The FT’s Martin Wolf led a stellar panel on the global economy and the outlook for commodities featuring China expert Michael Pettis, BP’s group chief economist, Spencer Dale (formerly chief economist at the Bank of England), and Goldman’s chairman of global natural resources Brett Olsher.
As one might expect there was a difference of opinion on the panel about China’s future growth path. Goldman’s Olsher said he was confident that China would be able to maintain 6.5 per cent to 7 per cent growth in the near term, whereas Pettis suggested that even 3-4 per cent should be considered a successful adjustment. Read more
According to BP’s Energy Outlook, which was released this week, global energy demand will continue to grow until 2013, but that growth is set to slow, driven by emerging economies — mainly China and India.
To wit, the following chart from the presentation booklet:
How much of the oil and gas sector’s asset valuations could be at risk from climate mitigation policy?
The International Energy Agency’s latest annual World Energy Outlook, released in November, followed the popular practice in long-term forecasts of using several scenarios. One involves global policymakers moving to limit atmospheric CO2 concentration to 450 parts per million, in order to limit to 50 per cent the probability of average temperatures rising 2 degrees or more.
The problem for fossil fuel companies is that could limit their ability to utilise all their reserves. Read more
Because the deal has been exclusively revealed repeatedly and over a number of weeks, few seemed too excited by news on Monday that BP and its oligarch ‘partners,’ Alfa, Access/Renova, have finally agreed the terms on which they will sell TNK-BP to Rosneft.
In return for making Rosneft the world’s largest oil company by reserves, AAR get $28bn in cash for their 50 per cent stake, while BP come away with $25.9bn for their 50 per cent. Read more
At pixel time, BP’s shares were off 3.7 per cent after this FT report that the Department of Justice may attempt to prove gross negligence or wilful misconduct led to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster:
Six months ago, the FT’s analysis of BP’s latest numbers began, Bob Dudley stated that the company had reached a “definite turning point”. How right he was. Unfortunately, the turning was down rather than up. The shares are not quite plumbing the ocean floor of the panic which followed the Macondo well disaster, but despite higher oil prices, the slowly clearing fog of litigation and the continuing sales of assets at prices well beyond book values, they have still managed to plunge by 13 percent in the last two months.
The fall neatly reflects this week’s news of a 13 percent decline in first-quarter profits, while the other oil majors were cleaning up, so to speak. The most charitable description of BP is that it is a company in recovery mode, while us long-suffering shareholders (sic) wait for Dr Dudley’s medicine to take effect. A less charitable conclusion would be that the patient has such a chronic sickness that only major surgery will cure it. Read more
BP shares rose the most in a month after Europe’s second-biggest oil company reached a $7.8bn settlement with businesses and individuals over the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil rig disaster, Bloomberg reports. The deal with businesses and individuals was lower than the $14bn that had been expecetd and the money for the settlement is to come from a $20bn compensation fund that’s already provisioned for. Though, the FT reports, the bigger issue of damages and penalties sought by the US government may still be unresolved. Penalties under the Clean Water Act could be more than $17.5bn if the company is judged to have acted with gross negligence, a charge that BP has always denied, but the US authorities are likely to assert. There will be damages running into billions of dollars for harm done to the gulf coastline, and potential criminal penalties. The US Department of Justice is investigating possible criminal charges against BP, other companies involved in the spill, and their employees, although none have been brought.
BP is close to a $14bn settlement with lawyers for victims of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, reports Bloomberg citing three people familiar with the matter. The settlement amount would tap funds from cash BP has put aside for out-of-court settlements. Any deal would not affect up to $17.6bn of federal fines that may be imposed over the disaster. Separately Transocean has announced a $1bn charge for the Macondo well explosion, suggesting it is preparing to settle, the FT adds.
