Tag Archives: natural gas

Colombia oil stats get less transparent

Colombia’s Agencia Nacional de Hidrocarburos, the agency that regulates the oil and gas industry, has a long tradition of publishing useful statistics about oil and gas output, oil wells drilled, the extent of seismic exploration — lots of info. Here’s a sample. But lately, the data hasn’t been coming out like clockwork every month. The June numbers failed to show up on schedule so at the end of the month I called the agency. They said they didn’t publish such things. I tweeted about it and all was set straight.

July got posted at some point. August output numbers appeared in early September and the full August report appeared on the ANH website Oct. 4. That same day, the mining ministry put out September output numbers, but the ANH never updated its spreadsheets. Last week, the oil ministry released October output figures — a big gain for once. But on the ANH website, there’s still no sign of even September figures — either preliminary output numbers or the full report. I mentioned it to the ANH on Twitter and they said to get the data from the mining ministry. It makes me wonder why they have stopped publishing. It’s annoying. Continue reading

Meanwhile, the gringos seek to keep their title as #1 (CHK)

Yes, they are trying to retake their long-lost title as the world leader in oil and gas industry corruption. Warning, guys, there’s some tough competition in the field. But in dollar value, this Chesapeake Energy (CHK)-McClendon thing may be right up there. Of course we don’t know if there really was any corruption, do we? As one McClendon supporter puts it:

They were much too smart as individuals,” Cirino said of McClendon and Ward. “They would be able to manage that conflict there, if there was one.

If you like you some journalistic investigation into fossil fuel industry (and if you don’t, why are you here?), go take a read.

Note: as usual, no position in this stock, or any energy stock. But I did touch on this story, briefly, a few years ago. Yes, 2008, and yes, he hung on another four years.

Argentina’s shale: More than gas (YPF Repsol more)

Every oil analyst is suddenly a bit more focused on Argentina than they were a week or two ago. I just want to correct a couple little mis-impressions about Argentina’s shales in these two generally quite good pieces.

One, expressed by the FT’s John Gapper, is that it’s all the Vaca Muerta shale. There are a bunch of shale areas. Indeed, below the Vaca Muerta you can find the Los Molles formation, which is much thicker. Argentina’s shales, combined, have the world’s third-biggest likely unproved reserves, according to US Geological Survey methodology, but Vaca Muerta alone is not even half of that.

Second, in Raul Gallegos’s piece on the same page says that the shale could offer “four centuries of the country’s consumption.” This reminds me that most people see the shales as primarily a source of natural gas. Yes, shales offer gas, but what’s exciting about Repsol’s discoveries in Argentina is that these rocks also yield oil. In the Argentine context, that makes these rocks more valuable, as gas prices are generally controlled at a low level, and exports are strictly controlled. I understand that pumping oil is more profitable, as the sales price is higher with respect to production costs.

Pricing power, Colombia-Venezuela edition

There are many ways to translate “pricing power” into Spanish. But the easiest way to explain what it means is here (PDF), on page 7.

Ecopetrol’s export price for “gases” — which as far as I can tell is natural gas* — in the fourth quarter went up to US$5.80 per million BTU, from $4 in 4q2010. The average price for the year rose to $5 from $3.90. As long-time readers may recall, Colombian gas exports are basically to Venezuela, via a pipeline built (ostensibly) to export Venezuelan gas to Colombia. Because Venezuela’s natural gas situation remains grim, Colombian producers including Chevron Corp. sell to Colombian national oil company Ecopetrol, which in turn sells to PDVSA, the state oil company in Venezuela, which then sells the gas to power generators and chemical plants.

I’ll leave it to the Venezuela howling squad to worry about the fact that PDVSA’s retail prices for natural gas remain the same year after year. For me, the interesting thing here is that Ecopetrol has Venezuela over such a barrel that it seems able to pretty much raise prices. I mean, where else is Venezuela going to go? Volumes exported also rose 47 percent year-over-year because of “higher demand in Venezuela” and more gas available for export.

At some point, the shoe will be on the other foot, as Venezuela has a nearly bottomless pit of gas if it can ever figure out how to get it out of the ground, and Colombian gas — well, see the last entry for more on that. Gas sales in Colombia are at a 2-year low.

*It’s Friday night so I’m not going to bother Ecopetrol flaks about this, but this whole entry is off-base if the word “gases” includes butane. Sorry for the ambiguity, but this is the journalism you get for free. On Friday night.