Pertamina expresses interest in buying Berre-l’Etang refinery in France
Indonesian state-oil company, Pertamina, has delivered a letter of intent to the French Ministry of Industry, expressing its interest in buying Lyondellbasell’s 105 kb/d Berrre-l’Etang refinery is southern France, Bloomberg reports. The plant was mothballed earlier this year, with Lyondellbasell signalling its intention to close it permanently if no buyer was found. Meanwhile, a French court has postponed the deadline for offers for the 162 kb/d Petit Couronne refinery until 5 February, with at least two firms currently expressing interest in the plant. A crude processing deal at the plant with Shell ends on 15 December. The facility’s administrators have requested that the court allows processing to continue past this date, should a new deal be found.
World steel export price edges up
The world hot rolled band export price was up marginally by $8/t from end-October to $542/t, according to the latest SteelBenchmarker from World Steel Dynamics. However, the current price is only $10/t above the year-to-date low seen a month ago and remains $114/t below the year-to-date high in mid-March.
On a more positive note, HRB prices in China (+$25/t to a 4-month high of 523/t) and the US (+$28/t to a 7-week high of $680/t) both continued to move upward. By contrast, the EU price slipped further, with a decline of $21/t from three weeks ago to $591/t.
IEA lowers near-term OECD oil demand outlook
In its latest monthly report, the IEA has revised down its 4q12 global oil demand forecast by 260 kb/d to 90.09 mb/d. This would represent a 340 kb/d increase yoy and a fall of 50 kb/d qoq. The move comes amidst persistent economic weakness in Europe and the negative impact on US demand as a result of Hurricane Sandy. Overall OECD demand in 4q12 is seen falling by 120 kb/d qoq and by 670 kb/d yoy to 46.08 mb/d. Non-OECD demand is forecast to average 44.01 mb/d, representative of a 70 kb/d increase qoq and a 1.01 mb/d increase yoy. Global demand in 2013 is seen averaging 90.42 mb/d, up by 830 kb/d yoy, with OECD declines partially offsetting reasonably strong non-OECD growth.
China’s crude steel production
According to China’s National Bureaus of Statistics, October saw a gain in the country’s crude steel production, up by 2% from the 7-month low in September to 59.1 Mt. This also marked an increase of 8% year-on-year. When combined with October’s steel trade statistics, the latest production figures imply that China’s apparent steel consumption enjoyed the largest year-on-year increase (+6.1%) since October 2011. Given the relative weakness in domestic steel prices such an increase, has been likely exaggerated by inventory changes.
Colombia’s coal exports at 4-month high
Colombian coal exports in October edged higher on September to a 4-month high of 6.78 Mt, trade statistics data shows. Exports to Europe rose to a year-to-date high of 5.36 Mt, while shipments to the Americas slipped marginally 0.12 Mt month-on-month to 1.42 Mt. By contrast, there was no shipment into the Far East for the third time this year and Colombia has not exported any coal to China since May.
October Chinese crude imports reach highest level since May
A second month of robust crude processing levels at Chinese refineries lifted the country’s crude imports to a five-month high of 5.60 mb/d in October, according to the latest data from Chinese customs and the NDRC. Last month’s crude receipts were 0.69 mb/d higher mom and up by 0.68 mb/d yoy. Crude runs of 9.44 mb/d in October were just 0.03 mb/d lower than September’s all-time high and were up by 0.66 mb/d yoy. Having built crude inventories in the first half of year, Chinese refiners appeared to have been utilising these to meet processing requirements, thereby depressing import demand in 3q12. But two months of high crude runs appears to have reinvigorated buying.
Chinese raw materials imports
Chinese iron ore imports of 56.4 Mt in October were down by 8.6 Mt from September, representing the lowest monthly level over the past twelve months, according to preliminary customs statistics. The decline in imports coincided with the country’s national holidays at the beginning of the month. Significantly, however, this year’s figure remained 6.5 Mt above the year-ago level when imports saw a temporary seasonal dip. Year-to-date imports totalled 608.8 Mt, up by 8.9% year-on-year.
Meanwhile, trade data also indicated that the country’s coal imports in the Jan-Oct period were up by 33.5% on the corresponding period last year to 220.0 Mt.
