Mark Latham Commodity Equity Intelligence Service

Friday 10th June 2016
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    Low interest rates and timid governments are trashing economic growth, warns OECD

    Permanently low interest rates are ruining investments and savings, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has warned, undermining long-term economic growth.

    Low rates are designed as an emergency boost to crisis-stricken economies, but are harmful over long periods of time, the study said.

    The only way out is for governments to reform stagnant economies, allowing bad companies to go bust, encouraging banks to write off loans to those failing companies, and encourage innovative firms to grow, it said.

    “Seven years of extremely easy monetary policy has not restored the investment and productivity growth needed to raise income per head, real wages, demand and growth,” said the OECD.

    “This policy was originally designed to stabilise the financial system and support economic recovery, but somehow has slipped intotrying to compensate for the absence of the other policies that are needed.”

    These problems are in part coming to light because of the end of the upswing in commodities markets, as oil prices have dived along with other natural raw materials.

    The OECD notes that investment in commodities and related sectors have driven much of the growth in the global economy, particularly in the emerging markets, in recent years.

    As excess supply led to a decline in prices and brought that investment boom to an end, the economy suddenly looks in worse shape.

    The drop in oil and other commodities prices is crushing one of the main drivers of investment growth in recent years CREDIT: WU HONG/EPA

    Low interest rates will not help those emerging economies, the OECD said, nor the richer economies where lending is constrained by tighter banking rules imposed in the wake of the financial crisis.

    The economists propose gradual moves to raise wages in the emerging markets, though this may depress investment further by pushing resources from firms to individual workers.

    Richer countries need to take weak companies and banks off life support, and recognise that negative rates are harming even the healthy banks, the report said.

    Those negative rates are also harming investors by creating “perverse incentives” and driving irrational behaviour in markets, the OECD warned.

    “Investors have been herded into concentrated trades, many of which are illiquid, and recent volatility reflects periodic attempts to exit them – particularly when there is any hint of a withdrawal of the monetary policy ‘morphine’ to which they have become addicted,” the report said.

    “Financial fragility means that central banks will embark upon the normalisation of interest rates only very slowly and the outlook for the next year or two in financial markets is one of choppiness about [a trend of modest returns], with persistent risks of extreme volatility.”

    Until higher interest rates are imposed, investors will be concentrated in a “barbell” pattern of very low risk and very high risk investments, with little in between to finance the growth of companies that do not fit that pattern.

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    What We Learned From Four Days of Briefings in Saudi Arabia

    What We Learned From Four Days of Briefings in Saudi Arabia

    Following are the main targets laid out in the plan for the coming five years:


    The kingdom plans to build 1.5 million residential units in seven years, and will do so through partnerships with private sector developers.
    It has allocated 13.5 billion riyals ($3.6 billion) in five years to establish partnerships with the private sector to develop state lands and build large-scale residential projects. Real estate stocks surged after the announcement.
    Reduce the average time required to approve new residential projects to 60 days from 730 days.
    All land holdings to be surveyed, compared with 6 percent currently.

    Public Finances

    Non-oil revenue is seen rising to 530 billion riyals ($141 billion) by 2020 from 163.5 billion riyals.
    The public-sector wage bill would fall to 456 billion riyals from 480 billion, making up 40 percent of total spending instead of 45 percent.
    Public debt will increase to 30 percent of economic output from 7.7 percent, while the kingdom’s credit rating is seen rising two levels to Aa2 from A1.
    Water and electricity subsidies are to be cut by 200 billion riyals; the tariffs charged on water would cover 100 percent of actual costs, compared with 30 percent now.
    A tax would be imposed on "harmful products."
    The private sector would fund about 40 percent of the initiatives included in the plan.

    Investments, Jobs, Privatization & Exports

    450,000 jobs to be created by 2020 under the program.
    Non-oil exports would climb to 330 billion riyals from 185 billion riyals by 2020.
    Foreign direct investment would rise to 70 billion riyals from 30 billion riyals.
    The minister of environment, water and agriculture said the government plans to privatize the Saline Water Conversion Corp.
    Information technology proportion of non-oil GDP to double to 2.24 percent; media industry to contribute 6.64 billion riyals to economic output from 5.2 billion riyals.

    Business Environment, Women

    Plan to improve Saudi Arabia’s global ranking in terms of ease of doing business to no. 20 from no. 82.
    Average resolution time for commercial cases to be reduced to 395 days from 575 days.
    80 percent of Justice Ministry’s services to be delivered electronically.
    Female participation in the workforce to increase to 28 percent from 23 percent; number of women in civil service to rise to 42 percent from 39.8 percent.

    Energy, Mining

    Oil output capacity is expected to stay at 12.5 million barrels per day by 2020, with refining capacity rising to 3.3 million barrels per day from 2.9 million.
    Output capacity of dry gas to reach 17.8 billion cubic feet per day versus 12 billion currently. The country will generate 4 percent of its power from renewable energy by 2020.
    Mining sector’s contribution to economic output to reach 97 billion riyals from 64 billion riyals.

    Health Care

    Plan for reforming and "restructuring of primary health care" estimated to cost 4.7 billion riyals.
    Private sector contribution to health care spending to increase to 35 percent from 25 percent.
    70 percent of Saudi citizens to have a unified digital medical record.

