completely free from commodity price risk for a commodity company.

Conclusion

MUFG is by no means in crisis mode. In fact, as detailed in its presentation, there are many reasons to invest in potential growth for the future, such as Bitcoin participation, RegTech, and AI-driven investing. (However, these are highly competitive fields with players that have a lot more capital to expend, so some caution is warranted.) But, the potential short-term impact from negative rates, dollar strength, offshore funding concerns, and LNG volatility could be acute and severe. And MUFG’s response to these possible contingencies leaves me with more questions than answers.

Disclosure: I/we have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.

I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

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Dream of Offshore U.S. Wind Power May Be Too Ugly for Trump … – Bloomberg

Posted: February 24, 2017 at 6:50 pm

Offshore wind companies have spent years struggling to convince skeptics that the future of U.S. energy should include giant windmills at sea. Their job just got a lot harder with the election of Donald J. Trump.

The Republican president — who champions fossil fuels and called climate change a hoax — has mocked wind farms as ugly, overpriced and deadly to birds. His mostvirulent criticism targeted an 11-turbine offshore project planned near his Scottish golf resort that he derided as monstrous.

Companies trying to build in the U.S., includingDong Energy A/S and Statoil ASA, are hoping to change Trumps mind. They plan to argue that installing Washington Monument-sized turbines along the Atlantic coast will help the president make good on campaign promises by creating thousands of jobs, boosting domestic manufacturing and restoring U.S. energy independence.

We are a billion-dollar heavy industry that is set to build, employ and invest, Nancy Sopko,director of offshore wind and federal legislative affairs for the industry-funded American Wind Energy Association, said in an interview. We have a great story to tell to this administration.

The push to win over the Trump administration comes as offshore wind is on the brink of success in North America after a decade of false starts.Costs are falling dramatically. Deepwater Wind LLC completed the first project in U.S. waters in August. And in September, the Obama administration outlined plans toease regulatory constraints and take other steps to encourage private development of enough turbines to crank out 86,000 megawatts by 2050. Thats about the equivalent of 86 nuclear reactors.

We are an industry on the rise,ThomasBrostrom, Dongs general manager of North America, said in an interview. We want very much to come in and explain to the new administration what we can do for job creation and energy independence.

A White House spokeswoman did not respond to requests for comment.

The stakes are big. Dong, Statoil, Deepwater and other companies secured a total of 11 leasesto build offshore wind farms. To move forward, developers will need permits from multiple agencies and, in some instances, federal grants to refurbish ports. For instance, Deepwaters 30-megawatt wind farm off Rhode Island benefited from a $22.3 million U.S.Transportation Department grant to upgrade piers and terminals for use as a staging area.

To be clear, installing turbines at sea requires years of planning, and Trump may be out of office by the time some developers need federal approvals. State governments, meanwhile, remain the biggest drivers of renewable energy development, because they can mandate that utilities get a certain amount of power from offshore wind or other sources.

Nevertheless, offshore developers need a basic level of cooperation in Washington to keep the nascent industry moving forward. “They dont want to lose the progress that theyve made, said Frank Maisano, a Washington-based energy specialist for the lobbying firm Bracewell LLP.

Shoring up Trump administration support will require developers to shedclimate change talking points and dispel any notions that offshore wind is an environmental relic of the Obama administration, said Timothy Fox, an analyst at Washington-based ClearView Energy Partners LLC. It may help that two of the biggest developers — Dong and Statoil — have deep roots in offshore oil and natural gas.

Jobs will be at the crux their message. Erecting 600-foot (183-meter) turbines along the Eastern seaboard may boost employment in struggling port towns from South Carolina to Maine, generating an estimated 31,000 jobs in the Mid-Atlantic alone, according to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. And if the industry booms, turbine manufacturers including Vestas Wind Systems A/S and Siemens AG have said they may open U.S. factories.

“Logically there should be a good match here with the Trump administration,” Kit Kennedy,the Natural Resources Defense Councils director of energy and transportation, said in an interview. “We will see if ideology gets in the way.”

Persuading the president himself could be challenging. The bare-bones energy plan posted on the White House website calls for increasing coal, oil and gas production — but makes no mention of wind or other forms of clean energy. Trump in 2012 tweeted: Not only are wind farms disgusting looking, but even worse they are bad for peoples health.

Ultimately its unclear whether Trumps 140-character appraisals of wind energy will translate into U.S. policy, or if they were simply reactions to windmills potentially spoiling views from his golf coursein Aberdeenshire, Scotland. Either way, the commander-in-chiefs personal support may not be crucial for developers in the U.S.

The key figures for offshore wind companies to persuade are deputy secretaries, directors and others within the Interior and Energy departments. A central player is the yet-to-be-named director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, an Interior Department agency responsible for granting leases to offshore oil, gas and wind developers.

The industry may already have a few key allies. Rick Perry, Trumps proposedenergy secretary, oversaw a record expansion of wind energy during his time as Texas governor. And at least one high-ranking official who has supported offshore wind at the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management — Acting Director Walter Cruickshank — remains in place.

