US Crude Output Set To Fall in 2007
US crude production is expected to drop 0.6% in 2007 to 5.1m b/d but rise 4.3% in 2008, according to the latest Short Term Energy Outlook from the US Department of Energy. US demand is expected to rise 1.5% and 1.3% p.a. in 2007 and 2008 respectively, with gasoline consumption forecast to grow 1.2% p.a, reflecting continuing economic growth. Average gasoline demand during the summer season (April-Sept) is forecast to be 9.5m b/d, 1.2% higher on the year. Distillate demand is projected to rise 2.1% in 2007 (to 4.26m b/d) and 1.6% in 2008.
Chinese Iron Ore Imports Exceed 35 Mt in March
Preliminary customs data from China show iron ore exports of 35.62 Mt in March, representing massive year-on-year growth of 21%. This compares with February imports of 29.7 Mt and has contributed to congestion at Australian and Brazilian iron ore load ports. The March total is over half of the import total for the entire 2000 calendar year, highlighting the huge expansion in China's steel sector in recent years.
China's Crude Imports Rise In March
China's crude imports rose 9% in March year-on-year to average 3.28m b/d, 110k b/d higher on the month, according to preliminary data from the China's Customs Statistics. Total imports for the 1Q07 averaged 3.23m b/d, 6.9% higher than the 1Q06. Product imports were down 4% on the year at 691k b/d, but rose 93k b/d from February. 1Q07 volumes were 2.6% lower than 1Q06 at an average 648k b/d. Product exports were up 33% on the year at an average 352k b/d, taking the total for 1Q07 to an average 314k b/d.
March World Oil Demand Up Marginally On A Year Ago
World oil demand in March was up only marginally (0.17m b/d) year-on-year at 85.56m b/d, reports Energy Intelligence. Healthy growth was reported for the US and OPEC - up around 300k b/d - and for
China, which registered a 200k b/d increase. This was offset, however, by a 570k b/d drop in OECD Europe demand and a 200k b/d decline OECD
Asia consumption. For Q107 as a whole, global oil demand showed only a 0.6% year-on-year increase at 85.56m b/d.
US Gasoline Stocks Down, Crude Up
US gasoline stocks plummeted another 5m bbl last week to 205.2m bbl, the eighth consecutive weekly decline, taking levels 3% lower year-on-year, according to the latest data from the US Department of Energy. Imports fell 125k b/d to just over 1m b/d while demand was up 241k b/d at 9.49m b/d, 4.7% higher on the year. Distillate inventories were relatively unchanged at 118m bbl, with imports rising 26k b/d to 375k b/d and demand down 60k b/d at 4.29m b/d. Crude stocks grew 4.3m bbl to 332.7m bbl but remained 3% down on the year as imports rose 613k b/d to 10.25m b/d. Refinery utilisation remained at 87%.
Japanese Steel Production
According to the demand survey by Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade & Industry, crude steel output in Japan is forecast to reach 29.45 Mt in the 2q07. This is 0.48 Mt more than same time last year and 0.15 Mt more than in the 1q07. The proposed rise in steel production would imply further upward pressure on seaborne iron ore and coking coal imports. Japanese steel production totalled 116.2 Mt in 2006, 3.8 Mt more than the previous year.
Angola Slows Crude Output Growth
Angola is set to lift its crude production from 1.5m b/d to 1.9m b/d by the end of this year, rising to 2m b/d in 2008, reports Petroleum Argus. The next increase in Angolan output will come from BP's 220k b/d Greater Plutonio field, due online in June. Although Angola was expected to lift capacity to almost 2.5m b/d in 2010 and 2.6m b/d in 2012, it now intends to keep output at 2m b/d in order to fit into a new OPEC production ceiling when the organisation meets in September, reports Argus. OPEC's next scheduled regular meeting is expected to incorporate Angola into the group's production system for the first time since the country joined at the start of the year. China is currently the biggest buyer of Angolan crude, reports Argus.
SSYs Atlantic Capesize Index Rises to Record Level
SSYs Atlantic Capesize Index has risen to a new record high of 19,882 points, some 225 points above the previous peak of December 2004. Freight rates in this basin have remained firm despite some cargo stems reported to have been split into Panamaxes. Transatlantic round voyage time charter earnings for a 172k dwt vessel remain in the region of $105,000/day while fronthaul earnings are around $115,000/day.
Colombian and Venezuelan Coal Exports
Coal exports from Colombia could potentially rise to 68.6 Mt in 2007 following exports of 58.3 Mt last year, McCloskey reports. The 2007 total is based on producer targets and is therefore subject to market conditions in the remainder of the year, but does emphasise the available production capacity. Producer forecasts for Venezuelan coal shipments, meanwhile, are 9.1 Mt in 2007 compared with actual exports of 7.8 Mt during 2006.
