WTI (Aug) $98.53 -97c, Brent (Sept) $100.69 -$2.08, Diff -$2.16 -$1.11.

USNG (Aug) $5.60 -13c, UKNG (Aug) 300.05p +35.05p, TTF €178.4 + €16.75.

Oil price

Oil has taken a tumble in the last couple of days as worldwide recessionary fears take their toll and as I mentioned yesterday the US bond inversion spooked markets. With the IMF saying that the outlook for the Global economy had ‘darkened  significantly’ the dollar rose again and is now causing grief around the world.

These recessionary fears have led to hedge funds unwinding their positions which were based on the high oil price being an inflation hedge and accordingly the open interest in WTI is the lowest since May 2016.

However this is likely a short term thing, product markets remain tight, demand is strong despite warnings, still +2m b/d increase and stocks are low. The API stats were mixed, crude built 3.8m which is still obfuscated by SPR releases but gasoline drew 1.8m barrels and distillates drew 635/- b’s.

Interestingly Shell in today’s 2Q update have increased their Brent expectations and released $4.5bn worth of write downs already made. This was better than expected and so were the refining margins which are somewhat acceptable…

And of no particular interest to oil markets it seems like the reign of Boris Johnson as UK Prime Minister ends today, newswires are saying that he has spoken to the Queen and will formally resign within the next few hours.

Echo Energy

Echo has provided an operational update regarding its Santa Cruz Sur assets, onshore Argentina for H1 2022 to 30 June 2022. In addition, the Company confirms the agreement by the Santa Cruz Sur partners to a plan to materially increase Santa Cruz Sur production by c.40% above average H1 2022 production levels.

H1 2022 Production and Operational Update

Production over the period from 1 January 2022 to 30 June 2022 has continued to remain strong and reached an aggregate of 261,290 boe net to Echo during the period, including 48,600 bbls of oil and condensate and 1,280 MMscf of gas.

Net liquids production in Q2 2022 averaged 272 bopd, an increase over Q1 levels (Q1 2022: 265bopd) despite, as previously announced, a 35-day maintenance and upgrade programme on the Oceano field during the quarter, when oil and gas production from the field was temporarily brought offline.

Net gas production averaged 6.8 MMscf/d during Q2 2022 (Q1 2022: 7.4 MMscf/d), with Q2 2022 production again impacted as a result of the Oceano field production being brought temporarily offline for maintenance and upgrades to the compressor and associated infrastructure.

As previously announced, the successful upgrade to the compressor was an important and planned operational milestone and has resulted in substantial increases to production from the Oceano field since being being brought back on line, with the full impact expected to be seen in future quarterly production figures.    

Santa Cruz Sur – Production and Infrastructure Enhancement Plan

The Company is additionally pleased to announce that the Santa Cruz Sur joint venture partners have agreed to a detailed plan to materially increase production at Santa Cruz Sur and to improve the quality of sales liquids from the Santa Cruz Sur assets (the “Enhancement Plan”).

Over a six month period, anticipated to commence in Q3 2022, the Santa Cruz Sur partners intend to seek to increase production by approximately 40% from the levels previously achieved over H1 2022. If achieved, the Enhancement Plan would increase total daily production from Santa Cruz Sur to around 2,000 boepd, net to Echo’s 70% interest in Santa Cruz Sur.

Under the newly agreed Enhancement Plan, the Santa Cruz Sur partners will seek to increase production levels through the recommissioning and bringing into production of existing oil wells currently offline. Around 30 or more  wells from the existing well stock are intended to be gradually brought back into production over the six month period utilising an existing pulling rig and field personnel owned and employed by the Santa Cruz Sur joint ventures. The re-opening of the existing wells could increase production levels by up to c. 240 bopd of liquids and 2 MMsf/d of associated gas, net to Echo.

The plan to bring existing wells in to production under the Enhancement Plan is in addition to, and will come ahead of, previously announced intentions regarding identified portfolios of well workover candidates in respect of Santa Cruz Sur resource/reserves not currently in production.

The additional producing wells will be supported by infrastructure upgrades to sustain and contribute to elevated production levels. Intended infrastructure upgrades under the Enhancement Plan will be focussed around three operational priorities.

