Best in Energy – 8 August 2022

Russia oil discounts narrow on China/India demand

Germany’s river freight restricted by low water level

Bangladesh explores rotating factory closure ($BBG)

Asia’s emissions market prices are still low ($BBG)

China’s navy and air force practices Taiwan blockade

China forecasts flooding in major coal areas (trans.)

U.S. shale producers focus on higher oil prices ($FT)

U.S./China navy competition and Northern Sea Route

EUROPEAN GAS OIL calendar spreads between December 2022 and December 2023 have fallen into a backwardation of less than $11 per barrel from almost $33 in mid-June, as traders anticipate the onset of a recession depressing consumption:

JAPAN LNG STOCKS at the end of May had risen to 2.36 million tonnes, the highest for the time of year for at least seven years, as the country’s utilities accumulate inventories to protect against possible supply disruptions in winter 2022/23:

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Best in Energy – 4 August 2022

OPEC+ raises output  by de minimis amount¹

Electricity transmission links undervalued

Freeport LNG to restart partially in October

Autos/semiconductors relationship

Automakers see weakening demand

¹ Higher oil production by Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf monarchies was briefed as one of the benefits from U.S. President Joe Biden’s visit to the region and “reset” of the relationship with Saudi Arabia last month. The tiny output increase of +100,000 b/d was the smallest that could be announced without appearing to snub the president completely. But it raises the question of what diplomatic benefits the president achieved from the trip – if not higher oil output did he secure some other objectives? Who advised the president to make this trip, within the administration and outside? Does the president ultimately see it as a success or a disappointment?

BRENT spot prices and calendar spreads have weakened consistently in recent weeks, a sign the recent upward price cycle has begun to break down. Prices and spreads are softening in response to the increased probability of a recession dampening oil consumption:

BRENT’s calendar spread from December 2022 to December 2023 has softened to a backwardation of $7.20 per barrel, down from $16.50 in early June, and close to its lowest levels since Russia invaded Ukraine in February. Traders are anticipating an imminent business cycle slowdown will relieve under-production in the oil market and stabilise inventory levels:

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Best in Energy – 2 August 2022

India starts rationing gas to industrial users

Australia grapples with pricing for domestic gas

Baker Hughes plan to sell Russia unit to insiders

Rosatom tightens grip on nuclear energy ($BBG)

China focuses on energy indigenisation (trans.)

U.S./Saudi visit: what did Biden achieve? ($BBG)

United Kingdom closes nuclear power generator

EU struggles to balance energy security and transition ($WSJ)

U.S./EU responses to energy security and transition challenges

U.S. MANUFACTURERS reported a further slight deceleration in growth last month, with the ISM purchasing managers’ index slipping to 52.8 in July (50th percentile for all months since 1980) from 53.0 in June (53rd percentile). New orders fell for the second month running, slightly faster in July (48.0, 14th percentile) than June (49.2, 17th percentile), implying business activity will slow further over the next few months:

U.S. DISTILLATE CONSUMPTION has begun to fall in line with the deceleration in manufacturing activity. The volume of distillate supplied was down -0.4% in March-May compared with the same period a year earlier. Distillates are the most cyclically sensitive part of the oil market, so the business cycle slowdown is filtering through into lower fuel use, part of the market rebalancing process:

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Best in Energy – 1 August 2022

OPEC says Russia is essential to success of OPEC+

Lyondell plans to repurpose Houston oil refinery

New England solar reshapes electricity load curve

EU/UK ease sanctions on Russian oil trade ($FT)

U.S. threatens to sanction Iran oil trading ($WSJ)

Bangladesh sees LNG shortage until 2026 ($BBG)

China’s leaders recommit to zero-covid (trans.)

Australia explores controls on LNG exports

U.S. energy systems hit by shortages ($WSJ)

Iraq’s political crisis is intensifying ($WSJ)

CHINA’s manufacturers reported a significant contraction in activity last month with the composite purchasing managers’ index falling to 49.0 in July (2nd percentile for all months since 2011) down from 50.2 in June (33rd percentile). Repeated lockdowns are disrupting supply chains and economic activity:

U.S. GAS production was up +4.2% in May compared with the same month a year earlier, and up +3.1% in the three months March-May compared with the same period in 2021:

U.S. CRUDE OIL production fell -57,000 b/d in May compared with April as lower output from the Gulf of Mexico (-157,000  b/d) more than offset increases from the onshore Lower 48 (+95,000 b/d) and Alaska (+5,000 b/d). Onshore L48 output was up by just +468,000 b/d in March-May compared with the same period a year earlier:

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Best in Energy – 26 July 2022

Germany struggles with Russia gas reductions

Germany’s coal-fired generators face challenges

EU motorists hit by relatively high diesel prices

EU poised to approve softened gas cuts plan

United States becomes largest LNG exporter

EU28 GAS STOCKS are still accumulating rapidly and have risen above the pre-pandemic seasonal average, despite recent concerns about a potential disruption of pipeline supplies from Russia. EU28 gas inventories are currently at 751 TWh compared with a pre-pandemic five-year average of 719 TWh. Stocks have been accumulating at +5 TWh per day, in line with the seasonal norm. Inventories are on course to reach 985 TWh by end of September, slightly above the pre-pandemic average of 983 TWh:

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Best in Energy – 19 July 2022

Crude’s physical tightness contrasts with recession fears¹

Germany’s chemical makers cannot cut gas further

Japan buys its most expensive ever LNG ($BBG)

China’s LNG imports set to drop in 2022 ($BBG)

China’s power generation at record high ($BBG)

U.S. labour market indicators are diverging ($WSJ)

EU calls for immediate gas consumption cut ($FT)

