Best in Energy – 20 September 2022

Germany’s auto sector emissions remain high

China boosts imports of coal from Russia

EU/Africa tensions over gas investment ($FT)

La Niña to boost winter heating in Japan ($BBG)

U.S. shale producers hit drilling limits ($WSJ)

U.S. central bank refocuses on inflation ($WSJ)

Stranded asset story and the energy crisis ($FT)

Renewables and domestic energy security ($FT)

California relies on nuclear for 10% of electricity

United States is shifting policy on Taiwan ($BBG)

Coal boom leads to expansion of marginal mines

U.S. TREASURY securities with ten year maturity are yielding 3.53%, the highest since 2010, as traders anticipate the central bank will have to keep interest rates higher for longer to bring down inflation. Yields are rising at the fastest year-over-year rate since 1999. The increase is testing the downward trend in place since the mid-1980s. If the increase is sustained it will force a widespread re-pricing of most other assets:

HEDGE FUNDS and other money managers made few changes to their positions in the six most important petroleum futures and options contracts in the week to September 13. There were total net purchases of +4 million barrels with buying in NYMEX and ICE WTI (+10 million) and Brent (+3 million) but sales of U.S. gasoline (-5 million), U.S. diesel (-3 million) and European gas oil (-1 million):

IF YOU would like to receive best in energy and my research notes every day, you can add your email to the circulation list here: https://eepurl.com/dxTcl1

Best in Energy – 11 August 2022

Physical oil prices soften in recent weeks

Chile’s troubled lithium industry ($WSJ)

Yield curve inversion slows bank lending

EIA’s weekly petroleum reporting system

INDIA’s coal-fired power plants have 11 days of fuel on hand, an improvement on just 7 days at the end of August 2021, but still slightly below the 13 days at the same point in 2019. The central government has prioritised replenishing fuel stocks to avert a repeat of the power shortages and blackouts that hit the country in October 2021:

U.S. FREIGHT SHIPMENTS accelerated in June after slowing slightly in May. Freight volumes were up +4.6% in June compared with the same month a year earlier. Volumes advanced at the same annualised rate of +4.6% in the most recent three months from March to June. The strong growth was surprising since other manufacturing indicators pointed to a slowdown in activity during the second quarter:

U.S. PETROLEUM INVENTORIES including the strategic reserve rose by +8 million bbl last week, one of the largest weekly increases in the last two years. There were increases in stocks of commercial crude (+5 million bbl), distillate fuel oil (+2 million), propane (+2 million) and other oils (+8 million) partially offset by reductions in jet fuel (-1 million), gasoline (-5 million) and strategic crude stocks (-5 million):

IF YOU would like to receive best in energy plus my research notes every day, you can add your email to the circulation list here: https://eepurl.com/dxTcl1

Best in Energy – 12 July 2022

Computer shipments tumble on inflation (WSJ)

Iran/Israel war is emerging from the shadows

Texas averts blackouts with voluntary conservation

U.K. utility bills on course for winter crisis

U.K. retail sales fall rapidly as inflation surges

U.S. Treasury lobbies for oil price cap

Chartbook – what causes an energy crisis?*

* I will update this chartbook from September 2021 to illustrate the gas, electricity and oil crisis in 2022 triggered by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine but which was building long before as spare capacity eroded. The current energy crisis has all the four classic elements; (1) pre-crisis erosion of spare production capacity and inventories; (2) failure to appreciate increasing risk and take timely preventive action; (3) a short-term trigger that turns a potential shortage into an actual shortage; and (4) panicked reaction.  

