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Despite continuously rising U.S. natural gas demand and near-record gas-powered demand in the summer heat waves, the benchmark U.S. natural gas price has collapsed since the end of the winter.

With summer drawing to a close and the so-called ‘shoulder season’ of typically low natural gas demand in the spring and fall about to settle in, U.S. natural gas prices could be in for another slump as production continues to surge while storage starts to fill.

The last days of August could be the “final crescendo of summer temperatures” which drive natural gas demand for air conditioning high, Dan Myers at Gelber & Associates told

Cooler weather in many areas of the United States after this week is set to further depress the Henry Hub natural gas prices as injection into storage is expected to increase, according to Myers.

Yet, doesn’t see natural gas futures—which had dropped by 0.55 percent at US$2.151 per MMBtu on Thursday—at an immediate risk of slumping below the key US$2.000/ MMBtu support level.

But the typical seasonal patterns of consumption and prices in natural gas—with higher demand and prices in the winter and to a certain extent in the summer because of demand for cooling—failed to materialize this summer, following months of extreme volatility in the fall and winter of 2018-2019.

In the middle of November last year, natural gas prices jumped to $4.80 per MMBtu as storage at a 15-year low, an unusually cold fall, production freeze-offs, and high exports from Corpus Christi combined to create a perfect storm that sent U.S. natural gas prices to their highest level since the polar vortex of 2014.

Natural gas prices continued their wild swings in both directions into the New Year, because inventories below the five-year average and seasonal storage draws have made prices highly vulnerable to changes in the short-term weather models and forecasts.

After winter and peak demand season ended in March, natural gas prices were steadily sliding amid surging production from shale gas fields and a cool start to this summer.

At the peak of the summer, natural gas futures fell earlier this month to their lowest levels since 2016 while spot prices slumped to the lowest in as much as two decades.

A record level of U.S. natural gas production is the main driver of depressed prices, the EIA says.

“This summer, prices have continued to decline despite high levels of natural gas exports and increased consumption in the electric generation sector. Prices averaged $2.40/MMBtu in June and $2.37/MMBtu in July as growth in natural gas production continued to offset growth in consumption,” the EIA said in its Natural Gas Weekly Update for the week to August 14.

Despite the lower prices, U.S. natural gas production continued to increase in August and set a new daily production record of 92.1 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) on August 5, the EIA said, citing data from OPIS PointLogic Energy. Between May and August, gas production rose by 2.5 percent, mainly driven by the Northeast.

Due to declining prices and expectations of continued strong growth in natural gas production, in its latest Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO) the EIA revised down its Henry Hub spot price forecast for the second half of 2019 to an average of US$2.36/MMBtu, down from a projection of an average of US$2.50/MMBtu in the July STEO. For 2020, the EIA expects natural gas prices to increase to an average of US$2.75/MMBtu.

Despite the low natural gas prices, drillers continue to increase production, further depressing prices, which could slump even more now that the lower-demand ‘shoulder’ fall season begins.



Tsvetana Paraskova
Source: Oilprice



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Light crude oil will be offered Tuesday in the international ring of Iran Energy Exchange, according to a notice on the IRENEX website.

Two million barrels of oil belonging to the National Iranian Oil Company will be on offer at a base price of $57.98/barrel.

Those interested are required to buy at least 1,000 barrels of oil for land delivery and 35,000 barrels for sea delivery. Buyers can settle the payments 90 days after the transaction.

As per law, the Oil Ministry is obliged to offer on a monthly basis light and heavy crude plus natural gas condensate via the energy exchange.

However, the move did not produce the desired results. Despite several offers over the months the state-owned NIOC has barely managed to sell 1.1 millions of crude oil.

Selling oil in the energy market is an initiative to diversify trading to involve private firms in the heavily state-controlled oil sector.

Role of the private sector in oil export has gained traction, particularly after the new US sanctions, which among other things, has hit the oil industry hard, aiming to paralyze the oil-based economy.


Light crude oil, Iran Energy Exchange, IRENEX, National Iranian Oil Company, Iranian oil, US sanctions, Oil Ministry  

The Trump administration has taken its regime change campaign in Venezuela to the next level, initiating a new set of sanctions that some analysts liken to a total economic embargo of the country.

On Monday, President Trump signed an executive order freezing all government assets and implementing a total ban on transactions with the government. It’s the latest in a multi-year effort that has seen a steady ratcheting up of the economic pressure. It began with sanctions on individuals, and ballooned into restrictions relating to access to U.S. financial markets, and then sanctions on oil sales.

Now any company – not just American companies – are barred from doing business with the Venezuelan government, according to Washington.

It’s a significant escalation of the regime change effort. U.S. national security adviser John Bolton delivered a bellicose speech in Lima on Tuesday, declaring “now is the time for action.” He also said that the measures will “work in Venezuela and it will work in Cuba,” which is an odd assertion given that a six-decade economic embargo of Cuba has failed by any measure. If anything, sanctions have proven to be an unreliable sledgehammer – whether in Iran, Iraq, Cuba or Venezuela, sanctions have a long track record of deepening human misery while also failing to achieve political objectives.

