throwing lifeline to oil independents
Zukiman Mohamad /WEF
Latin America oil and gas Independent oil producers get help to cushion the blow from the crisis afflicting the oil industry.
By Patricia Garip, Nathan Walters and Lucien Chauvin/Argus
Petroleumworld 04 27 2020
Some Latin American countries are starting to ease upstream contract commitments as a lifeline for independent oil producers, the segment of the industry hardest hit by the crash in crude prices.
Brazil's hydrocarbons regulator ANP granted a nine-month extension on the exploration phase of upstream licenses. The extension covers dozens of concessions and production-sharing contracts awarded in 10 upstream auctions held since 2017.
The ANP also eased some natural gas flaring limits for small producers and extended reporting deadlines, among other measures contained in a pair of emergency resolutions published this week.
In Colombia, hydrocarbons regulator ANH authorized one-year extensions on contract phases, with the possibility of one six-month renewal.
Petitions for extensions are contingent on an average WTI price below $40/bl.
The ANH initiative also eased conditions for requisite bank guarantees and letters of credit. The ANH relief package comes on top of the finance ministry's emergency provision for accelerated recovery of value-added and income tax receivables.
Independent oil producers in Colombia say the relief does not go far enough to offset the collapse in oil prices prompted by the Saudi Arabia-Russia price war and exacerbated by the economic slump stemming from global Covid-19 containment measures. Oil chamber ACP yesterday called on the government to order a reduction in oil pipeline tariffs , which it says far exceed the international average.
In Peru, hydrocarbons regulator PeruPetro on 19 April called on the energy ministry to postpone royalty payments for 90 days. The ministry has not yet responded.
The Peruvian Hydrocarbons Society, which represents private-sector oil and gas companies, made the same request earlier in the month. The group also wants the ministry to suspend contractual commitments for seismic and drilling, as well as to provide flexibility for paying taxes through July.
Latin American oil and gas activity is dominated by national oil companies, such as Brazil's Petrobras, Colombia's Ecopetrol, Argentina's YPF and Mexico's Pemex, whose market scale, integrated operations and strategic economic roles help to cushion the blow from the crisis afflicting the oil industry.
Independent oil companies are more exposed to the volatility. Among the regional producers that benefit from the relief measures are Chile-based GeoPark, which has slashed its 2020 capital spending by 60pc-65pc to $70mn-$80mn from as much as $210mn. The firm operates in Colombia, Peru, Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Ecuador.
Canadian independent Frontera, which has assets in Colombia, Peru, Ecuador and Guyana, has reduced 2020 capex by 60pc to $130mn-$150mn. Fellow Canadian firm Gran Tierra Energy, which operates in Colombia and Ecuador, said on 16 April that it has shut in about 2,500 b/d of Colombian output and is adjusting its capex and operating costs.