Tag Archives: Oil

China’s Oil Trade Retaliation is Iran’s Gain, by Tom Luongo

Starting a trade war is like dropping a bomb, you never know what’s going to blow up. From Tom Luongo at tomluongo.me:

I’ve told you that once you start down the Trade War path forever will it dominate your destiny.

Well here we are.  Trump slaps big tariffs on aluminum and steel in a bid to leverage Gary Cohn’s ICE Wall plan to control the metals and oils futures markets.   I’m not sure how much of this stuff I believe but it is clear that the futures price for most strategically important commodities are divorced from the real world.

Alistair Crooke also noted the importance of Trump’s ‘energy dominance’ policy recently, which I suggest strongly you read.

But today’s edition of “As the Trade War Churns” is about China and their willingness to shift their energy purchases away from U.S. producers.  Irina Slav at Oilprice.com has the good bits.

The latest escalation in the tariff exchange, however, is a little bit different than all the others so far. It’s different because it came after Beijing said it intends to slap tariffs on U.S. oil, gas, and coal imports.

China’s was a retaliatory move to impose tariffs on US$50 billion worth of U.S. goods, which followed Trump’s earlier announcement that another US$50 billion in goods would be subjected to a 25-percent tariff starting July 6.

It’s unclear as to what form this will take but there’s also this report from the New York Times which talks about the China/U.S. energy trade.

Things could get worse if the United States and China ratchet up their actions [counter-tariffs]. Mr. Trump has already promised more tariffs in response to China’s retaliation. China, in turn, is likely to back away from an agreement to buy $70 billion worth of American agricultural and energy products — a deal that was conditional on the United States lifting its threat of tariffs.

“China’s proportionate and targeted tariffs on U.S. imports are meant to send a strong signal that it will not capitulate to U.S. demands,” said Eswar Prasad, a professor of international trade at Cornell University. “It will be challenging for both sides to find a way to de-escalate these tensions.”

But as Ms. Slav points out, China has enjoyed taking advantage of the glut of U.S. oil as shale drillers flood the market with cheap oil.  The West Texas Intermediate/Brent Spread has widened out to more than $10 at times.

WTIC-Brent-Spread

By slapping counter tariffs on U.S. oil, that would more than overcome the current WTIC/Brent spread and send Chinese refiners looking for new markets.

Hey, do you know whose oil is sold at a discount to Brent on a regular basis?

Iran’s.  That’s whose.

To continue reading: China’s Oil Trade Retaliation is Iran’s Gain

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The Summer of Discontent, by James Howard Kunstler

The world has too much debt and not enough oil. From James Howard Kunstler at kunstler.com:

The ill-feeling among leaders of the G-7 nations — essentially, the West plus Japan — was mirrored early this morning in the puking financial market futures, so odious, apparently, is the presence of America’s Golden Golem of Greatness at the Quebec meet-up of First World poobahs. It’s hard to blame them. The GGG refuses to play nice in the sandbox of the old order.

Like many observers here in the USA, I can’t tell exactly whether Donald Trump is out of his mind or justifiably blowing up out-of-date relationships and conventions in a world that is desperately seeking a new disposition of things. The West had a mighty good run in the decades since the fiascos of the mid-20th century. My guess is that we’re witnessing a slow-burning panic over the impossibility of maintaining the enviable standard of living we’ve all enjoyed.

All the jabber is about trade and obstacles to trade, but the real action probably emanates from the energy sector, especially oil. The G-7 nations are nothing without it, and the supply is getting sketchy at the margins in a way that probably and rightfully scares them. I’d suppose, for instance, that the recent run-up in oil prices from $40-a barrel to nearly $80 has had the usual effect of dampening economic activity worldwide. For some odd reason, the media doesn’t pay attention to any of that. But it’s become virtually an axiom that oil over $75-a-barrel smashes economies while oil under $75-a-barrel crushes oil companies.

Mr. Trump probably believes that the USA is in the catbird seat with oil because of the so-called “shale oil miracle.” If so, he is no more deluded than the rest of his fellow citizens, including government officials and journalists, who have failed to notice that the economics of shale oil don’t pencil out — or are afraid to say. The oil companies are not making a red cent at it, despite the record-breaking production numbers that recently exceeded the previous all-time-peak set in 1970. The public believes that we’re “energy independent” now, which is simply not true because we still import way more oil than we export: 10.7 million barrels incoming versus 7.1 million barrels a week outgoing (US EIA).