French Terminal Strike Ends
The 18-day strike at oil terminals in Fos-Lavera that blocked 63 vessels came to an end on 31 March, reports Bloomberg. The Marseille port says it will take 2 weeks to unload the stranded vessels. 39 vessels are still waiting to be unloaded, including 27 oil carriers, 6 arrived last night. A total of 26 ships were unloaded over the weekend, including 15 oil carriers.
IGC Lifts World Grain Trade Forecast
The International Grains Council has raised its world grain trade forecast for 2006/2007 (July/June) to 215.0 Mt, 2.3 Mt more than last year. This is mainly the result of record shipments of maize, which are offsetting declines in wheat and barley. The latest forecast is 1.8 Mt more than in February, largely due to higher wheat exports from Kazakhstan (+1.2 Mt month-on-month) and increased estimates for maize imports by the EU (+0.5 Mt), South America (+0.3 Mt) and Near East Asia (+0.4). With three months remaining in the current marketing year, the grain shipments, particularly from Latin America, are set to boost Panamax cargoes in the 2q07.
Meanwhile, the US Department of Agriculture published its annual spring-plantings report and Bloomberg reports that US farmers will plant the most acres of corn since World War II (+15% y-o-y) and will reduce soybean plantings, following record ethanol production, which boosted corn prices to a 10-year high.
Japan's Crude Imports Down In February
Japan's crude imports in February averaged 3.79m b/d, 12.1% lower year-on-year and 12% down on the month, reports Platts. Saudi Arabia regained its position as the largest crude exporter to Japan in February having supplied 1.11m b/d, up 19.3% from January, and representing 26.7% of Japan's total crude imports during the month. The UAE was pushed back into second place having supplied 1.01m b/d, down 16.6% on the month and 3% lower on the year, accounting for 26.7% of the total import. Volumes from Iran fell 15% on the month to 413k b/d, 31.1% down on the year. The Middle East accounted for 88.1% of Japan's total crude imports in February, up 0.4% year-on-year, the first year-on-year rise in imports from the Middle East in 6 months.
Vessel Queue at Newcastle Forecast to Rise
According to the latest estimate by the Hunter Valley Coal Chain logistics team, the vessel queue at Newcastle is expected to increase to 78 by early April, despite introduction of the amended tonnage quota system from April 1, reports McCloskey. The HVCC attributes the rise to an increase in vessel nominations from shippers and expects a vessel queue above 75 to be reached in the first ten days of April based on nominated vessels. The latest vessel queue is reported at around 67 (61 a week earlier). The SSY Australian Coal Port Congestion Index, which measures average berthing delays at all coal ports in Australia, reached a record 21.6 days at the beginning of the week.
World Oil Tanker Trends
Oil agencies are bullish on global consumption for 2007 and non-OPEC crude supply is set to expand. But while the demand-side fundamentals look firm, OPEC cuts have found considerable compliance to new targets and rapid fleet growth plus some economic uncertainties are likely to influence oil tanker freight rates this year and into 2008.
In its latest publication of World Oil Tanker Trends, (WOTT), SSY studies the issues that contributed to the market patterns of 2006 and examines the conflicting pressures now facing the tanker markets through the medium term.
For this edition of the WOTT, SSY has expanded its coverage of the renewable energy and chemical tanker markets. SSY leads the report on the burgeoning bio-fuel sector and its potential impact on the tanker sector.
The report also reviews the LNG and LPG markets of 2006 and outlines expected market conditions for the next few years. While cargo supply and demand is on the rise, as with the tanker sector, record fleet growth awaits in 2007 and 2008.
World Oil Tanker Trends is available from SSY consultancy & Research in hard copy and email format for an annual subscription of
US Steel Imports in February
According to preliminary data from the American Iron and Steel Institute, US steel imports declined in February to 2.40 Mt from 2.44 Mt in the previous month, but remain at a historically high level. The majority of imports were sourced from China (0.30 Mt), the EU-27 (0.29 Mt) and South Korea (0.15 Mt). This is the ninth consecutive month when China was the first or second largest foreign supplier of steel to the US market. The AISI continues to emphasise the need to strengthen trade laws against subsidised imports.
US Oil Stocks Fall
US gasoline stocks dipped another 0.3m bbl last week to 210.2m bbl, the seventh consecutive weekly decline, despite a 331k b/d rise in imports to 1.13m b/d, according to the latest data from the US Department of Energy. Distillate inventories were down 0.7m bbl at 118m bbl, 4.9% lower year-on-year, regardless of a 128k b/d rise in imports to 349k b/d and a 114k b/d fall in demand to 4.35m b/d. Crude stocks were down 0.9m bbl at 328.4m bbl, 3.6% lower on the year, as imports fell 786k b/d to 9.63m b/d. Refinery utilisation continued to recover slightly, up 0.7% at 87%.
French Port Strike Adds To Output Cuts
Almost 6% of European refining capacity is now shut is as the French port strike adds to output cuts due to planned maintenance work at plants across Europe, reports Reuters. The 15-day strike at Fos-Lavera has cut 130k b/d of the total 16m b/d refinery capacity, while 805k b/d is shut in due to turnarounds. The output cuts further limit Europe's ability to export gasoline to the US, reports Reuters.
