Best in Energy – 28 September 2022

U.S. Treasury 10-yr yields surge to 4% (%WSJ)

Russia/NATO nuclear escalation calculations¹

Nord Stream pipelines sabotaged says EU

Nord Stream pipelines sabotaged ($BBG)

Nord Stream pipelines sabotaged ($FT)

Nord Stream pipelines sabotaged (trans.)

Solar generation – global deployment

Iran morality police pulled off streets ($FT)

¹ “On Escalation: Metaphors and Scenarios” (Kahn, 1965 and 2010) remains the best guide to escalation strategies (escalation ladders, escalate-to-negotiate, escalation pauses and escalation dominance) including the role of tactical and strategic nuclear weapons in conflict. I can highly recommend it as a guide to the current Russia/NATO conflict over Ukraine but also the U.S./Iran conflict in the Persian Gulf and the U.S./China conflict centred on Taiwan.

The taboo on the use of nuclear weapons is strong but has never been as absolute as opinion-formers have implied in public. Both the USSR and USA/NATO actively planned for the use of nuclear weapons in scenarios short of mutually assured destruction. Tactical and strategic nuclear weapons have always been a central part of NATO nuclear doctrine, including ambiguity on “first use”.

Nuclear weapons are also playing an increasingly central role in U.S./China strategic competition. China historically assigned a minor role to nuclear weapons but it is massively increasing its arsenal and delivery systems to give it more leverage and room for manoeuvre in any future conflict with the United States.

Some of the basic outlines of Kahn’s work on escalation can be seen in the table below (taken from page 39). The current Russia/NATO conflict has already escalated beyond the “nuclear war is unthinkable threshold” and reached the 14th or 16th rung on the ladder, with open speculation about breaching the “no nuclear use threshold” and climbing to the 21st-24th rungs or even the 26th-28th rungs:

U.S. TREASURY YIELDS on notes with 10-year maturity have climbed to 4.00% up from just 1.50% a year ago, the fastest increase since 1984. The rapid increase reflects expectations inflation will remain persistent and interest rates will remain higher for longer. The escalation in “risk-free” benchmark yields will force a re-pricing of all other assets and borrowing costs:

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Best in Energy – 27 September 2022

Russia gas pipelines hit by suspected sabotage¹

Nord Stream says three lines damaged in one day¹

U.S./EU lobby for Russian oil exports price cap

LNG market consolidated by higher credit costs

Nigeria’s electricity collapses for fourth time in 2022

California tries to balance EVs with grid limits ($WSJ)

U.S. refined petroleum exports hit record high

U.K. energy agency distracted by restructure ($FT)

U.S./China academic exchanges diminish ($FT)

U.S./China cyber-espionage (trans.)

¹ Like damage to other subsea pipelines and cables, the leaks in the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines could have been caused accidentally by a trawler, a ship’s anchor dragging, or a submarine. But pipelines are marked on nautical charts and such incidents are rare. The probability of two pipelines being accidentally breached at the same time, reportedly in three separate locations, when both lines are at the centre of a major international dispute, is very low, which makes it much more likely they were unintentionally damaged by a submarine or deliberately sabotaged.

BRENT’s front-month futures price is back to year-ago levels once adjusted for core inflation excluding food and energy prices. The real price of $85 per barrel (U.S.$2022) is close to long-term averages since 2010 (53rd percentile) and 2000 (46th percentile) though still somewhat above the average since 1990 (69th percentile):

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