On December 1 2014, during his official visit to Turkey, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the suspension of South Stream, blaming the EU for its “unconstructive” position. In fact, the realization of pipeline had become untenable as a result of various legal, political and financial issues, such as the EU’s Third Energy Package, the Ukraine crisis and the ensuing sanctions over companies involved in South Stream (Stroytransgaz and Gazprombank).
Russia is the main supplier of crude oil and natural gas to the EU, and although diversifying away from Russian gas is not unrealistic in the medium term, several technical and political obstacles must be overcome.
A barrel of crude oil costs under $50, having more than halved in price since June. This means wells are pumping out smaller profits, if not losses. When oil prices plunge and billions of dollars are at stake, oil companies tend to respond quickly to curb production. The number of active rigs has fallen 50 percent since October, according to Baker Hughes, the oilfield services company. This has led to layoffs, tighter budgets and fewer orders for equipment, all which hurt growth.
With crude oil prices dropping near $40 a barrel in March, area industry leaders are reacting to the deflated market prices by cutting jobs and ramping down production.
U.S. companies remain nervous about oil prices. Spending has been cut as prices fail to rebound significantly, and further price drops could quickly lead to more shrinkage in the rig count.
Currently the project is moving forward, as Moscow and Ankara have signed the MoU, approved the new pipeline route and agreed upon the 10.25% gas discount for Turkey. On the EU side there are many questions, including the one on infrastructure that would have to be in place to transport gas from the Turkish-Greek border, envisaged as the new pipeline’s gas delivery point.
The decline in crude oil prices since last summer has had a direct impact on oil producers' sales revenue, but hedging strategies have lessened the effects of lower prices on some producers' total revenue. Oil producers who adopt hedging strategies can reduce their price risk and generate smoother financial outcomes in unstable markets. A common hedging practice is to sell futures and swaps to lock in desired prices for future production, a practice that can shield producers' revenue from decreasing prices.
Arctic exploration is worth the risk. Exxon has decades of experience working in that part of the world, including successful projects in Russia — but also a catastrophic oil spill in Alaska’s Prince William Sound when the Exxon Valdez oil tanker ran aground in 1989.
Based on crude oil market assessments in the Short-Term Energy Outlook, EIA estimates that members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), excluding Iran, will earn about $700 billion in revenue from net oil exports in 2014, a 14% decrease from 2013 earnings and the lowest earnings for the group since 2010.
U.S. crude oil production (including lease condensate) increased during 2014 by 1.2 million barrels per day (bbl/d) to 8.7 million bbl/d, the largest volume increase since recordkeeping began in 1900. On a percentage basis, output in 2014 increased by 16.2%, the highest growth rate since 1940. Most of the increase during 2014 came from tight oil plays in North Dakota, Texas, and New Mexico where hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling were used to produce oil from shale formations.