Friday, October 15, 2021

Jesus Christ Actually Born? September 29, 2 B.C. 

September 29, 2 B.C. is without a doubt, the correct date of Jesus Christ’s date of Birth, confirmed by all of the information below, some new, that I have pulled together, particularly from the books of Luke, Daniel, and Revelation as well as the free Stellarium Astronomy software among several other historical sources.  To get started, Jewish tradition implies that Jesus started his 3.5-year Ministry on his 30th birthday based on Levitical Rabbinical tradition (Numbers 4:3).  Jesus was 33.5 years old at Crucifixion by many traditional accounts.  The calculated crucifixion date from the previous blog post related to Daniel’s 70-Weeks Prophecy (Daniel 9:24-27) with historical and astronomical information regarding various constraints, confirms the time frame.  I declare that this is the most compelling case on the Internet for the Birth of Christ date because of the 2 new ways I have found to verify it.  Comment below if you disagree by the end of this blog post.  Read on!

Here are the Top 10 Reasons Why Jesus’ Birthday was September 29, 2 B.C.

  • 1. Derived from His 33 A.D. Crucifixion and Palm Sunday Dates, as  calculated from the 70-Weeks Prophecy.
  • 2. Aligned with the 2 B.C. Feast of Trumpets – Jewish New Year’s Day.
  • 3. NEW! Confirmed by Revelation 12:1 and Stellarium Software.
  • 4. Verified by Saint Irenaeus, 2nd Century Church Theologian & by Eusebius, 4th Century Church Bishop, Scholar, & Historian.
  • 5. Verified by Tiberius Caesar’s’ Reign.
  • 6. Verified by Josephus, 1st Century Jewish Rabbi, Scholar, & Historian.
  • 7. Verified by Sir Isaac Newton, 17th Century Scientist, Scholar, & Historian.
  • 8. Perfectly Aligned with the 3 B.C. Winter Solstice & Summer Solstice – John the Baptist.
  • 9. NEW! Perfectly Aligned with Mary’s Birth Date, as calculated from the 70-Weeks Prophecy.
  • 10. Jesus’ Birth and Death Dates Align with a New Moon and an Eclipsed Full Moon.

Thursday, October 14, 2021

US coal use is rebounding under Biden like it never did with Trump

A CSX train carrying a load of coal stops near the James River in Richmond in July 2019.(Sarah Vogelsong/Virginia Mercury) 

Donald Trump vowed to revive the coal industry, but it’s President Joe Biden who’s seeing a big comeback of the dirtiest fossil fuel.

U.S. power plants are on track to burn 23% more coal this year, the first increase since 2013, despite Biden’s ambitious plan to eliminate carbon emissions from the power grid. The rebound comes after consumption by utilities plunged 36% under Trump, who slashed environmental regulations in an unsuccessful effort to boost the fuel.
That’s going to increase emissions at a time when Biden and other world leaders prepare to gather in Scotland in a few weeks, hoping to reach a deal on curbing fossil fuels in a last-ditch effort to save the world from climate change. The boom is being driven by surging natural gas prices and a global energy crisis that’s forcing countries to burn dirtier fuels to keep up with demand. It’s also a stark reminder that government policy can steer energy markets, but it can’t control them. 

“Over the short term, the market will always dominate,” said Jeremy Fisher, senior adviser for the Sierra Club’s environmental law program.

As the world emerges from the coronavirus pandemic, reopening economies are driving a huge rebound for power demand. But natural gas is in short supply, creating shortfalls at a time when wind and hydro have been unreliable in some regions. Europe and Asia have been hit the worst, with skyrocketing markets, blackouts in places like India, power shortages in China and the threat of outages in other countries. Energy prices are also soaring in the U.S., though not to the same extremes.  

The situation is driving up coal demand around the world, and in the U.S., utilities are cranking up aging power plants and miners are digging up as much as they can. 

The shift means that coal will supply about 24% of U.S. electricity this year, after falling to 20% in 2020, an historic low after years of efforts to push utilities toward clean power and amid cheap natural gas supplies. That resurgence may look even more extreme when the Energy Department releases its latest monthly report Wednesday.

’Markets have spoken’

“The markets have spoken,” said Rich Nolan, chief executive officer of the National Mining Association. “We’re seeing the essential nature of coal come roaring back.”

In 2021, the U.S. utilities are poised to burn 536.9 million short tons of coal, up from 436.5 million in 2020, the Energy Information Administration forecasts.

Coal from the central Appalachia region has climbed 39% since the start of the year to $75.50 a ton, the highest since May 2019. Prices in other regions are lower, but also on the rise.

Demand for coal will likely remain strong into next year, said Ernie Thrasher, CEO of Xcoal Energy & Resources, the biggest U.S. exporter of the fuel. Supply is already constrained, and Thrasher said he’s hearing some utilities express concern that they may face fuel shortages over the next several months as colder weather pushes energy demand higher to heat homes. 

“It won’t be easy this winter,” he said.

Kevin Book, managing director of research firm ClearView Energy Partners, said the current crisis has added fodder to the debate over efforts to move away from coal.

“The goal of policy, if you listen to what’s being said in Western countries in the context of climate discussions, is not only to stop building new coal but to eliminate the existing capacity to burn coal,” Book said. “This is a moment in time when that idea is going to be challenged.”

Short-lived boom?

While the coal boom is dramatic, the moment may be short-lived. 

Global pressure to curb carbon emissions remains strong, and in the long-term, “policy absolutely matters,” said Cara Bottorff, a senior energy sector analyst at the Sierra Club.

