In this week's highlights: A slew of second-quarter results is due from the world's top oil companies; the biofuels market eyes freight costs, and key data on steel production is set to be released.
But first: North Sea oil workers are due to launch a series of strikes Monday at Total's UK platforms. This could disrupt the production of tens of thousands of barrels of benchmark Forties crude. The strike over pay and offshore shift patterns comes as North Sea workers flex their industrial muscles following recent oil price rises.
The response to higher oil prices on the other side of the negotiating table will also be in the spotlight as the corporate earnings season begins this week. Shell, Total and Norway's Equinor will report their second-quarter results on Thursday. They will be followed on Friday by Italy's Eni as well as US counterparts Chevron and ExxonMobil.
The big oil companies' focus has been on maintaining spending restraint and repairing their balance sheets. This has been despite many commentators warning of a lack of upstream investment. Any switch from austerity to turning on the spending taps will catch the market's eye.
Biofuels market participants will be closely monitoring the numbers this week-- but not the ones you might normally expect.
Water levels along the Rhine in Germany have been dropping recently as you can see from the chart on your screen. The low levels between Coblenz and Wiesbaden are beginning to prevent full barge loading. As a result, freight rates have been rising, eating into margins. The slowdown in the delivery of biofuels into the Amsterdam-Rotterdam-Antwerp hub could tighten the market. The ramifications are particularly significant for ethanol because imports are much lower than those of biodiesel.
The metals market will also be looking at numbers, but much bigger ones. The World Steel Association is this week expected to release global production figures for the first half of 2018. Markets will be looking to see how China's production affects the global picture. Its output appears little changed despite a series of closures aimed at reducing capacity and pollution.
Worldsteel's data will follow a National Bureau of Statistics report last week showing Chinese daily crude steel output hit a new record high in June, equivalent to 976 million metric tons on an annualized basis. This is 17% more than in the whole of 2017.
That's our social media question this week: How will global steel output develop in 2018? Tweet us your feedback with the hashtag #PlattsMM.
Some of all that steel might be being used for the current maintenance on the Nord Stream gas pipeline. The pipeline transports Russian gas directly into Germany. The European gas market will for look for ways to offset the effect on supply of the maintenance, which is now into its second week.
The pipeline can transport as much as 55 billion cubic meters a year, but since last week flows have been zero.
Storage injections in Germany and the Netherlands have already fallen significantly. The transit route via Ukraine has failed to make up the shortfall, and demand for gas to generate power is strong due to the hot weather. Last week, maintenance on the Yamal-Europe pipeline was already slowing the pace of storage injections, leaving less gas in storage in Northwest Europe than a year earlier.
While European gas supply is expected to fall, the supply of PET, the plastic often used to make drinks bottles, is expected to rise. The reason for this lies upstream. Last week, production of key PET feedstock PTA was given a boost when BP's Geel plant in Belgium came back online.
The plant can produce 1.3 million metric tons of PTA a year. PET prices have been extremely high in Europe recent due to the shortage of PTA. Some buyers have been holding off purchasing PET in expectation of prices dropping on greater supply once Geel returned.
Thanks for kicking off your Monday with us and have a great week ahead. with the hashtag #PlattsMM.