Energy Market Scan - June 11th 2022

Process to ratify Sweden and Finland as NATO members has begun.

Posted on Jun 11, 2022 by Prakash Kini (PK)

Geopolitics and War 

The process to ratify Sweden and Finland as the newest members of NATO has been formally launched, the military alliance chief Jens Stoltenberg announced, marking a historic step brought on by the Russia-Ukraine war.

Currently there are no plans to deploy troops or infrastructure to Sweden or Finland.

France and other countries trying to warm up to Iran

Considering the global oil and gas crisis, many countries including France are trying to warm up to Iran. 

OPEC and the French government, representing Europe, have called for Washington to allow Venezuelan and Iranian crude to flow to consuming nations that are struggling to replace Russian energy supplies during the war in Ukraine. [Muhammad Sanusi Barkindo, the Secretary-General of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) passed away soon after making an appeal to ease sanctions on Iranian and Venezuelan oil, he is succeeded by Haitham Al-Ghais] 

Iran is also going to be top of agenda in Biden's upcoming visit to Saudi Arabia.

Meanwhile, Iran and Russia have reached an agreement on working to expand their Financial and Banking cooperation and remove the obstacles in the way of their mutual ties under tough American #sanctions. 

Trade/Regulation 

EU classifies nuclear and natural gas as green

European Parliament will classify nuclear power & gas as Green Energy. 

The rules will apply from 2023, unless 20 of the EU's 27 member states reject them, a threshold seen as very unlikely.

Netherlands Farmers Protest Against Nitrogen Emissions Cap 

Italian, German, and Polish farmers joined their Netherlands counterparts to expand across the EU, the protests against the nitrogen emissions cap policy that could lead to massive job losses across these countries. 

According to government data, 70 percent of the Netherland's surface area exceeds critical limits for nitrogen. 

Although nitrogen emissions can happen due to a multitude of reasons, which include traffic and building projects, over 46 percent of the nitrogen pollution originated from domestic agriculture. High-intensity farming of cows, pigs, and other animals has made the Netherlands Europe's leading emitter of the substances. Hence putting caps will lead to decisions around reducing the livestock population.

Jeff Bezos slams Joe Biden over call to reduce gas prices at the pumps

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos renewed his spat with the White House over the weekend, as the world's third-richest person criticized President Joe Biden for calling on companies running gasoline stations to lower their prices. 

In his tweet, Biden had said, "this is a time of war and global peril," and demanded the companies lower gasoline prices, which have soared to about $5 a gallon in many parts of the country. 

"Bring down the price you are charging at the pump to reflect the cost you're paying for the product. And do it now," the president said. 

Bezos soon after wrote on Twitter: "Ouch. Inflation is far too important a problem for the White House to keep making statements like this. It's either straight ahead misdirection or a deep misunderstanding of basic market dynamics." 

Bezos and other entrepreneurs have repeatedly denied that companies are using the garb of inflation to raise prices.

The Bezos statement has received mixed reactions, the critics are reiterating their burgeoning personal wealth, and the need to tax the rich more. 

Norwegian offshore oil and gas workers return to work post strike

Norwegian offshore oil and gas workers were on strike demanding a raise to handle rising inflation.

They returned to work after imposed settlements by the Norwegian government.

Supply & Demand 

US Power Producers may find it challenging to keep the lights on 

US power producers may find it challenging to keep the lights on due to the ongoing fuel and equipment supply crunch as the country progresses into the upcoming summer peaks and hurricane season. 

Consumer power use is expected to hit all-time highs this summer,

which could strain electric grids at a time when federal agencies are warning the weather could pose reliability issues.

Utilities are warning of supply constraints for equipment, which could hamper efforts to restore power during outages. Drought is also causing a reduction in hydroelectric power generation in places such as the Hoover Dam.

They are also having a tougher time rebuilding natural gas stockpiles for next winter as power generators burn record amounts of gas following the shutdown of dozens of coal plants in recent years and extreme drought cuts hydropower supplies in many Western states. 

“Increasingly frequent cold snaps, heat waves, drought, and major storms continue to challenge the ability of our nation’s electric infrastructure to deliver reliable affordable energy to consumers,” Richard Glick, chairman of the US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), said earlier this month. 

Federal agencies responsible for power reliability like FERC have warned that grids in the western half of the country could face reliability issues this summer as consumers crank up air conditioners to escape the heat. 

Texas, Ohio and Midwest grid operators have already been forced to urge customers to conserve energy or started rolling outages. 

Industry expert calls to build more modern nuclear power plants

Nicolas Mazzucchi, an industry expert based out of France, points out that in addition to the EU's strategy to fill the fuel supply gaps through a slow transition to electricity made from a mix of renewable energy sources, coal and gas, investments should be made into modern nuclear power plants. 

He realises the squeamishness about investing in nuclear power, thanks to Fukushima, and opines that modern nuclear power technology is more practical and more agile than when the Generation IV forum was established.

