European Buyers Begin to Take Saudi Special Blends
European oil firms have bought their first cargoes of new Saudi blends, produced as suitable replacements for disrupted Libyan light/sweet stream, Argus reports. A total of 2.3 MB has been sold so far with OMV taking 1.3 MB, and BP taking 1.0 MB. Saudi state oil company, Aramco is marketing two further 1.0 MB cargoes for loading in the next two weeks. Meanwhile, reports have emerged that a tanker will load a 1.0 MB cargo of Serir/Mesla blend crude from the rebel-controlled Libyan port of Tobruk on Tuesday. This will be the first oil sale by the rebel's breakaway firm, the Arabian Gulf Oil Company.
Japanese Firms Boost Sweet Crude Purchases After Earthquake
Japanese companies have increased their purchases of heavy-sweet crude for direct burning, as they look to replace offline nuclear power generation, Argus reports. Tepco has bought Indonesian grades, Mina, Duri, Cinta and Widuri, along with Vietnamese Sutu Den and Sudanese Nile Blend. The extra demand has boosted prices for Asia-Pacific sweet crudes.
Chinese Wire Rod Price
The price of Chinese wire rod rose $9/t in the week ending April 1, to stand at $697/t FOB Shanghai, according to World Steel Dynamics. This is still $27/t lower than the month ago level and $52/t lower than the 30-month high of $745/t set in mid-February.
February Japanese Crude Imports Up 3.4% Year-On-Year
According to the latest data from the country's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, Japan imported 3.88 mb/d of crude oil during February, a 127 kb/d increase from the year before, Energy Intel reports. Top supplier, Saudi Arabia shipped 1.19 mb/d, a 224 kb/d increase yoy. Imports from Russia saw the largest decline, falling by 89 kb/d yoy, to 167 kb/d.
Mexican Crude Output and Exports Down In Feb
Mexican crude production averaged 2.56 mb/d in February, down slightly from the 2.58 mb/d produced a year earlier. Exports posted a larger decline, falling 210 kb/d yoy, to 1.23 mb/d.
China's Purchasing Managers Index
After falling for three consecutive months, China's Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) in March rose to 53.4 from a 6-month low of 52.2 in February, according to the China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing. This was the 25th straight month that the reading stood above the key level of 50 (any reading above 50 indicates an expansion in manufacturing activity).
South Korean Crude Imports Up Year-On-Year
South Korea imported 2.53 mb/d of crude oil during February, a 186 kb/d increase from the same month in 2010, Energy Intel reports. Despite the overall rise, shipments from main supplier Saudi Arabia fell by 61 kb/d yoy, to 758 kb/d. Among other major providers, Iraq and Qatar saw their shipments increase by 87 kb/d yoy and 111 kb/d yoy, to 256 kb/d and 226 kb/d respectively. Imports from Russia saw the biggest decline, falling 74 kb/d, to 81 kb/d. South Korean refineries processed 2.51 mb/d of crude in February, up 5.4% from a year earlier.
World hot-rolled band export price
The world export price for hot rolled band steel slipped by $4/t from a 30-month high of $773/t at end-February to the current level of $769/t, but up $134/t from the corresponding period last year, according to the latest SteelBenchmarker published by World Steel Dynamics. The US HRB price was $970/t, up $38/t from one month earlier and the highest level recorded since September 2008, while the EU HRB price gained $37/t to a 29-month high of $852/t. However, HRB prices in China slipped $8/t from end-February to $606/t.
China's iron ore imports by source
According to data from U-Metal, February saw Chinese imports of iron ore from top supplier Australia fall by 38%, or 11 Mt month-on-month, to 17.8 Mt. The volumes shipped from Brazil in the same month equated to 24% of the 48.8 Mt China imported last month, representing a 21% month-on-month decline to 11.8 Mt. Indian remains China's third largest supplier, while imports from that country fell by 22%, or 2 Mt month-on-month, to 7.0 Mt. Long-haul imports from South Africa rose 0.3 Mt, or 9%, from January to a 3-month high of 3.2 Mt.