U.S. gasoline consumption fell in second quarter

¹ Physical crude markets are prompt cash markets and reflect the balance of production, consumption and inventories now. Financial markets reflect expectations about how production, consumption and inventories will evolve over the next 6-12 months or so and are anticipating a recession in future. There is only one price of oil. But near-term shortages are consistent with anticipating future surpluses as a result of an economic slowdown. The current strongly backwardated market structure implies oil is in very short supply right now (which has been evident from large and persistent inventory draw downs) but is expected to be more plentiful in 6-12 months time (as a result of an economic slowdown dampening oil consumption). The price structure embodies the cyclical behaviour of production, consumption, inventories and price levels:

LONDON temperatures continue to rise with the temperature at Heathrow reaching 36.3°C on July 18 up from a high of 30.6°C on July 17, with a further build in heat expected today:

U.K. POWER GRID is relying heavily on gas-fired generation to meet demand during the heatwave. Combined-cycle gas turbines (CCGTs) have been supplying around 50% of total domestic generation in recent days:

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Best in Energy – 8 July 2022

[MUST READ] EU still vulnerable to Russian gas cuts this winter

German landlord cuts heating to limit bills and gas consumption

U.S. manufacturers start to idle on higher energy costs ($BBG)

U.K. transmission operator’s investment pathway to 2030

Africa’s governments face fuel price protests ($BBG)*

South Asia hit by Europe’s rush for LNG ($WSJ)

Big nickel short position broke the LME ($BBG)

U.S. gasoline consumption fell in second quarter

* Sharp increases in the cost of food and fuel have often acted as the trigger for unrest. In eighteenth century England, increases in grain prices as a result of bad harvests or war frequently led to local disturbances, usually targeting bakers, grain merchants and government storehouses, with magistrates often calling in soldiers to restore order. Fuel riots were less common but a sharp rise in the price of coal would normally trigger a parliamentary inquiry to investigate monopolistic practices and hoarding. Food and fuel price rises were always seen as politically sensitive and a potential threat to public order (“The Coal Industry of the Eighteenth Century”, Ashton and Sykes, 1929).

U.S. PETROLEUM INVENTORIES including the strategic petroleum reserve fell -1 million bbl to 1,678 million bbl last week. Stocks have fallen in 78 out of the last 105 weeks by a total of -440 million bbl since the start of July 2020. The most recent week saw an increase in crude inventories (+2 million bbl) but depletion of gasoline (-2 million), distillate fuel oil (-1 million) and jet fuel (-1 million).

The drawdown in fuel stocks in the week ending July 1 is likely associated with the impending public holiday on July 4, which will have seen inventories pulled forward from the primary distribution system of refineries, pipelines and bulk terminals (where they are recorded) into the secondary system of retailers and local fuel suppliers as well as end-users’ own storage tanks (where they are not recorded). It largely reversed a big build in gasoline, distillate and jet fuel the week before as stocks were pre-positioned ahead of the holiday demand:

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Best in Energy – 6 July 2022

India limits gasoline and diesel exports

China issues new fuel export quotas

EU relaxes oil sanctions on Venezuela

Global LNG: trade report and statistics

U.S. recession indicators mixed ($WSJ)

Qatar is big winner from gas war ($FT)

BRENT’s front-month futures price fell -$10.73 (-9.5%) on July 5. The decline came on a day with little new information about production or consumption but traders seemed to anticipate a higher probability of an economic slowdown. In percentage terms, the decline was the third-largest since July 2020 and 4.1 standard deviations away from average since 1990:

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Best in Energy – 24 June 2022

RWE calls for EU standardised gas rationing plan ($FT)

China’s southern floods and northern heatwave (trans.)

EU/Russia de-escalate dispute over Kaliningrad ($FT)

Russia cancels Kaliningrad grid separation exercise

U.S. energy secretary holds summit with refiners

Freeport LNG’s extended outage and the impact

Pakistan cancels expensive LNG tender ($BBG)

Recession indicators, depth and duration ($BBG)

Investors prepare for imminent recession ($BBG)

U.S. FINANCIAL CONDITIONS are tightening rapidly, nearing levels consistent with the onset of a recession or at least a pronounced mid-cycle slowdown. The Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago’s adjusted financial conditions index, which measures financial pressure, has risen to the highest since the first wave of the pandemic in 2020 and before that 2011. In contrast to those episodes, however, this time the central bank plans to tighten conditions even further to squeeze inflation out of the economy rather than easing them to support growth and employment:

SOUTH CHINA continues to experience torrential rainfall, with cumulative precipitation this year at Xiangjiaba on the Sichuan/Yunnan border almost +60% higher than the seasonal average for 2014-2021, and even heavier rains expected in July and August:

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Best in Energy – 17 June 2022

White House mulls export gasoline and diesel controls ($BBG)

Australia threatens export controls on coal ($FT)

U.S. energy secretary to talk with oil refiners

Australia’s power generation shortage eases

Qatar/China negotiate joint ventures in LNG

U.S. power prices forecast to rise

U.S. GASOLINE prices at retail level and adjusted for wages are now at the highest since 2013. Wage-adjusted gasoline prices are in the 94th percentile for all months since 1994, up from the 60th percentile at the end of 2021. At this level, demand destruction should be evident within the next few months:

FREEPORT LNG’s prolonged disruption is expected to reduce exports from the United States to Europe significantly and tighten the European gas market. Reduced pipeline flows from Russia are likely to worsen the shortfall.

The premium for gas delivered in Northwest Europe rather than at Louisiana’s Henry Hub next month has more than doubled to €109/MWh up from €50 on June 7.

Europe’s summer-winter calendar spread from July 2022 to January 2023 has reverted to a backwardation of almost €3/MWh from a contango of more than €14 on June 8 as traders anticipate the market will be tighter:

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