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    Bucking Big Oil Companies, U.S. House Set to Condemn Carbon Tax

    Congressional Republicans are poised to approve a non-binding resolution to condemn the idea of a carbon tax, putting lawmakers on record opposing an approach to combating climate change favored by Exxon Mobil Corp. and other large oil companies.

    The House strategy, pushed by Majority Whip Steve Scalise, a Louisiana Republican, and backed by Koch Industries Inc., uses the symbolic measure to lock in hundreds of votes against a tax on carbon dioxide emissions blamed for climate change. The tactic is designed to weaken the ability of a future president and Congress to levy one to help pay for a broad overhaul of the U.S. tax code, said Republican strategist Mike McKenna.

    “The more you vote on something, the harder it is to vote the other way," McKenna said.

    The House last touched the issue in 2013, when it voted 237-176 to adopt a Scalise-sponsored amendment requiring the administration to receive approval from Congress before implementing a carbon tax. By contrast, the measure up for a House floor vote Friday is a stand-alone resolution asserting that "a carbon tax would be detrimental to American families and businesses, and is not in the best interest of the United States."

    Regulatory Replacement

    Some big oil companies disagree with the Republican effort. That includes Exxon Mobil, which hasn’t taken a formal position on the Scalise resolution but has lobbied on Capitol Hill for a revenue-neutral carbon tax to take the place of an array of environmental regulations that raise the cost of fossil fuels.

    A revenue-neutral carbon tax would "ensure a uniform and predictable cost of carbon, allow market forces to drive solutions, maximize transparency to stakeholders, reduce administrative complexity, promote global participation and easily adjust to future developments in climate science and policy," said Exxon Mobil spokesman Alan Jeffers. "In order to set a uniform cost of carbon across the economy, a carbon tax has to replace all the other patchwork of regulations that are designed to put a price on carbon.”

    The issue divides the oil industry, with several other large integrated companies also favoring a carbon tax, even though it is being fought by many independent producers that lack pipeline and refining operations.

    BP Plc says a well-constructed carbon tax or cap-and-trade system would encourage energy producers and consumers to reduce emissions. Royal Dutch Shell Plc Chairman Charles Holliday calls a carbon tax the most effective and practical way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
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    Oil and Gas

    World’s Top Energy Exporter Isn’t Counting on Oil Rally to Hold

    Supply disruptions including Canadian wildfires and militant attacks in OPEC member Nigeria have driven prices higher, with the improving outlook for crude not grounded in fundamentals, Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said at a government meeting in Moscow on Thursday. Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said at the same event that the situation was reminiscent of a rebound in the second quarter of last year, which was followed by a “rather serious” decline in prices.

    “There are still no fundamental factors for growth in oil prices,” Siluanov said. “We should plan our financial resources on that basis.”

    The assessment is at odds with views expressed last week at a gathering of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries in Vienna, where the group’s members said the oil market was moving in the right direction. The renewed optimism came after prices rose more than 85 percent in New York since touching a 12-year low in February. Forecasters including the International Energy Agency and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. say the crude glut that caused prices to collapse in 2014 is finally dissipating.

    Russia, the world’s biggest energy exporter and second to Saudi Arabia in crude shipments, has delayed amending this year’s budget, still based on an average oil price of $50 a barrel, as the market has stabilized. The economy is into its second year of recession, with the Finance Ministry struggling to keep the budget deficit within 3 percent of gross domestic product after it reached the widest in five years in 2015.

    Authorities are seeking fiscal savings of one percentage point of GDP each year to balance the budget by 2019. The Russian Economy Ministry projects that oil will average $40 a barrel through 2019. The nation’s main export blend Urals averaged$33.93 in the first four months of the year.

    “There are certain similarities to last year’s situation,” Medvedev said. “So we need to be careful with our spending commitments. In that sense, the Finance Ministry’s approach clearly deserves support.”
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    Latest from Niger Delta Avengers


    49 minutes ago

    3:am of Friday @NDAvengers blow up the Obi Obi Brass Trunk line belonging to Agip ENI. It is Agip's Major Crude oil Line in Bayelsa State.


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    Oil and China: ‘Teapots’ Mean Real Demand Not So Stout

    China’s rising crude oil imports may be nothing more than a tempest in a teapot.

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    China’s so-called teapot refineries—smaller, private outfits that operate outside the state-owned petroleum industrial complex—have taken center stage of late. Their emergence has made it even trickier to peer through China’s already muddy oil-demand picture.

    On the surface, it seems Chinese demand should take some credit for driving global crude prices higher. Trade data this week showed that in May, the world’s No. 2 economy imported 39% more crude by volume than a year before. Part of this is because May last year was a weak month.

    A bigger factor were the teapot refineries, who are in possession of new government quotas to import crude. Between January and April, teapots accounted for 15% of China’s crude import volume, Citigroup says.

    Many teapot units went offline in May, but because these refineries typically run at 50% utilization—compared with 70% to 80% for established refiners—a teapot company could shut down one unit and ramp up utilization at second to compensate, according to Energy Aspects, a London-based consultancy. This suggests that China’s appetite for importing crude will stay strong regardless of refinery maintenance schedules. That should please crude sellers.

