The changing face of global gas, or, chasing the arbitrage

The fate of US LNG import terminal projects was sealed as the amount of relatively low-cost gas produced onshore soared in the middle of the last decade. Most of them were scrapped before getting off the drawing board, but the more advanced of them, notably Cheniere’s Sabine Pass, went on to become export terminals, in a radical and apparently successful bid to salvage their backers’ fortunes.

That well-documented transformation was only made possible by the yawning price difference opening up between the depressed Henry Hub and the rest of the world.

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EIA analysis: US crude stocks fall on higher refinery run rates

US crude oil stocks fell 2.4 million barrels the week ended July 4 on an uptick in refinery run rates, according to data from the Energy Information Administration. Total US refinery throughput rose above the five-year average, which added to refinery utilization rates. Read the Platts analysis  from Alison Ciaccio here.

The Oil Big Five: Your comments include Iraq, Africa, refining, and OPEC

You’ve read about the big topics our Platts experts think are most interesting for July, and now we want to turn our attention to our readers.

In our monthly The Oil Big Five feature, we poll our global oil experts for what they consider the most pressing or interesting aspects of the oil industry at the moment. We follow each post by rounding up some of the comments, and below you can see (in no particular order) some of the reactions we had from our readers, both on the blog as well as on social media.

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Regulation & Environment: Cap & Trade comes to California oil product markets

California’s cap and trade law has been reality for a wide variety of CO2 emitters for several years. But they are all stationary sources. In January, it moves to a moving kind of source: motor vehicles. In this week’s Oilgram News column, Regulation & Environment, John Kingston, fresh off a trip to the state’s capital city of Sacramento, discusses the implementation of the law in the fuels business.

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“Mini-trends” increasingly common in the oil industry

In the talk about oil cycle phases, one pattern that has emerged in recent years is the appearance of “mini-trends” within the industry that are often at odds with what is happening in the larger market.

As a result, data is growing increasingly complex, and even single data sets contain a “story-behind-the-story” which often makes more complete interpretations necessary and keeps journalists and researchers busy “Deciphering It All.”

Case in point — one of many — is the offshore industry which is undergoing a slump in dayrates, particularly for deep- and ultra-deep waters, while the onshore sector — which at least in the US and increasingly overseas now consists of unconventional drilling — churns ever-higher amid what is generally agreed to be a larger, unprecedented boom.

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The Latin American quandary: lots of shale gas, not a lot of production

Imports of liquefied natural gas to Latin American are up 18% so far this year, according to Bentek, a unit of Platts, buoyed by growing demand from Mexico and Brazil. But, with so much recoverable indigenous supply, why is Latin America paying top dollar for imported gas?

According to the US Energy Information Administration, technically recoverable shale gas resources in Argentina are the second largest globally at 802 trillion cubic feet, Mexico’s reserves are the sixth largest at 545 Tcf, while Brazil ranks tenth with reserves estimated at 245 Tcf.

Accessing these shale reserves requires political will and costly investments, factors that have combined in various ways across the region to impede domestic production and make LNG an easy, though short-sighted solution to growing demand for electricity in Latin America.

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S&P Dow Jones launches a new commodity index

Our colleagues at S&P Dow Jones Indices — like Platts, a unit of McGraw Hill Financial — have launched a new commodity index. Investing in commodities through indexes do or do not have a significant impact on price; we cite both sides of the coin to note that it is an issue of significant disagreeement among analysis.

Platts wrote about the launch in this news story on July 1, the day the index was launched. We are republishing here a blog posting from S&P’s blog Indexology, written by Jodie Gunzberg, global head of commodities for S&P Dow Jones Indices. We have featured Jodie’s views on The Barrel previously.

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Foreign-owned steelmakers in the US go native and sue “foreigners”

A funny thing happened on the way to international free trade.

If you know what a NIMBY is, that should provide a clue. When foreign steel mills started buying American producers some thought they might eventually see an end to costly and disruptive unfair trade case filings as a more international perspective flourished in the market. (If you don’t know, NIMBY stands for “Not in my back yard.”)

But the filing of American steel dumping and countervailing duty cases never ended. There has been a resurgence in recent years, and more are expected to be filed or finalized this year and next. Steel has been the most litigated product in human history and likely still holds that honor.

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EIA analysis: US crude oil stocks decline 3.2 million barrels

US crude oil stocks fell a larger-than-expected 3.2 million barrels the week ended June 27, as refiners increased run rates and imports declined, US Energy Information Administration (EIA) data showed Wednesday. Read the Platts analysis from Alison Ciaccio here.

Steel inventory building not likely to take place before price increases take hold

Domestic flat-rolled steel momentum appears to be headed back up thanks to an increase Monday of $25/st by US Steel–effective immediately–but buyers are unlikely to rush out and load up before the increase really sinks into the market.

That’s because the Great Recession of 2009 forced service centers and banks alike to tighten their belts–and their credit–to mitigate risk in an increasingly volatile market.

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