The first is the installation of additional electrical power generation capacity across the Cerro Molino Oeste, El Indio Oeste and Oceano fields. Installation is anticipated to take a month from commencement. A second set of planned infrastructure improvements will be focused on the maintenance and optimisation of the compressors at Cerro Norte and Campo Bremen to enable the increased volumes of associated gas to be processed and then sold into the main gas export line. This operation is anticipated to take approximately three months from commencement and will be carried out with the intention of minimising any disruption to existing gas production, although some temporary impact is expected.

The third set of infrastructure upgrades will prioritise a substantial increase of quality of Santa Cruz liquid blends. This will be achieved through the  the installation of mercury removal facilities at Cerro Norte. When operational, this facility will enable premium export pricing to be achieved for a higher volume of liquids than is currently the case. During H1 2022, the higher-quality export liquid blends achieved on average a premium of US$ 21 per bbl over lower-quality blends. The operation from installation to commissioning is anticipated to take around four months from commencement.

The Company estimates that, on completion, the aggregate effect of the three sets of infrastructure upgrades described above could, including the up to 240 bopd of liquids and up to 2 MMsf/d of associated gas (net to Echo) that would be expected to be delivered from the well reopening programme, result in up to an additional 600 boepd of production net to the Company.

With the agreement between the Santa Cruz Sur partners as to the Enhancement Plan, the delivery of the intended operations is expected to require an estimated US$2.1 million (gross to 100% Santa Cruz Partnership) to deliver in full over the entire duration of the Enhancement Plan’s implementation and, notwithstanding existing Santa Cruz Sur joint venture creditor balances of an estimated (unaudited) c.$13.9m ($9.7m net to Echo’s 70% interest) as at 30 April 2022, the Santa Cruz Sur partners currently believe that a significant proportion of the cost of the Enhancement Plan can be met from existing, and to be increased, Santa Cruz Sur cash flows.  

In advancing the Enhancement Plan, the Santa Cruz Sur partners intend to engage with the local province in respect of a proposed extension to the term of the Santa Cruz Sur licences.

This Enhancement Plan is the agreed next step for production growth from Santa Cruz Sur and is focused on low-risk infrastructure upgrades to sustain the increased production from existing well stock. In addition, the Santa Cruz Sur  assets includes a portfolio of other opportunities across the risk-reward spectrum and additional cash flows which would be delivered from the implementation of the Enhancement Plan will broaden the scope for portfolio choices in bringing additional existing reserves and resources into production.

Martin Hull, Chief Executive Officer of Echo, commented:

“Following a strong H1 2022 of production, we are pleased to announce an important and material step in the Company’s strategy to deliver organic growth from the Santa Cruz Sur assets. The ability to now materially increase production levels from Santa Cruz Sur is a result of the right choices that were made during the Pandemic creating a strong operational platform on which to build. Having stabilised the business, we are now able to pivot the asset towards the current momentum in commodity prices. By significantly increasing production we drive a virtuous circle of cash flow strengthening our financial position and providing additional potential for future growth. This is underpinned by the strong pipeline of identified opportunities within the Santa Cruz Sur asset base. We look forward to working with our Partners on this and to further update the market as our work programme progresses.”

This is good news for Echo on both fronts, the increase in production due to compressor and infrastructure efficiencies as well as the potential increase with the help of the Santa Cruz Sur partners. 

Whilst these increases will cost the partners and of course Echo themselves, the higher oil and gas prices should more than make up for any of that. After years in the doldrums share price wise, they have had a grim couple of years, this may be the start of a decent rally but 18p is the target from the peak…

And finally…

Firstly an apology, some readers did not get the and finally yesterday, due to fat fingers it went before the section was saved, for those getting it on the website or some other platforms it was in there…

Down in SW19 the old lags are hanging on in there, yesterday it was Rafa who carrying an injury beat Fritz over 5 long sets.

Today the white ball cricket against India starts, tonight at 5.30 it is a T20 game at The Ageous Bowl.

And England start with a win over Austria in the Womens Euros, Northern Ireland plat Norway tonight in Southampton.