Tag Archives: Commodities

U.S. Retail Sales Exceed Estimates, With Some Signs of Cooling

 U.S. retail sales rose more than estimated in October on gains from auto dealers and gas stations, though declines in categories including clothing and furniture stores tempered the advance.

The value of overall sales increased 0.3% after an unrevised 0.3% drop the prior month, Commerce Department figures showed Friday. The median estimate in a Bloomberg survey called for a 0.2% advance.

Sales in the “control group” subset, which some analysts view as a more reliable gauge of underlying consumer demand, increased 0.3% as projected. The measure excludes food services, car dealers, building-materials stores and gasoline stations.

The reading signals consumers remain willing to spend, though at a slower pace than earlier this year, as the robust jobs market and solid wage gains offer reasons for Americans to remain upbeat. Consumers have driven the economy forward in recent quarters, and Friday’s data suggest the trend may continue in the fourth quarter.

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell reiterated this week that the labor market is strong, following an October jobs report that showed payroll gains intact and the jobless rate still near a half-century low. Solid employment would continue to underpin consumer spending.

Mixed Signals

The report also included some signs that may point to consumers running out of steam, with seven of 13 major categories dropping. Sales at furniture and home furnishing stores fell 0.9% while food service and drinking places decreased 0.3%, both posting the steepest declines of this year.

Control-group sales have increased an annualized 4% over the latest three months compared with a 6.3% rate in the same period through September.

Nonstore retailers, which include online shopping, were a bright spot. They posted a 0.9% gain from the prior month and were up 14.3% from a year earlier, the most of any major group.

Filling-station receipts increased 1.1%, the report showed. The retail figures aren’t adjusted for price changes, so sales could reflect changes in gasoline costs, sales, or both.

Auto Dealers

Spending at automobile dealers climbed 0.5% after decreasing 1.3% in the previous month. That contrasted with industry data from Wards Automotive Group that previously showed auto sales slumped to six-month low in October.

Excluding automobiles and gasoline, retail sales edged up 0.1% after a decline the previous month.

Retail sales estimates in Bloomberg’s survey of economists ranged from a 0.2% decline to a 0.7% gain from the prior month.

The sales data capture don’t capture all of household purchases and tend to be volatile because they’re not adjusted for changes in prices. Personal-spending figures will offer a fuller picture of U.S. consumption in data due at the end of the month.

A separate Labor Department report Friday showed the U.S. import price index fell 0.5% in October from the prior month and 3% from a year earlier, the most in three years. Excluding petroleum, the index decreased 0.1% from the prior month.

https://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/u-s-retail-sales-exceed-estimates-with-some-signs-of-cooling-1.1348569

Saudi Aramco’s IPO Is Vulnerable to the Russians

 In finance, as in comedy, timing is everything. Get it right and you have investors (or the audience) in the palm of your hand. Get it wrong and the ensuing silence is painful.

Saudi Arabia has stepped on stage finally to launch the initial public offering of its oil monopoly Saudi Aramco. By a strange quirk of the calendar, the price of the shares will be set on the same day OPEC meets to decide the next step in its strategy of propping up the price of crude.

It’s hard to see this coincidence as anything other than unhappy for Riyadh. To get the best price for its Aramco shares, it needs to stop the oil price from weakening. Yet this leaves it at the mercy of members of the OPEC+ group of nations that haven’t been doing their fair share of cutting crude production to shore up the price: namely Russia and Iraq, who’ve preferred to let the Saudis shoulder the burden along with their allies Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates.

The kingdom and its bankers are in a difficult spot as they try to convince potential Aramco investors that the company won’t bear an undue share of the burden of the output cuts. That would be a tough sell at the best of times; it’s even harder in the run-up to the OPEC meeting, which may need to prolong the current production cuts beyond March 2020, and even deepen them. While it’s crucial for Aramco to put a floor under the crude price, it’s also important that the company isn’t having to slash output.

Moscow and Baghdad will be perfectly aware of the pressure on the kingdom to prop up the price because of the looming IPO. If they refuse do their bit, they know Riyadh will just have to do more. 

OPEC’s Secretary General Mohammad Barkindo is doing his best to help the Saudis, painting as positive a picture as he can. He says next year is “looking brighter” for producers in terms of supportive news for the crude price, with “upside potential that may actually surprise the market.”

