Best in Energy – 30 June 2022

Uniper appeals for state support as gas crisis worsens

India/Russia/China trilateral trade of cement for yuan

Energy conservation as response to Ukraine war ($FP)

Tokyo scrapes through heatwave and power shortage

Vietnam to cut gasoline import tariffs to limit inflation

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

U.S. refinery capacity fell in both 2020 and 2021

CHINA’s manufacturers reported a slight increase in business activity this month after lockdowns drove a contraction in April and May but it was not very widespread. The purchasing managers’ index rose to 50.2 in June (31st percentile for all months since 2011) up from 49.6 in May (10th percentile) but it was still down from 50.9 in June 2021 (59th percentile):

U.S. PETROLEUM INVENTORIES including the strategic petroleum reserve fell -1 million bbl to 1,679 million bbl last week. Inventories have declined in 77 of the last 102 weeks by a total of -439 million bbl since the start of July 2020. Stocks are now at the lowest level since October 2008:

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Best in Energy – 22 June 2022

U.K. energy supplier failure has cost £2.7bn

India urges refiners to buy Russia oil ($WSJ)

China’s northern heatwave and southern floods

OPEC’s spare capacity decision ($BBG)

Thailand reduces LNG imports ($BBG)

Xilodu hydropower station (trans.)*

Xiangjiaba hydropower station (trans.)*

* The Xilodu (13.9 GW) and Xiangjiaba (7.8 GW) mega-dams on the Jinsha River between the provinces of Sichuan and Yunnan have almost as much combined generation capacity as the much more internationally famous Three Gorges hydropower station (22.5 GW). Hydro generation on the Jinsha plays a critical role in power supply for the southern export manufacturing hub around the Pearl River delta (including Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Hong Kong) as well long-distance power transmission to Shanghai. Southern rainfall and reservoir levels are therefore critical for electricity availability and the region’s demand for coal from the north.

EU28 GAS INVENTORIES increased by an average of +5.6 TWh per day over the seven days ending on June 20, decelerating from more than 7.4 TWh per day in the middle of May. But storage has filled at a record rate this year and the pace of injection was clearly unsustainable; some slowdown in the rate of injection was therefore anticipated. Inventories are +35 TWh (+6% or 0.25 standard deviations) above the ten-year seasonal average. The impact of Russia’s supply reductions to Europe cannot (yet) be identified in the data:

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Best in Energy – 10 June 2022

United States asks India to restrain Russia oil buying ($FT)

U.S/EU explore options to limit Russia’s oil revenues ($WSJ)

EU/UK ban on insuring Russian oil threatens to raise prices

U.S. gas prices to remain high in 2022 before easing in 2023

China freight volumes and logistics return to normal (trans.)

China sends inspectors to coal regions after prices rise ($BBG)

China threatens to punish “price gouging” (trans.) *

* The warning from China’s State Administration for Market Regulation against price gouging echoes ideas and language employed by the Biden administration and U.S. Congress and the UK Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. Policymakers in whatever type of government or historical era always try to deflect blame for rising food and fuel prices on to middlemen and traders.

In medieval England, middlemen could be prosecuted under the common law for the offences of forestalling (buying up supplies before they could be delivered to the market), regrating (buying and reselling at a higher price) and engrossing (buying a large proportion of the available supplies to resell them at a higher price). Present-day governments of the United States, the United Kingdom and China would approve.

FREEPORT LNG’s explosion and shutdown is only expected to have a limited impact on the availability of gas in either the United States or the European Union. The premium for gas deliveries in July 2022 to Northwest Europe compared with Louisiana’s Henry Hub has increased to €56/MWh compared with €50 before the incident. But the spread had already shrunk from €100-180 in March in the immediate aftermath of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The market is relatively well situated at the moment to absorb the loss of Freeport LNG exports. Europe has been overbuying LNG and overfilling storage at an unsustainable rate that would have to slow in any event over the next 1-2 months. At the same time, the United States has been overselling LNG, leaving inventories below average for the time of year, implying exports would have had to slow soon.