From BP’s fourth quarter results on Tuesday:
At 31 December 2011, $131 million of finance debt ($128 million at 30 September 2011 and $790 million at 31 December 2010) was secured by the pledging of assets, and no finance debt was secured in connection with deposits received relating to certain disposal transactions expected to complete in subsequent periods ($3,530 million at 30 September 2011 and $4,780 million at 31 December 2010). In addition, in connection with $2,344 million of finance debt ($2,426 million at 30 September 2011 and $4,588 million at 31 December 2010), BP has entered into crude oil sales contracts in respect of oil produced from certain fields in offshore Angola and Azerbaijan to provide security to the lending banks. The remainder of finance debt was unsecured.
BP sought to draw a line under the past two years since the Gulf of Mexico crisis, raising its dividend for the first time since it resumed pay-outs a year ago and hailing the return of “operational momentum”, the FT reports. Bob Dudley, BP’s chief executive, reiterated that the company was prepared to settle the thousands of lawsuits against it as a result of the disaster, but only “if we can do so on fair and reasonable terms”. “Equally, if this is not possible, we are preparing vigorously for trial,” he added. The big civil trial to resolve damages for the Deepwater Horizon disaster is due to begin later this month. The UK oil group, which used to account for £1 in every £6 invested by pension funds, announced a 14 per cent increase in its fourth-quarter dividend – to 8 cents a share. The dividend rise came as it reported fourth-quarter earnings, adjusted for one-off items and changes in oil and gas inventory, of $5bn. The result compared with $4.4bn a year earlier. BP’s fourth-quarter replacement cost profit, which strips out the value of oil and gas inventory, was $7.6bn, up from $4.61bn in the same period a year earlier.
BP has been rebuffed by a judge over its bid to call Steven Newman, chief executive of Transocean, the drilling contractor, to appear in person at a trial in New Orleans this month over the Deepwater Horizon disaster, the FT reports. The move was an attempt to turn the spotlight on Transocean, which owned and operated the Deepwater Horizon rig and employed nine of the 11 men killed in the accident. However, the judge said that Mr Newman, who is based at Transocean’s headquarters in Zug, Switzerland, could not be called as a live witness because he is the chief executive of the parent company, not the subsidiaries that are facing damages claims at the trial.
A New Orleans court has left both BP and Halliburton, the oil services group, facing the threat of multibillion dollar damages arising from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster, after a judge rejected attempts by the companies to offload liability for the accident on each other, the FT reports. The ruling follows a similar judgment last week on the equivalent dispute between BP and Transocean, the owner and operator of the Deepwater Horizon rig. The rulings confirm that BP will be liable for the economic damage suffered by fishermen, hotel owners and others affected by the spill in the Gulf of Mexico. However, other companies, including Halliburton and Transocean, have been left facing the threat of penalties and punitive damages.
BP has suffered a setback in its attempt to make Transocean, the drilling contractor, pay for the full costs of the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, reports the FT. Judge Carl Barbier, who will hear the case for damages and civil penalties resulting from the spill, ruled on Thursday that BP should have to pay damages for losses suffered as a result of oil spilt below the surface, even if Transocean were found to have been grossly negligent in the disaster. The lease agreement for the rig that BP ran contained an indemnity for owner Transocean, reports the WSJ. However, the judge also ruled that Transocean should still be liable for any civil penalties under the Clean Water Act and punitive damages under the Oil Pollution Act, which could potentially run into the tens of billions of dollars. The decision left both sides claiming they had been vindicated.
BP has suffered a setback in its attempt to make Transocean, the drilling contractor, pay for the full costs of the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, reports the FT. Judge Carl Barbier, who will hear the case for damages and civil penalties resulting from the spill, ruled on Thursday that BP should have to pay damages for losses suffered as a result of oil spilt below the surface, even if Transocean were found to have been grossly negligent in the disaster. However, he said Transocean should still be liable for any civil penalties under the Clean Water Act and punitive damages under the Oil Pollution Act, which could potentially run into the tens of billions of dollars. The decision left both sides claiming they had been vindicated.
