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Market Movers Europe, Sep 9-13: World Energy Congress meets as Saudi minister makes debut

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Watch: Market Movers Europe, Sep 9-13: World Energy Congress meets as Saudi minister makes debut

Good morning, in this week's highlights: Russian wheat is set to make its debut in a Saudi purchasing tender; and an EU court ruling is expected on Gazprom's access to a crucial German pipeline.

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Good morning, in this week's highlights: Russian wheat is set to make its debut in a Saudi purchasing tender; and an EU court ruling is expected on Gazprom's access to a crucial German pipeline.

But first, the oil markets will be eagerly awaiting any signs of a change in Saudi Arabia's production policy following the replacement of oil minister Khaled al-Falih. Falih has been replaced by a son of King Salman, Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, who has been a long serving member of the Saudi delegation to OPEC. The appointment marks the first time in Saudi history that a member of the royal family has been made oil minister. Prince Abdulaziz is the half-brother of the powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is anxious to press ahead with an initial public offering of a 5% stake in state oil company Aramco. Analysts say the change of oil minister may have come about because of Falih's behind-the-scenes resistance to the IPO.

The prince's first public appearance as oil minister is scheduled to come Monday when he delivers a keynote speech at the World Energy Congress in Abu Dhabi. The congress will bring together top officials from the UAE and its OPEC allies, as well as Russian energy minister Alexander Novak, and IEA executive director Fatih Birol.

Corporate delegates include the CEO of state oil company ADNOC as well as his counterparts from European energy majors Total and Eni. Discussion will range from oil prices to LNG markets and climate change

On Thursday Prince Abdulaziz will make his OPEC debut as minister also in Abu Dhabi when a key group of oil ministers from the OPEC/non-OPEC production cut pact is set to meet. The joint Ministerial Monitoring Committee will discuss weak demand and an oil price lower than many members would like. OPEC/non-OPEC has already agreed on a 1.2 million barrel-a-day cut. Analysts say they expect the new Saudi minister to maintain the kingdom's policy of reining in production to support prices.

That takes us to our social media question for the week: What do you think the change of oil minister mean for energy markets?

Tweet us your responses under the hashtag #PlattsMM

Further insight into the state of the global oil market will come from the IEA's monthly oil market report on Thursday and OPEC's own report on Wednesday.

One of Khaled al-Falih's achievements as oil minister was the alliance on oil production with Russia, which in turn led to closer economic ties. And on Monday the results of the first Saudi grain tender for which Russian wheat qualified are expected.

Wheat from the Black Sea region was able to participate after state purchasing agency, Saudi Grains Organization, known as SAGO, lowered its pest-damage specifications. The tender is for 595,000 metric tons of hard wheat for November to January arrival. Russia, the world's largest wheat exporter, is struggling to find buyers in an over supplied market. Black Sea wheat prices are now around 17% lower than a year earlier, and SAGO's tender is expected to be supportive. However, Saudi Arabia's less stringent rules on pest damage could mean European, and in particular German, wheat producers losing out to their Black Sea competitors who are able to offer lower prices.

Finally, staying with the theme of market access, on Tuesday, the European Court of Justice will deliver its ruling on whether to annul a European Commission decision of October 2016 allowing Russia's Gazprom access to more capacity on the OPAL gas pipeline in Germany.

Polish gas company PGNiG and the Polish government appealed against the ruling, arguing that allowing Gazprom increased access to OPAL boosted gas flows through the Nord Stream pipeline at the expense of existing routes, causing a threat to Poland's security of supply. Nord Stream runs directly from Russia across the Baltic Sea to Germany, bypassing Poland and Ukraine, and is linked to OPAL.

As you can see from pink line on the chart representing flows on Nord Stream, the pipeline can only run at full capacity when it has access to the additional capacity on OPAL. That's because the gas needs to move on after it reaches the German end of Nord Stream.

Under the EC decision, Gazprom has been allowed to bid for the extra capacity in OPAL – up to 12.8 billion cubic meters a year – on top of the 12.8 billion already reserved for Gazprom's use.

If Poland is successful in the case, it could mean Gazprom's access to OPAL would be cut back to just the original 12.8 billion cubic meters a year.

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