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很親切 May 21, 2018

Posted by hslu in 石油, Life in Taiwan, Oil, Taipei, Taiwan, 台灣, 林口.
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沒想到林口也有 Mobil 的 logo。它很顯眼,很新,很乾淨,看起來倍感親切。畢竟我們家的孩子都是吃 Mobil 的奶長大的,你說是不是?

臺灣沒有 Mobil 的汽油加油站,只有賣 Mobil 潤滑油產品的私人汽車服務中心。

Mobil 在中國已經有百年以上的歷史了。其實,Mobil 的前身是美國的標準石油公司。標準石油在 1890 年就用”美孚”這個商標進入了中國。美孚是美麗,誠信,可靠的意思。標準石油後來分成 Exxon 和 Mobil,後來又合併為一。俗云:合久必分,分久必合了,就是這個道理。不過這是後話,容後再禀。

剛開始,美孚在中國賣煤油燈和煤油。很快的,煤油燈就取代了中國用了千百年的油燈,而中國就成為標準石油在亞洲最大的市場。美孚在中國各地修建儲油槽、倉庫與辦事處,用油罐車、火車與船隻運送石油到中國內陸各地。美孚以上海為中心基地,前後擁有上百艘各式各樣的大,小拖輪及油輪。隨後,汽車開始普遍,美孚研發出了首屈一指的機用潤滑油,於是,美孚也順理成章的在中國賣汽車用的潤滑油了。

二次世界大戰結束,日本戰敗,無條件投降。中國從日本手中接收了臺灣,美孚也開始在臺灣做潤滑油的生意,一直到現在,在臺灣各地還有賣 Mobil 潤滑油的商店。由此可見,美孚與中國的合作維持了一百多年,可謂歷史悠久,合作無間。

我離開 Mobil 已經很久了。在那之前,公司傳出一個謠言說 Mobil 要買 ARCO。幾年來,從 VA 總部那邊傳來的謠言通常都很準。好幾次公司要裁員,我們聽到的謠言說我們這個部門要裁員 20% , 25% 或 33% 都非常準確。我們覺得這一次的謠言應該一樣可靠,不過大家都不怎麽在意,因為如果 Mobil 賣了 ARCO,被裁的也應該是 Arco 的員工,不是 Mobil 的員工。ARCO 在那幾年油價上漲的時候擴張的比 Mobil 還要厲害。油價大跌以後,公司大賠,特賠,好幾年以來,都一蹶不振,股價低迷。他們會被別的公司買去,我們一點都不覺得意外。ARCO在阿拉斯加有油田。Mobil 沒有。ARCO 在加州也許多資產和加油站,跟 Mobil 相當匹配。ARCO 在南中國海有許多海底油田的開產權。Mobil 沒有。看來 Mobil 要買 ARCO 聽起來合理。

要知道,在那十幾年艱苦漫長的日子裏,WTI 油價慘跌。從一九八零年年初的四十塊錢一桶跌到一九八六年的十塊錢一桶。再往下的十幾年,油價都在 十幾塊到二十塊錢之間徘徊。石油公司一再虧損,每個石油公司的員工都度日如年,如坐針毯。我們這個部門,每隔幾年就裁員一次:每次少則 15%,最多的一次居然到 33%,真是悽悽,慘慘,戚戚,人心惶惶,慘不忍睹呀。

在 Mobil 要買 Arco 的謠言滿天飛的時候,WTI 只賣十三,四塊錢一桶。我研究的重油因為它的質量不佳,油裏面的雜質太多,提煉不出來太多的汽油,每一桶重油只能賣到九,十塊塊錢一桶,而我們的生產成本就要七,八塊。扣掉 overhead,根本不能錢賺。我們公司的外海油田更是虧本的厲害。可是,當油價低的時候,煉油廠的成本降低,加油站的生意就賺錢了。其實 Mobil 有很賺錢的 downstream operation,可是 upstream 就虧多了。這是其一。還有,Mobil 在中東的 Qatar 和印尼的 Arun 油田有非常成功而又賺錢的 LNG 計劃,還有十幾艄世界最大的 LNG 油船。這是 Mobil 在石油工業中首屈一指的技術。這些 LNG 有長期的合約賣到日本,韓國,臺灣和新加坡,是讓人家眼紅的資產。還有,Mobil 在非洲也有很多資源,也已經投入大量的資金和人力。只可惜,油價就是上不了,大家只有乾等著,熬一天是一天。