With that said, the move will likely increase the pressure on President Nicolas Maduro, even though he has withstood everything that Washington has thrown at him thus far.

At the same time, the new sanctions also undercut the diplomatic effort that Juan Guaidó has initiated with other Latin American governments in an effort to end the stalemate, and also the tepid negotiations that have taken place with the Maduro regime.

But the Trump administration is going for broke. The New York Times described the move as “the last big card in its sanctions hand.” Last week, the U.S. Commerce Department released a post-Maduro agenda to overhaul Venezuela’s economy, which includes sweeping privatization.

“For immediate relief, the United States will ease sanctions, promote domestic and international trade credit, deploy technological advisers and engage international financial institutions to rebuild confidence in Venezuela’s new economic policies,” Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said in Brasilia in a meeting with infrastructure executives.

Multinational companies are eyeing the chance to jump in once Maduro is removed from power. “The opportunities are huge. We are looking at rebuilding a country from scratch,” said Ricardo Wernikoff, Oracle sales director for Latin America, according to Reuters.

Obviously, oil will be at the center of the U.S.-backed reconstruction effort. The U.S. wants to privatize and open up the oil sector, a far-reaching overhaul that would be radically different from anything that Venezuela has experienced in decades. It’s as much a political and ideological project as an economic one. “Reversing socialism will be done by facilitating private investment, rehabilitation of power generation and oil-bidding rounds,” Ross said at the meeting in Brazil last week.

These plans are likely why the Trump administration recently extended the waiver that it had granted to Chevron, allowing the American oil giant to continue operating in the country while just about everyone else has been frozen out.

Chevron could claim 34,000 bpd of production in Venezuela in the second quarter, although that understates its role. The company is pivotal to multiple projects that total roughly 200,000 bpd.

But the problem for Chevron is that it’s far from clear whether the American-led regime change effort will succeed. Analysts are not convinced the sanctions will dislodge Maduro. “The White House is having a tough time enforcing Iran sanctions, after all. For Venezuela sanctions, even allies that share the U.S. position, such as the Europeans and Latin Americans, have not coordinated sanctions policy.” Benjamin Gedan, an Obama administration Latin America adviser and current adviser with the Wilson Center, told the Wall Street Journal.

Chevron disclosed some of the risks to its Venezuelan assets in a recent 10-Q filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. “The operating environment in Venezuela has been deteriorating for some time,” Chevron stated.

The company said the “carrying value” of its investments in Venezuela was approximately $2.7 billion, but said the fluid situation poses serious risks. “Future events could result in the environment in Venezuela becoming more challenged, which could lead to increased business disruption and volatility in the associated financial results,” Chevron said.

“Challenged” seems like an understatement.

Venezuela’s oil production stood at 734,000 bpd in June, down only slightly from previous months. The new round of sanctions could heighten the economic pressure, but it remains to be seen whether the embargo will affect oil exports, which are already under existing sanctions.


Trump, Venezuela, Venezuela’s oil, oil sanction, Nicolas Maduro

Oil prices plunged on Friday after China unveiled new tariffs on $75 billion worth of American goods, a move that reignited fears about a global economic slowdown.

China’s higher tariffs hit American soybeans, pork, beef, and interestingly, crude oil as well. China had become a major buyer of U.S. shale oil in recent years and has refrained from hitting crude with tariffs up until now. Beijing will put a 5 percent levy on American oil, which could depress the U.S. benchmark relative to Brent.

Some of the measures will take effect on September 1, while others, such as the 25 percent levy on American automobiles, will go into effect in December. The timeframe mirrors that of the U.S. – President Trump recently decided to delay some of the tariffs until December to avoid the impact on American consumers during the holidays.

Beijing’s tariff announcement sunk global stocks and commodities. In Chicago, soybean prices sank by 1 percent. Copper fell in London. WTI was down more than 3 percent.

On the same day, U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell gave a highly-anticipated speech in Jackson Hole on Friday, where he addressed market concerns. He said that “fitting trade policy uncertainty” into the Fed’s framework is “a new challenge,” and that setting trade policy is “the business of Congress and the Administration, not that of the Fed.”

However, he said, trade policy uncertainty obviously affects how the Fed responds. “Trade policy uncertainty seems to be playing a role in the global slowdown and in weak manufacturing and capital spending in the United States,” Powell said. He has come under withering pressure from President Trump to cut interest rates.

“The three weeks since our July FOMC meeting have been eventful, beginning with the announcement of new tariffs on imports from China,” Powell said. He also pointed to unrest in Hong Kong, the dissolution of the Italian government, and the economic slowdown in both Germany and China. “Financial markets have reacted strongly to this complex, turbulent picture. Equity markets have been volatile.” The U.S. economy has held up better though, at least to date.

And then Powell go to the part that financial markets had been holding their breath for. “Based on our assessment of the implications of these developments, we will act as appropriate to sustain the expansion,” Powell said. It may sound a bit mundane, but traders took the statement as a sign that the Fed may cut interest rates again if things get worse. Stocks regained some lost ground after the speech.