Even before the Freeport incident, futures prices were starting to enforce an adjustment, with EU prices softening while U.S. prices were climbing to the highest for more than a decade. The stoppage in exports from the facility is accelerating the correction already underway, tempering the need for a larger price adjustment. As a result, the previous weakening of EU prices has been arrested for now, while the prior rise in U.S. prices has been capped for the time being.

The Freeport incident is not expected to have a major impact on gas availability in the European Union. Europe’s gas futures summer-winter calendar spread from July 2022 to January 2023 is still in a near-record contango of more than €11 per MWh, down only slightly from €14 before the explosion, implying the market remains heavily oversupplied in the short term:

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Best in Energy – 1 June 2022

The United Kingdom has a two-day public holiday on Thursday and Friday to celebrate the sovereign’s platinum jubilee, so Best in Energy will resume on Monday.

OPEC ⁺ explores suspending Russia allocation ($WSJ)

Russia prepares to re-route oil from Europe to Asia

India’s private refiners benefit from cheap Russian oil

India’s record renewables output eases coal shortage

Africa pushes back against emissions hypocrisy ($FT)

U.S. retailers attempt to resist price increases ($WSJ)

Global diesel and gasoline shortage raises prices ($FT)

U.S. residential use of air-conditioning reaches 88%

OPEC’s spare capacity and market stabilisation

EUROZONE manufacturers reported a further slowdown in growth last month as rapid inflation and the war between Russia and Ukraine took their toll. The manufacturing purchasing managers’ index slipped to 54.6 in May (65th percentile) from 55.5 in April (74th percentile) and 63.1 in the same month last year (100th percentile):

EUROPE’s gas futures summer-winter calendar spread from July 2022 to January 2023 is moving deeper into contango as inventories rise at the fastest rate on record alleviating some concerns about filling storage sites:

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Best in Energy – 31 May 2022

EU/Russia oil embargo agreed in principle

(see also press statement from the EU)

EU/Russia oil ban on seaborne imports ($FT)

(see also background on negotiations ($FT))

Global refiners cannot keep up with demand

India boosts discounted oil imports from Russia

Greece advises tankers to avoid Iran waters ($FT)

Russia/Ukraine war focuses on rail system ($WSJ)

China plans big increase in wind and solar (trans.)

BRENT spot prices and calendar spreads have surged as traders anticipate EU sanctions on Russia’s exports will increase the shortage of oil.  Both have returned to levels last seen in March in the immediate aftermath of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The six-month calendar spread is at a near-record backwardation of $16 per barrel, signalling inventories are expected to fall further in the rest of the year, leaving the market critically tight:

BRENT’s inter-month spreads for the rest of 2022 and 2023 have moved into an increasingly large backwardation over the last two months as the prospect of EU sanctions is expected to tighten the market and leave it short of both crude and fuels:

CHINA’s manufacturers reported a continued contraction in business activity in May but the downturn was less widespread than in April. The official purchasing managers’ index increased to 49.6 (10th percentile) up from 47.4 (1st percentile) the previous month:

CHINA’shydro-electric generation increased to a record 313 TWh in the first four months of the year, surpassing the previous peak of 299 TWh in 2019, and sharply reducing coal consumption:

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Best in Energy – 30 May 2022

Russia threat to respond to sanctions with output cuts

Global oil flows re-route around Russia sanctions

U.S. seasonal gasoline prices highest since 2012

EU struggles to agree Russia oil sanctions

India’s coal shortage to worsen

Iran seizes two oil tankers ($FT)

EUROPE’s gas storage is filling at the fastest rate on record, and now holds above-average volumes, as utilities try to accumulate inventories ahead of a possible shut off of imports from Russia next winter, and high prices attract heavy LNG inflows away from Asia while discouraging industrial consumption:

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Best in Energy – 26 May 2022

U.S. central bank cannot drill for more oil ($BBG)

China’s coal  use falls even as production rises

India to continue importing cheap Russian crude

India sources more coal imports from Indonesia

EU/Russia find compromise over gas payments

LNG market grapples with multiple uncertainties

Urban heat islands in Europe

U.S. PETROLEUM inventories depleted by -5 million bbl to 1,686 million bbl last week. Stocks have fallen in 73 of the last 99 weeks by a total of -432 million bbl since the start of July 2020:

U.S. DISTILLATE inventories increased by +2 million bbl to 107 million bbl last week – the second consecutive weekly increase. Stocks have probably reached their seasonal low and are rising as normal at this point of the year as refineries boost crude processing to make more gasoline. But they are still at the lowest seasonal level for more than 15 years:

U.S. DISTILLATE inventories on the East Coast (PADD 1), where shortages have been most acute, fell by another -1 million bbl to 22 million bbl last week:

U.S. GASOLINE inventories fell -0.5 million bbl to 220 million bbl last week – the lowest seasonal level since 2014:

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Best in Energy – 25 May 2022

Glencore guilty of bribery and market manipulation

Europe aluminium output cut by high energy prices

India to open new mines to increase coal output

China aims to maximise coal production (trans.)

EU LNG deals in an emissions constrained world

EU pushes back Russian oil ban negotiations

U.S. West Coast ports least efficient ($BBG)

CATERPILLAR is the world’s largest maker of equipment for the construction and mining sectors, as well as a range of transportation equipment. Caterpillar is a bellwether for heavy industry and its share price is closely correlated with the business cycle. The company’s share price has fallen by almost -15% compared with the same month last year, a decline that suggests a slowdown is already underway:

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Best in Energy – 23 May 2022

U.S. president ends strategic ambiguity on Taiwan

India cuts fuel taxes and boosts subsidies

Russia ends gas deliveries to Finland on pay dispute

Global refiners in dilemma whether to boost capacity

Electricity supplies are stretched worldwide ($BBG)

Saudi Arabia reiterates commitment to OPEC+ ($FT)

Fuel tax cuts are poor response to high prices ($BBG)

BRENT’s six-month calendar spread has increased to a backwardation of more than $13 per barrel, up from just $3 in early April, as traders anticipate planned EU sanctions on Russia’s petroleum exports will intensify the global shortage of crude oil and refined products:

U.S. RIG COUNT rose by +14 to 728 last week, with the addition of +13 rigs targeting oil-rich rock formations and +1 rig targeting predominantly gas-rich rock. The number of rigs drilling for oil has risen by +404 from its cyclical low in August 2020 but is still -107 below the pre-pandemic level:

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Best in Energy – 19 May 2022

India’s grid is struggling to supply record demand

(see also background article on power shortages)

U.S. grid faces reliability challenges this summer

Indonesia boosts energy subsidies by $24 billion

EU elects to turn from Russia gas back to coal ($FT)

Bloomberg’s plan to shake up UK journalism ($BBG)

U.S. PETROLEUM inventories including the strategic petroleum reserve depleted by another 8 million bbl to 1,691 million bbl last week. Inventories have depleted in 72 of the last 98 weeks by a total of 426 million bbl since the start of July 2020. The persistent shortage of oil is putting intense upward pressure on prices:

U.S. GASOLINE stocks fell by 5 million bbl to 220 million bbl in the week to May 13. Inventories have fallen for 14 of the last 15 weeks by a total of 30 million bbl and are now at the lowest for the time of year since 2014:

U.S S&P 500 equity index has fallen by 7% compared with the same period a year ago, and is down by 15% in real terms, as investors anticipate an imminent business cycle slowdown:

U.K. INFLATION has accelerated to 9%, the fastest rate since 1982 and one of the most significant price shocks since the Second World War:

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