沒多久謠言沒了,看來 Mobil 是不會買 ARCO 了。再過幾個禮拜,一個晴天霹靂的消息公佈了:Exxon 要買 Mobil。新公司叫 Exxon Mobil。這真叫每個人嚇一大跳。很顯然,又要裁員了。不過像我們這種跟生產石油也直接關係的正牌工程師和其他有關的技術人員是不會讓我們走的。畢竟, Mobil 的油田和資產還需要我們經營管理,你說是嗎?許多部門要合併,精簡,我們在 Dallas 的幾個部門所有的員工都要整個搬去 Houston。

這就是我在 2000 年離開 Mobil 的時候。

如今十幾年過去了。時過境遷,人去樓空。當初,我們那個部門去 Houston 的只有 40% 左右。許多人退休,許多人厭煩了常常裁員的日子,離開了石油的行業,去別的工業找工作了。如今,以前的 Mobil 早已成為歷史,除了美國的 Mobil 加油站以外,就只有零零星星的小商店賣 Mobil 的潤滑油了。我們也一家從 Dallas 附近的 Plano 搬到 Northern Virginia,好幾年以後再搬到臺灣的林口。在林口看到 Mobil 的商標還有點懷舊的感傷也帶著一絲絲的親切感。

不知道 Dallas 城中心一個大樓上代表 Mobil 的 Pegasus 還在不在?

以色列大開殺戒,中東和平遙遙無期 May 18, 2018

Posted by hslu in 特朗普, 石油, 美國, Economics, Global Affair, Islam, Middle East, Military, Muslim, Trump, U.S. dollar, U.S. Foreign Policy, 川普.
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以色列的 Netanyahu 有 Trump 撐腰,以色列用它從美國買來的精密武器把伊朗在敘利亞的軍事基地和巴勒斯坦的 Gaza 打的一塌糊塗。

Trump 不顧國內和國外大多數人的反對,把美國駐以色列的的大使館從 Tel Aviv 搬到 Jerusalem。不服氣的巴勒斯坦人能怎麽辦?沙烏地阿拉伯的小王子罵他們,美國的 Trump 嫌他們,以色列人想殺他們。

面對著頑強卻脆弱的敵人,以色列 Netanyahu 的鷹派政府採取一連串的軍事行動打擊伊朗和巴勒斯坦,企圖鎮壓 Gaza 示威的民眾和伊斯蘭教的激進份子。

這些巴勒斯坦人沒有飛機,短程飛彈不夠多,大炮小炮不夠準,除了只有眼睜睜的看著美國搬家,只有無可奈何的在電視上發表”打死美國人”的言論,在街上燒美國國旗。沒有槍,沒有炮的巴勒斯坦人只有示威遊行,丟石頭,燒輪胎,扔玻璃瓶子做的燃燒彈。當以色列從美國買來的子彈打過來的時候,他們除了死以外,只能躲,只能逃,只能哭,只能喊,只能罵。只能躲,還能做什麽?

誰叫這些巴勒斯坦人沒有一個有錢,有勢,有槍,有炮的老闆在後面頂著。你沒槍,沒炮,沒飛彈,沒飛機,沒坦克,怎麼跟以色列的 sniper 抵抗呢?

