The Inpex-operated 8.9 mtpa Ichthys LNG plant in Darwin has withdrawn a tender to sell a cargo for delivery in June -July because of production problems, limiting available spot supplies amid planned and unplanned maintenance at other LNG plants.
The market has erased all price gains that had followed the OPEC+ decision to cut supply last month – although it has only started to get implemented this month. The group’s export trends have not helped support prices in April, as their total level remained stable near 28 Mbd when excluding Iran and Venezuela. Higher exports from Saudi Arabia and Russia offset declines from Nigeria, Iraq and Kazakhstan, while the group’s crude inventories remained stable at 259 Mbbls.
The average API density of European crude imports continues to rise in early 2023 as imports from the US remain robust, which has been keeping demand for heavier grades high, with Europe increasingly leaning towards Latin America for these barrels.
US gasoline prices have eased considerably over the past year in inflation adjusted terms, allowing consumers to shift expenditures elsewhere. While we expect prices to rise from here on depleted PADD 1 inventories and an uptick in US demand, a rerun of the extremes from last year look unlikely. Consumer expenditures as a percent of the total consumption basket will not exceed 3% (down from levels near 4% last summer).
Following a series of extensive stakeholder consultations and proposal periods, price reporting agencies S&P Global Commodity Insights (Platts) and Argus announced that WTI Midland will be included as part of their physical North Sea Brent basket price assessments, from June 2023 deliveries onwards. This widely accepted decision comes as a result of the dwindling production from the North Sea and the need to introduce new barrels to maintain the benchmark’s robustness.
Clean tanker ton-miles posted a record quarter over the first three months of the year, a continuation of the acceleration in clean tanker demand which began in the second half of last year. Russian exports accounted for the bulk of the growth, but unlike in the dirty tanker segment, non-Russian ton-mile demand has also been strong. Another difference to the dirty segment is the still considerable potential upside available which could see rates hit new highs.
EU member states agreed to continue cutting their gas demand by 15% compared to the five-year average until Mar. 31, 2024. The emergency legislation started applying in August 2022 to help the bloc refill its gas stocks and mitigate its unprecedented gas shortage following the Russian pipeline supply cuts.
OPEC+ members remain committed to keeping output quotas unchanged until the end of this year, with the group expected to gradually take back market share over time as non-OPEC sources of supply run out of steam.
The Netherlands’ plans to boost its LNG import capacity by a quarter to 30 bn m3 a year by 2026 could allow the country to fully replace the 9 bn m3 of Russian gas it imported prior to Russia’s export cuts to the EU. Like several other EU countries, the Netherlands is turning to LNG to help ensure its security of gas supply while also implementing measures to cut gas demand in the short and long term.