<I>Pioneering Spirit</I> completes Brent Delta topsides removal

Allseas’ Pioneering Spirit has set a world lifting record with the successful removal of Shell UK’s 24,000-ton Brent Delta platform topsides in the UK northern North Sea.


Source: Offshore

 

Cabot is Looking for New Exploration Opportunities

Cabot allocating $125 million toward exploration this year

U.S. unconventional producers significantly reduced exploration activities during the downturn.

As low commodity prices squeezed producers, most companies focused on reducing costs rather than finding new fields to develop. However, as prices begin to recover Cabot Oil & Gas (ticker: COG) is beginning to look for new opportunities, the company said in its conference call today.

Cabot expects to spend up to $125 million on exploratory lease acquisition and testing in new areas this year, 15% of total expenditures. The company intends to evaluate new platforms for future growth. According to Cabot Chairman, President and CEO Dan Dinges the company has identified two areas that may have the potential to generate competitive full cycle returns.

“These are areas where we have direct line of sight towards building sizable contiguous acreage positions that allow for an efficient operations at, most importantly, a low-cost of entry,” Dinges commented. Cabot defines a sizeable position as “one that has potential to provide over a decade of high-quality drilling inventory.” But Cabot would not identify the specific plays in its sights.

These projects are still in the early stages of evaluation, but based on current geo-modeling results Dinges is “cautiously optimistic” about their potential. The company will move forward with leasing and will test its ideas later in the year.

What to do with free cash?

Cabot projects positive free cash of over $250 million in the current year. The company is currently evaluating several possible uses of this cash:

  • Accelerating production in Cabot’s current areas
  • Increase funding for exploration activities
  • Increase dividend or share repurchase program
  • Reduce outstanding debt

Like many other unconventional operators, Cabot has reported success from increasing completion intensity. The company’s current design in the Eagle Ford increases proppant per foot by 25%, decreases cluster spacing from 60’ to 25’ and adds intra-stage diversion. This design change has increased well initial production by about 30%.

Cabot reported first quarter results today, showing net income of $105.7 million, or $0.23 per share. This exceeds the $51.2 million net loss the company reported taking in Q1 2016, and the $292.8 million loss the company experienced in Q4 2016.

Q&A from COG Q1 2017 conference call

Talk about the exploration ideas

Just on the exploratory plays. I mean, recognizing, you are probably hesitant to provide a ton of color given its early-stage nature. But just any high-level thoughts from the types of plays you’re chasing in the competitive landscape within the plays? And then are hydrocarbon or geologic – geographic diversification some of the goals here?

<A – Dan Dinges>: Yeah, primary goal, really 1, 2 and 3, is could we find an area to allocate capital that would compete with the return profile we see in our existing portfolio and therefore deliver the returns to our shareholders that would exceed where we’re investing capital right now.

So, we were indifferent regarding the commodity diversity and looking at the areas, potential competitive landscapes and a lot of areas that we’re all aware of. Through an exploration effort, we evaluated every basin that is out there. We looked at, actually, areas that were not necessarily in traditional fairway of the key basins.

But all-in-all, and balling all of that up, also looking and evaluating all the M&A transactions that have transpired, we did go through some data rooms and get a good feel for valuations out there and that’s based to be able to compare to not only did that meet our threshold of full-cycle returns, but also, did it allow for us to enhance our portfolio of projects on a go-forward spend.

And as we continue to do our exploration effort, our guys came up with good ideas that we felt justified further expenditure.

And so, when you look at our cost of entry and you look at the possible returns that we see in these two projects and you look at the scale that we’re comfortable with being able to develop, we are excited about where we’ve allocated the capital and we’re also excited about moving forward with some incremental testing.

But you’re right. I don’t want to be coy on the exploration ideas. But as you appreciate in your – the way you couch the question – we’re just not going to talk in-depth about specifics of what we’re doing. But I do appreciate the question regarding kind of our thought process on what we’re trying to achieve.

Q: Wondering if you could talk to the decision to budget $125 million this year for exploration and really just the need for a new core area when, I mean, on the surface, it’s a little less obvious with 3,000 Marcellus locations remaining.

Dan O. Dinges: In looking at our allocation of an additional $125 million, if you look historically at exploration budget and you assess the amount that we’ve allocated in the past, the $125 million is frankly right in line with where we’ve allocated in the past, except the last two years. So, there’s nothing unique about that level of capital allocation.

When we began our effort of looking at our needs in the future to enhance shareholder value, we look at the Marcellus and the Marcellus is such a low capital intensity asset, i.e. the need for the number of drilling rigs and the need for a number of frac crews to grow our production that we knew we were going to generate a significant amount of free cash.

As I mentioned, even in the most punitive realizations Cabot has had in its corporate history, in 2016 we still generating free cash and grew that asset. With this infrastructure build-out that is occurring as we speak and looking at the amount of capital necessary to fulfill all of the capacity of those new projects, it again is not going to take near the amount of free cash – near the amount of capital that we’re generating and we’ll have the free cash. So, the need to do something with the free cash is an obvious question because we have it.

We put that slide together where we’ve tried to box out and include on slide 13 the number of different considerations that we will consider with our free cash. We will touch on a number of them. We’ll touch on, I think, the distribution to shareholders with some of it. We’ll also allocate the necessary amount to our Marcellus to grow every opportunity that we get but, again, it doesn’t take much capital. And you could see by maintaining 3.7 Bcf flat for 25 years, we don’t get much over $500 million, $600 million. So, the free cash is there. We could do all these things that we’re talking about.

One of the ideas that every company that is in our space, the E&P space – every company out there, and you can look at the hierarchy of valuations and those that, in your portfolio, you recognize these companies that have significant value and have the opportunity to grow, you give them better multiples and more consideration and valuations and future valuations than you do those that do not grow.

Again, we’re not in the business to burn capital. We thought we could make an entry into new areas, take a cost-effective look at our opportunity to find new return projects that compete with or exceed what we’re allocating capital to right now. And if we are successful in that endeavor, I think Cabot shareholders are going to be rewarded handsomely for the decision.

Q: Just on Atlantic Sunrise, does FERC need a quorum to issue a Notice to Proceed?

COG Senior VP, Marketing Jeffrey W. Hutton: Michael, the simple answer is no.

Q: Okay. So, basically, you get the other permits from the states and then the current situation, they could approve it?

Jeffrey W. Hutton: Yes. If you’ve been following the other projects in Southwest PA, in Ohio, West Virginia, et cetera, the Notices to Proceed are coming out on a regular basis from the staff. Additionally, we’ve got some partial Notices to Proceed on Atlantic Sunrise for the mainline construction and you see those pop up about every week and they range from compressor station work to looping and other projects on the mainline.
Source: Oil & Gas 360

 

Exploration: Cabot is Looking for New Opportunities

Cabot allocating $125 million toward exploration this year

U.S. unconventional producers significantly reduced exploration activities during the downturn.

As low commodity prices squeezed producers, most companies focused on reducing costs rather than finding new fields to develop. However, as prices begin to recover Cabot Oil & Gas (ticker: COG) is beginning to look for new opportunities, the company said in its conference call today.

