South Korea’s imports form the Middle East Gulf rise in January
South Korea’s crude oil imports from its major export sources in the Middle East Gulf in January rose by 386K b/d y-o-y to average 2.36M b/d, Energy Intelligence reports citing data from state oil firm Korea National Oil Corporation. The rise was driven by higher volumes from Iraq, Qatar and the UAE which all saw exports to South Korea increase by more than 100K b/d y-o-y to 342K b/d, 337K b/d and 336K b/d respectively. Imports from the UK dropped by 169K b/d y-o-y to 65K b/d. Notably, South Korea imported 34K b/d from Ecuador compared with nothing during the same month last year.
China’s imports from West Africa fall in January
China’s crude oil imports from West Africa in January fell by 391K b/d m-o-m and 275K b/d y-o-y to average a five-month low of 1.02M b/d, according to the country’s General Administration of Customs. The declines represent the largest m-o-m drop since March 2014 and the largest y-o-y decrease since November 2013. Imports from the Middle East fell by a marginal 7K b/d m-o-m but were up 184K b/d y-o-y at 3.81M b/d. Imports from the Caribbean were up 97K b/d m-o-m and 49K b/d y-o-y, reaching 646K b/d, only slightly below May’s multi-year high of 647K b/d. The region was the only one to experience both a m-o-m and y-o-y increase during the month, with higher volumes from Colombia and smaller exporters to China helping to offset a stagnation in volumes from Venezuela.
Chinese Iron Ore Imports by Source
As previously reported, China imported 78.6 Mt of iron ore in January, down 8.2 Mt year-on-year, according to official data. Despite this, shipments from Australia rose 4.5 Mt year-on-year to 50.0 Mt, although they were still down from December’s all-time high of 52.4 Mt. Imports from Brazil and South Africa fell 0.6 Mt and 1.3 Mt from their corresponding 2014 levels, to 14.9 Mt and 3.3 Mt, respectively. Meanwhile, January cargoes from Mauritania, Liberia and Sierra Leone combined were less than half their year-ago levels at a 13-month low of 1.5 Mt.
Glencore to Cut Australian Coal Production
Glencore has announced it is to cut production at its Australian coal operations by 15 Mt in 2015, with exports set to fall by the same amount. According to a Glencore statement, production decreases will take place at a number of sites and will be achieved through a range of measures with the intention of better matching coal volumes and qualities with current market demand. Glencore’s Australian operations produced 69.5 Mt of coal in 2014, company data shows.
Ukrainian Grain Exports
Ukrainian grain exports have reached 24.0 Mt in the current marketing year commencing July 2014 to date, up slightly year-on-year, according to ministry of agriculture data reported by Reuters. This total includes 9.1 Mt of wheat, 10.8 Mt of corn and 3.9 Mt of barley. The agriculture ministry also said total grain exports for the 2014/15 market year are likely to be in the region of 37 Mt, up from 32.8 Mt in 2013/14.
Steel Trade Update
Japanese steel exports fell 0.4 Mt month-on-month, but were up 0.1 Mt year-on-year, in January at 3.4 Mt, Japan Iron and Steel Federation data shows. Shipments to China and South Korea were down slightly year-on-year, but cargoes to Taiwan saw a small increase.
US steel imports rose to a three month high of 3.9 Mt in January, up 0.6 Mt month-on-month and 0.9 Mt on January 2014, according to official data.
Russian exports of Urals crude set to edge upwards in March
Russian exports of Urals crude oil from its Western ports in March are set to edge upwards, Reuters reports. In the Baltic, loadings from Ust Luga are set to increase by 41K b/d m-o-m to 591K b/d. However, exports from Primorsk are scheduled to decline by 26K b/d m-o-m to 828K b/d. On the Black Sea, volumes from Novorossiysk are expected to rise by 34K b/d m-o-m to 602K b/d. Demand for Urals crude may decline moving forward as European refinery maintenance begins, with Reuters noting that approximately 7% of capacity is expected to undergo turnarounds during the spring.
Venezuela’s El Palito refinery temporarily halts operations
Operations at Venezuela’s 146K b/d refinery El Palito have been halted since Monday due to problems with a compressor and a demineralisation unit, Reuters reports.
