Best in Energy – 28 November 2022

Brent futures prices revert to contango nearby

China cities see small but widespread protests

China lockdowns spark public protests ($BBG)

China tries to soften epidemic controls (trans.)

U.S. Treasury eases oil sanctions on Venezuela

Container freight rates slump ($WSJ)

Oil prices and the G7 price cap ($FT)

Oil prices and the G7 price cap ($WSJ)

BRENT’s six-month calendar spread has softened to a backwardation of less than $1 per barrel compared with more than $9 at the end of September and a peak of almost $22 in early March shortly after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The spread between January and February 2023 has moved from backwardation into a small contango. Refiners and traders increased buying ahead of the planned introduction of the price cap in case it disrupts Russia’s crude exports, creating at least a temporary pause in new buying and putting pressure on the calendar spreads for nearby months:

THE NETHERLANDS was the fourth-largest gas consumer in the European Union in 2021 accounting for 11% of the total. The country’s gas consumption was down almost -33% in October 2022 compared with the prior ten-year seasonal average as a result of above-average temperatures, high prices, and energy conservation measures to reduce reliance on imported gas from Russia following the invasion of Ukraine:

CONTAINER shipping costs were down by more than -50% in November 2022 compared with the same month in 2021, as freight volumes fell and supply chain delays eased:

Best in Energy – 4 August 2022

OPEC+ raises output  by de minimis amount¹

Electricity transmission links undervalued

Freeport LNG to restart partially in October

Autos/semiconductors relationship

Automakers see weakening demand

¹ Higher oil production by Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf monarchies was briefed as one of the benefits from U.S. President Joe Biden’s visit to the region and “reset” of the relationship with Saudi Arabia last month. The tiny output increase of +100,000 b/d was the smallest that could be announced without appearing to snub the president completely. But it raises the question of what diplomatic benefits the president achieved from the trip – if not higher oil output did he secure some other objectives? Who advised the president to make this trip, within the administration and outside? Does the president ultimately see it as a success or a disappointment?

BRENT spot prices and calendar spreads have weakened consistently in recent weeks, a sign the recent upward price cycle has begun to break down. Prices and spreads are softening in response to the increased probability of a recession dampening oil consumption:

BRENT’s calendar spread from December 2022 to December 2023 has softened to a backwardation of $7.20 per barrel, down from $16.50 in early June, and close to its lowest levels since Russia invaded Ukraine in February. Traders are anticipating an imminent business cycle slowdown will relieve under-production in the oil market and stabilise inventory levels:

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Best in Energy – 25 July 2022

EU softens oil-trading related sanctions on Russia

China’s biggest coal miner boosts output (trans.)

U.K. transmission grid hits capacity limit ($BBG)

Dark tanker market grows competitive

Urban centres and heatwaves ($FT)

Oil exploration accelerates ($BBG)

China’s lessons from Russia’s war

U.S. INITIAL CLAIMS for unemployment insurance benefits have been trending upwards since the start of April, albeit from an exceptionally low base, indicating the labour market may be starting to cool:

BRENT futures for September delivery are showing characteristics of a squeeze, trading in a backwardation of almost $5 per barrel compared with October. But further forward, spreads have softened significantly in recent weeks, as traders anticipate an increased probability a recession will dampen oil consumption:

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Best in Energy – 13 July 2022

Baltic grids prepare to synchronise to EU rapidly

OPEC predicts oil consumption to rise in 2023

Russia’s fuel exports to Middle East surge ($BBG)

China hydropower generation hits record high

U.S. homes with electric-only energy systems

China hesitates to mandate vaccination ($BBG)

Rapid inflation and its many discontents ($FT)

BRENT’s calendar spread from December 2022 to December 2023 has softened to a backwardation of $8 per barrel from $16 in early June as traders anticipate a cyclical economic slowdown will relieve some of the shortage in oil supply next year:

TEXAS electricity consumption increased at a compound annual rate of +1.5% over the last 20 years, reaching 427 billion kWh in 2021, up from 318 billion kWh in 2001:

U.K. REAL GDP rose by +0.51% in May from April, the fastest increase for four months, with particularly large increases in manufacturing (+0.87%) and construction (+1.54%):

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Best in Energy – 7 July 2022

EU parliament adds gas and nuclear to green energy list

France to renationalise nuclear power generator EdF

Aramco raises official selling prices as oil futures fall

Oil price falls not yet justified by recession risk ($BBG)

China tax reductions hit $385 billion in Jan-June (trans.)

China plans to boost car sales after lockdown hit ($BBG)

United States intensifies sanctions enforcement on Iran

PRIOR to this week’s sharp drop in oil prices, hedge fund positioning was not showing the congestion that often signals an imminent reversal in the price trend:

HEDGE FUND positions in crude were below average in both Brent and WTI (36-37th percentile). The ratio of long to short positions showed a bullish bias but not excessively so (65-66th percentile):

HEDGE FUND managers showed no sign of preparing for a sharp fall in oil prices – with the number of short positions close to multi-year lows:

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Best in Energy – 6 July 2022

India limits gasoline and diesel exports

China issues new fuel export quotas

EU relaxes oil sanctions on Venezuela

Global LNG: trade report and statistics

U.S. recession indicators mixed ($WSJ)

Qatar is big winner from gas war ($FT)

BRENT’s front-month futures price fell -$10.73 (-9.5%) on July 5. The decline came on a day with little new information about production or consumption but traders seemed to anticipate a higher probability of an economic slowdown. In percentage terms, the decline was the third-largest since July 2020 and 4.1 standard deviations away from average since 1990:

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Best in Energy – 25 March 2022

Brent futures margin requirements raised further

Europe’s diesel shortage threatens output growth

U.S. refiners source more fuel oil from Middle East

EU diesel supply vulnerable to Russia ban ($BBG)

EU faces high costs for filling gas storage ($BBG)

China economy disrupted by new epidemic ($BBG)

Russia/Ukraine war cuts fertiliser supply ($WSJ)

Mexico follows Fed in raising interest rates

UAE/Saudi seek to reset U.S. relationship ($FT)

EUROPEAN gas oil and Brent twelve-month calendar spreads are both trading in the 99.9th percentile for all trading days since 2000 as traders anticipate possible severe shortages of both crude and products stemming from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and U.S./EU sanctions imposed in response:

EUROZONE manufacturers reported a less widespread expansion this month as war in Ukraine and inflation pushes the region’s economy towards a cyclical slowdown. Preliminary readings put the purchasing managers’ index at 57.0, down from 58.2 in February, and the lowest since January 2021, when economy was still gripped by pandemic:

GERMANY’s IFO business expectations index fell to 85.1 in March from 98.4 in February, a level only normally seen during a recession, as employers prepare for the impact of the war and sanctions to be felt on the domestic economy:

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