Coal consumption plunged under Trump largely because utilities shifted to gas, which was far cheaper at the time, and increasingly embraced renewables as the cost of wind and solar fell. The decline was also the result of key policy decisions from his predecessor Barack Obama. And though Trump sought to revive the industry, legal challenges and the risk of an unpredictable regulatory environment discouraged long-term investments in coal.

Coal mining and generating capacity declined 40% over the past six years, according to B. Riley Securities.   

Similarly, Biden’s policies will likely eventually lead to further reductions in coal use. He’s pursuing structural changes including tax incentives and new market rules that will drive decisions at energy companies.

“The transition is well underway, but it won’t be over tomorrow,” said Dennis Wamsted, an analyst for the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis.

(By Will Wade, with assistance from Jennifer A Dlouhy)

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Oil Gains as Energy Demand Rises; WTI Tops $80

Crude oil pump power transmission elements 

Oil prices rose on Monday, extending multiweek gains, amid supply restraint from major producers and growing demand for fuels as economies try to recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

Brent crude was up 81 cents, or 1%, at $83.20 a barrel by 0212 GMT, after gaining almost 4% last week. U.S. oil was up $1.15, or 1.5%, at $80.50 a barrel, the highest since late 2014. U.S. crude rose 4.6% through Friday.

Prices have risen as more vaccinated populations are brought out of lockdowns and fuel economic activity, with Brent advancing for five weeks and U.S. crude for seven.

Coal and gas prices have also been surging as economies recover, making oil more attractive as a fuel for power generation, pushing crude markets higher.

But with inventories in the U.S. starting to increase again after recent drawdowns, oil prices may start to falter.

“We think crude prices will struggle to climb much higher this quarter and still forecast them to gradually drop next year,” Caroline Bain, chief commodities economist at Capital Economics, said in a note.

U.S. crude inventories rose for a second straight reporting period last week as more production returned after extended shut-ins due to hurricanes. [EIA/S]

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and allies, together called OPEC+, last week decided to maintain a steady and gradual increase in production.

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Aluminum price hits 13-year high as energy surge pressures supply

 Aluminum price hits 13-year high as energy surge pressures supply 

Aluminum jumped to the highest since 2008 as a deepening power crisis squeezes supplies of the energy-intensive metal that’s used in everything from beer cans to iPhones.

Industry insiders like to joke that aluminum is basically “solid electricity.” Each ton of metal takes about 14 megawatt hours of power to produce, enough to run an average U.K. home for more than three years. If the 65 million ton-a-year aluminum industry was a country, it would rank as the fifth-largest power consumer in the world.

That meant aluminum was one of the first targets in China’s efforts to curb industrial energy usage. Even beyond the current power crisis, Beijing has placed a hard cap on future capacity that promises to end years of over-expansion and raises the prospect of deep global deficits. Energy costs surging across Asia and Europe mean there’s a risk of more supply cuts, and some investors are betting that prices have much further to run.

Aluminum rose as much as 2.8% to $3,049 a ton on the London Metal Exchange Monday, the highest since July 2008, leading broad gains among base metals. Copper rose to the highest since mid-September, while zinc and lead pared early losses as oil and other commodities, including metals like iron ore, keep climbing. 

For investors looking to bet on a future price spike, LME options contracts offer a popular and low-risk way. 

In recent weeks, investors have been buying calls with strike prices of up to $4,000 a ton, according to traders active in the market — effectively betting that prices could move significantly beyond that level to reach new all-time highs. 

“It feels very much like a structural hedge-fund play,” said Keith Wildie, head of trading at Romco Metals, who’s been trading LME options for more than 20 years. “What they’re positioning for is a significant market dislocation, and a sharp move higher in the price.”

As the global metals world prepared to gather in London for the annual LME Week, signs of pressure on the aluminum industry have continued to mount. China’s State Council announced Friday it will allow higher power prices in a bid to ease the worsening energy crunch. In the Netherlands, aluminum producer Aldel will curtail production from this week due to high electricity prices, Dutch Broadcaster NOS reported.

A number of aluminum plants in China are being mothballed and the country’s production has probably peaked, at least in the short term, said Mark Hansen, chief executive officer at London-based trading house Concord Resources Ltd. With the market in a deficit and needing to stimulate investment in new production outside China, prices could hit $3,400 a ton in the next 12 months, he said.

Next, traders and analysts say investors are watching for a possible hit to Chinese aluminum exports. With its own production under pressure and demand booming, the country has been importing ever-greater quantities of primary metal. However, it’s still exporting huge volumes of semi-finished aluminum, in part supported by tax rebates.

“Given the acuteness of the power shortages and the curtailments we’ve seen, it just doesn’t seem rational for China to be exporting that volume of aluminium products every single month,” James Luke, commodities fund manager at Schroders, said by phone from London. “It’s essentially just a net export of energy resources.”

Analysts including at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. say there’s potential for Beijing to lower or remove the value-added tax rebates on exports to slow the flow of metal beyond its borders. With China likely to continue importing huge volumes of aluminum next year, that could leave the rest of the world desperately short, and raises the risk of a violent price spike.

Separately, prices got an extra boost Monday after the European Union imposed an anti-dumping duty on flat-rolled aluminum from China, although it excluded some key material, including metal used by the drinks cans, car and aircraft industries. 

This year’s surge in aluminum prices would typically prompt producers elsewhere to reopen old plants and consider adding new supply. Yet the even-bigger jump in power costs is putting pressure on smelters and may make restarts difficult.

As an example, if a smelter in Germany was exposed to one-month baseload rates for power, it would need to pay about $4,000 for the energy needed to produce a ton of metal, far outstripping current aluminum prices.