China and the U.S. are inching toward a partial settlement of their trade dispute, offering hope of a boost to demand, though its hard to rely on the whims of President Donald Trump. At the same time, the second U.S. shale boom is coming to an end, removing some excess supply from the market. However, there will still be output growth next year from other non-OPEC+ states such as Norway, Brazil and Guyana.

Saudi Arabia is pressing the output cut laggards to shoulder more of the burden, but the looming IPO ties its hands. Russia’s oil industry is already balking at more output cuts.

And the pressure on the Saudis won’t end on Dec. 5, the day of the IPO price-setting and the OPEC meeting. Once those shares are priced, the kingdom can’t afford to let them fall. This is only the first tranche of stock that is likely to be sold. A poor performance now could fatally undermine interest in any future offering.

In its struggle to drive OPEC+ production policy, Saudi Arabia’s dependence on oil revenues already ties one hand behind its back. Now it’s going to be constrained too by the needs of investors in Aramco. Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman is clearly in a hurry. This is one instance where a pregnant pause may have strengthened his punchline.

https://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/saudi-aramco-s-ipo-is-vulnerable-to-the-russians-1.1345750

Five Key Things to Watch For as South Africa Acts to Fix Eskom

South Africa has been promising for months to fix Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd., the state power utility that’s drowning in debt, made record losses and is reliant on government bailouts to remain solvent. While little tangible progress has been evident so far, several key decisions are due to be taken this month.

Here’s what to watch out for:

1. Appointment of new chief executive officer

The utility, which provides about 95% of the country’s power, has been without a permanent CEO since Phakamani Hadebe quit in July. The post has been temporarily filled by its chairman, Jabu Mabuza, who has said his replacement will be named by the end of the month. Among three candidates shortlisted are former LNG Canada CEO Andy Calitz and Jacob Maroga, who was Eskom CEO from 2007 to 2009.

Read more: October Is Deadline for Eskom With CEO, Rescue Plan Awaited

2. Release of policy paper

Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan is overseeing the drafting of a special policy paper that will spell out the government’s envisioned future for Eskom. It’s likely to flesh out a proposal to split the utility into generation, transmission and distribution units under a state holding company. The paper could be referred to cabinet as soon as Oct. 16, and will be released by the end of the month.

Read more: South Africa to Consult Eskom Debt Holders on Reorganization

3. Debt Re-organization

Eskom owes 450 billion rand ($30 billion) and isn’t generating enough cash to pay the interest. The utility’s management told investors in August that its chief restructuring officer, Freeman Nomvalo, would submit a report to the cabinet by the end of last month recommending how the debt should be reorganized. One of four options was to move most of the debt onto the government’s balance sheet while the others weren’t disclosed, according to investors who spoke on condition of anonymity. The government and Eskom declined to comment on that process, or whether it will be incorporated into the policy paper. Gordhan has said investors will be consulted on any reorganization.

Read more: Eskom to Produce Report on Debt-Rescue Plan by End of September

4. Finalization of energy blueprint

The Integrated Resource Plan, which has been years in the making and maps out South Africa’s energy mix for the next decade, is due to be discussed by the cabinet on Wednesday and then released for public comment, according to Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe. A March draft envisions the nation’s electricity output capacity rising more than 40% to 78,344 megawatts by 2030. The bulk of that is to come from renewable sources.

Read more: South African Negotiators Conclude Talks on Energy Blueprint

5. Mid-term budget

The government has allocated 128 billion rand to Eskom over the next three fiscal years so it can continue to pay its bills. Finance Minister Tito Mboweni will spell out where the money will come from when he releases his mid-term budget on Oct. 30. The National Treasury has already signaled to government departments that they will have to drastically cut costs. Additional bailouts for Eskom are unlikely. The Treasury has set 28 conditions for Eskom to secure the aid, including that it provide daily updates on its cash position, strengthen its board and provide clarity on the costs and benefits of two new power plants.

https://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/five-key-things-to-watch-for-as-south-africa-acts-to-fix-eskom-1.1330965

Argentina Companies May Bear Cost of Fernandez’s Utilities Shift

Energy companies would likely be made to pay for Alberto Fernandez’s move to slow hikes in electricity and natural gas prices.

Under business-friendly President Mauricio Macri, companies, especially those focused on transport and distribution, have returned to profitability after years of price freezes. But Fernandez, the opposition candidate who’s the favorite to win Argentina’s Oct. 27 presidential election, is expected to reel in the increases. After struggling to make ends meet under Macri, voters would hand Fernandez a mandate to address their economic plight, with one of the biggest burdens being the cost of utilities.