To continue reading: The Summer of Discontent

Petro-yuan is the newest weapon for the China-Russia-Iran anti-USD alliance, by Jeff Brown

China, Russia, and Iran’s move away from trading oil in dollars may or may not have dire consequences for the dollar. However, most people in the West are unaware of this potentially important shift, because the media is not covering it. From Jeff Brown at thesaker.is:

Pictured above, the currency symbols for the old Spanish peseta and the Chinese yuan. Maybe Baba Beijing can synthesize the two of them into a cooling looking petro-yuan logo.

After 25 years of dreams, planning, rumors and testing, the Chinese petro-yuan is now official. Right now, almost all global oil trade is conducted in US dollars, using two benchmark varieties of crude, West Texas Intermediate and North Sea Brent, as the industry standards. It is no accident that these two benchmarks are based on imperial crude, American and British, and the irony of this is surely not lost on Baba Beijing (China’s leadership).

China is not selling oil, so the petro-yuan is a futures purchase contract denominated in renminbi for the country to import the stuff. As the world’s biggest importer of hydrocarbons, Baba Beijing has long felt that pricing all its millions of tons of imports should be in its national currency. Why should China pay for Russian natural gas or Venezuelan crude in Western empire’s currency of global financial control, Uncle Sam’s greenback?

Opinions outside China range from being non-plussed, to claiming it is the most important news in modern financial history, but you would have to search far and wide in Eurangloland (NATO, EU, Israel, Australia and New Zealand) and its heavily censored and suppressed media, to see for yourself. Outside the obligatory statement of fact in financial outlets like the Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, Reuters and Bloomberg, silence from the West’s mainstream media is deafening, as this screenshot below shows, when searching the topic. Only one mainstream article showed up on page #1 of the web search and that was CNBC from 2017. Even just looking for “petro-yuan” gives identical results. It’s a Western media black hole.

To continue reading: Petro-yuan is the newest weapon for the China-Russia-Iran anti-USD alliance

In Unprecedented Move, China Plans To Pay For Oil Imports With Yuan Instead Of Dollars, by Tyler Durden

The dollar and the oil trade have been inseperable since the 1970s. No more. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

Just days after Beijing officially launched  Yuan-denominated crude oil futures (with a bang, as shown in the chart below, surpassing Brent trading volume) which are expected to quickly become the third global price benchmark along Brent and WTI, China took the next major step in the challenging the Dollar’s supremacy as global reserve currency (and internationalizing the Yuan) when on Thursday Reuters reported that China took the first steps to paying for crude oil imports in its own currency instead of the US Dollars.

A pilot program for yuan payment could be launched as soon as the second half of the year and regulators have already asked some financial institutions to “prepare for pricing crude imports in the yuan“, Reuters sourcesreveal.

According to the proposed plan, Beijing would start with purchases from Russia and Angola, two nations which, like China, are keen to break the dollar’s global dominance. They are also two of the top suppliers of crude oil to China, along with Saudi Arabia.

A change in the default crude oil transactional currency – which for decades has been the “Petrodollar”, blessing the US with global reserve currency status – would have monumental consequences for capital allocations and trade flows, not to mention geopolitics: as Reuters notes, a shift in just a small part of global oil trade into the yuan is potentially huge. “Oil is the world’s most traded commodity, with an annual trade value of around $14 trillion, roughly equivalent to China’s gross domestic product last year.” Currently, virtually all global crude oil trading is in dollars, barring an estimated 1 per cent in other currencies. This is the basis of US dominance in the world economy.

To continue reading: In Unprecedented Move, China Plans To Pay For Oil Imports With Yuan Instead Of Dollars

The Truth About U.S. Energy Dominance, by Tyler Durden

The US exports oil, but it is still a net importer; it imports more than it exports. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

President Trump tweet-gloated this morning: “We are getting it done – jobs and security!” – in response to the headlines that USA is set to become the world’s largest oil producer.

While the ‘news’ about production is fact…

The bigger question is the narrative of US global dominance in the energy markets and the ugly narrative-bashing reality that USA is still a net-importing nation – somewhat battering the “security” meme Trump crowed about.

As OilPrice.com’s Kurt Cobb explains, much of the media coverage of the American energy industry implies that America has become a vast and growing exporter of energy to the rest of the world and that this has created a sort of “energy dominance” for the country on the world stage.

Whether such reports qualify as so-called “fake news” depends very much on three things: 1) How one defines “fake news,” 2) whether writers of such reports qualify the words “imports” and “exports” with the word “net” and 3) which energy sources they are discussing.

In this case let’s define “fake news” as claims that official, publicly available statistics show plainly to be false. By that criterion anyone who claims that the United States is a net energy exporter would certainly be guilty of propagating “fake news.”