US Weekly: Further Crude Inventory Rises, Mogas Down Ahead of Grade Changes
According to the latest data from the EIA, US crude stocks rose by 2.9 MB last week, to a total of 355.7 MB, thanks in no small part to a further 1.7 MB build in Cushing inventories. Crude imports increased by 141 kb/d, to 9.13 mb/d, whilst crude runs of 14.33 mb/d were down a negligible 17 kb/d from a week earlier. Overall US refinery utilisation was unchanged at 84.1% of total capacity. As refiners continued to destock winter grades, mogas inventories fell by 2.7 MB, to 217.0 MB. Imports rose by 189 kb/d, to 884 kb/d, as shipments to the East Coast surged by 219 kb/d, to 980 kb/d. Distillate stocks saw a 700 KB build, reaching 153.3 MB, whilst imports rose by 51 kb/d, to 243 kb/d.
Chinese Imports of Saudi Crude Increase in February
February saw Chinese imports of crude oil from Saudi Arabia, its primary source, increase by 93 kb/d year-on-year, to 1.04 mb/d, Energy Intel reports. The volumes shipped from the Middle East producer equate to 19.9% of the 5.22 mb/d China imported last month. Angola remains China's second largest supplier, with imports from here rising by 21 kb/d yoy, to 693 kb/d. Among other leading suppliers, Iran and Sudan saw the greatest increase in their exports to China, up 124 kb/d and 182 kb/d yoy, to 503 kb/d and 419 kb/d, respectively. Libyan shipments averaged 126 kb/d in February, down from 141 kb/d in January, and 158 kb/d from December.
Chinas coking coal market
China may face a shortfall of 56 Mt of coking coal this year, according to the China Securities Journal. China is expected to produce 513 Mt of coking coal in 2011, but total consumption is expected to reach 569 Mt. Increased domestic consumption is expected to encourage Chinese steel mills to boost coking coal imports. Last year, China imported total 47.3 Mt of coking coal, up 37% year-on-year.
European Buyers Reduce Saharan Blend Purchases, As US Refiners Take More
The ongoing disruption to Libyan crude exports has increased competition for, and prices of, Algerian light/sweet crude, Saharan Blend, Argus reports. This has made purchasing the grade unprofitable for European refiners, who have cut imports in March to less than 50 kb/d, from over 350 kb/d in February. More than 865 kb/d of the region's refinery capacity is currently undergoing maintenance, further stifling demand. Meanwhile, March transatlantic purchases have increased by more than 200 kb/d from February levels, to just below 460 kb/d. Overall Saharan Blend exports have averaged 630 kb/d so far this month.
Indian Refiners May Postpone Maintenance
With product markets tightening after the Japanese earthquake, Indian refiners are considering deferring maintenance shutdowns originally scheduled for next month, Argus reports. BPCL could postpone work at both its 190 kb/d Kochi and 240 kb/d Mumbai plants, whilst IOC and HPCL may delay maintenance at their respective 300 kb/d Panipat and 135 kb/d Mumbai refineries.
US coking coal exports rise to a 9-month high
US coking coal exports (excluding Canada) rose 15% month-on-month to 4.7 Mt in January, representing the highest monthly volume since April
2010, according to the US Department of Commerce. This is supported by increasing demand from Asia, up 36% year-on-year and 14%
month-on-month to a record volume of 1.6 Mt in January. An annual increase was registered in China (+103% to 0.6 Mt), Japan (+58% to 0.5
Mt) and South Korea (+41% to 0.4 Mt)
IGC grain forecast
The latest International Grains Council wheat and coarse grain trade forecast for 2010/11 (Jul-Jun) of 243.2 Mt compares with an estimate of 240.1 Mt for the previous crop year. The total forecast export volume from the five major exporting countries has increased to 185.3 Mt for this marketing year from 162.4 Mt a year earlier but is 0.6 Mt lower than last month forecast. Meanwhile, the forecast for world soyabean exports during 2010/11 (Oct-Sep) has been revised 0.2 Mt higher to 97.6 Mt from last month.
