Energy & Commodities

B.C. government adds red tape to Trans Mountain

The Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, which is on track to cost nearly $9 billion more than it was last estimated to cost, may now face yet more red tape that could add more costs and delays.

This week, George Heyman, the B.C. minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy, and Bruce Ralston, minister of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation, announced changes to the provincial environmental certificate — originally issued in 2017 and amended in 2019 — for the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project.

Whether the changes will have a material impact on the project’s cost or timelines is unclear.

The changes to the certificate are the result of a federal Court of Appeal decision in 2018, and B.C. Court of Appeal decision in 2019.

The project had received federal approval, but was halted when, in 2018, the federal Court of Appeal ruled the National Energy Board (NEB) had failed to properly assess potential impacts on the marine environment from the increased oil tanker traffic that would result from the expansion…read more.

China Moves To Restrict Financing For Russian Commodities

  • According to Bloomberg, the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) has ceased the issuance of dollar-denominated letters of credit for physical Russian commodities purchases.
  • Beijing’s move is an apparent attempt to comply with U.S. and European sanctions.
  • On Friday morning, in a telephone call between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin, Xi allegedly urged Putin to negotiate with Ukraine.

Beijing, a key Russian ally, has moved to restrict financing for Russian commodities purchases through two of China’s largest state-owned banks, Bloomberg reports, as Russian forces advance to Kyiv only a day after launching a full-scale invasion plan.

According to Bloomberg, the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) has ceased the issuance of dollar-denominated letters of credit for physical Russian commodities purchases, and the Bank of China has also restricted financing on some level, though details are not forthcoming.

Beijing’s move is an apparent attempt to comply with U.S. and European sanctions, but also follows a move on Thursday to assist Moscow by lifting restrictions on wheat imports from Russia, the world’s top producer of wheat.

The Chinese restrictions had been put in place earlier due to fears of a fungal disease.

China’s commodities financing restrictions come despite the lack of any US or European sanctions targeting Russia’s energy industry…read more.

Feds say no more funding for Trans Mountain expansion as project costs nearly double

CALGARY — The federal government said Friday it will not put more money toward the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion in spite of a newly disclosed price tag for the project that comes in 70 per cent higher than expected.

Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said Friday that Trans Mountain Corporation — the Crown corporation that owns the massive oil pipeline — will need to secure third-party funding to complete the project, either through banks or public debt markets.

“I want to assure Canadians there will be no additional public funding for TMC,” Freeland told reporters in Ottawa, adding the government has engaged BMO Capital Markets and TD Securities to provide financial advice on the project and has been assured by both parties that the project remains commercially viable.

Freeland’s comments came shortly after Trans Mountain Corporation announced the projected cost of the pipeline expansion has soared from its earlier estimate of $12.6 billion to $21.4 billion…read more.

Russia And China Ink Huge Oil Deals As Ukraine Tensions Soar

  • Moscow’s state-owned oil giant, Rosneft, signed a US$80 billion 10-year deal to supply the China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) with 100 million metric tonnes of oil.
  • This increase in crude oil delivery volumes and mechanisms to China is part of a broad-based strategy to circumvent to as great a degree as possible the effects of international sanctions against Russia.
  • This multi-level cooperation strategy between Russia and China provides financing into Russia from China, regardless of possible sanctions from the U.S. and its allies.

At around the same time as Russian President, Vladimir Putin, had his first in-person meeting with his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, for nearly two years – at the opening of the Winter Olympics ceremony in Beijing – and reiterated that there is ‘no limit’ to how far Russian and Chinese friendship may go, a slew of huge new cooperation deals in the oil and gas sectors and beyond were being announced by state news agencies on both sides. As analyzed in-depth in my new book on the global oil markets, the two countries have been working in an increasingly coordinated manner in the past few years in multiple operational spaces, all towards the central aim of weakening the dominant global power position of the U.S., and then supplanting it in this role. Nowhere has this coordinated strategy been more obvious in oil and gas sector terms than in the Middle East, especially since the U.S.’s unilateral withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with Iran in May 2018. Its subsequent withdrawal from Afghanistan in September 2021, and then the ‘end of combat mission’ in Iraq in December 2021, has reinforced the Russia-China axis’s confidence that achieving their aim will only be a matter of time. Consequently, those countries in the Middle East who seek to portray themselves as neither on one side or another – and, bizarrely, chose to excuse how China is likely to deal with their own Muslim cultures in their recent attempt to seal a China-GCC Free Trade Agreement – either do not realize that the current power struggle between the U.S. and its allies, and China-Russia and its allies, is a zero-sum game, or are jejune at best…read more.

The Lone Bear Calling For $65 Oil

  • The head of commodity analysis at Citigroup believes that there has been a ‘colossal failure’ when it comes to analyzing the fundamentals of today’s oil markets.
  • While plenty of analysts are calling for $100 oil, Citigroup sees oil prices falling to an average of $65 this year.
  • Ed Morse believes the current undersupply is a seasonal phenomenon and sees the global oil balance moving back to a surplus in the second quarter.

Bullishness across commodity markets is overwhelming. Goldman’s Jeffrey Currie summed it up earlier this week by saying “This is a molecule crisis. We’re out of everything, I don’t care if it’s oil, gas, coal, copper, aluminum, you name it we’re out of it.”

Yet there is the occasional bear – and in oil, one bear is arguing that oil will fall in just a few months.

Citi’s head of commodity analysis Ed Morse is a rare contrarian voice in a sea of commodity analysts predicting oil at $100. For a while now, Morse has argued that instead of rising much further, oil will actually fall this year, potentially averaging $65 per barrel by the end of the year.

“I think there’s been a colossal failure of the analytical community to look at what’s happening on the ground, to look at projects that have been reaching final investment decisions, to look at where the efficiency of capital is, to be blindsided by a prejudice, which says not enough capital is being spent, and decline rates are going up,” Morse told Barron’s in a recent interview.

According to Morse’s team’s projections for this year, global oil supply should increase by 5.5 million bpd, and this is excluding Iran, which seems to be nearing a chance to return to global oil markets if the ongoing talks about its nuclear program with the United States end with an agreement. As Bloomberg’s Xavier Blas noted in a recent column, Iran may already be exporting oil illicitly, and the lifting of U.S. sanctions may not change the amounts much, but the very news will be bearish for oil prices…read more.