US product stocks plunge amid cold weather and refinery disruptions
US gasoline stocks fell by 3.12M bbls w-o-w to 240M bbls in the week ending 20 February, data from the US Energy Information Administration shows. However, stocks were still 9.4M bbls higher than in the same week last year. US West Coast stocks witnessed the greatest nominal w-o-w drop, falling 1.25M bbls to total 30.1M bbls the lowest since December. Meanwhile, US distillate fuel oil stocks slipped 2.71M bbls w-o-w to 124.7M bbls, the lowest since December. The fall was driven by a plunge in US East Coast inventories which dropped 3.27M bbls w-o-w, (the largest weekly fall since January 2014), to 31.8M bbls. The declines follow continued bouts of severe cold weather, which have primarily affected the US East Coast, increasing demand for heating oil and limiting refinery runs in the region. Additionally, labour strikes and refinery malfunctions have hampered oil product supply, with outages reported by Reuters in the US Gulf Coast and US West Coast.
US crude oil glut increases
US crude oil stocks increased by 8.4M bbls w-o-w to a record of 434.1M bbls in the week ending 20 February, according to the US Energy Information Administration. This marks the fifth-consecutive week in which crude inventories have reached a new record. Since the start of 2015 US commercial crude stocks have risen by 51.7M bbls and have averaged 422.7M bbls over the last four weeks, up 61.7M bbls y-o-y. US Gulf Coast supplies experienced the largest nominal w-o-w increase, up 4.29M bbls to 214.5M bbls, the highest since May 2014. Inventories at Cushing, Oklahoma grew by 2.42M bbls w-o-w to a twenty-month high of 48.7M bbls. US refinery crude oil inputs were down 199K b/d w-o-w at an average of 15.2M b/d, the lowest since October 2014. Over the last four weeks, crude runs averaged 15.45M b/d, up 263K b/d y-o-y. US crude imports were up 174K b/d from the previous week at an average of 7.3M b/d.
HSBC Flash China Manufacturing PMI
The HSBC Flash China Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI), compiled by Markit, rose to a four-month high of 50.1 in February, up from 49.8 in January, as the index moved above the 50 benchmark (indicating an expansion in activity) for the first time since November.
Fall in US Steel Price Continues
The US domestic price for hot rolled band (HRB) plummeted to $575/t, down $40/t, in the period between the 11 and 25 February and it has now fallen over $100/t since late December 2014, the latest SteelBenchmarker from World Steel Dynamics shows. This drop helped push the world export price for HRB down $20/t, to $453/t, over the same period. The European HRB price was down $4/t, to $453/t but the Chinese HRB price rose $2/t to $350/t.
South Korean Trade Data
South Korean iron ore imports rose to a three-month high of 6.8 Mt in January, up 1.2 Mt year-on-year and the highest January total on record, according to The Tex Report. In contrast, coal imports (incl. anthracite) were down 0.5 Mt on January 2014 at 10.9 Mt, according to official data. This decline was due to a 1.0 Mt drop in shipments of steam coal and anthracite combined, to 8.0 Mt. Coking coal imports were up 0.5 Mt to a seven-month high of 2.9 Mt in January, with shipments from Australia nearly doubling, to 1.7 Mt, as those from Canada and the US fell.
Indian refiners increase crude runs in January
Indian refiners raised their crude runs in January by 4.7% y-o-y to 19.67MT (4.65M b/d), Reuters reports citing preliminary government data.
US Flash Manufacturing PMI
The Flash US Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI), compiled by Markit, rose to 54.3 in February, up from 53.9 in January and the highest reading since November 2014. Data indicates that production volumes increased at a faster rate in February, but that growth in new order levels was the slowest for 13-months.
Colombian Steam Coal Exports
Despite a 1.2 Mt year-on-year increase in shipments, Colombian steam coal exports fell to a seven-month low of 5.7 Mt in January, according to data from McCloskey. January shipments to Europe were up 0.7 Mt year-on-year at 5.7 Mt, also a seven-month low, while exports to the Americas were up 0.4 Mt at 1.8 Mt.
Russian exports of gasoil hit ten-year high in January
Russia’s exports of gasoil in January hit a ten-year high at an average of 1.26M b/d, Argus reports. The volume is up 349K b/d m-o-m and 313K b/d y-o-y.
