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More Peak Shale: World’s Largest Miner Is Selling Its Shale Assets

August 22, 2017 Tyler Durden 0

Over the past several months, we have wondered if despite new all time high shale production, whether the US shale sector in the has peaked. Some of our recent thoughts can be found in the following articles:

The “peak shale” narrative got a boost in late July when one of the world’s most bearish hedge funds, Horseman Global, announced it was aggressively shorting shale companies on the thesis that funding is about to “run dry”, resulting in a sharp drop in production and with the lack of capex, would lead to another round of industry defaults (while sending the price of oil higher).

More evidence was revealed in the latest Baker Hughes data, which showed that both active Horizontal and Permian oil rigs had finally peaked and were now declining, while the number of oil rigs funded by Public junk bond deals had plateaued, suggesting little interest in future funding:

Fast forward to today when overnight, we got the clearest indication yet that the US shale sector may have indeed have peaked, when BHP Billiton – the world’s largest miner – said it was in talks with potential buyers of its U.S. shale assets, purchased during a frenzied $20 billion buying spree in 2011, just as the price of oil peaked.

“We’re talking to many parties and we’re hopeful” of completing a small number of trade sales to divest the onshore oil and gas division, Chief Executive Officer Andrew Mackenzie told Bloomberg Television Tuesday in an interview, adding that the moves on shale and potash aren’t the result of shareholder pressure. “We have been moving in this direction for some time” on shale.

As Bloomberg adds, BHP’s strategic pull-back by comes after new Chairman Ken MacKenzie, who starts his job next month, met more than a hundred investors in recent weeks in Australia, the U.S. and the U.K. in the wake of the campaign by some shareholders calling for reform.

BHP’s admission that there is no more upside for its shale assets, in their current form, is a victory for Elliott Singer’s ongoing activist campaign, which has been pushing for a disposition of these assets in a vocal activist campaign. According to Singer’s Elliott Management, strategic missteps by BHP’s leadership, including in the shale unit, have destroyed $40 billion in value; Elliott launched its public campaign seeking a range of reforms in April.

Admitting that Elliott is right, during a call with analysts, CEO Mackenzie said BHP’s 2011 shale deals had been too costly, poorly timed and the eighth-largest producer in U.S. shale didn’t deliver the expected returns. That said, if the company expected oil prices to rebound, or if the shale assets to become sufficient productive where they would generate positive returns, he would hardly have sold them. Which is why in the current configuration of prices and technology, at least one major player in the space has confirmed that shale’s euphoric days may be over.

This was confirmed by Macquarie Wealth Management Division Director Martin Lakos who said that BHP likely concluded the shale and Jansen assets were “not going to generate the returns that is going to make the grade,” although he added that “it’s most likely the Elliott activity has accelerated the shale sales process.”

BHP’s disposition of shale has been a long time coming:

Discussions among BHP shareholders have been dominated by concerns over shale and potash, according to Craig Evans, a portfolio manager at Tribeca Investments Partners Pty, which holds the producer’s shares. Tribeca and other investors have also pressed the case with BHP directly, he said.

 

“Elliott put the first balls in motion on this in calling them to task,” Evans said. “It’s no coincidence that we’re talking about those issues now.”

 

Investors including AMP Capital, Schroders Plc, Escala Partners and Sydney-based Tribeca have added to criticism of BHP, or offered support for some of Elliott’s proposals, in recent weeks. Elliott didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on BHP’s decisions on shale and potash

Some believe that BHP timed its asset sale at just the right time: “BHP are going to get better value than they would have two years ago after the surge in crude oil price from last year’s 12-year low,” David Lennox, an analyst at Fat Prophets, said on Bloomberg TV. The company has “probably picked an opportune time because we’ve seen the oil price come up from a bottom,” he said.

Of course, a much bigger question is whether the potential buyer will agree, as any acquiror will be purchasing not on current or historical prices, but where they expect oil prices to go in the future. As such, the big wildcard is shale’s access to cheap funding, which for the past 3 years has been the only factor that mattered not only for the US oil industry, but also for OPEC, whose repeated attempts to push the price of oil higher has been foiled every single time thanks to record low junk debt yields and an investor base that will oversubscribe every single shale offering. Well, as we showed last month, that is now ending as bond investors have suddenly turned quite skittish, and the result is that US shale production has not only peaked but is once again declining. While it remains to be seen how the overall industry will respond, if indeed we have hit “peak shale”, OPEC’s long awaited moment of redemption may finally be here.

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A 3% Drop Is All It Takes…

August 22, 2017 Tyler Durden 0

A 2.8% drop in stocks is all it takes…

…to convert sheer near full euphoria into outright panic

Source: CNNMoney

Quite a collapse in confidence for a ‘blip’ in stocks… (NOTE – this collapse in sentiment is bigger and faster than the plunge in Aug 2015 following China’s devaluation and the US flash crash)

 

At the same time, the ‘plunge’ in stocks has hammered BofAML’s Global Panic-Euphoria index out of ‘Euphoria’…

On a global basis, put-call ratios signal less euphoria than a month ago, and volatility has risen, taking Global Risk-love indicator from a protracted period in euphoria to barely inside the neutral zone.