“The global metal market in 2022 will be the tightest it’s ever been,” Eoin Dinsmore, head of aluminum primary and products research at CRU, said by phone from London. “The rest of the world cannot deliver these quantities to China indefinitely.”

(By Mark Burton and Jack Farchy, with assistance from Alvaro Ledgard, Akshat Rathi and Eddie Spence)

Friday, October 8, 2021

Oil prices hit a 7-year high as industry feud with Biden administration continues

FILE - Georgia gas prices

A gas pump at a Marathon station in Alpharetta, Ga. 

(The Center Square) – Oil prices hit a 7-year high this week as American oil and gas companies continue to fight the Biden administration over policies restricting production.

As the economy began to reopen this year and the demand for fuel increased, President Joe Biden, through executive order, halted and restricted oil and gas leases on federal lands, stopped construction of the Keystone Pipeline, and redirected U.S. policy to import more oil from Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and Russia (OPEC+) instead of bolstering American oil and gas exploration and production.

The U.S. led the world in oil and gas production for seven consecutive years prior to this year. It produced more oil and petroleum liquids than any other country, with Texas leading the way, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) data.

Texas remains the top crude oil and natural gas producing state in the U.S. In 2020, Texas accounted for 43% of the nation's crude oil production and 26% of its marketed natural gas production, EIA reports.

In Texas and across the country, however, gas prices have soared. In Houston, the state’s largest city with close access to refineries, gas prices were historically low last year, hovering at $1.50 a gallon at the pump. Now gas in some areas of the state is $3 a gallon or more. In other states like California, gas prices have already surpassed $5 a gallon.

As of Oct. 6, the average national retail price was $3.22 a gallon for regular gasoline, according to AAA, roughly one dollar more than it was last year. The highest average was $4.42 in California.

On Oct. 4, OPEC+ said it planned to increase oil production by up to 400,000 barrels a day in November, causing a market reaction.

West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. benchmark, rose 2.3%, reaching a seven-year high. Its international counterpart, Brent, rose 2.5%, its highest level in three years. Oil is expected to reach over $100 a barrel by the end of the year, driving prices up even further.

In August, while the administration saw gas prices and inflation rising, and asked OPEC+ to increase oil output, it imposed harsher restrictions on American companies and failed to comply with a court order reversing an executive order.

In an Aug. 11 statement, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said, “While OPEC+ recently agreed to production increases, these increases will not fully offset previous production cuts that OPEC+ imposed during the pandemic until well into 2022.  At a critical moment in the global recovery, this is simply not enough.”

At the same time, the Western Energy Alliance and the Petroleum Association of Wyoming were fighting Biden’s ban on oil and natural gas leasing after the Department of the Interior failed to comply with a Louisiana court ruling overturning the ban. As gas prices were going up and many Americans in the oil and gas sector were still out of work, “the Interior Department still had not issued a plan on how it would conduct its reported comprehensive review of the federal oil and natural gas program” as directed by a January executive order, the Alliance argued.

“[F]or six months the leasing ban [was] completely futile, as no progress [was] made on the supposed reason for the ban in the first place,” the Alliance said.

On Oct. 4, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said at a press briefing, “We’re going to continue to use every tool at our disposal to ensure we can keep gas prices down for the American public.” But those in the oil and gas sector argue the surest way to do this is to allow American companies to produce more oil and gas and for the Biden administration to follow the law.

Instead, the federal government has buckled down on not allowing onshore lease sales to be held for the entire year of 2021.

Plaintiffs in Louisiana and Wyoming have asked the judges in their respective cases to force the Department of the Interior to comply with federal law and “meet its obligations under the Mineral Leasing Act. This administration is not above the law. It must comply with laws passed by Congress and orders by the federal judiciary, whether it agrees with them or not.”

Pete Obermueller, president of the Petroleum Association of Wyoming, said, “the Biden Administration must do more than say it will follow the law, it must follow the law in practice.”

Thursday, September 30, 2021

Iranian condensate cargo begins discharging in Venezuela

he corporate logo of the state oil company PDVSA is seen at a gas station in Caracas, Venezuela November 16, 2017. REUTERS/Marco Bello/File Photo

The corporate logo of the state oil company PDVSA is seen at a gas station in Caracas, Venezuela November 16, 2017. REUTERS/Marco Bello/File Photo 

HOUSTON/CARACAS, Sept 27 (Reuters) - A 2.1-million barrel cargo of condensate supplied by Iranian National Oil Company (NIOC) to Venezuela's PDVSA, the first of a swap deal between the state-run firms, began discharging this week, according to two sources and tanker tracking data.

PDVSA and NIOC have agreed to a medium-term contract to exchange Venezuelan heavy crude for Iranian condensate in a pact aimed at boosting the South American nation's sagging oil exports, amid sanctions imposed by the United States. read more

The agreement is expected to regularize the flow of blending material for producing exportable crude grades from Venezuela's main oil region, the Orinoco Belt.

The condensate cargo arrived in Venezuelan waters late last week on Iran-flagged very large crude carrier (VLCC) Dino I, owned and operated by a unit of NIOC, according to the sources and vessel monitoring service

As of Monday, the vessel was discharging at PDVSA's main oil port, the Jose terminal, said, even though its transponder was showing it on Iran's coast - a tactic often used by sanctioned oil producers to conceal the location of their fleets.

PDVSA and NIOC did not reply to Reuters questions on the exchange contract.

A second 2.1-million-barrel condensate cargo, contracted under the same swap agreement, is expected to arrive in Venezuelan waters in the coming weeks, the sources said.

