Mark Latham Commodity Equity Intelligence Service

Friday 3rd July 2015
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    US Factory Orders Scream Recession: Annual Drop Biggest Since 2008

    This has never happened outside of recession... Year-over-year, factory orders dropped 6.3% (adjusted) but 8% non-adjusted, the most since the financial crisis. Against expectations of a 0.5% drop MoM, manufacturers saw new orders tumble 1.0% and previous months were revised dramatically lower. Factory orders has now missed 10 of the last 11 months.

    Factory Orders have fallen for 9 of the last 10 months...

    Seasonally adjusted things look terrible...

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    Brazil police arrest another former Petrobras exec in probe -paper

    Brazilian police have arrested Jorge Zelada, former head of Petrobras' international division, as part of an ongoing investigation into bribery and corruption at the state-run oil producer, a local newspaper reported on Thursday.

    Zelada is accused of money-laundering, appropriating public funds, corruption, tax evasion and contract fraud, Folha de S. Paulo newspaper reported. He was taken into custody early Thursday as part of the graft probe centered on Petrobras that has already ensnared several of Brazil's top executives.

    According to a police statement, the 15th phase of the investigation, dubbed "The Monaco Connection," led to search and seize warrants for three other suspects, though none were named.

    Zelada is the fifth ex-Petrobras executive implicated in the 16-month old investigation.
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    Oil and Gas

    BP settles 2010 U.S. oil spill claims for $18.7 bln

    BP Plc has reached a comprehensive $18.7 billion settlement with the U.S. government and five states, a landmark deal that effectively ends years of litigation over environmental damage and human casualties caused by the 2010 Gulf of Mexico spill.

    It could be the largest settlement with a single entity in U.S. history, the U.S. Justice Department said.

    The April 20, 2010, rig explosion killed 11 workers and spewed millions of barrels of oil for nearly three months onto the shorelines of several states.

    The agreement covers U.S. Clean Water Act fines and natural resources damages, along with claims by Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas and 400 local government entities.

    BP's London-listed shares rose as much as 5.3 percent as the extent of the company's liabilities became clear for investors, even as it increased its cumulative pretax charge for the disaster by about $10 billion to $53.8 billion. BP's New York-traded shares rose 5 percent to $41.20.

    "This is a realistic outcome which provides clarity and certainty for all parties," BP Chief Executive Officer Bob Dudley said in a statement. "For BP, this agreement will resolve the largest liabilities remaining from the tragic accident."

    The size of the settlement was slightly more than the $17.6 billion that investors had feared BP would be fined under the Clean Water Act for gross negligence.

    The maximum possible Clean Water Act fine was later trimmed to $13.7 billion after U.S. District Court Judge Carl Barbier found 3.19 million barrels spilled, less than the U.S. government claimed.

    Barbier was expected to rule on that issue later this year, but even after that, BP would have still faced years of lawsuits to address claims by states and by the federal government under a natural resources damage assessment.

    The settlement announced Thursday closes off the remaining liabilities and will bring over $6.8 billion to states.
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    Asia oil refining margins hit 2015 low, Mideast supply to drag

    Rallying oil refining margins have ground to a halt in Asia. Currently at a 2015 low, they could drop another 20-30 percent this quarter, led by declining profits in diesel as supply from the Middle East adds to a global glut.

    While softer Asian demand for diesel will be a drag, margins will likely draw some support and stay above last year's low as the region's gasoline uptake remains healthy.

    Asian refining margins DUB-SIN-REF enjoyed a stellar run in the first half of this year on weak oil prices and hit a two-year top above $10 per barrel in June. But they have almost halved this week to $5.60 with supply of refined products from traditional importers in the Middle East building up.

    "We see refining margins weakening on worsening diesel fundamentals, particularly east of Suez, though gasoline should be supportive," said Robert Campbell, head of oil products research at Energy Aspects.

