Are we set for a rerun of the 1997 Asian Financial crisis? Well, as Mark Twain said once, history does not repeat itself but it rhymes. The current turmoil does strikingly resemble that of the original 1997 Asian financial crisis. However, unlike the 1997 crisis, today’s circumstances are quite different.
Asian Financial Crisis of 1997
What initiated the Asian financial crisis back in the 90s? Well, it was the culmination of many things. Primarily, though it was the inability of Asian and other emerging economies to finance themselves. This was generally due to large current account deficits which led emerging markets to accumulate foreign debt. Eventually, they become dependent on foreign creditors.
The Energy Report: Looking back to your last interview with The Energy Report in November, you seem to have called the bottom in gas prices correctly. What's your view of where things are headed now?
Robert Cooper: We expect a reasonably robust pricing scenario ahead. Here's why: In 2013, we will likely see flat natural gas supply growth; this will be the first year in the last several that this will be the case. The natural gas rig count is at 350, the lowest since 1995. The declining rig count has taken its toll on almost every U.S. shale basin; the only basin that's growing is the Marcellus, and it is growing partly because infrastructure constraints are being alleviated. Unless productivity undergoes another massive step higher, or drilling time is cut in half again, rig count matters as a predictor of natural gas production levels. Natural gas liquids (NGL) prices are weak, and this impacts the ability of explorers and producers (EPs) to reinvest at the same level as even a year ago. This further reduces the probability that capital will be redeployed to dry gas plays.
The Energy Report: It's been about one year since we last spoke, Robert. What do you think have been the most significant developments in the North American oil and gas industry since then?
Robert Cooper: It's a dynamic business, and a number of changes have occurred. First, the macroeconomic backdrop remains murky, resulting in persistent volatility in equity and commodity markets. Investors remain wary of putting on riskier trades because the visibility simply isn't there. The fear that some Monday morning we'll wake up with a negative surprise is inhibiting risk taking and impacting small-cap growth equities, particularly.
"The winners tend to be experienced managers with proven track records."
Second, the rapid increase in U.S. oil production has negatively impacted Canadian producer net-backs. The spread between Canadian light oil prices and the U.S. equivalent has been much more volatile than historical rates. The lack of pipeline capacity has exacerbated this trend and given rise to alternative methods of transportation, such as oil-by-rail. But overall, the "differential risk" has been added to the list of risk factors investors assume when investing in the oil and gas sector.
The Energy Report: Let's start with Kurdistan, Lionel. It's one of the hottest countries in the world for oil and gas exploration, especially in terms of production share contracts. A few prescient firms, such as WesternZagros Resources Ltd. (WZR:TSX.V) and Genel Energy Plc (GENL:LSE) control promising properties in Kurdistan. What's the back story?
Lionel Therond: Prospects have never been better for players in Kurdistan. The key factor has been the recent entry of Turkey into the export debate. Allow me to explain: Turkey has an energy-hungry economy ready to buy oil and gas production directly from Kurdistan as long as the physical routes exist for exports. In response, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has started building pipelines toward Turkey, which should be operational at the end of 2013/early 2014.
"International majors are voting with their feet and entering Kurdistan."
That was a paradigm change. We had been waiting three years for an agreement between the KRG and the Iraqi federal government on the commercial conditions for exports, and Baghdad's initial stance was to declare all licenses in Kurdistan illegal. But with new export routes that could potentially bypass Iraqi territory and lead directly into Turkey, Baghdad's agreement is no longer necessary, which has brought the Iraqi government back to the negotiating table. Continue reading "Africa and Kurdistan Show Great Oil and Gas Potential: Lionel Therond"→
September crude oil was lower overnight due to renewed concerns over Europe's debt crisis along with warnings from China that its economy is also slowing down more that previously expected. Stochastics and the RSI have turned bearish with the decline off last Thursday's high signaling that sideways to lower prices are possible near-term. Closes below the 20-day moving average crossing at 85.43 would confirm that a short-term top has been posted. Continue reading "Energy Market Commentary"→