Crude Price Rebound Helps European Oil Firms Return To Profit

File photo: An oil pumpjack operates in Signal Hill, south of Los Angeles, California on April 21, 2020, a day after oil prices dropped to below zero as the oil industry suffers steep falls in benchmark crudes due to the ongoing global coronavirus pandemic. Frederic J. BROWN / AFP.


European oil majors have returned spectacularly to the black by posting huge first quarter profits as a recovery in crude prices helped them rebound from the coronavirus crisis.

France’s Total, Britain’s BP, Anglo-Dutch group Shell and Spain’s Repsol have this week posted $14.5 billion in first quarter profits between them.

It’s a far cry from the past year which saw global lockdowns decimate economic activity and oil prices fall off a cliff, taking the energy giants’ balance sheets with them.

Royal Dutch Shell led the way with $5.7 billion (4.7 billion euros) profit, with BP snapping at their heels on $4.7 billion and Total adding $3.3 billion while Repsol, browbeaten by two years of huge losses, scored a $783 million gain.

File photo: Line handlers help dock the oil tanker, Texas Voyager, as it pulls into its mooring to offload its crude oil at Port Everglades on April 21, 2020 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Joe Raedle/Getty Images/AFP


The results are a boon for the majors, who made tens of billions of cumulative losses last year as the health pandemic took hold and prices collapsed.

While crude prices have recovered, the firms also have to look to a future where renewables will play an increasingly important role as the energy transition accelerates and oil and gas production peaks lower and earlier than expected.

And the profits are also a reflection that the European oil are slimming down their staff levels.

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Shell decided to axe more than 10 percent of its global workforce, or up to 9,000 jobs.

Shell, like some of its peers, has also been shedding assets. That gave it a $1.4-billion boost in the first quarter.

“Shell has made a strong start to 2021, generating over $8 billion of cash in the quarter,” said chief executive Ben van Beurden.

He added that Shell’s model is ideally positioned to benefit from recovering demand.

“Fortunately for investors these latest results come without the drama seen this time last year when Shell cut its dividend for the first time since the Second World War,” said Keith Bowman, equity analyst at Interactive Investor.

Total’s performance was not only in stark contrast to profits of just $34 million a year earlier, but it even outstripped profits of $3.1 billion recorded in the first quarter of 2019.

“Total has already returned to the pre-crisis pace of high results,” chief executive Patrick Pouyanne told the daily Sud Ouest newspaper. “All is well.”

With investment in renewables, including acquiring a 20-percent stake in India’s Adani Green Energy and a windpower project off Taiwan “the group is accelerating its transformation into a broad energy company,” Pouyanne said in the group’s earnings statement.

Total is targeting operating cost savings of $500 million this year but plans investments of up to $13 billion, part of which will go to renewables and electricity.

The French giant warned that “the oil environment remains volatile and dependent on the global demand recovery, still affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.”

BP was a bit more optimistic on the outlook for this year, saying “oil demand is expected to recover in 2021 due to strong growth in US and China and as the distribution of vaccinations gains momentum and lockdown restrictions are gradually lifted.”

In addition to higher oil prices, said its strong first quarter result was also do to good performance by its gas unit and higher refining margins.

Repsol returned to profit after two years that accumulated $7 billion of red ink stemming from a drop in asset values and then 2020’s pandemic woes.

Shares in the quartet rose modestly on Thursday, Shell climbing 1.2 percent mid session in London, while Total added 1.0 percent, BP was up 0.8 percent and Repsol added less than 0.1 percent.


OPEC+ Approves Oil Output Increases From May

OPEC+ group is enforcing drastic cuts in production.


Oil-producing countries grouped together under the OPEC+ alliance led by Saudi Arabia and Russia agreed on output increases as of next month at a ministerial meeting on Thursday.

A statement from the alliance said that they had agreed to boost output by “no more than 0.5 million” barrels per day (bpd) in May, June and July.

The decision comes despite the expectation ahead of the meeting that the bloc would err on the side of caution.

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Addressing reporters after the meeting, Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdelaziz bin Salman stressed that the decision could still be “tweaked” in the alliance’s monthly meetings.

Before the meeting Prince Abdelaziz said that “the reality remains that the global picture is far from even, and the recovery is far from complete”.

Salman praised the OPEC+ alliance nations for more than fulfilling their commitments to restrain output.

Under its current agreement, the OPEC+ group — made up of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies including Russia — is enforcing drastic cuts in production, meaning seven million barrels that could be shipped to markets every day are being left in the ground.

