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 – 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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Global distillate stocks stabilise as consumption falters

14 April 2022

Chartbook: https://tmsnrt.rs/3M1dK96

Global distillate inventories remain low but have shown some signs of stabilising as the business cycle slows in response to inflation, coronavirus outbreaks and increased uncertainty following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

In the United States, distillate fuel oil inventories fell by 3 million barrels to 111 million in the week to April 8, according to high-frequency data from the Energy Information Administration.

Distillate stocks are 28 million barrels (20%) below the pre-pandemic five-year seasonal average and at the lowest level for the time of year since 2008 (“Weekly petroleum status report”, EIA, April 13).

Based on stock movements in previous years, inventories are expected to fall as low as 105 million barrels before the end of June, with the forecast minimum ranging from 97-111 million barrels.

Stocks have been tight since the start of the year but the situation has stabilised since early March with some of the more extreme downside inventory scenarios receding.

High prices for all petroleum products but especially middle distillates such as diesel, heating oil, jet fuel and gas oil are blunting consumption growth.

More importantly, there are signs consumer and business spending has started to decelerate under pressure from inflation, increased uncertainty and supply chain disruptions.

As the pandemic has receded, consumer pending has also begun to rotate from distillate-intensive manufactured products to less distillate-intensive services.

In Europe, too, distillate stocks are low but have stabilised since the start of March in response to high prices and slowing consumption.

Europe’s distillate inventories amounted to just 392 million barrels at the end of March, the lowest for the time of year since 2015, according to estimates compiled by Euroilstock.

But inventories had risen by more than 12 million barrels compared with the end of February, the largest seasonal increase for more than two decades.

The last time stocks rose this rapidly between February and March was in 2008, when surging crude and diesel prices and diminishing economic activity also caused stocks to start rising from a very low level.

In Singapore, stocks have fallen to just 7.6 million barrels, the lowest seasonal level since 2008, and the storage hub is the tightest of all the regions.

Distillates are the most cyclically sensitive of the major petroleum products and a slowdown in consumption growth is normally associated with a mid-cycle slowdown or an end-of-cycle recession.

There are some early signs inventory depletion has slowed or even stopped altogether, with stocks broadly stable since the middle of March, but it will take a few more weeks before any turning point is confirmed.

Related columns:

Global diesel shortage pushes oil prices higher (Reuters, March 24)

Global diesel shortage raises risk of oil price spike (Reuters, March 11)

U.S. diesel stocks set to fall critically low (Reuters, Feb. 17)

Diesel is the U.S. economy’s inflation canary (Reuters, Feb. 9)

Depleted U.S. distillate stocks show supply chain pressure (Reuters, Feb. 4)