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Trumps rise to power does not appear to have curbed offshore wind developers enthusiasm about the U.S. market. Weeks after the election,Norways Statoil paid a record$42.5 million for a lease to develop a site off the coast of New York. And at least nine companies — including a unit of oil giant Royal Dutch Shell Plc. — have qualified to bid next month for a lease to build off North Carolina.

There is a misconception that wind energy is all driven by climate change,said Danish ambassador Lars Gert Lose,who is helping Fredericia, Denmark,-based Dong with lobbying efforts. But this is a very competitive industry.

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Numbers against offshore oil | Editorials | postandcourier.com – Charleston Post Courier

Posted: at 6:50 pm

The numbers speak for themselves. Tourists spent more than $20 billion in South Carolina in 2015, setting a record high for the state. That number tops the previous year by nearly a billion dollars.

In 2014, tourism supported one of every 10 jobs in South Carolina. It generated well over $1 billion in direct tax revenue for the state and local governments.

And tourism revenue has increased almost without exception every year for nearly three decades. There are no signs of that trend slowing, much less reversing itself.

But imagine the devastation of the South Carolina economy if those tourism dollars suddenly went somewhere else. Imagine if the states coastal communities lost their summer visitors, if fishermen were finally forced completely out of business, or if the natural environment of the coastline was forever damaged.

Thats the very real possibility that some seem willing to trade for oil and natural gas drilling off the South Carolina coast. But again, its not just about hypotheticals. Its about the numbers.

Estimates from the American Petroleum Institute, an oil and gas lobbying group, put the 20-year economic impact of drilling offshore of South Carolina at just $2.7 billion. Again, thats $2.7 billion over 20 years.

In other words, oil and gas might generate less than 1 percent of the economic impact that tourism has on South Carolinas economy. And a single major spill would risk the tourism industrys vitality for years.

Even exploration using seismic testing risks marine wildlife, particularly marine mammals who can become disoriented by the loud blasts.

Its not worth it.

Seismic testing was stopped offshore of South Carolina just about a month ago, but exploration companies already are gearing up to try again. So conservation groups are preparing to fight back.

Not surprisingly, every coastal government in South Carolina has come out against opening the states waters to offshore drilling. So have Reps. Mark Sanford, R-S.C., Jim Clyburn, D-S.C. and Tom Rice, R-S.C. So did Henry McMaster when he was lieutenant governor.

Given the cold, hard numbers its hard to imagine that the states other leaders in Columbia and Washington would still support such a reckless plan.

Gov. McMaster, in particular, has the opportunity to differentiate himself from his predecessor, Gov. Nikki Haley, by reasserting his opposition to offshore drilling and oil exploration in S.C. waters. Throughout his career as S.C. attorney general and lieutenant governor, Mr. McMaster strongly supported environmental protections. He should continue to do so as governor.

Sens. Tim Scott, R-S.C., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., should also stand up against any future effort to open up Atlantic waters to oil and gas drilling.

It just doesnt make sense to risk $20 billion a year and the states largest economic sector for an industry that might at best bring in a mere fraction of that over the next two decades.

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Nordic American Offshore’s stock plunges after big stock offering prices at deep discount – MarketWatch

Posted: at 6:50 pm

Shares of Nordic American Offshore Ltd. NAO, -39.02% plummeted 41% toward a record low in premarket trade Friday, after the operator of platform supply vessels announced a share offering, which would nearly triple the shares outstanding, that priced at a sharp discount. The company announced late Thursday a public offering of 33.3 million shares, but said early Friday that it was boosting the offering to 40 million shares. The company recently had about 20.7 million shares outstanding, according to FactSet. The share offering priced at $1.25, which was 39% below Thursday’s closing price of $2.05. Nordic American said the underwriters of the offering have reserved about $10 million worth of the new share for sale to Nordic American Tankers Ltd., the company’s largest shareholder, and $2 million worth of new shares to Executive Chairman Herbjorn Hansson. The company plans to use the proceeds from the stock offering for general corporate purposes and for the expansion of its fleet. The stock has tumbled 31% over the past three months through Thursday, while the S&P 500 SPX, +0.15% has gained 7.2%.

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Hornbeck Offshore: A Consolidator In The Offshore Supply Vessel Industry – Seeking Alpha

Posted: at 6:50 pm

Investment thesis

Shares of Hornbeck Offshore Services (NYSE:HOS) are an attractive security, even if the industry is in trouble. Unlike its competitors, HOS is well positioned to survive the market downturn.

What is going on?

The outlook for the worldwide Offshore Support Vessel market is bleak and turning darker every day. Shares of Hornbeck Offshore Services plummeted by 22% on February 16 after the company posted its earnings. On that single day, the trading volume reached over 8 million shares, which is one-fourth of the total shares outstanding.

The OSV market is extremely oversupplied. Currently, close to 200 vessels face demand for less than 100.