    Energy Aspects estimates a near 20 percent drop in third-quarter Asian crude refining margins versus April-to-June levels, while consultancy FGE sees a 30 percent drop.

    This could force refiners to cut production to avoid eroding their margins further in an already well-supplied market. Middle Eastern producers have added at least 1.2 million barrels-per-day (bpd) of capacity over the past two years.

    New refineries are typically configured to produce about 30 to 50 percent of middle distillates, comprising diesel and jet fuel, which has led to a glut of these products.

    In fact, global diesel inventories rose by more than 25 million barrels in April from a year ago and are expected to continue growing this year, Standard Chartered said in a report.

    This comes at a time when demand at one of Asia's largest diesel consumers, China, is slowing down.

    As a result, "a lot of diesel will be trapped in the Far East and this will lead to run cuts in places like Japan and South Korea as the arbitrage to the west will be closed by growing Middle Eastern supplies", said Campbell.
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    Engie pens LNG supply deal with Beijing Gas

    Engie, French LNG-player formerly known as GDF Suez, signed an LNG supply deal with Beijing Gas Group of China.

    Under the deal, Engie will deliver two LNG cargoes to BEG to meet Beijing City’s natural gas needs in winter. The first delivery will be in November and the second in January.

    The deal was signed during Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang’s visit to France.

    The companies also agreed to work on energy projects in China with the French major willing to help usher BEG into the international market by jointly investing in LNG projects in third party countries, Engie informed in a statement.

    This deal will be followed by a 10-year LNG supply agreement as soon as the price is settled.
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    UK's Hunting warns of profit slump as rig counts fall further

    Oilfield services company Hunting Plc warned operating profit may slide by up to 75 percent this year as weak oil prices lead to ongoing cuts in oil drilling, although there were some signs that demand is stabilising.

    The oil slide left a massive oversupply of drilling rigs and oilfield services firms, such as Hunting, scrambling for business and franctically cutting costs.

    Well completion in the industry fell by about a third in the second quarter from the first, Hunting said, with North American rig counts halving since the beginning of the year.

    But it added that weekly data showed the declines had slowed and it had seen some improvement in both its order book and customer sentiment.

    The company, which supplies equipment and services for drilling and maintaining wells, said operating profit slumped 76 percent in the first five months of the year.

    It said operating profit would likely fall 50-75 percent in the year to Dec. 31, adding that this estimate was dependent on an improvement in activity levels.

    The London-based firm said it had cut a quarter of its workforce so far this year, saving about $41 million. In some divisions half of the jobs had been cut.

    "We don't think they will cut (jobs) materially more from here. They will start to see the benefits of those cost cuts in terms of margins in the second half, thus helping the recovery," said analyst David Farrell, from Macquarie Research.

    Hunting employed about 4,000 people at the end of 2014, of which about 60 percent were in the United States.
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    Oil prices drop on rising U.S. rig count

    Oil prices dropped on Friday as a rising U.S. rig count stoked fears of oversupply and after Chinese regulators opened an investigation into suspected stock market manipulation.

    Front-month U.S. crude futures CLc1 were trading at $56.70 per barrel at 0439 GMT, down 23 cents from their last settlement.

    That means U.S. crude has fallen from a price range of $57-62 per barrel that it had been in since early May.

    Brent crude futures LCOc1 were down 14 cents at $61.93 per barrel. But the contract remained in a downward trend that has been in place since early May and which has seen prices fall almost 10 percent.

    "Negative sentiment stemmed from an increased U.S. oil rig count (by 12 to 640), after dropping for six months. U.S. shale producers have brought down the breakeven cost from $35 to $20 per barrel," ANZ bank said on Friday.

    "The current U.S. horizontal and vertical rig count across the Permian, Eagle Ford, Bakken and Niobrara shale plays implies that U.S. oil production growth will reach 135,000 barrels per day year-on-year by 4Q15," Goldman Sachs said on Friday.

