Iraqi's Crude Exports Rise In August, Further Rises Expected
Iraq's crude oil exports rose 18% in August month-on-month to reach just over 1.7m b/d, up from 1.46m b/d in July and well above an initial estimate of 1.37m b/d, reports Energy Intelligence. September exports, still all from southern Basrah fields, are forecast to reach nearly 1.73m b/d, with additional exports not on the schedule expected from northern Kirkuk fields, which could take the total export volume for September to a post-war high of at least 1.8m b/d. According to the loading schedule, 927k b/d will go to Asia, up from 587k b/d in Aug, while shipments to the Americas will fall to 633k b/d from 903k b/d in Aug. Cargoes to Europe are also set to decline from 226k b/d to 167k b/d in Sept, reports Energy Intelligence.
Colombian Coal Shipments Decline
Coal exports from Colombia in January-July 2006 totalled 31.5 Mt, 0.4 Mt lower than the same period last year, reports McCloskey. Industrial action at La Loma mine has partly contributed to this decline. Exports to Europe were down 0.7 Mt, while shipments to the Americas, mainly to the US, climbed to 14.6 Mt (up 0.2 Mt YoY).
Meanwhile, coal shipments from Venezuela during January-July 2006 reached 4.7 Mt, 0.2 Mt more than same time last year, reports McCloskey. Exports in July were 0.8 Mt, the highest since January 2005. As with Colombia, shipments to Europe during this period dropped (to 1.3 Mt from 1.5 Mt in 2005), while exports to the Americas grew (up 0.33 Mt), with the majority of growth coming from the US (rising to 2.6 Mt from 2.3 Mt last year).
Japan's Crude Imports Down In July
Japan's crude imports were just over 4m b/d in July, down 86k b/d, or 2.1%, year-on-year, with the strongest declines seen from the Neutral Zone and Iran, reports Energy Intelligence. Volumes from Iran dropped 26% on the year to 410k b/d while the Neutral Zone saw a fall of 33% to 73k b/d. In contrast, imports from the United Arab Emirates surged 41% to 1.13m b/d while levels from Qatar rose 21% to 468k b/d to become Japan's third highest crude supplier above Iran.
More Wheat Imports for India
Due to falling wheat stocks in India, the State Trading Corporation has announced a new tender for 1.67 Mt of imported wheat yesterday, reports Reuters. According to the Food Ministry, estimates for wheat stocks as of August 1 were 7.33 Mt, compared to 12.9 Mt last year. As a result of a poor crop, India started purchasing wheat in March for the first time in six years and had contracted 3.83 Mt before this week's announcement. Last week, the International Grains Council raised India's wheat import forecast for 2006/07 (July-June) to 4.6 Mt, compared with the 2005/06 estimate of 0.5 Mt.
US Crude Imports Reach Second Highest Weekly Level
US crude imports reached the second highest weekly average ever last week at nearly 11.2m b/d, having risen 956k b/d from the previous week, according to the latest data from the US Department of Energy. This helped crude inventories increase by 2.4m bbl to 332.8m bbl, 3.6% higher year-on-year. Gasoline stocks rose 0.4m bbl to 206.2m bbl, 6.1% higher than the same week last year, despite a 141k b/d fall in imports to under 1.18m b/d. Gasoline demand was up 39k b/d at 9.61m b/d. Distillate stocks grew 1.3m bbl to 136.8m bbl, the highest since the week ending 10 Feb 2006, regardless of a 161k b/d fall in imports to 360k b/d and a 131k b/d rise in demand to 4.24m b/d. Refinery utilisation inched up to 92.9%.
Second Highest Monthly Steel Import Total for the US
The US imported 3.8 Mt of steel in July, the second highest monthly total, according to data from the American Iron and Steel Industry. This sets the January-July 2006 total at 24.3 Mt, 38% more than during the same period last year. Much of the year-on-year rise was due to increased imports of finished steel products from China, South Korea, Japan and Taiwan, which collectively accounted for 5.9 Mt (+2.5 Mt YoY) in the first seven months of 2006. Louis Schorsch, chairman of the AISI, noted that the record import tonnages are a "concern to America's world class steel industry, because they are coming in the face of rising inventories at the consumer level and slowing economic growth".
