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An Oil Supply Shock May Be Imminent

An Oil Supply Shock May Be Imminent

  • Oil demand has remained resilient in the face of a multitude of challenges.
  • OPEC+ has fallen behind more than 3.5 million bpd on its output goals.
  • The DoE has no immediate plans to start refilling the SPR.
  • The risk of a supply shock grows as China’s economy re-opens while Russian oil is being forced off the market.

When the chief executive of Aramco said earlier this week that years of underinvestment had damaged the balance between supply and demand in the oil market, it should have been a wake-up call to those in decision-making positions. Instead, the secretary-general of the UN bashed the oil industry once again for “feasting” on record-high profits and urged governments to make them pay for this.

Meanwhile, OPEC’s production shortfall last month reached 3.58 million bpd—a figure equal to some 3.5 percent of global demand—and the United States continued to sell oil from its strategic petroleum reserve.

These seemingly unrelated news reports do have something very important in common. Both clearly suggest a supply shortfall on a global level is imminent. Throw in the news that Russia’s oil exports could fall by some 2.4 million bpd after the EU embargo enters into effect in December, and an oil shortage becomes more or less unavoidable.

Oil demand has remained resilient in the face of a multitude of challenges, and even prices of over $100 per barrel failed to curb it in any significant way earlier this year. Now, prices are somewhat tempered, but the embargo is still about two months away. Once this kicks in, prices are bound to jump because alternative supply is limited. And the U.S. will need to start refilling its SPR at some point because it is getting depleted.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Global Water Crisis Could Crush The Energy Industry

The Global Water Crisis Could Crush The Energy Industry

  • Water is growing more scarce due to climate change.
  • Water scarcity could derail the green energy boom, and even hinder fossil fuel production.
  • With rising concerns over water scarcity, mainly due to climate change, there are fears that the big transition to renewable energy will be hindered even further.

For years, the energy sector, and almost every other sector, has taken water for granted, viewing it as an abundant resource. But as we move into a new era of renewable energy, the vast amounts of water required to power green energy operations may not be so easy to find. And it’s not just renewables that are under threat from water scarcity, as it also hinders fossil fuel production and threatens food security.

In recent months, we have seen extreme droughts across Europe and the U.S., which are finally making people realise the significance of water security. Stefano Venier, CEO of the Italian energy infrastructure company Snam, highlights the huge impact recent droughts have had on both food security and energy production. Labelled as ‘Europe’s worst drought in 500 years’, the low water levels have restricted shipping capabilities, as well as drying up soil and reducing summer crop yields.

Venier explains, “For a long time, water was considered [as being] for free, as something that is fully available in any quantity.” He went on to say, “Now, we are discovering that with climate change … water can become scarce.” And so, “we have to regain the perception of importance, and the value [that] … the water has, also, with respect to … energy production… we have discovered that without water, enough water, we cannot produce the energy we need, or we can’t ship the fuels for filling the power plants,” he added.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

A Natural Gas Shortage Is Looming For The U.S.

A Natural Gas Shortage Is Looming For The U.S.

  • As natural gas demand around the world breaks new records, U.S. shale producers are struggling to keep up with demand.
  • While natural gas prices in the United States fell after a railway strike was averted last week, it looks likely that prices both at home and abroad will spike this winter.
  • A hotter-than-expected summer and a lack of alternative energy sources have left U.S. inventories below the seasonal average.

Last week, the media rushed to report that natural gas prices in the United States had fallen sharply after trade unions and railway companies reached a tentative deal that averted a potentially devastating strike.

Indeed, natural gas prices fell by nearly a dollar per million British thermal units, helped by a respectable build in inventories. And yet, inventories remain below the seasonal average, exports are running at record rates, and producers are beginning to struggle to meet demand, both at home and abroad.

Reuters’ John Kemp wrote in a recent column that domestic and international gas consumption had risen to record highs, and shale producers—the ones that account for the bulk of U.S. natural gas output—were having a hard time catching up with this demand.

Meanwhile, although higher on a weekly basis, inventories remained at the second-lowest for this time of the year for the last 12 years, Reuters’ market analyst noted. He also added there were no signs of any improvement in the level of inventories despite the rise in prices.

None of this suggests lower prices for natural gas are coming to either the United States or international markets as the northern hemisphere heads into winter. On the contrary, the latest figures suggest more financial pain for gas consumers. And they confirm, to an extent, forecasts made earlier this year.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Europe’s Natural Gas Shortage Could Trigger A Food Crisis

Europe’s Natural Gas Shortage Could Trigger A Food Crisis

  • Energy crises impact nearly every aspect of our lives, and that is particularly true of food markets, with food production next year expected to be severely threatened.
  • About 70 percent of the cost of fertilizer production is solely the price of natural gas, and as the price of energy soars, the cost of making and moving food is increasing alongside it.
  • At the same time, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and threats from Putin that Russia may alter grain export routes have only added to uncertainty in food markets.