    The rising U.S. rig count adds to near record production by OPEC and Russia.

    Attached Files
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    Enbridge makes equity investment in Fairwood LNG

    Fairwood Peninsula Energy Corp. has announced that it has signed a strategic alliance with Enbridge Inc.

    Under the deal, Enbridge has made a 5% equity investment in Fairwood LNG, as well as entered into a Joint Development Agreement with Fairwood LNG to assist in the development of offshore LNG facilities in the Gulf of Mexico.

    Fairwood Peninsula Energy Corp. is the parent company and 100%-owner of Delfin LNG LLC.

    Frederick Jones, the Chief Executive Officer of Fairwood LNG and Founder of Delfin LNG, said: “Enbridge is a world-class company with a long and admirable history in the North American midstream energy sector. We are thrilled to be establishing this alliance, which we believe provides a strong platform for future growth. We look forward to a long-term relationship with Enbridge.”

    Dave Weathers, Vice President of Development, Enbridge US Midstream, said: “We are pleased to make this investment. As part of the development agreement, we will bring our expertise to the table regarding pipeline project management, pipeline operations and sourcing gas to facilities.”

    As a result of the equity position, Enbridge will hold one of the seven board of director seats.
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    Alternative Energy

    EU carbon system needs more protection from market abuse - auditor

    The European Union's carbon market is still failing to be managed properly and more improvements are needed to protect it from abuse, the EU's auditor said on Thursday.

    The EU's Emissions Trading System (ETS) is central to the 28-member bloc's efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions but has endured a series of damaging scandals over its 10-year existence, including value-added tax fraud, the resale of used credits, phishing scams and cybertheft.

    The system, which is supposed to cap the carbon emissions of about 11,000 factories and power plants, has also seen a permanent surplus of permits called EU allowances since its launch in 2005.

    The glut was exacerbated by the financial crisis, which cut economic output and pollution, leading to prices that are too low to drive a shift to low-carbon energy sources.

    The system is being reformed to reduce the surplus but the European Court of Auditors did not examine the effectiveness of those measures, focusing instead on steps to protect its integrity.

    The auditors' report found the European Commission and member states had not adequately managed the ETS, particularly during its second phase (2008-12).

    Although steps have been taken to protect the market, issues still need to be addressed, such as controls on the opening of ETS accounts, transaction monitoring, market supervision and the verification of emission levels at firms under the scheme.

    "Improvements are needed to the framework for protecting market integrity and the system as a whole needs to be better implemented," said Kevin Cardiff, the court member responsible for the report.

    Even though the ETS has now been included in the scope of the bloc's financial market regulation, there are still concerns regarding bilateral over-the-counter spot trading and smaller market participants.

    At the EU level, there is no specific body responsible for overseeing the market, and cooperation between national regulators and the executive Commission has been insufficient.
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    Delhi Metro will run completely on solar power soon - DMRC

    A senior central government official said that the Delhi metro could soon go fully solar. The Delhi metro rail corporationis looking at the possibility of buying electricity from a 500 MW solar facility in Rajasthan.

    A senior DMRC official confirmed that the proposal might involve the DMRC signing a power purchase agreement with a third-party developer in Rajasthan.

    The official said that “We do not plan to spend any money of our own. We could bid out the contract via an open and transparent process. The DMRC is looking at buying solar power at a tariff lower than INR 6.94 per KW per Hour, the rate at which it currently buys thermal power. An initial proposal is likely to be moved within a week.”

    A DMRC spokesperson said that “In order to be carbon neutral and insulate itself from electricity price increase which has been about 20% per annum in last five years, DMRC is planning to explore the possibility of purchasing power to meet its entire requirement from a solar developer who will be selected through transparent bidding process.”

    At present, the Delhi metro has a peak power requirement of 150 MW, which is likely to go up to 250 MW by the time the third phase of its construction is completed.