In his tenure, Macri curbed subsidies for utilities, lifted caps on consumer bills, and gave companies regular price increases in a process called the “integral tariff revision.” While it’s still unclear who’d run Fernandez’s energy policies, his comments during the campaign seem to boil down to this: If voters need help but the government can’t afford to let subsidies soar, companies will have to take the hit.

“Everyone, including the government, left something on the table during difficult times, but everything points more toward the companies in 2020,” Santiago Wesenack, head of equity research for AR Partners in Buenos Aires, wrote in a note to clients.

Fernandez has repeatedly said he would “un-dollarize” utilities. That’s led investors and analysts to scramble to interpret the phrase based on meetings with his advisers, past interventions in the sector, and what running mate Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, did while she was president from 2007 to 2015. Here’s a summary of the general consensus:

TRANSPORT & DISTRIBUTION

  • Natural gas producers and electricity generators are expected to be largely protected, so middlemen would bear the brunt of the cost
  • Fernandez would likely mitigate increases that transporters like TGS SA and TGN SA, and distributors like Metrogas SA get under periodic price revisions based on a wholesale inflation index
  • Power transporter Transener SA, and distributors like Edenor SA and Edesur SA would suffer a similar fate
    • “The distributors are likely to suffer from the highest level of intervention as they are the ones facing the consumers,” Wesenack wrote

POWER GENERATION

  • Payments for what’s known as “legacy” power generation, which is produced at older plants and sold in the spot market in dollars, may be fixed in pesos
    • The main companies that would be affected are Italy’s Enel SpA and AES Argentina
    • Central Puerto SA and Pampa Energia SA currently have a large share of legacy production. But they’d be shielded to a point, Wesenack said, because that share will fall over the next couple of years, with power purchase agreements becoming more prevalent in their generation plans
  • Those PPAs, which have been signed since the mid-2000s between state electricity wholesaler Cammesa and generators, are unlikely to see a switch to pesos from dollars because that may be ruinous for Argentina’s reputation with energy investors
    • One option, however, is to restructure the contracts, with Cammesa extending them by a few years so consumers pay less in the near-term. In this scenario, as long as enough cash flows to generators like Pampa, MSU Energy and Stoneway Capital Corp., their bondholders should be safe

NATURAL GAS PRODUCTION

  • Production of natural gas is in dollars, though the government can set the rate at which they’re turned into pesos. These prices are likely to remain favorable for drillers to ensure investments in the Vaca Muerta shale play
    • Vaca Muerta is so important that should the government choose to quash gas prices for consumers by letting the exchange rate that drillers receive lag the peso market, it may be willing to plug the gap by widening subsidies
    • The need to fulfill Argentina’s shale potential also gives Fernandez cause to respect PPAs because much of drillers’ gas is supplied to thermal power plants, according to Roger Horn, a senior emerging-markets strategist at SMBC Nikko Securities America in New York
    • “It wouldn’t make sense for the new administration to cancel PPA contracts at a time they need to give assurances to attract investment in Vaca Muerta,” Horn said

A spokesman for Fernandez didn’t reply to a request for comment. A spokesman for Pampa Energia declined to comment. Press offices for Edenor, Edesur, TGS, TGN, MSU Energy, Stoneway Capital, Central Puerto and AES did not immediately reply to requests for comment.

https://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/argentina-companies-may-bear-cost-of-fernandez-s-utilities-shift-1.1324657

U.S. pot bill aims to ease bankers’ fears of dealing with cannabis

The U.S. House is poised to pass a bill that would let banks do business with cannabis companies in states that permit marijuana sales, a step that some supporters see as helping to pave the way to nationwide legalization.

The Secure and Fair Enforcement Banking Act, set for a vote Wednesday, would protect lenders from federal punishment for doing business with firms in the burgeoning industry. The idea has won bipartisan support in the House amid calls to help cannabis companies move away from operating in all-cash environments.

The House legislation co-sponsored by Democrats Ed Perlmutter of Colorado and Denny Heck of Washington is meant to allay national banks’ fear of doing business with cannabis companies because federal law makes it illegal for them to accept cash deposits, process credit-card payments, clear checks or make loans.

While it is likely to pass the House, the bill would need to overcome Republican resistance to get through the Senate. And even if it reaches President Donald Trump and he signs it into law, the new safeguards aren’t likely to draw big banks into pot banking, according to Cowen analyst Jaret Seiberg.