Cabot expects to spend up to $125 million on exploratory lease acquisition and testing in new areas this year, 15% of total expenditures. The company intends to evaluate new platforms for future growth. According to Cabot Chairman, President and CEO Dan Dinges the company has identified two areas that may have the potential to generate competitive full cycle returns.

“These are areas where we have direct line of sight towards building sizable contiguous acreage positions that allow for an efficient operations at, most importantly, a low-cost of entry,” Dinges commented. Cabot defines a sizeable position as “one that has potential to provide over a decade of high-quality drilling inventory.” But Cabot would not identify the specific plays in its sights.

These projects are still in the early stages of evaluation, but based on current geo-modeling results Dinges is “cautiously optimistic” about their potential. The company will move forward with leasing and will test its ideas later in the year.

What to do with free cash?

Cabot projects positive free cash of over $250 million in the current year. The company is currently evaluating several possible uses of this cash:

  • Accelerating production in Cabot’s current areas
  • Increase funding for exploration activities
  • Increase dividend or share repurchase program
  • Reduce outstanding debt

Like many other unconventional operators, Cabot has reported success from increasing completion intensity. The company’s current design in the Eagle Ford increases proppant per foot by 25%, decreases cluster spacing from 60’ to 25’ and adds intra-stage diversion. This design change has increased well initial production by about 30%.

Cabot reported first quarter results today, showing net income of $105.7 million, or $0.23 per share. This exceeds the $51.2 million net loss the company reported taking in Q1 2016, and the $292.8 million loss the company experienced in Q4 2016.

Q&A from COG Q1 2017 conference call

Talk about the exploration ideas

Just on the exploratory plays. I mean, recognizing, you are probably hesitant to provide a ton of color given its early-stage nature. But just any high-level thoughts from the types of plays you’re chasing in the competitive landscape within the plays? And then are hydrocarbon or geologic – geographic diversification some of the goals here?

<A – Dan Dinges>: Yeah, primary goal, really 1, 2 and 3, is could we find an area to allocate capital that would compete with the return profile we see in our existing portfolio and therefore deliver the returns to our shareholders that would exceed where we’re investing capital right now.

So, we were indifferent regarding the commodity diversity and looking at the areas, potential competitive landscapes and a lot of areas that we’re all aware of. Through an exploration effort, we evaluated every basin that is out there. We looked at, actually, areas that were not necessarily in traditional fairway of the key basins.

But all-in-all, and balling all of that up, also looking and evaluating all the M&A transactions that have transpired, we did go through some data rooms and get a good feel for valuations out there and that’s based to be able to compare to not only did that meet our threshold of full-cycle returns, but also, did it allow for us to enhance our portfolio of projects on a go-forward spend.

And as we continue to do our exploration effort, our guys came up with good ideas that we felt justified further expenditure.

And so, when you look at our cost of entry and you look at the possible returns that we see in these two projects and you look at the scale that we’re comfortable with being able to develop, we are excited about where we’ve allocated the capital and we’re also excited about moving forward with some incremental testing.

But you’re right. I don’t want to be coy on the exploration ideas. But as you appreciate in your – the way you couch the question – we’re just not going to talk in-depth about specifics of what we’re doing. But I do appreciate the question regarding kind of our thought process on what we’re trying to achieve.

Q: Wondering if you could talk to the decision to budget $125 million this year for exploration and really just the need for a new core area when, I mean, on the surface, it’s a little less obvious with 3,000 Marcellus locations remaining.

Dan O. Dinges: In looking at our allocation of an additional $125 million, if you look historically at exploration budget and you assess the amount that we’ve allocated in the past, the $125 million is frankly right in line with where we’ve allocated in the past, except the last two years. So, there’s nothing unique about that level of capital allocation.

When we began our effort of looking at our needs in the future to enhance shareholder value, we look at the Marcellus and the Marcellus is such a low capital intensity asset, i.e. the need for the number of drilling rigs and the need for a number of frac crews to grow our production that we knew we were going to generate a significant amount of free cash.

As I mentioned, even in the most punitive realizations Cabot has had in its corporate history, in 2016 we still generating free cash and grew that asset. With this infrastructure build-out that is occurring as we speak and looking at the amount of capital necessary to fulfill all of the capacity of those new projects, it again is not going to take near the amount of free cash – near the amount of capital that we’re generating and we’ll have the free cash. So, the need to do something with the free cash is an obvious question because we have it.

We put that slide together where we’ve tried to box out and include on slide 13 the number of different considerations that we will consider with our free cash. We will touch on a number of them. We’ll touch on, I think, the distribution to shareholders with some of it. We’ll also allocate the necessary amount to our Marcellus to grow every opportunity that we get but, again, it doesn’t take much capital. And you could see by maintaining 3.7 Bcf flat for 25 years, we don’t get much over $500 million, $600 million. So, the free cash is there. We could do all these things that we’re talking about.

One of the ideas that every company that is in our space, the E&P space – every company out there, and you can look at the hierarchy of valuations and those that, in your portfolio, you recognize these companies that have significant value and have the opportunity to grow, you give them better multiples and more consideration and valuations and future valuations than you do those that do not grow.

Again, we’re not in the business to burn capital. We thought we could make an entry into new areas, take a cost-effective look at our opportunity to find new return projects that compete with or exceed what we’re allocating capital to right now. And if we are successful in that endeavor, I think Cabot shareholders are going to be rewarded handsomely for the decision.

Q: Just on Atlantic Sunrise, does FERC need a quorum to issue a Notice to Proceed?

COG Senior VP, Marketing Jeffrey W. Hutton: Michael, the simple answer is no.

Q: Okay. So, basically, you get the other permits from the states and then the current situation, they could approve it?

Jeffrey W. Hutton: Yes. If you’ve been following the other projects in Southwest PA, in Ohio, West Virginia, et cetera, the Notices to Proceed are coming out on a regular basis from the staff. Additionally, we’ve got some partial Notices to Proceed on Atlantic Sunrise for the mainline construction and you see those pop up about every week and they range from compressor station work to looping and other projects on the mainline.
Source: Oil & Gas 360

 

Schlumberger executes multi-client seismic survey in the Campeche basin

PEMEX has signed an agreement to license data from the WesternGeco Campeche wide-azimuth multi-client seismic survey in the Salina del Istmo province of the southern Gulf of Mexico.


Source: Offshore

 

Brexit & Beyond: U.K. Economy Slows Sharply, Brexit Fight Over EU Courts, EU Opens Door to United Ireland

Brexit & Beyond: Europe in Flux is The Wall Street Journal’s round-up of news and analysis of how Brexit will affect global business, economies and finance. You can sign up here.

Brexit & Beyond will take a short break on Monday for the U.K. public holiday, and will be back Tuesday.

MUST READS

Stock clearance on Oxford Street in London.
Bloomberg News

U.K. Economy Slows Sharply Ahead of Election, Brexit Talks: The U.K. economy slowed sharply in the first quarter as consumers pared back spending, a warning sign on growth ahead of a national election in June and the start of Britain’s exit talks with the European Union.