    The official said that “Out of this, 50MW can potentially be met through solar rooftop power. Since the average plant load factor for solar power is in the range of 20%, it would require an installed capacity of 500 MW.”
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    Tamil Nadu to get 1,000 MW more solar power this month

    Tamil Nadu’s ambitious plan to tap solar energy to narrow the power deficit  will get a boost with the government set to finalise deals assuring 1,000 MW solar energy by the end of this month.

    Addressing an international conference and Exposition on Renewable Energy 2015, organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) here on Thursday, Electricity Minister Natham R. Viswanthan said that already deals for 1,000 MW were on (including the proposed 700-MW solar plant by Adani Group).

    Agreements for another 1,000 MW would be signed by July-end and by the end of this year the government expects to get 2,000 MW of solar power, he said.

    The State had set a target of 3,000 MW of solar power generation by 2015. At present, the installed capacity is 149 MW.

    Tamil Nadu was a pioneer in the new and renewable energy sector with an installed capacity of 8,482 MW, which accounted for 35 per cent of the sector in the country.

    The State’s Energy secretary, Mr. Rajesh Lakhoni, suggested that every person who purchases a new air-conditioner buy 1KW of solar panel.

    Explaining the statistics behind the idea, he said, “Tamil Nadu offers Rs. 20,000 subsidy per KW of solar roof top installation in addition to the 30 per cent Central subsidy. With an investment of about Rs. 60,000 on solar power, a household could save up to Rs. 10,000 per annum on power bill. It makes a lot of economic sense.”
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    Low solar prices in Texas

    A recent announcement from Austin Energy, the city of Austin’s utility agency, illustrates the solar power price has dipped to a record low following bids on the utility’s 600 MW procurement plan. Some 7,976 MW worth of solar projects were bid in April in competition for the procurement, according to Khalil Shalabi, Austin Energy’s vice president of resource planning. 1,295 MW of those solar project bids came in below $0.04/kWh, which is, in a word, astounding.

    The cost figures we’re discussing are actually for solar power bids, which is technically a more accurate label. Also on a “technically speaking” note, the price in Austin factors in solar power subsidies, which are not present in Dubai. However, the Texas price is competitive on the global market even without the 30 percent federal tax credit, still coming in under $0.06/kWh.

    Attached Files
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    K+S rejects Potash Corp's takeover approach

    German potash miner K+S said Potash Corp of Saskatchewan's 7.85 billion euro ($8.70 billion) takeover approach was too low and the Canadian firm could be planning to dismantle and downsize its rival, putting jobs at risk.

    Potash Corp's 41 euro per share takeover proposal "completely disregards" the value of a Canadian mining project under construction known as "Legacy", which should be up to 21 euros per share when the book value of the mine and future cash flows from 2017 onwards are taken into account, K+S said on Thursday.

    K+S, said it was not convinced that Potash Corp was interested in continuing the German group's fertiliser and salt businesses in their current form.

    K+S is the world's largest salt supplier but derives most of its earnings from potash fertilisers.

    "Potash Corp sites in Canada produce at significantly lower costs than our German sites. But they are under-utilised. Obviously, it makes ultimately little sense for PotashCorp to operate our German sites at the current level," Chief Executive Nobert Steiner said.

    The offer values the German group's equity at 7.85 billion euros, or 9.5 billion euros when net debt of 1.65 billion euros is included.

    K+S said the stock market was currently not attributing any value to Legacy, the first new mine in the potash industry in almost 40 years, which will start producing by the end of 2016.

    "It is clear that Potash Corp is trying to take advantage of this valuation gap to acquire K+S at a bargain price to gain control of Legacy," the CEO said.

    Potash Corp, the world's largest fertiliser company by capacity, does not plan any closures at K+S AG if its bid for its German peer proves successful, people familiar with the matter told Reuters on Sunday.

    But K+S said on Thursday Potash had made no firm commitments to protect the interests of the more than 14,000 employees of K+S worldwide.

