David Fuller and Eoin Treacy's Comment of the Day
Category - Energy

    US Seeks Halt to Oil-Reserve Sales to Refill Depleted Stockpiles

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    The Biden administration is seeking to stop sales from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve mandated by Congress so it can refill the emergency reserve, a move that could impact the release of 147 million barrels of crude oil.

    The Energy Department is seeking to cancel or delay sales mandated by Congress in fiscal years 2024 through 2027 so that it can move forward with a White House plan to refill the oil reserve when crude prices reach around $70 a barrel, an agency official told a Senate committee Thursday. Congress has mandated the sale of 147 million barrels of oil to pay for unrelated legislative initiatives during that time frame, including 35 million barrels in fiscal 2024, according to data compiled by research firm ClearView Energy Partners. 

    “It doesn’t make sense for us to be releasing oil while we’re trying to refill the SPR,” Doug MacIntyre, the department’s Deputy Director for the Office of Petroleum Reserves, said in testimony before the Energy and Natural Resources Committee. “We can’t fill and release from the same site at the same time.”

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    Email of the day on the big turn:

    Since returning from the Chart seminar in London I have spoken to several people who work in the Israeli high-tech industry, They all tell me that about 10% of their colleagues have lost their jobs recently. Today you referred to your MIIN index. How can we invest in these countries?

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    EU Is Hooked on Russia LNG and Paying Billions to Keep It Coming

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    “Russian LNG has to continue to flow,” said Anne-Sophie Corbeau, a researcher at Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy. “We need that on the global LNG balance: it is already tight enough as it is. I think most European countries are indeed happy to turn a blind eye on this.”

    Among European nations, only the UK and Baltic states have stopped buying Russian LNG. By contrast, Russian oil has been widely shunned by buyers across the region, and an EU ban is set to come into force on Dec. 5.
    A complete embargo on Russian gas has never been seriously considered, given the scarcity of global supply and the potential for an even tighter market next year. Yet the EU has made efforts to find alternative supplies. In March, the bloc pledged to replace almost two-thirds of its gas imports from Russia this year, with most of the new volumes coming in the form of global LNG.

    Russian gas now makes up less than 10% of the region’s supply of the fuel, down from more than a third last year, but the share of LNG in Russia’s deliveries is close to half.


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    J.P.Morgan sees global bond yields dipping in 2023

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    Global bond yields will likely fall slightly in 2023 as the balance between demand and supply will improve by $1 trillion, strategists at J.P. Morgan said in a note.

    There will be a $700 billion contraction in global bond demand next year compared to 2022, while bond supply will likely drop by $1.6 trillion, J.P. Morgan strategists, led by Nikolaos Panigirtzoglou, estimated in the note issued on Thursday.

    "Based on the historical relationship between annual changes in excess supply and the Global Aggregate bond index yield, a $1 trillion improvement in the demand/supply balance would imply downward pressure on Global Aggregate yields of around 40 basis points," the Wall Street bank said.

    J.P. Morgan said that while major central banks trimming their balance sheets in 2022 was the single largest contributor to deterioration in bond demand, sell-offs by commercial banks and retail investors were also much higher than estimates.

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    Equinor Says EU Price Cap Unlikely to Limit Natural Gas Exports

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    Equinor ASA, Norway’s biggest energy company, said a European Union proposal to cap natural gas prices is unlikely to dampen exports of the fuel to the region.

    “The intention behind the proposed mechanism is to avoid episodes of excessively high gas prices and not to implement a permanent intervention in market mechanisms,” Equinor spokesperson Magnus Frantzen Eidsvold said in an email Wednesday. “Our immediate assessment is that this will not have substantial consequences for our exports.”

    Norway is Europe’s biggest supplier of natural gas, after Russian flows were slashed following the invasion of Ukraine. Norwegian Oil and Energy Minister Terje Aasland said in October that the country expects to sell about 8% more gas this year than it did in 2021, much of it to continental Europe.

    After months discussing how to prevent gas from skyrocketing again, the European Commission on Tuesday proposed an emergency brake on prices. However, the cap is only triggered when benchmark Dutch futures exceed €275 per megawatt-hour for two weeks and the gap between TTF and liquefied natural gas prices is greater than €58 for 10 trading days.

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    Saudis Deny Report of Discussion About OPEC+ Oil-Output Hike

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    Saudi Arabia denied a report that it is discussing an oil-production increase for the OPEC+ meeting next month, and said it stands ready to make further cuts if needed. 

    Crude futures pared earlier losses, trading 1.8% lower at $86.04 a barrel as of 5:18 p.m. in London. 

    “The current cut of 2 million barrels per day by OPEC+ continues until the end of 2023,” Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said in a statement via the Saudi Press Agency. “If there is a need to take further measures by reducing production to balance supply and demand, we always remain ready to intervene.”

    Oil futures earlier dropped as much as 6.1%, dipping below $85 a barrel for the first time since September, after the Wall Street Journal reported that the kingdom and other members of the group were considering raising output by as much as 500,000 barrels a day. 

