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.
Philadelphia refinery returning to operation after Sandy
PES’ 330 kb/d Philadelphia refinery is restarting units after emerging seemingly unscathed from Hurricane Sandy, Reuters reports. Phillips 66’s Bayway, NJ plant remains offline, however, with reports of some flooding at the site and power not expected to return for 24-48 hours. Hess’ 70 kb/d Port Reading, NJ refinery is also offline having experienced a loss of power, with restart timings unclear. The Colonial product pipeline is reportedly undamaged, although portable generators are being used to resume flows along the line after power was lost along its northern portion. Regional ports with the combined capacity to receive 1 mb/d of imported fuel, according to Reuters, also remain shut.
Japanese coking coal imports at 28-month high
Japanese coking coal imports rose to the highest level since May 2010 to 6.8 Mt in September, according to trade data from the country’s Ministry of Finance. Total imports in the first three quarters were up 6.8% year-on-year to 54.6 Mt. Year-to-date saw an increase in long-haul imports: some 10 Mt of coal was sourced from Canada and the USA.
US Atlantic Coast Refineries Shut Ahead of Hurricane Sandy
Approximately 818 kb/d (63%) of US Atlantic Coast (PADD1) refining capacity has been temporarily shut down ahead of the arrival into the region of Hurricane Sandy, Reuters reports. Precautionary closures are taking place at PES’ 330 kb/d Philadelphia, PA, Phillips 66’s 238 kb/d Bayway, NJ, Hess’ Port Reading, NJ and PBF’s 180 kb/d Paulsboro, NJ refineries. PBF’s 190 kb/d Delaware City plant is reportedly running at reduced rates. Concerns are mounting over the potential for flooding at the refineries, with Sandy’s storm surge forecast to reach as high as eleven feet (3.35 metres). The Colonial Pipeline that transports product from the US Gulf to Linden, NJ is continuing to operate as normal at this stage. A number of other pipelines and oil terminals in the Linden area have been closed ahead of Sandy. Concerns over fuel supply on the US Atlantic Coast are amplified by current low inventories. EIA data show that last week PADD 1 gasoline stocks were down 4.8 MB (9.1%) year-on-year, with distillate inventories 18.8 MB (19.8%) lower than a year earlier.
China’s daily crude steel production
China's daily crude steel output in the 10-days period of 11-20 October is estimated at 1.999 Mt, rising from 1.916 Mt in first ten days of the month and 1.779 Mt a year ago, according to the China Iron and Steel Association. This compares the all-time high of 2.045 witnessed in early May.
French refinery workers set to start strike on 5 November
The French oil workers trade union, CGT, has called for 24-hour rolling strikes, beginning on 5 November, in protest over the potential closure of the Petit Couronne refinery, Reuters reports. The date is the deadline for bids to buy the plant, the absence of which will likely see the plant shut by the end of the year. The strike will impact on operations at French refineries and oil depots. A plan also exists to temporarily blockade the Rubis oil terminal in protest.
The US economy
The US economy grew at an annual rate of 2% in the 3q12, accelerating from the 1.3% growth recorded in the previous quarter, according to data from the Commerce Department.
China’s steel price
The price of wire rod in China slipped marginally from last week to $566/t, according to World Steel Dynamics. This took the monthly average price for October to $570/t, the highest level since July.
Brazil to raise ethanol gasoline blending requirement
Brazil will increase the proportion of ethanol required to be blended into the country’s gasoline from the current 20% to 25% by the end of June next year, Reuters reports. Ethanol shortages saw the mandate cut to 20% in October 2011. Petrobras, the state-oil company, supports higher ethanol blending as it will help reduce its need to import gasoline which is then sold at a loss.
China’s Iron Imports From India Below 1 Mt In September
China imported less than 1 Mt from India in September, underlining the severity of supply restrictions in India, customs data show. Last month’s total of 0.8 Mt compares with 3.5 Mt in the same month last year and a year-to-date peak of 5.0 Mt recorded in May. Total imports from India in January-September were almost 30 Mt below the 2011 pace at just 32.3 Mt.
In contrast, shipments from Australia into China reached an all-time high of 34.5 Mt (+5.6 Mt yr-on-yr), imports from Brazil reached 13.8 Mt (+0.9 Mt) and South Africa supplied 3.5 Mt (+0.8 Mt).
World HRB price remains low
The latest SteelBenchmarker from World Steel Dynamics shows a monthly gain of 5% in the Chinese Hot Rolled Band (HRB) price to a 3.5-month high of $498/t at end-October. By contrast, the HRB price in the US dropped to a 23-month low of $652/t and the EU price slipped 2% to $612/t. As result, the World HRB export price edged lower from a month ago to $534/t at end-October.
EIA data: US crude stocks rise on higher imports
The latest weekly EIA data reveal that US commercial crude inventories rose by 5.9 MB last week to 375.1 MB, up 11.1% from the same week last year and 12.2% higher than the five-year average for the equivalent week. The rise came as imports rose by 476 kb/d on the week to 8.82 mb/d, whilst domestic production and crude inputs at US refineries remained largely stable. Gasoline inventories rose by 1.4 MB to 198.6 MB, with demand sinking by 236 kb/d to 8.49 mb/d, the lowest weekly average since mid-March and 5.7% below the five-year average for the equivalent week. Gasoline imports were stable from a week earlier, down just 4 kb/d to 526 kb/d. Distillate inventories dropped by 0.6 MB to 118.0 MB, down 18.9% yoy and by 20.5% versus the five-year average for the equivalent week.
