Best in Energy – 3 August 2022

G7 statement reaffirms exploration of Russia oil-price cap

France plans to fill gas storage completely by end of October

France cuts nuclear output as heatwave warms rivers ($BBG)

Rhine water levels close to forcing transport closure ($BBG)

U.S. retailers seek warehouses for excess inventories ($WSJ)

Global refinery capacity expansions

RIVER RHINE water levels at Kaub had dropped to just 61 centimetres on August 2, the lowest since December 2018, and the lowest for the time of year for more than 25 years, as prolonged drought causes river levels to fall across Northwest Europe, threatening power generation and transport of bulk commodities:

CHINA’s hydroelectric power stations generated a record 583 billion kWh in the first six months of the year, an increase of +100 billion kWh or more than +20% compared with the same period in 2021. China’s hydro generation was more than three times the entire electrical output of the United Kingdom:

CHINA’s thermal power generation, nearly all of it from coal, dipped to 2,728 billion kWh in January-June, a decrease of 98 billion kWh (-4%) compared with the same period in 2021, helping improve the coal inventory situation:

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Best in Energy – 11 July 2022

Saudi Arabia’s oil production capacity scrutinised

Canada to return Nord Stream impounded turbine

Ocean carriers likely to revert to slow steaming

India rejects US/EU calls to boycott Russian oil

France plans for complete loss of Russian gas

France prepares to switch from gas to fuel oil

Freight rates start to soften as volume falls ($WSJ)

U.S. central bank tries to avoid stop-go policy ($WSJ)

U.K. businesses prepare for onset of recession ($FT)

China boosts coal by rail deliveries by +9% (trans.)

Texas appeals for electricity conservation on July 11

U.S. BUSINESS inventory ratios have started to climb as sales slow and firms struggle to shift extra items ordered on a precautionary basis at the height of the supply-chain crisis. Manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers held inventories equivalent to 1.29 months worth of sales in April up from a cyclical low of 1.26 months in November. Excess stocks are concentrated at the retail level where the ratio has climbed to 1.18 months up from 1.09 months in October 2021.

U.S. inventory ratios remain low by pre-pandemic standards but will climb quickly if sales slow further in response to rapid inflation and a business cycle downturn. Inventory reduction is likely to weigh on economic growth over the next six months as businesses to limit or reverse overstocking:

TEXAS temperatures have climbed well above the long-term seasonal average since the start of July increasing the strain on the state’s isolated electric grid. Cumulative cooling degree days since the start of the year have been almost +30% higher than the 1981-2010 average:

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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 – 28 June 2022

France calls for easing sanctions on Iran, Venezuela

Australia’s coal miners seek higher contract prices

G7 summit defers price capping of Russia oil

OPEC production close to maximum capacity

China’s northern grid regions hit record load

China probes coal price manipulation (trans.)

Triple La Niña event possible in 2022 (trans.)

EU28 GAS INVENTORIES are accumulating at a relatively rapid rate of +5.2 TWh per day, notwithstanding the recent interruptions of pipeline supplies from Russia, compared with an average rate of +4.8 TWh per day over the previous ten years: 

CHINA’s central-northern region stretching from Ningxia and Gansu in the west to Henan and Shandong in the east, but not including Beijing and the wider Jīng-Jīn-Jì metropolitan region, has been experiencing temperatures well above normal, leading to record electricity consumption in recent weeks. The map also shows below normal temperatures in the south where the monsoon rains have been unusually heavy:

JAPAN has called for electricity conservation especially in Tokyo as temperatures have risen more than +6°C above the long-term seasonal average in recent days and the strong air-conditioning and refrigeration demand has strained the availability of power supplies:

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Best in Energy – 27 June 2022

Russia/EU clash over routine gas pipeline maintenance

EdF/Engie/Total call for immediate energy conservation

U.S. shale producers turn to refracturing existing oil wells

Germany’s chemicals firms contemplate shutdown ($WSJ)

Bank for International Settlements annual economy review

Southwest Airlines’ fuel hedging ($FT)

U.S. OIL AND GAS rig count rose +13 to 753 last week as higher prices spur exploration and production companies to contract more drilling teams. The number of active rigs has climbed by +509 from the cyclical low in August 2020 and is only -40 below the pre-pandemic level in March 2020. The number of active oil rigs is still -88 below the pre-pandemic level but gas rigs are already +48 above the March 2020 level.

Oil and gas drilling is exhibiting a fairly normal cyclical recovery, though it is unfolding slower than other recent recoveries because some of the larger exploration and production companies have been constraining drilling and production programmes to keep prices high and boost returns to shareholders:

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Best in Energy –4 April 2022

[MUST READ] Sanctions and a long conflict

[MUST READ] Wars and settlements ($BBG)

SPR sale – formal announcement and details

France’s electricity grid calls for conservation

China to buy Russia LNG via middlemen ($BBG)

Australia’s export earnings boosted by conflict

EU/Russia standoff over gas payments

U.S. jet fuel prices surge on East Coast

Aviation recovery at risk from fuel prices ($FT)

Sri Lanka leader imposes state of emergency

United Kingdom takes Russian diesel delivery

U.S. MANUFACTURERS reported a less-widespread increase in business activity last month. The ISM composite index fell to 57.1 in March from 58.6 in February and the lowest reading since Sep 2020 as the expansion decelerates. There was also a sharp deceleration in new orders growth in March. The ISM new orders index slipped to 53.8 from 61.7 the month before, consistent with a slowdown in the business cycle ahead:

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