Best in Energy – 15 September 2022

[MUST READ] China focuses on self-reliance ($FT)

Remote work likely to persist after pandemic ($WSJ)

U.S. shale firms won’t boost oil and gas output ($FT)

U.S. SPR’s role in the oil market is changing ($BBG)

U.S. gas consumption forecast to hit record in 2022

Germany warns about energy risk from cold winter

China planner warns against yin-yang coal prices

China’s continued drought in Yangtze basin (trans.)

U.S. Northeast fears fuel shortages in event of rail strike

LVMH to turn off store lighting overnight to save power

Eiffel Tower to turn off lights earlier to save power ($WSJ)

U.K. GAS AND ELECTRICITY consumption has not shown a significant decline so far in response to higher prices. I spent a large part of yesterday trying to find a price response in the available official consumption statistics without success. The charts are below. But there are some important limitations:  

  • Electricity consumption data is only available through June and gas data is only available through March owing to publication delays.
  • Most of the rise in prices has occurred since April with another big increase scheduled to take effect from October.
  • Heating demand and bills are lower in the summer months reducing consumers’ sensitivity to prices.
  • Domestic and commercial consumption patterns have been distorted by the lockdowns in 2020/21 and then re-opening in 2022.
  • Electricity and gas consumption has been on a long-term downtrend as a result of improvements in insulation and efficiency.
  • Electricity and gas consumption shows significant annual variation depending on winter temperatures.

Once these factors are taken into account, there is no evidence of a significant reduction in gas and electricity use by households, offices and commercial premises so far. If reductions are going to occur, it will be later this year and into 2023:

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Best in Energy – 26 April 2022

China’s prolonged lockdowns hit commodity prices

EU explores options for Russian oil sanctions ($FT)

China top planner on the epidemic’s impact (trans.)

Russia/India hold talks on coking coal payments

U.S. gas-fired combined cycle electricity generators

SPR releases – authority, impact and replenishment

Whirlpool financials hit by inflation and slower sales *

* Rapidly rising prices and falling real incomes are encouraging households to postpone purchases of expensive durable goods. Reductions in durables spending often signal a slowdown in the business cycle. According to economist Robert Shiller:

“A recession, for example, is a time when many people have decided to spend less, to make do for now with that old furniture instead of buying new, or to postpone starting a new business, to postpone hiring new help in an existing business, or to express support for fiscally conservative government.” (“Narrative economics”, American Economic Association presidential address, January 2017).

U.S. HOUSEHOLDS overwhelmingly believe now is a “bad time to buy” major durable goods owing to high prices. In the University of Michigan’s latest monthly survey of consumers conducted in March, 57% of respondents said it was a bad time to purchase a major household durable item, down slightly from a record 59% in February, but otherwise the highest level since 1980. Durables are the most cyclically sensitive part of consumer spending. Spikes in the “bad time to buy” measure usually correspond to end-of-cycle recessions or at least mid-cycle slowdowns. In the survey, 42% of respondents said it was a bad time because of high prices, 7% cited uncertainty about the future, 4% said they couldn’t afford it, and only 1% cited interest rates:

FRANKFURT’s heating demand, a proxy for the major population centres of Northwest Europe, has been almost -11% below the long-term seasonal average this winter, with the heating season almost over, which has eased some of the pressure on gas inventories and helped avoid an even sharper spike in prices:

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Best in Energy –4 April 2022

[MUST READ] Sanctions and a long conflict

[MUST READ] Wars and settlements ($BBG)

SPR sale – formal announcement and details

France’s electricity grid calls for conservation

China to buy Russia LNG via middlemen ($BBG)

Australia’s export earnings boosted by conflict

EU/Russia standoff over gas payments

U.S. jet fuel prices surge on East Coast

Aviation recovery at risk from fuel prices ($FT)

Sri Lanka leader imposes state of emergency

United Kingdom takes Russian diesel delivery

U.S. MANUFACTURERS reported a less-widespread increase in business activity last month. The ISM composite index fell to 57.1 in March from 58.6 in February and the lowest reading since Sep 2020 as the expansion decelerates. There was also a sharp deceleration in new orders growth in March. The ISM new orders index slipped to 53.8 from 61.7 the month before, consistent with a slowdown in the business cycle ahead:

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Best in Energy – 1 April 2022

White House statement on oil release

IEA holds emergency meeting on oil

EU/Russia stand off over gas payments

U.S. homes transition to LED lighting

BRENT spot prices and calendar spreads have softened significantly since the White House announced the release of up to 180 million barrels from the U.S. strategic petroleum reserve. The six-month spread has narrowed to a backwardation of $9 per barrel, the lowest since before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, down from $18 a week ago and a record $21 earlier in March:

U.S. SPR crude inventories will fall to less than 400 million barrels, the lowest since 1984, if 180 million are released over the next six months as briefed by the White House:

EUROZONE manufacturers reported a less widespread expansion in business activity this month. The purchasing managers’ index fell to 56.5 in March from 58.2 in February. The composite index is still well above the 50-point threshold dividing expanding activity from a contraction. But the index is at the lowest level for 14 months and in the 79th percentile since 2006 down from the 92nd percentile in December:

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Best in Energy – 31 March 2022

White House briefs on 180 million bbl oil release

U.S./IEA oil releases have had limited impact

Sri Lanka runs out of currency to buy fuel

U.K. horticulture hit by surging gas prices

Germany’s industrial base hit by energy crisis

India’s power generation shortages worsen

Euronav tanker firm suspends Russian business

U.S. hydro output hit by western drought

White House struggles to balance goals ($WSJ)

U.S. PETROLEUM stocks outside the strategic petroleum reserve rose by +2 million bbl to 1,139 million bbl last week. But inventories are -107 million bbl (-9%) below the pre-pandemic five-year seasonal average. Stocks have declined in 65 of the last 91 weeks by a total of -323 million bbl since the start of July 2020:

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