The global economy continues to show growing cracks. India’s auto sales have declined for nine straight months, and automakers there are laying off more workers and idling production, according to Reuters. Global trade fell for the eighth consecutive month in June, according to new data.

But higher tariffs present yet another threat. President Trump’s top trade advisor Peter Navarro downplayed the impact of China’s new tariffs on Friday. “This was a move that was well-signaled,” he told CNN’s Jim Sciutto in an interview. “It's breaking news I guess, but it was well anticipated.” Instead, he blamed the Federal Reserve for the slowing economy.

He may publicly shrug off the impact of the trade war, but the Trump administration seems increasingly appreciative of the domestic political threat that the standoff is causing. Indeed, the decision to delay some tariffs until December is a recognition of the economic fallout stemming from the U.S.’ own tariffs on Chinese goods, let alone the retaliation from Beijing.

But while financial markets rebounded after the Fed’s comments, encouraged by a seemingly flexible and somewhat accommodating posture, their hopes were quickly dashed after Trump took to twitter to denounce China. Financial markets sank all over again on expectations that the trade war will only get worse from here.

Meanwhile, on a separate but relevant issue, the Trump administration has infuriated American farmers, and not just because of the trade war. The EPA’s waivers for oil refiners, allowing them to get out of ethanol blending requirements, have devastated the market for ethanol and biofuels credits. “They screwed us...when they issued 31 waivers,” Republican Senator Chuck Grassley (IA) told Iowa Public Television. “Compared to less than 10 waivers during all the Obama years...What’s really bad isn’t a waiver, it’s that it’s been granted to people who aren’t in hardship,” he said, referring it oil refiners.

The issue has become such a political threat that President Trump reportedly held two lengthy meetings with cabinet members in the past week to find ways to assuage concerns from corn and ethanol groups.

The vulnerability hampers President Trump’s campaign to confront China. He has now boxed himself into a political corner. He can press on with the trade war, further alienating American farmers (and consumers more broadly), while also increasing the odds of a recession. Or, facing mounting political and economic threats, he can back down and try to cut a deal with Beijing. Surely, China recognizes his predicament and will try to wait him out.


Nick Cunningham
Source: Oilprice



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Iraq is the biggest importer of electricity from Iran. It needs more than 23,000 MW to meet growing domestic demand. Years of war, civil strife, terror attacks and the bloody US invasion in 2003 almost destroyed its power infrastructure.

The unilateral US sanctions on Iran have not affected relations between Iraq and Iran, as trade ties in key sectors between the two neighbors continue as usual, Iraq's ambassador to Tehran said.

“My government does not recognize the US sanctions because they are in violation of and against international law,” Sa'ad Jawad Qandil as saying.

In June, the United States allowed Iraq to import Iranian gas for its power grid for three more months by extending its.

The openly hostile Trump administration reimposed sanctions on Iran’s energy exports and key economic sectors last November, but granted limited waivers (ended in May) to several buyers to meet their pressing consumer needs, including Iraq.


US sanctions, Iraq, Iranian gas, Trump, Iran’s energy exports, United States, Iran

Iran and South Korea are working to set up a mechanism to barter South Korean goods for Iranian oil exports, an Iranian trade official was quoted as saying by the state news agency IRNA on Saturday, as Tehran seeks ways to sidestep U.S. sanctions.

Iran and South Korea are working to set up a mechanism to barter South Korean goods for Iranian oil exports, an Iranian trade official was quoted as saying by the state news agency IRNA on Saturday, as Tehran seeks ways to sidestep U.S. sanctions.

It’s not Iran’s responsibility to manage the oil glut situation, Iranian energy minister says It’s not Iran’s responsibility to manage the oil glut: Iran minister says

President Donald Trump said the United States “will take care” of countries that continue to buy Iranian oil after the second round of U.S. sanctions kick in on November 4 this year.

Meeting in the state capital of Adelaide yesterday, the Board of ZEN Energy approved a strategic plan to establish 1 GW of additional dispatchable renewable generation assets. The assets will support long-term electricity supply contracts with South Australia’s large industrial users to provide access to lower cost, reliable and low emission energy.

Wind farm operators in the North Sea will have a new atlas for wind resources in the region to help them identify how much power they can generate and how robust turbines should be.
Energy research Center of the Netherlands (ECN) last week said it is working with Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute and Delft University of Technology affiliate Whiffle for the Dutch Offshore Wind Atlas project created in June. The project will run through the end of 2019.

China, the world’s biggest carbon emitter, is poised to install a record amount of solar-power capacity this year, prompting researchers to boost forecasts as much as 80 percent.
About 54 gigawatts will be put in place this year, Bloomberg New Energy Finance said Monday, raising a forecast of more than 30 gigawatts made in July. That amount of additional capacity would likely surpass all the solar energy generated in Japan in 2017.

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French oil major Total has said it will not be able to continue the South Pars 11 (SP11) project in Iran and will have to unwind all related operations before November 4 unless Total is granted a specific project waiver by the US authorities.