    The bigger question is what China does with all this crude once it is refined. Analysts can impute China’s final oil demand by adding together refinery output, net trade in products and changes in inventories.

    This has always been an imprecise exercise, thanks to the country’s opaque inventory figures. Some analysts now reckon the official data don’t capture new teapot activity. That means refinery runs, and hence underlying demand, could be higher than thought.

    Yet that doesn’t mean oil bulls can rejoice. Even if demand is today higher than previously assumed, there is a strong indication that supply of refined products is even higher and isn’t fully getting absorbed at home. As evidence, China has exported more products than it imported every single month, not the case this time last year. In May, net exports were almost seven times what they were a year ago.

    China’s state refineries started this trend two years ago of guzzling crude, and re-exporting refined products, chiefly diesel. Thanks to the teapots’ increased capacity, China has also begun exporting more gasoline. In the first four months of the year, China’s average daily gasoline exports were a third higher than in all of 2015, according to Energy Aspects. That will pressure gasoline prices across Asia.

    Just because the teapots are active, doesn’t mean that China is the factor that will keep oil prices aloft.

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    European gasoline cracks slip below diesel on oversupply

    European gasoline cracks have dropped below their diesel equivalents for the first time since mid-March this week, as rising stocks put pressure on gasoline values while European diesel is finding support from tightening supply.

    The European gasoline physical crack to Dated Brent was down 36 cents to $10.63/barrel Wednesday, while the crack for physical FOB ARA diesel barges versus Dated Brent gained 11 cents/b to $11.43/b.

    Wednesday saw Northwest European gasoline cracks decline for the fourth consecutive session on the back of a persisting oversupply in the global gasoline complex, tepid demand and lack of workable arbitrage outlets from the net-long European market.

    The front-month Eurobob gasoline crack swap fell to a three-month low of $9.65/barrel on Wednesday, from $10.20/b the previous day. They were last lower on February 29.

    The supply overhang, together with news of a US gasoline stocks build, weighed on market sentiment. The US Energy Information Administration reported a 1 million barrel increase in countrywide gasoline stocks for the week ended June 3.

    With persistent weakness in Asia and modest demand from the Middle East and North Africa, the US Atlantic Coast is the sole outlet for Europe's excess barrels, meaning European prices have been tracking price trends in the US, where increased imports and moderate demand have contributed to the downwards pressure on prices.

    "Europe is pricing [cargoes] to keep the arbitrage [to the USAC] open," one source said.

    Continued underperformance of gasoline relative to other refined products might convince producers to reduce output, according to a refiner source.

    "If this continues then we will maximize diesel, which is a stronger market, over gasoline."

    Another source said that refineries were "running to make diesel and for that they are producing too much gasoline with no arbitrages. Gasoline prices will have to drop quite a lot."

    The European diesel market has found support in reduced resupply recently, as arbitrage flows into the region were capped by unworkable economics while the French refining sector was hit by industrial action resulting in reduced output.

    Assessed at $11.43/b Wednesday, the FOB ARA diesel barge crack is well above its year-to-date average of $8.51/b.

    "It's because of the strikes in France and refineries being down [both because of the French industrial action and the refinery maintenance season]," a diesel trader said, adding that the impact appeared to hit the diesel market harder than gasoline.

    "Also, there is less diesel coming from the US and the East," the trader added.
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    Shell makes $4bn North Sea investment pledge

    Royal Dutch Shell said its spending plans will include a cash injection of around $4billion for the North Sea.

    The investment drive will be rolled out between this year and 2018 and is understood to be line with its previous expenditure in the region.

    The energy giant announced on Tuesday that it would scale down global investment and pinpoint further savings as it grapples with lower oil prices.

    Paul Goodfellow, Shell’s vice president for Upstream in UK & Ireland, told the Press Association that it will “include significant investments with our partners West of Shetland in the Clair
    and Schiehallion projects in which Shell has a 28% and 55% share respectively.”

    He added: “Shell continues to have a substantial business in the North Sea with 65 interests in North Sea Fields, 33 North Sea platforms and two Floating Production Storage Offloading (FPSO)
    vessels – one operated and one operated on our behalf.”

    The investment pledge comes after fresh data showed jobs supported by the UK oil and gas sector set to fall by more than 120,000 in two years by the end of 2016, according to industry body Oil and Gas UK.

    Shell, which sealed a £35 billion takeover of BG Group in February, said earlier this week that spending will be slashed by 35% to between 25 billion and 30 billion US dollars (£17.3 billion and £20.8 billion) over the next four years.

    It also said last month that it would axe a further 2,200 jobs from its global workforce, meaning 12,500 staff and contractor roles would be lost between the start of 2015 and the end of this year, up from its previous target of 10,300. This will include 475 jobs at its UK and Ireland upstream business.

    Mr Goodfellow added: “Shell’s integration with BG provides an opportunity to accelerate our performance in this ’lower for longer’ environment. We need to reduce our cost base, improve production efficiency and have an organisation that best fits our combined portfolio and business plans

    “That is why we recently announced that Shell will reduce the size of the organisation supporting our UK and Ireland Upstream business by around 475 people. Following these changes, Shell will remain a key employer in the north-east of Scotland with around 1,700 employees.”

