image004WTI $94.01 +14c ; Brent $104.05 +22c ; Natural Gas $3.13 n/c

Good morning

Smart out of the blocks today as despite the Yuletide we have much to do and little time to do it in!

EU leaders are ‘comme d’habitude’ leaving decision making to the last minute with $200bn worth of bilateral loans due to be paid to the IMF by the 19TH of December, eek, that’s today they will be saying ahead of another summit of leaders tomorrow.

The oil price remains in Goldilocks territory a touch easier this morning but in very thin trade, there has been no further flare-up around Iran and no knock on effects from the death of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il either.

Fridays Baker-Hughes rig count was most interesting with a bumper pre-Christmas rise of 32 rigs which is amazing and very good indeed for service companies who supply drillers with downhole technology etc. It is worth noting that both Hunting and Weir Group who are natural beneficiaries of this news have drifted back recently and this provides another excellent buying opportunity.

News from Kazakhstan is that following the sacking of 989 oil workers there are demonstrations on the streets and that riot police are out in force in the oil capital Aktau and in the Mangistau region in general.

To company news, Woodside has delayed the FID for Browse by 6 months+ in order to ‘better evaluate the outcomes of front-end engineering and design work and the results of the tender processes for the development’s major contracts’. I would never have guessed that a project such as this would need such things as tenders and contracts………….Others in Browse are Chevron, BP,BHP and Shell.

Fortune Oil has announced that Bluesky Aviation is extending the number of airports it serves to thirty which will mean a doubling over five years. As a major contributor to the company’s revenues, Bluesky should continue to be a key part of Fortunes earnings and we continue to believe that this is one of the few ways to be exposed to the accelerating Far East market.

Petroceltic is a favourite of the blog and today we are delighted that they have received approval for the farm-in by ENEL into their Algerian acreage. Petroceltic will receive $103m immediately and $35-40m in Q3 2012. This will adequately fund the company although it wouldn’t surprise me if the company farmed out more of Algeria as it is becoming so big that success carries with it a disproportionate portfolio weighting, the company has exciting acreage in Kurdistan and Italy as well. This stock is a real contender for the Malcy Christmas list of stocks I want in my stocking to be published on Friday..

Xcite announced on Friday afternoon a number of funding arrangements which are intended to finance the first phase of Bentley and also hope to quieten down the fractious shareholders, it might take more than this and it certainly won’t be on my Christmas list.

Amerisur has applied for three permits to drill in Paraguay which the company hopes to get approval for in early 2012.

Parkmead Group has acquired 20% of four blocks in the Southern North Sea which contain a gas discovery and exploration acreage and are nearby to recently purchased acreage by the company.

Finally, another of the blogs favourites, Gulf Keystone is up 22% as we speak and crucially above the 200p level after a London Sunday newspaper suggested that Exxon was about to bid, another big contender for the Christmas list although a number of my favourites are clearly anticipating being on my wish list!

And finally, today is the beginning of the blog Christmas week and if there is a shortage of news I intend to use the space to comment on some of the most exciting and gut wrenchingly embarrassing clips from the year to date, you probably know who you are!