The problem with an energy crisis is that it’s actually an everything crisis. In a world where virtually every industry relies on energy in some form, runaway inflation is an inevitability. This phenomenon is not news – you’ve been experiencing it for the better part of two years now. But while global governments are using every tool in their kits to curb the rising inflation rates, there’s far less they can do about the coming food shortage.

For months, the agricultural industry has been warning the rest of the world that next year’s food production is severely threatened, as the fertilizer industry is in shambles. Industrial NPK fertilizers (so named for their makeup of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium oxide), are heavily reliant on natural gas supplies. About 70 percent of the cost of fertilizer production is solely the price of natural gas, which is used in liberal amounts to make the ammonia phosphate slurries that turn into fertilizer. Indeed, according to CRU Group, European fertilizer producers in the region are currently losing approximately $2,000 for every ton of ammonia produced. So as Russia has stemmed and then indefinitely stopped the flow of natural gas into Europe, sending gas prices through the roof, the continent’s fertilizer sector has halted as much as 70 percent of its production capacity.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Czech PM Blames Russian Propaganda For Mass Protests In Pragu

Czech PM Blames Russian Propaganda For Mass Protests In Prague

Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala is blaming pro-Russian forces for mass demonstrations this weekend that saw tens of thousands of people protest against the government, the European Union and NATO amid soaring energy prices and inflation.

The “Czechia First” demonstration saw 70,000 people gather to protest the government in a development the Czech prime minister is blaming on elements influenced by Russian propaganda.

“It is clear that Russian propaganda and disinformation campaigns repeatedly appear on our territory and that someone is simply succumbing to them,” Fiala said, as reported by Euractiv.

Protesters, brought together by the Communist Party, the Freedom party, the Direct Democratic Party, and other groups labeled as “radical”–both far-left and far-right–called on the government to address soaring energy prices and the highest cost of living since the early 1990s for everything from housing to consumer goods.

Protesters called for a new deal with Russia for gas supplies, just a day after Moscow said natural gas flows through Nord Stream 1 to Europe that had been cut off for maintenance would not be restored on Saturday as scheduled, and would be delayed indefinitely.

Inflation has hit 17% and is marching towards 20% in the coming months, according to Fortune, citing the Czech central bank.

The mass protests also came a day after a no-confidence vote against the five-party coalition government failed.

While the prime minister blamed Russian influence, other coalition government officials warned against sidelining real economic issues facing the people.

News reports noted that some demonstrators donned T-shirts favoring Russian President Vladimir Putin and some carried anti-EU and anti-NATO posters.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Finland Braces For Rolling Blackouts This Winter

Finland Braces For Rolling Blackouts This Winter

  • Finnish grid operator warns of rolling blackouts this winter.
  • Gazprom stopped in May all gas deliveries to Finland.
  • Norway is considering limiting its electricity exports.

Finland should be prepared for possible power outages this winter in case of shortfalls in electricity supply, the Finnish grid operator said on Tuesday, in yet another warning of an energy crunch in Europe after gas supply from Russia was severely reduced.

In Finland’s case, Gazprom stopped in May all gas deliveries to Russia’s neighbor to the West, making Finland the third EU member state with Russian pipeline supply cut off after Poland and Bulgaria. The halt of Russian supply to Finland took place days after Finland—together with its Scandinavian neighbor Sweden—formally applied to join NATO in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Russia has warned both countries against applying to become NATO members.

Finland gets up to 70 percent of the gas it uses from Russia, but gas doesn’t have a large share in the overall energy mix and accounts for 5 percent of total energy consumption.

“The war in Europe and the exceptional situation on the energy market have increased uncertainties related to the availability of electricity. As a result of the great uncertainties, Finns should be prepared for power outages caused by possible electricity shortages this coming winter,” Finnish grid operator Fingrid said today.

According to Fingrid, the Olkiluoto 3 nuclear power plant would compensate for the missing Russian imports.

