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Market Movers Europe, Oct 7-11: All eyes on London’s Oil & Money conference and the low water levels on the Rhine

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Watch: Market Movers Europe, Oct 7-11: All eyes on London’s Oil & Money conference and the low water levels on the Rhine

In this week's highlights: Bob Dudley makes his last conference appearance as BP CEO; the petrochemical markets watch the Rhine fall, while the steel markets watch Polish production rise; and UK generators await a key EU announcement.

View our infographic on how low water levels on the Rhine affected European commodities markets in 2018.

View Full Transcript

In this week's highlights: Bob Dudley makes his last conference appearance as BP CEO; the petrochemical markets watch the Rhine fall, while the steel markets watch Polish production rise; and UK generators await a key EU announcement.

But first, in London, this week the oil and gas markets will be examined from all angles at the Oil & Money conference.

Qatar's energy minister, Saad Al-Kaabi, will be the opening speaker on Tuesday.

Qatar's location and role as Number 1 LNG producer means he is well placed to kick off discussion of two over-arching themes: geopolitics in the Middle East, and the energy transition.

The array of speakers also includes Saudi Aramco CEO Amin Nasser, providing a perspective on last month's attack on Saudi oil facilities, and ADNOC CEO Ahmed Al-Jaber.

Corporate speakers include the heads of the European oil and gas majors, BP, Shell and Total, and the heads of trading companies Trafigura, Gunvor and Vitol.

Rounding off on Thursday is OPEC Secretary General Mohammad Barkindo, who faces pressing questions on how international production cuts are to be coordinated against the backdrop of US sanctions on Iran, and the recent hit to Saudi production.

Providing a US perspective, alongside Barkindo, is the head of the US State Department's Bureau of Energy Resources, Frank Fannon.

For BP's Bob Dudley it will be his last appearance at this conference as CEO, as he stands down in February.

And that brings us to our social media question of the week: What do you think Bob Dudley's legacy at BP will be? Send us your feedback by tweeting with the hashtag #PlattsMM.

Coming on the heels of the event are two closely watched reports that should provide further in-depth analysis, particularly on the demand side: OPEC publishes its monthly oil market on Thursday, and the International Energy Agency publishes its monthly oil market report on Friday.

Downstream, petrochemical markets this week will be closely monitoring the level of the Rhine in Germany.

Water levels at the Kaub chokepoint have dropped to 110 centimeters.

Sources say methanol barges are already limited to 80% loads.

Lower water levels also have the potential to hit MTBE, a high-octane blendstock for gasoline, with key production sites along the waterway.

Toluene and mixed xylenes markets could also face disruption.

However any disruption to these markets would be limited by the lack of demand from the chemical.

Rain is forecast for next week in Germany, but this is expected to be in areas that won't return water to the river.

If you want to see what happened when water levels on the Rhine plunged last year, visit our infographic by clicking the link at the bottom of this page.

While the water levels on the Rhine have been falling, steel production in Poland is expected to rise.

Polish plate mill Huta Czestochowa is expected to restart operations Thursday after being idle for five months as the result of insolvency.

The mill's new operator, Warsaw-based financial services company Sunningwell, aims to bring production back up to 600,000-650,000 metric tons a year, with up to 400,000 tons destined for the domestic market.

The Polish plate market absorbs about 1.2 million to 1.4 million tons a year, and Sunningwell will be looking to displace roughly a third of plate imports into Poland.

EU steel industry analysts however consider the timing for re-entering the plate market to be unfavourable given weak demand and low prices.

This can be seen in ArcelorMittal's decision to halt production for several days this week at its steel production lines in Aviles, Spain, due to a drop in orders.

And finally, UK generators are primed for an announcement from the European Commission soon on the suspended capacity market in Great Britain, while across the Channel on Thursday France's latest capacity market auction opens for bids.

Capacity markets pay power stations to remain available during set periods of time, keeping the lights on and reducing the risk of frequency shocks.

A go-ahead from the commission on the UK mechanism would release around a billion pounds of monthly back payments, the lack of which has been lamented by major beneficiaries such as SSE and EDF Energy.

Whatever the outcome, it's too late for vintage coal plants at Cottam and Fiddlers Ferry, both of which continue to run down coal stocks ahead of imminent closure.

And that marks the closure of this edition of Market Movers.

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