Energy Economist: The Russia-Ukraine standoff looks to the energy needs of winter

In this month’s excerpt from Platts Energy Economist, Ross McCracken looks at the winter energy implications of the Ukraine-Russia divide.

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Has the UK natural gas market’s year-long downtrend gone into reverse?

The UK gas market has been on a downtrend throughout the year after a mild winter left storage facilities entering summer already at high levels. Qatar has also kept up a steady flow of LNG cargoes throughout the year, sending daily gas prices down from the mid 60s pence/therm in January to the lowest point of the year at 34.60 p/th on July 11.

But the market now seems to have turned 180 degrees, with a sharp jump in prices since mid-August. With higher winter demands on the way, July’s lows may not be seen again this year.  Read the rest of this entry »

The steel sheet market undercuts suggestions of overall weakness

There were two interesting news items in the American steel world this week: year-to-date US imports are up 37% from last year while domestic mill capability utilization recently topped 80%, after being in the 70-79% range most of the last few years, climbing from sub-50% levels seen in 2009.

Neither of these items is particularly surprising, as they are the culminations of year-long trends, but they fly in the face of suggestions that American steel consumption has been lackluster this year.

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The north of Australia is getting some oil and gas exploration attention

Australia’s ongoing offshore exploration success–Santos last week announced another gas discovery in the prolific Browse basin–has seen the vast country’s largely-untapped onshore resources overlooked by many.

Some of the country’s unconventional resources–notably Queensland’s coal seam gas fields in the east of the country–have been known about and developed for years, while others such as the Cooper Basin, in east-central Australia, have attracted significant investor attention of late, notably from US major Chevron.

But delegates at the 20th South East Asia Australia Offshore & Onshore Conference last week, held in the booming northern port city of Darwin, heard about less well known, but equally promising, onshore basins such as South Bonaparte, MacArthur and Carolina.

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EIA weekly oil analysis: a drop in crude inventories

You can see our analysis of this week’s Energy Information Administration oil report at this link. 

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Chinese oil demand drops in July from a year earlier

The global world oil market certainly isn’t getting any bullish boost from China. The Platts analysis for July showed the country’s apparent demand down from the corresponding month a year earlier. You can see our analysis here. 

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Privatization of key UK jet fuel pipeline could bring cash to expand capacity

It’s not every day an asset of strategic importance to the UK’s oil infrastructure is put on the market. Even less frequently will that asset come with a portfolio of clients including the UK Ministry of Defence, the US Air Force, oil majors and one of the largest international trading houses.

The sale of the Government Pipeline and Storage System, which supplies London’s Heathrow airport with aviation fuel, offers one such opportunity.

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Regional price spreads: predicting the future of LNG

On March 11, 2011, a magnitude 9.0 earthquake and tsunami devastated a large portion of Japan’s eastern coastline killing nearly 16,000 people and causing infrastructure damage estimated at more than $225 billion. The consequent nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Power Plant ultimately resulted in the closure of all of Japan’s nearly 50 nuclear reactors.

In a move to compensate for lost electric generation capacity, Japanese imports of LNG jumped nearly 23% to 86.7 million mt during the 2012-2013 fiscal year, up from imports that totaled 70.6 million mt during the fiscal year just prior to the disaster.

The precipitous jump in demand for LNG from post-Fukushima Japan changed the global gas market irrevocably. Since March 2011, spot Asian gas prices have averaged roughly $15.65/MMBtu compared to prices that trended around $7.00/MMBtu during the two-year period from 2009-2011.

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At the Wellhead: Colombia takes a sobering look at its oil industry

The looming changes in Mexico’s oil patch have the potential to negatively impact what has been a Latin American success story: Colombia. In this week’s Oilgram News column At the Wellhead, Chris Kraul looks at the issue with an experienced Colombia oil hand.

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Miners become leaner and meaner to thrive in lower price environment

BHP Billiton CEO Andrew Mackenzie is a multilingual, soft-spoken Scot who had a brilliant academic career before moving into industry. Rio Tinto’s urbane CEO Sam Walsh is a patron of the arts in Western Australia and is well-known for collecting antique jugs.

Neither men are what you might describe as “bruisers.” Yet both have rolled up their sleeves since taking charge a year or so ago, flexing their managerial muscles with the aim of turning their mining companies into much leaner and meaner organizations.

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