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    Oil Reserve to Production Ratios according to BP.

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    Energy World’s Newest Supership Misses the Boat on LNG Pricing

    It’s longer than three soccer fields, heavier than two aircraft carriers and powerful enough to chill gas into liquid colder than the surface of Jupiter.

    And its maiden voyage couldn’t have come at a worse time.

    The world’s first modern vessel for producing liquefied natural gas was ordered by Petroliam Nasional Bhd in 2012 when LNG traded for more than $15 per million British thermal units. It was launched last month, with prices down by about two-thirds. Royal Dutch Shell Plc faces a similar problem with its version of a floating LNG plant, which will be larger than any ship ever built.

    “At $15 and above you can do anything, so everyone went and did everything,” said Trevor Sikorski, a natural gas analyst for Energy Aspects Ltd. in London. “Now all these projects start to come online at the same time, and all of a sudden you have all this supply and now your margins are next to nothing.”

    The plight of the PFLNG Satu, as the first vessel is known, reflects the larger struggle facing all producers. Projects approved years ago when energy prices were high are coming online now, adding to a global supply glut that has pushed spot LNG down to $4.62 per million Btu this week.

    Annual LNG demand is forecast to increase by 140 billion cubic meters (5 trillion cubic feet) from 2015 through 2021, which isn’t enough to absorb almost 190 billion cubic meters of new capacity slated to become operational, the International Energy Agency said in its Medium-Term Gas Market Report 2016 published Wednesday.

    “LNG projects take four to five years to get delivered,” said Prasanth Kakaraparth, Wood Mackenzie Ltd.’s LNG supply analyst for Southeast Asia. “By the very nature of these long delivery periods, they get hit quite a bit by these commodity cycles.”

    Petronas, Malaysia’s state-owned energy company, is betting the cycles will even out over the long run. PFLNG Satu will produce about 1.2 million tonnes of LNG annually for the next 20 years from the Kanowit gas field, which is located about 180 kilometers (112 miles) north of the coast of Borneo.

    “We are taking a long-term view for this project,” Petronas said in a written statement. “In terms of profitability, the project is still viable as an additional supply point within our larger portfolio of LNG assets.”

    Floating LNG has some advantages over land-based liquefaction, Rafael McDonald, the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based global director of gas and LNG for IHS Inc. It eliminates the need for pipelines to connect far-flung fields to shore. Companies also hope that they can better control costs in a shipyard than on a distant construction site, he said.

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    BP, Eni hit more gas in Egypt

    Oil major BP said it has made another gas discovery in Egypt’s East Mediterranean.

    The company said the Baltim SW-1 exploration well hit 62 metres of gas pay in high quality Messinian sandstones.

    The discovery is 12kilomteres from the shoreline and is an accumulation along the same trend of the Nooros field discovered in July last year.

    Hesham Mekawi, regional president of BP North Africa, said: “We are pleased with the results of the Baltim SW-1 well as it is the third discovery along the Nooros trend and confirms the great
    potential of the Messinian play and its significant upside in the area.

    “Our plan is to utilise existing infrastructure which will accelerate the development of the discovery, and expedite early production start-up. This announcement is another example of BP’s
    commitment to unlock resources in order to bring critical gas production to Egypt.”

    BP holds a 50% stake in the Baltim South Development, while Eni holds the other 50%.

    The well was drilled by Petrobel.
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    Det norske merges with BP Norge to create new E&P company

    Det norske oljeselskap has agreed to merge with BP Norge (BP Norway) through a share purchase transaction to create the independent E&P company on the Norwegian Continental Shelf (NCS).

    The company will be renamed Aker BP with Aker and BP as main industrial shareholders. The new E&P company will be independently operated and listed on the Oslo Stock Exchange.

    Aker is the main shareholder in Det norske with a 49.99 per cent ownership, held through its wholly-owned subsidiary Aker Capital. Aker BP will be jointly owned by Aker (40 per cent), BP (30 per cent) and other Det norske shareholders (30 per cent).

    As part of the transaction, Det norske will issue 135.1 million shares based on NOK 80 per share to BP as compensation for all shares in BP Norge, including assets, a tax loss carry forward of $267 million (nominal after-tax value) and a net cash position of $178 million.

    In parallel, Aker will acquire 33.8 million of these shares from BP at the same share price to achieve the agreed-upon ownership structure.

    The completion of the transaction, which is expected by the end of 2016, is subject to customary closing conditions, regulatory review and approval by Det norske shareholders.

    According to BP, all of BP Norge’s roughly 850 employees will transfer to the combined organization upon completion of the deal.

    “We take great pride in the fact that BP has chosen to partner with Aker in transforming Det norske into a leading independent offshore E&P company,” said Aker’s Chairman Kjell Inge Røkke.

    “With this transaction, we provide Det norske with operational strength, a robust capital structure and two solid industrial owners, thereby creating a platform for further growth on the NCS and near-term capacity to pay out quarterly dividend.”