The Iran-flagged tanker Dorena, whose transponder also shows it in Iranian waters, is currently underway to Venezuela, said.

The U.S. Treasury Department told Reuters last week it was "concerned about reports of Iranian transactions with Venezuela involving petroleum and petroleum products", though it had not verified the details.

"We will continue to enforce both our Iran and Venezuela-related sanctions authorities," a Treasury spokesperson told Reuters in a written response on Friday.

A source in Washington with knowledge of the trade told Reuters that U.S. officials are monitoring Iranian shipments as they could help provide Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro with more of a financial lifeline as he negotiates with the Venezuelan opposition over regional and local elections expected in November.

The swap contract officially started last week when a 1.9-million barrel cargo of Venezuelan heavy crude set sail from Venezuelan waters on Iranian tanker Felicity, according to sources with knowledge of the deal.

U.S.-sanctioned Venezuela and Iran have since last year strengthened their cooperation. Both their state-run oil companies are barred by the U.S. Treasury Department and can also be subject to secondary sanctions limiting business with non-U.S. companies.

Iran has provided food, medicine and gasoline to Venezuela and equipment to repair PDVSA's depleted refineries, while Venezuela has paid Iranian companies with jet fuel, heavy crude and other commodities it produces. read more

An Iran-flagged cargo ship, the Golsan, that last year delivered food to Venezuela and returned carrying alumina, discharged late in August at Venezuela's La Guaira port and is now on its way to Iran carrying back an undisclosed cargo, according to Refinitiv Eikon data.

Reporting by Marianna Parraga in Houston and Deisy Buitrago in Caracas; editing by Grant McCool

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

The Energy Crisis Is Sending Oil, Gas, And Coal Prices Soaring

Map: The Countries With the Most Oil Reserves 

  • The European energy crisis is going global as the lack of natural gas supply begins to influence oil and coal markets
  • Oil prices are set to break the $80 market as gas-to-oil switching increases oil demand amid continued supply outages
  • Coal prices have hit a 13-year high in Europe and record levels in Asia as more coal is called upon

Just ahead of the winter season, Europe’s natural gas crunch created a snowball effect in global energy markets. What started as very low gas inventories in Europe during the summer is now spilling over into oil, natural gas, and coal prices all over the world, with no quick fix or signs of a major short-term correction in sight.  

Brent Crude Prices Near $80

Brent Crude prices topped $79 per barrel early on Monday - the highest level in three years. Prices are now headed for $80 - a level which some analysts had forecast in the summer, but which not many market participants believed would happen because of the Delta variant depressing prices and demand in some parts of the world in July and August. 

However, as the winter heating season in the northern hemisphere approaches, gas and power prices in Europe are surging, driving up coal demand and prices in Europe and globally as more coal is used in the power sector. At the same time, economies are rebounding from last year’s COVID-inflicted slump, with energy-intensive industries growing. But as demand rises, supply stays muted due to underinvestment in new energy supply in the past 18 months, the OPEC+ cuts, and weather-related outages such as Hurricane Ida at the end of August, which constrained U.S. Gulf of Mexico oil and gas supply throughout September. 

Related: Europe Must Act To Avert An Energy Crisis This Winter

Because the supply of oil, gas, and coal is struggling to catch up with recovering demand, energy prices are rallying around the world. 

Consumers and industries in Europe have already started to feel the pinch from record gas and power prices. Industries across Europe are scaling back operations due to record natural gas and power prices, threatening to deal a blow to the post-COVID recovery. Utilities are firing up more coal-powered electricity generation, pushing demand for coal higher, despite the record carbon prices in Europe and the European Union’s pledges to be a net-zero bloc by 2050. 

European coal prices have hit a 13-year high as coal supply to Europe remains constrained and utilities fire up more coal power plants amid surging natural gas prices. 

The rally in natural gas prices is also spurring on global demand for coal. China and India are replenishing low stocks of coal, driving coal prices in Asia to records

Goldman Sachs Doubles Coal Price Prediction

Goldman Sachs has recently nearly doubled its price projection for coal prices in Asia, expecting the benchmark Newcastle thermal coal to average $190 a ton in the fourth quarter, up from a previous forecast of $100 per ton, due to sky-high gas prices ahead of the winter heating season.

In China, a power supply crunch may be looming amid soaring coal and gas prices and electricity demand. Chinese authorities are ordering some factories in the heavy industries to curtail operations or shut down to avoid a power supply crisis, Bloomberg reports

The gas and coal price spikes globally are set to raise demand for crude oil in the winter as a substitute fuel, analysts and OPEC itself say. A gas-to-oil switch and continued recovery in global oil demand have analysts and major oil trading houses predicting that oil will hit $80 and even $90 this winter - and potentially $100 a barrel at the end of 2022. 

“Broader concern over tightness in energy markets, particularly for natural gas, is spilling over into the oil market. The Asian LNG market is trading at an equivalent of over US$150/bbl, while European gas prices are not too far off an equivalent of US$140/bbl. These higher gas prices will lead to some gas to oil switching, which would be supportive of oil demand,” ING strategists Warren Patterson and Wenyu Yao said early on Monday.

Oil price hitting $80 a barrel, however, would be a pain point for many crude importers, including large Asian customers such as China and India. 

If the current price strength continues, the OPEC+ monthly meeting on October 4 could see the alliance easing the cuts for November by more than the 400,000-bpd supply increase each month, ING noted. 

