In this week's highlights: The oil market is still weighing the latest statements from the White House regarding OPEC+ crude oil production, Russian gas supplies remain constrained; record-high power prices have consumers hoping for the wind to change, and stellar earnings are on the cards for petrochemical producers.
- US pressuring OPEC+ to increase runs (00:12)
- Russian gas supplies remain constrained (01:45)
- Record power prices get political (02:32)
- Record earnings expected in petrochemicals (03:15)
In this week's highlights: Russian gas supplies remain constrained; record-high power prices have consumers hoping for the wind to change, and stellar earnings are on the cards for petrochemical producers.
But first, the oil market is still weighing the latest statements from the White House regarding OPEC+ crude oil production.
Prices for Brent front-month futures have been yo-yoing around the $70 a barrel level as the Biden Administration puts pressure on OPEC+ nations to pump more and help restrain prices, while some key market observers such as the International Energy Agency have warned that demand has actually softened last month on the back of resurgent COVID-19 cases in parts of Asia.
Platts Analytics has moderated its oil demand growth forecast for this year to 5.4 million b/d, still higher than some other observers, with demand increasing through July and August led by the OECD countries, but likely to ease with the autumn, and renewed refinery maintenance.
Also being closely watched is the formation of a new Cabinet in Iran, and the potential for resumption of nuclear talks that could lead to a lifting of sanctions and bring more Iranian barrels onto the market.
Closer to home for Europe is the easing of travel restrictions, and what that means for jet fuel, the weakest link in the global oil complex during this crisis. Global aviation seat capacity has been inching up, reaching 66% of pre-pandemic levels for Europe in August, according to data provider OAG.
And before moving on from oil, our social media question for the week: Do you expect the United States to put further pressure on OPEC+ nations to increase crude supply? Tweet us your thoughts using the hashtag #PlattsMM.
In European gas, Russian supplies via the Yamal-Europe pipeline into Germany remain low after a fire at a processing plant in northern Russia on August 5. Prompt European gas prices have risen above Eur46/MWh this month, with the latest upstream issues in Russia compounding an already tight market situation. Since the fire at the Urengoy plant, Russian gas supplies into Germany at the Mallnow entry point have been sharply reduced, falling to around one quarter of levels seen earlier in the summer.
Russia's gas network is well connected, and it is thought that gas could be diverted from elsewhere to top up the Yamal flows while repairs to the plant are carried out. But Russia also has its own gas storage facilities domestically to fill ahead of winter, which could be restricting export volumes.
In power markets, consumers will be hoping that a forecast surge in wind across Northwest Europe will reduce the need to burn gas for power, keeping a lid on soaring energy costs.
With gas prices at 13-year highs the cost of running a combined cycle gas plant is, in the words of one Italian generator, now akin to "firing champagne."
The situation is becoming political in some countries, with Spain's minister for ecological transition Teresa Ribera planning a clawback tax on generators while calling for market design change. Will Italy be next to intervene? Month-ahead power there last week hit 119 euros a megawatt-hour - the highest for 13 years.
And finally, financial results for the second quarter will be in focus for the petrochemicals market this week, with more strong performances expected. A number of companies in the sector have reported "best ever" quarterly and half-year earnings over the last few weeks. Producers have been enjoying record-busting margins across a number of products this year, driven by numerous plant outages, robust demand from consumer markets, and logistical issues disrupting global trade flows.
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Thanks for kicking off your Monday with us and have a great week ahead!