Best in Energy – 22 November 2022

China hit by worst coronavirus outbreaks since April ¹

European Union proposes gas price cap, without figures

Australia’s gas consumers try to avoid high export price

Saudi Arabia boosts renewable power to export oil ($FT)

U.S./India diplomatic and economic relationship

¹ China has reported severe coronavirus outbreaks in megacities across the entire country, including Beijing and Tianjin in the northeast, Guangzhou in the southeast, and Chongqing in the southwest. Xinjiang in the northwest has been under semi-permanent lockdown for months. The central government’s lockdown and suppression strategy is failing to control transmission and disrupting the entire economy. But there is still no sign of an exit strategy that would enable the country to live with the virus, worsening the economic and oil consumption outlook for 2023.

BRENT calendar spreads for the first half of 2023 have softened significantly as traders anticipate a business cycle slowdown and China’s postponed re-opening from coronavirus will relieve some pressure on crude supplies and inventories:

Best in Energy – 18 November 2022

India’s coal-fired generation rises over 10%

China solar installers hit by lockdowns ($BBG)

China food and energy security focus (trans.)

Hess chief marks the end of shale revolution

U.S. heating oil prices up 65% from year ago

Australia’s changing defence strategy ($FT)

Qatar Energy – company profile and ($FT)

BRENT’s six-month calendar spread has fallen to a backwardation of $4.90 per barrel (95th percentile for all trading days since 1990) down from $7.60 (98th percentile) a month ago and a record over $15-20 in the first months after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The softening spread is consistent with a recession in Europe and China, possibly spreading across the rest of the world, easing pressure on oil supplies in 2023:

U.S. TREASURY yield curve is now more inverted between two-year and ten-year maturities than at any time since September 1981 at the start of the second instalment of the double-dip recession. U.S. interest rate traders anticipate an exceptionally rapid turn around in monetary policy. Such a rapid pivot is consistent with a soft-landing allowing the central bank to unwind rate rises quickly, or because a hard-landing eliminates inflation and requires it to support growth and employment instead:

Best in Energy – 3 November 2022

Africa’s governments demand fair energy transition

U.S. gas production and injections drive prices lower

China’s gas consumption growth stalls in 2022

Australia’s mining companies explore renewables

Saudi Arabia’s more independent foreign policy ($FA)

South Africa’s newest coal generator damaged ($BBG)

Aero-engine makers struggle to meet demand ($FT)

Canada excludes China from lithium sector ($FT)

China’s quarantine system – an inside view ($FT)

U.S. INTEREST RATE TRADERS expect the Federal Reserve to raise its federal funds target for longer to peak at a higher level and sustain them at a higher rate than before, following a warning by the central bank’s chief. Policy-controlled interest rates are expected to continue rising until they peak at 5.00-5.25% in May 2023, up from 3.75-4.00% at present, and still be at 4.00-4.25% at the end of 2024:

U.S. PETROLEUM INVENTORIES including the strategic reserve fell by -3 million barrels in the week to October 28. Stocks have depleted in 90 of the last 122 weeks by a total of -494 million barrels since the start of July 2020:

Best in Energy – 12 August 2022

Australia presses producers to reserve gas for local market

Crypto-mining and electricity demand response

U.S. solar generation installations delayed

U.S./China try to manage Taiwan tensions ($WSJ)

U.S./Iran attempt to finalise nuclear accord ($WSJ)

EUROPE’s GAS INVENTORIES are well above the seasonal average and accumulating at a record or near-record rate as the region attempts to maximise its seasonal storage ahead of the winter and a possible disruption to gas imports from Russia.

  • EU28 gas inventories have risen to 823 TWh up from a post-winter low of 291 TWh on March 19.
  • Stocks are +62 TWh above the prior ten-year seasonal average (+8% or +0.48 standard deviations).
  • The increase in inventories to date from the post-winter low (+532 TWh) is the largest for at least ten years.
  • Inventories accumulated at an average rate of 6 TWh per day over the seven days to August 10, among the fastest seasonal increases in the last decade.
  • Inventories are on course to reach 995 TWh by the end of the refill season (with a likely range of 915-1069 TWh).
  • Expected post-summer stocks are significantly higher than the 878 TWh anticipated at the start of the refill season on April 1 (710-1066 TWh).
  • Expected post-summer inventories have steadily risen as operators have filled storage irrespective of prices.

Expected post-summer stocks are +63 TWh (+7%) above the prior ten-year average (932 TWh).

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Best in Energy – 2 August 2022

India starts rationing gas to industrial users

Australia grapples with pricing for domestic gas

Baker Hughes plan to sell Russia unit to insiders

Rosatom tightens grip on nuclear energy ($BBG)

China focuses on energy indigenisation (trans.)

U.S./Saudi visit: what did Biden achieve? ($BBG)

United Kingdom closes nuclear power generator

EU struggles to balance energy security and transition ($WSJ)

U.S./EU responses to energy security and transition challenges

U.S. MANUFACTURERS reported a further slight deceleration in growth last month, with the ISM purchasing managers’ index slipping to 52.8 in July (50th percentile for all months since 1980) from 53.0 in June (53rd percentile). New orders fell for the second month running, slightly faster in July (48.0, 14th percentile) than June (49.2, 17th percentile), implying business activity will slow further over the next few months:

U.S. DISTILLATE CONSUMPTION has begun to fall in line with the deceleration in manufacturing activity. The volume of distillate supplied was down -0.4% in March-May compared with the same period a year earlier. Distillates are the most cyclically sensitive part of the oil market, so the business cycle slowdown is filtering through into lower fuel use, part of the market rebalancing process:

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Best in Energy – 1 August 2022

OPEC says Russia is essential to success of OPEC+

Lyondell plans to repurpose Houston oil refinery

New England solar reshapes electricity load curve

EU/UK ease sanctions on Russian oil trade ($FT)

U.S. threatens to sanction Iran oil trading ($WSJ)

Bangladesh sees LNG shortage until 2026 ($BBG)

China’s leaders recommit to zero-covid (trans.)

