Best in Energy – 26 September 2022

U.S. Treasury promotes plan for Russia oil price cap

Germany business confidence at post-pandemic low

Germany struggles to agree deals for LNG ($BBG)

Transport shares stumble on recession risk ($WSJ)

China metal trader to restructure ($BBG)

Oil futures markets are not broken ($BBG)

U.S. INTEREST RATE traders expected the central bank to increase its target for the fed funds rate to 4.50-4.75% or even 4.75-5.00% by April 2023, up from 3.00-3.25% at present, as policymakers battle to reduce inflation quickly before it becomes entrenched in wage and price-setting behaviour. Rising expected rates are pushing up the dollar’s exchange value, suppressing inflation at home, but intensifying inflation and financial pressure in other advanced economies in Europe and Asia as well as emerging markets:

U.S. DOLLAR has appreciated by almost +9% over the last twelve months against a trade-weighted basket of other major currencies, as the central bank increases interest rates rapidly. The stronger exchange rate will help reduce domestic inflation but will also worsen the trade deficit:

BRITAIN’S CURRENCY has fallen to a record low against the U.S. dollar and is not far above its record lows against the euro, which will increase competitiveness but put upward pressure on the price of road fuel, gas, electricity and other imported items:

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Best in Energy – 23 September 2022

U.S. central bank signals a hard landing ($WSJ)

U.S. trucking – possible decarbonisation pathway

China’s refiners anticipate higher exports ($BBG)

India plans more coal generation by 2030 ($BBG)

Asia LNG sales stall as prices hit resistance ($BBG)

ADNOC chief sees little room to manoeuvre in oil

Taiwan says blockade would be act of war

FedEx to cut costs and raise parcel prices ($WSJ)

U.S./China relations –Asia Society speech (trans)

EUROZONE manufacturers reported a further deterioration in business activity this month according to preliminary results from the purchasing managers’ survey. The composite activity index fell to 48.5 in September (24th percentile) down 49.6 in August (28th percentile) and 49.8 in July (29th percentile). The region’s economy is sliding into recession – even before expected energy shortages this winter:

U.S. INITIAL CLAIMS for unemployment benefits are still running at very low rates, with just 213,000 new claims filed last week on a seasonally adjusted basis. Core inflation is unlikely to fall to the Federal Reserve’s target of a little over 2% per year with the labour market this tight – which explains the central bank’s aggressiveness in raising interest rates:

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Best in Energy – 20 September 2022

Germany’s auto sector emissions remain high

China boosts imports of coal from Russia

EU/Africa tensions over gas investment ($FT)

La Niña to boost winter heating in Japan ($BBG)

U.S. shale producers hit drilling limits ($WSJ)

U.S. central bank refocuses on inflation ($WSJ)

Stranded asset story and the energy crisis ($FT)

Renewables and domestic energy security ($FT)

California relies on nuclear for 10% of electricity

United States is shifting policy on Taiwan ($BBG)

Coal boom leads to expansion of marginal mines

U.S. TREASURY securities with ten year maturity are yielding 3.53%, the highest since 2010, as traders anticipate the central bank will have to keep interest rates higher for longer to bring down inflation. Yields are rising at the fastest year-over-year rate since 1999. The increase is testing the downward trend in place since the mid-1980s. If the increase is sustained it will force a widespread re-pricing of most other assets:

HEDGE FUNDS and other money managers made few changes to their positions in the six most important petroleum futures and options contracts in the week to September 13. There were total net purchases of +4 million barrels with buying in NYMEX and ICE WTI (+10 million) and Brent (+3 million) but sales of U.S. gasoline (-5 million), U.S. diesel (-3 million) and European gas oil (-1 million):

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Best in Energy – 16 September 2022

Germany takes control of Russian-owned refinery

EU explores alternative benchmarks for gas prices

U.K. government set to lift moratorium on fracking

La Niña disrupts global economy ($BBG)

Europe’s gas prices have retreated ($FT)

EU28 GAS STOCKS stood at 953 TWh on September 14 and are on course to reach 1,019 TWh with a likely range of 981-1,080 TWh by the time the summer refill season ends in late October or early November. Inventories will begin the winter drawdown season at the third-highest level on record.

In the last ten years, inventories have drawn down by an average of 588 TWh with a range of 352-782 TWh between the peak in October-November and the trough in March-April.  But this has been with strong pipeline inflows from Russia and other countries as well as LNG deliveries.

If Russian pipeline flows are severely disrupted the winter draw is likely to be much higher. High prices and exceptional demand restraint will be needed to ensure stocks do not run out before the winter ends. Even so, they are likely to fall to very low levels by next March, implying another herculean effort to refill them next summer:

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Best in Energy – 15 September 2022

[MUST READ] China focuses on self-reliance ($FT)

Remote work likely to persist after pandemic ($WSJ)

U.S. shale firms won’t boost oil and gas output ($FT)

U.S. SPR’s role in the oil market is changing ($BBG)

U.S. gas consumption forecast to hit record in 2022

Germany warns about energy risk from cold winter

China planner warns against yin-yang coal prices

China’s continued drought in Yangtze basin (trans.)