Over a year ago, HOS already showed signs of strength compared to its competitors: a cleaner balance sheet, a much newer and high-spec fleet, excellent management, and relatively late debt maturities. Now, the market has come to recognize this situation, and even after the recent cut in market prices, HOS still has the largest capitalization among its competitors.

During the earnings call, Hornbeck Offshore’s CEO, Todd Hornbeck, made a very interesting comment:

“Third, and as I said earlier, we believe value creation in the offshore vessel space cannot begin, again, without meaningful acquisitions of high-spec assets and businesses over the overleveraged industry players. Given our ultra high-spec fleet profile, successful operating track record, ample cash position, and public company platform, we think we are the natural acquirer in such a transaction, especially in the domestic Jones Act market.

Earlier in this cycle, the industry mantra was lower for longer. The message we have recently been hearing from our customers, almost uniformly, is that they now see oil prices as lower forever. They no longer view this as a U-shape recovery, but an L-shaped recovery, or so we’re told.

Deepwater projects can work in that kind of world, but not at economics that drive key pieces of the supply chain out of business. Lower forever must also mean greater efficiencies and reliability in this supply chain. Smart acquisitions can achieve those objectives in the OSV space, given the high operating risk and capital-intensive nature of this business. And for this industry, such acquisitions are necessary.”

This has puzzled a few fellow investors. (How can a company in such dire situation turn to acquire “assets and businesses”?) But actually, Mr. Hornbeck has already stated multiple times that he could use the revolving credit facility to finance acquisitions.

Let’s take a look at some key balance sheet items:

Cash on hand is certainly not enough to repay the debt. The company’s cash position has decreased by $43 million in the last year, or 16%. But the debt starts to mature in late 2019. There is plenty of time for a recovery and for management to find options and creative solutions.

Let’s compare Hornbeck Offshore’s situation with Tidewater, the largest player in the industry. Tidewater has not defaulted only because the debtholders are granting limited waivers for covenant compliance. Its current liabilities are $2.3 billion, and current assets are $1.16 billion. The company is struggling for survival and is at the mercy of its lenders, but still paid $3 million to management for “Talent Retention”.

Looking ahead

We can get a glimpse of the future if we look at the North Sea OSV market, where Solstad Offshore recently acquired 3 competitors. Among those are Farstad Shipping.

Farstad Shipping could not meet its obligations, so the debtholders converted to equity. This meant a wipeout for shareholders, because the shares outstanding jumped from 39 million to 4.9 billion.

Immediately after that, all shares of Farstad were converted into class B shares of Solstad Offshore (the acquirer). The combined Solstad plus Farstad is much larger, and the former debtholders of Farstad can cash out by simply selling their new Solstad shares in the open market. Solstad did not need to lay out cash, and the company acquired very clean assets.

GOM situation

The Gulf of Mexico offshore industry will always need some OSVs, and someone must be there to manage those assets. When debtholders take over failed competitors, they will probably take the logical steps towards maximizing value and cashing out as much as they can.

Many companies that operate in the Gulf have extremely negative cash flows. Some are unable to meet 2017 commitments – like Island Offshore and Gulfmark. As the saying goes, “If something cannot go forever, then eventually it must stop”. There are too many companies operating in the OSV market – too many vessels, too many headquarters, and too many G&A expenses.

Consolidation in the industry is going to happen, and there will be a lot of pain for shareholders.

One Bright Side

In the US zone of the Gulf, offshore operations are forced to hire Jones Act-qualified vessels. Those vessels must be owned, crewed and operated by Americans. And if they are owned by a foreign entity, even for one day, the vessels stop qualifying forever.

In order to maximize value in the event of a consolidation, all the assets need to be put under a competent American management with long experience in this industry. This points to very few companies, like HOS and SEACOR Holdings (NYSE:CKH).

Takeaway

My thesis is this: By now, a significant portion of debtholders in the industry are hedge funds that have acquired the debt (i.e., the companies!) at a very low cost basis. They will merge them with the survivors, just like it happened in the North Sea, and sell their new shares in the market.

(That’s why they want to do it with a company that is already public – there is no point in merging with Edison Chouest and then be stuck with an illiquid stake in a private company.)

Some facts about HOS:

Yes, there are other companies besides Hornbeck that could be acquirers. Also, HOS could go to zero and be wiped out. But the story is getting better every day. I believe that at current prices, even after a some dilution of current shareholders, the stock could bring a very reasonable return in a few years.

For investors, this has been an exciting roller coaster ride, and the development of this crisis stirs both our interest and our nerves.

Disclosure: I am/we are long HOS.

I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

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DNB: Bigger companies and lower prices are the way forward for offshore – ShippingWatch UK (subscription)

Posted: at 6:50 pm

The offshore sector needs to have fewer and bigger companies in order to get out of the current crisis. And the costs must be reduced even further.

This is the mantra at one of the world’s biggest shipping and offshore banks, Norway’s DNB, which on the one hand still has significant involvement in the maritime sector, but which has also reduced and is continuing to scale down its exposure to the sector.

Lending to shipping has been reduced by 40 percent over the past five years, while loans to offshore-related businesses have been scaled down 14 percent since the crisis in offshore began in the late summer 2014.

