This morning, we’ve published our monthly analysts’ forecast for oil prices. The prognosis: Prices will inch up in the first half of the year, though there are worries over U.S.-China trade talks. Stakeholders in the shale firm PDC are seeking to force the company to align investor pay with profitability amid a broader push by shareholders to get drillers to mind their bottom line. Cyber hackers linked to oil-rich Iran have been busy infiltrating energy firms and other sectors in the past years, reports the Journal.
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OIL PRICE FORECASTS HOLD STEADY FOR 2019
Banks in February left their forecasts for oil prices in 2019 unchanged from January’s projections. They anticipate an uptick in crude’s value through the first half of the year due to production cuts and geopolitical risks to global supply, writes the Journal’s Christopher Alessi.
Brent crude, the global oil benchmark, is expected to continue to average over $67 a barrel in 2019, according to a poll of 11 investment banks conducted by The Wall Street Journal.
West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. oil standard, is expected to average nearly $60 a barrel this year, the poll showed. Both estimates are in line with last month’s bank forecasts.
“Oil prices will gradually rise through Q3 on the back of producer supply cuts engaged by OPEC and its non-OPEC allies, alongside involuntary output reductions in countries that face supply risks like Venezuela, Libya or Nigeria,” said Harry Tchilinguirian, head of commodity research at BNP Paribas. “The move up in oil prices is, however, predicated on macroeconomic risk tied to U.S.-China trade tensions remaining at bay,” he added.
Investors zeroed in on the production cuts led by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies, which pushed up oil prices early on Thursday morning.
Brent crude, the global oil benchmark, was trading up 0.97% at $66.63 a barrel on London’s Intercontinental Exchange.West Texas Intermediate futures, the U.S. oil standard, were up 0.69% at $55.61 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
ACTIVIST TAKES AIM AT SHALE CEO’S PAY
A shareholder activist aims to challenge the way the oil producer PDC Energy pays its executives, as part of a broader push by investors to force U.S. shale firms to focus more on profitability than on production growth, writes the WSJ’s Ryan Dezember.
Kimmeridge Energy Management Co., which last month disclosed a 5.1% stake in PDC, plans to put forth a slate of directors as soon as Thursday to challenge the three board members whose terms expire this year, according to people familiar with the matter. Denver-based PDC’s chief executive, Barton Brookman, is among those up for re-election.
Kimmeridge said it wants the company to align executive compensation more with shareholder returns than production growth.
The firm also said it planned to advocate for a dividend, exploration of potential deals with rivals and a reduction of administrative costs at PDC, which operates in Colorado and West Texas fields. It has a market value of about $2.5 billion.
Kimmeridge’s urgings are an example of a wider push by investors to wean shale drillers from the growth-at-all-costs mentality that has swamped commodity markets and produced modest returns for shareholders in recent years.
IRAN-LINKED HACKERS HIT HUNDREDS OF COMPANIES IN PAST TWO YEARS
Cyberattackers linked to major oil-producer Iran have targeted thousands of people at more than 200 companies over the past two years, according to Microsoft.
Iran aspires to join Russia and China as one of the world’s premier cyber powers, security researchers say.
Hackers originating in the Islamic Republic have used a series of methods to breach computer systems writes, the Journal’s Robert McMillan.
In a phishing email sent to a victim and viewed by the WSJ, a group of attackers known as Holmium copied a legitimate job advertisement from a Saudi Arabian oil-and-gas company and sent it to a worker with oil-industry expertise.
When clicked on, the email led to a website that then attempted to download malicious software onto the victim’s computer.
Another Iranian-linked group also has hit more than 200 government agencies, oil-and-gas companies and technology companies including Citrix Systems, according to the security firm Resecurity International.
Iran “denies any involvement in cybercrimes against any nation,” said a spokesman for Iran’s mission to the United Nations in an email.
HSBC URGED TO RESTRICT COAL FINANCING
A group of HSBC Holdings shareholders have called on HSBC Bank to stop financing coal power projects in Bangladesh, Vietnam and Indonesia, reports the Journal’s Maitane Sardon. The shareholders represent $1 trillion in assets either under management or stewardship.
In a letter, the group highlights the knock-on effects of investing in banks that are still tied up in coal as legislation clamps down on fossil fuels and the energy mix moves toward cleaner energy sources.
Coal is still used to generate a lion share of the world’s electricity. Rising carbon emissions have been linked to global warming.
BIG NUMBER: $3.5 BILLION
That’s the estimated size of a long expected share buyback program at Russian oil producer Lukoil. UBS analysts forecast that Lukoil will buyback $3.5 billion worth of shares, instead of its earlier estimate of $3 billion. UBS has a buy rating on the stock and a share-price target of $95 a share, writes Oliver Griffin for the Dow Jones Newswires.
Friday: Baker Hughes releases its weekly rig count on Friday.
March 11-15: The CERAWeek energy conference takes place in Houston. Speakers include U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry and BP Chief Executive Bob Dudley.
March 12: The U.S. Energy Information Administration releases its Short-Term Energy Outlook on
- Interest rates will stay low for 20 years, says Bank of England expert
- Global economy not strong to absorb oil price at $100/barrel —IEA
- Oil prices rise as China agrees to more U.S. energy purchases
- Oil prices slip on concerns U.S.-China trade deal may not boost demand
- Oil prices dip as Mideast tensions ease; market eyes trade deal
- Oil prices slip on concerns US-China trade deal may not boost demand
- Oil Prices Down 5% on Year Amid Supply Worries
- Oil prices to keep steady till Iran tension subsides: Jonathan Barratt, Probis Securities
- Oil prices gain on Libya, Iraq supply worries
- Oil prices rise ahead of trade deal, likely stock draw