The top tweeted terms are the trending oil and gas industry discussions happening on Twitter by key individuals (influencers) as tracked by the platform.

1. OPEC – 601 mentions

Russian oil producer Gazprom Neft ramping up oil output as the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and non-OPEC producers ease production curbs, and the rise of US gasoline prices as OPEC+ plans to boost oil output were some of the popularly discussed topics around OPEC in Q3 2021.

Ellen R Wald, president at energy consultancy Transversal Consulting, shared an article on Gazprom’s plans to ramp up oil output as OPEC+ eased production cuts. The company stated that many of its wells were either abandoned or produced less output since the start of the pandemic. Gazprom added that it has a number of projects in its pipeline that will boost output in 2022 and enable it to use its complete production quota.

The term was also discussed by Alex Lawler, an energy correspondent, in the context of rise in US gasoline prices by more than 1.5% due to uncertainty over the restart of US gulf coast platforms, pipelines, and refineries following the damage caused by Hurricane Ida. All oil platforms in the region were evacuated and production ceased ahead of the hurricane that was later called a tropical storm, the article noted. Furthermore, power outages in Louisiana and Mississippi led to closure of refineries and traders expected the disruptions to continue. Analysts stated that the prices of diesel, gasoline, and other oil products were likely to rise as a result of the outages.

2. Energy Transition – 87 mentions

China’s definitive role in energy transition, and oil and natural gas company ExxonMobil’s lobbyists confirming how the company has held back on climate action were some of the popular discussions in the third quarter.

The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a non-partisan think tank, shared an article on China playing a decisive role in the energy transition, although its national oil companies (NOCs) are expected to face new challenges. China’s NOCs including China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC), China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC), and China Petroleum & Chemical Corporation (Sinopec) have not made any major changes in energy strategy to achieve China’s low-carbon energy goals.

The NOCs, however, are taking steps to align with China’s energy strategy including disclosure of emissions data, low-carbon energy investments and net-zero commitments although these steps are still in the nascent stage. The strategies for NOCs are likely to depend on the policies under China’s five-year plan expected by the year end or early 2022. The policy changes may not mandate dramatic changes to be made by the NOCs although they may promote the need to invest in renewable energy and diversification of operations, the article highlighted.

The term was also discussed by Jesse Jenkins, an assistant professor at the Princeton University, who shared a thread on how ExxonMobil has actively worked against the energy transition goals and continues to do so. Critics have claimed that the company has been using aggressive lobbying techniques to influence the government, while running covert campaigns to avoid climate change actions, disrepute its opponents, and distract attention from its polluting activities, an interview with Exxon lobbyists highlighted.

Keith McCoy, one of Exxon’s top Capitol Hill lobbyists, claimed that the company has been working relentlessly on undermining President Biden’s $2tn infrastructure plan. The White House proposal includes spending on clean energy and transport, which would be paid for by higher taxes on corporations such as Exxon. The interview further highlighted that Exxon is now trying to scale back the proposal in an effort to stop the company from paying more taxes.

3. Refineries – 81 mentions

China’s daily oil refinery output hitting a 15-month low in August and US Gulf Coast refineries recovering faster than producers were among the trending topics discussed in Q3.

Giovanni Staunovo, commodity analyst at financial services firm UBS, shared an article on how August oil production hit its lowest in China for the first time since May 2020. An increase in Covid-19 cases and a deep cut in fuel exports are cited as the reasons behind the reduced output at refineries, according to the article. The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) reported that August output fell to 58.35Mt, a 2.2% decline from the previous year. The August production was even lower than the 13.91 million barrels per day (bpd) recorded in July, marking a 14-month low.

In another tweet, Anas Alhajji, an energy economist, shared an article on how US Gulf Coast refineries recovered faster than producers. Hurricane Ida led to the shutdown of ports, refineries and other oil and gas infrastructure. Alhajji stated that the refineries could operate if oil was available, but they would also need the ports to function at optimal capacities.

Nine refineries located in Louisiana that had been shut down due to the hurricane had finally begun to open and restart after two weeks of the storm, the article noted. Reports suggested that only three out of the nine refineries remained idled, accounting for approximately 7% of the refining at the Gulf Coast. The state’s largest refineries, Exxon Mobil’s Baton Rouge and Marathon Petroleum’s Garyville plant, were also able to return to operations, the companies announced.

4. Shale – 65 mentions

Energy company Hess’ plans to add a drilling rig in North Dakota’s Bakken shale basin, shale companies focusing on clearing debts instead of drilling, and how US shale production could thwart oil markets, were some of the widely discussed topics in the third quarter.

Ernest Scheyder, an energy and mining correspondent, shared an article on Hess Corporation’s forecast that oil production in the US would take more than four years to return to pre-Covid levels. The company is focussing on retaining its spending plan in order to generate investor returns rather than growth, the article detailed. Hess announced plans to add one rig in North Dakota’s Bakken basin in September. It also expected its net output in 2021 to meet the year’s guidance at 295,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boepd).

Collin Eaton, an energy reporter, tweeted on how shale companies with cash reserves were focused on paying off debts and distributing the cash to investors rather than investing in drilling. US frackers exercised restraint in US shale production as crude topped at $70 per barrel to regain the faith of investors. These companies have yielded poor returns for years, due to which investors have been showing less interest in funding their new drilling campaigns, the article noted.

Another discussion on shale was shared by Mark LaCour, an oil and gas expert, about a significant return of the US shale production to be a huge threat for oil markets. An analysis by the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies highlighted that the increase in oil prices could help revive US shale production in 2022, potentially threatening OPEC+, which accounts for more than one-third of the global oil production. Experts from the institute claim that US shale production could rise by 0.95 million barrels per day, which can be quickly absorbed in the market. The experts add that if shale production hits 1.22 million barrels per day amid a sluggish global demand recovery, it could upset the rebalancing of the global oil market.

5. Exports – 61 mentions

China’s falling diesel exports becoming a boon for Asian refineries and Singapore’s oil exports surging in June were among the popularly discussed topics in the previous quarter.

Clyde Russell, a commodities columnist, shared an article on the slump in China’s diesel exports proving to be a boon for Asian refiners. China is one of the largest exporters of gasoil, which is used to extract heating oil, jet kerosene, and diesel. Gasoil consignments from China in recent months have declined due to a lack of port permits and lower diesel processing. The absence of Chinese exports has consequently benefitted Asian refiners, whose profits from producing diesel rose to the highest levels in 18 months. The profit margin for producing one barrel of gasoil from Dubai crude, for example, rose to $7.96 per barrel on 17 September 2021 at a Singapore refinery, the article detailed.

Giovanni Staunovo also discussed the term in an article on oil exports from Singapore reaching a three-month high in June owing to higher shipments of fuel oil and jet fuel. Total oil product exports from Singapore reached 1.37 million bpd compared to 1.14 million bpd in May. Fuel oil exports reached an eight-month high of 350,000bpd driven by higher exports to China. Jet fuel exports from the city-state reached a seven-month high of 65,000bpd in June, with Australia accounting for one third of the exports, according to the article.