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Watch: Market Movers Europe, Aug 10-14: Key oil reports and state of German steel market eyed

In this week's highlights: Russia's largest oil company Rosneft will publish its results; German largest steel maker Thyssenkrupp will give an update on its steel unit; and the UK government ends a consultation on biofuel regulations.

  • Oil market deals with data gusher
  • All eyes on Thyssenkrupp's steel unit
  • Ukrainian gas storage injections step up sharply
  • Power market eyes French nuclear plant availability
  • UK govt eyes hike in biofuel mandate buy-out price

Platts Live

View Full Transcript

In this week's highlights: Russia's largest oil company Rosneft will publish its results; German largest steel maker Thyssenkrupp will give an update on its steel unit; and the UK government ends a consultation on biofuel regulations.

But first, there will be an abundance of data and analysis for the oil market to get its teeth into this week, starting with Platts own survey of production by the OPEC+ group, on Monday, followed by OPEC's monthly oil market report on Wednesday, and the International Energy Agency's monthly oil market report on Thursday. Oil prices crept up last week, helped by a weaker dollar. However, the IEA and OPEC are also likely to consider the fears about demand that continue to stalk the market as the US summer driving season peters out, US-China tensions rise, and coronavirus spikes persist.

As you can see from the chart, driving activity in Europe is making a slow recovery from its lockdown slump, and there are fears it could slow further or even go into reverse if there is a major second wave of coronavirus infections.

We'll also be getting the view from Moscow, or at least one view, with second-quarter results due Friday from state-controlled oil company Rosneft. Early signs are the company won't book massive impairments along the lines of the oil and gas majors. Rosneft, as the country's largest oil producer, may have views on the future of OPEC+ production cuts, and the state of the European market, given its refining capacity.

And that takes us to our social media question for the week: How do you see the recovery in European fuel demand developing. Tweet us your thoughts using the hashtag #PlattsMM.

And talking of major companies giving an insight into the state of the market, Germany's largest steelmaker, Thyssenkrupp will be releasing its results on Thursday. Following the successful closing of the sale of its elevator unit at the end of July, the market will be looking for updates on the much-needed restructuring of the steel unit. Workers and unions have been urging more clarity on who a potential partner for the steel unit might be. Swedish steelmaker SSAB, Germany's Salzgitter or even a revived joint venture with Tata Steel have been discussed. But the pandemic has left steel mills struggling to maintain cash flow amid widespread capacity cuts and rising raw material costs. This makes it uncertain whether other companies would be willing to take the unit on.

Returning to the former Soviet Union, the European gas market will be watching the rate of injections into Ukrainian storage sites, which have ramped up sharply since the start of August. The sites are capable of holding nearly 31 billion cubic meters of gas.

As you can see, with the daily rate of injections accelerating in August, gas stocks in Ukraine are likely to end the storage season significantly higher than in previous years.

Ukraine's storage sites are able to act as a European gas storage overflow, given that storage in the EU is currently 87% full.

Demand for gas to be put into Ukrainian storage has curtailed Russian flows into Europe since the start of August as more gas flows from west to east, which has been bullish for prices.

Ukraine halted direct purchases of Russian gas in November 2015 and has pledged never to resume imports, saying Russia was not a reliable supplier following the countries' well-documented gas disputes over the past decades.

Capacity will also be on the European power market's mind this week. French nuclear availability remains the key swing factor in Northwest Europe, with a second long-term reactor outage set to end mid-August. This could, however, be offset by cooling water restrictions in southern France if there are heatwaves in areas where reactors use river water for cooling. As far as fossil-fired generation goes, power traders will be monitoring spreads this week as rising gas prices reduce the premium of using gas-fired over coal-fired plants. Gas has been trumping coal all summer. This is forecast to continue into the fourth quarter, with only the most efficient coal units in Germany and the Netherlands likely to be competitive this winter. With EU carbon prices stable at around 26 euros a metric ton, Europe's ageing, carbon-intensive coal fleet is being side-lined by renewables and gas, with 2.5 gigawatts of new gas-fired capacity due on line in October.

And finally, after all those fossil fuels, let's go green! On Tuesday, a two-week consultation by the UK government ends on a proposed increase in the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation buy-out to either 50 or 40 pence a litre from 30 pence. Paying the buy-out means transport fuel suppliers don't have to blend biofuels. The government says it is seeking the increase to ensure the continued delivery of greenhouse gas savings as well as the decarbonisation of road fuels. Recent increases in biofuels relative to gasoline and diesel mean that there is a risk companies will buy out of their obligations to blend biofuels on economic grounds. European ethanol prices hit an all-time high and a record premium to gasoline at the end of last week on tight supply caused by low run rates by producers and demand for ethanol for use in disinfectant and hand sanitizer. The government said its preferred buy-out price of 50 pence a litre would lead to a maximum additional cost of 2 pence a litre which is likely to be passed onto consumers. Any changes will apply from January 1, 2021.

For more on all the issues affecting commodity markets, please check out Platts Live, a new section of our website that has been created for our customers to continue engaging with us, and each other. You can find it at the address displayed on your screen.

Thanks for kicking off your Monday with us and have a great week ahead!