With most of CNN’s Fear & Greed factors suddenly flashing “Extreme Fear”…

 

But there’s just one big caveat – almost 40% of the S&P 500 members are now trading below their 200-day moving-averages…

 

And that is what years of Central Bank conditioning does for investors’ risk appetites.

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Why billionaire investors like Warren Buffett are chasing after this energy investment

August 22, 2017 crude oil 0

The steady, reliable income from electricity transmission businesses is attractive to investors like Warren Buffett.

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Treasury Slaps Sanctions On China, Russia Entities And Individuals Over North Korea

August 22, 2017 Tyler Durden 0

In a move that is certain to infuriate China further and result in another deterioration in diplomatic relations between Washington and Beijing, moments ago the United States slapped both Chinese and Russian entities and individuals with new sanctions in the Trump administration’s escalating attempts to pressure North Korea to relent and stop its nuclear program and occasional missile launches.

The Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control said it would target 10 entities and six individuals who help already sanctioned people who aid North Korea’s missile program or “deal in the North Korean energy trade.” The U.S. also aims to sanction people and groups that allow North Korean entities to access the U.S. financial system or helps its exportation of workers, according to the Treasury:

The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated 10 entities and six individuals in response to North Korea’s ongoing development of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), violations of United Nations (UN) Security Council Resolutions, and attempted evasion of U.S. sanctions.  Today’s sanctions target third-country companies and individuals that (1) assist already-designated persons who support North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs, (2) deal in the North Korean energy trade, (3) facilitate its exportation of workers, and (4) enable sanctioned North Korean entities to access the U.S. and international financial systems

As a result of the latest action, “any property or interests in property of the designated persons in the possession or control of U.S. persons or within the United States must be blocked, and U.S. persons are generally prohibited from dealing with them.”

Speaking on today’s sanctions, Steven Mnuchin who, or rather whose wife today is in the news for an entirely different reason, made the following statement:

“Treasury will continue to increase pressure on North Korea by targeting those who support the advancement of nuclear and ballistic missile programs, and isolating them from the American financial system,” said Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin. 

 

“It is unacceptable for individuals and companies in China, Russia, and elsewhere to enable North Korea to generate income used to develop weapons of mass destruction and destabilize the region.  We are taking actions consistent with UN sanctions to show that there are consequences for defying sanctions and providing support to North Korea, and to deter this activity in the future.”

Among the companies sanctions in regards to North Korea’s “WMD program” are the following:

OFAC designated China-based Dandong Rich Earth Trading Co., Ltd. for its support to UN- and U.S.-designated Korea Kumsan Trading Corporation, an entity OFAC previously designated for being owned or controlled by, or acting or purporting to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, the UN- and U.S.-designated General Bureau of Atomic Energy, which is responsible for North Korea’s nuclear program.  Dandong Rich Earth Trading Co., Ltd. has purchased vanadium ore from Korea Kumsan Trading Corporation.  UNSCR 2270 prohibits North Korea’s exports of vanadium ore, and requires member states like China to prohibit the procurement of vanadium ore from North Korea.

 

OFAC designated Gefest-M LLC and its director, Russian national Ruben Kirakosyan, for support to the UN- and U.S.-designated Korea Tangun Trading Corporation, also known as Korea Kuryonggang Trading Corporation, which is subordinate to the UN- and U.S.-designated Second Academy of Natural Sciences, an entity involved in North Korea’s WMD and missile programs.  Gefest-M LLC, a company based in Moscow, has been involved in the procurement of metals for Korea Tangun Trading Corporation’s Moscow office.

 

OFAC also designated China- and Hong Kong-based Mingzheng International Trading Limited (“Mingzheng”).  Mingzheng acts as a front company for UN- and U.S.-designated Foreign Trade Bank (FTB), and it has provided financial services to FTB by, among other things, conducting U.S.-dollar denominated transactions on behalf of FTB.  FTB is North Korea’s primary foreign exchange bank; it was designated by the United Nations on August 5, 2017 as part of UNSCR 2371.  OFAC designated FTB in 2013 for facilitating transactions on behalf of North Korea’s proliferation network, including for UN- and U.S.-designated Korea Mining Development Corporation and Korea Kwangson Banking Corporation.  On June 29, 2017, OFAC designated Mingzheng’s owner, Sun Wei.

The Treasury also designated three Chinese coal companies collectively responsible for importing nearly half a billion dollars’ worth of North Korean coal between 2013 and 2016.  Dandong Zhicheng Metallic Materials Co., Ltd. (“Zhicheng”), JinHou International Holding Co., Ltd., and Dandong Tianfu Trade Co., Ltd. have sold, supplied, transferred, or purchased coal or metal, directly or indirectly, from North Korea, and the revenue may have benefitted the nuclear or ballistic missile programs of the Government of North Korea or the Workers’ Party of Korea.  JinHou International Holding Co., Ltd. and Dandong Tianfu Trade Co., Ltd. also were designated for operating in the mining industry in the North Korean economy.