Mexican crude exports up 7.8% yoy in September, shipments to Europe continue to rise
According to the latest data from Pemex, Mexican crude exports averaged 1.34 mb/d in September, broadly stable from a month earlier and up by 97 kb/d yoy. Exports averaged 1.27 mb/d during 3q12, up 55 kb/d mom but down by 32 kb/d yoy. A 100 kb/d yoy drop in shipments to the US, which averaged 1.04 mb/d during 3q12, allowed European buyers to increase imports by 84 kb/d to 180 kb/d. Shipments to Asia during 3q12 were 10 kb/d lower yoy at 52 kb/d.
The USDA grain forecast
Having slashed 12.5 Mt off its US soyabean export forecast for 2012/13 (Oct/Sep) in the three months from June, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has made a second successive upward revision. The USDA now projects 2012/13 soyabean exports at 36.6 Mt compared with its earlier projections of 28.7 Mt in September and 41.2 Mt in June.
The USDA has also raise its wheat export forecasts for Russia and Ukraine in 2012/13 (July/June) from last month by a combined 3 Mt to 16 Mt.
East Australian coal exports rise
Following four consecutive months of decline, October saw a 0.7 Mt of monthly gain in coal shipments from Gladstone to a 4-month high of 5.1 Mt, port authority data indicated. However, this was still 0.6 Mt lower than a year ago. Total exports in the first ten months of this year of 47.1 Mt were 5.4 Mt higher than the corresponding period in 2011.
Meanwhile, combined shipments from Queensland’s main ports Dalrymple & Hay Point remained strong in the same month, edging higher on September to 8.2 Mt. This marked an increase of 1.7 Mt (+26%) year-on-year.
EIA: US gasoline demand falls as Sandy hits, US Atlantic Coast output stable
The latest EIA data show that US gasoline demand fell by 537 kb/d to 8.31 mb/d last week as disruption from Hurricane Sandy hit consumption on the Atlantic Coast (USAC). Despite Sandy forcing USAC refiners to reduce crude runs by 185 kb/d to 757 kb/d, USAC gasoline production was seen as remaining largely stable, down by 82 kb/d to 2.81 mb/d. Gasoline stocks in the region fell by 1.3 MB to 46.6 MB, whilst US inventories rose by 2.9 MB to 202.4 MB, mainly in the US Gulf, reflecting lower shipments from the region to the USAC as pipelines and terminals were taken offline by Sandy. Distillate stocks in the USAC fell by 0.5 MB to 38.3 MB as production fell by 70 kb/d to 237 kb/d and supplies from the USG were reduced. With USG refiners finding alternative export markets in Latin America and Europe, distillate stocks here fell by 1.2 MB to 34.8 MB.
Richards Bay coal exports
Following two consecutive months of decline, October data from the port authority show a modest monthly gain in Richards Bay coal exports, up 0.3 Mt to 5.6 Mt. However, this was running 1.8 Mt below the year-ago level. Year-to-date exports totalled 55.0 Mt, with an increase of 3.8 Mt year-on-year. This took the annualised rate to 66.0 Mt, compared with the terminal’s annual throughput of 65.5 Mt in 2011.
According to latest forecasts from the European Union, the Eurozone’s economy is expected to stagnate in 2013, after contracting by 0.4% in 2012. The European Commission is excepting the German economy to slow further, down to 0.8% in 2012 from 3% last year. Meanwhile, German industrial production shrank 1.8% in September after declining 0.4% in August.
Nexen has confirmed that the 220 kb/d Buzzard field in the North Sea has restarted. The field was expected to return from maintenance at the start of October. The delay saw the deferral of 15 out of the 16 Forties cargoes set for October-loading and the cancellation of one and deferral of at least nine of the 14 scheduled November-loading cargoes, according to Bloomberg.
Bayway restart not for two to three weeks
According to a company statement on Monday, it will be two to three weeks before Phillips 66 restarts its 238 kb/d Bayway, NJ refinery following damage caused by Hurricane Sandy.