According to DNB’s Head of Shipping, Offshore, and Logistics, Kristin Holth, who oversees a portfolio of close to USD 22 billion, the bank will continue this development in 2017 as part of its policy aimed at reducing its exposure to capital-heavy sectors, though the bank has no plans to take more drastic steps as, for instance, the German banks, which are divesting massive loans or are planning to withdraw from shipping entirely.

The sector will remain important to DNB, she stresses.

“We are focusing on the long term. But there’s no doubt that this is a very trying time, especially for the offshore sector. 2017 will also be difficult for the sector, which is going through a challenging transition. But it will be necessary to create bigger and fewer companies while also reducing costs,” says Holth in a comment to ShippingWatch following publication of the banks annual report.

In the past year the bank made impairments totaling NOK 7.4 billion, around USD 888.1 million, which was significantly more than 2015’s NOK 2.3 billion. A considerable part of the increased impairments relate to shipping, oil, and logistics, where the bank had to impair NOK 2.9 billion, corresponding to 41 percent of the combined impairments for the year.

This also marks a major increase compared to 2015 when impairments on loans to shipping, oil, and logistics totaled NOK 1.3 billion. But this is not surprising, in light of how the markets developed last year, says Holth.

“It’s a tough period for the maritime segments, so it’s only natural that this results in larger impairments,” she says, maintaining the bank’s confidence that there will be a need for oil for “decades into the future.”

The costs of producing oil on the Norwegian shelf have dropped significantly within just a few years. For the two major fields, Johan Castberg and Johan Sverdrup, break-even prices in terms of when oil extraction is profitable are significantly lower today.

According to DNB’s own estimates, break-even for Johan Castberg now hovers at USD 45 per barrel, while break-even for Johan Sverdrup has dropped to USD 30 per barrel. But the levels could turn out to be even lower. It recently emerged that the break-even price for Sverdrup, according to Aker BP, is down at less than USD 20 per barrel in phase one, less than USD 30 per barrel in phase two, and below USD 25 per barrel for the final phase in which the field will be fully developed.

Holth has been pleased to see how a large consolidation in Norwegian offshore is emerging and picking up speed. She points to the latest example of Farstad and Solstad with the two Norwegian shipping icons Fredriksen and Rkke as masterminds, an example which more will hopefully follow.

“One of the problems is that there are still too many vessels on the water. It is therefore positive when we see the industry consolidate, as is the case now,” she says.

The plan is for the coming company “Solstad Farstad” to have a fleet of 154 vessels, while also achieving annual synergies of NOK 400-600 million.

The strained oil price and low employment for offshore carriers have sent Farstad Shipping and the carrier’s fleet of 55 vessels into a financial crisis, just as virtually all players in Norwegian offshore are hit by developments in the sector. Add to this the fact that the sector has invested too much in building its fleet when the oil price was high, which resulted in massive debt stakes for many of the companies. As such, close to one fourth of the entire Norwegian offshore fleet was stacked at the turn of the year.

There have also been signs of consolidation in Norwegian shipping. Last year Stolt-Nielsen acquired similarly Norwegian Jo Tankers ahead of Odfjell, a carrier which is calling for consolidation in the sector.

In recent months, well-known Norwegian shipping people have spearheaded two new banking and financing initiatives aimed specifically at the shipping sector, and which are not least motivated by the fact that the traditional banks are gradually withdrawing from the sector.

English Edit: Daniel Logan Berg-Munch

Supply carriers face a bitter North Sea winter

Danske Bank and DNB hit by oil slump in 2016

DNB scaling down exposure to shipping and offshore

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Teekay Offshore Partners’ (TOO) CEO Ingvild Sther on Q4 2016 Results – Earnings Call Transcript – Seeking Alpha

Posted: at 6:50 pm

Teekay Offshore Partners L.P. (NYSE:TOO)

Q4 2016 Earnings Conference Call

February 23, 2017 12:00 ET

Executives

Ryan Hamilton – IR

Ingvild Sther – Teekay Offshore Group’s President & Chief Executive Officer

David Wong – Teekay Offshore Group’s CFO

Kenneth Hvid – Teekay Corporation’s President & CEO

Vince Lok – Teekay Corporation’s CFO

Analysts

Michael Webber – Wells Fargo

Spiro Dounis – UBS Security

Fotis Giannakoulis – Morgan Stanley

Espen Landmark – Fearnley

Ben Brownlow – Raymond James

Operator

Welcome to Teekay Offshore Partner’s Fourth Quarter 2016 Earnings Results Conference Call. During the call, all participants will be in a listen-only mode. Afterwards you will be invited to participate in a question-and-answer session. [Operator Instructions] As a reminder this call is being recorded.

Now for opening remarks and introductions I would like to turn the call over to Ingvild Sther, Teekay Offshore Group’s President and Chief Executive Officer. Please go ahead.

