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Oil Sees Worst Month Since March – OilPrice.com

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Oil Sees Worst Month Since March | OilPrice.com

Tom Kool

Tom Kool

Tom majored in International Business at Amsterdam’s Higher School of Economics, he is Oilprice.com’s Head of Operations

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Oil prices have hit a 5-month low as COVID cases climb, new lockdowns are put in place and reports emerge that OPEC may not maintain its production cut in 2021.

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Friday, October 30th, 2020

Oil prices plunged this week after spending months trapped in a narrow range around $40 per barrel. Renewed national lockdowns in France and Germany rattled financial markets, while the U.S. case count for covid-19 remained at record levels and may continue to rise. “As lockdowns begin to bite on demand concerns across Europe, the near-term outlook for crude starts to deteriorate,” said Stephen Innes, chief global market strategist at Axi. In early trading on Friday, WTI fell to $35 per barrel and Brent was at $37.

ExxonMobil warns of massive $30 billion write down. ExxonMobil (NYSE: XOM)posted a third-quarter loss of $680 million, or 15 cents per share, a smaller loss than expected. Exxon’s debt has climbed to $68 billion, more than triple since 2014. But the bigger news was that CEO Darren Woods warned that the company may take a $30 billion write-down, largely related to its North American shale gas assets. Exxon overpaid for XTO Energy more than a decade ago, right before a steep drop in natural gas prices. 

ExxonMobil to cut jobs; keeps dividend flat. ExxonMobil (NYSE: XOM) kept its dividend flat for the first time in nearly 40 years. But with a dividend yield in excess of 10%, the oil major will be under pressure going forward. Exxon will also cut 15% of its workforce, which will translate into job losses of about 1,900.

Chevron reports small loss. Chevron (NYSE: CVX) reported a $207 million loss in the quarter.  Related: Tesla Is On Track To Deliver 1 Million EVs In 2021

Total and Shell post small profit. Total (NYSE: TOT) reported earnings of $848 million in the third quarter, down 72% from a year ago. Royal Dutch Shell (NYSE: RDS.A) reported a small $955 million profit in the third quarter, and hiked its dividend. The performance is dramatically better than the second quarter, but down from the $4.77 billion it earned in the third quarter of 2019. “We are starting a new era of dividend growth,” Shell’s CEO Ben van Beurden told reporters.

OPEC members reluctant to extend cuts. Three of the biggest OPEC producers behind Saudi Arabia may not be on board with extending the current cuts into next year. Iraq, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Kuwait are reportedly not particularly inclined to support a rollover of the cuts of 7.7 million barrels per day (bpd), because such cuts are too deep for their economies and budget incomes to sustain.

Canadian oil companies post big losses. Cenovus (NYSE: CVE) and Suncor Energy (NYSE: SU) both reported modest losses for the third quarter. Husky Energy (TSE: HSE), on the other hand, reported a huge $5.2 billion loss.

Equinor writes down $2.9 billion. Equinor (NYSE: EQNR) wrote down $2.93 billionthis week after it revised down its assumptions on long-term crude oil and natural gas prices. The largest portion of the impairment came from a $1.38 billion write-down on its U.S. shale assets. 

The Interior finalizes NPR-A drilling plan. The Trump administration finalized plans to expand drilling in the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska (NPR-A). ConocoPhillips (NYSE: COP) is the main player in the area.

Conoco warns Alaska voters not to pass tax. Alaskan voters will weigh a ballot measure that would impose a new tax on oil production. ConocoPhillips (NYSE: COP) said it would stop drilling on the north slope if the tax passes. 

Environmentalists want Biden to use financial regulation. Environmental groups are urging the Biden campaign to use financial regulation to address climate change. That would include using the Department of Treasury and the Federal Reserve to prioritize climate change. 

BNEF: Green power to attract $11 trillion by 2050. Renewable energy will draw in roughly $11 trillion in investment by mid-century.

Energy investment dries up. Energy investment is set to fall by a whopping 35% this year, according to the IEA. And this is just the spending slump in upstream oil and gas.