The U.S. House is poised to pass a bill that would let banks do business with cannabis companies in states that permit marijuana sales, a step that some supporters see as helping to pave the way to nationwide legalization.

The Secure and Fair Enforcement Banking Act, set for a vote Wednesday, would protect lenders from federal punishment for doing business with firms in the burgeoning industry. The idea has won bipartisan support in the House amid calls to help cannabis companies move away from operating in all-cash environments.

The House legislation co-sponsored by Democrats Ed Perlmutter of Colorado and Denny Heck of Washington is meant to allay national banks’ fear of doing business with cannabis companies because federal law makes it illegal for them to accept cash deposits, process credit-card payments, clear checks or make loans.

While it is likely to pass the House, the bill would need to overcome Republican resistance to get through the Senate. And even if it reaches President Donald Trump and he signs it into law, the new safeguards aren’t likely to draw big banks into pot banking, according to Cowen analyst Jaret Seiberg.

“This is not a total victory,” Cowen said in a note. “The biggest banks that operate across state lines will still worry that cannabis is still illegal at the federal level.”

SAFE Act supporters say banks’ resistance to the pot business has created a public safety problem in which thousands of growers, retailers and employees are awash in cash and thus more vulnerable to crime.

Small banks and credit unions, meanwhile, see the current situation as a missed opportunity as more states legalize marijuana and businesses boom. In the past year, lobbying groups including the American Bankers Association have pushed for legislation to amend these rules, which has helped attract Republican support.

Changes were made to the House version to help sway key lawmakers. One is a hemp provision aimed at Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, whose state is a major grower of the non-intoxicating form of cannabis. Senator Mike Crapo, the Idaho Republican who leads the Banking Committee, has said he hopes to take up the issue and hold a vote later this year.

Senator Cory Gardner, a Colorado Republican, has played a key role in drumming up support for the bill. He’s up for re-election next year, and his seat could be crucial for maintaining Republican control of the Senate.

https://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/u-s-pot-bill-aims-to-ease-bankers-fears-of-dealing-with-cannabis-1.1321622

Lagarde on Growth, Czech Rate Decision, Airbus Pain: Eco Day

  • Incoming European Central Bank head Christine Lagarde says the global economy appears headed for “mediocre growth” — but no recession. (And she takes a swipe at Aung San Suu Kyi)
  • Almost two weeks after the ECB announced new stimulus measures, economists are still debating whether the plan will work the way it’s meant to
  • Czech’s central bank — one of Europe’s last to raise interest rates — is about to show exactly how much the global economic slowdown has blunted its zeal for monetary tightening
  • Nigeria and Benin are embroiled in a trade dispute two months after signing an agreement to free up the movement of goods and services in Africa
  • Weighed down by trade tensions with the U.S., China’s economy is at the weakest it has been all year in the third quarter. Now, ahead of a fresh round of talks in Washington, Chinese companies are gearing up to buy more U.S. pork
  • The U.S. may employ a trade weapon designed to maximize pain against the EU in its retaliation on Airbus subsidies, according to people familiar with the plan
    • Trump’s threat to roll out new tariffs could halt an expansion at an Airbus plant in Alabama and endanger investments at a Mercedes factory in the state
  • Italy’s 2020 budget is still in a state of flux, but one thing appears certain: there won’t be a repeat of last year’s bruising battle with the EU
  • The IMF no longer expects Turkey’s economy to shrink this year, but called into question the government’s focus on growth rather than reform
  • Bank of Japan Board Member Takako Masai put forward a new argument for sitting tight on policy amid heightened speculation the central bank will add to its stimulus measures in October.
  • Vietnam’s campaign to soothe U.S. trade ire has come to a coastal commune better known for growing dragon fruit along one-lane potholed roads
  • Thailand’s slowing economy got one piece of good news in August: The Chinese (tourists) are coming!
  • Mexico’s finance minister said it would be “understandable” if the country’s central bank decided to cut interest rates later this week

https://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/lagarde-on-growth-czech-rate-decision-airbus-pain-eco-day-1.1321433

Japan’s Exports Fall Most Since January as Trade Fights Weigh

Japanese exports dropped the most since January as China’s slowdown, the trade conflict between Washington and Beijing and softness in the global tech sector continued to weigh on overseas demand.

The value of shipments abroad fell 8.2% in August from a year earlier, according to the finance ministry. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg had estimated a 10% drop. Shipments to China suffered the second-largest drop in the last three years with sharp falls in chip-making equipment continuing. The trade balance showed a deficit of 136.3 billion yen.