Brexit Fight Looms Over Role of EU CourtsWhen leaders of 27 European Union states meet on Saturday to settle guidelines on how to negotiate Brexit, they will show their determination to give EU courts a major role over U.K.-EU affairs.

EU to Say Northern Ireland Can Join Bloc in Event of Unification: European Union leaders are set to promise on Saturday that if Northern Ireland were to unite with the Republic of Ireland in future, it would automatically rejoin the bloc.

French Economic Growth Slowdown Casts Doubt on Strength of EurozoneFrench economic growth slowed at the start of the year, but the Spanish economy gained momentum, a mixed signal at a time of cautious optimism about the outlook for the eurozone’s so-far modest recovery.

EU Says Marine Le Pen’s National Front May Have Misspent as Much as €5 Million of Its Funds: Lawmakers from France’s National Front may have misspent nearly €5 million in European Union funds, the European Parliament said, more than double the original estimate in the investigation into the party’s funding of its political activities.

EU Foreign Ministers Clash Over Relations With TurkeyEuropean Union foreign ministers clashed over the bloc’s future relations with Turkey on Friday. While many repeated calls to pressure the vital North Atlantic Treaty Organization ally on human rights, Hungary and some others were unusually vocal in arguing that security concerns and Turkey’s control of Syrian migrants are paramount.

ECB Keeps Extreme Measures Despite More Ordinary Times: The market is looking for the European Central Bank’s tipping point on policy. But President Mario Draghi refused to be pinned down Thursday. The exit from ultraloose monetary policy in the eurozone remains some way off, writes Richard Barley.

New Rules Force U.K. Companies to Disclose Supplier Payment DataNew compliance regulations are forcing U.K.-registered firms to provide detailed information on how they pay their suppliers, as regulators seek to address late payment practices that are becoming more prevalent in the country.

Russian Military Ship Sinks in Black Sea After Collision With Freighter: A Russian military reconnaissance ship sank Thursday in the Black Sea following a collision with a cargo ship, an incident that underscores the generally tired state of the Russian navy.

Former Italian Leader Tries for Political Comeback: Former Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi is making a comeback and his technique is simple: branding himself as Italy’s Emmanuel Macron.

 

IN THE PAPERS

European Medicines Agency Faces €400M, Decades-Long London Rent Bill – Politico

Donald Tusk Says U.K. Must Settle ‘People, Money and Ireland’ First During EU Talks – The Independent

Expats, Exports, Security: What’s Worrying the Rest of the EU about Brexit? – BBC News

Jeremy Corbyn Campaign Team Defies Gravity – Politico

Vince Cable Warns of ‘Second Economic Storm’ – Sky News

For breaking news and intelligence on Brexit, finance, markets, deals and people from London, download WSJ City for iPhone or Android smartphone. And you can find more analysis of politics, economics and regulation in the European Union over on Real Time Brussels. 

Source: WSJ

 

Oil & Gas is Hiring: Will Energy Companies Be Able to Retain New Hires?

Now Hiring: workers are focused on how they’re treated by the company — management that cares, attention to scheduling, holidays with their families

The oil and gas industry is hiring. Last summer, Goldman Sachs predicted that 100,000 jobs would come back to the oil and gas sector. A quick scan of the career websites seems to confirm they may be right. There are more oil and gas related positions on the boards than at this time a year ago.

Oil price and capital availability drive oilfield development, hiring

Availability of capital for oilfield development and E&P management teams’ willingness to turn the key to incur debt or sell equity to pay for increases in development activity seem to track fairly closely with $50 oil.

In the past year WTI has struggled to climb out of the $40s and stay in the low $50s. Today near term contracts for WTI are trading at about $49 per barrel. But a lot of the U.S. shale players are okay with that range.

Oil & Gas is Hiring: Will Energy Companies Be Able to Retain New Hires?

Drilling rig in the Niobrara – Oil & Gas 360

Whiting Petroleum (ticker: WLL), which plans to invest $1.1 billion in CapEx in 2017, said it’s fine with oil in the $40s. CEO James Volker made it clear on his company’s Q1 conference call: “I would say the kind and quality of wells that we’re completing make good sense even in the mid-$40s.”

Whiting said its focus is to clear out its DUCs—in 2017 it plans to complete 233 wells which it had already drilled—with less cash going to drilling new wells. To that point, Whiting said it has mobilized a second frac crew in the Niobrara.

As the Q1 earnings rush gets underway, many E&P companies are reporting higher production and some have returned to the black, reporting profitable operations—ExxonMobil (ticker: XOM) and Cabot Oil & Gas (ticker: COG) both reported Q1 profits. To accommodate E&Ps ramping activity, Oilfield service giants Halliburton (ticker: HAL) and Schlumberger (ticker: SLB) have both increased headcount over the past few months by the thousands.

The open positions appear to be geographically diverse. The activity upswing in oil and gas is rolling—and Texas’s red hot Permian basin is having an effect. The Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas said this week that Texas added 14,800 jobs in March 2017. The Texas Fed forecasts 287,500 total jobs will be added in Texas in 2017, with employment in December 2017 coming in at 12.4 million.

Oil and gas jobs on the recruiting sites

Indeed.com currently has a list of 300 “oil and gas production” jobs under that search term. A random check of page 2 of the results details the following positions:

Lease Operator/ Pumper (Midland/Odessa,TX) , 3S SERVICES, LLC –  8 reviews – Midland, TX 79706

Must have a general knowledge of safe oil and gas production operations. The Lease Operator is responsible for monitoring and reporting on production and other…

SCADA Control Room Operator , Antero Resources Corporation – Bridgeport, WV 26330

Oil and Gas:. 1+ years of Oil and Gas experience. Production department, IT, etc.). Act as the point of contact for the Water Field Operators, Completions and…

Superior Pipeline – Plant Operator , Unit Corporation –  9 reviews – Canadian, TX

Generate daily production reports including liquid production, downtime and gas volumes. Working knowledge of the oil and gas industry….

Production Operators – new, Oceaneering –  243 reviews – Panama City, FL

Support production manufacturing by operating machinery to build umbilicals for the oil and gas industry

Production Planner – new , Winchester Electronics –  17 reviews – Broadview, IL 60155

Create and maintain Production Orders in support of the Production Schedule that accurately allocates the required materials….

Upstream Analyst , GlobalData Energy – New York, NY

Field analysis includes researching for relevant data, forecasting oil and gas production, developing project cost estimates, understanding development…

Operations Engineer – new , Hilcorp Energy Company –  7 reviews – Houston, TX 77002 (Downtown area)

Zero (0) to Three (3) oil and gas production field operations experience required, 10 years’ experience preferred….

Production Analyst , New Tech Global –  11 reviews – Midland, TX

Oil & gas production:. 3+ years of experience in oil and gas production operations. Experience

Production Planner/Route Engineer , AMETEK, Inc. –  18 reviews – Collegeville, PA

Production Planner / Routing Engineer. Manages communication of delivery performance goals and results to production supervisors;…

Lease Operator (Three Rivers) – new , Wood Group –  112 reviews – Three Rivers, TX  +6 locations

The successful candidate will be responsible for maintain onshore oil and gas properties. Ability to repair equipment as needed.Operate properties to ensure all…

Production Foreman , SM Energy –  18 reviews – Catarina, TX 78836

Broad understanding of oil and gas operations. Minimum 8 years of oil and gas experience. Gas Lift and Gas Assist Plunger Lift Systems….