    "Despite repeated requests to address this question, PotashCorp's answers have remained vague", K+S said in a statement.
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    Precious Metals

    Diamond boss sees more pain amid credit crunch

    De Beers’s former finance chief, who is developing a diamond mine in southern Africa, expects the industry to remain depressed this year as retail sales languish and traders struggle to turn a profit.

    “I don’t see the second half of 2015 being that positive,” Stuart Brown, chief executive officer of Firestone Diamonds Ltd., said by phone. “Retail needs to recover and the midstream needs to sort itself out and that will take a bit of time. 2016 is still going to be a year of recovery.”

    Rough diamond prices fell about 15 percent in the past 12 months after KBC Groep NV decided to wind down its Antwerp Diamond Bank unit, crimping credit to the Belgian port city’s traders, cutters and polishers. At the same time buyers have baulked at the prices demanded by De Beers, forcing the world’s biggest producer to lower them.

    Brown, who was chief financial officer at De Beers from 2006 to 2011, is more pessimistic than some of his rivals. Dominion Diamond Corp. said last month that the industry had overcome its liquidity concerns, while Petra Diamonds Ltd. said in April that the market had stabilized.

    Firestone is developing the Liqhobong mine in Lesotho and plans to start production at the end of 2016. The mine will produce about 1 million carats a year.

    Brown welcomed the founding of the Diamond Producers Association, a trade group designed to promote the gems and protect the industry from threats such as synthetic stones.

    “I think it’s good for the industry and everyone should be supportive of it,” said Brown, who expects Firestone to join the association once it starts mining.
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    Base Metals

    Chile gives copper giant Codelco much-needed $225 million cash injection

    Codelco's $25 billion investment plan seeks to revamp its aging operations and build new ones to keep production rising.

    Chile-owned Codelco, the world’s top copper producer, has been promised $225 million by the government to help the company fund its ambitious $25 billion investment plan aimed at expanding its aging operations and build new ones to keep production rising.

    The cash injection, said the miner in a statement (in Spanish), will come from the company’s own 2014 profits, since the miner gives its profits to the state.

    In October last year, President Michelle Bachelet enacted a special law to spur the output of the state-owned copper giant, which allowed the government to commit to provide Codelco $4 billion in financing through 2018, including around $3 billion via treasury-issued debt and about $1 billion from returned profits.
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    Steel, Iron Ore and Coal

    Australia seeks answers after China rejects coal cargoes

    Australia's government is looking into allegations by an industry group that Australian coal cargoes are being unfairly rejected by China.

    A powerful mining lobby group in Australia said it was working with trade ministers over instances where China rejected cargoes on the grounds they did not meet quality requirements.

    Coal is Australia's second-biggest export after iron ore.

    The Minerals Council of Australia, which counts some of the world's biggest coal miners as members, including BHP Billiton , Rio Tinto and Glencore , said cargoes were being rejected on grounds they failed to meet new quality import restrictions introduced on Jan. 15.

    "Australia produces some of the highest quality export coal in the world so producers have confidence in their product," Minerals Council coal division head Greg Evans told Reuters.

    "However we have less confidence in the associated testing protocols as they are not universally applied in a transparent manner." Evans said.

    A spokeswoman for the federal trade minister, Andrew Robb, said he was aware of concerns raised by the coal industry regarding the potential trade impact of China's new coal quality standards.

    "The government is doing everything reasonable to resolve these concerns, and will work together with China to ensure Australia remains a reliable supplier of high quality coal," she said.

    China's new rules are not uniform across the country, but for exporters, the most relevant ones are conducted in cities in the southern Pearl River Delta, the eastern Yangtze River Delta and three northern cities including Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei.
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    CIL record output at 121.23 MT Apr-Jun 2015

    Image Source: Money ControlMoney Control reported that Coal India, the world's largest miner of dry fuel, recorded an output of 121.33 million tonnes (MT) in April-June 2015, recording a 12 percent growth over the same period previous fiscal. The coal giant achieved 99 percent of the target during the period.

