In this week's highlights: OPEC+ cuts January production ahead of online event; work resumes on the controversial Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline; a power interconnector between Norway and Germany is due to start full operation; and low Rhine water levels complicate petrochemicals logistics.
**Reactions eyed to OPEC+ quota easing
**Work restarts on Nord Stream 2 pipeline
**NordLink subsea cable enters operation
**Logistics challenge European petrochemical markets
In this week's highlights: Work resumes on the controversial Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline; a power interconnector between Norway and Germany is due to start full operation; and low Rhine water levels complicate petrochemicals logistics.
But first, the oil market will be monitoring the fallout from the OPEC+ group's decision to ease production cuts by 500,000 barrels a day in January, with further revisions on a month-by-month basis. Further reactions and insight into the hoped-for recovery may emerge on Tuesday from an FT Global Energy Outlook online event. OPEC Secretary General Mohammad Barkindo is due to speak at the forum. He will be joined by International Energy Agency chief economist Laszlo Varro and Goldman Sachs' global head of commodity research, Jeffrey Currie. The S&P Global Platts survey out this week will also offer an insight into OPEC+ production in November.
And talking of fallout, the European gas market will be watching the resumption of work on the controversial Gazprom-led Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline after the threat of US sanctions led to it being halted last December.
As you can see from the map, Nord Stream runs across the Baltic from Russia directly to Germany, avoiding neighboring countries. Nord Stream 2 is crucial for Gazprom to be able to reduce gas transit via Ukraine from 2021. A small section is expected to be laid in shallow waters off Germany during December. A little over 150 kilometers of the line remain to be laid, with the larger section required off the Danish island of Bornholm. It remains to be seen whether that section can be completed without triggering sanctions.
And that takes us to our social media question of the week: How can Nord Stream 2 navigate US sanctions and pipelaying? Tweet us your thoughts using the hashtag #PlattsMM.
Another energy export route to Germany will be in focus on Wednesday when the 1.4-gigawatt NordLink electricity interconnector from Norway is due to start full operation. Elsewhere the 1-gigawatt IFA 2 interconnector between France and Great Britain is in final testing. Like NordLink, it will offer much-needed flexibility. French nuclear availability has risen, but demand in France is forecast to peak at a season high this week, likely requiring imports.
And finally, moving material around is also proving difficult for the benzene, toluene, styrene and olefins markets. Low water levels on the Rhine have made the problem worse.
Olefins market sources said gas barges are underloading by 25%, with liquid barges underloading by over 50% on the upper reaches of the river, causing minor delays. With generally stable weather forecast, water levels are not expected to change much early into next week.
For more on all the issues affecting commodity markets from wherever you are, make sure to check out Platts LIVE at the address displayed on your screen.
Thanks for kicking off your Monday with us and have a great week ahead!