In addition, Saudi Arabia has volunteered to cut its own output by one million barrels per day (bpd) to help avoid oversupplying a market suffering from a collapse in demand due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The cuts were aimed at avoiding limited storage capacity being saturated and supporting prices — currently hovering around $60 per barrel.

– Russian optimism –
Market analysts had widely tipped OPEC+ to roll over the production cuts for another month, especially as more nations are experiencing an upswing in Covid cases.

Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak was more optimistic in his opening comments.

“The evolution of the vaccination campaign is making progress and allows us to look towards the future with optimism, even if, of course, we shouldn’t forget that there remain many uncertainties ahead,” Novak was quoted as saying by Ria Novosti news agency.

“We also note that the economy continues to improve,” he added.

But with Europe returning to lockdown and infections sweeping through India, a country that until the pandemic was an important source of demand growth, experts are now seeing a slower recovery for the crude market.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) reflected this more downbeat outlook in forecasts contained in its last report this month.

It estimated that global demand could take another two years to get back to its pre-crisis levels.

Benchmark crude contracts Brent and WTI were both up nearly 2 percent as the OPEC meeting got underway.

Nigeria Will Never Become Industrialized By Selling Oil, Says Atiku



Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar has called for the diversification of Nigeria’s economy, warning that the country will never be industrialized via dependence on crude oil.

Atiku who was the presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2019 election, said this in an article he published on his Medium account.

In the post captioned “How to Pull Nigeria from the Brink,” Atiku called on the Nigerian government to look into the agricultural sector as a way of shoring up revenue in the face of dwindling oil fortunes.

“We must face the fact that reliance on crude oil is failing Nigeria and other mono-product economies, crude oil exporters,” he said.

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Recalling how agriculture used to be the mainstay of Nigeria’s economy in the 50s and 60s, Atiku admitted that diversification might not be easy but said it is possible.

While citing the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia as examples of oil-producing nations who have diversified their economies, he called on Nigeria to take advantage of the African Continental Free Trade Area agreement (AFCTA) to make the country “become an agricultural powerhouse in Africa.”

According to him, Nigeria must learn from “Venezuela’s predicaments,” stressing that “what is abundantly clear is that Nigeria is never going to become an industrialized nation by selling more oil, even if the oil market recovers.”

Also, he called for cost-saving measures including letting go of the Presidential Air Fleet, the cancellation of the planned renovation of the National Assembly and reduction of budgets for the legislature among others.

“We cannot be funding non-necessities with debt and not expect our economy to collapse,” he warned, adding that “The same cost-saving measures must be adopted by the states and councils government.”

Oil Prices: Okonjo-Iweala Recommends Economic Restructuring

Former Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has called for the restructuring of Nigeria’s economy in the face of dwindling oil prices. 

Okonjo-Iweala gave the advice on Thursday when she appeared on Channels TV’s Business Morning. 

According to her, Nigeria and other African countries must look at other sources of revenue to cushion the economic impact of dwindling oil prices.

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The former Managing Director of the World Bank said Nigeria has several sources of revenue it should tap to create employment for the teeming masses.

She called on Nigeria to look into the tourism, and creative sectors, among others, to shore up revenue.

“There will be business cycles with commodity prices. What you also need to do is make the economy less dependent on these commodities,” she said.

Okonjo-Iweala said learning how to task these sources of revenue should be a long-term plan.

“And that is why on the long term, there should be restructuring of the economy so that you have other sources that can create revenue,” she added.

Also, she said: “You have to look across board and say, ‘are we getting enough from these sectors,'” adding that “It is not just diversifying your economy, you have to diversify your sources of revenue; meaning you have to task better.”



Oil Prices Rise But Stay Below $30

Gas prices are displayed at a Shell gas station on March 10, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. Mario Tama/Getty Images/AFP
Gas prices are displayed at a Shell gas station on March 10, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. Mario Tama/Getty Images/AFP


Oil rose further Friday after a dramatic rebound from multi-year lows but stayed below $30 a barrel on fears the deadly coronavirus will push the world into recession with an oversupply.

US benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) was up 3.65 percent to $26.14 a barrel in midday Asian trade.

Brent climbed 2.14 percent to $29.08 a barrel.

On Thursday, WTI rebounded by more than 23 percent following US government moves to help American crude producers weather a slump in demand caused by the coronavirus pandemic, recovering almost as spectacularly as it had plunged in recent days.