Energy statistics from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) show that in November 2017 (the most recent month for which figures are available) the United States had net imports 329.5 trillion BTUs of energy in all its forms.* That’s down from a peak of 2.74 quadrillion BTUs in August 2006, something that is certainly a turnabout from the previous trend. But all claims that the United States is a net energy exporter must be labeled as unequivocally false.

It turns out, however, that most people making misleading claims about America’s energy situation don’t actually say or write things which are technically false. What they do is use language which intentionally or unintentionally misleads the reader or listener.

To continue reading: The Truth About U.S. Energy Dominance

Party On, Dudes, by James Howard Kunstler

Most of the shale and fracking miracle has been based on borrowed money. It may become a lot less miraculous if interest rates keep rising. From James Howard Kunstler at Kunstler.com:

As of this week, the shale oil miracle launched US oil production above the 1970 previous-all-time record at just over ten million barrels a day. Techno-rapturists are celebrating what seems to be a blindingly bright new golden age of energy greatness. Independent oil analyst Art Berman, who made the podcast rounds the last two weeks, put it in more reality-accessible terms: “Shale is a retirement party for the oil industry.”

It was an impressive stunt and it had everything to do with the reality-optional world of bizarro finance that emerged from the wreckage of the 2008 Great Financial Crisis. In fact, a look the chart below shows how exactly the rise of shale oil production took off after that milestone year of the long emergency. Around that time, US oil production had sunk below five million barrels a day, and since we were burning through around twenty million barrels a day, the rest had to be imported.

Chart by Steve St. Angelo at http://www.srsroccoreport.com

In June of 2008, US crude hit $144-a-barrel, a figure so harsh that it crippled economic activity — since just about everything we do depends on oil for making, enabling, and transporting stuff. The price and supply of oil became so problematic after the year 2000 that the US had to desperately engineer a work-around to keep this hyper-complex society operating. The “solution” was debt. If you can’t afford to run your society, then try borrowing from the future to keep your mojo working.

The shale oil industry was a prime beneficiary of this new hyper-debt regime. The orgy of borrowing was primed by Federal Reserve “creation” of trillions of dollars of “capital” out of thin air (QE: Quantitative Easing), along with supernaturally low interest rates on the borrowed money (ZIRP: Zero Interest Rate Policy). The oil companies were desperate in 2008. They were, after all, in the business of producing… oil! (Duh….) — even if a giant company like BP pretended for a while that its initials stood for “Beyond Petroleum.”

To continue reading: Party On, Dudes

The Petro-Yuan Bombshell and Its Relation to the New US Security Doctrine, by Pepe Escobar

Surprise, surprise, the countries the US’s latest National Security Strategy calls revisionist powers and rivals are moving away from the US dollar as a reserve currency. From Pepe Escobar at russia-insider.com:

The new 55-page “America First” National Security Strategy (NSS), drafted over the course of 2017, defines Russia and China as “revisionist” powers, “rivals,” and for all practical purposes strategic competitors of the United States.

 The NSS stops short of defining Russia and China as enemies, allowing for an “attempt to build a great partnership with those and other countries.” Still, Beijing qualified it as “reckless” and “irrational.” The Kremlin noted its “imperialist character” and “disregard for a multipolar world.” Iran, predictably, is described by the NSS as “the world’s most significant state sponsor of terrorism.” 

Russia, China and Iran happen to be the three key movers and shakers in the ongoing geopolitical and geo-economic process of Eurasia integration.

The NSS can certainly be regarded as a response to what happened at the BRICS summit in Xiamen last September. Then, Russian President Vladimir Putin insisted on “the BRIC countries’ concerns over the unfairness of the global financial and economic architecture which does not give due regard to the growing weight of the emerging economies,” and stressed the need to “overcome the excessive domination of a limited number of reserve currencies.”

Yes, this is photoshopped, but still very apt – the whole world is wondering what his next move will be …

That was a clear reference to the US dollar, which accounts for nearly two-thirds of total reserve currency around the world and remains the benchmark determining the price of energy and strategic raw materials.

And that brings us to the unnamed secret at the heart of the NSS; the Russia-China “threat” to the US dollar.

The CIPS/SWIFT face-off

The website of the China Foreign Exchange Trade System (CFETS) recently announcedthe establishment of a yuan-ruble payment system, hinting that similar systems regarding other currencies participating in the New Silk Roads, a.k.a. Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) will also be in place in the near future.    

Crucially, this is not about reducing currency risk; after all Russia and China have increasingly traded bilaterally in their own currencies since the 2014 US-imposed sanctions on Russia. This is about the implementation of a huge, new alternative reserve currency zone, bypassing the US dollar.

To continue reading: The Petro-Yuan Bombshell and Its Relation to the New US Security Doctrine