US waterborne crude falls on higher freight, supply

  • : Crude oil
  • 22/04/07

Unseasonably high freight rates and rising global crude supply have pressured the waterborne price of US light sweet West Texas Intermediate (WTI) to a roughly four-month low, despite ample demand.

WTI fob Houston fell $3.85/bl against July Ice Brent week-on-week to a $1.80/bl discount on 6 May, reflecting the waterborne crude's lowest value against the international benchmark since 9 December. This marks a sharp reversal in price direction after the crude hit a record high premium to Ice Brent near $5.20/bl last month as a result of higher European demand for alternatives to Russian crude supply amid the conflict in Ukraine.

At least 1.5mn b/d of WTI was sold to European buyers for loading at the US Gulf coast in the first 10 days of April, according to a market survey. That reflects a roughly 18pc month-on-month increase compared to the 1.27mn b/d of WTI loaded for Europe over the same period in March, according to Vortexa.

But higher flows have pushed freight rates to multi-year highs amid the higher demand, pressuring crude prices lower as a result of more difficult-to-work arbitrage conditions.

The Aframax rate for WTI-quality cargoes traveling from the US Gulf coast to Europe rose 84¢/bl week-on-week to $5.87/bl by the close of business yesterday, marking that rate's highest since January 2020. The WTI Suezmax rate on the same route rose by $1.07/bl over the same period to $3.63/bl yesterday, reflecting its highest since April 2020.

Market participants say they are now looking to offset higher freight rates by instead chartering very large crude carriers (VLCCs) to the Netherlands port of Rotterdam, where it can then reverse lighter into three smaller cargoes. The rate for this type of shipment has only increased 5¢/bl on the week to $1.76/bl — still reflecting the highest VLCC to Rotterdam rate for WTI cargoes since July 2020.

Additional supply

US spot crude prices are additionally drawing pressure from the recent sale of 30.225mn bl of crude from the US Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) for delivery starting in May, which is currently the prompt trade month. The US Department of Energy (DOE) has already placed another 30mn bl of SPR crude on offer for delivery in May and June and plans to draw down an additional 150mn bl, or around 1mn b/d, in the five following months as part of the largest ever release of crude reserves despite logistics concerns.

Meanwhile, IEA member countries will release 60mn bl of strategic oil stocks on top of the volume from the US SPR in a coordinated effort to address price volatility resulting from the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

Earlier this year, the IEA announced a co-ordinated release of 62.7mn bl from strategic stocks, with the US accounting for half of that.

US crude benchmark prices have taken the largest hit globally since the brunt of the supply from strategic reserves will hit the domestic market first. The US Nymex light sweet crude futures contract has averaged a $2.19/bl discount to July Ice Brent — the prompt contract used to price cargoes loading in May — since the 28 March start to the May US trade month. This reflects a $3.45/bl decrease month-on-month compared to an average $1.26/bl Nymex premium to month-two Ice Brent over the same period of the April trade month.

The Nymex discount to July Ice Brent has fallen $3.82/bl since 28 March to a $4.02/bl discount yesterday, dragging along US-based spot crude prices lower against the international benchmark.


Related news posts

Argus illuminates the markets by putting a lens on the areas that matter most to you. The market news and commentary we publish reveals vital insights that enable you to make stronger, well-informed decisions. Explore a selection of news stories related to this one.