Crude slumped to 18-year lows Wednesday, with travel restrictions and other measures aimed at combating the virus hitting demand and major producers Saudi Arabia and Russia locked in a price war by ramping up production.

“Oil prices are recovering… as the three-day collapse saw some bottom fishing after WTI failed to break the $20 a barrel level,” said OANDA senior market analyst Edward Moya.

“The oil rebound also extended higher after (US) President (Donald) Trump stated he would get involved in the oil price war at the appropriate time,” Moya said in a note.

“The Trump administration is now showing signs they will try to defend the shale industry and stabilise oil prices.”

The US Department of Energy said Thursday it will carry out Trump’s directive to top up the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to its maximum capacity.

The department said in a statement on its website it will buy a total of 77 million barrels from American producers, kicking off with an initial purchase of 30 million barrels.

Oil markets have been hammered by collapsing demand as the virus prompts sweeping travel restrictions and business closures, and as major producers Saudi Arabia and Russia engage in a price war.

The US energy department “is moving quickly to support US oil producers facing potentially catastrophic losses from the impacts of COVID-19 and the intentional disruption to world oil markets by foreign actors,” said US Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette.


Aregbesola Preaches Commitment To Enhance Productivity

Rauf-Aregbesola_Osun-election-resultThe Governor of Osun State, Rauf Aregbesola, has charged public servants to be committed to duty in order to enhance productivity and boost the economy of the state.

Governor Aregbesola gave the charge in Osogbo, the Osun State capital on Tuesday during the yearly prayer to usher in the state’s workforce.

The Governor also identified agriculture as an alternative revenue away from oil in the face of continuous drop in crude oil price.

According to the Governor and his cabinet members, there is an urgent need to boost the dwindling economy of the state as they urged residents and farmers to engage in all forms of farming.

Present at the gathering were royal fathers, religious leaders, market men and women, members of the executive, legislative and judiciary arm of government.

Nigeria’s External Reserves Fall By 15 Per Cent In 2015

external reservesNigeria’s external reserves now stands at $29.30 billion as at December 23, 2015.

Data from the Central Bank of Nigeria’s website shows that the reserves declined by 2.41 per cent from $29.34 billion on December 22.

The external reserves has depreciated by over 15 per cent from $34.49 billion at the beginning of the year.

This represents a $5.15 billion decline so far in 2015.

The drop in the forex reserves value has been attributed to the significant reduction in forex inflow into the country, owing to the fall in crude oil prices.

2013 Budget: Nweke Jnr describes demand for increased benchmark price as tragic

Frank Nweke Jnr, the Director General of the Nigeria Economic Summit Group (NESG) on Thursday said that his group does not support the House of Representatives’ demand to increase the benchmark price of crude oil in the 2013 budget from $75 to $82.

Mr Nweke, who was a guest on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, said that the NESG also does not support the “perennial altercation between the legislature and the executive” arms of governments.

“This latest jack-up in the benchmark price for the 2013 budget is ill-advised. When I first got information about this yesterday, I described it as tragic,” he said.

2013 Budget: Gbajabiamila says issue of benchmark price is unconstitutional

The House of Representatives’ Minority leader, Femi Gbajabiamila on Thursday said the power to decide how the revenue earned by Nigeria is spent is the prerogative of the National Assembly not the executive arm of government.

The lawmaker, who was speaking on Channels Television’s programme, Sunrise Daily, against the fallout between the presidency and the legislature over the benchmark price of crude oil in the 2013 budget, said pegging the price of crude oil is a way through which the Federal Government short-changes the states.

“There is no issue of benchmark vis-à-vis the constitution. If we decide we want a benchmark so that we can save, that part of the constitution needs to be amended. There is no issue of benchmark as far as I am concern,” Mr Gbajabiamila.

The Minority leader said though the House of Representative is yet to receive the 2013 budget, it would improper to present a fresh budget when previous one is yet to be implemented.

“The position of the House is very simple. You don’t jump from one to the other without care of the one that comes before. Again, it is very tardy to present a budget when there is a 2012 Budget that is pending,” he said.

We’ve not started budgeting in Nigeria – Analyst

A budget expert, Emeka Ejikonye on Thursday said what Nigerians generally refers to a budgeting is mere fiscal policy making activities.

Mr Ejikonye, who was speaking on Channels Television’s programme, Sunrise Daily, against the fallout between the presidency and the legislature over the benchmark price of crude oil in the 2013 budget, said until the Nigerian government “start doing budgeting, Eldorado will continue to elude us.”