Test flows begin along ESPO-2
Transneft has begun test flows along the second phase of the ESPO pipeline that will see East Siberian crude delivered directly to the Russian Pacific port of Kozmino without the need for rail transit, Bloomberg reports. Loading programmes show ESPO exports of around 426 kb/d in December, up from around 391 kb/d in November. The expanded ESPO pipeline has a capacity of 600 kb/d.
South Sudan to resume oil flows this month.
South Sudan will recommence oil production ‘in the next couple of weeks’, according to a government spokesman, Bloomberg reports. Crude flows from the country were halted in late-January amidst a dispute with neighbouring Sudan over pipeline and export fees. The two countries signed an agreement on 27 September that has paved the way towards a resumption of South Sudanese crude output. The Sudanese government has stated that its pipelines and Red Sea export facilities will also be ready to begin shipping crude this month. Following independence, South Sudan has around 370 kb/d of crude production capacity. Sudan’s output is around 120 kb/d.
Port Hedland iron ore exports remain at high levels
Iron ore exports from Port Hedland remained strong in October, up by 10% both month-on-month and year-on-year to reach 21.8 Mt, according to data from the port authority. Shipments to China rose to a new monthly record of 17.6 Mt in October. Year-to-date exports of 204.3 Mt from Port Hedland are running 28.1 Mt above the same period in 2011.
Australian iron ore exports in the 3q12 at new record
September saw Australian iron ore exports reach 43.1 Mt (wet basis), according to trade data. This ensured a record quarterly total of 131.4 Mt in the 3q12, up 8.3 Mt on the corresponding 2011 level. Shipments to China increased by 11.3 Mt year-on-year to 96.3 Mt in the 3q12, offsetting declines in exports to Japan and South Korea.
Japanese September crude imports stable from year ago
Japanese crude imports averaged 3.59 mb/d in September, a 15 kb/d decline from the same month in 2011, according to the latest METI data. Declines in imports from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Iran were offset by a significant rise in shipments from Qatar and higher imports from Indonesia and Vietnam.
Jump In Brazil’s Iron Ore Exports
Brazil exported 32.6 Mt of October, the highest monthly volume of the year, according to trade ministry data. This represents a jump of 4.9 Mt on September (which had marked a year-to-date high) and a year-on-year gain of 4.8 Mt.
October’s strong export volume coincides with an even higher number of spot fronthaul fixtures reported to the Baltic Exchange than in any month during the Capesize market revival of the 2h11.
Despite such robust data for October, year-to-date exports from Brazil are still running 3.4 Mt below the same period in 2011.
No. 2 CDU at Cosmo’s Chiba plant set for mid-January restart
The 120 kb/d No. 2 CDU at Cosmo’s Chiba refinery is set to resume operations in mid-January, Reuters reports. The 100 kb/d No. 1 CDU is scheduled for restart next April. Both units have been inactive since early May, having been taken offline for maintenance. Scheduled restarts were delayed following the discovery of an asphalt leak at the facility in June. Full operations at the plant are not expected until July, as the No. 2 CDU will undergo maintenance once more next spring.
China’s PMI returns above 50-mark
Official data from the National Bureau of Statistics for October finally showed expansion in manufacturing activity in China. The Purchasing Managers Index rose to 50.2 in October from 49.8 in September, standing above 50-mark for the first time since July. A reading above 50 indicates a pick-up activity.
This week, the China Electricity Council predicted electricity consumption would grow by 4-6% annually in the 4q12 as the country’s economy stabilised, according to Chinese media sources. Consumption grew 2.9% year-on-year in September.
Indian crude runs rise 11.4% yoy in September
Indian crude runs averaged 3.45 mb/d in September, up by 360 kb/d from the same month in 2011, according to the latest data from the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas. Government data does not include inputs at Reliance’s second, 580 kb/d, export-based refinery at Jamnagar. Indian oil demand was seen rising by 2.8% yoy last month, according to Reuters.
Japanese industrial production falls further
Japanese industrial production contracted for a fourth consecutive month to the lowest level since April 2011 in September, down 8.1% on an annual basis, official data shows.
Meanwhile, trade data from the Ministry of Finance indicate that the country exported 3.5 Mt of steel products in September, down by 4% on August, but up 7% from a year-ago. Total exports in January to September of this year were barely changed from the corresponding period in 2011, at 31.7 Mt.