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The Barrel Blog

LNG must become more price-transparent and sustainable to thrive in next decade

The trend towards LNG commoditization has gathered pace, fueled by significant additions of elastic supply and demand and growing liquidity in both physical and financial LNG markets. This presents immense opportunities to LNG stakeholders. But the prospect of supply shortfalls and gluts through the next decade to 2030 is a warning sign that the industry is still exposed to abrupt investment cyclicality, a phenomenon known to cause disruptive supply shocks, price volatility and demand...

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Fujairah eyes growth in bunkering, oil storage and refining

Ahead of the S&P Global Platts Asia Pacific Petroleum Conference (APPEC 2019), Insight presents a series of articles exploring aspects of the global trade in crude oil and refined products. In the final instalment, Dania EL Saadi reports on developments at the UAE’s port of Fujairah, a key bunker hub with ambitions to rival Rotterdam and Singapore. The Middle East bunkering hub of Fujairah may have been rattled by the recent tanker attacks in the Gulf of Oman, but officials are adamant...

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Why lithium has turned from gold to dust for investors

Trade frictions and geopolitical uncertainty have made 2019 a challenging year for commodities investors in general. However, few resources have been trickier to fathom, or more unpredictable, than cobalt and lithium. Before the advent of modern electric vehicles (EV), lithium was known for decades as a medicinal cure for depression. But plummeting prices for the commodity – a crucial raw material in the manufacture of high-powered lithium-ion EV car batteries – have given investors the...

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US-China trade conflict’s mounting impact on commodity flows and demand

The US-China trade dispute has evolved into a very different animal in the past year. After multiple bouts of tariffs and counter-tariffs, on August 23, Beijing slapped a 5% levy on US crude for the first time, targeting a commodity already influenced by the trade tensions, and adding to a swathe of US-origin commodities like propane, LNG and soybeans. This was part of a wider tariff on $75 billion of US imports into China. US President Donald Trump responded with raising tariffs on $550...

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IMO 2020: Are Asian refiners ready?

Ahead of the S&P Global Platts Asia Pacific Petroleum Conference (APPEC 2019), Insight presents a series of articles exploring aspects of the global trade in crude oil and refined products. Here, Kang Wu and JY Lim of S&P Global Platts Analytics analyze the challenges and opportunities facing Asian refiners ahead of the International Maritime Organization’s switch to a lower sulfur fuel standard. The refining industry is on the brink of a major shift in the demand structure of bunker...

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Sluggish global steel demand pressures iron ore, met coal prices

Global steel mill margins have shrunk in 2019, in turn pushing down iron ore and coke consumption and prices for coking coal. In 2018 Platts benchmark US hot rolled coil (HRC) spot prices exceeded $1000/mt delivered Midwest for the first time since 2008, and the sustained run in steel pricing and demand since 2016 delivered high profits for steel producers.   High global steel prices last year have quickly been forgotten, as offtake from steel buyers in the US and Europe reduced into...

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Commodity Tracker: 6 charts to watch this week

US-China trade tensions and a febrile political climate in the UK are driving key commodity flows and price trends this week. S&P Global Platts editors’ latest pick of charts spans agriculture, the energy complex and metals. 1. US soybean stocks pile up as Chinese export avenue cut off   What’s happening? At the start of the new US marketing year, farmers are sitting on a huge pile of soybean stocks, estimated at 29.1 million mt, up 144% from 2017-18 levels. The escalated...

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Insight conversation: Jane Ren, CEO, Atomiton

Jane Ren, CEO of disruptive technology company Atomiton, talks to Paul Hickin about opportunities in the energy sector and the challenges faced by big oil. The mainstreaming of artificial intelligence and machine learning will have a profound impact on the industrial sphere, not least in energy industries. Whether companies are active in the upstream, midstream or downstream segment, they face enormous pressures to control cost while living up to societal demands for environmental...

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Insight from Washington: US refiners remain pragmatic amid tariff disputes

Like many ways the Trump administration has reshaped US policy norms, the use of tariffs and tariff threats to address non-trade policy issues with other countries is here to stay, and companies like US Gulf Coast refiners are learning to adapt. That reality has set in for the energy sector not only because of the ongoing trade conflict with China, but also since President Donald Trump’s threat to impose a 5% tariff on all Mexican imports. Although the threat was called off at the 11th...

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As IMO 2020 deadline nears, shipping sector makes final push to adapt

Ahead of the S&P Global Platts Asia Pacific Petroleum Conference (APPEC 2019), Insight presents a series of articles exploring aspects of the global trade in crude oil and refined productsI. Here, Surabhi Sahu focuses on the shipping sector’s final push to prepare for the International Maritime Organization’s 2020 deadline imposing lower sulfur limits for fuel. Benjamin Franklin once said: “You may delay, but time will not.” This is certainly true for the international...

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