Ryan Hamilton

Before Ms. Sther begins, I would like to direct all participants to our website at http://www.teekayoffshore.com, where you will find a copy of the fourth quarter of 2016 earnings presentation. Ms. Sther will review this presentation during today’s conference call.

Please allow me to remind you that our discussion today contains forward-looking statements. Actual results may differ materially from results projected by those forward-looking statements. Additional information concerning factors that could cause actual results to materially differ from those in the forward-looking statements is contained in the fourth quarter 2016 earnings release and earnings presentation available on our website.

I will now turn the call over to Ms. Sther to begin.

Ingvild Sther

Thank you, Ryan. Hello, everyone, and thank you for joining us on our Fourth Quarter 2016 Investor Conference Call. I’m joined today by David Wong, the CFO at Teekay Offshore Group; as well as Kenneth Hvid, Teekay Corporation’s President and CEO; and Vince Lok, Teekay Corporation’s CFO. During our call today, I will be walking through the earnings presentation which can be found on our website.

Turning to Slide 3 of the presentation. I will briefly review some of Teekay Offshore’s recent highlights. In the fourth quarter of 2016, the partnership generated the distributable cash flow or DCF of $21.6 million, resulting in a full-year DCF of $161.3 million. On a per unit basis, the partnership generated DCF of $0.15 per unit for the fourth quarter and $1.28 per unit for fiscal 2016. The partnership generated cash flow from vessel operations or CFVO of $135 million and $584 million in the fourth quarter and fiscal 2016 respectively.

Although we had anticipated better results in Q4, some key factors negatively impacted our results including a temporary suspension of operations for the Arendal Spirit UMS, which I will discuss further in the moment and higher operating cost in the shuttle fleets mainly to further upgrade the Naviod Anglia portrayed in the North Sea, off to returning her from a charter in Brazil earlier this year.

While Q4 was a challenging quarter, we have made good progress on initiatives to further reduce cost from our operations. In early January, we completed the sale of the 1995-built shuttle tanker Navion Europa for net proceeds of approximately $40 million and recorded a gain of approximately $7 million.

I’m also pleased to report that after having secured a three-year CoA contract for the Glen Lyon project in September 2016, we are now close to finalizing in new five-year plus extension option shuttle tank a contract of affreightment in the North Sea. This CoA is expected to commence during the first quarter of 2018 and because the contract will be serviced by the partnership’s existing CoA shuttle tanker fleet, it will further increase our fleet utilization and enhance the partnership’s cash flow without the need for incremental capital expenditures. We are encouraged by the continued strong fundamental in our shuttle tanker business where we are a market leader.

Turning to Slide 4, the shuttle tanker market continues to tighten with both charter rates and utilization increasing driven by strong underlying fundamentals. You can see this in the graph on the right side of the slide which compares North Sea shuttle tanker contract of affreightment or CoA rates, with North Sea anchor handler rates [ph]. All rates in other offshore services have weakened due to the low oil price environment and reduced ENP spending.

Shuttle tanker rates have been increasing due to both demand and supply factors. Demand for shuttle tanker capacity has continued to grow due to a combination of more listing points and newbuilds coming on stream. And at the same time, the supply of available shuttle tanker capacity fleet continues to strength with no uncommitted new buildings and order and an aging global fleet that will see several investors’ retirement before the year 2020.

As a result, North Sea shuttle tanker CoA rates have increased by approximately 40% over the last two years, given the limited available capacity in the shuttle tanker markets, which Teekay Offshore has benefited from.

Turning to Slide 5, as noted in my opening remarks, we continue to work hard at reducing cost. In a shuttle tanker business, we have seen a steady decline in our North Sea shuttle tanker operating expenses since 2008 primarily driven by a shift in our manning model to employ more ratings and officer from the Philippines as well as a strong focus on reducing our supply chain cost.

Through our 2016, our FPSO business underwent a significant initiative to reduce operating expenses, which resulted in reduced supply chain cost and changes on board our FPSOs to reduce crude cost. During 2016, the partnership also took measure to reduce costs in its onshore organization. Through these initiatives, we have reduced our onshore headcount by approximately 75 employees which will result in run rate G&A savings in future quarters.

Turning to Slide 6, I would like to update you on the status of the Arendal Spirit UMS. In November 2016, the Arendal Spirit UMS experienced an operational incident related to its dynamic positioning system. We also had an April 2016 incident which resulted in the replacement of the unit’s gangway. Following the DP incident, the charterer Petrobras initiated an operational review. While the operational review is underway, Petrobras has to spend the charter high payments to the partnership. Throughout this period, we have maintained an ongoing dialog with Petrobras and our main priority is to address their concerns and return the unit to full operation as soon as possible.

Turning to Slide 7. We continue to push forward to deliver on our pipeline on our committed growth project. This is a slide we have shown you in previous quarters, updated to reflect the latest remaining CapEx and financing figures as of December 31, 2016. As a reminder, once all of these projects have delivered, they are projected to contribute an additional $200 million per year of run rate CFVO. Over the next several slides, I will provide a brief update on each of these projects.