Source: BBC News

Source: BBC News

Source: BBC News

這個世界就是這麽不公平。中東亂了一千多年,信仰伊斯蘭教的 muslims 被信仰基督教的歐洲人打敗了。中東被歐美各國劃分成不同的國家,還硬把以色列插在中間。這也造成過去七十年中東動盪不安的形式。身爲 muslim 的 Obama 想盡了辦法將以色列邊緣化,跟伊朗訂了核子條約,解除了對伊朗的經濟制裁,給伊朗一點生機。沒想到 Trump 一上臺,就極力的挺以色列,交好沙烏地阿拉伯的年輕繼承人,打擊伊朗,企圖推翻敘利亞的政府。你看看美國做的好事,把中東搞得亂七八糟,一塌糊塗。

如今世界和平遙遙無期,美國在世界各地撩起經濟制裁和貿易大戰,油價上漲,通貨膨脹即將到來,美國的利息一節一節的上升,逼迫世界其他各國的利息一起上漲。美金轉強,發展中國家的貨幣飽受威脅,匯率下跌,另一個經濟蕭條就在眼前了。

2009 年美國一手造成的世界財務危機和相繼而來的 Great Recession 使得過去八,九年的利息大幅下降。許多國家在這幾年借了許多美金,如今美金上漲,這些國家慘了。

一次又一次,美國的聯邦銀行用利息的升降來控制資本主義分配不均和週期循環的缺點把世界搞得一塌糊塗。新的一個週期已經來了。

可憐的巴勒斯坦人那有時間管這個呢?他們能夠躲開以色列 sniper.的子彈就夠幸運了。

The untold war between Israel and Syria April 29, 2018

Posted by hslu in 特朗普, 石油, 美國, Global Affair, Islam, Middle East, Military, Muslim, Russia, U.S. Foreign Policy, 一帶一路.
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http://flip.it/8NEEDv

Very few people in the U.S. know about the role played by Israel in the ongoing conflict between Russia and the United States in the Middle East theater.

Make no mistake: it is a proxy war between Russia and the US but fought by Assad’s Syria on one side and anti-government forces on the other.

Assad’s Syria is supported by Iran and Russia. The rebels are supported by the U.S. and Israel.

Dead on the killing field everyday are mostly Syrians but weapons and missiles come from Russia, Iran, Israel and the US.

Why is Israel so eager to join the fight and is it legal for Israel to bomb another nation?

Why do we have this war in the first place? Who started this war anyway? Is it another “nation building” project by the United States requested by one or more nations in the region? Will the new Saudi crown prince who was empowered by Trump join the conflict to exert his influence on the region?

Will the Syria war morph into a regional war and is it a prelude of an all out war in the entire Middle East?

What a mess.

What’s going on in Saudi? April 21, 2018

Posted by hslu in 特朗普, 石油, 美國, Economics, Middle East, Muslim, Oil, Trump, U.S. dollar, U.S. Foreign Policy, 川普.
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There is no doubt that the new Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammad bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud has managed to angere many of his rich and prominent step brothers and relatives.

The blessing from Trump for him to put some of his brothers and relatives under house arrests, his close relationship with Trump’s son-in-law Kushner, his willingness to counter Iranian aggression in the Middle East, his new plans for the oil-depedent country, his not-very-successful military actions against Yemen, his attempt to open the door of the Islamic country to western culture and his grab of power inside the royal family are things which could create havoc to the country in the hands of the royal family.

Source: The Drive

I of course do not know what’s taken place near the royal palace. But, any news which rattles the power structure of the Saudi royal family could send crude oil price to level we haven’t seen in years.

We’ll see.

Petroyuan? March 30, 2018

Posted by hslu in China, 石油, Economics, Energy, Renminbi, U.S. dollar, 中國.
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A major step to increase the circulation of renminbi in a big way.

Structural Shift February 10, 2018

Posted by hslu in Congress, 特朗普, 石油, 美國, Debt and deficit, Economics, Election, Energy, Stocks, Taxes, Trump, U.S. dollar, 川普.
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What structural shift are we talking about?

The “structural” part of the shift is the fundamental change of the economy bought to you by none other than Trump and the Republicans. While we are at it, let’s add the inept Democrats to that bunch too because they are equally guilty for acting like a whole bunch of chickens without heads.