Faster Economic Growth for Asia
The latest forecast by the Asian Development Bank expects Asian developing economies to grow by 7.6% in 2007, faster than an earlier forecast of 7.1%. This is due to stronger consumer spending, which offsets weaker exports, reports Bloomberg. While growth remains strong, it is down from an exceptionally strong growth of 8.3% in 2006. Asian expansion continues to be driven by China (+10%, compared with 9.5% six months ago) and India (8%, compared with 7.8%), the two fastest-growing major economies in the world. The ADB expects the region's growth to increase to 7.7% in 2008.
French Port Strike To Continue
Workers at oil terminals in Fos-Lavera have voted to continue a 2-week strike for at least another day, reports Bloomberg. The strike began on 14 March and has left 51 ships, including 28 oil tankers, waiting to unload at Europe's second-biggest oil-import hub. Shipping rates have increased as a result due to bottlenecks reducing the availability of vessels in the region. France's petroleum industry body UEIP said Tuesday that the strike could force refineries dependent on the oil hub to stop output at the weekend if it continues, reports Reuters. Total SA, has cut output by a third at the 120k b/d Feyzin refinery near Lyon due to a disruption to crude oil deliveries, reports Bloomberg.
IISI Short Range Outlook
According to the Short Range Outlook 2007-2008 forecast released by the International Iron and Steel Institute, world steel demand is predicted to grow by 5.9% in 2007 to 1,179 Mt, following an extremely strong 2006 (+8.5%). China continues to drive global steel demand, with growth this year projected at 13.0% and accounting for 34.0% of the world total steel demand. Strong growth is expected in Africa (+6.9%), South America (+6.1%) and Middle East (+9.1%). However, negative growth is expected in NAFTA (down 3.1% from last year's 11.1%), while growth in the EU-27 is expected to only increase by 1.5%, compared to 11.2% growth last year. Looking forward to 2008, the IISI expects global demand to further increase by 6.1% to 1,250 Mt.
Venezuela and China To Create Joint Oil Ventures
Venezuela is planning to form a joint venture with China in an attempt to break the country's dependence on oil exports to the US, reports Reuters. The China National Petroleum Corp. is to develop heavy crude oil production in the Orinoco Belt and co-operate with Venezuela in building 3 refineries in China to process 800k b/d of Venezuelan crude. President Hugo Chavez also hopes to build a "super fleet" of crude tankers that would run the China-Venezuelan routes, as well as operate in the Caribbean and take shipments to Africa. The country hopes to send 1m b/d to China by 2012 up from about 160k b/d now, reports Reuters.
Lower US Economic Indicators
According to a survey released by the Conference Board, a New York-based research group, US economic indicators in February experienced the sharpest decline in a year. Bloomberg reports that the Conference Board's index of leading economic indicators, which projects the direction of the economy over the next three to six months, decreased by 0.5%, following a 0.3% fall in January. The survey suggests that the steep decline was driven by weakening consumer confidence and a fall in building permits.
S. Korea Crude Imports Fall In February
South Korea's crude imports fell 7% year-on-year in February to 2.49m b/d, with imports from the Middle East dropping 19% to 1.82m b/d, reports Energy Intelligence. Volumes from Saudi Arabia and the UAE, the top 2 suppliers, declined 11.3% and 25.9% respectively. However, imports from Asia rose 47% to 422k b/d, with Malaysia increasing shipments by 41% to 96.5k b/d and Indonesia raising levels 57% on the year to 66k b/d.
Mexican Oil Production Steady
Mexican oil production held steady in February at 3.55m b/d, while crude exports rose nearly 200k b/d month-on-month to 1.77m b/d, as more Maya grade went to the US and Europe, reports Energy Intelligence. Exports to the US were still significantly lower than last year, when increased volumes were being used to replace USG production lost to the hurricanes. Oil exports were down 17% on the year for the first 2 months of the year, while production was down 6%.
AUSTRALIAN PORT CONGESTION
The Hunter Valley Coal Chain Logistics Team's vessel queue forecast at Newcastle for end-March has been revised down. At the beginning of this month the HVCCLT, which represents rail and port operators for Newcastle, expected the queue to reach approximately 90 ships. However, with the queue last reported at 61 and interim authorisation for a new tonnage allocation system commencing April 1 recently granted by Australia's competition regulator, the queue is now projected at 70. The HVCCLT adds that while current producer arrival forecasts for April suggest the queue will not fall below 60, the HVCCLT's opinion is that the proposed new tonnage allocation system will mean it is "unlikely that the forecast arrivals will be realised."
Earlier this month the vessel queue reportedly reached a new high of over 70. The SSY Australian Coal Port Congestion Index, which measures average berthing delays at all coal ports in Australia, this week climbed to a record 20.9 days.