    That would have been a major reversal after the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies decided in October to cut production by 2 million barrels a day. US President Joe Biden has slammed the move, saying it endangers the global economy and aids fellow OPEC+ member Russia in its war in Ukraine.

    After an initial rally following the cuts agreement, crude prices have declined as the economic outlook deteriorates and China continues to grapple with Covid-19 outbreaks. OPEC twice reduced its forecasts for global oil demand, and Prince Abdulaziz has said the group will remain cautious due to “uncertainties” about the health of the global economy. 

    Saudi Arabia has already cut oil exports sharply this month to deliver on the OPEC+ agreement, according to data from energy analytics firm Kpler Ltd. The cartel’s next meeting is scheduled for Dec. 4.

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    LNG Is Proving a Pricey Alternative to Russian Gas Supplies

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    The disruption to oil flows caused by Moscow’s missile attack on Ukraine underscored the need for Europe to find alternative sources of energy. But the LNG that the continent is seeking as a long-term replacement for Russian natural gas won’t come cheap.

    There’s already a shortage of vessels to deliver liquefied natural gas due to a surge in demand, and a cold snap would increase global competition for tankers. Traders are paying at least 50% more to secure the ships, meaning higher costs for importing nations. Some of the newest, energy-efficient vessels are reportedly fetching up to $200,000 a day - almost double current rates.

    A record 40 LNG tankers are now at sea, waiting for European prices to increase once winter sets in, according to shipowner Flex LNG Ltd. There are already bottlenecks at some ports, mainly in the UK and the Netherlands. That’s due to a limited number of facilities to handle the influx and storage tanks that remain near full with mild weather muting demand.

    This congestion has caused ships to be tied up in floating storage, removing tankers from the spot market, Flex LNG Chief Executive Officer Oystein Kalleklev said.

    Germany is one step closer to providing some relief for the continent. On Tuesday officials said work was complete on the first jetty for a floating terminal near Wilhelmshaven on the North Sea. Firms including energy giant Uniper SE are now doing additional construction, with the idea of having the terminal operational this winter.

    Still, supply could be tight during the coming months, just when Europe needs it most. The continent has relied on the US for much of its imports, and the return of Freeport LNG facility in Texas - following an explosion in June - was set to provide some relief. Now, it looks like the facility will remain offline as repairs continue and it awaits regulatory approvals to restart.

    An extended outage at an LNG complex in Malaysia could further tighten the market, increasing spot cargo demand from North Asia. Spot LNG prices in the region surged Wednesday on higher freight costs.

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    Euphoria Sweeps China Stocks as Signs of Covid Zero Pivot Emerge

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    Traders who have for long been seeking clear signals of a pivot away from the staunch Covid Zero policy cheered the slew of changes announced on Friday, which included a cut in the amount of time travelers and close contacts must spend in quarantine, and a pullback on testing. The decisions by the National Health Commission followed a meeting by the nation’s top leaders on Thursday, where a more targeted approach was encouraged to tackle outbreaks.

    “This is a huge positive for the market,” said Wang Yugang, a fund manager at Beijing Axe Asset Management Co. “Of course how much efficacy these measures have for the economy we will need to observe.”

    In a display of broad market optimism, every stock on the 50-member Hang Sang China gauge was up on Friday. On the mainland, the CSI 300 Index ended 2.8% higher.

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    JPMorgan, Citigroup Maintaining Some Russia Ties Due To U.S. Government Instructions

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    JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Citigroup Inc. are maintaining some ties with Russian companies for strategic reasons on directives behind the scenes from the U.S. State Department and Treasury Department, Bloomberg reported on Monday. The country's biggest banks are caught between Congress, which is pushing for strict sanctions against Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, and the Biden administration, which has urged banks to continue doing business with strategic Russian companies, Bloomberg reported, citing people familiar with the situation. Nnedinma Ifudu Nweke, a lawyer at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP who specializes in economic sanctions, told Bloomberg that some pockets of business are still allowed with Russia, particularly in the humanitarian space as well as facets of the financial system that would pose a systemic risk. A spokesperson from the Treasury Department told Bloomberg that it has issued guidelines to banks to assure that humanitarian aid, energy and agriculture activities continue.

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    The Metals for Your EV Are Stuck in a 30-Mile Traffic Jam

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    Zambia, too, has ambitious expansion plans. The region could add nearly 1 million tons of annual copper production over the next decade, according to Adam Khan, copper supply analyst at CRU Group, and others are more optimistic still.

    “Copper is the new oil,” Zambian Finance Minister Situmbeko Musokotwane said in an interview. “This is a very good opportunity for us.”

    There’s no doubt that the region’s copper will be needed. To meet the global target of net-zero by 2050, the world may need to double supplies of what S&P Global calls “the metal of electrification.” “The green-energy transition is the biggest purchase order in history for the commodities industry,” said Benedikt Sobotka, chief executive officer of miner Eurasian Resources Group.

    To be sure, logistics are not the only impediment. Corruption is rife, and disputes with governments are common. One of the largest copper and cobalt mines, Tenke Fungurume, hasn’t been allowed to export any material since July because of a dispute between its owner CMOC Group and Congolese state mining company Gecamines.

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