A Slow Start To The Month For Oil Prices

Oil markets lost some of their bullish shine at the start of October, with a strong dollar, worrying economic data out of Europe, and the prospect of another OPEC+ policy change weighing oil prices down.

Oil prices




Chart of the Week


– Negative price arbitrage for Atlantic LNG cargoes going into Asia has been limiting flows into Asia since April, a potentially dangerous trend heading into peak winter season.

– There has been an increasing reluctance to divert more Atlantic Basin LNG cargoes towards Asia due to Panama Canal congestion, high freight rates, and more convenient supply routes into Europe.

– Amidst wide inter-month contango Asian buyers have been building floating LNG storage stocks in view of the upcoming winter, with global floating volume reaching 2.6 million tonnes of LNG at the end of September.

– US LNG exporters currently garner $0.6 per mmBtu more if they deliver their cargoes to Europe, whilst for African LNG exporters the JKM/NWE spread is even wider at $1 per mmBtu, prompting Asia to rely on arbitrage flows from Australia and the Middle East. 

Market Movers

– Saudi national oil company Saudi Aramco (TADAWUL:2222) agreed to buy a “strategic” minority stake in LNG developer MidOcean Energy for $500 million, its first venture into LNG markets.

– Algeria’s state oil firm Sonatrach replaced its CEO Toufik Hakkar, the chief architect of the country’s new 2019 upstream law with Rachid Hachichi who already did a 7-month stint at the NOC in 2019.

– US lithium miner Albemarle (NYSE:ALB) agreed to pay more than $218 million to settle a US DoJ probe into its scheme to bribe government officials in Vietnam, Indonesia, and India.

Tuesday, October 03, 2023

Oil prices have weakened with the expiry of the November futures contract, with ICE Brent back to trading around the $90 per barrel mark. The US dollar rose to its strongest since December 2022, and combined with another round of weak European manufacturing data it all added to a weaker start to October crude trading.

COP28 Brings Together Emissions Supply and Demand. As the UAE prepares for the COP28 summit set to take place in Dubai in early December, the summit organizers have brought together more than 50 oil and gas firm CEOs with executives from the aluminum, steel, and cement industries to fix carbon-cutting commitments.

Italy Rejects Glencore’s Recycling Project Bid. After the Italian region of Sardinia rejected Glencore’s (LON:GLEN) request for a fast-track approval of its planned metal recycling hub in Portovesme, an erstwhile zinc smelter shuttered in 2021, the metals giant started to look for other options.

Iran to Build New Refinery in Syria. Iran’s state-owned oil refining company NIORDC revealed that Tehran signed a tripartite agreement with Syria and Venezuela to build a new 140,000 b/d capacity refinery in Syria’s Homs governorate, also aiding Damascus in boosting idled oil production.

Carmakers Assess Damage from “Unfeasible” Fuel Rules. A carmaker’s industry group representing the US’ leading automobile producers stated that the Biden administration’s fuel economy standards through 2032 are not feasible and would cost carmakers a total of more than $14 billion in fines.

Germany Moves Closer to Nationalizing Key Grid Operator. The German government is reportedly close to a deal with Dutch state-owned grid operator TenneT to buy the latter’s German power infrastructure portfolio for $21 billion, giving Berlin more control over its power grid build-out.

Vietnam Probes Chinese Wind Turbines on Dumping. Vietnam’s industry ministry launched an investigation into wind turbines from China following complaints by domestic producers that warned of potential dumping, indicating it might potentially apply temporary anti-dumping measures. 

South Africa Approves Offshore Drilling. South Africa’s environmental ministry gave the greenlight to TotalEnergies’ (NYSE:TTE) offshore drilling program in Blocks 5,6 and 7 of the country, reinstating the projects authorization after six months of consultations triggered by a series of lobby group claims.

Skyrocketing Sugar Prices Hit Africa Hard. Apart from high energy prices, African countries are set to be tested by sugar prices spiraling out of control as ICE raw sugar futures shot up to a 12-year high of $27.5 per pound mid-September, up 40% since the beginning of this year. 

Plunging Lithium Prices Cloud China Outlook. Cautious restocking of Chinese car and battery manufacturers before Q4 has pushed the price of lithium carbonate in China to as little as ¥166,500 per metric tonne ($22,800/mt), halving in just three months the lowest quote in two years.

Mexico’s Pemex and Vitol Settle Graft Allegations. Mexico’s national oil company Pemex accepted a $30 million settlement with global trader Vitol and resumed trade after almost three years of severed ties, following the 2020 discovery of Vitol’s kickback scheme to win business with the NOC.

ENI Discovers Giant Indonesia Field. Italy’s oil major ENI (BIT:ENI) announced the discovery of a sizable gas field in offshore Indonesia, with the Geng North-1 exploration well unearthing up to 5 TCf of natural gas and 400 MMbbls of condensate, to be tied into the Bontang LNG facilities in the future.

Hedge Funds Turn Away from Oil Futures. Hedge funds and other money managers sold the equivalent of 25 million barrels in the six key oil futures in the week ending September 26, marking the first net negative week since mid-August even though WTI length is still rising (+16 MMbbls). 

Venezuela Crude Exports Rebound on Chevron Output. Venezuela’s national oil company PDVSA exported more than 800,000 b/d in September, the second highest monthly average in 2023 to date, just as Chevron produced 145,000 b/d last month and aims to expand output to 200,000 b/d next year.