Russian Coal Exports Rise
Coal exports from Russia reached 43.1 Mt during January-July, 5.7 Mt more than during the same period in 2005 (excluding cross-border trade), according to McCloskey's Coal Report. While shipments from Russian ports in Asia (+0.4 Mt) and in the Black Sea (+1.1 Mt) rose, Murmansk and the Baltic contributed the majority of the year-on-year growth. Shipments from Murmansk reached 6.8 Mt during the first seven months, 8% more than same period last year, while throughput at Tallinn (Muuga) jumped to 4.1 Mt from 1.7 Mt. Ust-Luga also saw a strong increase this year to 1.4 Mt, compared with 0.4 Mt in January-July 2005.
Sharp Decline of Home Sales in the US
Data from the National Association of Realtors in the US show that sales of existing homes in July fell sharply by 4.1% from June, marking the fourth consecutive monthly decline, reports the Financial Times. July's level is the lowest since January 2004 and has prompted further concern of an economic slowdown. The number of new residential sales declined by 4.3% from last month and is 21.6% below the estimate for July 2005, according to US Census Bureau data released today.
The five-year housing boom has been one of the factors behind the solid US economic growth. A slowing housing market may also impact some dry bulk trades such as imports of steel and cement into the US.
Strong Economic Growth in France in 2Q06
France experienced its fastest economic growth in almost six years during the second quarter of 2006 due to increases in business investment and strong household spending, reports Reuters. According to the French finance minister, the economy expanded by 1.1% between April and June (from 0.5% during 1Q06) and the gross domestic product of the eurozone's second largest economy is likely to grow by 1.9% for 2006 as a whole.
Meanwhile, investor confidence in Europe's largest economy, Germany, dropped to a five-year low. The ZEW economic sentiment index fell sharply by 20.7 points to minus 5.6 points in August, reports the Financial Times. Despite strong GDP figures last week showing economic growth at its highest rate for five years at 0.9% during 2Q06, German investor sentiment in the last few weeks has been affected by rising concerns of slowing US economy and the stronger euro, implying a possible economic downturn in the next six months.
US Crude Stocks Down, Gasoline Up
US crude stocks dipped another 0.6m b/d last week to 330.3m bbl, but remained 2.3% higher year-on-year, according to the latest data from the US Department of Energy. The fall came despite a 175k b/d rise in imports to nearly 10.2m b/d. Gasoline inventories rose 0.4m bbl to 205.8m bbl, 5.6% higher on the year, regardless of a 64k b/d drop in imports to just over 1.3m b/d and a rise in gasoline demand of 41k b/d to 9.57m b/d. Distillate stocks climbed 2.3m bbl to 135.5m bbl, helped by a 100% rise in imports to 521k b/d, 127.5% higher than year ago levels. Demand also rose by 199k b/d to just over 4.1m b/d. Refinery utilisation increased 1.3% to 92.8%.
Newcastle Coal Shipments Accelerate in August
Coal shipments from Newcastle in the first three weeks of August have accelerated and are ahead of target throughput levels for the first time this year, reports McCloskey. According to PWCS, the port operator, annualised shipments in the first three weeks of August were 86.8 Mt, above the monthly annualised target of 86.6 Mt. Despite a strong performance in July, annualised shipments in January-July 2006 (around 80 Mt) had been behind the target rate. Last week, the vessel queue increased to 16 from 11 a week before, with the estimated average waiting time at 5.6 days.
