US & Eurozone Economic Growth
The US economy grew at an annual rate of 0.6 per cent in the 1q07, the slowest in more than four years, according to the US Commerce Department. The gain in gross domestic product was down from 2.5 per cent in the 4q06 and has led to some optimism that it may represent the low point for expansion. This follows reports in the past week showing a rebound in durable goods orders and consumer confidence.
Meanwhile, in the 1q07 the Eurozone economy grew by 3 per cent from a year earlier, according to the EU. Growth in business investment spending accelerated to 2.5 per cent in the 1q07, up from 1.5 per cent in the 4q06. That represents the fastest pace since the 2q97.
Azeri Oil Exports Rise In April
Azeri Light exports through the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline exceeded 600k b/d in April to reach another record high, reports Petroleum Argus. Shipments through the line are forecast to surpass 715k b/d in May and remain close to this level in June. This has had a knock-on effect on exports of Azeri crude through the Black Sea port of Batumi, which were down 19.3% on the month at 105k b/d. Total Azeri crude exports rose 2% on the month to 704k b/d. Exports through Novorossiysk will resume in June after halting in April. Total Azeri crude output rose 5% month-on-month to 809k b/d, reports Argus.
Record Australian Iron Ore Exports in April
Australia exported a record 25.3 Mt of iron ore in April, according to the latest trade data. This represents a sizeable increase of 4.7 Mt on the same month last year and also marks a jump from the weather-affected March 2007 export total of 17.6 Mt. The latest data bring the total for the first four months of the year to 86.6 Mt, compared with 77.2 Mt in the same period last year.
US Weekly Gasoline Imports At Third Highest Ever
US gasoline imports grew 315k b/d last week to the third highest weekly average ever of 1.61m b/d and the highest since the week ending 19 May 2006, according to the latest data from the US Department of Energy. This led to a 1.3m bbl increase in stocks to 198m bbl while demand rose 52k b/d to 9.46m b/d. Distillate stocks inched 0.1m b/d higher to 120.4m b/d, with imports only slightly up at 198k b/d, 59% lower than the same week last year. Distillate demand was up 174k b/d to 4.34m b/d. Crude stocks fell 2m bbl to 342.2m bbl as imports slumped 874k b/d to just over 10m b/d, 7.6% lower year-on-year. Refinery utilisation was relatively unchanged at 91.1%.
Japans Crude Imports Fall in April
Japan's crude oil imports fell 14.1% in April year-on-year to 112.97m bbl for the 12th straight month of decline, reports Kyodo News. Imports from the Middle East accounted for 90% of the total, up 1% on the year, for a third consecutive month of increase. Saudi Arabia was Japan's largest oil supplier in April, having supplied 32.27m bbl, 28.1% less than a year ago, with the UAE ranked second with volumes down 10.6% to 28.56m bbl. Levels from Kuwait rose 61.3%to 10.5m bbl. Domestic product output fell 3.4% to 108.8m bbl, with demand down 5.9% to 111m bbl, reports Kyodo.
World Bank Raises Chinese GDP Forecast
The World Bank has lifted its forecast for Chinese GDP growth in 2007 to 10.4% from its previous projection of 9.6%. This compares with expansion of 10.7% in 2006 and growth of 11.1% in the 1q07. If the World Bank's projection is realised, this would be the fifth consecutive year of double-digit growth, according to the Associated Press.
Russia's Crude Exports Set To Fall In June
Russia's seaborne exports are forecast to fall 100k b/d month-on-month in June to just over 3m b/d following the significant increase in Russia's duties on crude exports, reports Energy Intelligence. There was a surge in exports in May to over 3.1m b/d, with the final volume expected to be a record high, as oil companies took advantage of lower export taxes before a rise of over 30% to $27.37/bbl in June and July. Loadings at the Black Sea port of Novorossiysk are set to fall 128k b/d on the month to 777k b/d, the lowest level in recent memory. Volumes from Odessa are expected to drop 56k b/d to 172k b/d, while those from the Baltic's Primorsk are scheduled to rise 54k b/d to 1.59m b/d, reports EIB.
Australian Coal Port Congestion
The SSY Australian Coal Port Congestion Index moved up to 19.5 days from 18.5 days last week, reversing the trend of the last month. According to local sources, there are currently around 70-75 Capesize vessels at anchor off both Australian coal and iron ore ports with a similar number of Panamaxes also waiting to berth. The vessel queue at Newcastle is still around 60 vessels, while approximately 45 ships are reportedly anchored off Dalrymple Bay.
Capacity will be further constrained in the near future at Dalrymple Bay. McCloskey reports that maintenance work will close Berth One at the port from May 29-June 6, while Berth Three will be out of operation until October as a result of port expansion work.
Meanwhile, in a bid to boost shiploading capacity, the port operator at Newcastle, Port Waratah Coal Services, has circulated a list of over 50 vessels deemed to have "poor" loading and/or de-ballasting performances. PWCS has announced these named vessels are no longer suitable for loading at Newcastle from June 7, unless a transitional arrangement is reached.