In a growing U.S. economy and the synchronized recovery of the world economies, as well as almost full employment of around 4% in the U.S., Trump and the Republicans passed “the biggest tax reforms in American history according to Trump ” without finding a way to pay for the massive tax cut for the riches. It simply is insane because of significant damages it will eventually bring to the masses.

Why did they do it?

Because the mid-term election is coming in 11 months. They congressional Republicans are fearful of losing their congressional seats and the majority of both houses.

The structural change is what the financial market is reacting to this week when the Dow took a fast elevator down to the basement of the correction territory: the dreaded inflation is just around the corner as indicated by the chart below.

Source: Federal Reserve

The tax cut at full employment doesn’t make economic sense because it clearly is inflationary. The bond market knows it because a massive amount of federal government borrowing in the amount of additional $500 billion a year will hit the Bond market soon.

The stock market is equally uncomfortable with the higher rate environment and crumbles under the weight of extended valuation.

The structural shift is important for the financial market at this juncture because a re-pricing of all financial instruments will take place in the months and quarters ahead.

Treasury and corporate bonds will drop. Stock market will correct to bring its valuation to a reasonable level. High yield bonds will tank. Housing prices will drop as mortgage loans demands wane. Commodity prices will decrease as US dollar strengthens. Interest payments on US national debt will rise as deficit grows to ~$1 trillion annually, or about 5% of the US GDP.

In short, the structural shift will shrink personal wealth as inflation bites.

David Roche is missing the point January 9, 2018

Posted by hslu in China, Cold War, 石油, 美國, Global Affair, U.S. Foreign Policy, 中國.
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Roche’s analysis is predicated on one of two scenarios playing out in the Korean peninsula:

  1. The U.S. moves to contain North Korea and, by default, China with missiles from the east,
  2.  Trump takes out Kim Jong Un through a strategic attack. 

Rocheconcluded that both options would signal China’s ineffectiveness at handling the situation and would result in an “almost inevitable cold war” between the U.S. and China.

I believe that Roche missed a key fact about the relationship between the U.S. and China: America has been in a cold war with China ever since Chinese oil company Cnoon was forced out trying to buy Unocal in August 2005 in a $18.5 take over bid. 

America treated China as a threat to its national security and put up a wall to slow China’s progress down. 

That’s when the cold war between America and China started.

Trading oil futures with Renminbi January 7, 2018

Posted by hslu in 石油, 美國, Energy, Renminbi.
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It is about to happen because the Shanghai International Energy Exchange (INE) 上海國際能源交易中心 will soon open to take your renminbi in exchange for energy future contracts.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-01-01/how-china-will-shake-up-the-oil-futures-market-quicktake-q-a

Foreign traders are welcome because INE is registered in a pilot free trade zone in Pudong, Shanghai where foreign financial companies can set up their branches there. The headquarter of INE is 5 miles from my Pudong apartment near the Lujiazui financial district. I shall pay it a visit in time.

Crude oil, natural gas, and petrochemical products can be traded there.

Will the foreign energy traders come? I don’t know because China has capital flow restrictions but these restrictions may be less stringent in the pilot free trade zone for both the foreign companies and locals working with foreign institutions.

Will renminbi replaces US dollar as the dominant petro currency?

Probably not anytime soon giving the closer tie between Saudi Arabia and U.S. right now. However, with U.S. shale oil productions fixing to rise, thus reducing oil imports, as oil trades firmly above $50 a barrel and as Chinese economy grows, Saudi has to compete with Russia and other oil exporters to sell its oil to the Middle Kingdom. It is a given that China will insist on using renminbi to settle energy contracts on INE.

Will Saudi take renminbi for its oil? It probably has to.

Source: Bloomberg

 

 

Soon, financial institutions and national oil companies around the world will increase their renminbi reserves if they haven’t done so already to deal with China in the lucrative energy sector.

Next time when we visit Shanghai, we will check the INE out.