Key Insights

  • Slowing demand overseas, especially in China, has weighed on Japan’s exports, one of the economy’s main drivers of growth. The U.S.-China trade war makes the outlook for Japanese shipments uncertain, while Japan and South Korea have their own tensions.
  • The threat of possible U.S. tariffs on Japanese cars and auto parts is another cause of uncertainty. President Donald Trump said a trade deal with Japan had been reached earlier this week, but didn’t say whether it would end his auto-tariff threat. Japan’s foreign minister, Toshimitsu Motegi, said Tokyo wants any deal to lay the issue to rest.
  • Weak exports make Japan’s economy particularly vulnerable at a time when the nation’s households are bracing for next month’s sales tax hike. Consumer spending has supported growth recently.
  • Shipments to South Korea fell 9.4%, fallout from the trade dispute between the two neighbors as tensions over Japan’s colonial past continue to simmer. Food exports, including beer, which has been boycotted by some South Koreans, slumped 41%.
  • What Bloomberg’s Economists Say

“Looking ahead, the stronger yen and slowing Asian demand are likely to hurt exports. A key risk — pending trade talks with the U.S. to head off tariffs on Japanese autos. With the sales tax set to rise in October, imports of consumer goods may increase.”–The Asia Economist TeamClick here to read more

Get More

  • Imports fell 12% in August, versus economists’ median estimate of a 10.7% drop.
  • Exports to China dropped 12.1% in August, while shipments to the U.S. decreased 4.4%.
  • Exports of chip-making equipment to China slid 38.7% and by 24.5% overall.

https://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/japan-s-exports-fall-most-since-january-as-trade-fights-weigh-1.1317801

Angela Merkel Has One Last Chance to Help the Climate

 German Chancellor Angela Merkel has aspired to fight climate change at least since she was environment minister in the 1990s. This week, ahead of the United Nations Climate Action Summit, she may get her best chance: On Friday, her cabinet will unveil a sweeping policy package intended to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. The question is how bold she’s willing to be.

There’s no doubt that Germany, the world’s sixth-largest carbon polluter, needs to do better. At current rates, it will reach its emission goals for 2020 eight years late, and its goals for 2030 only in 2046. The government plans to get the economy off coal by 2038, but that isn’t fast enough. There’s not much consensus on how to improve this picture.

By far the best policy option would be a carbon tax, which would put a simple and transparent price on the dirty gases emitted by cars, homes and factories. Consumers could adjust to this signal by changing their lifestyles or adopting cleaner technologies, while companies would be prodded to reduce fossil-fuel use and make greener products. The proceeds could even be redistributed to taxpayers as a dividend.

Unfortunately, the prospects for such a plan are dim. Merkel’s junior partners, the center-left Social Democrats, would support it. But her own center-right Christian Democrats and their Bavarian sister party balk at anything containing the word “tax” and fear a German version of last year’s “yellow vest” protests in France against higher fuel prices.

Politically, then, Germany may have to settle for the second-best option: an emissions-trading system, also known as cap-and-trade. This would also aim to put a price on emissions, albeit indirectly. Whereas a tax fixes the price of carbon, cap-and-trade fixes the amount of emissions and lets polluting companies set the price by selling and buying allowances.

Although the European Union already has such a system, it covers only a few sectors, such as steel and cement makers. For more than a decade, moreover, the cap was set too high, making prices too low to encourage companies to invest in cleaner technology. As the EU’s largest economy, Germany could try to fix this system by (for example) expanding what sectors it applies to. But as during the euro crisis, it seems reluctant to play leader.

A more realistic plan is to at least agree on a national emissions-trading system that covers transportation and the heating of buildings. This would involve complex new certification rules, require monitoring and audit systems, invite litigation, and take a while to set up. But it would still cut emissions — which is better than nothing.

The worst outcome on Friday would be for the cabinet, composed of parties that loathe each other, to offer a watered down trading system for the sake of compromise. Rumors are circulating to this effect. The idea would be to combine a cap-and-trade system with a price ceiling. If, for example, the price of a metric ton of greenhouse gases were to rise above 70 euros ($77), the government would issue unlimited additional allowances to push it down again. That would require all the added bureaucracy of a trading system while undermining its primary benefit.

As is its wont, Merkel’s government would probably disguise such a cop-out amid a thicket of other proposals. Many of these may be sensible, such as subsidizing electric cars and their charging stations, helping landlords install modern heating, or reducing the value-added tax on train tickets to make them more attractive relative to flights. But at heart, the package would still be a fudge.

