As Rosneft turns to Asia, will spot crude oil sales in the East decline further?

Russian giant Rosneft’s recent deals in Asia suggest it is potentially shifting the balance of its crude oil sales in the region — one of its most important export markets — from a spot tender basis to long term contracts and significantly reducing the amount of Russian crude that enters the spot market in Asia.

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Major US oil trend left out of discussion of Iran deal

Secretary of State John Kerry held a question-and-answer session to a packed house Friday in New York at the Council on Foreign Relations to talk about the recently-concluded nuclear deal between Iran and several Western nations, including the US.  It didn’t matter that the breakfast was called on about 24 hours notice on a Friday in the summer; it was a true VIP audience. (For example, among those in attendance: Hess Oil CEO John Hess.)

John Kingston, president of the McGraw Hill Financial Institute and a long-time Platts editorial leader, was in attendance. And as he noted, there was one word that, amazingly, didn’t emanate from Secretary Kerry’s mouth, not even once. You can find out what that word was on the Institute’s blog here.

Trying to find what works for US steelmakers and employees

Negotiating a union labor contract is often a slog. It gets more complicated if it’s a multi-year deal, and a bit treacherous if it’s a highly cyclical business.

All three apply to the steel industry, where major producers are in contract negotiations with the United Steelworkers union for long-term deals to replace current ones, which expire September 1. Throw in weak steel demand and high import penetration and it gets even stickier.

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Tracking the rise of the refrac: New Frontiers

How does one prompt more oil production in a time of lean budgets and low prices? In this week’s Oilgram News column, New Frontiers, Starr Spencer explains how some are trying to find success by revisiting horizontal wells.

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How did the SPR become so popular on Capitol Hill? The illusion of a piggy bank

About 700 million barrels of crude oil stored in four sites along the US Gulf coast seems to have recently inspired the imagination of a cash-strapped Congress.

With US crude production nearing record highs and prices falling below $50/b, federal lawmakers are pushing to sell millions of barrels from the US Strategic Petroleum Reserve to fund bills with little, or nothing, to do with energy.

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Nickel imports in China nab a massive increase

China’s imports of refined nickel increased by a staggering 250% in June to 38,545 mt compared to 11,014 mt in June 2014. Quarter on quarter, China’s refined nickel imports increased by 236% in Q2 to 79,911 mt from 23,813 mt in Q1 2015. If this upward trend continues, China could import over 207,000 mt of refined nickel this year — a potential increase of 60% on last year’s total of 129,980 mt.

So, what’s behind the increase in China’s appetite for refined nickel?

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Banks see second quarter revenue dip from commodities

Pinning down the financial performance of energy commodity trading at top financial institutions is complicated by the manner in which banks segment their operations and lump together certain revenue numbers.

While differences exist from bank to bank, for the most part the big banks place commodity trading within their fixed-income unit of their investment bank division. Low commodity prices, less volatility, and thus lower volumes traded, have all had an impact.

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Ineos sends Europe a fracking message about gas; next stop, upstream

As the champagne bottles smashed into the side of the two newly-built ships that in November will bring the first cargo of US shale gas into Europe, billionaire chairman of Ineos Jim Ratcliffe sent a clear message to European lawmakers whose energy policies have stalled his plans to frack for gas in Europe.

Emblazoned down the side of the two freshly-named vessels — the Ineos Insight and Ineos Ingenuity — were the words “Shale Gas for Manufacturing” and “Shale Gas for Chemicals.”

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The conundrum of North Dakota’s oil output: At the Wellhead

North Dakota made headlines recently with its crude oil production numbers for May, which surprised many and left some scratching their heads. Brian Scheid looks into what drove the production, and what it means for future production, in this week’s Oilgram News column, At the Wellhead.

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Burn, baby, burn: North American natural gas gets ahead in generation

All over the news last week, media outlets highlighted a June US Energy Information Administration report that showed that for the first time ever, the US generated more electricity from natural gas than from coal in April. EIA data said the US generated 92.5 TWh from natural gas and 88.8 TWh from coal. This is the first time ever that any fuel source produced more electricity than coal. Although this might be a temporary blip (winter demand will send coal’s numbers past natural gas), it is still a huge deal.

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