U.S. Northeast fears fuel shortages in event of rail strike

LVMH to turn off store lighting overnight to save power

Eiffel Tower to turn off lights earlier to save power ($WSJ)

U.K. GAS AND ELECTRICITY consumption has not shown a significant decline so far in response to higher prices. I spent a large part of yesterday trying to find a price response in the available official consumption statistics without success. The charts are below. But there are some important limitations:  

  • Electricity consumption data is only available through June and gas data is only available through March owing to publication delays.
  • Most of the rise in prices has occurred since April with another big increase scheduled to take effect from October.
  • Heating demand and bills are lower in the summer months reducing consumers’ sensitivity to prices.
  • Domestic and commercial consumption patterns have been distorted by the lockdowns in 2020/21 and then re-opening in 2022.
  • Electricity and gas consumption has been on a long-term downtrend as a result of improvements in insulation and efficiency.
  • Electricity and gas consumption shows significant annual variation depending on winter temperatures.

Once these factors are taken into account, there is no evidence of a significant reduction in gas and electricity use by households, offices and commercial premises so far. If reductions are going to occur, it will be later this year and into 2023:

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Best in Energy – 13 September 2022

EU frames energy windfall tax as “solidarity contribution”

EU explores electricity demand reduction at peak hours

Diesel additives are in short supply in Germany ($BBG)

Europe needs more diesel fuel exports from China

Renewable energy jobs set to increase rapidly

U.S. railroads prepare for imminent strike ($WSJ)

China reports cyberattack by United States (trans.)

U.S. Northeast distillate inventories very low

NORTHWEST EUROPE’s benchmark gas futures contract for deliveries in January 2023, the heart of next winter, has fallen to less than €200 per megawatt-hour from a peak of €345 in late August. Higher inventories in seasonal storage have reduced the probability about stocks running out. Plans for significant voluntary and mandatory reductions in gas and electricity consumption and the increasing probability of a region-wide recession will also lessen the pressure on stocks in the event gas supplies from Russia are disrupted:

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Best in Energy – 9 September 2022

China’s lockdowns are cutting oil consumption

U.S. officials indicate Russia oil cap around $60

Hungary warns against capping Russia gas price

U.S. digital assets boosting energy consumption

India alert as generators’ coal stocks fall ($BBG)

California text messages conserve power ($WSJ)

INDIA’s power producers hold coal stocks equivalent to 10 days of consumption compared with just 4 days at the end of September 2021 and 11 days in September 2019. In recent years, September has marked the low-point in the annual inventory cycle. At the moment stocks appear sufficient to avoid widespread generator closures but the government is monitoring levels closely:

U.S. PETROLEUM INVENTORIES including the strategic reserve increased by +4 million barrels last week.  But inventories have declined in 84 of the last 114 weeks by a total of -450 million barrels since the start of July 2020 illustrating the persistent shortage of oil available to the market. Stocks are at the lowest seasonal level since 2004 and are still trending lower:

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Best in Energy – 8 September 2022

Global energy employment report from IEA

Germany to subsidise basic electricity quota

China boosts coal imports amid hot dry spell

China buys cheap LNG from Russia ($BBG)

U.S. power use forecast to hit record in 2022

White House plan to cut industrial emissions

Semiconductor makers face downturn ($BBG)

Europe set for big gas shortfall in 2023 ($BBG)

Europe energy suppliers face Lehman moment

Goldman’s case for a U.S. soft landing ($WSJ)

Pakistan’s floods risk triggering unrest ($FT)

U.S. COOLING DEMAND since the start of the year has been around +11% higher than the long-term seasonal average (1981-2010) and +2% higher than the prior seven-year average (2015-2021). Higher-than-usual temperatures have contributed to pressure on electricity networks and put gas consumption by power generators on course for a record high this year:

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Best in Energy – 6 September 2022

Nuclear generators and service extensions

California calls for electricity conservation

U.S. gas-fired generation hits record high

Economic warfare and energy bills ($FT)

Energy crisis myths dispelled by IEA ($FT)

EU smelters close on high energy costs ($FT)

EU/UK POLICYMAKERS are considering how to protect households and businesses from surging gas and electricity prices. History suggests there are four basic options that can be employed singly or in combination. Multiple refinements are possible with each option – but the four basic responses have been the same since at least 400 BCE:

EUROZONE manufacturers reported business activity declined for the second month running in August. The composite purchasing managers’ index slipped to 49.6 in August from 49.8 in July and 52.1 in June as the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, record gas and power prices, broader inflation, and falling household and business confidence tipped the regional economy towards recession:

HEDGE FUND and other money manager positions in the six major petroleum futures and options contracts on August 30:

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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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