Australia explores controls on LNG exports

U.S. energy systems hit by shortages ($WSJ)

Iraq’s political crisis is intensifying ($WSJ)

CHINA’s manufacturers reported a significant contraction in activity last month with the composite purchasing managers’ index falling to 49.0 in July (2nd percentile for all months since 2011) down from 50.2 in June (33rd percentile). Repeated lockdowns are disrupting supply chains and economic activity:

U.S. GAS production was up +4.2% in May compared with the same month a year earlier, and up +3.1% in the three months March-May compared with the same period in 2021:

U.S. CRUDE OIL production fell -57,000 b/d in May compared with April as lower output from the Gulf of Mexico (-157,000  b/d) more than offset increases from the onshore Lower 48 (+95,000 b/d) and Alaska (+5,000 b/d). Onshore L48 output was up by just +468,000 b/d in March-May compared with the same period a year earlier:

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Best in Energy – 14 July 2022

Smart sanctions on Russia’s petroleum exports¹

EU prepares for gas shortages in winter 2022/23

Biden wants sanctions and lower oil price ($FT)

Berkshire Hathaway boosts Occidental ownership

China studies ending Australia coal ban ($BBG)²

ERCOT again appeals for electricity conservation

(see also ERCOT’s alert notice

Bolton boasts about helping plan coup attempts⁴

Urban heat islands and summer electricity ($BBG)

¹ This paper by Harvard’s Craig Kennedy published in April appears to be an early version of the price-cap plan the U.S. Treasury Department is advocating to the European Union, Japan, India and China.

² Bloomberg reports Chinese officials are preparing to recommend the lifting of the country’s ban on coal imports from Australia. The proposal is framed as a policy response to concerns about coal shortages stemming from sanctions on Russia. But China does not need Australian coal at the moment given the slowdown in the domestic economy, rapidly rising domestic coal production, and the huge increase in hydropower generation. The proposal therefore appears to be primarily diplomatic – part of détente between China and the new government in Canberra. The question is what China would hope to receive in return: de-escalation of the conflict, generalised goodwill and a reset in the relationship, or something more concrete?

³ Visible only to IP addresses in the United States or via a VPN

⁴ U.S. government involvement in the overthrow of foreign governments is widely known, including Iran (1953) and Chile (1973). But it is rare for a recently serving senior official to acknowledge the fact. There is always a large gap between what we “know” in the sense of being overwhelmingly probable and what we “know” in the sense of being able to prove to the satisfaction of audiences, editors and lawyers. Indiscretions by former officials are useful because they move topics from the known-suspected to the known-proven category which makes it much easier to analyse and write about them.

U.S. SERVICE SECTOR prices climbed at an annualised rate of almost +10% in the three months from April to June, a clear sign the economy is overheating. Services inflation is running at some of the fastest rates for 60 years. The three-month rate is in the 93rd percentile for all similar periods since 1960:

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Best in Energy – 4 July 2022

Australia’s export earnings rise on energy prices

South Africa’s electricity shortages are worsening

U.K. electricity pricing – space and time (parts 1-3)

Biden/Bezos disagree on causes of inflation ($FT)

U.S. government split on lifting China tariffs ($FT)

NATO’s resolve tested by economic downturn ($FT)

U.S. refineries push crude processing to limit ($BBG)

U.S. CENTRAL BANK is now expected to raise rates earlier and more aggressively to bring inflation under control, with traders anticipating rates will peak around the end of the first quarter or the start of the second quarter of 2023. By implication, the business cycle is expected to slow significantly by the end of this year, creating conditions for inflation to moderate and the central bank to begin easing interest rates a few months later by the second quarter of 2023:

U.S. MANUFACTURERS reported much slower growth last month. The Institute for Supply Management (ISM)’s purchasing managers’ index slid to 53.0 in June (45th percentile since 1980) from 56.1 in May (76th percentile) and 60.9 a year ago (97th percentile):

U.S. MANUFACTURERS reported a decline in new orders for the first time since the first wave of the pandemic in 2020. The ISM new orders index slumped to 49.2 in June (18th percentile) from 55.1 in May (45th percentile):

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Best in Energy – 21 June 2022

China power generators relying on lower-quality coal

White House considers suspension of U.S. gasoline tax

Russia becomes top crude oil supplier to China in May

U.S./Germany sign firm LNG export agreement ($WSJ)

Australia’s power shortage will spur more rooftop solar

Iron ore prices fall on China’s building downturn ($FT)

United Kingdom addicted to currency devaluation ($FT)

China scrutinises Musk’s dual-use technologies ($FT)

SOUTHEAST ASIA’s gross refining margin for making gas oil from Dubai crude has climbed to a record $70 per barrel, up from $7 a year ago, as fuel supplies for freight and manufacturing remain at 14-year lows:

EAST CHINA’s temperatures have been 2-5°C higher than the long-term seasonal average since the middle of June, straining power supplies in the Lower Yangtze region and the provinces just to its north, including Jiangsu, Henan and up to Shandong:

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