Best in Energy – 21 November 2022

European refiners find themselves with plentiful crude

Europe boosts Russian diesel imports ahead of sanctions

India’s refiners seek extra Russian crude before deadline

U.S. gas inventories erase deficit with late season refills

U.S. consumer spending from pandemic savings ($WSJ)

China promotes science and technology experts ($WSJ)

Central banks go back to basics ($BBG)

BRENT spot prices and calendar spreads are retreating as traders anticipate the market will be balanced or over-supplied in 2023, after having been under-supplied continuously since the middle of 202o. Business cycle downturns across Europe, Asia and North America are expected to reduce oil consumption absolutely or relative to trend, helping rebuild depleted inventories:

Best in Energy – 16 November 2022

India’s refiners prepare for price cap from early December

China’s refiners request state aid on Russian crude ($BBG)

Europe’s energy crisis and supply security lessons ($BBG)

U.K. households and the increase in energy debts ($BBG) ¹

California ports report drop in container volumes ($WSJ)

Freeport LNG – root cause report on explosion

¹ Food and energy shortages have always been about prices and affordability rather than physical supplies and availability. Higher-income and wealthier households will always find ways to put food on the table and heat their homes, it is lower-income and poorer households that lack financial resources that are unable to cope and hit hardest (“Corn supply of ancient Rome”, Rickman, 1980).

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA’s ports are experiencing a sharp drop in container traffic reflecting contentious labour negotiations and the threat of a strike as well as the slowdown in global merchandise trade and efforts by U.S. manufacturers and distributors to cut excess inventories. Combined container traffic through the neighbouring ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach was just 0.84 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) in October, down from 1.07 million TEUs in the same month in 2021, and the lowest for the time of year since the recession of 2009:

Best in Energy – 8 November 2022

Europe squeezes LNG supply for emerging markets ($BBG)

Russia sends tanker to China via northern sea route ($BBG)

China to boost diesel exports as new refineries start up

China’s oil imports rise as new refineries build stocks

Nvidia downgrades semiconductors for China ($WSJ)

U.S. coal-fired generators scheduled to retire by 2029

Renewable diesel output grows rapidly from low base

Fusion firms target commercial models by 2030s ($FT)

China explores gradual retreat from lockdowns ($WSJ)

ATMOSPHERIC concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2) at the Mauna Loa observatory on Hawaii rose to 415 parts per million (ppm) in October 2022 up from 404 ppm in October 2017 and 391 ppm in October 2012. CO2 concentrations have increased at a compound annual rate of +0.57% per year between 2017 and 2022. On the current trajectory, concentrations are likely to reach 430 ppm, the maximum scientists say is consistent with +1.5°C of average global warming, in 2027:

Best in Energy – 11 October 2022

Europe still faces shortage of gas supplies

U.S. senator urges freeze on Saudi relations

(see also senator’s press statement)

Global refinery capacity shortage

China intensifies post-holiday lockdowns

Coal prices retreat as shortage fears recede

EU explores more emergency energy rules

Iraq cannot afford to cut oil output ($WSJ)

Computer shipments drop sharply ($WSJ)

INDIA’s electricity transmission system is in a much healthier condition than this time last year. Power grid frequency has been kept much closer to its target of 50.0 Hertz indicating a much closer and more stable balance between generation and load. Frequency has only fallen below the acceptable threshold of 49.9 Hertz 3.9% of the time in the first ten days of October compared with 14.4% of the time in the same period last year.

Cooler temperatures have helped by reducing air-conditioning and refrigeration demand. Temperatures were -2.5°C below the long-term seasonal average in the first ten days of October compared with +1.0°C above average in the same period last year.

Coal inventories are also more plentiful ensuring generators can remain online. Stocks at power plants are currently 24.7 million tonnes compared with just 7.3 million tonnes at the same point last year:

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Best in Energy – 6 October 2022

OPEC+ cuts output allocations by -2 million b/d¹

White House criticises OPEC+ cut as shortsighted

Global trade expansion set to decelerate in 2023

Germany plans tax forbearance in energy crisis

Germany warns gas consumption still too high

China’s crude processing slipped in April-June

United States to ease Venezuela sanctions ($WSJ)

U.S. interest rates and financial crises ($WSJ)

¹ Like any cartel, OPEC+ uses a set of production baselines so total group supply can be adjusted in response to changes in market demand while ensuring each member retains a fair pro rata share. Like other cartels, the baselines used by OPEC+ do not necessarily correspond to shares in actual production or capacity in the real world. Cartels often find it very difficult to reach unanimous agreement to change baselines and shares. So in most cases they end up using baselines that have some historical basis but have become out of date.