Will a fracking boom ever happen in Mexico? Mexico is sitting on top of the sixth biggest collective shale reserve in the entire world. At an estimated total of 545 trillion cubic feet, they’re just a hair behind the United States’ estimated 665 trillion cubic feet. So why hasn’t Mexico had its own shale revolution?

Related: Washington Greenlights Conoco Oil Project In Alaska

North Dakota repurposes covid aid for fracking. North Dakota decided to use $16 million given to the state from federal coronavirus relief aid and used the money to subsidize drilling

Repsol invests more in renewables than oil and gas. Spanish oil giant Repsol (BME: REP) has invested more in renewable energy projects in recent months than it has on oil and gas exploration.

Asia LNG prices surge, but rally takes a pause. Prices for LNG earlier this year fell below $2/MMBtu (JKM prices), a dramatic collapse due to oversupply. The crash forced widespread LNG cancellations from the United States. JKM prices have since surged above $7/MMBtu, but the rally took a breather this week. U.S. LNG has returned, adding supply to the Asian market. Also, Asian buyers are finishing up their winter purchases, so the demand pressure could ease. 

Other earnings roundup: Imperial Oil (TSE: IMO) ekes out a small profit; Phillips 66(NYSE: PSX) reported a smaller-than-expected Q3 loss; Xcel Energy (NASDAQ: XEL) reported a Q3 profit; Cabot Oil & Gas (NYSE: COG) reported a small loss; Devon Energy (NYSE: DVN) reported a worse-than-expected net loss.

By Tom Kool for Oilprice.com 

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Conservatives push for parliamentary committee study of failed vaccine deal – CBC.ca

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The federal Conservatives are calling for a parliamentary committee probe of the Liberal government’s plan to refit a National Research Council facility in Montreal to start producing a COVID-19 vaccine.

The government announced the $44 million project in May as part of a partnership between the NRC and a Chinese company to develop a made-in-Canada vaccine.

By August, the Liberals had confirmed the partnership with CanSino Biologics had fallen apart after the Chinese government blocked shipments of vaccine samples meant to be used in clinical trials in Canada.

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole has criticized the Liberals for putting too much faith in Beijing, and blamed the failed deal for Canada being late to order vaccines from other foreign companies.

The proposed committee probe would look at the investment intended to upgrade the NRC facility and how the deal affected Canada’s efforts to ensure the country has timely access to vaccines.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau admitted last week that Canada might have to wait for other countries to get access to vaccines, though the government and vaccine-makers have since downplayed any delay.

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Toronto's top doctor says COVID-19 numbers sound 'blunt warning' as city logs record 761 new cases – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News

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Toronto’s top doctor says the latest COVID-19 data collected for the city should send an urgent warning to residents to change their behaviour.

Toronto reported 761 new cases of COVID-19 Tuesday, breaking the previous record of 643 set just a day earlier on Monday.

“Today’s case counts are a blunt warning,” Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa said in a statement. “COVID-19 continues to spread easily and widely.”

De Villa pointed out that younger adults (people between the ages of 20 and 49) account for more than half (57 per cent) of today’s new cases, including 167 people in their 20s, 154 people in their 30s and 112 people in their 40s.

“It is a warning that everyone at every age shares the risk of infection, just as all of us have the ability to reduce the risk through the actions and choices we take in the next several weeks,” de Villa said.

She said data gleaned from the city’s newly launched Source of Infection Survey, given to those who test positive for the virus, are also shedding light on where people are getting infected.

One on five respondents confirmed that they had been part of a gathering of fewer than 10 people either in their own home or in someone else’s home during the period when they acquired COVID-19.

“While most cases reporting close contact with a known COVID-19 case identified their spouse or partner (21 per cent) as the case, the next most common relationships reported were friends (16 per cent) and co-workers (16 per cent),” de Villa said. “In total, 35 per cent of cases reporting close contact indicated that their close contact with known cases were only non-household contacts.”

She said the latest data underscores the importance of limiting contact with those outside of your household in order to contain the spread of the virus. She noted that some of the cases reported today would have acquired their infections prior to new lockdown restrictions placed on the city a week ago.

The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 in Toronto also climbed by 13 Tuesday to 258. One more patient with COVID-19 entered the Intensive Care Unit, for a total of 49.