Turning to Slide 8. As noted during our third quarter earnings in November 2016, the Petrojarl I FPSO upgrade project has experienced delay an additional cost and is now scheduled to be on the field in late 2017. The main causes for delay include a more challenging top side upgrade than originally anticipated; a condition of the units following a cold layer prior to the project and scope changes. Despite these setbacks, progress is being made on the units which is now approximately 85% complete and we continue to increase resources at the yard to ensure work continues to progress according to the revised delivery schedule.

We have been in close dialog with the charterer QGEP [ph], and are close to reaching a commercial agreement on a revised delivery date. Given the commercial sensitivity of these negotiations, I can’t provide additional details at the moment, but I look forward to offsetting you further once these negotiations have concluded.

Turning to Slide 9; progress on Gina Korg FSO conversion project, continues and as of today, the unit is approximately 98% complete. We have experienced a slight delay in the project as we come down the home stretch. However, we expect to commence the charter within mid-2017. The converted FSO unit [indiscernible] is expected to have a fully-built up cost of approximately $280 million. The unit will operate under a three-year term period contract, plus 12 additional one year extension auctions on the Gina Korg field in the in the North Sea.

Turning to Slide 10. The Libra FSO conversion project at the Jurong shipyard in Singapore remains on schedule and was 98% complete as of the end of January 2017. As you can see in the naming ceremony photo at the bottom right of this slide, we were very close to sail away. This has been a well-run project for Teekay Offshore and our joint venture partner, and we remain on-track to complete the project both on schedule and within the project’s $1 billion budget.

This unit is expected to achieve first oil by Q3 2017 and we will operate on the Libra field [indiscernible] offshore per sale under 12-year charter for a consortium of oil major as shown at the bottom of the slide.

Turning to Slide 11; our three East Coast Canada shuttle tanker newbuildings are also on schedule and on budget. Construction on all three vessels has commenced with the first vessel now 65% complete and construction on the third vessel just under way. You can see on the total at the top right of this slide, one of the massive whole sections being lowered into place at the Samsung yard in Korea. These three vessels which have a total cost of approximately $375 million are scheduled to deliver during the second half of 2017 and first half of 2018. They will replace two end charters and one owned vessel, currently servicing this 15-year plus extension options, contract with the consortium of nine oil companies. The vessels are fully financed with a $250 million long-term debt facility secured in June 2016.

Turning to Slide 12; I will conclude the review of our projects with an offset on our towage newbuildings. Our towage business ALP currently has a fleet of 10 long-haul towage vessels consisting of seven underwater vessels and three remaining newbuilding vessels which are scheduled to deliver during 2017. The ALP phase is the most technologically advanced and youngest towage fleet in the market and we will be the only owner of 300 tons volatile vessels capable of the largest FPSO and FLNG tows.

In January 2017, we completed a successful tow of the Kraken FPSO from the Keppel yard in Singapore to the Kraken oil field in the UK sector of the North Sea, which you can see in the photo at the bottom of the slide. Although the long-haul towage market currently remains challenging. We have been maintaining fleet utilization by booking short-term contracts, which include drilling rig repositionings and scrapping, mooring and hook-up installations and ad-hoc emergency tows.

Turning to Slide 13. I would like to wrap up my first quarterly conference call by reviewing our top priorities for 2017. Foremost, we will remain focused on striving for high standards for safety and operational excellence. There is compromise here. This is what our customers expect from Teekay Offshore and this is vital both for retaining their trust and winning new business.

Teekay Offshore has 53 underwater assets of which 50 are on contract. Unlike many others in the offshore sector, our assets are producing cash flow. Although we have done a lot, I still see a great opportunity for us to continue to improve both our operations and bottom line performance through better decision-making at every level of the organization.

Second, as highlighted by the time on today’s call devoted to our committed growth projects during 2017, we will be keenly focused on execution and delivering these projects for contract start up. Some of these projects are more challenging than others, but delivering on all of these projects will be essential for growing the partnership’s operating cash flow.

Third, we have three FPSO charters which are coming up for renewal in 2018 and 2019, which we’re working diligently to extend or secure new contracts. Extending these cash flow is a top priority and we are in active discussions with all of the current quarters. I hope to be able to provide further updates on these efforts in the coming quarters.

Fourth, as we mentioned previously, we also plan to focus on optimizing our asset portfolio which may include certain asset sales and/or seeking joint venture partners. This will help further strengthening our balance sheet and liquidity position. In this phase of a challenging offshore market, we remain focused on strengthening Teekay Offshore’s financial position and financial flexibility so that we can take advantage of opportunities as the offshore markets recovers.

Thank you, all, for listening. Operator, we are now available to take questions.

Question-and-Answer Session

Operator

Thank you. [Operator Instructions] At this time, we’ll go first to Michael Webber with Wells Fargo.

Michael Webber

Hey, good morning, guys. How are you?

Ingvild Sther

Good. Thank you.