Shell declares force majeure on Bonny and Forcados crude exports
Shell has declared force majeure on its exports of Nigerian grades, Bonny Light and Forcados, Reuters reports. This is the third time the declaration has been made for Bonny, and follows yet another incident of pipeline theft. Upstream flooding has also contributed to the lower available export volumes. The declaration for Forcados exports also follows pipeline theft. Initial programmes saw Bonny exports planned at 237 kb/d this month, and 175 kb/d in November. Forcados shipments were scheduled at 215 kb/d and 232 kb/d respectively.
US steel imports fall further
Preliminary data from the US Census Bureau indicate that the country’s steel imports fell for a fifth consecutive month to a fresh year-to-date low of 2.2 Mt in September, down 9% from August. However, September’s total was still 8% higher than the year-ago level. Total imports in the first nine months of this year of 23.2 Mt were 3.3 Mt higher than those for the corresponding period last year.
Buzzard restart delayed for third time
The restart of the 220 kb/d Buzzard oil field in the North Sea has been delayed once more, with maintenance now scheduled to end on 23 October, 21 days after the initial restart date, Reuters reports. At least a further two cargoes have been delayed as a result. The field is the main source of crude for the Forties stream, which in turn contributes to the Brent crude marker. The reduced volumes have offered support to Brent prices, despite an oversupply of light crude in the Atlantic Basin.
Coal imports in the Pacific basin
China imported 18.63 Mt of coal (including lignite) in September, down by 1.8 Mt on August and 4.3 Mt on Sept 2011, according to data from the SXcoal. This marked the lowest level since June 2011 and was 8.6 Mt lower than the all-time high witnessed in June.
By contrast, the same month saw a sharp rise in Japanese imports in advance of the introduction of a new environment tax on fossil fuels from 1st October. The country imported 17.4 Mt of coal, up 23% year-on-year to the highest level since July 2008. This was just 0.3 Mt below the record level seen in January 2008.
Global steel output remains flat
Global crude steel production in September was unchanged on August and the year-ago level, at 123.6 Mt, according to latest update from the World Steel Association. Total output in the first nine months of this year only rose marginally by 0.6% year-on-year to 1149.4 Mt.
After hitting an all-time high of 61.7 Mt in July, China produced 57.95 Mt of crude steel in September, with a marginal rise of 0.6% year-on-year. Annual increases have been also seen from the CIS (+5.7% to 9.6 Mt), India (+5.6% to 6.2 Mt) and South Korea (+1.8% to 5.6 Mt). September did, however, see year-on-year declines in steel production from the European Union (-3.9% to 14.1 Mt), the US (-3% to 7.0 Mt) and Japan (-1% to 8.8 Mt).
Keystone pipeline fault reduces flow of Canadian crude to US
A fault has halted flows along TransCanada’s 590 kb/d Keystone pipeline, which carries Canadian crude from the Alberta tar sands to the US Midwest, Reuters reports. The line is expected to be shut for three-days. The stoppage has caused some Canadian exports to back-up, but TransCanada expects ‘normal operations and flows for the rest of October’ once the line has been repaired. US imports of Canadian crude averaged 2.28 mb/d last week, according to provisional EIA data.
Indian iron ore shipments declined further
Iron ore cargoes shipped from India’s major ports in September fell for a fourth consecutive month, down 0.8 Mt month-on-month to a year-to-date low of 0.98 Mt, according to the Indian Ports Association. This was also 3.1 Mt lower year-on-year. Total throughput in January to September this year of 30.8 Mt represents a massive decline of 28.7 Mt year-on-year.
Chinese crude runs hit record high in September
The latest data from China’s National Bureau of Statistics show that the country’s refineries processed 9.47 mb/d of crude oil in September, an all-time high. Last month’s crude runs were 546 kb/d higher than in August and up 650 kb/d yoy. With imports declining yoy in August and September, continued growth in crude runs further suggests that refiners are utilising crude stocks built earlier in the year.
China’s crude steel production at 7-month low
China produced 57.95 Mt of crude steel in September, representing the lowest monthly output volume since February, according to latest data from the National Bureau of Statistics. This compares with a monthly all-time high of 61.7 Mt in July. However, September’s figure was still up marginally (+0.6%) from a year ago.
China’s GDP grew 7.4% year-on-year in the 3q12, against 7.6% in the 2q12. This marked the slowest pace since the 1q09.
Buzzard restart delayed again
The restart of the 220 kb/d Buzzard field in the North Sea has been postponed once again, this time to 19-20 October, Reuters reports. This represents a delay of 15-16 days, something that has seen most of the October-loading Forties cargoes deferred, a number of them into November.
China’s power consumption at 5-month low
According to the National Energy Administration, China’s electricity consumption grew by 2.9% year-on-year to 405.1 billion kWh in September, compared with 3.6% annual growth in August. September’s figure was the lowest monthly power use since April and suggests that industrial activity remained weak amid an economic slowdown. However, the country’s total power consumption in January to September of this year still gained 4.8% from a year ago to 3.69 trillion kWh.