WTI $97.34 +42c, Brent $105.44 +85c, Diff $8.10, NG $3.88 -6c

Oil price

The announcement last night that Barry has approved air strikes on ISIS in Iraq in order to protect US personnel in Erbil and to defend the Yezidi people forced out of Zumar and Singar has woken up the oil market, Marcus will be pleased.  The above prices are last nights close which just caught the announcement, this morning WTI is $98.12 and Brent is $106.33 as I write, a little better again. The news that ISIS were getting closer to Erbil rattled a number of people and Exxon and Chevron were reportedly evacuating personnel, Afren suspended operations at Barda Rash and of course share prices in Kurdistan operators dropped sharply yesterday. Brent hasn’t really kicked on significantly today but it will if the USA get busy with the air strikes which one must expect and of course having fallen $11, scope for a bounce of any sort is more than likely. Fundamentally of course things are still pushing downwards and before the White House announcement Brent had fallen through the $104 level and would have closed below it if it were not for Barry.


Figures yesterday from Amec were fairly predictable with lower reported numbers due to currency and of course the decline in Canadian oilsands work. The good news was that the order book is up 9% at 4.2bn and margins are ‘stable’ but guidance has been trimmed for this year from ‘good’ to ‘modest’ growth. Also good was work in power generation and environment consultancy and underlying growth is +4% adjusting for currency. The Foster Wheeler acquisition completion has slipped a quarter to Q4 this year due to the mountain of paperwork, CFO says next year Amec will be a different beast.

I advised taking money off the table in Amec when they got above 1200p and I certainly wouldn’t be going back in any time soon. Apart from the currency there must be some teething troubles to come as I am sure FW will not be a smooth process but the underlying Amec business should provide defensive qualities, I am just not sure that is what investors want at the moment. One should not forget the sorry state that the company got into over the botched Kentz non-bid, they might have got that at a touch over 500p which showed corporate naivety.  Watch this space as these figures signal the start of the UK services results season.

Northern Petroleum

A Canadian update yesterday from Northern, this is important as they have had to make this their lead portfolio play at the moment. The update announced the spudding of the first well of three in the autumn programme, the final one will be over by October. From a low base it is not inconceivable that Northern might produce 500 barrels a day before too long out of Canada which is more than the market expects and would produce meaningful revenue. Remember sales of oil get $90 and netbacks of around $40 would pay plenty of bills and further investment needed, lots of wells will be drilled here. The company has a cash balance of $22m before the $2.5m proceeds of the UK acreage announced recently. The shares, like a number of others have fallen lately but their main shareholders are supportive and at 21p as we enter the drilling season, might be an attractive entry point, after all the market cap is only £20m at this level.

Gulf Keystone

Shares in all the Kurdistan plays unsurprisingly fell yesterday and again this morning and will undoubtedly be precarious whilst battle rages nearer by than Tony Hayward thought only a few days away. It is pointless trying to fine tune timings on this but unless Kurdistan is overrun the game is still on. The company announced a couple of Non-Executive appointments yesterday, normally something that would fill me with foreboding but one of them was most interesting. Joining the board is one Joseph Stanislaw, an international oil consultant who spent a lot of time with CERA and now of his own parish but who is verging on the legendary in oil circles. I have known Joe for over 30 years and if anyone can single handedly bring more industry knowledge, contacts and sophistication to the GKP board it is him. He has picked a hard time to join but if this difficulty clears up then he will add much to the company.


Still waiting to hear what Tangiers have to say, shares are still suspended by the looks of it, makes a change from being in free fall I guess.

Poor old Shell, they cant do right for apparently doing wrong… Asked to sponsor the local music festival in Ireland they put up the money and when they had done so they were told to take their money back and spud off. The Fleadh Cheoil na hEireann festival happily took the money before being held to ransom by campaign group ‘Shell to Sea’ who threatened to protest when the President arrived to open the show. The ultimate irony is that one of the other sponsors is RPS group who designed the Corrib pipeline that protesters are complaining about….

And finally…

At the test match yesterday England bowled out India for 150 odd, rather like they should have done at Lords although this time India won the toss and batted, it could have been worse at 8-4. With 3 down last night England aren’t exactly running away with it but should do well enough.

In the PGA Lee Westwood leads but having stopped tipping him about 20 years ago I haven’t done it this time and Rory lurks only one shot behind, it will be a fascinating few days and Ryder Cup places are up for grabs. (Still no sign of invites from Standard Life for Gleneagles yet…)

Whether you like it or not the football season is very much up and running, in particular for the European Cup contests. Last night I’m sad to say that St Johnstone exited as did Aberdeen, Hull City Tigers did get through. But who are the luckiest Scottish club in the world? Celtic who lost the two legs against Legia Warsaw 1-6 and have been awarded the tie after LW fielded an ineligible player. Today sees the next round of the Champions League at which stage the Gooners enter the fray hoping for an easy tie.

Tonight sees the start of the domestic season with Norwich, Cardiff and Fulham in the Championship which wont be easy to get out of except that Stuart Pearce manages one of them.  The aforementioned Gooners play the Noisy Neighbours in the Currency Cup on Sunday and the Prem starts next week. In Switzerland Suarez is at the International Court of Appeal hoping to get off his biting charges.