Michael Webber

Good. Ingvild, congrats on your first call and it’s good to be speaking with you again this morning. I wanted to start off with actually some business to get done at the parent level, some FPSO, FPSO extension. It looks like an amendment to the best but the implications for the FPSO space for the relet market for TOO’s assets, it seems like they’re in place. It was a nice surprise. I’m just curious, how should we think about the rechartering, the relet market, or the employment outlook for assets like the Voyager in a few years? Has it changed significantly? And I guess what are the successful extension in amendments to the parent level say about the assets of TOO and the FPSO market in general?

Ingvild Sther

Yes. I guess you would be hearing more about the Teekay FPSOs on the call tomorrow. But generally, we can say that the psychology of the market is different when the oil price is around $55 region than last year when it was around $30. It’s obviously the focus of our customers to extract as much value as they can out of the field that we are on and that’s a combination of how much oil we are producing, the oil price and the cost of the fuel. So we are working very closely with all the customers on the [indiscernible] contract will come off contract the next year to find the sweet spot where they can extract maximum value out of the field.

Michael Webber

Got you. That’s helpful. You mentioned in your prepared remarks and the release as well, there’s kind of an ongoing opportunity set within the shuttle tanker market. Can you talk to how deep you think that is? How much of an opportunity are there on a dollar basis or in terms of number of assets you really see out there for TOO for the next couple of years? It’s been a bit surprising that you guys have been able to steadily add business specially over the past two years in this environment.

Ingvild Sther

Yes. There are two markets in the shuttle tanker business one is the time charter market where you are a charter for longer periods of time and the other one is the CoA market where the customers take at heart a fraction of a vessel. So more like it’s actually service. And those are quite different. We know that there’s a lot of vessels that will retire in the next two to three years in the North Sea. That will provide opportunities both for the time charter market where we see [indiscernible] is out with requirement for vessels right now and also for the CoA market. What’s special about the COA market is that you have to have a combination of contracts and vessels to make it work. You need to have a certain size and that makes it more difficult to start from scratch to build up a position in this market.

Michael Webber

Got you. All right, that’s helpful. A couple more and I’ll turn it over. I do want to touch on the Arendal Spirit second issue there. I know it’s under operational review. You probably can’t get into too many details about the outcome, but I’m curious, what options does Petrobras have legally within the operational review? I guess what’s the spectrum of outcomes here? They can pursue once that operational review is triggered. Can they renegotiate the contract? Can they walk away from it? Do we even kind of set the landscape for us maybe without getting into specifics about how the actual outcome and the booking like?

Ingvild Sther

I was on Brazil three weeks ago and that’s what relevant people in Petrobras and the focus is for them to complete the operational review; and for us it’s to provide them with the information they need to complete that operational review and to get the unit back in total operation.

Michael Webber

Got you. But does going into operational review trigger any potential rights for Petrobras within the contract that investors should be aware of in terms of spectrum of outcome?

Ingvild Sther

No. Our focus is really just to get the Petrobras comfortable with the operation and the safety of the unit and I think that is the focus of Petrobras as well. So, it is an operational review.

Michael Webber

Okay. Like in the follow up before. One more and I’ll turn it over. The Gina Krog and I might have missed this did you guys give a reason for the slight delay there and is there any incoming adjustment to the charter contract or anything along those lines for the delay? I’m not entirely sure what the rational is behind it.

Ingvild Sther

We are working hard to complete the final stage of the project down in Singapore and have a focus on getting that completed. It’s just taking a bit longer time at the home stretch of the project here. We have a very good and open dialog with charter and we expect that there won’t be any…

Michael Webber

No changes to the charter?

Ingvild Sther

No.

Michael Webber

Okay. That’s helpful. I’ll turn it over, but thanks for the time.

Ingvild Sther

Thank you.

Operator

We’ll go next to Spiro Dounis with UBS Security.

Spiro Dounis

Thanks, Ingvild. I just wanted to start off on the Varg. Sorry if I missed any update there. But just wondering if you could update us, just around timing of when you think that you could get rechartered and maybe what the cost parameters could be if it does actually need being worked on to a new field. I think historically, you guys have given a range anywhere between 2018 and 2020. is that still the case? Or have you been able to refine that at all?

Ingvild Sther

For Varg, we have been working and we are working on several opportunities. One of the opportunities we worked on was the winter [ph] that announced a couple of weeks ago that they will go with the tie back option. So we are now working on one specific project but we also see that there are still other inbound requirements for this unit. And as we know, it’s a quite flexible unit that has — meet the Norsok [ph] requirement. We are quite confident that we will find work for and I think the time line is same as what we said last quarter.

Spiro Dounis

Okay, that’s helpful. And just as we think about the EBITDA uplift, I guess from these new shuttle tanker, the new CoAs that you signed, I was wondering if you could provide a number on that and maybe just had to think about how many shuttle tankers do you have right now that you feel are under-utilized and what are the uplifts that we can expect there for the ones that go into that CoA?

