The 'antelope' gets to its feet
Comment of the Day

November 18 2011

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

The 'antelope' gets to its feet

This article from Gas Matters, republished by Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:
"As a pioneer Oryx takes its role in the development of GTL very seriously," said Welgemoed. "We are eagerly awaiting the start-up of the Pearl GTL plant. I can say that the two companies are working together to incorporate lessons learned from Oryx GTL within the start-up and commissioning planning of the Pearl project. We believe that we have to work together in the industry to make GTL grow."

Welgemoed insisted that Oryx would be profitable even at oil prices below $40/barrel, a claim that is credible because the project was unusually cheap. Because the EPC contract was awarded on a lump-sum turnkey (LSTK) basis to Technip before the construction cost overheating that began in 2004, overall investment has been a little over $1 billion, giving a specific capital cost of around $30,000 for barrel per day of capacity - a figure unlikely to be matched any time soon.

The deal was not such a good one for Technip, conceded chief technology officer Sanjiv Ratan, because procurement and construction did extend into the cost-inflationary period. He added that in the current era of high cost volatility, future projects were more likely to be undertaken on a reimbursable contract basis than the LSTK model.

Eoin Treacy's view Every innovation in generating, transforming or saving energy creates efficiencies. These are rapidly reinvested in labour saving devices which in turn lead to increased consumption. This "rebound effect" is more commonly referred to as the Jevons Paradox. The result is that even though we might be concerned about the effects our actions are having on the planet the hard fact is that our way of life depends not only on maintaining our energy consumption but increasing it if we are serious about improving the standards of living for everyone on the planet.

This table from the World Resources Institute courtesy of Wikipedia, although dated 2003 is a useful indicator of energy consumption. China in particular is moving up this table in a secular trend. Much of that demand growth will be met by unconventional oil as well as natural gas.

Qatar's future is intertwined with the outlook for natural gas which remains extremely positive. The Qatar Investment Trust, listed in the UK, trades at a 18.8% discount to NAV. It broke out of an 18-month range in June and continues to consolidate above 80p. A sustained move below that level would be required to begin to question medium-term scope for continued higher to lateral ranging.

Sasol, which has a number of projects in Qatar, retested the upper side of its base in August and has rebounded powerfully to test the April peak near ZAR40,000. It is overbought in the short term, but a sustained move below ZAR35,000 would be required to check medium-term scope for additional upside.

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