IRC27050 – LDAR Lease Operator – new , Newfield Exploration –  28 reviews – Foster, OK 73434

Job Requirements · Working knowledge of natural gas engines, pumping units, and production equipment· Previous oil field experience a plus · Proven record of…

Production Tech , Addison Group –  84 reviews – Oklahoma City, OK 73104

Must have oil and gas production experience. Our client, an growing oil and gas company is seeking a Production Tech….

Electro-Mechanical Maintenance Technician ,  Global Water Resources, Inc – Maricopa, AZ

Oil & gas industry; Has worked in dynamic fields involving high speed production, large-scale processing facilities, or predominant use of advanced technology…

Quality Control Technician – Genoa, NE , Preferred Sands –  8 reviews – Genoa, NE

Preferred Sands, headquartered in Radnor, PA, is one of North America’s largest manufacturers and providers of frac sand for oil and natural gas companies in…

What are the jobs, and where are they?

The 15 jobs shown in the Indeed sample search require technical skills. Most require industry experience and knowledge—including production technicians, machinery operators, along with analysts and engineers, a control room operator and a foreman. The functions that these companies need people to do include hydrocarbon production, water processing, managing sand operations, pipeline operations, engineering, materials scheduling and operations analysis.

Geographically, the 15 opportunities are spread out among 15 different companies in nine states, with Texas-based opportunities representing 40% of the openings.

  • 6 in Texas
  • 2 in Oklahoma
  • 1 in Florida
  • 1 in Nebraska
  • 1 in Pennsylvania
  • 1 in West Virginia
  • 1 in New York
  • 1 in Arizona
  • 1 in Illinois

Are the skilled individuals still available?

After a prolonged industry downturn that resulted in an estimated 350,000 layoffs—decimating the human side of the industry—some employers have had trouble filling their newly posted positions.

“The biggest problem right now is that the industry has lost talent,” said Mirdad, M&A portfolio manager at the world’s largest oilfield services company Schlumberger (ticker: SLB). Media stories during the downturn reported workers leaving the industry after being burned by prior downturns. It’s a cycle of hire when oil prices are recovering, and layoff when they crash. Some workers give up and have taken their skills to another less volatile industry.

What can managers do to attract, and retain workers?

The website UnemploymentData.com published an interesting article about retaining workers. The article—entitled “Ways to Make a Happier Blue-Collar Workforce”—recommends several low cost or no cost solutions to reduce turnover within your company.

“Not enough is said about blue collar workers in the media today. While those in more prestigious industries are often written about, blue collar workers are the backbone of society and deserve more attention. If you oversee a staff of blue collar workers, here are some tips on how you can keep them happy, satisfied, and productive in their work,” the author says.

UnemploymentData.com recommends the following:

  1. Create a Managerial Staff That Cares

One of the biggest complaints amongst blue collar workers is that managers and superiors see them as nothing more than cogs in the machine. The simplest way to make your workers happier is by showing you care, and treating them like equals and individuals. Create a space where workers feel listened to and will be able to connect with management more personally. Make sure your different levels of employees interact often. When your employees feel appreciated, they’re more incentivized to work hard and will make the extra effort in.

  1. Put Thought into Scheduling

Another common complaint of those in the blue collar workforce is that no thought is put into scheduling. Those who want to accumulate lots of hours and rack up overtime don’t get the time they want, and those who need a lighter schedule are often scheduled too much. If you put thought, time, and consideration into scheduling, your employees will be much happier. Be sure there is an open discourse about work hours and everyone knows what is expected.

  1. Participatory Approach

Include workers in the decision-making process. Giving the workers some say in decisions has proven to increase worker productivity and motivation. Managers should seek feedback and suggestions for how to improve processes, ask employees for measurable objectives and just ways to improve the work environment. But the key is not just asking, but actually implementing employee suggestions. Often the people with the best ideas are those that have to work with the problem every day. Have an Open-Door Policy… One of the main reasons why employees end up striking or walking out is because they don’t feel like their voices are being heard. Strive to have an open-door policy in the workplace, where employees can easily access managers to air grievances or concerns. You might also install a way to anonymously listen to written complaints.

  1. Provide Amenities

No, you don’t have to turn your company into Google and put a pool table in the work room. However, little luxuries can do wonders for company morale. For example, EpicVue recommends installing Satellite TV in semi-trucks to make your drivers’ treks a whole lot more pleasant. For stationary blue collar workers, you could provide lunch, have company picnics, or even just provide free coffee and donuts in the break room.

  1. Close for Holidays Whenever Possible

Being required to work on major holidays is a major reason why many blue-collar employees resent their job and their employer. Sometimes closing on a holiday isn’t possible. However, when it is, it’s imperative you do so. These days off are incredibly meaningful to your staff and their families.

  1. Promote Internally

Employees who do a stellar job want to feel like their efforts were worthwhile. This is why it’s essential that companies strive to promote from within. When employees know they have the opportunity to move up, they’re all the more likely to do a great job.


BDC’s recommendations for retaining employees that cost virtually nothing

The Business Development Bank of Canada released its own recommendations for affordable ways to help retain employees.

“There is unfortunately a fairly widespread belief in business that employees are paid for their work, and that’s enough,” says Diane Bazire, a BDC Business Consultant specializing in human resources.

Bazire encourages entrepreneurs to set up a structured program of non-monetary rewards. According to Bazire, employees are happier, more engaged and more productive; absenteeism goes down; the work atmosphere is more positive—and all without having to spend a fortune.

  1. Recognize and Appreciate Effort

Recognizing the contribution and efforts of employees—especially publicly—is one of the main motivational tools you can use, and it doesn’t cost a dime.

“A thank you is worth its weight in gold,” Bazire says. “Recognition can take the form of an award such as Employee of the Month or Employee of the Year, a thank you card, or simply being congratulated in front of colleagues.

  1. Listen to your Employees’s Ideas

Employees become more engaged when they feel they work on a team where their voices are heard. Strengthen your employees’ sense of belonging by communicating with them on a regular basis. Listen to their opinions; they have great ideas.

The employee with the best idea gets a day off.

  1. Target Continuing Education

Regardless of what sector your company is in, providing employees with the opportunity for development through continuing education is highly motivating. Courses, seminars and coaching are essential for the development of your employees.

TIP: Invest in technology courses so your employees remain current in the field.

  1. Offer Flexible Schedules

Telecommuting, personal days and reduced work weeks allow your employees to balance work and personal obligations.

  1. Implement Job Rotation

Think about giving employees the chance to temporarily hold related positions in the company. This method eliminates monotony and strengthens respect for the work of others.