    The development comes at a time when the government has already fixed a target of one billion tonne of production for the miner by 2019.

    However, the miner missed its June target by about 2 million tonnes, producing 38.83 MT of coal. CIL produced 121.23 MT of coal during April-June quarter of the current fiscal as against a target of 123.04 MT, the miner said in a filing to the BSE. Performance wise, its Jharkhand-based arm Central Coalfields Ltd (CCL) registered the maximum 26.6 percent increase in output of 12.59 MT as against a target of 10.50 MT during the period.

    The coal giant said the target for June was fixed at 40.73 MT but the miner could produce only 38.83 MT. The offtake of coal at the miner's end stood at 129.48 MT during the April-June period this year against the target of 135.35.65 MT.
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    Why not sell coal from Chhattisgarh mines to JPL - HC to CIL

    Money Control reported that Delhi High Court suggested to Coal India Ltd (CIL) to sell to Jindal Power Ltd (JPL) the coal it has started to mine from two Chhattisgarh mines if it did not have the space to store the mineral. A bench of justices Badar Durrez Ahmed and Sanjeev Sachdeva gave the suggestion after CIL moved an application seeking permission to sell the coal it has started to mine from Gare Palma IV/2 and IV/3 mines after receiving environmental clearance.

    It moved the application as the high court on May 27 had kept in abeyance a letter issued by CIL cancelling the e-auction in which JPL had won 49,000 metric tonnes of coal to be mined from the two mines. CIL put before the bench three options - selling the coal by way of a fresh e-auction, selling it to those companies with whom the public sector unit has a fuel supply agreement or sale to National Thermal Power Corporation Ltd (NTPC) - and asked the court which method should it go for. The counsel for CIL told the court that the problem was that after it had received environmental clearance, it had commenced mining and now the mineral was accumulating at the site with no space to store it.

    It also sought clarity on whether the court's May 27 order would prohibit it from selling the coal it was mining. The court, however, only suggested that CIL can sell the coal it was mining to JPL or hold a fresh e-auction in which the power company can participate and did not pass any order. It listed the matter for further hearing on July 7. CIL's application was filed in the main petition of JPL which has challenged a May 16 letter by which the PSU claimed the e-auction was cancelled.
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    US coal production and consumption

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    Iron ore slide continues

    Iron ore for immediate delivery to China .IO62-CNI=SI stood at $55.80 a tonne, its weakest since late April, Reuters data showed.

    "This is the downside of the $50-$60 range where iron ore belongs in this stage of the cycle," said Morgans Financial analyst James Wilson.

    "It could continue to creep lower if companies start showing strong quarterly production figures this month, as expected," he said.

    Iron ore exports to China from Australia's Port Hedland rose 3 percent to 32.61 million tonnes in June from a month earlier.

    The June increase at the world's biggest iron ore terminal helped sweep total iron ore exports for the fiscal year ended June 30 to 439.6 million tonnes, up 21 percent and also a record, according to the Pilbara Ports Authority.

    Of that total, 373.24 million tonnes were destined for China.
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    China’s crude steel output totals 340.17 million mt in Jan-May

    In the first five months of the current year, China’s crude steel output amounted to 340.17 million mt, down 1.6 percent year on year, as announced by China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) on June 30. The growth rate in question was 4.3 percentage points lower than that recorded in the same period last year.

    In the first five months of the current year, China’s overall outputs of metallurgical coke and ferroalloys amounted to 187.81 million mt and 14.35 million mt, down 2.8 percent and 3.4 percent respectively, both on year-on-year basis. The growth rates of coke and ferroalloy production in the given period were 1.2 and 14.3 percentage points lower than in the same period of 2014. Meanwhile, in the January-May period this year, China’s exports of finished steel amounted to 43.52 million mt, up 28.2 percent on year-on-year basis.
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