While the province reported a slightly lower number of new cases (727) for Toronto Tuesday, the discrepancy arises from the fact that the city and the province use different data entry systems, each with their own cut off time for reporting cases.

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Salesforce to buy work chat service Slack for $27.7 billion – Business News – Castanet.net

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Business software pioneer Salesforce.com is buying work-chatting service Slack for $27.7 billion in a deal aimed at giving the two companies a better shot at competing against longtime industry powerhouse Microsoft.

The acquisition announced Tuesday is by far the largest in the 21-year history of Salesforce. The San Francisco company was one of the first to begin selling software as a subscription service that could be used on any internet-connected device instead of the more cumbersome process of installing the programs on individual computers.

Salesforce’s flamboyant founder and CEO Marc Benioff hailed the “cloud computing” concept as the wave of the future to much derision initially.

But software as a service has become an industry standard that has turned into a gold mine for longtime software makers. Microsoft for one has developed its own thriving online suite of services, known as Office 365, which includes a Teams chatting service that includes many of the same features as Slack’s 6-year-old application.

Slack in July filed a complaint in the European Union accusing Microsoft of illegally bundling Teams into Office 365 in a way that blocks its removal by customers who may prefer Slack.

Microsoft also has been posing a threat to Salesforce’s main products, a line-up of tools that help other companies manage their customer relationships.

“For Benioff, this is all about Microsoft,” Wedbush Securities analyst Dan Ives said of Tuesday’s deal. “It’s just clear Microsoft is moving further and further away from Salesforce when it comes to the cloud wars.”

Benioff left no doubt he considered the deal to be a major coup, after losing out to Microsoft in 2016 when the two companies were both vying to buy the professional networking service Linkedin. In a prepared statement, Benioff touted the combination as “a match made in heaven” that will “transform the way everyone works in the all-digital, work-from-anywhere world.”

Salesforce has been building on its success in recent years to diversify into other fields, largely through a series of acquisitions that included its previous largest deal, a $15.7 billion purchase of data analytics specialist Tableau Software last year.

Many of the deals have been financed with Salesforce’s stock, which is worth nearly seven times more than it was a decade ago to lift the company’s current market value to $220 billion. Salesforce is using its stock to pay for roughly half of the Slack purchase, with the rest being covered with some cash, with some of the money being borrowed during a time of extraordinarily low interest rates.

Slack, on the other hand, hasn’t proven as popular with investors, even though its service that publicly launched in 2014 is being increasingly used by companies and government agencies looking for more nimble alternatives than email. Before news reports of a potential deal with Salesforce surfaced last week, Slack’s stock was still hovering around its initial listing price of $26 when the company went public nearly 18 months ago.

“This is a stellar exit strategy for Slack,” said Kate Leggett, an analyst at Forrester Research. “Microsoft Teams is eating Slack’s lunch.”

Slack co-founder Stewart Butterfield will be hoping this sale works out better than when another company he started, photo sharing service Flickr, was sold to Yahoo 15 years ago. Flickr got lost in the shuffle at Yahoo amid years of turmoil before it was finally sold again in 2018 to SmugMug.

Leggett predicted Salesforce would benefit from owning Slack because it will add a popular collaboration tool to its own software suite, which is focused on managing customer relationships for businesses and government agencies. She said the need for customer-relations agents and other Salesforce users to swarm around a topic and collaborate remotely has only grown with the coronavirus pandemic that has sent so many office workers home and got many hooked on new online tools.

“I think the pandemic’s played a massive role” in paving the way for the deal, Ives said. “The Zooms, the Slacks, the Microsoft Teams, that’s going to be a new part of the workforce.”

Ives said Benioff was also running out of time to catch up to Microsoft, which remains a secondary player in Salesforce’s core customer-relations-management business, known as CRM, but way ahead in providing a broader array of cloud-based services.

Slack and Salesforce are headquartered about a block away from each other in San Francisco. Slack’s office is in the shadow of the 62-story Salesforce Tower, the city’s tallest building. If all goes smoothly, the two companies hope to close the deal and combine forces sometime between May and July next year.

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