Meanwhile, top U.S. officials have said they do not want to take military action against North Korea unless it is a last resort, and as a result getting China to cooperate is seen as a key part of a diplomatic solution.

Of course, what this latest round of sanctions will achieve, is to further anger Beijing and the local population, in the process making a diplomatic solution even more unlikely and “forcing” America’s ruling Generals, Kelly and McMaster to launch the first “preemptive” shot against Pyongyang.

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Venezuela’s Grim Reaper – A Weekly Report

August 22, 2017 Steve H. Hanke 0

Authored by Steve H. Hanke of the Johns Hopkins University. Follow him on Twitter @Steve_Hanke.

The Grim Reaper has taken his scythe to the Venezuelan bolivar. The death of the bolivar is depicted in the following chart. A bolivar is worthless, and with its collapse, Venezuela is witnessing the world’s worst inflation. 

As the bolivar collapsed and inflation accelerated, the Banco Central de Venezuela (BCV) became an unreliable source of inflation data. Indeed, from December 2014 until January 2016, the BCV did not report inflation statistics. Then, the BCV pulled a rabbit out of its hat in January 2016 and reported a phony annual inflation rate for the third quarter of 2015. So, the last official inflation data by the BCV is almost two years old. To remedy this problem, the Johns Hopkins – Cato Institute Troubled Currencies Project, which I direct, began to measure inflation in 2013. 

The most important price in an economy is the exchange rate between the local currency and the world’s reserve currency — the U.S. dollar. As long as there is an active black market (read: free market) for currency and the black market data are available, changes in the black market exchange rate can be reliably transformed into accurate estimates of countrywide inflation rates. The economic principle of Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) allows for this transformation.

I compute the implied annual inflation rate on a daily basis by using PPP to translate changes in the VEF/USD exchange rate into an annual inflation rate. The chart below shows the course of that annual rate, which peaked at 1823% (yr/yr) in early August 2017. At present, Venezuela’s annual inflation rate is 1538%, the highest in the world (see the chart below).

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Gartman: “We Are A Bit Uneasy This Morning Being Short”

August 22, 2017 Tyler Durden 0

Just two weeks after he staked his reputation that “The Bull Market Has Come To An End“, “world-renowned” commodity guru Dennis Gartman is getting nervous, and as he writes in his latest daily letter, “we
are a bit uneasy this morning being short.

Here is how Gartman is slowly but surely pivoting away from his “red-line” bearish call on stocks:

STOCKS HAVE RISEN A BIT SINCE YESTERDAY with our International Index having gained a marginal 19 points, with stocks in Asia moving sharply higher while stocks in Europe were weak. However, the markets in Asia are responding to what we perceive to be the best speech given yet by Mr. Trump last evening in which he made clear that the US will not stand down from its obligations abroad.

 

Heretofore, President Trump… influenced of course by the manifestly anti-globalist philosophies of Mr. Bannon… seemed intent upon reducing the US position of global authority, but last evening that philosophy was abandoned, and with that the Asia stock markets and the US stock index futures turned briskly higher.

 

Also, we note that the Fear & Greed Index here in the US made its way toward and below the all-important 20 level, having fallen to 15 as of the close yesterday and almost certainly to turn higher today given the strength in the stock index futures as we write. Previously, any time this index fell below 20 and turned higher, stocks which had been under pressure swiftly turned for the better and although the world’s stock market histories do not always follow the precise paths each time, they do have great and constant similarities.

And the resultant trade adjustment:

2. Short of Two Units of the NASDAQ 100; Long of Two Units of the S&P:

We began the trade Tuesday, August 1st with the ratio at 2.37:1 and we added to the position on Friday, August 11th with the ratio at precisely the same level. It closed last evening at 2.38:1.

 

We’ve reduced our “risk” point to 2.42:1 on a closing basis in New York and we’ll look for the ratio to make its way down to 2.15:1… noting that each 0.1% is a material shift in price, but we are a bit uneasy this morning being short.

It would appear that the bull market is back on again, as for Gartman’s stake reputation, well… he puts it best: 

We are out of the office today, on the road home from Cookeville, Tennessee where we witnessed the Eclipse yesterday… however, we were actually about 5 miles from the perfect dead center of the event, but what we saw was spectacular! We’ll be back in the office late this afternoon for we are driving back home rather than flying.

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Mexico’s shale-rich Burgos Basin opens to private investment for the first time

August 22, 2017 Today in Energy 0

In July 2017, Mexico’s national energy ministry (SENER) opened the onshore portion of the Burgos Basin, a shale-rich basin in northeastern Mexico, for natural gas exploration and development by private companies. This is the first time non-state entities were offered access to the Burgos Basin for development since the creation of the national oil company Petróleos Mexicanos (PEMEX) in 1938.

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