Low oil prices are painful, but volatility sucks

As if the recent oil price dive to the lowest level in six years wasn’t enough to keep industry nerves on edge, the current price volatility is proving just as hostile to producers as sliding margins.

After bottoming out in late January at $45/b, NYMEX crude had recovered to $60/b by May, in a correction now widely seen as premature as it was overcooked. Bears pointed to the stubborn and growing glut of global oil supply hanging over the market.

If the rebound was quick, the subsequent fall has been just as dramatic and the double-dip in oil prices has been more severe than many predicted.

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Prospect of new pipeline capacity in Louisiana rattles rail, barge operators

Louisiana could be the site of the next wave of pipeline expansions, which might be a boon for refiners there, but other midstream players could find themselves on the outside looking in, depending on the origin of the crude on the lines.

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Discussing the costs of disaster for offshore US oil : Regulation and Environment

In this week’s Oilgram News column, Regulation and Environment, Gary Gentile asks if the risks associated with ultra-deepwater oil production endeavors are properly disclosed to shareholders.

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Friday night lights, provided by petrochemicals

Many athletes, from Pop Warner to the NFL, participate in American football each fall. Petrochemicals play a vital role in the game, from the plastics in the equipment used to play the sport to the artificial turf to the souvenirs and cups used for beverage consumption every game. In honor of the return of football season and the games that will be played across the country tonight, let’s take a look at the plastics that make up the typical football uniform, field, and ball.

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Molybdenum oxide: Some of the same woes, different low prices

About year ago, on August 21, 2014, Platts daily dealer molybdenum oxide assessment was at $13.15/lb. In fact, throughout August 2014 the price stayed above $12.95/lb, which seems unimaginable now when oxide struggles to hold above $6/lb.

Today, interest for purchasing oxide powder is increasingly slow and prices are being held back by the lack of spot purchasing. But when we look back at the same time a year ago, was it that different? Traders and producers were telling us that summer trade was thin, similar opinions we hear today.

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An inroad for US crude export supporters on national security — maybe

The national security argument for lifting the US’ long-standing restrictions on oil exports appears to be making some headway.

Senator Bob Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat who in June had signed a letter to President Barack Obama saying unfettered US oil exports would harm American consumers, last week said he would support the “strategic export of American oil to allied countries struggling with supply because Iranian oil remains off the market.”

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The order is rapidly fadin’ and China’s steel industry faces new pressures

China’s all too apparent slowdown is all the rage. The Shanghai Composite lost more than a fifth of its value over the five days to Wednesday August 26, with record one-day plummets witnessed Monday and Tuesday.

China’s steel industry, which in recent years seemed to become untouchable as it shipped product the world over, is now gaining more attention from importing countries and soon could also feel the crunch of recent market changes.

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A tip for Trump — tax Mexico for its gasoline and diesel imports from US

Disclaimer: This post in no way, shape or form is an endorsement for or against Donald Trump or any other presidential candidate, for that matter. Nor is it an endorsement of this made-up “wall tax.”

By now, you know the spiel. The Republican front-runner for US president, businessman Donald Trump, insists he is going to have a wall built on the US-Mexico border and he is going to make Mexico pay for it. But how? Here’s an idea for Mr. Trump – one of the first places to look is refined products.

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Surge in China’s refined nickel imports continues in July

Last month we noted that China’s refined nickel imports increased a staggering 250% in June to 38,545 mt from 11,014 mt in June 2014, and stated that China may well continue to increase refined nickel imports over the rest of 2015. This trend was confirmed in July, with China customs data showing the country imported 46,362 mt of refined nickel in July, up 20% on month and up 162% on year from 17,666 mt in July 2014.

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Oil pipeline threats add to pressure on Azerbaijan

Oil-rich Azerbaijan is being rattled by disruption and attacks on pipelines, highlighting its tough geopolitical position and adding to worries about falling oil prices.

Having been courted by previous US governments, international interest in Azerbaijan and fellow Caspian producer Kazakhstan has waned in recent years, not least because of the increase in US shale oil production. Azerbaijan’s oil production is, in any case, thought to have peaked.

But with 848,000 b/d of output last year, Azeri production still matters.

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