And that would be a shame. As a leader in Europe and a potential model for countries elsewhere, Germany needs to get more ambitious about climate change — and Merkel won’t get a better opportunity than this.

https://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/angela-merkel-has-one-last-chance-to-help-the-climate-1.1317789

After Bank Bailout, Ghana Power Deals Risk New Debt Headache

After issuing more than 17 billion cedis ($3.1 billion) in bonds over the past two years to bail out banks and repay energy arrears, Ghana faces a new debt risk.

Independent power producers dismissed a plan by Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta to renegotiate deals for surplus supply and said they will only accept a termination settlement of $2 billion. The West African nation has almost double the capacity to meet its peak demand of about 2,700 megawatts, a luxury that contributed to an additional 5.1 billion cedis, or 1.5% of gross domestic product, to Ghana’s liabilities this year alone.

Separately, excess gas supply will add as much as $850 million to Ghana’s obligations from 2020.

The power deals will impact Ghana’s finances regardless of whether they’re renegotiated or not, said Leslie Dwight Mensah, an economist at the Accra-based Institute of Fiscal Studies.

“The liquidation, as the minister is seeking, actually is the lesser of two evils because if it happens it will be handled by debt,” said Mensah. “On the other hand, if we fail to renegotiate then the expenses of paying for power that we can’t use will continue.”

This year’s liability is a once-off and won’t recur once the contracts are renegotiated, Deputy Finance Minister Charles Adu Boahen said after a request for comment. “As the energy reforms kick in, this will be a one-time intervention,” he said.

The country’s debt rose to 204 billion cedis at the end of June, or 59.2% of GDP, from 52.1% the year before. The tally includes 11.2 billion cedis in bonds that were issued to safeguard client deposits held at failed lenders as the central bank concluded a cleanup of the finance sector.

Separately, Ghana has also sold more than 6 billion cedis in securities to settle unrelated legacy debts of the energy sector since October 2017. While the government issued the bonds through a special-purpose vehicle and didn’t back it with a sovereign guarantee, the program allows for a further 4 billion cedis that may be issued as soon as designated fuel levies are sufficient to sustain more sales.

In April, West Africa’s second-biggest economy concluded a four-year bailout program with the International Monetary Fund. Under the IMF’s supervision, Ghana lowered debt levels and narrowed its budget deficit after years of chronic overspending.

While the government is not directly responsible for paying power producers, the liabilities will add to the losses of state utilities, said Mark Bohlund, Africa economist at Bloomberg Economics in London.

“This will require capital injections from the government at some point, similar to the government recapitalization of banks in 2018,” said Bohlund. “When this happens, it will require more government borrowing.”

https://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/after-bank-bailout-ghana-power-deals-risk-new-debt-headache-1.1317778

U.S. Beats Saudi Arabia to Become Top Oil Exporter on Shale Boom

The U.S. briefly became the world’s No. 1 oil exporter as record shale production found its way to global customers, and there are prospects for more.

Surging output from shale helped America ship almost 9 million barrels a day of crude and oil products in June, surpassing Saudi Arabia, the International Energy Agency said in a report, citing gross export figures. There’s room to send even more supply overseas as companies add infrastructure to transport the burgeoning production from fields in Texas and New Mexico to the coast.

Gains in U.S. supply are undermining efforts by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies, whose production cuts are in their third year in a bid to drain stockpiles. The swelling American output, as well as deepening concerns over global demand fueled by a prolonged U.S.-China trade war, have prompted a drop of almost 20% in benchmark Brent crude from an April high.

The expansion in America’s exports in June was helped by a surge in crude-oil shipments to more than 3 million barrels a day, the IEA said. At the time, Saudi Arabia was cutting its exports as part of the OPEC+ agreement, while Russian flows were constrained by the Druzhba pipeline crisis.

The Saudis reclaimed the top exporter’s spot in July and August as hurricanes disrupted U.S. production and the trade dispute “made it more difficult for shale shipments to find markets,” the IEA said.

The tussle for the No. 1 slot could remain tight in the months ahead. As Saudi Arabia continues to curb production, the IEA said America’s crude exports could rise by a further 33% from June levels to as much as 4 million barrels a day as new export infrastructure gets built in the fourth quarter of this year.

https://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/u-s-beats-saudi-arabia-to-become-top-oil-exporter-on-shale-boom-1.1314948