    Aker said that the transaction will strengthen Det norske’s balance sheet and is credit accretive through a 35 per cent reduction in net interest-bearing debt per barrel of oil equivalent of reserves. Aker BP aims to introduce a quarterly dividend policy. The first dividend payment is planned for the fourth quarter of 2016, conditional upon the approval of creditors.

    “We have been in close dialogue with Folketrygdfondet, Det norske’s second-largest shareholder, which supports the transactions,” said Aker’s President and Chief Executive Officer, and Det norske’s Chairman, Øyvind Eriksen.

    The effective date of the transaction is January 1, 2016 and expected closing is in the third quarter 2016, subject to approval by the relevant authorities. The collaboration between BP and Aker spans several decades, and the two companies have previously explored the opportunity to create a large independent E&P company. Aker established Aker Exploration in 2006, which has grown through subsequent mergers and acquisitions, including Det norske and Marathon Oil Norway.

    “Years of close collaboration between BP and Aker have now resulted in a new milestone for Det norske,” said Eriksen.

    “In combining Det norske and BP Norway we will accelerate our strategy for Det norske to become a champion on the NCS in terms of lowest cost of production and highest profitability per barrel. We believe the transaction will yield significant value for both Det norske, BP and Aker’s shareholders.”

    Aker BP will hold a portfolio of 97 licenses on the Norwegian Continental Shelf, of which 46 are operated. The combined company will hold an estimated 723 million barrels of oil equivalent P50 reserves, with a 2015 joint production of approximately 122,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day. Det norske had a net average production of 60,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day in 2015.

    “BP and Aker have matured a close collaboration through decades, and we are pleased to take advantage of the industrial expertise of both companies to create a large independent E&P company. The Norwegian Continental Shelf represents a significant opportunity going forward and we are looking forward to working together with Aker to unlock the long-term value of the company through growth and efficient operations.

    “This innovative deal demonstrates how we can adapt our business model with strong and talented partners to remain competitive and grow where we see long- term benefit for our shareholders,” saysBob Dudley, Group Chief Executive of BP.
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    More Than Five LNG Tankers a Week to Traverse Wider Panama Canal

    Panama said it expects 20 million tons of liquefied natural gas to pass through its canal annually once the newly widened waterway is opened this month. That’s almost a tanker of gas a day traveling through, based on Bloomberg calculations.

    “The canal opens the possibility for that gas to reach Asian markets in a more competitive way because the Panama Canal route is the shortest,” said Manuel Benitez, deputy administrator of canal authority, in an interview in Panama City on Wednesday. “We’ve already seen that many very large gas carriers have already made reservations.”

    The $5.3 billion expansion to the canal is set to be inaugurated June 26, allowing it to handle the kind of massive tankers that transport liquefied natural gas. Its debut is fortuitous for U.S. gas producers as the shale boom has sent domestic supplies surging and drillers are looking to get their fuel to markets abroad.

    The expanded canal will help U.S. gas producers by cutting the shipping time to markets in Asia, according to Skip Aylesworth, who manages $1.5 billion in holdings at Hennessy Funds in Boston, and who holds shares in LNG producer Cheniere Energy.

    “It helps the shipping company if you can cut ten days rather than going around South America,” Aylesworth said Wednesday in a phone interview. “It is more profitable for the shipper and that’s good for Cheniere.”

    The volume projected by the Panama Canal Authority represents about 8 percent of global LNG trade and is equivalent to nearly 300 ships a year, said Bloomberg New Energy Finance analyst Anastacia Dialynas. Next year the U.S. will export about 8 million tons, she said.
    Prices in the Pacific aren’t currently high enough to create a large arbitrage opportunity to send gas from the U.S. Gulf Coast to Asian markets, according to Madeline Jowdy, director of global gas and LNG at PIRA Energy Group in New York. LNG prices in Asia and Europe have plunged in line with oil prices, the surge of new gas export capacity and weakening demand from China and other Asian markets.
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    Leak halts major fuel pipeline into Germany

    A major pipeline feeding oil products from the Amsterdam-Rotterdam-Antwerp refinery hub into Germany was shut this week after a leak was reported in the Netherlands, the operating company said in a statement on Thursday.

    The Dutch-German Rotterdam-Rijn Pijpleiding (RRP) distillates pipeline, partly owned by Royal Dutch Shell and BP, will be closed for at least a day as the company investigates the leak and makes any necessary repairs.

    The 24-inch pipeline has a capacity of 2,000 cubic metres per hour, according to the RRP website. Oil traders say that when it is running it always operates at full capacity to meet demand for bringing fuel into Germany, Europe's top consumer of distillates such as diesel and heating oil.

    Oil market sources said deliveries had already been affected to storage sites in Germany that are served by the pipeline, and sources in the ARA region said Shell had stopped offering diesel into the pipeline from its 400,000 barrel per day Pernis refinery, the largest in Europe.

    Still, the soft summer demand season for distillates had tempered the impact of the closure on local German markets, and sources said oil products could also be delivered via barges when the pipeline is not fully operational.
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    LNGreen concept moves to next phase

    Classification society DNV GL said it has with partners initiated a follow-up of the LNGreen project, a new carrier design concept.

