Saudi building bust may demolish prince’s reforms

August 19, 2016

Low oil prices have left thousands of foreign construction workers stranded without pay, and some building companies in financial trouble. Saudi is trying to diversify away from oil, make economic reforms and avoid disrupting the social order. It’s not easy to do all three.

Indian tycoon’s sweetened Cairn bid is still sour

July 25, 2016

Anil Agarwal's mining group Vedanta has upped its offer to buy out the minorities of its cash-rich Indian subsidiary. The 9 percent premium looks far from compelling. The fate of the $2.4 bln bid rests with Cairn India's two largest outside investors.

It’s not how much oil, but how much influence

July 5, 2016

The U.S. has more oil than Saudi Arabia, according to Rystad Energy. But oil reserves are only worth counting if there’s a chance they can be produced economically over time. Size is much less important than an ability to guide the price - and there, Saudi still rules.

Saudi’s three great pillars are showing cracks

May 24, 2016

Oil, Islam and the ruling family of Al Saud bind the kingdom together. But low commodity prices and disruptive economic reforms risk opening up divisions within the ruling class. That in turn could unpick the all-important 80-year pact between religious leaders and the state.

Oilmen fix smart $2.2 bln deal in Papua New Guinea

May 20, 2016

Oil Search’s offer to buy InterOil is canny and opportunistic. The buyer will only pay later for future gas discoveries. An agreement to sell a big chunk straight on to France’s Total also cuts the chance of a rival bid. It leaves InterOil investors with an unattractive choice.

Saudi reshuffle points to era of oil volatility

May 9, 2016

Ali al-Naimi, just fired as oil minister, was the architect of a bitter price war but also had successes reaching consensus with OPEC. His successor Khalid al-Falih may lack the same influence. It suggests a more centralised Saudi establishment, but more discord in oil markets.

Saudi U.S. selloff threat not to be trifled with

April 20, 2016

The kingdom has told lawmakers it would dump some $750 bln of assets should Congress pass a bill allowing 9/11 victims to sue. These funds are its last line of defense to lower oil prices. That the alternative - having assets frozen - is an even worse outcome is scarier still.

Give OPEC more power and let Iran and Saudi bicker

April 19, 2016

A bitter struggle between Riyadh and Tehran has hit the credibility of the group, after their rift stymied a freeze to oil output. The dispute implies the cartel needs reform and more power to offset the political motives of its members. The outcome: a more stable oil market.

OPEC freeze failure could hasten oil’s recovery

April 18, 2016

Producers failed to agree a deal to freeze supply at a meeting in Doha. The failure was largely due to Saudi Arabia’s refusal to allow Iran to be exempted from an agreement. Prices will drop initially, but if OPEC disintegrates the stalemate could hasten crude’s recovery.

BP’s $20 mln Dudley payout looks crass but isn’t

April 14, 2016

The oil major faces an uproar over Chief Executive Bob Dudley’s bumper remuneration package despite the company slashing jobs and recording losses last year. But the criticism may be unfair. Dudley has hit key targets and drawn a line under the Gulf of Mexico disaster.