Second stage of ESPO pipeline ahead of schedule
Transneft now expects the second stage of the East Siberia -- Pacific Ocean (ESPO) pipeline to begin operations by the end of 2012, more than a year ahead of the original schedule, Argus reports. The project will expand the line's capacity from 600 kb/d to 1.0 mb/d and allow crude to be delivered directly to the Kozmino terminal, rather than being transported by rail from the current end-point of Skovorodino. Despite the early finish, east Siberian crude supplies may not be sufficient to fill the expanded line to capacity, as a number of fields are yet to reach peak output. According to Transneft, however, running the line below capacity will be more profitable than continuing rail deliveries. The company has no plans to redirect crude that usually heads west.
BTC Exports Scheduled to Fall in April
According to the latest loading schedule, BTC Blend exports will average 713 kb/d during April, a 106 kb/d decrease from this month's scheduled shipments. The decline is likely to further tighten available supplies of light/sweet crude in the Mediterranean, already reduced as a result of disruptions to Libyan supply.
CPC Exports Down in April
CPC Blend exports are scheduled at 646 kb/d in April, a 38 kb/d drop from planned loadings during March.
US Weekly Data: Crude Inventories Rise with Imports, Mogas Stocks Drop
According to the latest data from the EIA, US crude stocks rose by 2.1 MB, to 352.8 MB, last week as imports increased by 306 kb/d, to 8.99 mb/d. Meanwhile, US refineries processed 14.35 mb/d of crude, up 167 kb/d from the week before. Overall refinery utilisation stood at 84.1% of total capacity, up from 83.4%. Mogas stocks dropped to 219.7 MB, a 5.3 MB draw, whilst imports increased by 47 kb/d, to 695 kb/d. Inventories have fallen by 21.4 MB over the last five weeks, as refiners sell off winter grades. Distillate inventories were unchanged at 152.6 MB last week, with imports rising by 31 kb/d, to 192 kb/d.
US steel imports fall to one-year low
US steel imports fell 16% month-on-month in February to 1.6 Mt, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute. This represents the lowest monthly import volume since February 2010. However, imports in the first two months were still 3.5 Mt, up 20% year-on-year.
March Sees European Refinery Maintenance Peak
This month sees 866 kb/d of European crude distillation capacity sitting idle, as the spring maintenance season peaks, Argus reports. This equates to more than 5% of the region's total capacity. April will see CDU turnarounds fall to 333 kb/d. Around 334 kb/d of Mediterranean capacity is offline this month, a figure that falls to just 6 kb/d in April, suggesting that the full impact of the loss of Libyan volumes may still be to come.
February North Sea Output Down
North Sea output averaged 3.24 mb/d in February, a 56 kb/d decline from the month before. UK production fell 20 kb/d, to 1.10 mb/d, whilst Norwegian output dropped 35 kb/d, to 1.86 mb/d.
China coal imports by source
Latest trade data shows a significant decrease in Chinese coal imports as a result of weather-related disruptions in several key load areas. Coking coal imports collapsed by almost two-thirds in February,
falling below 2 Mt for the first time since May 2009, according to China Customs Statistics. Meanwhile Chinese steam coal shipments dropped 57% from January to 3.72 Mt. Total imports from Indonesia fell by 3.3 Mt (-57%) from January to 2.5 Mt, whereas shipments from Australia dropped 2.3 Mt (-61%) to 1.5 Mt. Long-haul shipments from South Africa (0.2 Mt), Canada (0.2 Mt) and the US (0.3 Mt) also suffered a severe decline in the same month. There were no shipments from Colombia to China in February.
February Global steel production
Latest data from the World Steel Association show a 9% month-on-month decline in global crude steel production in February. However, production last month amounted to 116.6 Mt, which was 9.5 Mt higher than the year-ago level. An annual increase was registered in the majority of steel making regions, including the US (+5.6% to 6.6 Mt), the EU (+7.9% to 14.4 Mt), China (+9.7% to 54.3 Mt) and Japan (+5.7% to 8.9 Mt).