WTI $51.91 +27c, Brent $57.93 +6c, Diff $6.02 -21c, NG $2.51 n/c

Oil price

Traders I have spoken to this morning called yesterday turgid but at least it stayed in the range, it may not do that today as we have an avalanche of economic data to assess. Plenty of Euro data including UK inflation, in the US it is retail sales which should post the first good month of the year but all eyes will be on China. Last night saw their BoP data which looked truly awful as the weak import number at -12.7% was trumped by worse export stats which fell 15% against expectations of a rise. This left the monthly balance at +$3.1bn against a forecast of nearer $40bn, surely shome mishtake…We will probably find out more tonight as we get GDP figures for the 1st quarter, expectations are around 6.9% against 7.3% last quarter so watch this space.

Opec didnt offer any succour as their bulletin hit out at the other 70% by saying that ‘Non-Opec producers are adopting a go-it-alone attitude with scant regard for the consequences’. Saudi Arabia compounded the situation by saying that it would only cut if everyone else did and that they were transparent, so somewhere between no hope and Bob Hope I would say.

Finally on sanctions you will have noticed that Russia and Iran are getting to be big time wily and have worked out that while both are on the receiving end of the controls there is no reason to stop one selling another a massive air defence system, I heard someone call the US State Department chumps recently…. Bring in Frank Underwood I say.

Wood Group

Further business with EnQuest today for Wood Group as they sign a new 5 year contract across a range of engineering services for Thistle, Heather and Northern Producer offshore assets in the North Sea. The agreement includes extension options for a further five years. At 682p Wood shares are 30% off the bottom after results and presentations from the company have allayed fears of a melt-down in oil service plays such as them. A chartist would tell you that should the rise continue, closing over 700p would be very bullish indeed with the next stop being 760p.

Gulfsands Petroleum

Gulfsands has announced that it has removed Mahdi Sajjad from his position as CEO ‘as permitted by the company’s Articles of Association’. He remains a director of the company and Alastair Beardsall has been appointed Executive Chairman. Gulfsands will now ‘evaluate the company’s strategic options and related funding requirements’ and seek consensus with the board and shareholders. As Waterford is a 28% shareholder the new Chairman is not considered to be independent and so a new non-executive director has been proposed who has no connection with Waterford, we look forward to finding out who this might be. The main asset of the company is in Syria and whilst Mr Beardsall knows it inside out, having been a partner in Emerald Oil days, even he cant resurrect it in the foreseeable future. Accordingly one must assume that under the above evaluations the answers are, strategic options, few and funding requirements, substantial as Morocco is the only other asset with any potential and that is far from profitable at present. I’m sure someone will tell me why having gone to the trouble of having a full vote to get rid of the CEO and failing, why now it is easy just to ‘remove’ him, maybe shareholders have gone over to Waterford’s camp, if so they had better get their cheque books out because there is a fund raising on the way post the Vitol cash withdrawal.

Sundry

Aminex has announced results today but as usual they are not of any real significance and no surprises. 2014 was a year of consolidating its assets which are of good quality and they raised money, trimmed their holding in Kiliwani North and completed the gas pipeline with the sales line being connected.  This is a very promising time for the Company, with a line of sight to first commercial production from Kiliwani North and ongoing appraisal of the Ntorya discovery.  Patience has been a virtue with Aminex and i’m sure that CEO Jay Bhattacherjee would be first to admit that the current state of the market hasn’t helped but at the moment I think that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Elsewhere like everybody else I heard stories about T5 Oil & Gas being rumoured to be reversing into GKP, everybody else has been mentioned so why not believe this but the Tullow were never huge in Kurdistan…

And I have had it pointed out to me that for Argos it is a 5% gross royalty not net, so that’s ok then, apparently the company are out on the road so I look forward to hearing the story about the seismic which I am told is top notch.

Its not difficult to spot on the front page of the FT about further tax demands and investigations by the Indian authorities, after Cairn and Vodafone it is now Aberdeen Asset Management. I have mentioned before that the broom that was due to be administered by Mr Modi hasn’t appeared to have worked and unless he can do something about it inward investment will rapidly come to a standstill, India was never an easy place for the oil industry it is now getting close to being closed for business.

And finally…

The test match in Antigua started badly for England, having taken out a specialist opening batsman the selectors reverted to form and picked an old mate in an out of position slot, what Adam Lyth must be thinking god only knows, ditto picking Treaders who has waited five years for his third cap or is it three years for his fifth cap, either way its selectorial madness comme d’habitude…and another Yorkshire player on the sidelines.At least it got better in the end with Bell, Root and Stokes ladling on the runs as one might expect an a motorway.

The HubCap Stealers beat the Magpies last night and genuinely harbour plans to take 4th spot still, can it be that the Noisy Neighbours dont make Europe?Tonight in the Champignans League with of course no representation from the UK its the Madrid derby, worth a detour as they say…

So on the apology front I have to admit that I neglected to mention either of the boat races easily won by Oxford, again, every so often it is competitive but pardon me for forgetting such a sporting bonanza…

And also the Oxford attack in cricket was being taken apart at the Parks, not the Fenners!