"The Morning Briefing" is SmartPlanet's daily roundup of must-read stories from around the web. This morning we're reading about political shakeups in the oil industry and exploring how recent U.S sanctions have moved the game pieces.
1.) Oil price hikes bring Big 3 producers under scrutiny. As oil prices rise across the globe and tensions over Iran's oil supplies mount, Shell, Chevron, Total and Eastern Petroleum increased the prices of both unleaded and regular petrol this week. Diesel and kerosene prices have also been affected. Rising distillate and cooking gas prices have become the catalyst for U.S transport sector strikes and for some governments to step in and audit oil firm accounts due to profiteering allegations.
2.) Russia's stocks fluctuate as oil trading reaches an eight-month high. The world's largest oil producer saw supplies trading at peak prices due to speculative investors predicting that current political tension concerning stock from Iran will tighten future supplies. Prices increased 4.2 percent to $102.96 per barrel in New York yesterday, the highest closing level since May last year -- before sliding 0.4 percent to $102.56 a barrel today.
3.) Oil company Sinopec agrees $2.2bn U.S deal on shale. Chinese firm Sinopec has clinched a deal with Devon Energy that allows it access to shale deposits in U.S territory. Five new shale projects are planned, including an expected 125 wells to be drilled this year. Per the terms of the agreement, Sinopec will receive a one-third stake in the projects. Although China contains some of the largest shale deposits currently known, the country's rapid economic growth has created the requirement to purchase additional energy sources internationally.
4.) South Korea eyes alternatives to Iran oil reserves. South Korea is seeking a waiver in the same manner as Turkey from tough new U.S sanctions that could disrupt oil shipments from Iran. Approximately 10 percent of its crude oil purchases will be bought from Iran this year, increasing marginally from last year's purchase behaviour. Potential replacements are being considered. (Currently, 200,000 barrels per day are imported from Iran.) U.S. president Barack Obama recently signed into law new sanctions that could prevent refiners from paying for Iran's oil. Meanwhile, the European Union is considering measures that would ban its member countries from importing the natural reserves.
5.) Norwegian oil firm Statoil discovers oil resources in the North Sea. Oil deposits have been discovered close to the Gullfaks South field in the North Sea, according to the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate. The size of the field is approximately between 0.3 and 1.1 million cubic metres, according to preliminary research. Statoil estimates the discovered volume is between 1.9 and 6.9 million barrels.
Photo: Tim Vollmer/Flickr