Angola's Crude Output Set To Rise
Angola's crude output is expected to climb from 1.5m b/d to 1.9m b/d by the end of 2007 as new fields come on stream, rivalling Nigeria as sub-Saharan Africa's largest crude producer, reports Petroleum Argus. It is likely to hit a record 1.7m b/d in July with the start up of the Rosa field in June, while the Dalia field is set to reach a peak of 245k b/d in July. Cargoes are set to be first exported from the Greater Plutonio fields in late August with output set to rise to 220k b/d, while the Jimbao project could start up by December. The new crude supply is offering new trade routes for Angola, with growing demand from China and India and also Europe, the US and Latin America, reports Argus.
Rising Ethanol Production Influences Corn Trade Forecast
Increasing usage of corn for ethanol production appears set to impact corn trade patterns next year, according to the latest projections from the International Grains Council. While world corn trade is forecast at 84.0 Mt for 2007/08 (July-June), which would mark a small fall from the 2006/07 estimate of 84.5 Mt, US exports are expected to decline from this year, while Latin American exports are predicted to climb. US corn exports for 2007/08 are currently forecast at 52.0 Mt, down 5.0 Mt from this year's estimate. At the same time, exports from Argentina are projected at 14.5 Mt (up 3.5 Mt on last year), and forecast exports from Brazil are 6.5 Mt (up 1.0 Mt).
The IGC adds that the amount of US corn forecast for ethanol manufacture in 2007/08 is 86.4 Mt, which represents 32% of total domestic usage and compares with an estimated 54.6 Mt this year.
Double-Digit Economic Growth Predicted For China
China's economy is expected to grow at rates above 10% over the next 2 years according to forecasts from the OECD, reports China Daily. China's GDP is projected to increase 10.4% in 2007 and 2008, with domestic demand set to keep expanding. Growth was 10.7% in 2006, the fourth consecutive year of double-digit growth. The OECD added that the growth rate of China's exports may decrease due to slower world demand and the stronger Chinese currency over the next 2 years. However, an increasing consumption capacity in China's rural areas and the revitalised real estate sector would rapidly expand the domestic demand, reports China Daily.
South Korean 1q07 Coal Imports
The rising trend of coal imports into South Korea continued in the 1q07, according to official customs data. Quarterly imports were 21.0 Mt, up 4.5% on the same period last year. Despite the overall increase, shipments from China, the country's third largest supplier, were down 4% year-on-year to 5.0 Mt. Imports from Indonesia, on the other hand, climbed 14% YOY to 6.4 Mt, while Australian imports remained flat at 7.0 Mt.
India's Product Exports Surge In April
India's oil product exports jumped 89.1% in April year-on-year to 2.71m tonnes, or 0.68m b/d, as an expanded refining sector took advantage of strong regional fuel markets, reports Reuters. In the last year, Essar Oil has started its 210k b/d refinery, although it is not running at full capacity, while Indian Oil Corp doubled the capacity of its Panipat refinery to 240k b/d. The country aims to add 2.14m b/d to its existing 2.98m b/d capacity by 2012. Product imports fell 12.5% on the year to around 1.1m tonnes as kerosene imports dropped 44%. Crude imports rose 34.9% to 10.99m tonnes, or 2.69m b/d. India imports nearly 70% of its total crude oil requirements, reports Reuters.
New Export Tax Regime on Chinese Steel Exports Confirmed
In another move apparently aimed at constraining steel exports, China's government announced the imposition from June 1 of an export tariff of up to 10% on a wide range of steel products, including wire, rods and plate, China Daily reports. At the same time tariffs on semi-finished steel and pig iron exports will be raised from 10% to 15%.
China's Customs Statistics show that in April exports of steel products (including semi-finished products) surged to a new monthly record of 8.0 Mt, some 1.9 Mt more than the previous peak reached in November 2006. The new monthly high for Chinese exported steel occurred in the same month as the government cut export tax rebates on a range of steel products (from April 15).
US Oil Stocks Rise
US gasoline stocks grew another 1.5m bbl to 196.7m bbl, or up 5.7% year-on-year, despite imports falling 233k b/d to 1.3m b/d, 20% lower on the year, according to the latest data from the US Department of Energy. Distillate stores were 0.5m bbl higher at 120.3m bbl, although imports fell 59k b/d to 190k b/d and demand grew 69k b/d to 4.16m b/d. Crude inventories rose 2m bbl to 344.2m bbl after imports rose 560k b/d to 10.89m b/d. Refinery utilisation increased 1.6% to 91.1%.
Russia To Expand Baltic Pipeline System
Russia's government has approved an expansion of the Baltic Pipeline System, which will allow Russian exports to bypass Belarus and go instead to the Baltic Sea port of Primorsk, reports Reuters. The new 1m b/d link, which could be completed in 18 months, comes after the row with Belarus in January which disrupted exports flowing to Europe across Belarus territory. The pipeline will increase shipments from Primorsk to 2.5m b/d from the current 1.5m b/d, strengthening its position as Russia's top oil export outlet. It may lead to the reduction or stoppage of shipments now going through the Druzhba pipeline to Germany, Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic via Belarus, reports Reuters.