By Tsvetana Paraskova for

Monday, September 27, 2021

Iran Looks To Attract $145 Billion In Oil Investment

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei addresses the nation in a televised speech marking the anniversary of the 1989 death of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the leader of the 1979 Islamic Revolution, in Tehran, Iran, June 3, 2020. (Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader via AP)

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei addresses the nation in a televised speech marking the anniversary of the 1989 death of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the leader of the 1979 Islamic Revolution, in Tehran, Iran, June 3, 2020. (Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader via AP) 

Iran is drafting plans to attract as much $145 billion domestic and foreign investments in its oil industry over the next eight years, Iranian Oil Minister Javad Owji said on Tuesday.

“We plan to invest $145 billion in the development of the upstream and downstream oil industry over the next four to eight years, hence I welcome the presence of domestic and foreign investors in the industry,” Owji, the new oil minister, said during a meeting with executives from China’s oil giant Sinopec, as carried by the Iranian oil ministry’s news service Shana.

Iran is also working to boost cooperation with Chinese companies, the minister added.

Earlier this month, Owji met with a top official from the China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) in Tehran to discuss cooperation and expansion of bilateral relations.

The new Iranian president and administration continue to work on close ties with China, which were forged during the previous administration.

China is Iran’s biggest trade partner and one of the very few countries still importing some crude oil from Iran despite the U.S. sanctions against the Islamic Republic’s oil exports and oil industry.

China has always said it opposes the “unilateral” U.S. sanctions against oil producers and continues to buy crude, especially from Iran. Iran’s oil sales to China remain the key remaining revenue stream for the Islamic Republic. China is Iran’s top crude oil customer and actually the only customer that currently dares skirt existing American sanctions on Iranian oil exports.

Iran is now looking to increase oil production from all of the fields in its massive West Karoun cluster, potentially adding 1 million barrels per day (bpd) to its output.

In July, the Islamic Republic also officially opened its new oil export terminal—the Jask Oil Terminal on the Sea of Oman outside the Strait of Hormuz—built to allow Iran to ship crude oil without the need for tankers traveling through the world’s most strategic oil chokepoint.

Friday, September 24, 2021

Lebanon takes first gasoil cargo under Iraq supply deal 

Lebanon has received a first cargo of gasoil under a fuel supply deal struck with Iraq in late-July to help alleviate a growing fuel-supply crisis in the cash-strapped state.

The tanker laden with 31,000t (231,000 bl) of gasoil began to discharge on 17 September in Lebanon, according to Lebanon's ministry of energy and water. 15,000t of the fuel was unloaded into the tanks of Lebanon's Deir Ammar power plant in the north on that day, with the remaining 16,000t unloading yesterday at the Zahrani plant in the south.

The energy ministry did not give the name of the vessel. But the Kriti Episkopi, which according to Vortexa loaded 32,200t of gasoil from Georgia, departed on 6 September and arrived at Deir Ammar on 17 September, is likely that tanker. Vortexa shows the vessel now moored off the Zahrani power plant.

According to the ministry, the gasoil cargo began to unload after Lebanon's General Directorate of Oil and the concerned monitoring companies validated the conformity of the gasoil specifications. Argus has not yet been able to confirm the specifications of the gasoil typically used at the Deir Ammar plant, but the Zahrani plant normally takes gasoil with a maximum sulphur content of 0.2pc.

Under the supply deal signed with Iraq, the Lebanese government will buy and resell 1mn t of heavy fuel oil from Iraq through monthly spot tenders - in cargoes of 75,000-85,000t - for one year on behalf of Lebanon's main power provider Electricite du Liban (EDL). Lebanon said the deal should cover around one third of EDL's annual fuel needs, therefore tying the country over for around four months.

This first cargo came as part of a tender that was awarded to Dubai's state-owned Enoc in late August to swap 84,000t (542,000 bl) of Iraqi fuel oil with 30,000t of a specific grade of fuel and 33,000t (246,000 bl) of gasoil for use at Lebanon's power plants. Market sources said Lebanon has awarded its second tender under this scheme, again to Enoc, to swap the same amount and products, but this could not be confirmed.

Lebanon's energy ministry said a "Grade B" fuel oil vessel will arrive in Lebanon before the end of September.

Separately, the energy ministry issued a spot tender on 17 September to buy a total of 60,000t 10ppm sulphur gasoil to be delivered to the oil installations in Tripoli and Zahrani on a DAP basis. According to the tender, the product should be delivered into two equal lots, one for 10-15 October delivery and another for 20-25 October delivery. Offers must be submitted by 27 September and 5 October, respectively.

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Soaring gas prices ripple through heavy industry, supply chains

The logo of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project is seen on a pipe at the Chelyabinsk pipe rolling plant in Chelyabinsk, Russia, February 26, 2020. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

The logo of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project is seen on a pipe at the Chelyabinsk pipe rolling plant in Chelyabinsk, Russia, February 26, 2020. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

LONDON, Sept 22 (Reuters) - Global record high natural gas prices are pushing some energy-intensive companies to curtail production in a trend that is adding to disruptions to global supply chains in some sectors such as food and could result in higher costs being passed on to their customers.

Some companies, including steel producers, fertiliser manufacturers and glass makers, have had to suspend or reduce production in Europe and Asia as a result of spiking energy prices. That includes two of the world’s largest fertiliser makers, which said they would cut production in Europe. The UK on Tuesday said it agreed to provide state support to one of the companies to restart production of by-product carbon dioxide, which is used in food production, to avert a supply crunch. read more

Natural gas prices have risen sharply around the globe in recent months. That has been due to a combination of factors: including increased demand particularly from Asia due to a post-pandemic recovery; low gas inventories; and tighter-than-usual gas supplies from Russia.

