Dearth of Ships Delays Drilling of Offshore Oil

June 19, 2008

By JAD MOUAWAD and MARTIN FACKLER
New York Times

As President Bush calls for repealing a ban on drilling off most of the coast of the United States, a shortage of ships used for deep-water offshore drilling promises to impede any rapid turnaround in oil exploration and supply.

In recent years, this global shortage of drill-ships has created a critical bottleneck, frustrating energy company executives and constraining their ability to exploit known reserves or find new ones. Slow growth in oil supplies, at a time of soaring demand, has been a major factor in the spike of oil and gasoline prices.

Mr. Bush called on Congress Wednesday to end a longstanding federal ban on offshore drilling and open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for oil exploration, arguing that the steps were needed to lower gasoline prices and bolster national security. But even as oil trades at more than $135 a barrel — up from $68 a year ago — the world’s existing drill-ships are booked solid for the next five years. Some oil companies have been forced to postpone exploration while waiting for a drilling rig, executives and analysts said.

Demand is so high that shipbuilders, the biggest of whom are in Asia, have raised prices since last year by as much as $100 million a vessel to about half a billion dollars.

“The crunch on rigs is everywhere,” said Alberto Guimaraes, a senior executive at Petrobras, the Brazilian oil company that has discovered some of the most promising offshore oil but has been unable to get at it.

“Almost 100 percent of the oil companies are constrained in their investment program because there is no rig available,” he said.

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Investing: Playing the Brazil Boom

June 10, 2008

New wealth from commodities is fueling growth and expanding the consumer economy. And that presents great opportunities for investors

by David Bogoslaw
businessweek.com

The Brazilian economy is barely recognizable to those who knew it more than five years ago. In those days it was plagued by mountains of debt and boom-and-bust cycles. Now everything is different. Indeed, 2008 is quickly shaping up to be the Year of Brazil.

The economy is ready to burst at the seams—but this time the growth looks sustainable. And foreign investors are taking notice in a big way. Should you join them?

First, it’s worth looking at some telling figures. Brazil’s gross domestic product increased 4.5%, to $1.3 trillion, in 2007, and grew by 5.8% in the first quarter of 2008. The country’s benchmark stock index, the Bovespa, is up 5.9% thus far in 2008.

Brazil is on the right side of the global commodities boom. It has enjoyed a 65% price hike for the high-grade iron ore it sells to steelmakers around the world. In the midst of a staggering increase in world energy prices, Brazil stands ready to capitalize on newly discovered offshore oil deposits that may be part of one of the biggest oil fields in the world. Major credit-rating agencies have given their stamp of approval on its government debt by upgrading the country’s sovereign rating from junk.

What makes the story even more compelling is how Latin America’s biggest economy has largely kept a lid on inflation, even as central banks around the globe continue to battle it. The reason: Brazil’s self-sufficiency in many of the commodities whose price run-ups are causing consumer prices to soar worldwide.

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Keep Drilling

May 14, 2008

IEA: Replacing World Biofuels Would Require 1M B/D More Oil

To replace the global supply of ethanol and biodiesel-based biofuels added to the U.S. and European markets since 2005 would require an additional 1 million barrels of crude oil to be processed per day, the International Energy Agency said Tuesday.

Rising food prices have damped the political will behind biofuel policies, however, the IEA said it was unlikely biofuel targets would be scrapped in the near term.

“It is sobering to realize the amount of oil that would be needed to replace them,” said the IEA.

Global biofuels supply is expected to grow to 1.5 million barrels per day in 2008, said the report.

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Brazil’s Offshore Fields

Zeihan predicts a 2012 start to production at Tupi. Technology needed to tap fields like Tupi, which sit hundreds of miles offshore beneath thousands of feet of rock, sand and salt, hasn’t been developed, he said.

Petrobras, Chevron Corp., Royal Dutch Shell Plc and Norsk Hydro ASA plan to start pumping oil from eight Brazilian fields in the next 2 1/2 years that will produce a combined 1.02 million barrels a day, enough to supply two-thirds of the crude used by U.S. East Coast refineries.

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Brazil’s energy producer Petrobras on $112.7 billion expansion

As a result of these huge finds, Petrobras is looking to expand its infrastructure to meet processing requirements. This week, investment bank UBS estimated that the Tupi and Carioca finds off Brazil would need about $600 billion to develop, a massive windfall for oilfield services companies all over the world.

The offshore fields underpin Gabrielli’s plan to increase output 79 per cent by 2015 to the equivalent of 4.2 million barrels of oil. If the company maintains its current proportion of crude and natural-gas production, it will have about 3.5 million barrels of oil a day to refine.


New Stock Picks

May 8, 2008

Water
NWPX – Pipes
CCC – Purification
INSU – Pipe rehab
LNN – Irrigation for Agriculture

Oil & Gas
CLR – Bakken
KOG – Bakken
ENB – Canadian oil pipeline
NGS – Nat Gas Service Equip (non-conventional production)
SGY – US Oil & Gas Producer
XTO – Oil & Gas Producer
CRZO – Barnett Shale
ATW – Deep water driller
RIG – Deep water driller
PBR – Brazilian Oil Producer

Agriculture/Commodities
MEA – Scrap Metal Recycler
TWI – Ag Equipment
MOS – Fertilizer
POT – Fertilizer
MTL – Russian Mining/Steel

Brazilian Banks (Brazil’s credit rating just raised to investment grade)
ITU
UBB
BBD

Others
ELMG – Wireless Communications/Defense (excellent weekly chart)
VISN – Chinese Mass Transit Ads (IPO off to a very strong start on major growth)
WGOV – Turbine and Electrical Controls for Alternative Energy Generation via Wind/Steam


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