U.S. OIL AND GAS drilling rigs fell by -7 last week to 753. The number of active rigs has fallen in five of the last eight weeks and is at the lowest since the start of July 2022. The upturn that started in August 2020 after the first wave of the pandemic has at least paused and possibly ended as drilling rates slide in response to lower oil and gas prices:
CFTC/ICE commitment of traders suspended for second week
NORTHWEST EUROPE is now roughly two-thirds of the way through the winter heating season. In an average year, two-thirds of all heating degree days at Frankfurt in Germany occur on or before February 10. Cumulative heating demand has been the lowest since the winter of 2015/16 and before that 2006/07. With the 2022/23 heating season now winding down, traders’ attention has already turned to the summer refill season and winter 2023/24:
U.S. INTEREST RATE traders anticipate a major reduction in inflationary pressure – with or without a significant slowdown in the business cycle – which has been reflected in a sharp reduction in forward interest rate forecasts. Market forecasts for interest rates at the end of 2024 fell by more than a full percentage point between the start of November and the start of February:
CHINA’s Lower Yangtze mega-region is being hit by a wave of intense of cold which will drive a significant increase in heating demand, though most factories are closed for the Lunar New Year holiday. Temperatures in Nanjing were more than -6°C below the long-term seasonal average on January 25. So far this winter heating demand (731 HDDs) has been lower than average (789 HDDs). But the recent run of cold weather has trimmed the cumulative deficit in heating demand to -7% down from -11% on January 13:
U.S. PETROLEUM INVENTORIES including the strategic reserve rose +4 million barrels to 1,606 million barrels in the seven days to January 20. But stocks were -170 million barrels below the level a year ago and -304 million barrels below the level before the pandemic in 2019. Commercial crude stocks have increased by +33 million barrels compared with the same point last year. But only because the strategic petroleum reserve has been depleted by -220 million barrels:
EUROPE’s gas inventories have continued to accumulate later into the start of the traditional winter heating season than any other year in records dating back to 2011. Gas inventories in the European Union and the United Kingdom (EU28) were still rising on November 13, later than the previous record of November 12 in 2011 and far past the median peak occurring on October 26. The late fill is attributable to a combination of warmer-than-normal temperatures and high prices rationing consumption. Late fill is lifting inventories close to a record high and reducing the probability stocks will fall critically low before the end of winter:
GREAT BRITAIN’s maximum winter loads on the transmission system since 1990/91 are illustrated in the chart below (loads exclude Northern Ireland which has its own electricity network). Loads shown are “triads” – the three highest half-hourly loads separated by at least 10 days occurring each winter between November and February. Triads are used to set transmission network use of system (TNUoS) charges for large electricity consumers who are metered on a half-hourly basis. Triads are declared retrospectively after the end of each winter in March (“What are electricity triads?” National Grid, 2018).
Half-hourly (HH) customers are billed for TNUoS based on the amount of electricity they use during the three triad half-hours. Triads set charges for the entire year. In the limit, if a HH consumer uses no electricity from the grid during those three half hour periods, their TNUoS is set at zero for the entire year. The possibility a triad might be declared gives HH customers a strong incentive to minimise electricity use and/or generate their own power during periods when the total load on the network is expected to be very high.
Triad charging helps reduce strain on the grid during the winter peak, usually between 1630 GMT and 1800 GMT, when street lighting comes on, families start preparing the evening meal, but many shops and offices are still open and occupied. Several consultancies offer triad forecasting services – alerting HH consumers when there is an elevated risk that a triad could occur so they can reduce their net load temporarily.
In winter 2021/22, triads occurred on Thursday December 2 (43.7 GW at 1630-1700 GMT); Wednesday January 5 (42.8 GW at 1700-1730 GMT); and Thursday January 20 (43.5 GW at 1700-1730 GMT) (“Triads 2021/22”, National Grid, March 29, 2022).
Triad loads have been declining since 2007/08, and especially since 2010/11, as a result of improvements in energy efficiency, sluggish economic growth, changes in the industrial mix, and an increase in self-generation by HH consumers as well as embedded generation from solar panels added to homes, offices and local distribution networks:
U.S. OIL PRODUCERS increased the number of rigs drilling for oil to 622 on November 10 up from 610 two weeks earlier. Drilling increased significantly for the first time since July. The number of active rigs has rebounded from a pandemic low of just 172 in August 2020 and is nearing the pre-pandemic level of 683 in early March 2020.
But the resumption has been much slower than after the two previous downturns. The rig count has risen by a total of +450 (+3.8 per week) over the 117 weeks since August 2020 compared with an increase of +544 (+4.6 per week) at the same point after the last cyclical low in 2016 and +885 (+7.6 per week) after the cyclical low in 2009:
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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Narratives about inflation and recession as epidemic
World Bank warns over energy and food prices shock
Indonesia needs Russian oil to keep prices down ($FT)
* The announcement was anodyne but significant the policy meeting was chaired by the president himself and the write up is the top item across all state-controlled media and government websites (Xinhua, NDRC and State Council) emphasising importance of the investment message and signal.
BRITAIN plans to extend coal-fired power generation at Drax to cope with gas and electricity shortages, according to the operator:
EUROPE’s gas traders were sanguine about the ability to replenish storage over the next few months ahead of next winter’s heating season, at least before Gazprom announced it would cut deliveries to Poland and Bulgaria. Benchmark futures for summer 2022 and winter 2022/23 gas have been high but stable for more than a month and the backwardation has remained narrow and also stable, indicating that most traders expected a regular storage fill:
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U.S. PETROLEUM inventories including the strategic petroleum reserve depleted by -13 million bbl to 1,699 million bbl in the week to April 15. There were large draws in crude (-13 million bbl) and distillate fuel oil (-3 million bbl) underscoring the continued shortage of oil in global markets and strong demand, for now, for middle distillates from manufacturers and freight firms:
INDIA’s electricity grid is struggling to meet demand as air conditioning and refrigeration loads climb with temperatures that have been well above the long-term seasonal average. Frequency remains well below the target of 50 Hz, with a control range of 49.90-50.05, for much of the day as there is insufficient generation. The situation seems to have stabilised since early April but is fragile with little or no spare capacity to absorb additional shocks or meet further demand:
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