    The joint development project will build on the learnings from the first project to further “increase the efficiency and cost effectiveness of the concept,” DNV GL said on Thursday.

    “By continuing to investigate new technologies and improve the integrated systems and machinery configurations and the containment system, the project seeks to bring a ready-to-build concept to the market realizing the potential savings in actual operation,” the statement said.

    The original partners consisting of GTT, GasLog, Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) and DNV GL will all continue their engagement in the new project.

    The project is due for completion by the end of this year.

    New LPG carrier

    In a separate statement, DNV GL said it has launched a joint industry project for the design of a “next generation” LPG carrier.

    “LPGreen aims is to develop a more energy efficient, environmentally friendly, and safer vessel for the transportation of LPG products, taking into account existing and future trading patterns and ensuring the overall competitiveness of the concept,” DNV GL said.

    The project will incorporate the “latest advances” in hull form optimisation, cargo handling systems, engine technology and fuelling options. The resulting concept design will be compliant with the new IGC Code, according to DNV GL.

    DNV GL said it has brought together experts from across the industry for this project, including Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI), Wärtsilä, MAN Diesel & Turbo and Consolidated Marine Management (CMM).

    The project partners will investigate the potential for hull form optimization, improved cargo handling and management systems as well as machinery systems integration using the DNV GL COSSMOS tool, the classification society said.
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    Brazil bars Skanska unit from public tenders in Petrobras probe

    Brazil has banned the local unit of Swedish construction company Skanska AB from doing government work for at least two years, having accused it of involvement in a bribery and kickback scandal, the Ministry of Transparency said on Thursday.

    The ministry said Skanska Brasil Ltda belonged to a cartel that fixed prices on contracts with Petroleo Brasileiro SA . It also said the company paid 3 million reais ($890,000) in bribes to obtain a 1.3-billion-real ($386 million) contract for the expansion of an oil terminal for the state-run company.

    Skanska Brasil has denied being part of the cartel of 20 engineering and construction companies under investigation in the massive corruption scheme that has landed executives in jail and put dozens of politicians under investigation for allegedly receiving bribes and kickbacks.

    Skanska said it had pulled out of Brazil, indicating the ban will not impact its business.

    "Skanska AB made a decision to leave Latin America in 2014 and has since completed its remaining projects and sold all related operations in Brazil," spokesman Edvard Lind said in Stockholm.

    He said Skanska left Latin America because the business there was not profitable and "there is a lack of transparency in the region."

    Skanska is the second engineering and construction company to be penalized as a result of the corruption probe at Petrobras, as the state-controlled oil company is commonly known. Brazilian builder Mendes Junior Engenharia was barred from bidding for government contracts in April.

    Skanska Brasil can lift the ban on public tenders by returning money lost to the state, the ministry said in a statement.

    It said Skanska Brasil had paid bribes through false receipts issued by a front company called Energex, which had no registered employees and operated from a house in the interior of Sao Paulo state where 14 other companies were based.

    The ministry, Brazil's main anti-corruption body, had been called the Comptroller General's office but was renamed by Brazil's new government when interim President Michel Temer took office one month ago.

    Temer's promise to crack down on corruption in Brazil has been clouded by allegations that senior members of his ruling PMDB party have sought to obstruct the sprawling Petrobras investigation called "Operation Car Wash."

    Two ministers quit in Temer's first weeks in office, including his first pick for minister of transparency.

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    Pemex to seek oil firm tie-up in Trion field: sources

    Mexican state oil firm Pemex will present to its board this week its first possible deep-water tie-up with oil firms in the Trion field, according to people familiar with the matter, another major step in the opening up of its oil and gas industry.

    After its state monopoly was ended in late 2013, Pemex [PEMX.UL] was awarded certain blocks in an oil tender known as "Round Zero" and it is looking for partners to help it develop the so-called "farm outs," which have been plagued by delays.

    The first proposed "farm out" will be focused on the Trion field, located in the Perdido area near the U.S. border, three people familiar with the matter told Reuters.

    The field has proven, probable and possible (3P) reserves of 305 million barrels of oil equivalent (boe).

    As part of the "farm out" process, Pemex cannot choose which company would help it develop each project, but can suggest specific partners with which to work. The ultimate decision lies with oil regulator, the National Hydrocarbons Commission.

    Earlier on Thursday, Marco Cota, director of exploration and extraction of hydrocarbons in the energy ministry, announced that Pemex would present its first tie-up proposal this week, without mentioning which field it would target.

    "It'll be taken to the board, and one of the themes will be the migration of one allocation ... a deep-water allocation," he said.

    Since 2014, Pemex has said it is looking for tie-ups in the Trion and Exploratus fields, which are both in the Perdido area.

    Cota said that the aim was for this Perdido "farm out" to take place at the same time as a major deep-water tender later this year.

    Mexico's oil regulator has scheduled its first-ever deep water auction in early December for 10 blocks in the Gulf of Mexico, after constitutional amendments in 2013 ended a nearly eight-decade monopoly by Pemex.

    The government hopes the oil sector opening will revive oil output in Mexico, which has been falling since 2004.
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    EIA Says NatGas Production Nearly Doubles Next 25 Yrs from Shale

    Over the past five years, the amount of natural gas production has blossomed–because of shale and fracking.