Gas prices in Europe have risen more than 250% this year, while Asia has seen about a 175% increase since late January. In the United States, prices have surged to multi-year highs and are about double where they were at the start of the year. Electricity prices have also risen sharply as many power plants are gas-fired.

Industrial Energy Consumers of America, a trade group representing chemical, food and materials manufacturers, has in recent days called on the U.S. Department of Energy to stop the country's liquefied natural gas producers from exporting gas to help keep the energy costs down for industry. read more

Additional supplies of gas could alleviate pressure. Norway has allowed increased gas exports. More supply could flow from Russia by the end of the year with the country’s new Nord Stream 2 pipeline awaiting approval from Germany’s energy regulator. The pipeline project has drawn criticism from the United States, which says it will increase Europe’s reliance on Russian energy supplies. read more


The pressures so far have been particularly acute in Europe, where gas stocks are much lower than usual heading into winter. Norway’s Yara International ASA (YAR.OL), one of the world’s largest fertiliser makers, on Friday said it would cut about 40% of its European ammonia production due to high gas prices. That came after U.S.-based CF Industries Holdings Inc (CF.N) said gas prices were prompting it to halt operations at two of its British plants. Natural gas is the most important cost input for nitrogen-based chemicals and fertilizers. read more

Yara’s chief executive, Svein Tore Holsether, told Reuters in an interview Monday that the company was bringing ammonia to Europe from production facilities elsewhere, including the United States and Australia. "Instead of using European gas, we are essentially using gas from other parts of the world to make that product and bring it into Europe," he said. read more CF Industries didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Some industries are calling on governments to intervene on their behalf. These pleas come as some countries have acted to protect consumers from soaring energy bills, such as Spain, which last week approved a package of measures including price caps.

Among those asking for help is the food industry following a shortage of carbon dioxide (CO2) caused by the suspension of production in some fertiliser plants. CO2 is used in the vacuum packing of food products to extend their shelf life, to stun animals before slaughter and to put the fizz in soft drinks and beer.

In the UK, meat processors had warned they will run out of CO2 within five days, forcing them to halt production. Soft drink manufacturers, who rely on the gas to make carbonated drinks, said supplies were running low. read more

On Tuesday, the British government said it struck a three-week deal with CF Industries for the American company to restart the production of carbon dioxide in the UK. Britain’s environment minister, who said the state support could run into tens of millions of pounds, also warned the food industry that carbon dioxide prices would rise sharply.

CF Industries said in a statement it is immediately restarting ammonia production at its Billingham plant following the agreement.


Other energy-intensive sectors such as steel and cement are also feeling the pinch.

Soaring gas prices have in the past couple of weeks "forced some steelmakers to suspend operations during those periods of the night and day when the cost of energy rockets," said Gareth Stace, director general at industry group UK Steel. He declined to identify which companies.

British Steel, the country’s second-largest steel producer, said it was maintaining normal levels of production but that the “colossal” energy-price increases made “it impossible to profitably make steel at certain times of the day.”

Some manufacturers say they are able to cope, so far.

Germany’s Thyssenkrupp AG, (TKAG.DE) Europe’s second-largest steelmaker, said hedging mechanisms it had in place against energy price increases, especially gas, meant it was not curbing production. But it said it was indirectly affected because the industrial gases it used are linked to electricity prices.

HeidelbergCement AG (HEIG.DE) of Germany, the world’s second-largest cement maker, said higher energy prices were driving up production costs but that operations had not been halted as a result.

In China, several steel, ceramic and glass makers have reduced production to avoid losses, according to Li Ruipeng, a local supplier of liquefied natural gas in the northern province of Hebei. And, China’s southwestern province of Yunnan this month imposed limits on production of some heavy industries, including producers of fertilisers, cement, chemicals, and aluminium smelters due to energy shortages, a move that analysts said could reduce exports.

To weather the storm, some energy-intensive industries and utility firms in Asia and the Middle East have temporarily switched from gas to fuel oil, crude, naphtha or coal, analysts and traders said. That trend is expected to continue for the rest of the year and into the beginning of next, according to the International Energy Agency, the Paris-based energy watchdog.

In Europe, demand for coal as an alternative power source has also risen significantly. But options for switching to alternative sources of energy are limited in the region largely due to government policies aimed at encouraging the use of gas over more polluting fuels such as coal.

The glass industry was historically run on fuel oil, but almost all sites in the United Kingdom have now transitioned to natural gas, according to Paul Pearcy, federation coordinator at British Glass, a UK trade association. Only a few sites have fuel oil tanks that enable them to switch energy source if prices skyrocket, he added.

Reporting by Bozorgmehr Sharafedin and Susanna Twidale in London, Roslan Khasawneh in Singapore Additional reporting by Guy Faulconbridge, Nigel Hunt, Eric Onstad and Ahmad Ghaddar in London, Jessica Jaganathan and Chen Aizhu in Singapore, Yuka Obayashi in Tokyo, Nidhi Verma in Delhi, Scott DiSavino in New York, Heekyong Yang in Seoul, and Christoph Steitz in Frankfurt, Tom Kaeckenhoff in Düsseldorf, Polina Devitt in Moscow, Arathy S Nair in Houston Editing by Cassell Bryan-Low

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

OPEC Nations Warn of Oil Market Turbulence From Gas Crisis

Iraq expects higher demand for crude as consumers look to alternative fuels.

