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Market Movers Europe, Apr 6-10: Oil and power markets brace for production cuts and demand drops amid COVID-19

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Watch: Market Movers Europe, Apr 6-10: Oil and power markets brace for production cuts and demand drops amid COVID-19

OPEC+ oil producers will hold a virtual meeting; European gas prices start summer on a downward trend; Restaurant closures put biodiesel producers in a feedstock quandary; and European power markets brace for a further drop in demand.

Platts Live

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In this week's Market Movers: European gas prices start summer on a downward trend; Restaurant closures put biodiesel producers in a feedstock quandary; and European power markets brace for a further drop in demand of at least 10%.

But first, the week will be dominated by a virtual meeting of OPEC+ oil producers. However, when exactly this will happen remains unclear after it was postponed from Monday. The meeting was called after prices plunged on pressure from both supply and demand sides. The coronavirus battered global demand, and supply grew after the breakdown in OPEC+ production curbs and the start of a price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia.

Plans for the meeting were thrown into disarray after President Donald Trump said he was not inclined to force US producers into mandatory output cuts. Trump had earlier offered to mediate a resumption of the OPEC+ deal. Ministers had been contemplating plans to cut 10 million b/d or about 10% of global supply. This was contingent on the US and other countries, such as Canada and Brazil and Norway, joining in. Norway has said it will consider cutting its output as part of a broad international effort.

Preparations for the meeting were also not helped by a war on words breaking out between Saudi Arabia and Russia over who was to blame for oil prices plummeting. In a sign of the uncertainty surrounding the talks, state oil companies Saudi Aramco and Abu Dhabi's ADNOC delayed publishing the May official selling prices for their crude oils until after the OPEC+ meeting, sources told Platts.

And that brings us to our social media question: What do you think the oil market will look like after the coronavirus outbreak? Send us your replies via Twitter using the hashtag #PlattsMM.

The fall in oil prices combined with the coronavirus eating into demand has hit the European gas market. As it enters its summer season participants be watching for any shifts in fundamentals that could change an extremely bearish picture.

As you can see from the chart, global gas prices have again converged, this time around record lows. In addition to the coronavirus, they have been dragged down by the mild northern hemisphere winter, high gas stocks and a still oversupplied global market. The JKM benchmark LNG price has fallen to an all-time low of just $2.26/MMBtu for the front month, bringing it down closer toward the prompt TTF and Henry Hub prices.

With the start of the LNG shoulder season, most in the market think a recovery in prices is unlikely. This is because European stocks are significantly higher than in previous years and the coronavirus is hitting demand.

Part of the lockdowns in Europe to curb the spread of the coronavirus has been the closure of restaurants, cafes and fast-food outlets. A knock-on effect of this has been a lack of used cooking oil as feedstock for biodiesel. The market will be looking to see how producers of biodiesel from used cooking oil, known as UCOME, will cope.

Looking to imports could be problematic, with China, an important supplier of used cooking oil, only now slowing, returning to normal. UCOME is an important part of the biodiesel complex due to its higher greenhouse gas savings of 87% compared with 50% for biodiesel from unused vegetable oil.

Demand for biodiesel has fallen, with producers not looking to buy further feedstock. However, with lockdowns showing no sign of easing and the summer peak demand season for UCOME on the horizon it remains to be seen how producers will deal with a lack of feedstock.

And European power markets are braced for further falls in demand as widespread lockdowns combine with longer days, warmer temperatures and the Easter break set to erase any remaining commercial activity.

Demand is forecast to fall by at least 10% on the year in the second quarter due to coronavirus restrictions. As you can see from the chart on your screen Italy has been one of the countries hit by lockdowns imposed on all non-essential activities.

Supply from thermal generation - particularly gas - will bear the brunt of demand losses, boosting renewables' share.

That in itself poses a challenge for system operators charged with maintaining frequency.

Finally, please check out Platts Live. Platts Live is a virtual alternative to our face-to-face events and forums, featuring content on the coronavirus outbreak. It has been created to allow our customers to continue to engage with us, and each other.

You can access it at by navigating to the link on your screen.

Thanks for kicking off your Monday with us, stay safe and well, and have a great week ahead!