Iraq to keep 3.3mn b/d crude export cap until year end


24/04/24
24/04/24

Iraq to keep 3.3mn b/d crude export cap until year end

Dubai, 24 April (Argus) — Iraq will stick to its pledge to cap crude exports at 3.3mn b/d until the end of the year, regardless of what the Opec+ coalition decides at its June meeting, sources with knowledge of the matter told Argus. Baghdad announced the 3.3mn b/d export limit last month , representing a 100,000 b/d cut compared with the first-quarter average. April's exports will be in line with recent months, according to the sources, indicating that Iraq has yet to adhere to the cap. The self-imposed limit on exports is part of Iraq's commitment to compensate for exceeding its 4mn b/d Opec+ production target in the first three months of 2024. It produced 211,000 b/d above target in January, then overshot by 217,000 b/d and 194,000 b/d in February and March, respectively, according to an average of secondary sources including Argus . Prior to that, Iraq exceeded its then 4.22mn b/d output ceiling in each of the last six months of 2023. The persistent overproduction has drawn scrutiny within Opec+, prompting repeated reassurances from Baghdad in recent months that it is committed to its output pledges. Iraq blames it on its inability to oversee production in the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region in the north of the country. Most Iraqi Kurdish crude output is being directed to local refineries or sold on the black market following the closure of the export pipeline that links oil fields in northern Iraq to the Turkish port of Ceyhan just over a year ago. Iraq's federal oil ministry says its Kurdish counterpart has stopped providing production data. Baghdad recently sent the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) an official request to hand over oil produced in the region to federal marketer Somo in order to resume Kurdish exports through Turkey, the sources said. Baghdad also urged the KRG back in January to curb output to help Iraq adhere to its lower Opec+ production quota. Ever-widening gap The Association of the Petroleum Industry of Kurdistan (Apikur) said international oil companies (IOCs) operating in the region were hoping that a long-awaited visit to Baghdad by Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan on 22 April might help pave the way for a restart in exports. "We definitely believe the Iraqi government seems more serious about resolving the issues after prime minister [Mohammed Shia] al-Sudani's visit to the US," an IOC source told Argus. But differences between the KRG and Baghdad, mainly over contracts that the former signed with international oil companies (IOCs) in Kurdistan, continue to delay the restart. And tensions between the two sides show little sign of easing. In a statement on 22 April, the KRG's ministry of natural resources accused Baghdad of misleading statements by seeking to blame the KRG for the export shut-in, adding that there is no provision in Iraq's constitution that gives power to the federal government to approve contracts issued by the KRG. With the help of multiple federal court rulings, Baghdad has been attempting to downgrade the KRG's autonomy over its finances and energy sector. A court ruling in February 2022 overturned a law governing Kurdish oil and gas exports and upheld Baghdad's request that all KRG production-sharing contracts be placed under federal oil ministry oversight. The judgment rendered the KRG's 2007 oil and gas law unconstitutional, raising questions over the future of the KRG's active contracts. The KRG's natural resources ministry has dismissed the February 2022 court order, saying it was delivered by a "committee of political appointees in Baghdad". While the federal Iraqi oil ministry "publicly refers to that committee as the 'Federal Supreme Court', everyone knows that it is no such thing", the ministry said. By Bachar Halabi Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

EU adopts sustainability due diligence rules


24/04/24
24/04/24

EU adopts sustainability due diligence rules

Brussels, 24 April (Argus) — The European parliament has formally approved a Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive (CSDDD), which will require large EU companies to make "best efforts" for climate change mitigation. The law will mean that relevant companies will have to adopt a transition plan to make their business model compatible with the 1.5°C temperature limit set by the Paris climate agreement. It will apply to EU firms with over 1,000 employees and turnover above €450mn ($481mn). It will also apply to some companies with franchising or licensing agreements in the EU. The directive requires transposition into different EU national laws. It obliges member states to ensure relevant firms adopt and put into effect a transition plan for climate change mitigation. Transition plans must aim to "ensure, through best efforts" that business models and company strategies are compatible with transition to a sustainable economy, limiting global warming to 1.5°C and achieving climate neutrality by 2050. Where "relevant", the plans should limit "exposure of the company to coal-, oil- and gas-related activities". Despite a provisional agreement, EU states initially failed to formally approve the provisional agreement reached with parliament in December, after some member states blocked the deal. Parliament's adoption — at its last session before breaking for EU elections — paves the way for entry into force later in the year. Industry has obtained clarification, in the non-legal introduction, that the directive's requirements are an "obligation of means and not of results" with "due account" being given to progress that firms make as well as the "complexity and evolving" nature of climate transitioning. Still, firms' climate transition plans need to contain "time-bound" targets for 2030 and in five-year intervals until 2050 based on "conclusive scientific" evidence and, where appropriate, absolute reduction targets for greenhouse gas (GHG) for direct scope 1 emissions as well as scope 2 and scope 3 emissions. Scope 1 refers to emissions directly stemming from an organisation's activity, while scope 2 refers to indirect emissions from purchased energy. Scope 3 refers to end-use emissions. "It is alarming to see how member states weakened the law in the final negotiations. And the law lacks an effective mechanism to force companies to reduce their climate emissions," said Paul de Clerck, campaigner at non-governmental organisation Friends of the Earth Europe, pointing to "gaping" loopholes in the adopted text. By Dafydd ab Iago Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

Oman latest to insist that oil, gas is 'here to stay'


24/04/24
24/04/24

Oman latest to insist that oil, gas is 'here to stay'

