This week, the oil markets assess Sunday's meeting of ministers from several OPEC countries and Russia, and their response to the conflicting demands of OPEC member Iran and the United States. Gas traders, meanwhile, await news on the future of a key North Sea gas field as US sanctions threaten output; and the power market will be dealing with the fallout from unplanned nuclear outages.
In this week's Market Movers: gas traders await news on the future of a key North Sea gas field as US sanctions threaten output; and the power market will be dealing with the fallout from unplanned nuclear outages.
But first, the oil markets are assessing Sunday's meeting of ministers from several OPEC countries and Russia, and their response to the conflicting demands of OPEC member Iran and the United States.
The weekend meeting in Algiers aimed to plot a course between Iran's calls for stricter adherence to production cuts and US President Donald Trump's demands for lower oil prices. Saudi energy minister Khalid al-Falih said the oil market is balanced after action by OPEC and its partners in recent months. His Russian counterpart Alexander Novak said he expects the OPEC/non-OPEC bloc to reach 100% compliance with production cuts by September or October.
That's the subject of our social media question this week: After the OPEC/non-OPEC meeting, what's next for oil markets? Tweet us your thoughts with the hashtag #PlattsMM.
The prospect of renewed US sanctions on Iran has also sparked worries a key North Sea gas field could close.
The clock is ticking for BP to win a license renewal from the US that would enable it to continue producing from the Rhum gas field after its current one expires at the end of September.
Rhum is co-owned by Iranian state oil and gas company NIOC. US sanctions are set to snap back into place in November, creating doubts over whether the field will still be able to operate. Rhum and associated fields produce around 5 to 6 million cubic meters of gas a day, or a little over 2 billion cubic meters a year. This is more than 5% of UK gas production.
A lack of available capacity will also be on the minds of European power traders after a spate of panic buying last week when it emerged that at least two Belgian reactors will not be available this winter.
The outages are safety-related, with both the Tihange 2 and 3 reactors suffering from concrete degradation.
Belgian power shortages will be felt beyond its borders and ripple through gas and coal markets – with an estimated 9 terawatt-hour shortfall from the outages. That shortfall is equivalent to 13% of annual Belgian power consumption. European gas and coal prices are already bullish due to a recent rally in carbon, with Western Europe facing another winter with reduced nuclear availability.
European crude markets will be looking further afield to China, where demand from small, privately owned refineries -- known as teapot refineries -- pushed differentials for Russia's ESPO crude to fresh highs last week.
With the recent surge in differentials, European traders expect grades from closer to home, such as the North Sea, West Africa and the Mediterranean, to become increasingly attractive to Chinese buyers.
On the other hand, there is currently a high premium for Brent versus other crudes, making Brent-related crudes more expensive than those linked to Dubai prices. The Brent/Dubai exchange of futures for swaps spread has remained above 3 dollars a barrel throughout September compared with just 2 dollars at the end of August.
While oil traders are eying higher differentials, European stainless steel producers will be looking to lock in lower fourth-quarter prices for one of their feedstocks.
Expectations are that the fourth-quarter ferrochrome price will be as low as 120 cents a pound, well below the 138 cents a pound agreed between South African producers and European consumers for the third quarter. Stainless steel prices have already come under pressure from lower nickel prices in recent months. This latest development is likely to be cheered by end-users such as producers of home appliances and surgical equipment.
Finally, low prices are also a feature of some agricultural commodities. Market participants are expecting Ukrainian corn prices to come under downward pressure this week.
Sellers are struggling to set up export programs because of fierce competition. Stocks are high in the US, the world's largest corn producer, where domestic consumption has slowed.
Some industry participants expect prices to fall by as much as 5% in the coming week.
Thanks for kicking off your Monday with us, and have a great week ahead.