Ingvild Sther

It will really be to optimize the fleet and get the maximum utilization out of the fleet that we have and we are basically sold out for 2017 and we are getting a good utilizationals for 2018. What we will look at is how can we optimize the fleets even more to get more utilization out of it. So for instance, if some of the peers require storage to set the water for 10 days, can we free up some of the shuttle capacity by using ordinary tanker and then get some more utilization out on our fleet. Those are the things we are looking after to really get the maximum benefit out of our shuttle fleet the next couple of years.

Spiro Dounis

Got it. And then last one for me, just around funding projects and repaying debt over the next two years. Could you just maybe walk us through some of the big sources and uses of cash as we think about that going forward? From a vessel sale perspective or a sale lease back perspective, do you feel like you’ve done everything you can there? Could we expect more of that down the road? Thanks.

Ingvild Sther

Yes. I will redirect that question to Vince.

Vince Lok

Sure. As Ingvild mentioned and as what we mentioned last year, we’ve always contemplated further strengthening of TOO’s balance sheet by I guess what we call it asset portfolio optimization, which is really looking at some asset sales and bringing some joint venture partners as we’ve done a little bit in TOO, but for more extensively in TGP. And that gives us additional source of capital as well to not only delever our balance sheet, but also provide another source of growth capital going forward. In terms of the major uses of capital, of course it’s really to fund the equity portion of our remaining CapEx program. We have all the debt facilities in place, but there is some remaining equity that’s still needed to fund those and we can use a lot of the existing liquidity to fund that, of course. But as you know, we do have some bond maturities that are coming up in late 2018, particularly these two knock [ph] bonds at the end of 2018. They do have a requirement that requires us to issue equity to offset any dividend. So it would be nice to start chipping away at some of those maturities and sort of remove the diluted effect of those bonds. So that’s another thing we’re considering as we’re looking at asset sales.

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Teekay Offshore Partners’ (TOO) CEO Ingvild Sther on Q4 2016 Results – Earnings Call Transcript – Seeking Alpha

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Noble Energy Pulls Trigger on Phase One of Leviathan NatGas Project Offshore Israel – Natural Gas Intelligence

Posted: February 23, 2017 at 1:36 pm

Houston-based Noble Energy Inc. on Thursday sanctioned the initial phase of the mammoth Leviathan natural gas project offshore Israel with first gas from the development targeted for the end of 2019.

The first phase of the estimated 22 Tcf development is to include four subsea wells, each capable of flowing more than 300 MMcf/d. Proved reserves currently are 3.3 Tcf net (9.4 Tcf gross), or 550 million boe net. Noble plans to record the reserves bookings of the aptly-named project this year, which would represent a 35%-plus increase to its total reserves base.

Leviathan marks our third major natural gas development offshore Israel, CEO David Stover said. Bringing Leviathan online will expand Israels supply of natural gas, further support the states commitment to convert coal-fired power generation facilities to cleaner burning gas, and provide affordable energy resources to Israeli citizens and neighboring countries in the undersupplied region. Leviathan, he said, would provide a second source of gas for Israel through a separate tie-in location in northern Israel. Noble has to date discovered about 40 Tcf gross recoverable resource offshore Israel.

Production from Leviathan would be gathered at the field and delivered via two 73-mile flowlines to a fixed platform, with full processing capabilities, about six miles offshore. The platform would have an initial deck weight of 22,000 tons.

Processed gas would connect to the Israel Natural Gas Lines Ltd. onshore transportation grid in the northern part of the country and to regional markets via onshore export pipelines. The approved development plan allows for future expansion from initial 1.2 Bcf/d capacity to 2.1 Bcf/d.

The super independent, which also is a big producer in the Gulf of Mexico deepwater, of late has been directing more of its capital to the U.S.onshore, and in particular the Denver-Julesburg and Permian basins. However, the Leviathan project, which drives its Eastern Mediterranean program, has remained a priority, even through the downturn.

Three years ago Noble, which operates and owns almost 40% of Leviathan, agreed to supply gas from the project to liquefaction facilities in Egypt, which at the time were owned by BG International Ltd. and are now owned by Royal Dutch Shell plc. Noble executed the nonbinding letter of intent with its partners to supply gross sales to BG of up to 3.75 Tcf, or about 700 Mcf/d over 15 years.

For the first phase of Leviathan, Noble expects to spend about $1.5 billion net ($3.75 billion gross). Of the total, Noble already spent $100 million in 2016 and has spent $200 million pre-investment for future platform expansion. Front-end engineering and design are complete, and major project contracts are being finalized. Noble also is working on long lead materials procurement.

One to two development wells are planned this year, while completion activity for all four producer wells, including two previously drilled, is expected in 2018. Project installation and commissioning should be completed by late 2019, followed by first gas delivery.

Marketing progress has resulted in total volumes under firm gas sales agreements to date of up to 525 MMcf/d, Noble management said. Combined gross revenues for these contracts are estimated to be in excess of $15 billion over the life of the agreements. Total quantities of the executed gas sales agreements, together with domestic and regional volumes under negotiation, now exceed 1 Bcf/d gross.

According to Noble, Leviathan blended sales price realizations for the domestic and regional markets are estimated at $5.50-6.00/Mcf based on current Brent oil pricing.

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