“In practice, in the event of an electricity shortage, Fingrid will inform the local distribution network companies of the total amount of power to be disconnected from each distribution network company’s area, and after this, power outages will be recycled as two-hour outages until the electricity shortage has ended,” said Tuomas Rauhala, Senior Vice President, Power System Operation, at Fingrid.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Investors Have Now Spent $5 Billion Pursuing The “Holy Grail Of Energy”

Investors Have Now Spent $5 Billion Pursuing The “Holy Grail Of Energy”

  • When it comes to nuclear fusion, the joke is that it is always just decades away, but that hasn’t stopped investors from spending $5 billion on chasing the holy grail of energy.
  • In 2022, investors spent twice as much money as has ever been spent before on nuclear fusion, with nearly all of that investment coming from the private sector.
  • Every nuclear fusion experiment so far has been net negative when it comes to energy production, but the biggest ever reactor is nearly 80% complete and could change that.

What do The Dark Knight Rises, Back to the Future, Oblivion, and Interstellar all have in commonThey are sci-fi blockbusters that showcase a technology that scientists consider to be the Holy Grail of Energy: Nuclear fusion. Theoretically, two lone nuclear reactors running on small pellets could power the entire planet, safely and cleanly. That’s the promise of nuclear fusion. So, why are we still relying on fossil fuels? What’s stopping us from building these reactors everywhere?

After all, scientists have been working on nuclear fusion technology since the 1950s and have always been optimistic that the final breakthrough is not far away. Yet, milestones have fallen time and again and now the running joke is that a practical nuclear fusion power plant could still be decades away.

Well, the past few years have witnessed a resurgence in the field with a handful of startups setting up shop to make nuclear fusion an everyday reality. Interestingly, the vast majority of the sector’s funding has come from the private sector rather than public investments.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Dodgy Demand Data? The Oil Price Collapse Conspiracy

Dodgy Demand Data? The Oil Price Collapse Conspiracy

  • WTI oil prices have given up nearly all their gains since Russia invaded Ukraine, falling roughly 9.5% over the course of the week amid fears oil demand is collapsing.
  • Some oil pundits are now claiming that the Biden administration has been fabricating low gasoline demand data in order to drag prices lower.
  • While Gasbuddy claims there was a 2% rise in gasoline demand last week, the EIA reported a 7.6% drop in demand.

WTI crude oil prices fell to their lowest point since early February on Thursday, giving up virtually all gains since Russia invaded Ukraine. WTI crude for September delivery tumbled -1.5% to close at $89.26/bbl while Brent crude for October delivery fell -2.1% to $94.71/bbl. WTI crude has lost ~9.5% over the course of the week, marking the largest one-week percentage decline since April amid growing fears that oil demand will collapse when western nations descend into a full-blown recession.

While oil producers are certainly beginning to feel the heat, it’s refiners like Valero Energy (NYSE: VLO), Marathon Petroleum Corp.(NYSE: MPC), and Phillips 66 (NYSE: PSX) who have been hardest hit by the pullback thanks to a sharp decline in their refining margins aka crack spreads.

For months, refiners have been enjoying historically high refining margins, with the profit from making a barrel of gasoil, the building block of diesel and jet kerosene, hitting a record $68.69 in June at a typical Singapore refinery. The margin later settled in the high 30s a few weeks later, a level still nearly four times higher than the $11.83 at the end of last year, and some 550% above the profit margin at the same time in 2021.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Hezbollah Threatens Israel With War Over Disputed Gas Field

Hezbollah Threatens Israel With War Over Disputed Gas Field

  • Lebanon’s armed Hezbollah group threatened Israel that drilling at the Karish gas field could result in war.
  • Israel and Lebanon are in a years-long dispute over the demarcation of their territorial waters in the Mediterranean.
  • Israel has already warned early on that any damage to the drilling rig in Karish will result in an immediate reaction.

Lebanon’s armed Hezbollah group warned Israel on Sunday against drilling at an offshore gas field, renewing a threat that it could escalate the offshore border demarcation dispute to a war.

Hezbollah, backed by Iran, aired a video on its Al-Manar television channel, showing drone footage of Israeli barges at the gas field and their coordinates. The video ends with footage of a rocket with the words “within range” in Arabic and Hebrew. The text on the video message opens with “Playing with time is useless,” also in both languages.

Israel and Lebanon, which do not have diplomatic relations, are in a years-long dispute over the demarcation of their territorial waters in the Mediterranean.

The dispute escalated this summer after UK’s Energean, which has been awarded the right to drill at the offshore Karish field, arrived on the site with a rig, prompting an immediate reaction from Beirut. The Lebanese president and the caretaker prime minister of the country accused Israel of violating Lebanon’s sovereignty.

Karish is the focus of the rift. According to Israel, Karish lies in its territorial waters. According to Lebanon, it falls within a triangle of contested waters because the two cannot agree where exactly the border passes.