    But according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), you ain’t seen nothin’ yet!

    The EIA predicts natgas production will nearly double over the next 25 years–and almost all of the growth will come from shale.
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    Shale King Hamm Fracking Unfinished Oil Wells After Rally to $50

    Continental Resources Inc. is fracking again.

    Crude almost doubled in the past four months to more than $50 a barrel, enough for Continental to dispatch fracking crews to unfinished wells in the Bakken shale region, where the Oklahoma City-based driller is the largest operator, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Harold Hamm said in interviews with Bloomberg News and Bloomberg TV in New York on Thursday. Those wells had been left uncompleted as swooning crude prices last year forced explorers to halt projects to conserve shrinking cash flows.

    Hamm, who has taken a high-profile -- though informal -- role advising Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump on energy policy, said the oversupply of crude that crushed oil prices and pushed dozens of U.S. explorers into insolvency has disappeared. Supplies will fall short of demand by as much as 2 million barrels a day next year, adding impetus to the ongoing crude rally, he said. By the end of 2016, WTI could hit $70, he said.

    Oil Fracklogs

    Oil needs to exceed $60 before the company Hamm founded and controls as majority stakeholder would deploy rigs to drill fresh wells, the billionaire wildcatter said. Fracturing oil-soaked rocks with high-pressure jets of water and sand -- or fracking -- is typically the final and most expensive step involved in completing a shale well.

    “That has started,” Hamm said, referring to the fracking of unfinished wells. “We’d need to see WTI north of $60 before we ever thought about adding drilling rigs.”

    Most Bakken shale drillers will start completing their backlogs of unfinished wells when crude reaches the $55 to $60 range, Peter Pulikkan, a Bloomberg Intelligence analyst, said in a note on Thursday, citing a presentation last month by Lynn Helms, North Dakota’s top oil regulator.

    At the end of 2015, there were 4,290 uncompleted wells in the U.S., and almost 30 percent of them were confined to two shale regions: the Bakken in and around North Dakota and the Permian in West Texas and New Mexico, according to data compiled by Bloomberg Intelligence.

    The rebound in oil prices and tightening supply-and-demand balance probably means the wave of bankruptcies among U.S. shale producers is ending, Hamm said. He sees the global oversupply turning into a deficit, which “is going to add a lot of upward pressure quickly,” he said.

    Attached Files
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    Marathon Petroleum, U.S. reach agreement on refinery pollution

    A subsidiary of Marathon Petroleum Corp will spend about $334.6 million on pollution abatement at refineries in five states and pay a $326,500 civil penalty, the Justice Department and Environmental Protection Agency said on Thursday.

    The agencies said Ohio-based subsidiary Marathon Petroleum Co will spend $319 million to install state-of-the-art Flare Gas Recovery Systems and $15.55 million on projects to reduce air pollution at three facilities.

    They said the settlement was filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Detroit and amends a 2012 consent decree involving the company's flares.
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    U.S. weather forecaster sees high chance of La Nina developing

    A U.S. government weather forecaster on Thursday maintained its projections for the La Nina weather phenomenon to take place in the Northern Hemisphere later this year, as El Nino conditions dissipated.

    The Climate Prediction Center (CPC), an agency of the National Weather Service, in its monthly forecast said La Nina is favored to develop during the summer and pegged the chance of La Nina developing in the fall and winter 2016-17 at 75 percent.
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    Base Metals

    Copper Is Crashing Again...

    Dr.Copper is sick again as the almost unprecedented surge in inventories, that we detailed previously, continues to pressure the economic metal to its lowest levels since January...

    Copper held in Asian warehouses tracked by the London Metal
    Exchange jumped 50 percent in the past two days, the most in seven

     Supplies are moving to Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan from China,
    where stockpiles tracked by the Shanghai Futures Exchange have almost
    halved since mid-March.

    Base metals are still trading at "relatively low levels," Jens
    Naervig Pedersen, a senior analyst at Danske Bank in Copenhagen, said by e-mail. "Uncertainty over the outlook for global manufacturing is outweighing the positive effect of the lower dollar," he said.

    Whether this is more CCFD unwinds or the hangover from the massive
    speculative bubble of the last 3 months is unclear but the inventory
    spike in almost without precedent.
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    Lundin mulls interest from multiple parties on Tenke copper mine

    Lundin Mining is weighing interest from "multiple parties" for its stake in the Tenke Fungurume copper mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo, CEO Paul Conibear said on Thursday. In June, 

    Tenke mine operator Freeport-McMorRan Inc agreed to sell its majority stake to China Molybdenum for $2.65-billion to help cut its debt.  Lundin has a 24% stake in the mine and the right of first offer on any sale. Last month it hired the Bank of Montreal to help it consider its options. 

    Freeport owns 56% of Tenke, one of the world's largest copper deposits. Congo's state mining firm Gecamines owns a 20% stake. Lundin could do nothing and allow the China Moly deal to proceed, supplant the offer, or sell its stake. "We've been pleased by the response on interest, on a number of these scenarios. There are multiple parties interested," Conibear said in an interview at the company's office. 

