1. Iraq and Iran set up a one-year oil swap.
Iraq and Iran agreed to a mutually beneficial deal for the next year until they can build a pipeline and negotiate a longer-term deal. Iraq’s Oil Minister, Jabbar al Luaibi told media that the deal is finalized and in effect, but can be renegotiated at any time. The deal entails swapping up to 60,000 bpd of crude oil, with the Iraqi oil coming from the Kirkuk field in northern Iraq, and Iran supplying the same amount of similar grade oil to Iraq’s southern ports.
Until recently, the Kirkuk region was under the effective control of the Kurdistan Regional Government, but Baghdad rejected, their independence referendum and retook control of the oil fields a short time ago.
2. GlassPoint Solar and Aera Energy are teaming up on a large solar steam and power installation in the San Joaquin Valley.
Set to be California’s largest solar farm, the 26.5-megawatt photovoltaic array and 850 megawatts-thermal solar collectors are slated to come on-line in 2020. Aera observed GlassPoint for years after attending the 2011 launch of a pilot plant at the Berry Petroleum Company field, also in Kern County. But GlassPoint’s COO and acting CEO, Ben Bierman, said “the stars aligned” recently to make this project viable for Aera.
“At first it didn’t make economic sense to deploy solar at our operations,” said Aera CEO Christina Sistrunk. “But over the years GlassPoint has made advancements in their technology to reduce costs and has proven the viability of their solar technology in Oman.”
3. U.S. oil production continues to increase, putting pressure on OPEC and oil prices.
As of last Friday, the U.S. rig count for this week is up by two to for new oil in the United States to 751, the highest since September, according to Baker Hughes.
A higher rig count points to a further rise in U.S. crude production, which is already up more than 15 percent since mid-2016 at 9.71 million barrels per day. This is putting the pressure on OPEC countries that just agreed to extend cuts into 2018 as an attempt to keep prices up. But the pressure is on because U.S. production is the highest it’s been since the early 1970s, and close to the output levels of top producers Russia and Saudi Arabia.