Israel has already warned early on that any damage to the drilling rig in Karish—like attacks on any gas drilling rigs in its waters—will be construed as an attack on the state, implying there would be an immediate reaction.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Gas Levy Could Triple Household Heating Bills In Germany

Gas Levy Could Triple Household Heating Bills In Germany

Germany plans to introduce a levy for all its gas consumers beginning in October as the government looks to avoid a wave of collapsing gas-importing and gas-trading companies amid record-high natural gas prices, a new bill seen by Reuters showed on Thursday.

Russia is further reducing flows via Nord Stream this week, to just 20% of the pipeline’s capacity, days after restarting the link at 40% capacity after regular maintenance.

The German government has already intervened to rescue energy group Uniper, Russia’s single largest gas buyer in Germany. Uniper—and many other German gas traders and suppliers—have been reeling from reduced Russian supply and soaring prices of non-Russian gas. Germany and Uniper agreed last week on a $15 billion bailout package, including the German government taking a 30-percent stake in the company and making more liquidity and credit lines available to the group.

Under the plans of the government, all consumers of gas, including households, will have to pay an additional levy, which will go to support Germany’s gas importing companies, which struggle with a lack of Russian gas and sky-high prices of non-Russian alternatives. The details of the bill are set to be announced next month.

Households and industrial consumers are expected to pay the levy through September 2024, according to the draft Reuters has seen.

“One doesn’t know exactly how much (gas) will cost in November, but the bitter news is that it’s definitely a few hundred euros per household,” German Economy Minister Robert Habeck was quoted by Reuters as saying on Thursday.

Marcel Fratzscher, president of DIW, the German Institute for Economic Research, told Düsseldorf’s Rheinischen Post newspaper that German households should prepare for at least tripled costs of heating on gas. The levy should be accompanied by a relief package for lower-income households, otherwise the new charge could lead to a “social catastrophe,” Fratzscher added.

IEA Chief: Europe Must Cut Gas Usage 20% To Survive Winter

IEA Chief: Europe Must Cut Gas Usage 20% To Survive Winter

After calling on all member states to reduce gas consumption by 15% in the face of the threat of a complete Russian gas cutoff, the IEA says the European Union will need to cut even more in order to get through the winter.

“Even if there is no single accident… #Europe still needs to reduce its gas consumption about 20% compared to today in order to have safe and normal winter months,” IEA chief Fatih Birol said, issuing what he called a “red alert” for energy markets.

The short-term issue with the Nord Stream 1 pipeline may have been resolved, Birol told CNN, but “it’s too early to be happy about this”.

The amount Europe is receiving now from Russia is only about one-third of what it was receiving prior to the force majeure, and the IEA chief warned that even that reduced flow “can be cut anytime”.

After a 10-day pause for regular maintenance, Russian gas flows via Nord Stream resumed on Thursday morning, with orders for gas set at around 40% of Nord Stream’s capacity, the level from before the maintenance after Russia slashed flows in mid-June. Flows early on Thursday were at around 21.5 GWh, compared to 30GWh prior to the start of maintenance on July 11th, and compared to 70 GWh before Russia reduced supplies by 60% on June 13th.

On Wednesday, the European Commission unveiled measures for the bloc to conserve gas to pre-empt a Russian cutoff, asking member states to reduce consumption by 15% until next spring.

According to Birol, this won’t be enough to ensure a smooth winter for Europe, and there is no alternative to consumption reductions.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Refinery Shuts Down Due To Lack Of Crude

Refinery Shuts Down Due To Lack Of Crude

A South African refinery has shut down operations and declared force majeure on the supply of petroleum products due to a delay in the shipment of crude, which highlights the fact that the physical market for crude is tight these days despite a slump in paper-traded oil futures.

Sasol, the biggest fuel producer in South Africa, was forced to declare force majeure on refined product deliveries because of delays in the crude oil supplied to its 108,000 barrels per day (bpd) refinery Natref, a company spokesperson told South Africa-based financial news outlet Fin24 on Saturday.

“These delays have impacted availability of crude oil feedstock for processing at Natref, which necessitates the shutdown of its Natref refinery,” the spokesperson said.

“In the circumstances, Sasol Oil will not be in a position to fully meet its commitments on the supply of all petroleum products from July 2022,” said the company, adding that it hopes the issue would be resolved soon and the refinery could resume production at full capacity by the end of this month.

The stoppage at Sasol’s Natref refinery now means that South Africa’s entire oil refining capacity is currently out of service, according to Bloomberg’s estimates. Other refineries have closed down production since COVID erupted, either because they would be converted to terminals or because of operational issues. Only Sasol’s synthetic fuel output using coal as a feedstock, of which South Africa has huge amounts, remains fully operational.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Is Saudi Arabia Exaggerating Its Oil Production Potential?

