The combination of limited new supply options, increasing risks to traditional supply, and growing demand around the world, is set to send oil prices even higher this summer.
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Friday, May 27th, 2022
Oil prices have been edging higher this week as improving demand signals highlight the lack of supply options in oil markets if there is a drastic contraction in Russian production, a likely outcome if the European Union bans Russian oil. With both US crude and gasoline inventories continuing their decline, whilst recent altercations between the United States and Iran have rendered any JCPOA breakthrough largely impossible, analysts are anticipating another surge towards the $130-140 per barrel range this summer.
EU Pins Hopes for Next Week Summit on Russian Sanctions. The European Union hopes to reach a deal on Russian oil sanctions at next week’s leader summit on May 30-31, with media reports suggesting Brussels will split the embargo into pipeline and seaborne deliveries, allowing more phasing-out time for the former.
US Seizes Two Allegedly Iranian Cargoes in the Mediterranean. The US-Iran antagonism is set to increase further after US authorities seized two laden oil tankers in the Mediterranean, anchored in Croatia’s and Greece’s territorial waters, for allegedly smuggling oil for Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps.
G7 Vows to Quit Coal, Fails to Fix Deadline. Ministers from the Group of Seven (G7) agreed to work to phase out coal-powered energy, though the commitment was tangibly watered down from the initial draft of the communique as the 2030 deadline of ending “unabated” coal power did not make it in.
UK Slaps Windfall Tax on North Sea Producers. The UK government will impose a 25% windfall tax on profits of oil and gas companies until the end of 2025 at the latest, stating that the surcharge might be removed when prices return to “historically more normal levels”, without specifying what they are.
Kurdish Minister Departure Bad Omen for Erbil. The natural resources minister of Iraqi Kurdistan Kamal al-Atroshi stepped down due to poor health, a bad sign for Erbil as the federal authorities in Baghdad have intensified pressure on the breakaway region to bring its operations under control.
US Refinery Capacity Lags Behind Production Rise. US refinery intake surpassed the 16 million b/d mark for the first time since August 2021 and product cracks remain at record levels. US refinery expansions will only total 350,000 b/d by end-2023, leaving most of the 1 million b/d capacity that shut down after the pandemic unsubstituted.
Nigeria Might Soon Be on the Brink. Whilst Davos talks usually focus on grand strategy, Nigeria’s finance minister Zainab Ahmed stated that the country’s production is so low (at 1.5 million b/d in Q1) that it is barely able to cover the cost of imported petrol, blaming the shortfalls on theft and infrastructure attacks.
Amidst Record Prices, The Taliban Becomes a Coal Exporter. The Afghan Taliban has been stepping up coal exports to Pakistan, presumably up to 500,000 tons per month Reuters reports, as runaway coal prices in Asia are forcing buyers to find creative ways of sourcing cheap feedstock for power generation.
India Is Eager to Mop Up Russian Assets. According to media reports, a consortium of Indian energy companies including ONGC Videsh and Gail is in talks to buy the 27.5% stake of UK energy major Shell (LON:SHEL) in the Sakhalin-2 LNG project in Russia’s far east, most probably at a fraction of its pre-war price.
US Senate Discontent Lowers Odds of Swift Iranian Deal. The likelihood of seeing the JCPOA resurrected continues to ebb as this week’s US Senate Foreign Relations Committee pressed Iran negotiators to walk away from the stalled Vienna talks, a potential pressure point for the Biden Administration ahead of the mid-term elections.
Russia and Iran Discuss Commodity Barter Deals. Russian and Iranian top officials have discussed swapping deliveries of oil and gas, with Russia aiming to supply energy to northern Iran whilst Teheran would provide Russian companies with oil and gas cargoes in the Persian Gulf.
Italy Doubles Down on Algeria. The largest foreign player in Algeria ever since its 1981 arrival, Italy’s ENI (NYSE:E), signed another set of deals that would increase its gas portfolio in the country, ranging from a green hydrogen plant in the Sahara all the way to becoming part of gas projects' evaluation team alongside Sonatrach.
US Natgas Drops Back After Low Stocks Trigger Spike. Whilst front-month US Henry Hub futures rose to a 13-year high earlier this week on low inventories, with intraday trading going as high as $9.399 per mmBtu, that strength has eased by now with the expiry of the June contract and forecasts for lower demand.
India Feels the Heat of Coal Crunch. With India’s power ministry lowering the amount of coal that domestic power plants can expect to receive in June by 11% to 56 million tons, importing more coal despite Newcastle spot prices trading above $400 per metric ton seems the only way out of the ongoing crunch.
By Michael Scott for Oilprice.com
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