¹ PJM’s post-event study for winter storm Elliot on December 24 is worth reading in full and confirms the major problem was the failure of many generators to respond to instructions from the grid because of a failure to start up or secure enough fuel (principally gas). Generators were unavailable even though they had been given repeated warnings of an extreme weather event for several days beforehand and told to prepare for a plunge in temperatures. In many cases, generators provided less than 1 hour of notice they would not be available. If generators cannot be depended upon to respond to instructions they cannot be considered firm dispatchable power for reliability purposes.
In response, PJM was forced to initiate a series of relatively extreme emergency measures to protect the transmission system, including voltage reductions and an order for flat-out maximum generation from units that were available.
U.S. PETROLEUM INVENTORIES including the strategic reserve totalled 1,599 million barrels on January 6, the lowest seasonal level since 2004. Stocks have fallen by -185 million barrels over the last 12 months and are down by -518 million barrels from their peak in mid-2020 as production has persistently fallen below consumption:
CATERPILLAR is the world’s largest maker of equipment for the construction and mining sectors, as well as a range of transportation equipment. Caterpillar is a bellwether for heavy industry and its share price is closely correlated with the business cycle. The company’s share price has fallen by almost -15% compared with the same month last year, a decline that suggests a slowdown is already underway:
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JAPAN called for electricity conservation as temperatures plunged and stretched power supplies after an earthquake damaged generation last week:
EU+UK GAS inventories are on course to an expected post-winter low of 272 TWh with a likely range of 238-292 TWh. Mild temperatures and ultra-high prices have reduced gas consumption while the region has continued to attract imports. As a result, the post-winter projection has improved significantly from just 215 TWh on Dec. 26. The region still needs to accumulate much higher-than-normal inventories over the next six months but every TWh saved now is one TWh of inventory that will not be needed later:
EU GAS prices have fallen as the inventory outlook has become more comfortable and the likelihood of an immediate cessation of pipeline imports from Russia has appeared to recede. Front-month futures prices have fallen to €96/MWh from a record €227 on March 7. The summer July 2022 to winter January 2023 calendar spread has shrunk to a backwardation of less than €9 from almost €72 on March 7. The market is still signalling the need for a large and urgent refill of inventories but is no longer trading at the crisis levels of two weeks ago:
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