  1. Small Gestures Go a Long Way

Gift certificates, gas cards and gifts to highlight service anniversaries or special successes are effective ways of recognizing an employee’s contribution. Another idea is to offer an employee the president’s parking space for a period of time.
Source: Oil & Gas 360

 

US Gulf of Mexico drilling rig count falls by three to 17

The US Gulf of Mexico rig count decreased by three over the past week according to the latest Baker Hughes weekly rig count.


Source: Offshore

 

Carrier Energy Cashes Out Of Delaware Basin

Continuing the alchemy that private-equity backed teams have brought to the Permian Basin, Carrier Energy Partners LLC said it has exited the Delaware Basin after closing out two deals, including a sale to WPX Energy Inc. (NYSE: WPX) that was part of a $775 million deal in Reeves County, Texas.

Overall, Carrier sold 8,900 net acres in the two transactions, one of which was to a private, undisclosed company. The company retains assets in the Midland Basin and Eagle Ford Shale.

WPX purchased Carrier’s 49% working interest in areas of mutual interest (AMIs) operated by Panther Energy Co. II LLC as well as production and about 4,600 net acres. Including Panther’s interest, WPX acquired average production of 6,500 barrels of oil equivalent per day and 920 gross undeveloped locations.

In the second deal, Carrier sold its 49% working interest in Culberson County, Texas, also operated by Panther. Both sales closed in March, Carrier said.
Source: Oil & Gas Investor

 

As Pennsylvania and Ohio Shale Production Flourishes, New York Landowners Beg for Federal Intervention

There was great news in the northeast this week, as the Energy Information Administration (EIA) announced that Ohio and Pennsylvania increased their natural gas production in 2016 by about 1.2 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day (bcf/d) each above 2015 production levels. But not every state in the region with the potential for shale development is flourishing, as was evident by a letter recently sent out to President Trump from the Joint Landowners Coalition of New York (JLNCY).

The JLCNY represents 70,000 landowners with more than one million acres available for oil and gas development in New York. And New York, of course, has been under a de facto ban on high volume hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, for over a decade, with an official ban on the practice confirmed in late 2014. So it’s no wonder that JLCNY president Dan Fitzsimmons’ letter explained,

We believe the Governor has illegally taken our private property rights for his political gain.

“Governor Cuomo’s decision was completely at odds with earlier findings from state and federal environmental regulators that hydraulic fracturing has been used safely for decades. In fact, Governor Cuomo’s decision overturned two earlier findings from New York state environmental regulators, in 2009 and 2011, that hydraulic fracturing in the Marcellus Shale could be conducted safely under stringent regulations.”

Representatives from Baker Hostetler, LLP wrote a guest post for EID in 2015 that explained the enormous economic growth that would have occurred in the Southern Tier if fracking were allowed, using incredibly conservative figures. In it, they explained,

“The US Energy information Administration conservatively estimates that 144 Bcf of technically recoverable reserves of natural gas exist in New York State. Even if only 10 percent of the technically recoverable gas were produced over the next 15 years, and even if the price at the wellhead is only $4/MMbtu, that would still represent a staggering $57 billion in gross value.  Of that, even if the farmers’ and rural landowners share averaged only one-eighth, that’s still more than $7 billion in lost revenue pulled directly from the pockets of farmers and rural landowners in New York’s southern tier. The lost tax revenue from extraction taxes at the County and School tax level and income tax at the State level are equally significant lost revenues.” (emphasis added)

In Ohio, where there is a similar ad valorem tax to New York, a recent EID report found that six counties with shale development have already received $43.7 million from this one tax based on production through 2013. EID conservatively forecasts an additional $200-$250 million more revenue from this tax by 2026, based on the fact that production has increased significantly since 2013.

What’s more is in addition to this direct loss of revenue that landowners call a taking of property rights, the state is now delaying and denying needed pipeline infrastructure to move the abundance of gas in states like Ohio and Pennsylvania to markets in New York and New England. The U.S. Chamber’s Institute for 21st Energy released a report earlier this week that showed just how devastating decisions such as these could be on the region. Yet, as Fitzsimmons explains in the JLCNY’s letter, this is exactly what Governor Cuomo’s decisions are leading to. Thus far he has denied needed infrastructure to “supply natural gas to New York communities that currently rely on propane and oil” and  “impeded interstate commerce by obstructing the transportation of natural gas from Pennsylvania to New England states.”

He goes on to list specific examples like the Constitution, Millennium and Northern Access pipelines, explaining that,

“New York State’s obstruction of FERC approved projects is in direct conflict with the federal government’s need to satisfy the public need for energy, both in our state and in neighboring states. Moreover, our Governor’s anti-fossil fuel campaign is creating an energy crisis in our region. We believe the federal government must assert its rights over federally approved pipeline projects.”

He goes on to urge President Trump to intervene in the state, explaining:

“We are home to the Marcellus and Utica shales, the largest natural gas deposits in the world. But, they remain untapped in New York because of the political aspirations of our Governor. The nation is on a path towards energy independence but our country’s progress is threatened by New York’s conflicting agenda.”

As more research comes out showing the benefits of shale development and the country’s use of natural gas continues to increase, it begs the question: How can states like New York continue to impede needed infrastructure and prevent landowners and consumers alike from having access to these resources?

Source: Energy In Depth

 

Amazon and Alphabet Race to Join the $1,000 Club

Two tech giants are in a heated race to join the $1,000 club after strong earnings reports boosted their shares.

The e-commerce company Amazon.com climbed as much as 3.4% to hit an all-time high of $949.59 Friday. Google parent Alphabet class A shares rose as much as 5%, to a fresh intraday peak of $935.90.

Amazon and Alphabet already have an out-sized presence in the stock market. Alphabet Inc.’s market value north of $607 billion is second only to Apple Inc. among S&P 500 companies. And Amazon comes in fourth, with a market capitalization of nearly $439 billion.

But hitting $1,000 per share would be a big deal. Currently, only four companies in the S&P 500 have topped that level, led of course by Berkshire Hathaway class A shares, which are currently at nearly $250,000 apiece. The others in the $1,000 club include Seaboard, NVR, and Priceline Group

It would come as tech stocks have climbed rapidly, pushing the S&P 500 tech sector up 15% this year and 32% over the last 12 months. Alphabet and Amazon have benefited, climbing 17% and 24%, respectively, in 2017. In 2015, both stocks traded below $600 apiece.

Bank analysts like the chances of both Amazon and Alphabet to get there. This month, the consensus of forecasters was for both stocks to cross $1,000 in the next 12 months, the first time the target has hit four digits on either stock. Amazon’s average price target is $1049.23 while Alphabet’s is $1,031.36, according to FactSet.

Alphabet said Thursday that net profit grew 29% in the first three months of the year and revenue climbed 22%. The results suggested the company was not impacted by boycotts from some of its major advertisers. Amazon said first quarter profit was up 41%, marking its eighth straight quarter without losses.

Strong earnings had analysts racing to push up their price targets some more. Deutsche Bank analyst Lloyd Walmsley lifted his price target on Amazon to $1,150 from $1,125, saying the company is his firm’s “favorite 5-year name in the Internet space.”

