WEEKLY ENERGY RECAP: Rocketing tanker rates lead to surprise surge in US crude inventories

WEEKLY ENERGY RECAP: Rocketing tanker rates lead to surprise surge in US crude inventories
In this June 13, 2019 file photo, an oil tanker is on fire in the Sea of Oman. Rising tanker rates has contributed to lower US crude oil exports and surging inventories in the country for the fifth consecutive week. (AP Photo/ISNA, File)
Updated 19 October 2019

WEEKLY ENERGY RECAP: Rocketing tanker rates lead to surprise surge in US crude inventories

WEEKLY ENERGY RECAP: Rocketing tanker rates lead to surprise surge in US crude inventories

Brent crude trended lower to $59.42 per barrel, while WTI also retreated to $53.78 per barrel.

Weak economic data from China added to concerns about the US-Chinese trade relationship.

However, the big news of the week came from the shipping sector as tanker rates rocketed which contributed to lower US crude oil exports and surging inventories in the country for the fifth consecutive week.

The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported a 9.3 million barrel gain in US crude inventories for the week ended Oct. 11, which was much higher than the market expected.

Even with heavy discounts applied to US shipments, producers struggled to sell their oil because of rising tanker charter costs.

Rates for chartering a supertanker from the US Gulf Coast to Singapore were reported to have hit record highs of more than $17 million and a record $22 million to China.

This trend is also likely to be reflected in US export data for October. Adding to shipping pressures is the fact that some ships are being taken out of service to fit sulfur-reducing scrubbers ahead of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) environmental rules that are set to take effect in January 2020.

It is noteworthy that US producers export most of their oil on a cost and freight (CFR) basis where the seller is required to arrange for the carriage of oil to the final destination port. 

The expected drop in US crude oil exports as a result of spiking tanker rates shows a serious financial fragility in the US crude oil export system.

Although shipping rates for very large crude carriers hit refinery margins, saddling additional premium shipping cost on the refiners, the physical market for oil strengthened further, and trading in Arabian Gulf sour crude grades continued to pick up.

Now the US will be hoping that higher tanker rates will reduce demand for very large crude carriers, which could ease tanker rates. 

However, until then, US shale producers will likely pay more to have their oil shipped to longer-haul destinations such as the Asian market.


Asia to dominate Davos virtual forum as virus-hit West struggles

Asia to dominate Davos virtual forum as virus-hit West struggles
The 2020 WEF, which took place in its usual Swiss Alpine resort of Davos, saw the global elite just starting to worry about a pandemic that surfaced in China a month earlier. (Shutterstock)
Updated 23 January 2021

Asia to dominate Davos virtual forum as virus-hit West struggles

Asia to dominate Davos virtual forum as virus-hit West struggles
  • Spotlight will be on Chinese President Xi Jinping, who will give a speech on Monday — the opening day of the event

PARIS: Emerging stronger from the COVID-19 pandemic, Asia is set to dominate this year’s virtual World Economic Forum as a virus-battered West struggles and a new US president faces particularly daunting challenges.

The 2020 WEF, which took place in its usual Swiss Alpine resort of Davos, saw the global elite just starting to worry about a pandemic that surfaced in China a month earlier.
While the coronavirus leaves a mounting death toll and upends economies, depriving millions of people of work, China and Asian countries in 2021 are making a strong comeback from the virus that hit them first.
In virtual format because of the pandemic, next week’s event is headlined: “A Crucial Year to Rebuild Trust.”
The spotlight will be on Chinese President Xi Jinping, who will give a speech on Monday, the opening day of the event that will last through next Friday.
The big names from Europe will be German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, who heads the EU executive.
US President Joe Biden will not appear at the virtual Davos, which has never been a fixture on the White House calendar — even if the new administration has pledged to revive a US multilateral foreign policy after four years of Donald Trump’s America First approach.
Trump had been an exception as he stopped in Davos twice, with the real estate billionaire enjoying mixing with the global business elite.
Before him, Bill Clinton was the only American president who had traveled to Davos, and that was just once.
Showing up from Asia are China’s and South Korea’s presidents as well as the prime ministers of India and Japan.
Following the first virtual session, Davos will move in May to Singapore, far from the luxury Swiss ski resort where it has taken place since it was launched in 1971, the brainchild of German professor Klaus Schwab.
The stated reason for the changes is health safety.

FASTFACT

The big names from Europe will be German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, who heads the EU executive.

But a virtual forum is not particularly attractive for the world’s well-heeled movers and shakers, who value huddles behind closed doors in fancy hotels over meetings in formal settings.
French insurance-credit group Euler Hermes said in a study this month that the “world’s economic center of gravity” (WECG) has been moving toward Asia since 2002.
“The COVID-19 crisis could accelerate the shifting global balance toward Asia,” it added.
“By 2030, we forecast the WECG, could be located around the confluence of China, India and Pakistan,” the study projected.
The speech by Xi, who addressed Davos back in 2017, seems almost to set the clock back, as if the business world seeks to erase the Trump era.
Four years ago, he presented himself as the champion of free trade, much to the joy of Davos participants who feared the newly elected Trump’s protectionist moves.
Biden is nevertheless sending John Kerry, the special climate envoy who will be welcomed after the new Democratic president has brought Washington back into the Paris climate accord.
The agenda includes workshops titled: “Stakeholder Capitalism: Building the Future” as well as “Advancing a New Social Contract” and “Resetting Consumption for a Sustainable Future.”
In a column published in mid-January, Schwab said 2021 could be a positive and historic year, 75 years after the original “Year Zero” following the devastation of World War II.
“We once again have a chance to rebuild,” he said, calling for rethinking capitalism in the light of a pandemic that has worsened inequality.
He said “COVID-19 has delivered the final blow” to the post-war model where free markets and limited government produced prosperity and progress that now is “no longer sustainable, environmentally or socially.”