Muscat, 24 April (Argus) — Omani and Oman-focused energy officials this week joined a growing chorus of voices to reiterate the pivotal role that hydrocarbons have in the energy mix, even as state-owned companies scramble to increase their share of renewables production. Some producers cite the risk of leaving costly, stranded oil and gas assets as renewable energy alternatives become more favoured. "This is a common concern among producers who are focusing on short-term developments to maximize cash flow — [but] if we continue to do that, with the clean energy transition, will we be left with stranded assets in the long-term", state-controlled PDO's technical director Sami Baqi told the Oman Petroleum and Crude Show conference in Muscat this week. "We need to redefine and revamp our operation model to produce in a sustainable manner." "We are in an era where most of the production does not come from the easy oil but comes from difficult oil," Oman's energy ministry undersecretary Mohsin Al Hadhrami said. "It requires more improved and enhanced oil recovery (EOR) type technologies to extract it." Oman is heavily reliant on tertiary extraction technologies like EOR given its maturing asset base and complicated geology. "We know that most of the oil fields [in the region] are maturing and costs are going to escalate, so we need to be mindful of it while discussing cleaner solutions going forward," Hadhrami said. PDO, Oman's largest hydrocarbon producer, aims for 19pc of its output to come from EOR projects by 2025, and has said it is looking at 'cleaner' ways to implement the technology. PDO in November started a pilot project to inject captured CO2 for EOR at its oil reservoirs. Baqi's concerns were echoed by PDO's carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) manager Nabil Al-Bulushi, who said even solutions like CCUS can be expensive and come with their own challenges. There is a need for a proper ecosystem or regulatory policies to avoid delays in executing such projects, he said. When it comes to challenges associated with commercialising green hydrogen, Saudi state-controlled Aramco's head of upstream Yousef Al-Tahan said higher costs already make hydrogen more expensive than any other energy sources. "Not only should the costs go down, but the market has to be matured to take in the hydrogen," he said. "We also need pipelines and facilities that are able to handle hydrogen, especially when it gets converted to ammonia." Gas here to stay Oman, like many of its neighbors in the Mideast Gulf, insists gas needs to be part of the global journey towards cleaner energies. "Asia-Pacific is still heavily reliant on coal, this is an area where gas can play an important role," Shell Oman's development manager Salim Al Amri said at the event. "I think there is no doubt that gas is here to stay." Oman is a particularly interesting case as it "has moved from a position of gas shortage to surplus", Al Amri said, enabled by key developments in tight gas. "Output from fields like Khazzan and Mabrouk will continue to produce nearly 50pc of output even by 2025, which is indicative of how important tight gas developments are," he said. The Khazzan tight gas field has 10.5 trillion ft³ of recoverable gas reserves. Mabrouk North East is due to reach 500mn ft³/d by mid-2024. But even as natural gas is touted as the transition fuel, executives from major producers like state-owned OQ and PDO warned there are technical risks associated with extracting the fuel, including encountering complex tight reservoirs, water production and difficult geology. By Rithika Krishna Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

Australia’s Woodside pledges extra domestic gas in 2025


24/04/24
24/04/24

Australia’s Woodside pledges extra domestic gas in 2025

Sydney, 24 April (Argus) — Australian independent Woodside Energy has promised to increase gas flows to domestic customers with a predicted national shortfall. The firm promises to make an extra 32PJ (854mn m³) available to the Western Australia (WA) domestic market by the end of 2025, Woodside chief executive Meg O'Neill said at its annual meeting in Perth on 24 April, following criticism of the state's LNG projects' contribution to WA supplies . Woodside produced 76PJ for the WA market in 2023. The company has initiated an expression of interest process for an additional 50PJ of gas from its Bass Strait fields offshore Victoria state for supply in 2025 and 2026 when a tight market is expected for east Australia . Woodside also said its Sangomar oil project offshore Senegal is 96pc complete with 19 of 23 initial wells complete. WA's Scarborough project is 62pc complete with trunkline installation and well drilling having started in the offshore Carnarvon basin. It last month awarded the sub-sea marine installation contract for its 100,000 b/d Trion project offshore Mexico, which is targeting its first oil in 2028. Woodside's 2023 operating revenue was $14bn , resulting in a profit of $1.7bn. Climate tensions Woodside's climate transition action plan saw 58.36pc opposition from shareholders at the annual meeting but is non-binding on the company. Woodside's 2021 climate report also faced significant opposition with 48.97pc voting against its adoption. The company did not put its 2022 climate report up for vote at last year's annual meeting. Its new emissions abatement target aims to reduce Woodside's customers' scope 1 and 2 emissions by 5mn t/yr by 2030, along with a $5bn investment in new energy projects by the same date. Net equity scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas emissions rose to 5.53mn t carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) in 2023 from 4.61mn t CO2e in 2022 because of its merger with BHP Petroleum in mid-2022. Several major institutional shareholders including large domestic and international pension funds had already flagged their vote against Woodside's climate report, citing an insufficient urgency to reduce the firm's emissions. By Tom Major Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

Business intelligence reports

Get concise, trustworthy and unbiased analysis of the latest trends and developments in oil and energy markets. These reports are specially created for decision makers who don’t have time to track markets day-by-day, minute-by-minute.

Learn more