(Amazon is technically a consumer stock, not a tech stock, but it is often lumped in with the tech sector.)

Piper Jaffray analyst Samuel Kemp lifted his price target on Alphabet to $1050 from $930, writing that the company ” continues to execute on multiple fronts.” And Canaccord Genuity analyst Michael Graham raised his price target to $1,000 from $950.

Cowen & Co. analyst John Blackledge lifted his price targets on both companies, citing the strong results. Alphabet was raised to $1,075 from $1050, while Amazon’s was raised to $1,100 from $1,050.

Source: WSJ

 

Lundin, Aker BP planning further Barents Sea wildcats

Lundin Norway’s recent Filicudi discovery in a previously unexplored part of the Barents Sea has de-risked other prospects in the area, according to partner Aker BP.


Source: Offshore

 

Chevron Profit Beats Expectations As It Focuses On Permian

Chevron Corp. (NYSE: CVX) posted a better-than-expected quarterly profit on April 28 due to cost cuts, asset sales and rising crude prices.Like many of its peers, Chevron has benefited from a jump in oil prices after a two-year price downturn that rocked the industry. The company’s breadwinner oil and gas division swung to a profit and earnings jumped in the refining division.Divestitures, though, also boosted results, with sales in Indonesia and elsewhere producing a one-time gain.
Source: Oil & Gas Investor

 

OTC 2017: TechnipFMC develops HP/HT subsea choke

TechnipFMC has earned an OTC Spotlight Award for the 20k high-pressure/high-temperature subsea choke.


Source: Offshore

 

Whatever You Do, Don’t Read This Column

Investors believe the darndest things.

In one recent survey, wealthy individuals said they expect their portfolios to earn a long-run average of 8.5% annually after inflation. With bonds yielding roughly 2.5%, a typical stock-and-bond portfolio would need stocks to grow at 12.5% annually in order to hit that overall 8.5% target. Net of fees and inflation, that would require approximately doubling the 7% annual gain stocks have produced over the long term.

Individuals aren’t the only investors who believe in the improbable. One in six institutional investors, in another survey, projected gains of more than 20% annually on their investments in venture capital — even though such funds, on average, have underperformed the stock market for much of the 2000s.

Although almost nothing is impossible in the financial markets, these expectations are so far-fetched they border on fantasy.

The traditional explanations for believing in an investing tooth fairy who will leave money under your pillow are optimism and overconfidence: Hope springs eternal, and each of us thinks we’re better than the other investors out there.

There’s another reason so many investors believe in magic: We can’t handle the truth.

The efficient market hypothesis holds that stock prices fully reflect all the relevant information that is available. What if, instead, investors are so efficient at avoiding some information that it might as well not even exist?

Psychologists call this behavior “information avoidance.” You could also call it intentional ignorance.

“It’s a motivated decision to say ‘no’ to learning available but unwanted information,” says Jennifer Howell, a psychologist at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio, who studies the phenomenon. “People avoid information if it’s going to make them feel or behave or think in a way they don’t want to” — especially any evidence that could jeopardize their belief in their competence and autonomy or could require taking difficult or prolonged action.

After all, information isn’t just bits of data or trivia. It can also be the cause of pleasure or pain. If the information is pleasant, that positive feeling gives you more incentive to pay attention to it. Painful information can push you to ignore it.

Think of people declining to get tested for the genetic markers of a hereditary disease, or a smoker whose cigarette packs might as well have that warning from the Surgeon General printed in invisible ink.

[wsj-responsive-more-in tag=”The Intelligent Investor” category=”” ]

Investors often act much the same way.

The behavioral economist George Loewenstein and his research colleagues have shown, using data from Vanguard Group, that investors check the value of their financial assets much less frequently, on average, in down markets — a behavior the researchers call “the ostrich effect.”

Researchers have documented for decades that people are much less willing to sell investments that have gone down in price. To “realize” a loss means not only to make it actual, but also to become aware of it. If you don’t lock in a loss by selling it, you don’t have to think about it or admit you made a mistake.

Such behavior isn’t always bad. Covering your eyes and ears during a market downturn can keep you from kicking yourself with regret — and from bailing out near the bottom.

However, you can’t tell whether your ideas are valid unless you let them be challenged. Just as the most partisan voters — of all stripes — shouldn’t remain deaf and blind to evidence that their favorite politicians might be wrong, investors would spare themselves embarrassment and loss by confronting information instead of hiding from it.

So, when you or your financial adviser estimate future performance, ask: What are the sources of this expected return (income, inflation, capital appreciation and so on)? How much of the total will come from each? How do those expectations compare to the long-term past results and, if they differ, by how much and why?

A survey of nearly 2,000 economists, security analysts and corporate executives conducted in March and April found that in 30 out of 41 countries — including the U.S. — these experts are calling for stocks to outperform bonds by a wider margin than they did when last surveyed in 2015.

While that isn’t impossible, anyone calling for even higher returns after years of robust gains in stock markets around the world needs to look for loopholes in his or her logic.

Finally ask: What conditions or circumstances would it take for me to be proven wrong? If your answer is “none” or “that’s impossible,” you have a severe case of information avoidance. The only cure for that might be the shock of losses that come at you like a bolt from the blue.

Write to Jason Zweig at intelligentinvestor@wsj.com, and follow him on Twitter at @jasonzweigwsj.

Source: WSJ

 

New Energy Exchange Limited Has A Market Cap of $3 Million, But Owns $54 Million of Liquid Stock

Esplanade Capital Issues Open Letter to the Board of New Energy
Exchange Limited — Urges the Company to Reregister with the SEC
to Maximize Value for Shareholders

Esplanade Capital LLC, a significant shareholder of New
Energy Exchange Limited
(OTC PINK:
EBODF),

announced today that it has issued an open letter to the Board
urging the Company to reregister with the SEC in order to maximize
value for shareholders. The full text of the letter follows:

April 25, 2017

New Energy Exchange Limited (f.k.a. Renewable Energy Trade Board
Corp.)
Board of Directors
Shun Tak Centre West Tower
Unit 1407
168-200 Connaught Road
Central, Hong Kong

Dear Members of the Board of Directors (the “Board”):

Esplanade Capital LLC (“Esplanade” or “We”) urges New Energy
Exchange Limited (the “Company”, “EBODF”, or “NEX”) to reregister
with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”) in
order to maximize value for shareholders.

Having exercised
extensive due diligence since 2013, We have verified that EBODF
retains a $54 million equity position in a liquid $3 billion
enterprise value, publicly traded company in Hong Kong. This
stake compares to EBODF’s current microscopic market
capitalization of $3 million. In addition, We can also confirm
that EBODF owns two Italian solar assets worth at least ~$32
million.

While we believe EBODF is carrying significantly more asset
value, including operating solar power plants in China, Europe,
and the US, and indeed some, albeit potentially modest,
liabilities, we cannot fully corroborate these balance sheet items
precisely due to EBODF having deregistered and “gone dark” in
2013. By reregistering, EBODF will provide shareholders an
accurate inventory of its assets and liabilities while likely
revealing an even greater mismatch between market and book value.