Petroplus, Europe’s largest independent refiner by capacity, said it would file for insolvency after talks with its lenders failed, the FT reports. The announcement came a day after its UK refinery, Coryton, one of the largest in the UK and a key source of petrol for London and the south-east, stopped fuel deliveries and trading in the company’s shares in Switzerland, which have lost 99 per cent of their value since 2007, was suspended. European refiners have been hit hard by the economic slowdown which has weakened demand for transport fuel and squeezed profit margins, as well as chronic overcapacity in the industry. Petroplus wasforced to close down three of its refineries, while the two remaining – Coryton and Ingolstadt in Germany – have been running at reduced capacity. BP, which used to own Coryton and sold it to Petroplus in 2007 for $1.4bn, had earlier been in talks to throw the plant a lifeline by supplying it with crude and receiving refined products as payment. A BP spokesman said on Monday night that despite the situation at Coryton there were “no immediate supply issues across our retail network.”
BP may agree to pay up to $25bn to settle all charges, including possible criminal charges, with the US government over the devastating Gulf of Mexico spill, according to an analyst at Morgan Stanley, the FT says. This would be double the figure the company has set aside. Martijn Rats, head of European oil research at Morgan Stanley, predicted there was a 70-80 per cent possibility that BP would agree a deal on civil and criminal charges before the end of February, ahead of the start of the civil litigation over the accident. Bob Dudley, BP’s chief executive, has repeatedly said that BP would be willing to settle, but not at any price. Asked about the possibility of a settlement earlier this week in London, Mr Dudley declined to comment, saying it was too sensitive a time to talk about it. However the newspaper says a person familiar with BP’s thinking said that the idea that the company was negotiating over a settlement worth about $25bn was “completely unfounded.” The person added: “There is no factual basis for the suggestion that there is discussion in that range.”
BP is seeking to have Halliburton, its cement contractor for the Macondo oil well whose blowout set off the 2010 Gulf of Mexico spill, pay all of the oil company’s related costs and damages, reports Bloomberg, citing a court filing. The oil company seeks “the amount of costs and expenses incurred by BP to clean up and remediate the oil spill, the lost profits from and/or diminution in value of the Macondo prospect, and all other costs and damages incurred by BP related to the Deepwater Horizon incident and resulting oil spill,” Don Haycraft, BP’s lead trial attorney, said in a filing yesterday in federal court in New Orleans. BP said it had paid more than $21bn in cleanup costs and economic damages as of December 1, and has reserved more than $40bn to cover costs related to the sinking of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig. The two companies blame each other’s employees of making mistakes that led to the disaster.
Breaking pre-market news on Friday,
- National Grid loses Long Island Power Authority Management contract — statement. Read more
BP is on track to win 11 new leases for oil exploration in the Gulf of Mexico, the FT reports, after lodging the highest bids in all but four of 15 leases in a sale held in New Orleans on Wednesday. The 11 leases would cost $27m if awarded and would require much greater expenditure if BP proceeds to drill wells on them. It remains the largest holder of leases in the gulf, and in October was awarded its first permit to drill in the region since the 2010 disaster on the Deepwater Horizon platform, which BP operated. The leasing round results were announced as a report on lessons from the disaster was published by the National Academies, the US science and engineering advisory body. The expert committee, commissioned by the US interior department, criticised both the companies involved in the accident and offshore regulators and raised the question of whether “the good intentions” of the industry and the authorities would be “a start toward recognition, acceptance, and active management of the risks inherent in offshore oil and gas development, or … a transitory response.”
Offshore safety regulators have issued BP with five more charges related to last year’s Deepwater Horizon well explosion, the FT reports. BP failed to do proper tests and checks for leaks on the well, according to the US Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement. The issues “played no causal role in the accident”, the company said. In addition to raising the fines that BP may have to pay for the oil spill, the fresh charges also come amid a war of words between BP and Halliburton over the companies’ responsibilities on the well ahead of a civil trial in New Orleans, the WSJ says.
BP was hit with safety citations from the US government on Wednesday, while it also received the latest legal salvo from a major contractor, reports Reuters, as the fallout continues from last year’s massive oil blowout in the Gulf of Mexico. Halliburton on Wednesday filed a legal challenge to BP’s allegations that it had destroyed evidence of its cement work on the doomed Macondo well. The latest set of government citations for BP come on top of seven “incidents of non-compliance” that the US Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement handed out to the company in October. The agency did not release details of the fines, saying it would consider civil penalties after the 60-day appeal period for the citations was completed. By law, BP face fines of up to $35,000 a day, per incident for the violations. BP says it plans to appeal all these notices, and said the raised in the citations on Wednesday “played no causal role in the accident.”