Iraq expects higher demand for crude as consumers look to alternative fuels. Photographer: Ahmad Al-Rubaye/AFP/Getty Image 

  • Iraq and Nigeria say gas may need to be replaced with oil
  • OPEC and its allies have plentiful spare capacity to tap

 As the global natural gas crunch hits suppliers and consumers alike, OPEC nations are warning of the knock-on impact for oil markets. 

Iraq expects higher demand for crude as the shortfall of gas forces consumers to look for alternative fuels, Oil Minister Ihsan Abdul Jabbar said on Wednesday. The head of Nigeria’s state oil firm, Mele Kyari, predicted that petroleum demand could be boosted by 1 million barrels a day, with prices potentially gaining $10 a barrel over the next six months. 

While the two exporters are hardly neutral observers of the situation, their views echo thinking that’s increasingly widespread in the market. Brent futures are already at $75 a barrel, approaching this year’s peak. 

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. says that a cold winter could overwhelm the oil market’s capacity to make up for missing gas supplies, resulting in a price spike with repercussions for the economy. Almost 2 million barrels of oil a day could be needed for a mixture of power generation and industrial purposes, the bank said. 

In such an extreme scenario, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and its partners could benefit handsomely, as they still have plenty of crude supplies shuttered when the pandemic struck last year. It could be a particularly golden opportunity for Baghdad, which is eager to maximize sales after being hobbled by years of conflict.

“If there is agreement within OPEC, we will be ready,” Iraq’s Jabbar said.

— With assistance by Manus Cranny

Monday, September 20, 2021

Iron ore price collapses below $100 as China extends environment curbs

Iron ore price collapses under $100 as China extends environmental curbs 

The iron ore price sank below $100 a tonne on Friday for the first time since July 2020, as China’s moves to clean up its heavy-polluting industrial sector spurred a swift and brutal collapse.

The Ministry of Ecology and Environment said in a draft guideline on Thursday that it planned to involve 64 regions under key monitoring during winter air pollution campaign.

The regulator said steel mills in those regions would be urged to cut production based on their emission levels during the campaign from October until the end of March.

“Stringent production controls have driven market prices lower recently, and pessimistic outlook for demand have intensified,” analysts with SinoSteel Futures wrote in a note.

Prices have more than halved since peaking in May as the world’s biggest steelmaker intensifies production curbs to meet a target for lower volumes this year, and a sharp downturn in China’s property sector impacts demand. 

Iron ore’s slump makes it one of the worst-performing major commodities and a notable outlier in a broader boom that’s seen aluminum soar to a 13-year high, gas prices jump and coal futures surge to unprecedented levels.

Iron ore futures have slumped more than 20% this week and were trading at $99.55 a tonne Friday morning in New York.

The decline “has played out faster than expected,”, said UBS Group AG. UBS predicts prices will average $89 next year, a 12% cut to its previous forecast.

Iron ore producers Rio Tinto Group, BHP Group, Vale SA and Fortescue Metals Group Ltd. have seen their shares tumble.

Meanwhile, steel prices are still elevated. The market remains tight of supplies as China’s production cuts significantly outpace declining demand, according to Citigroup Inc.

Spot rebar is near the highest since May, albeit 12% below that month’s high, and nationwide inventories have shrunk for eight weeks.

China has repeatedly urged steel mills to reduce output this year to curb carbon emissions. Now, winter curbs are looming to ensure blue skies for the Winter Olympics.

(With files from Reuters and Bloomberg)

Friday, September 17, 2021

Iron ore price dives 7% on China’s lower steel output data

Iron ore price dives 7% on China’s lower steel output data

China produced 83.24 million tonnes of crude steel in August, a 13.2% drop from the same period a year ago. (Stock Image) 

The iron ore price fell on Thursday after China reported a drop in the country’s steel production in August.

According to Fastmarkets MB, benchmark 62% Fe fines imported into Northern China were changing hands for $107.21 a tonne, down 7.7% from Wednesday’s closing.

The high-grade Brazilian index (65% Fe fines) also fell 4.3% to $133.10 a tonne.

Mining stocks also slid, with BHP Group down more than 6% from the previous week, Rio Tinto Group down 5.3%, and Vale down 7%.

China produced 83.24 million tonnes of crude steel in August, a 13.2% drop from the same period a year ago, according to data released by China’s National Bureau of Statistics on Wednesday, as the country curbed its steel industry to cut emissions. 

According to analysts at ANZ Research, it was the lowest level since March 2020.

“These constraints are expected to remain through the end of the year as provinces look to hit targets on emission.”

“With China’s plans to limit production to last year’s level, we see output falling by 11% y/y in the second half of 2021,” ANZ Research wrote, adding that it may result in loss of 87 million tonnes of iron ore demand.

“Markets remain highly sensitive to news of new curbs because iron ore prices are still well above the cost of production.” senior economist at Westpac, Justin Smirk, told the Financial Review.

China’s southwest Yunnan province asked local producers on Monday to restrict output on steel, aluminum and other materials. Part of the planned production in September would be postponed to the last two months of the year.

The province, which produces about 2.3% of the nation’s total crude steel, is the latest to be targeted as the country steps up its blue skies campaign aimed at reducing air pollution for the Beijing Winter Olympic Games in February next year.

(With files from Reuters)

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Oil drilling bans advance in House with climate change assault


Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images 

A House committee on Thursday advanced sweeping legislation to combat climate change, with plans to block oil drilling in most U.S. offshore waters, thwart potential mining in the western part of the country and invest billions of dollars in conservation.