Through the management of Esplanade Capital Partners I LLC and
Esplanade Capital Electron Partners LP, We and our affiliates have
maintained a significant position in EBODF since 2013. As
background, Esplanade was founded in 1999 and has been investing
in the solar sector since 2004.

In fourteen years of solar investing, We have never encountered
an opportunity as obscure and undervalued as EBODF. After
discovering EBODF, an unregistered (since March 2013) but U.S.
publicly-traded company, through our deep, global solar network,
we conducted multidimensional due diligence through management
meetings in New York, Hong Kong, and Shanghai, analysis of EBODF
legacy SEC filings, and careful dissection of Stock Exchange of
Hong Kong Limited (“HK Exchange”) filings from sister-company United

Photovoltaics Group Limited (686 HK), a leading solar
independent power producer controlling ~1.4 gigawatts of solar
power plants in China and the UK and wielding an ~US$3 billion
enterprise value.

As context, We define the verifiable assets as EBODF’s
335,683,070 share stake in 686 HK validated through HK Exchange
filings as of April 19, 2017 and two Italian solar power plant
assets acquired in June 2014. To wit, shares of 686 HK,
EBODF’s largest verifiable asset, have appreciated ~71% in 2017
while the Company’s shares remain largely unchanged.

Share price vs holdings

After privately imploring management to reregister with the SEC
and file updated financials to no avail, We have exhausted our
patience and are forced to bring this matter to the public. The
status quo cannot persist as shareholder value is being
squandered.

For the sake of transparency, we are including details on the
verifiable assets since most investors likely haven’t reviewed the
HK Exchange filings outlining EBODF’s 686 HK stake and industry
press detailing EBODF’s acquisition of two Italian solar power
plants in June 2014.

EBODF owns 335,683,070 shares of 686 HK (~4.5% of shares
outstanding) as confirmed by a HK Exchange filing on April 19, 2017 (see page
5
).

EBODF’s stake in 686 HK
is worth ~US$54 million at current market values
. Other
major holders of 686 HK include China
Merchants New Energy Group
(a massive China state-owned
enterprise controlling 26.8% of 686 HK and ~17% of EBODF), ORIX

Asia Capital (a US$95 billion Japanese asset management
company controlling 14.4% of 686 HK), and the Asian Development
Bank’s Asia Climate Partners (the US$150 billion
regional development bank controlling 4.5% of 686 HK) all of whom
invested ~US$167
million alongside EBODF in 686 HK in March 2017
.

In that March 2017 686
share subscription,
EBODF purchased 68,799,449 shares of 686 HK at
HK$0.5814 per share

(see “subscription price” on pages 18-21) versus 686 HK’s
current share price of HK$1.25 thereby creating ~$6 million of
equity value for EBODF shareholders in this single transaction
(greater than twice the entire market capitalization of EBODF
today).

In terms of the Italian solar power plant assets, EBODF acquired two
projects comprising 13.1MW in June 2014
. Based on the
remaining subsidies and cash flow for each project, we estimate
these two assets are worth at least ~US$32.0 million.

shareholding in 686HK

Whether simply a US Dollar denominated tracking stock for 686 HK
or a solar independent power producer, EBODF is deeply undervalued
and must reregister to maximize shareholder value and minimize the
valuation gap.

Esplanade welcomes the opportunity to discuss the path forward
directly with the Board.

Regards,

Shawn W. Kravetz
President

cc: Alan Li Shan (electronically), Maggie Qiu Ping
(electronically), Lu Zhenwei (electronically)

ABOUT ESPLANADE CAPITAL LLC
Esplanade Capital is a Boston based investment management
firm founded in 1999 to manage capital for a small number of
like-minded families, private investors, and institutions


Source: Alt Energy Stocks

 

James Trimble Becomes Interim CEO, President Of Stone Energy

James M. Trimble was elected as interim CEO and president of Stone Energy Corp. (NYSE: SGY) by the board of directors, as David H. Welch will retire as CEO and president after more than 13 years at the company, Stone Energy said April 28.

Welch will also step down from his position as a company director.

Trimble’s election is effective immediately. He is an independent director.
Source: Oil & Gas Investor

 

First 100 Days: Here’s the Trump Moment That Truly Mattered for Currency Markets

Among the many pronouncements from the Trump administration’s first 100 days, none seem to have shaken foreign-exchange markets more than one that sparked fear of a currency war.

According to new figures by CLS Bank International, the world’s largest foreign-exchange-services company, the biggest politically related impact on currency volumes during this period was on Jan. 31, when Mr. Trump’s trade adviser Peter Navarro accused Germany of using a “grossly undervalued” euro to “exploit” trading partners.

Adding all the hours of that day, trading volumes transacted by CLS deviated by $215 billion from the 2016 average.

This was a much larger deviation than any other day marked by CLS as a key political date. It was mostly due to a sharp rise in volumes right after Mr. Navarro’s statement was made public: Taking the day as a whole, volumes were 38% higher than average. The dollar fell 0.9% against the euro—the most traded currency pair.

CLS settles the majority of currency transactions in the world, according to figures by the Bank for International Settlements.

The next largest blip came on April 7, when the U.S. military launched a direct missile strike on a Syrian air base, and volumes deviated a cumulative $150 billion. By contrast, reactions were much more muted around health care and tax reform announcements, or even when Mr. Trump actively tried to talk down the dollar on April 12. In all these cases, deviations were smoothed across the whole day.

Mr. Trump has on many occasions accused other countries, chiefly China, of keeping their exchange rate artificially low, damaging U.S. industry.

In an interview with The Wall Street Journal earlier this month, however, he said his administration won’t label China a currency manipulator. The U.S. president continued to strike a much friendlier tone with China in recent weeks, seeking to find common ground amid the military threat posed by North Korea.

This means that, even as concerns about a potential government shutdown keep rising, currency traders might have much less work going forward if the prospect of a currency war fades.

Source: WSJ

 

ExxonMobil’s Profit More Than Doubles On Cost Cuts, Oil Price Rise

Net income jumped to $4.01 billion, or 95 cents per share, from $1.81 billion, or 43 cents per share, in the year-ago quarter.Analysts expected earnings of 85 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.Production fell 4% to 4.2 million barrels of oil equivalent per day.
Source: Oil & Gas Investor

 

Norway Says Oil Related Leaks Reached a High in 2016—Energy Journal

Here’s your morning jolt of news, insight and analysis on the global energy business.

Send us tips, suggestions and complaints: EnergyJournal@wsj.com
Sign up for this newsletter:  http://on.wsj.com/EnergyJournalSignup

 

NORWAY SOUNDS ALARM ON OIL INDUSTRY SAFETY

The Norwegian Petroleum Safety Authority warned that the number of well-control incidents and leaks from oil-and-gas facilities in the country reached a five-year high in 2016.

“A well-control incident occurs when drillers lose control of the fluids in a well and can result in a blowout,” reports Sarah Kent.

Norwegian authorities called on companies working in the North Sea to do more to prevent accidents and take care of workers.