    "We've been busy and BMO's been busy, very busy. It's obviously not an easy process, the DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo) is a more challenging environment and Tenke's a really big operation. But we've had very credible interest." Lundin has until August 8 to decide. 

    "It's obviously our highest priority to evaluate these things in a relatively short period of time and make some decisions," Conibear said. Mounting a bid, either independently or as part of a group, is the most complex move, he said. There are variations of each of its three options. He would not comment on which is preferable or whether Lundin's right of first offer can be transferred. 

    Separately, Conibear said Lundin would not get involved in Nevsun Resources' planned takeover of Reservoir Minerals. Reservoir owns a copper/gold project in Serbia under a joint venture with Freeport. Nevsun said in late April that it would buy Reservoir for $365-million, trumping an offer Lundin announced in March to buy part of Freeport's stake for up to $262.5-million.
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    Steel, Iron Ore and Coal

    Germany's Gabriel rejects calls to focus on exit from coal

    Germany's economy minister on Thursday rejected calls for Europe's largest economy to focus on ending coal use in the way it plans to quit nuclear energy.

    "I will not call for a commission to deal with a coal exit," Sigmar Gabriel told a conference of some 1,400 delegates mostly representing power utilities.

    "My proposal would be for one to deal with the question how we create a modernisation shift in our macroeconomy out of the need to protect the climate."

    He said such a forum ought to link discussions about economic growth and social issues with the need to further develop Energiewende, Germany's drive towards a decarbonised economy.

    "We cannot reduce all that to the coal question," Gabriel said.

    Following the Fukushima disaster in 2011, Germany shut 40 percent of its nuclear capacity immediately and announced it would exit nuclear completely by 2022, earlier than previously planned.

    Calls have grown for Germany to set out a timetable for a withdrawal from coal in power production as well.

    A draft economy ministry document last month showed plans to end coal-fired power generation, the most carbon-intensive form of energy, "well before 2050".

    Domestic hard coal mining will cease in 2018 and Germany's coal miners and users expect the country's last brown coal mines to close by around 2045.

    Utilities such as E.ON and RWE plan to close several old coal-fired power plants in the coming years and will move 2.7 gigawatts (GW) of brown coal plant capacity into a reserve scheme later this decade.

    They also stress that the simple fact that it is difficult to profit on generating power from coal will speed its demise.

    "Coal is losing in importance, but (that means) we will have to talk about industrial growth and social compensation," Gabriel said.

    Government would need to create alternative business opportunities to safeguard jobs and tax revenue in affected areas, he said.
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    Brazil police say Samarco ignored risk of dam collapse

    Brazil police say Samarco ignored risk of dam collapse

    Brazil's federal police accused on Thursday mining company Samarco, a joint venture between Vale SA and BHP Billiton, of willful misconduct in relation to a deadly dam burst last November, saying the company had ignored clear signs the dam was at risk of collapsing.

    Police said Samarco had skimmed on safety spending, focusing instead on increasing production despite obvious indications, such as cracks, that the dam was in danger of a breach.

    As well as Samarco, police accused Vale because it deposited its own mining waste in the dam, and VogBR, the service company that checked the safety of the dam. Eight executives were also accused, although their names were not disclosed by the police.

    Samarco said in a statement it rejected any speculation that it was aware of an imminent risk of collapse at the dam, which held waste known as tailings from its iron ore mine.

    "The dam was always declared stable," the company said, adding that increases to the dam's size were done in accordance with the project's design.

    The dam's height was below the size allowed by its licensing when it collapsed, Samarco said.

    All of the accused, excluding one individual, were first informed by the police in January.

    Although the police have not disclosed names, Vale said in a statement it "rejected forcefully the accusations against one employee," saying he was never responsible for the dam's management. VogBR did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

    With the police investigation now complete, the case will be passed to prosecutors to decide whether to press charges.
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    India's steel ministry to seek extension of floor price on imports

    India's steel ministry will seek to extend a floor price on steel imports beyond August, a senior steel ministry source said, as the country looks to keep up its protectionist barriers to stem the tide of cheap foreign products.

    New Delhi imposed the minimum import price (MIP) on 173 steel products in February, helping cut inbound shipments last month to their lowest level in at least 14 months. The MIP expires in August.

    The steel ministry will call for the extension of MIP for as long products are being dumped in India, the official, who declined to be named as he was not authorised to speak to media, told Reuters.

    India is the world's third-largest steel producer with a total installed capacity of 110 million tonnes. But the industry says its margins have been squeezed due to cheap imports from China, as well as Russia, Japan and South Korea.

    To shield domestic mills, India in March extended safeguard import taxes on some steel products until 2018 and has begun probing the possible dumping of cheap steel from China, Japan and South Korea.

    Last month it also imposed a provisional anti-dumping duty on seamless tubes and pipes imported from China.

    Countries including Japan, Taiwan, Canada and Australia have accused India of restrictive trade practices with the country's steel import policies drawing wide criticism at the World Trade Organization (WTO).

    A spokesman for the steel ministry said it was premature to discuss floor prices while the trade ministry, which decides whether MIP remains beyond August, was not immediately available for comment.

    Recommendations that follow detailed investigations are generally accepted by the trade ministry.
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