South Korean Crude Imports Rise In July
South Korea's crude oil imports rose 8.5% year-on-year to 2.33m b/d in July, the fourth-straight monthly rise seen in the world's number-four crude oil importer, reports Reuters. The growth was helped by an 8.1% increase in crude refinery runs. Oil product exports from the country surged 22% to 0.92m b/d in July year-on-year, led by a 16% rise in diesel shipments to 320k b/d. Product exports to the US jumped 174% to 175k b/d, as US refiners built up inventories for summer driving demand and ahead of hurricane seasons. Korean refiners can also meet tight US fuel specifications. Exports to China soared 57% to 270k b/d year-on-year, also to meet the summer driving demand, reports Reuters.
Coal dominates new power generation capacity in Asia and Australasia
The 1h06 experienced a significant increase in the number of power generation projects announced by developers and governments in Asia and Australasia, according to a study from Platts. Due to high oil and gas prices, the amount of proposed new gas-fired capacity appears to have declined in favour of new coal-fired projects. In the 1h06, announced coal-fired projects accounted for more than 57% of the total capacity announced, already exceeding the amount of coal-fired capacity announced in the whole of 2005. The majority of the proposed new capacity is in India and China. Although not all of the announced projects will necessarily go ahead for various reasons, the findings have positive implications for steam coal demand in the Asia-Pacific region in the coming years.
OPEC Output May Fall In 2007
Non-OPEC output in 2007 is expected to rise some 2.1m b/d, while oil demand growth is forecast to be less than 1m b/d, reports Energy Intelligence. This is likely to trigger production cuts from OPEC in early 2007 to prevent the market from over-supply as the group also has nearly 1m b/d of increased capacity in the works. In 2007, global oil demand is projected to rise by 890k b/d to average 85.54m b/d following the 1.26m b/d growth in 2005 and the expected 900k b/d in 2006.
July Chinese Customs Data
Confirmed data from China's Customs Statistics indicate a slight drop in dry bulk imports from June, mainly due to lower iron ore imports. The data also provided further evidence of decreasing coal exports and increasing coal imports: exports in the first seven months of 2006 were 36.6 Mt (down 5.8 Mt yr-on-yr), while year-to-date imports were 20.7 Mt (up 5.7 Mt YOY).
Cement exports from China, one of the factors behind the strong Handymax/Supramax markets this year, reached 3.14 Mt in July, bringing the YTD total to 20.72 Mt, more than double the same period last year. Monthly cement exports have exceeded 3 Mt for the fifth successive month.
Meanwhile, the People's Bank of China has raised interest rates for the second time this year in a bid to constrain excessive investment, Bloomberg reports. The lending rate is now 6.12%, up 27 basis points. The move follows renewed efforts by China's central government to cool investment growth through such measures as rationing bank credit and restricting land supply.
China Buys 14 Angolan Crude Cargoes For September Lifting
China has bought 14 cargoes (roughly 14m bbl) of Angolan crude for Sept lifting, reports Platts. China's appetite for West African crude is expected to increase due to current favourable arbitrage economics, said Platts. According to Energy Intelligence, Asian buying of West African crude fell to 1.02m b/d in Aug, down from 1.1m b/d in July. This is partly due to lower purchases from Chinese refiners reflecting large stock levels in China, as well as Chinese refinery maintenance in July and August.
US Housing Index Hits Low
In the US, the National Association of Home Builders index of builder confidence sunk to its lowest level in 15 years in July, Bloomberg reports. The monthly decline is the seventh in succession and has been attributed to an increase in the number of unsold properties and cancelled orders. Furthermore, a combination of high property prices and the high cost of borrowing are reportedly deterring potential buyers from entering the housing market. US housing sales are now facing the first fall in six years.
An end to the US housing boom may have a direct impact on some dry bulk trades, such as imports of cement into the country, which hit 10.5 Mt in the 2q06, up 12% year-on-year. It would also indirectly affect the seaborne trade as the buoyant housing market has been one of the factors behind the solid economic growth in the US in recent years.