The warnings come amid a downturn in oil prices that caused companies to slash their budgets as well as their work forces. “But executives say they haven’t sacrificed their emphasis on safety,” the Journal reports.

While Norway accounts for just over 2% of global crude-oil production, the country has some of the strictest safety regulations in the world, and its guidelines carry weight in the industry.

LIBYA’S OIL CHIEF REBUKES U.N.–BACKED GOVERNMENT

Libya’s oil-industry chief criticized the country’s interim government, reports Benoit Faucon.

Libyan National Oil Co. Chairman Mustafa Sanallah said the United-Nations-backed Government of National Accord has tried to wrest control of petroleum deals.

“The company generates 90% of Libya’s export revenue and is state-owned but says it is maintaining its independence from various factions vying to run the country until elections are held,” the Journal reports.

Libya’s interim government was formed last year in the hopes of ushering in peace after the violence that has persisted since the 2011 ouster of former leader Moammar Gadhafi.

The interim government said last March that it would make decisions on matters such as who gets to invest in Libya’s oil.

Mr. Sanallah said the government’s involvement would cause more disruptions. Libya’s oil industry has fallen into disarray as militias struggle for control over the country’s oil assets.

Libya’s oil production has fallen to 491,000 barrels a day, down from nearly 700,000 barrels a day earlier this year.

AUSTRALIA TO RESTRICT GAS EXPORTS TO ADDRESS ENERGY SHORTAGE

Australia’s government said it would intervene in the country’s natural-gas market by restricting exports in an attempt to avert a looming domestic gas shortage and cool soaring prices, reports Robb M. Stewart.

“Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said steps were needed to secure gas supplies for manufacturers and households that were being drained to feed massive export facilities run by global energy companies on the east coast,” the Journal reports.

South Australia state has been especially affected by a string of storms and multi-day blackouts over the summer.

MARKETS

Oil prices rebounded on Friday, gaining support from a softer dollar.

Brent crude, the global oil benchmark, rose 0.17% to $51.53 a barrel on London’s ICE Futures exchange. On the New York Mercantile Exchange, West Texas Intermediate futures were trading up 0.65% at $49.29 a barrel.

A weaker dollar makes dollar-denominated commodities like oil more affordable for holders of other currencies. The Wall Street Journal Dollar Index, which tracks the dollar against a basket of other currencies, fell 0.18% on Friday. Read our latest market report at wsj.com

 

Source: WSJ

 

WSJ Wealth Adviser Briefing: LPL Awaits Fiduciary Rule, Tips for NFL Pros

LPL Financial Holdings Inc.’s first-quarter profit fell 4%, but the brokerage firm is betting that Obama-era retirement rules will eventually roil the industry to its benefit.

LPL, like much of the brokerage industry, has been scrambling the last year to comply with the Labor Department’s fiduciary rule requiring brokers to put the interests of retirement savers ahead of their own. But even as the Trump administration seeks to eliminate or revise the rule, LPL expects it to eventually take effect and boost its bottom line.

“We expect the rule to create disruption that will lead to movement of both advisers and assets in the coming months and years,” Chief Executive Dan Arnold said in a conference call with analysts Thursday afternoon.

The Boston-based brokerage, which serves more than 14,000 independent brokers throughout the U.S., posted a net profit of $48 million, or 52 cents a share for the first quarter, LPL said after the market’s close on Thursday. That compares with $50.4 million, or 56 cents per share, in the year-earlier quarter.

Despite the profit drop, LPL’s earnings beat expectations. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters predicted earnings of 37 cents a share.

Below, some of the best analysis and insight from WSJ writers and columnists, and occasionally beyond, on investing, the wealth-management business and more.

TALKING POINTS
Tax cheats. President Donald Trump’s plan to cut the tax rate to 15% for so-called pass-through businesses could create many opportunities—and leave plenty of room for abuse.  Advocates say lowering that tax rate would spur U.S. business growth and job creation. Critics said the measure creates an incentive to minimize compensation as a way of avoiding higher income and payroll taxes, among other issues.

Cashing out. Investors rushed into regional and community bank stocks after the U.S. election, encouraged by higher interest rates and potential regulatory relief. Top executives and directors at banks used the rally for a different reason: to cash out.

Thursday’s markets. U.S. stock indexes edged higher as gains in shares of technology companies offset losses in the energy sector. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 11 points, or 0.1%, to 20986. The S&P 500 rose less than 0.1% and the Nasdaq Composite gained 0.3%, on track to notch a fresh closing high.

PLANNING AND INVESTING
Bond rally intrigue.
The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note remains stubbornly low, challenging investors’ expectations that President Donald Trump would help end an era of low rates that has persisted since the financial crisis. Here’s a look at what’s behind some of the recent swings.

Watching Your Wealth podcast. Amid the highly anticipated 2017 NFL Draft, former New York Jet Bart Scott talks with WSJ Wealth Adviser’s Veronica Dagher about financial tips for NFL draft prospects.

Subscribe to the Watching Your Wealth podcast at wsj.com or on iTunes. And find the full archives of Watching Your Wealth here.

BUSINESS AND PRACTICE
Adviser Voices.
Evan Schmidt, vice president of Schmidt Financial Group, says technology professionals and entrepreneurs can be rewarding clients for financial advisers if they adapt to their demanding ways.

TRAVEL AND LIFESTYLE
Working from home in style.
With more Americans working from home, architects and developers are designing spaces that spare residents from conducting business at a Starbucks.

ADVISER CALENDAR
– Advicent Innovation Summit / New York, May 18
– NAPFA Spring National Conference / Bellevue, Wash., May 16-19
– Fi360 Conference / Nashville, Tenn., May 21-23
– CFA Institute’s 70th Annual Conference / Philadelphia, May 21-24
– FPA NorCalConference / San Francisco, May 30-31
– AICPA Engage 2017 / Las Vegas, June 12-15
– FPA NexGen Gathering / Chicago, June 23-25
– In|Vest 2017 / New  York, July 11-12
– RIIA Summer Conference 2017 / Salem, Mass., July 17-18
– XYPN17 And FinTech Competition / Dallas, Aug. 28-31
– Insider’s Forum 2017 / Nashville, Tenn., Sept. 6-8
– APFA Financial Advisor Boot Camp / Los Angeles, Oct. 5-6
– ADISA 2017 Annual Conference / Las Vegas, Oct. 23-25
– IMCA Private Wealth Advisor (PWA) 2017 / Chicago, Oct. 16-17
– FPA Minnesota 2017 Annual Symposium / Minneapolis, Oct. 16-17
– FinCon 2017 / Dallas, Oct. 25-28
– The SRI Conference / San Diego, Nov. 1-3

$$$

The Wealth Adviser briefing covers topics of special interest to wealth managers, financial planners and other advisers. It’s delivered to subscribers by email each workday morning; you can sign up for email delivery here: http://on.wsj.com/WealthAdviserSignupPlease send tips, suggestions or other comments to michael.wursthorn@wsj.com or Wealth Editor Brian Hershberg at brian.hershberg@wsj.com.

Follow WSJ Wealth Adviser on Twitter: @WSJadviser

Source: WSJ