Small modular reactors — those with a total capacity of up to 300 megawatts — are particularly promising. They offer flexibility in terms of plant design and maintenance, because they can be replaced module by module. Small reactors could work alongside green power and fill gaps in capacity.

In the meantime, a small number of countries have advanced their nuclear technologies. Russia builds more than 30% of the new reactors worldwide, mostly in Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and the Indian subcontinent. China also builds around 30% of reactors, most of them in China itself.

US crude stocks show a surprise buildup 

SPGlobal.Com by Platts has called out that US crude stocks have shown a surprise buildup on weakened refinery demand (as fuel sales might be slowing down in the US) and strong imports. 

Sustainability

Electric cars will increase from 1% to 9% of U.S. car fleet by 2050 

Electric cars are expected to increase from 1% to 9% of the U.S. car fleet by 2050.

China's explosive EV growth to stay on track 

China's explosive EV growth to stay on track.

Weather and Climate Change 

Italy declares emergency in five northern areas

Italy faces a drought that threatens 30% of its national agricultural production and has declared a state of emergency in five of its northern areas around the Po valley: Friuli-Romagna, Friuli Venezia Giulia, Lombardy, Piedmont, and Veneto. 

The government also announced a $39.5 million fund to aid people in need as Italy experienced an early heatwave and a drought that is the worst in 70 years. The state of emergency provides "extraordinary means and powers" to help guarantee public safety and compensation for losses while also looking to guarantee normal living conditions for those in the region. 

The drought has also resulted in a dramatic decline in hydroelectric power generation.

Nearly 20% of the nation's energy production is generated by hydroelectric facilities, the majority of which are located in the mountainous north of the country.

Meanwhile in Iraq, catastrophic droughts in Iraq have uncovered the Mittani Empire-era metropolis for the first time, a 3,400-year-old metropolis in the Middle East. The sprawling metropolis contains a palace and numerous big buildings that archaeologists believe are the remnants of Zakhiku, an important location in the Mittani Empire during the Bronze Age between 1550 and 1350 BC. The team says that these ruins had not been seen in over 40 years, because the area along the Tigris River was turned into a reservoir.

Floods in Sydney, Mumbai, south Caribbean and Oman

Floods and heavy rains lash multiple locations across the world: 

  • New South Wales, Australia
  • Mumbai, and a few other parts of India
  • South Caribbean, hit by hurricane Bonnie, and 
  • Oman

Fresh evacuation orders were issued for tens of thousands of Sydney residents. Floods also impacted the flow of coal to power plants in the NSW region.

Statistics

Oil prices slip close to $100 

Oil prices slip as recession fears continue, alongside a new variant detected in Shanghai, which might lead to additional restrictions. 

Citibank has warned that oil prices might slump to $65 by end of this year, and even down to $45 by 2023 end, citing global recession as the major reason. 

This is in direct conflict with Goldman Sach's prediction that oil prices will soar to nearly $140 a barrel this summer.

Merchant Economics 

Venezuela recorded a 61% increase in its oil exports last month 

Venezuela recorded a 61 percent increase in its oil exports last month, especially due to gas headed to the EU, and specifically to ENI and Repsol.

Australia forecasts record export earnings in 2022 from LNG and coal 

Australia's government is forecasting record export earnings for commodities in 21-22 and 22- 23, mainly for coal and LNG due to the Ukraine war.

US refined products exports and refinery utilization at an all-time high 

With all the noise around gasoline prices, it was notable that US exports of refined petroleum products surged last week to an all-time high of 6.96 million barrels per day. Last week the EIA reported refinery utilization was at its highest in over 2 years.

In Other News 

Freehold Royalties acquires U.S. Midland Basin and Eagle Ford Basin

Freehold Royalties Ltd. enters into Agreements to Acquire U.S. Midland Basin and Eagle Ford Basin Assets for CAD$155 million

China Gas will purchase one million tonnes per annum of US LNG 

China Gas will purchase one million tonnes per annum of US LNG from Next Decade LNG Corporation under a 20-year sales and purchase agreement (SPA) signed on Tuesday (5th July). 

FERC suspends the environmental review schedule for Venture Global 

The FERC has suspended the environmental review schedule for Venture Global’s Gas Plant, Pipeline Project in Louisiana because "a number of responses to data requests remain outstanding." 

"Venture Global is working hard to complete outstanding regulatory deliverables for CP2," Venture Global spokesperson Shaylyn Hynes said in an email. 

"We appreciate that FERC continues to process CP2 and remain committed to satisfying the Commission's regulatory requirements," Hynes said. 

Venture Global has said it planned to make a final investment decision (FID) to build CP2 in mid-2023 with the first LNG expected in 2026. 

This further fuels the concerns that the regulators are not reviewing and approving oil and gas projects in a timely manner, especially during today's supply-constrained times. 

Zimbabwe might just have the largest oil prospect drilled this year 

Invictus Energy at Mukuyu, Zimbabwe might just have the largest oil prospect drilled this year: with an estimated 20 Tcf of gas and 845 mmbbls of oil.