Between the 1600s and 1800s, England’s Newcastle coal cartel (known as “the limitation of the vend”) allocated larger shares to some mines than they could actually supply. Some of the older, smaller or higher-cost mines had not been able to grow output fast enough to maintain their traditional market shares. But it was easier to keep the baselines and adjust allocations up and down in line with changing market demand than to renegotiate them. OPEC+ has often faced the same problem.

For both the Newcastle coal cartel and OPEC+, total allocations were often above total supply, ensuring changes in notional allocations were normally greater than changes in actual production.

OPEC+ frames its decisions in terms of adjustments to total and individual allocations, not production. The actual change in production is often different. In this case, many OPEC+ countries have been unable to utilise their allocations fully because they have insufficient capacity. These members will not be required to reduce their actual production since it was already well under quota. The actual fall in production is therefore likely to be much smaller than the reduction in the notional allocations.

The difference between production and notional allocations has been a persistent problem in the oil market. OPEC+ decisions are usually reported as “changes in production” when they should be reported as “changes in allocations”. It may seem a harmless simplification but it is deeply misleading.

Sometimes, however, the misdirection is intentional. It allows OPEC+ to announce a large headline increase or decrease, and use it to generate a desired market or diplomatic reaction, even though the actual change in production is much smaller.

But it is more technically accurate and analytically useful to report OPEC+ decisions in terms of production allocations and then report changes in actual production separately.

U.S. PETROLEUM INVENTORIES fell by -16 million bbl in the week to September 30. There were reductions in crude (-8 million), gasoline (-5 million), distillate fuel oil (-3 million) and jet fuel (-1 million). Total inventories have depleted by -480 million bbl since the start of July 2020 and are now at the lowest seasonal level since 2004:

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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 – 3 August 2022

G7 statement reaffirms exploration of Russia oil-price cap

France plans to fill gas storage completely by end of October

France cuts nuclear output as heatwave warms rivers ($BBG)

Rhine water levels close to forcing transport closure ($BBG)

U.S. retailers seek warehouses for excess inventories ($WSJ)

Global refinery capacity expansions

RIVER RHINE water levels at Kaub had dropped to just 61 centimetres on August 2, the lowest since December 2018, and the lowest for the time of year for more than 25 years, as prolonged drought causes river levels to fall across Northwest Europe, threatening power generation and transport of bulk commodities:

CHINA’s hydroelectric power stations generated a record 583 billion kWh in the first six months of the year, an increase of +100 billion kWh or more than +20% compared with the same period in 2021. China’s hydro generation was more than three times the entire electrical output of the United Kingdom:

CHINA’s thermal power generation, nearly all of it from coal, dipped to 2,728 billion kWh in January-June, a decrease of 98 billion kWh (-4%) compared with the same period in 2021, helping improve the coal inventory situation:

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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 – 29 July 2022

EU’s bilateral emergency energy sharing deals

U.S. refiners say fuel consumption still strong

Japan’s energy saving template for Europe

U.S./China leaders call – White House view

U.S./China leaders call – China view (trans.)

Global coal use rebounds to previous peak

German city turns off lights and hot water

U.S. REAL FINAL SALES to private domestic purchasers were unchanged in the second quarter after advancing at an annualised rate of +3.0% in the first, confirming the economic slowdown that has been evident for some time. Real final sales to private domestic purchasers (RFSPDP) strips out the impact of inventory changes, government spending and trade to focus on the underlying behaviour of households and businesses and is therefore the best indicator of underlying economic momentum. RFSPDP was growing at the slowest rate since the first wave of the pandemic in 2020 and before that the recession of 2008/09:

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Best in Energy – 4 July 2022

Australia’s export earnings rise on energy prices

South Africa’s electricity shortages are worsening

U.K. electricity pricing – space and time (parts 1-3)

Biden/Bezos disagree on causes of inflation ($FT)

U.S. government split on lifting China tariffs ($FT)

NATO’s resolve tested by economic downturn ($FT)

U.S. refineries push crude processing to limit ($BBG)

U.S. CENTRAL BANK is now expected to raise rates earlier and more aggressively to bring inflation under control, with traders anticipating rates will peak around the end of the first quarter or the start of the second quarter of 2023. By implication, the business cycle is expected to slow significantly by the end of this year, creating conditions for inflation to moderate and the central bank to begin easing interest rates a few months later by the second quarter of 2023:

U.S. MANUFACTURERS reported much slower growth last month. The Institute for Supply Management (ISM)’s purchasing managers’ index slid to 53.0 in June (45th percentile since 1980) from 56.1 in May (76th percentile) and 60.9 a year ago (97th percentile):

U.S. MANUFACTURERS reported a decline in new orders for the first time since the first wave of the pandemic in 2020. The ISM new orders index slumped to 49.2 in June (18th percentile) from 55.1 in May (45th percentile):

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