Halliburton intentionally destroyed evidence about the Deepwater Horizon spill to stop it being used against it in a trial, BP has claimed, according to the FT. BP alleged in a filing to a New Orleans court that Halliburton, which was contracted to work on cement to seal the well at the time of the disaster, destroyed test results and computer analysis of the cement mix. Halliburton has previously countered that BP failed to use technology to position the well properly, allowing the cement to become damaged, the Houston Chronicle reports.
BP has accused Halliburton, the oil services group, of intentionally destroying evidence relating to the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico last year, which killed 11 men and led to the world’s largest accidental offshore oil spill, reports the FT. Halliburton was one of the principal contractors on the project at the time of the accident, working on cement intended to seal the well to prevent leaks of oil and gas. In a filing to the court in New Orleans that will hear the trial for damages arising from the spill, BP alleged that Halliburton had destroyed test results and computer analysis “because it wanted to eliminate any risk that this evidence would be used against it at trial”. BP called on the court to order Halliburton to hand the computer used for the analysis over to an independent forensic electronics firm. Halliburton said in a statement it was reviewing the details of the motion filed on Monday. “However, we believe that the conclusion that BP is asking the court to draw is without merit and we look forward to contesting their motion in court.”
BP’s $7bn sale of a stake in an Argentine oil producer to Bridas and Cnooc has fallen through, Platts reports. The sale of the stake in Pan-American Energy had been a key part of BP’s drive to offload assets following last year’s Gulf oil spill. “The decision was prompted by legal issues, by the manner in which BP has behaved during the transaction and the signature,” Bridas said without elaborating further, reports the FT. BP has blamed its counterparties’ failure to gain approval from Argentine antitrust authorities and the Chinese government, the WSJ says.
BP’s $7.1bn deal to sell a majority stake in Argentina’s second-largest oil producer to Bridas has collapsed in acrimony, reports the FT. Bridas blamed the UK oil group for the failure of the sale of the stake in Pan American Energy in a statement issued in Buenos Aires. “The decision was prompted by legal issues, by the manner in which BP has behaved during the transaction and the signature,” it said without elaborating further. Bloomberg notes this means BP has to return the $3.5bn deposit it received for the sale.
Transocean, the owner of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig that sank in the Gulf of Mexico last year, is planning to take further legal action against BP as it seeks to prove that the British company should be liable for almost all the costs of the disaster, the FT reports. Legal arguments from Transocean, which could be filed in the next few days, will be based on the contract that it signed with BP to work on the Macondo well, which it says protects it against claims for damages, fines and other penalties. BP has already taken a charge of $41.3bn for clean-up, compensation and other costs, and has sued Transocean for at least $40bn – alleging that the spill was “caused by Transocean’s multiple failures”. Both BP and Transocean were found by official inquiries to have been at fault over the accident on April 20 last year that killed 11 men and caused the largest ever accidental oil spill. However, BP signed a contract that agreed to “protect, release, defend, indemnify and hold harmless” Transocean, its drilling contractor, from “all claims, demands, causes of action, damages, costs, expenses … judgments and awards of any kind of character, without limit and without regard to the cause or causes thereof”.
Transocean, the owner of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig that sank in the Gulf of Mexico last year, is planning to take further legal action against BP as it seeks to prove that the British company should be liable for almost all the costs of the disaster, the FT reports. Legal arguments from Transocean, which could be filed in the next few days, will be based on the contract that it signed with BP to work on the Macondo well, which it says protects it against claims for damages, fines and other penalties. BP has already taken a charge of $41.3bn for clean-up, compensation and other costs, and has sued Transocean for at least $40bn – alleging that the spill was “caused by Transocean’s multiple failures”.
Breaking pre-market news on Tuesday,
- UBS Q3 net profit solid at CHF980m despite trading scandal – statement. Read more