US Gasoline and Crude Stocks Fall
US gasoline stocks dropped another 2.3m bbl last week to 205.4m bbl, but remained 3.7% higher year-on-year, according to the latest data from the US Department of Energy. The fall came despite a 167k b/d fall in demand to 9.53m b/d and a 172k b/d rise in imports to nearly 1.4m b/d, taking levels 42.7% higher on the year. Refinery utilisation inched 0.1% lower to 91.5%. Distillate stocks were up 0.8m bbl to 133.2m bbl, with imports falling 73k b/d to 261k b/d, 63% higher on the year. Demand dropped 118k b/d to 3.9m b/d. Crude inventories declined 1.6m bbl to 331m bbl, but remained 3.1% higher than the same week last year despite being at their lowest since 24 Feb 2006. Import levels dipped 143k b/d to just over 10m b/d.
China's Industrial Production in July
Industrial production in China in July rose by 16.7% year-on-year, compared with rapid growth of 19.5% in June, according to data released by the National Bureau of Statistics. Bloomberg reports that the slower rate of growth was below market expectations and has been attributed to reduced growth in car production and sales following two increases in government-controlled fuel prices this year. However, despite the drop from June, July's rate of expansion is very much in line with the average for the 1h06 and much of 2005.
Australian Iron Ore Exports
Australian iron ore exports reached a record monthly high of 23.4 Mt in June, according to the latest trade data. This indicates a significant increase in shipments from earlier this year (16.6 Mt in January and 18.8 Mt in March). Exports fell sharply in the beginning of the year because of the cyclones that hit western Australia, interrupting production and shipments. The high June total indicates the potential for Australian iron ore exports to grow in the 2H06 and was one of the factors behind the strong Capesize market that month.
Western Half Of Prudhoe Bay To Stay Online
BP has announced that it is to keep pumping oil from the western half of Prudhoe Bay since the pipeline corrosion in the west was less severe, reports Reuters. As of Saturday it was pumping around 150k b/d from the field and is expected to increase output to 200k b/d -- half of full capacity -- after it completes maintenance. The other half of Prudhoe Bay is expected to be offline for months, possibly until early next year.
Nigerian Pipeline Repaired
Royal Dutch Shell has repaired a pipeline in Nigeria that was damaged during an attack last month, allowing 180k b/d of shut Bonny Light oil production to resume, reports Reuters. 8 of the 9 flow stations shut-in as a result of the leak have been reopened, accounting for 173k b/d, but more than 400k b/d -- shut in since Feb - remained offline. Despite the progress, another 4 foreign oil workers were kidnapped in Port Harcourt, Nigeria, on Sunday, bringing the total kidnapping incidents to 5 so far this month, reports Reuters.
Chinese Steel Production
Preliminary Chinese data for July show that crude steel production was 36.0 Mt, slightly down from June's all time record of 36.6 Mt. This may be partly due to a greater producing discipline in the face of weaker domestic steel prices, but it must be stresses that output was still up 23% on July 2005.
Global Oil Demand Steady While Supply Rises
In its latest monthly report the IEA expects global oil demand to remain unchanged at 84.8m b/d in 2006, 1.4% up on 2005, due to strong 2Q Chinese demand being offset by downward adjustments to US data and relative demand weakness in Europe and Japan. The IEA said that world supply grew 615k b/d month-on-month in July to reach 85.5m b/d. However, revisions following the Prudhoe Bay shutdown trim non-OPEC supply by 220k b/d to 51.1m b/d in 2006 and 30k b/d to 53m b/d in 2007. The IEA expects full production from the 400k b/d Prudhoe Bay field to resume from next March following repairs to corroded pipelines. Production is expected to recover to 200k b/d by November if the western half of Prudhoe Bay can be restarted, with levels forecast to reach 300k b/d by March 2007, compared to a previous estimate of 355k b/d for that month.
China's Oil Imports Fall In July
Preliminary data show China's crude imports dropped 12.7% month-on-month in July to just over 2.5m b/d, taking levels 3.9% lower on the year, according to Chinese Customs Data. Crude imports have averaged 2.9m b/d in the Jan-Jul period, up 12.3% on the year. Product imports were down 11.2% from June at 886k b/d but remained 54.6% higher than July 2005. Year to date volumes have averaged 760k b/d, 21% higher than the same period last year.