Is Saudi Arabia Exaggerating Its Oil Production Potential?

  • For years, Saudi Arabia has made some pretty hefty claims about its oil potential.
  • It is becoming increasingly clear, however, that the Kingdom may be stretching the truth a little too far.
  • Analysts are now beginning to doubt that Saudi Arabia even has the reserves it says it has.

For many years now, Saudi Arabia has been wildly exaggerating every metric connected to its oil business, from how much crude it can produce to its level of reserves and everything in between, as analyzed in depth in my first book on the oil sector in 2015 and the latest one in 2021. Why does it lie so much and so often about these figures? Because without the power it has in the world directly associated with its crude oil production, spare capacity, and reserves it has no real power at all, so enormously exaggerating each of these figures is geared towards puffing itself up in terms of its geopolitical importance. The problem Saudi Arabia has right now, however, is that the U.S. and all other developed market countries whose economies are suffering under the weight of ongoing high oil prices are pressuring Riyadh to deliver on these claims, in order to bring these oil prices down. If Saudi Arabia had not been lying all these years about the amount of oil it can produce then it will not have a problem, but it has been, so it does.

To the figures themselves, then, and firstly, Saudi Arabia’s crude oil reserves figures. At the beginning of 1989, Saudi Arabia claimed proven oil reserves of 170 billion barrels, but only a year later, and without the discovery of any major new oil fields, the official reserves estimate had somehow increased by 51.2 percent, to 257 billion barrels…

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

France Sees Nuclear Energy Output Plummet At The Worst Possible Moment

France Sees Nuclear Energy Output Plummet At The Worst Possible Moment

  • France, the European Union’s leader in nuclear energy, is seeing a massive decline in output.
  • Though it has been relatively unfazed by the bloc’s ongoing energy crisis, declining nuclear production could pose a significant problem in the coming months.
  • The collapse of French nuclear power generation and Putin’s retaliatory cutback on energy exports to Europe could be disastrous for the continent.

France has long been one of the world’s greatest champions of nuclear energy. France leads the European Union in nuclear production, with the most productive reactors in the bloc, and relies on nuclear power for a larger share of its energy mix than any other country in the world. It makes sense that France should lead the charge for nuclear energy development as they have long been the global poster child for safe and reliable nuclear energy – until now.

A recent flurry of unexpected issues at the Électricité de France (EDF), the state nuclear power operator representing the largest nuclear fleet in Europe, has caused French nuclear energy output to tumble to its lowest levels in 30 years. Around half of the EDF’s massive nuclear fleet has been taken offline, delivering a massive blow to the EU’s energy independence and security in the midst of a worldwide energy crisis.

France has become increasingly reliant on nuclear power in recent years. French President Emmanuel Macron has given nuclear energy an even bigger boost in his time in office. Indeed, in February, before the Russian invasion of Ukraine, he announced a  €52 billion plan to revitalize the country’s “nuclear adventure.” He has also fought for the inclusion of the emissions-free power source as a “green investment” in the nomenclature of the European Union as the continent moves toward establishing its green energy budget for the coming years.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Oil Likely To Hit $200: SEB Group

Oil Likely To Hit $200: SEB Group

Oil prices are likely to soar past $200 per barrel if G7 manages to cap the price of Russian crude oil, according to chief commodities analyst at Swedish bank SEB Group.

Bjarne Schieldrop, SEB analyst, said on Wednesday in no uncertain terms that the G7’s price capping proposal was a “recipe for disaster” given the current stress that the oil market is under.

The G7 leaders agreed on Tuesday to study ways to cap the price of Russian oil sold internationally and are seeking support among “like-minded” nations. It was one of the critical items to be discussed at this week’s G7 meeting as the group tries to find creative ways to lower energy prices for themselves and maintain adequate crude supplies from Russia—while simultaneously punishing Russia in what many see as an impossible task.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen continued to put pressure on European countries to support a price cap.

According to Schieldrop, the plan seems “neat on paper, but it sounds like a recipe for disaster right now,” given the strong demand for crude oil and low supplies that so far given Russia the upper hand in the market. Russia could, the analyst argued, choose not to sell the oil at a capped price—a decision that could lead to Russia’s production falling by as much as 2 million barrels per day.

Russia’s crude and condensate production rose in June by 5% to 10.7 million bpd, according to Kommersant sources—a figure that includes between 800,000 and 900,000 bpd of condensate, which is not included in the OPEC+ agreement. But Russia’s oil exports have slipped 3.3% in June with the rise of domestic refining demand.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak said that Russia would raise its production again in July.

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