 

Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia, Iran and oil December 15, 2017

Posted by hslu in China, 石油, 美國, Energy, Global Affair, Islam, Middle East, Military, Oil, Putin, Trump, U.S. Foreign Policy, 川普, 中國.
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Mohammed bin Salman’s ill-advised ventures have weakened Saudi Arabia’s position in the world

http://flip.it/93wubN

The failed policies of Mohammed bin Salman, the growing influence of Iran and the formation of Shia cresent are the primary reason that WTI is trading above $55 a barrel and Brent crude at $63 a barrel. A 20% war premium has been added to the price of crude oil contracts since November. It has gained more than 30% since the low achieved in late June of this year.

Saudi Arabia has been fighting a proxy war with Iran via Yemen for 2 years with little but many dead Yemenis to show for. Saudi’s oil infrastructure is now under external threat from Yemen which will keep the price of Brent crude at an elevated level. 

US shale oil production is expected to rise because WTI is trading at a few dollars below $60/barrel. However, since US exports very little of its oil, the spread between WTI and Brent crude will widen.

Source: CNBC

Source: CNBC

With WTI comfortably trading above $45 a barrel, roughly the average price of WTI for the past three years, oil company stocks should see a nice rebound in 2018. If the tension between Saudi and Iran flares up further, oil companies should see more upside too. 

With an young and inexperienced prince in Rydah colluding with a dotard and impulsive Trump in the WH, giant mistakes will continue to happen.

It is bad for the world.

It is good for China and it will be great for the US oil companies.

Putin is smiling too.

LOL: Canada, UK and USA December 12, 2017

Posted by hslu in 石油, 美國, Oil.
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Are the UK and Canada bad versions of the USA? 

by Richard Black https://www.quora.com/Are-the-UK-and-Canada-bad-versions-of-the-USA/answer/Richard-Black-31?share=7ee96cc7&srid=eBtU

Canada has a special place in my heart because I was assigned to work for MOCAN, that’s Mobil Canada, for a year and half. My condition to my manager for working up north was to send my family with me to the cold country.

He agreed and my family went with me to live in a city with 6 months of winter and 3 weeks of summer.

The oil field I worked on was called ‘Cold Lake.’ It was 3+ hours away from Edmonton. I sometimes took company’s small (seat 6) twin propeller plane to the field directly but most of the time I had to fly to Edmonton from Calgary and drove 3 hours to the field. To call it “in the middle of no where” or “鳥不生蛋的地方” is actually an understatement. 

Calgary could be very cold in the winter. Temperature dipped to -25 degrees F in the city and the coldest night that I had to out about and work around a drilling rig was -43 degrees F. That was cold indeed. Almost all cars were equipped with electric engine block heaters to keep the engine blocks warm. Without it, the engine block could be too cold and engine oil too viscous to to get car engines started in the morning or after work.  

The Canada I remembered was a slow-paced, easy going, lay back and friendly country. Tax was very high. Almost everything was more expensive than what we could buy in Dallas. Prices for things made out of cotton: socks, underwears, etc., were outrageous. Very few fancy cars on the road and houses for professionals were modest at best.

When I was there, WTI was less than $20 a barrel and oil coming out of ground of Cold Lake could only fetch $8 a barrel. It wss tough back then. MOCAN had to lay off 25% of its staff while I was up there. It was miserable. In the end, the SW SAGD project our team of engineers and geologists was working on was terminated because it cost more to produce each barrel than we could sell the oil for. Now, the SW SAGD process we pioneered has been successfully  applied in the field since late 1990’s all over Alberta. 

Well, we could have made a lot of money for Mobil and converted hundreds of millions barrels of heavy oil resources into reserves. Well, so be it because Mobil management wasn’t like Exxon’s management team. They has a long tern vision for what an oil company should be run. Mobil’s top management only cared for next quarterly results.

Exxon bought Mobil in 2000. 

It was ironic to note that Exxon’s Cold Lake operation was probably 100 times bigger than Mobil’s. They started to develop their Cold Lake field in the 1960’s and kept at it through thin and thick. Mobil shut our successful operation down because oil price was low.

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