The $31.7 billion measure, approved 24-13 by the House Natural Resources Committee, would also slap new fees on oil and mining companies while funding drought relief, conservation and other programs. It is now set to be folded into a broader multi-trillion-dollar social reform and climate change bill taking shape in the House.
The approval comes amid “a once-in-a-generation opportunity to advance a bold, ambitious investment in the people of the United States,” said committee Chairman Raul Grijalva, a Democrat from Arizona. The legislation “will confront the damage being done by climate change, put our country on a more sustainable and equitable economic and environmental path, and create millions of jobs.”

Republicans made clear they didn’t share that view. Over the course of two days — and more than 17 hours — of panel debate and votes on the measure, they took turns lambasting it as a “delusional” package of Democratic “pet projects” and “green pork.” 

The Democrats’ package is “partisan government overreach” that will “hamstring the economy, cripple domestic energy production and make the U.S. dependent on foreign adversaries,”said Bruce Westerman of Arkansas, the panel’s top Republican.

Democrats turned back more than two dozen amendments from Republicans seeking to eliminate proposed limitations on drilling and mining, with sometimes heated exchanges that presaged further clashes when the plan is debated by the full House and moves to the evenly divided Senate. 

Provisions that drew GOP scorn included the measure’s ban on the sale of new drilling rights in Pacific and Atlantic waters as well as the eastern Gulf of Mexico. Central and western Gulf tracts could still be leased.

The bill also would reverse a mandate to sell drilling rights in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge’s coastal plain and void nine leases issued in that northeast Alaska region earlier this year. Congress previously required two auctions of refuge leases by Dec. 22, 2024 to help pay for the 2017 tax cuts.

Congressional leaders need unanimous support from Senate Democrats to pass the bill, but the oil leasing provisions could draw opposition from some of them, including Joe Manchin of West Virginia, who has highlighted past support for Arctic refuge oil development as evidence of his bipartisan bona fides. 

Some of the planned spending has drawn broader support. The bill’s proposed funding for environmental analysis and conservation would benefit existing government programs “that need to be funded, bolstered and prioritized in this fight against climate change,” said Athan Manuel, director of the Sierra Club’s Lands Protection Program.

The bill also would:

  • repeal a 2014 measure that authorized the transfer of roughly 2,400 acres of land for the Resolution Copper mining project in Arizona involving Rio Tinto Plc and BHP Group Ltd.
  • rule out new uranium mining claims on more than 1 million acres around the Grand Canyon
  • impose fees on mining on federal land, including royalties of as much as 8% and a new seven-cent-per-ton fee on displaced material
  • increase rental rates for onshore oil and gas leases, shorten the duration of them, impose a new $4-per-acre “conservation of resources fee” on the tracts, require companies to pay a royalty on vented or flared methane and boost overall royalty rates from 12.5% to 20%
  • create annual fees of as much as $10,000 per mile on offshore pipelines — including the Gulf of Mexico’s existing 8,600-mile network of them
  • spend $25 million each to conserve endangered and threatened butterflies, desert fish and freshwater mussels
  • dedicate at least $1.7 billion to establish a Civilian Climate Corps that would put Americans to work building clean energy infrastructure, capping inactive wells and conserving land.

(By Jennifer A. Dlouhy)

Monday, September 13, 2021

Harvard’s $42bn fund to end investment in fossil fuels

 John F. Kennedy is seen during his graduation from Harvard in 1940.  (John F. Kennedy Presidential Library)

John F. Kennedy is seen during his graduation from Harvard in 1940. (John F. Kennedy Presidential Library) 

Harvard University has announced it will no longer invest in fossil fuels and will instead use its $42 billion endowment to support the world’s transition to green energy, drawing praise from stakeholders that had long pressed the educational institution to exit such holdings. 

President Lawrence Bacow, who for years publicly opposed divesting, said in a letter that the university’s endowment had no direct investments in fossil fuel exploration or development companies as of June and will not invest in them in the future. 

The university does have indirect investments in the fossil fuel industry but, according to Bacow, they are “in runoff mode.” These investments, made through private equity funds, make up less than 2% of the endowment, he said. 

Harvard had announced last year it would work with its investment managers to reach “net zero” greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, but that wasn’t fast enough for its students

The move marks a sharp twist in the university’s position on the matter in the last ten years, which pitted student activists against administrators and dominated campus politics. 

In a September 2019 letter published in Harvard Magazine, Bacow wrote that he believed working with fossil fuel companies was a “sounder and more effective approach” to fossil fuels for Harvard to take. 

“We may differ on means,” Bacow told students in the letter. “[But we] share the belief that action is required. We just happen to have an honest difference of opinion over what the appropriate action is.” 

The university had announced last year it would begin working with its investment managers to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. That wasn’t fast enough for its students. A group filed in March a complaint with the Massachusetts attorney general to try forcing Harvard to sell its estimated $838 million fossil fuel holdings, The Harvard Crimson reported

Butterfly effect?

Divest Harvard, one of the activist groups, described the announcement on Twitter as “a massive victory for our community, the climate movement, and the world — and a strike against the power of the fossil fuel industry.” 

The Ivy League college, the richest in the US, will be following in the footsteps of other institutions, such as the University of California and the UK’s Cambridge University, which have committed to divesting their endowments from the fossil fuel industry. 

The decision is expected to motivate other educational institutions to withdraw their support of businesses contributing to man-made climate change. 

The university will also be joining a growing group of big institutional investors and governments that are responding to consumer pressure to accelerate de-carbonization efforts. 

The United Nation’s authoritative Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released last month a report deemed as “code red for humanity.” 

The review of a 2013 report predicts that temperatures on Earth will rise by about 1.5 degrees Celsius in two decades and warns that a near-2m rise in sea levels by the end of this century “cannot be ruled out.”