Today’s Blog – Wednesday 20th July 2016

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Yesterday we reported on the court case brought by shrinking violet Don “High Voltage” Voelte over the irreparable damage done to his otherwise spotless reputation from ABC reports over the murky take-over battle for Nexus Energy.

Yesterday the jury took less than an hour and a half to dismiss the case and Voelte was ordered to pay the ABC’s costs.

Like some other media outlets, this case reminded us of the Curious Instance of the Email that Leaked in the Night back in 2006, when Voelte was CEO of Woodside Petroleum (WPL).  Many veteran industry readers will recall this missive with some glee and we have managed to dig out an old copy.

For those not in the know, the email was one sent by Voelte to a staff member who had decided to quit WPL after a posting to Libya that had been inadequately supported.  Such treachery was not to be tolerated and The Don let him have it with both barrels, including classics of self-revelation as:

“Take it from one that has probably 50-100 times the “financial” security you seek or think you have.”

“I travelled to 17 cities and flew 22 airline legs.”

“To Sydney to meet with top Government officials of Australia and China.”

The icing on the cake was the forwarding of this email within WPL by such faithful Gauletier’s as Santos’ current COO, Vince Santostefano, which by memory said “please follow the wise words of our glorious Fuhrer and expel all recalcitrant elements from our 100o year Reich, I mean company.”

Big ego anyone?  Who advises these people? (and remember never ask a barber if you need a haircut or a lawyer if you should go to court).

Commodity prices

Crude prices fell again overnight, with Brent down ~0.6% to US$46.70 and WTI down ~1.2% to US$44.64.  The early week inventory “numbers” from Reuters and the API were deemed by the market to be poor, with crude down 2.3 mmbbls and 2.1 mmbbls respectively.

When the EIA report comes out tomorrow, it will arguably be the gasoline/distillate numbers which will be closely followed as much as the crude ones, particularly after last week’s big builds in these.  The US summer driving season will start to wind down soon – and over in the KSA, so will the summer burning crude to meet electricity demand for air conditioning.

Henry Hub slipped ~0.4% to US$2.73.

LNG and international gas

Industry news service Interfax has recently published a story on resistance to in-country energy reforms in the PRC.  It has been hoped by reformers that the second half of this year would see the large pipeline businesses owned by the massive NOCs (CNPC in particular) would be divested and ran independently.

However, the Empire has Struck Back, with these mighty SOEs making moves to reduce the chances of their businesses being downsized in any way.  One tactic has been a partial pre-emption of the full divestment option, by putting pipelines in a new subsidiary and then bringing in some outside capital.  Result – control still retained, but the creation of an omelette that is harder to unscramble.

Governments, fracking, etc

Australia’s new-look Federal Ministry has a change of governance as far as energy is concerned, with this area being separated from resources and bundled with the environment (driven by the close connection between energy consumption and carbon emissions).

The Minister for this area, Josh Frydenberg, has called for COAG action to review the structure of downstream energy markets, following recent price spikes in South Australia.  COAG has been dysfunctional for many years on this front, so it would be real triumph if Frydenberg can induce an informed review and subsequent reform.  Gas market issues would invariably follow any electricity market changes.

Company news – Santos (STO)

STO announced this morning that its youthful CFO had decided to “retire”.  This would have come as no surprise to the market following the recent poor financial performance of the company (hedging – that’s for pussies!).

What would be surprising would be if anyone gave the word “retire” any credence.  It must be a rapidly aging place over there at STO, as readers may recall its sprightly Chairman also abruptly “retired” about 18 months ago.

Company news – Sundance Energy Ltd (SEA)

SEA issued what appeared to be a bog standard one page cleansing notice yesterday following a recent capital raising.  Some eagle eyed readers spotted some disclosure therein over a recent takeover approach made to the company and its stock price soared by ~35% yesterday.

Share traders one, corporate governance nil.

Quote of the day

Mrs Trump at the current Republican Convention yesterday:

“Blah, Blah, blah – insert whatever Michelle Obama said here, OMG is that draft still in the script on the teleprompter?!”


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