U.S. TREASURY yield curve has continued to invert and is now trading at a premium of 9 basis points between the two-year and ten-year maturities. The yield spread is in 96th percentile for all months since 1980 and implies traders believe a significant economic slowdown is inevitable. The last occasions on which the spread had tightened this much were in January 2007, February 2006, November 2000 and September 1989:

LONDON’s temperatures have climbed sharply since the start of July and are currently +5°C above the long-term average. In contrast to the United States, peak electric load occurs in midwinter rather than midsummer. Solar and wind output is currently favourable. But distribution transformers are vulnerable to the heat:

IF YOU would like to receive best in energy and my research notes every day, you can add your email to the circulation list here: https://eepurl.com/dxTcl1

Best in Energy – 5 April 2022

Germany takes control of local Gazprom unit

Aramco raises crude prices to refiners in Asia

India faces coal crisis for a second year ($BBG)

U.S. intelligence sharing sets precedent ($WSJ)

China’s rail freight rose +2.8% yoy in Q1 (trans.)

U.S. TREASURY yield curve is now flat between two-year and ten-year maturities, which puts it in the 94th percentile for all months since 1990, and is a strong signal the business cycle is on course for a mid-cycle slowdown or end-of-cycle recession inside the next 12-18 months as the central bank is forced to lift interest rates to bring inflation back under control. Interest rate traders expect the Federal Reserve to boost its target overnight rate to 2.50% by the end of the year up from 0.25-0.50% currently:

BRENT’s calendar spread from Jun 2022 to Dec 2023 has narrowed sharply as the announced crude oil sales from the U.S. strategic petroleum reserve depress nearby prices while the more vague promise to buy back the barrels later helps boost prices in 2023:

U.S. PETROLEUM inventories including the strategic petroleum reserve have depleted by -411 million bbl since the start of July 2020 after increasing by +225 million bbl during the first wave of pandemic and lockdowns. Inventories have fallen in 68 of the last 91 weeks. The drawdown confirms the global market has been persistently under-supplied for almost two years. Historically, market analysis has treated U.S. government-controlled stocks as purely strategic and passive and has therefore focused on inventory changes excluding the SPR. But as the SPR comes to be used more actively to manage prices, the focus will switch to inventories including the SPR as providing the best indicator of the balance between production and consumption:

To receive best in energy and my research via email every day, you can add your email to the circulation list here: https://eepurl.com/dxTcl1

Best in Energy – 28 March 2022

Commodity traders keep Russian exports flowing

OPEC+ officials call for increased understanding

EU carbon market operations – regulator review

IEA defers decision on energy data subscriptions

Germany’s dependence on Russian oil ($BBG)

Japan nuclear restarts win more support ($BBG)

Russia sanctions threaten LNG ship orders ($FT)

U.S. shale output limited by supply chain ($FT)

Freight costs rise in response to diesel ($WSJ)

Middle East diplomatic negotiations ($WSJ)

Shanghai financial district in lockdown (trans.)

Shenzhen relaxes coronavirus controls (trans.)

Battery storage: grid-service and load-shifting

Hedge funds position for yield curve inversion

RECESSION signals are intensifying with the two-to-ten year segment of the U.S. Treasury yield curve within 12 basis points of inverting and in the 88th percentile for all months since 1990. The U.S. economy has been in a formal end-of-cycle recession as defined by the National Bureau for Economic Research for just over 9% of the time since 1990:

U.S. OIL producers have added drilling rigs at a rate of just over 4 per week since the start of the year, essentially the same rate since August 2020, but slower than during the previous recoveries after price slumps in 2015/16 and 2008/09:

To receive best in energy and my research notes every day via email, you can add your email to the circulation list here: https://eepurl.com/dxTcl1

[CHARTBOOK] Global financial conditions – 23 March 2022

Most global financial indicators are characterised by a lack of obvious stress at the moment

Markets are sanguine about the economic and financial impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the Fed’s planned cycle of interest rate increases

U.S. central bank is expected to engineer a soft-landing rather than hard one, leading to a mild mid-cycle slowdown rather than a deep recession

Markets expect businesses, households and borrowers to absorb more than 200 basis points of U.S. interest rate increases without difficulty

If there is a cyclical slowdown, it is expected to be conventional downturn in growth, jobs and inflation rather than accompanied by a financial crisis

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and sanctions imposed in response have not so far resulted in a significant change to the outlook embodied in asset markets