Australian Coal Port Congestion
The SSY Australian Coal Port Congestion Index now stands at 18.5 days, holding above 18 days for the thirteenth consecutive week. This has been achieved in spite of a slow decline from the all-time peak of 21.6 days recorded at the end of March. The Hunter Valley Coal Chain Logistics Team, a representative body of port and rail operators, now expects the current queue of around 60 at Newcastle to decrease to 38 by end-June and to 22 by end-July. The vessel queue at Dalrymple Bay remains in the region of 45-50.
Global Steel Output Up 7.6% in April
April world steel production rose 7.6% from the same month last year to 109.3 Mt, according to data from the International Iron and Steel Institute. Chinese steel output hit another record monthly high of 40.3 Mt, up 16.5% year-on-year. Sound YOY growth was recorded in many of the key steel-producing regions such as the EU-25 (+3.5% to 18.5 Mt), the FSU (+4.8% to 10.5 Mt) and Japan (+4.1% to 9.7 Mt), although monthly production in the US suffered another monthly YOY decline (-6.6% to 8.0 Mt).
April Russian Coal Exports
Seaborne exports of Russian coal in April totalled 6.5 Mt, marking a slight decline of 0.1 Mt on the same month last year, with shipments from Black Sea ports down 0.4 Mt year-on-year, according to McCloskey. This brings shipments for the first four months of the year to 23.8 Mt (+0.6 Mt year-on-year). The Financial Times reported at the beginning of May that coal railings through Estonia had been halted following a reported shortage of rolling stock and rail maintenance work. This could impact throughput from the Tallinn-Muuga terminal, which exported 7.5 Mt of coal in 2006.
China Raises Interest Rates
China's central bank is to raise both interest rates and banks' required reserves in an attempt to rein in economic growth, reports Reuters. This is the fourth interest rate rise since April 2006, and the eighth rise in reserve requirements since June 2006. The one-year lending rate will increase by 0.18% to 6.57% and the one-year deposit rate by 0.27% to 3.06%, effective 19 May, reports Reuters.
Baltic Exchange Dry Index Hits New Record
The Baltic Exchange Dry Index climbed to an all-time high on 27 April, breaking the previous high of 6,208 points set in December 2004. The BDI monthly average for April also reached a new high of 5,754 points.
Capesize average time-charter earnings climbed to new highs, exceeding the previous high of $105,520/day. This marked a jump of over 50% from 20 February. Meanwhile, the Panamax market set a new historical high passing the previous peak of late 2004 when average earnings were $51,083/day.
The record market has drawn support from high coal, iron ore and steel markets, with freight rates exaggerated by the effects of severe ongoing congestion at Australia's coal and iron ore ports.
Record Chinese Steel Exports in April
Preliminary customs data from China show that steel exports in April reached a record 7.2 Mt, while imports totalled 1.6 Mt. The new monthly high for Chinese exported steel occurred as the country's government cut export tax rebates on a range of steel products from April 15. By comparison, in April 2006 steel exports (of both semi-finished steel and steel products) totalled 3.2 Mt.
China To Start Filling Second Strategic Oil Reserve
China is to make its first crude fill into its second strategic oil storage facility at Aoshan on the east coast by the end of May as the country continues to boost its emergency inventories despite high oil prices, reports Reuters. The 2m bbl delivery of Middle East crude into Aoshan comes after China finished filling its first 33m bbl facility, part of its target of a 100m bbl storage by end-2008. Over 37m bbl has already been pumped into the first Zhenhai reserve tanks on the east coast, exceeding its capacity thus indicating it has released some stocks back into the market, reports Reuters.
Dalrymple Bay Quota Cut Again
In a bid to alleviate port congestion at Dalrymple Bay (queue reported near 50 this week), shipment quotas under the tonnage quota system have reportedly been reduced again, according to McCloskey. The report states that a further 3 Mt is to be taken off the Q3 allowance (with nearly 2 Mt from the July quota), leaving an annual rate of less than 38 Mt to be exported during the quarter. The move is aimed at reducing berthing delays, but may also lessen vessel demand on the coking coal trade from Australia over this period.
US Oil Stocks Continue To Grow
US gasoline stocks grew another 1.7m bbl last week to 195.2m bbl, but levels remained 5.4% lower year-on-year, according to the latest data from the US Department of Energy. Imports rose 306k b/d to over 1.5m b/d, the highest since the week ending 26th May 2006, and 5.4% higher on the year, while demand was up 60k b/d to 9.4m b/d. Distillate inventories rose 1m bbl to 119.8m bbl while imports dipped 78k b/d to 249k b/d and demand fell 42k b/d to just over 4m b/d. Crude stocks were up another 1m bbl at 342.2m bbl, despite imports falling 659k b/d to 10.3m b/d. Refinery utilisation continued to improve slightly, rising to 89.5%.