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Watch: Market Movers Europe, Dec 18-22: Oil market pays close attention to Forties; Yamal LNG to help balance UK natural gas market

Oil traders worldwide will be watching for any developments in Scotland, after operator Ineos shut down the Forties pipeline system last week to repair a crack.


The UK natural gas market will also be suffering this week from the loss of output due to the Forties shutdown. However, warmer weather and the arrival of LNG from Russia's brand new Yamal LNG facility should help keep the market in balance.


A shortage of gas has also hit the Italian power market. Grid operator Terna is calling on large power consumers in Italy to apply for four gigawatts of interruptible contracts for the next three years.


In the European petrochemicals market, outages are affecting ethylene, where spot discounts to December's contract price could narrow this week.


Finally, the steel market will be assessing the impact of the force majeure on billet and rebar deliveries declared last week by Saudi Arabia's largest steelmaker, Sabic Hadeed.


How long do you expect the shutdown of the Forties pipeline to last? You can reach out to us by tweeting with the hashtag #PlattsMM.

View Full Transcript

Video Transcript


In this week’s highlights: supply outages and price surges are high on the agenda, with North Sea oil and gas markets focused on the Forties pipeline shutdown; Italy’s power grid operator seeks demand-side flexibility; and ethylene discounts look likely to narrow.


[CAPTION: Oil market pays close attention to Forties]


Oil traders worldwide will be watching for any developments in Scotland, after operator Ineos shut down the Forties pipeline system last week to repair a crack. The key 600,000 b/d artery, which transports one of the main blends that make up Platts Dated Brent benchmark, is likely to take weeks to repair.


Ineos, which bought the system from BP just weeks ago, said it was also likely to shut the Grangemouth refinery at the end of the pipeline. Forties is the UK’s largest single crude stream, meaning that over 450,000 b/d is now shut in. This reduced supply is expected to have an impact on prices over the next two to three weeks.


Our question for social media this week is: How long do you expect the shutdown of the Forties pipeline to last? Answer us on Twitter with the hashtag #PlattsMM.


[CAPTION: Yamal LNG to help balance UK gas market]


The UK gas market will also be suffering this week from the loss of output due to the Forties shutdown. However, warmer weather and the arrival of LNG from Russia’s brand new Yamal LNG facility should help keep the market in balance. The arrival of the maiden cargo from Yamal at the Isle of Grain terminal could be the first of many to come to the UK.


[CAPTION: Italian power grid seeks more flexibility after gas cut]


A shortage of gas has also hit the Italian power market. Grid operator Terna is calling on large power consumers in Italy to apply for four gigawatts of interruptible contracts for the next three years.


The idea is to provide additional flexibility in emergency situations, such as last week’s explosion at the Baumgarten gas hub in Austria, which caused Italian imports of Russian gas to be suspended for 12 hours. In 2016, 44% of Italian power generation was derived from natural gas. The chart on your screen shows how Italian spot gas prices soared to record highs—although prices have now stabilized following the resumption of flows via Baumgarten.


[CAPTION: Cracker outages could cut spot ethylene discounts]


Outages are also affecting the European ethylene market, where spot discounts to December’s contract price could narrow this week. Production of the chemical, which has a wide range of uses from plastics to solvents, has been hit by a slew of unexpected cracker outages. These include a partial shutdown of the Unipetrol cracker at Litvinov in the Czech Republic.


[CAPTION: Steel market mulls impact of Hadeed force majeure]


Finally, the steel market will be assessing the impact of the force majeure on billet and rebar deliveries declared last week by Saudi Arabia's largest steelmaker, Sabic Hadeed. The declaration followed a fire at the company’s transformer which may take a few months to repair. According to market sources, up to 250,000 mt of shipments, predominantly to Southeast Asia, are likely to be affected. The outage comes at a time of tight Asian supply because of production cuts in China.


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