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Watch: Market Movers Europe, Dec 17-21: Oil price volatility remains in focus

In this week's Market Movers: Brent's 60 dollars a barrel appears at risk; strikes tighten the French energy market; and Bulgaria looks to award gas capacity contracts for the TurkStream pipeline.

First off, in oil, the big question is whether this month's production cuts, announced by OPEC and Russia, and separately by the Canadian state of Alberta, will be enough to keep Brent crude futures stable at around 60 dollars a barrel.

What do you think 2019 holds for oil prices? Let us know on Twitter using the hashtag #PlattsMM.

Meanwhile, French workers are striking against President Emmanuel Macron's plans to close the country's five remaining coal fired power stations before 2022.

Bulgaria is expected this week to award capacity contracts to companies looking to move Russian gas via the TurkStream pipeline to Europe.

Having only recently recovered from record lows, Rhine water levels will remain a hot topic in petrochemical markets this week, with sources across the industry expressing concern about whether the recovery would be sustained.

Low PVC stocks in Europe show no signs of rising this week, stoking fears that inventories will not be sufficiently refilled for New Year demand.

Finally, in the European steel markets, the focus will be on EU import quotas. The wire rod quota could become 100% exhausted this week, with about 3% left as of last Friday.

Join our conversations on Twitter - use #PlattsMM and connect with us.

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In this week's highlights; Brent's 60 dollars a barrel appears at risk; strikes tighten the French energy market; and Bulgaria looks to award gas capacity contracts for the TurkStream pipeline.

In oil, the big question is whether this month's production cuts, announced by OPEC and Russia, and separately by the Canadian state of Alberta, will be enough to keep Brent crude futures stable at around 60 dollars a barrel.

The International Energy Agency, which largely represents consumer nations, has said it detects signs of a return to market balance, but events may turn out differently.

In particular, the UK's largest producing oil field, Buzzard, is due back on line soon, after a three-week shutdown. And the future of Libya's biggest producing field, Sharara, is shrouded in uncertainty after militia activity forced authorities there to declare force majeure.

But attention is increasingly turning to 2019 and the possibility that sanctions waivers issued to some Asian countries and Turkey could increase Iranian oil exports, at least temporarily. It's another reason for some in the market to think that talk of a 60 dollar floor may be premature.

That's our question for you this week: What do you think 2019 holds for oil prices? Let us know on Twitter using the hashtag #PlattsMM.

French workers are striking against President Emmanuel Macron's plans to close the country's five remaining coal fired power stations before 2022. On Friday, output dropped to zero across the three gigawatt fleet, with decisions on further industrial action due Tuesday. Unions are calling for a moratorium on closures to assess plans to convert some units to biomass.

The strikes could put upward pressure on power prices. On the other hand, three of the country's nuclear reactors are scheduled to return before Christmas, providing some temporary relief before five further outages in January.

Bulgaria is expected this week to award capacity contracts to companies looking to move Russian gas via the TurkStream pipeline to Europe. Gazprom is expected to be the main recipient of this capacity, as it looks for an exit node for the 15.75 billion cubic meters a year of gas it wants to send from 2020 along the route.

If finalized, it means Gazprom can effectively eliminate Ukraine as a transit route for its gas to reach Southeast and Central Europe. It would mark a significant change in geopolitical dynamics for Europe's gas market.

Water levels on the Rhine will remain a hot topic in petrochemical markets this week.

Water levels have only recently recovered from record lows, easing transport problems in a range of commodity markets. But sources across the petrochemical sector expressed concern about whether the recovery would be sustained, particularly if cold weather cuts short the window for increased barge availability.

The methanol market has had the greatest increase in shipments so far, but the focus next week will be on the quarterly contract price.

Low PVC stocks in Europe show no signs of rising this week, stoking fears that inventories will not be sufficiently refilled for New Year demand. Feedstock ethylene delivery in France and Germany continues to be restricted and PVC production will be further cut this week as the Vynova production plant in Wilhelmshaven -- one of the largest in Europe -- is shut for maintenance.

In the European steel markets, the focus will be on EU import quotas. The wire rod quota could become 100% exhausted this week, with about 3% left as of last Friday.

The rebar quota is set to reach a critical 10% balance. Significant price movements are not expected due to the year-end lull. But when quotas are full some downstream businesses may have difficulty sourcing supplies, which could push EU domestic prices up in the first quarter of 2019. The EU introduced quotas in July as a provisional safeguard to avoid re-direction of steel import flows after the US raised steel import tariffs earlier this year.

Thanks for kicking off your Monday with us. Market Movers is taking a break now until January the sixth so have a very merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. See you then!