Canadian Mainline pipeline system crude volumes hit record high
Canadian pipeline operator Enbridge Inc moved a record 2.2M b/d on its Mainline pipeline system in December and January, Reuters reports citing Chief Executive Officer Al Monaco. The Mainline system ships the bulk of Canadian crude exports to the United States.
Japan’s crude oil imports fall in January
Japanese imports of crude oil in January fell by 7.2% y-o-y to average 3.6M b/d, Reuters reports quoting data from the country’s Ministry of Finance. Meanwhile, Azeri oil exports in January increased by 3.7% y-o-y to 2.8MT (662K b/d), Reuters reports citing data from the country’s State Customs Committee.
World Steel Production
Steel production for the 65 countries reporting to the World Steel Association (WorldSteel) fell by 2.9% year-on-year in January, to 133.1 Mt. The main reason for this decline was an estimated 4.7% drop in output in China, to 65.5 Mt. In the rest of Asia there were declines in Japanese (-4.0% to 9.0 Mt) and South Korean (-5.0% to 5.8 Mt) production, while output in India rose 0.3%, to 7.1 Mt.
Russia was one of the few major steel producing nations to see a strong increase in production in January (+6.0% to 6.1 Mt) as a depreciating Rouble made exports more competitive. In contrast, output in the US grew only 0.4%, to 7.4 Mt.
Steel production in the EU28 fell 1.1% in January to 14.4 Mt, although, this was a smaller decline than in December. There were sharp drops in output in France (-10.6% to 1.3 Mt) and Italy (-11.3% to 1.9 Mt), while production rose slightly in Germany (+0.5% to 3.7 Mt) and Spain saw a strong increase (+11.8% to 1.3 Mt).
India’s crude imports hit eleven-month high
India’s imports of crude oil increased to an eleven-month high of 4.17M b/d in January, data from the country’s Petroleum Planning and Analysis Cell shows. This is up by 192K b/d m-o-m and 504K b/d y-o-y. Oil product exports (the sum of diesel, gasoline, jet and naphtha volumes) declined by 161k b/d to 1.14M b/d, the lowest since August 2014, but this was still up by 218K b/d y-o-y.
US crude stocks hit new record high
US crude oil inventories increased by 7.7M bbls w-o-w to a fourth-consecutive weekly record of 425.6M bbls in the week ending 13 February, according to the US Energy Information Administration. US Gulf Coast inventories jumped 2M bbls w-o-w to total 210.2M bbls, the highest total since May 2014. US Midwest stocks rose by 4M bbls from the previous week to a fifth-consecutive weekly record of 128.1M bbls. Supplies at Cushing, Oklahoma were up 3.7M bbls from the previous week at 46.3M bbls, the highest since July 2013. US East Coast stocks increased by 3.1M bbls w-o-w to 15.3M bbls; the highest total since April 2009 and largest weekly build since September 2012. Total US crude stocks have now increased by 43.3M bbls since the start of 2015. US crude oil imports fell by 181K b/d w-o-w to average 7.1M b/d. US crude refinery inputs dropped 122K b/d from the previous week to average 15.4M b/d.
Japanese Trade and Steel Data
Japan’s coal imports rose to an all-time high of 17.7 Mt in January, up 2.6% year-on-year, according to provisional trade data from the country’s Ministry of Finance. In contrast, iron ore imports fell to a seven-month low of 11.0 Mt, down 9.1% year-on-year.
Japan produced 9.0 Mt of crude steel in January, up slightly month-on-month but down 4% year-on-year, according to the Japan Iron and Steel Federation.
Indonesian Coal Exports
Indonesia exported 408.2 Mt of coal in 2014, down 14.4 Mt year-on-year, according to Bank Indonesia data. Shipments for the month of December were down 3.9 Mt on December 2013 at 34.7 Mt, this was also a drop from the 35.3 Mt of coal exported in November.
Saudi Arabia’s crude oil exports fall m-o-m in December but oil product exports rise
Saudi Arabia’s crude oil exports in December fell by 362K b/d m-o-m and 567K b/d y-o-y to average 6.93M b/d, official data published by the Joint Organisations Data Initiative shows. Total oil product export figures (which include LPG) rose by 172K b/d and 167K b/d y-o-y to average 1.05M b/d. Volumes may rise further in January as exports are boosted by rising cargoes from the recently opened Yasref refinery.