Russia says OPEC+ meeting to be held on Saturday By Reuters



© Reuters.

MOSCOW (Reuters) – The Russian energy ministry said a video conference of a group of leading oil producers, known as OPEC+, would be held on Saturday.

Separately, an OPEC+ source told Reuters that the OPEC conference was scheduled to start at 2 pm Vienna time (1200 GMT) on Saturday followed by the OPEC+ online meeting at 4 pm.

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Trump gives U.S. agencies power to fast-track big infrastructure projects By Reuters



© Reuters. U.S. President Trump delivers statement on protests over racial inequality at the White House in Washington

By Valerie Volcovici and Alexandra Alper

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday signed an executive order that gives federal agencies emergency powers to fast-track major energy and other infrastructure projects by overriding environmental permitting requirements.

The White House said the order was a way to help the economy rebound from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and improve infrastructure.

It calls for public works and highway projects as well as energy projects like pipelines and terminals to be expedited. It instructs the Interior, Agriculture and Defense Departments to accelerate projects on federal lands.

Trump has been a vocal advocate of fossil fuels as president and has sought to roll back regulations slowing their development and reduce state powers to block projects for environmental reasons.

Earlier this year, the Trump administration proposed to streamline the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), a bedrock environmental regulation that creates time consuming environmental reviews and public feedback requirements for major infrastructure projects.

The proposal is going through a public comment and review period.

Critics said Trump’s order comes at the expense of African American and other minorities who tend to live in communities directly affected by major energy infrastructure.

“Gutting NEPA takes away one of the few tools communities of color have to protect themselves and make their voices heard on federal decisions impacting them,” said Democratic Congressman Raul Grijalva, chair of the House natural resources committee.

Christy Goldfuss, a senior vice president at the Center for American Progress said letting agencies “ram through” fossil fuel projects will harm “the very same communities that are dying at higher rates from COVID-19 and police violence.”

In March, the Environmental Protection Agency cited the coronavirus when it announced a policy to ease compliance and monitoring for industrial facilities and power plants.

Industry groups praised Trump’s order. The National Mining Association said it will “support increased use of the vast domestic mineral reserves we have right here at home.”

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Gold Languishes in Lower End of Range as Stocks Shrug off Jobless Data By Investing.com



© Reuters.

By Geoffrey Smith 

Investing.com — Gold prices edged higher on Thursday but stayed at the lower end of their recent range, as risk assets refused to give up most of the gains posted in a sharp three-day rally.

Demand for bullion was however supported by signs that the economic bounce-back from the Coronavirus pandemic is not proceeding smoothly, as continuing jobless claims rose by some 650,000 in the week through May 22, instead of declining as expected.

Initial jobless claims fell below 2 million last week for the first time since March, but remained stubbornly high at 1.88 million, suggesting that pressure on businesses across the country is still intense.

“The rate of decay of claims has slowed, disappointingly, and we think the first sub-1M reading won’t come until the first week of July,” wrote Ian Shepherdson, chief economist with Pantheon Macroeconomics, in a research note.

“By then, the cumulative increase in claims since the virus struck will be close to 50 million,” he added.

By 11:30 AM ET (1535 GMT), for delivery on the Comex exchange were up 0.8% at $1,718.05 a troy ounce, while was up 0.8% at $1,712.34.

Gold had closed at its lowest level in three weeks on Wednesday, only just above the optically important $1,700 level.

rebounded 0.5% to trade just above $18 an ounce again, while rose 0.5% to $864.95 an ounce.

underperformed, falling 2.7%, as the eagerly-anticipated fiscal stimulus package in Germany failed to include any incentives for buying new cars with internal combustion engines. Industrial demand for palladium comes almost exclusively from the auto sector.

Elsewhere, the European Central Bank also lived up to expectations in increasing the size of the Pandemic Emergency Purchase Program – its first line of defense against Covid-driven market disruptions – by 600 billion euros ($672 billion) to 1.35 billion. It also extended the timeframe for bond purchases under the program to the middle of next year.

While that should extend the period of ultra-low returns on eurozone bonds and therefore support gold prices, it also – together with the German fiscal package – arguably gives a more solid footing to the recovery, which may lure European gold buyers back into riskier assets sooner than otherwise likely.

Retail investor support for gold still looks historically strong, however. According to the World Gold Council, gold-backed ETFs added 154 tons to their holdings in May thanks to net inflows of $8.5 billion. That boosted global holdings to a new all-time high of 3,510 tons.

“Year-to-date, inflows (623 tons, or $33.7 billion) now exceed the highest level of annual inflows (591t) seen in 2009,” WGC strategist John Reade wrote.

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Denmark should end oil and gas hunt, says government adviser By Reuters



© Reuters. Denmark’s Climate and Energy Minister Jorgensen speaks during an interview in Copenhagen

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) – Denmark should end all future oil and gas exploration in the North Sea, an independent adviser to the government said on Thursday, saying it would hurt Denmark’s ambition as a front-runner in the fight against climate change.

Denmark has set one of the most ambitious climate change targets in the world and the adviser’s recommendation is crucial to the government’s pending decision on whether to proceed with a previously announced North Sea oil and gas tender.

“The credibility of Denmark as a pioneer (in climate change) can quickly erode if we continue to expand our oil and gas activities,” the Danish Council on Climate Change said in a report commissioned by the government.

The government aims to give its decision in the autumn but declined to say whether it would follow the council’s advice, citing a need to weigh concerns against the potential economic losses and security of supply.

“It is a complex balancing act and if Denmark is to take international climate leadership, then we must show that the green transition can go hand in hand with financial responsibility,” said climate and energy minister Dan Jorgensen.

Denmark is broadly seen as a pioneer on climate change, with many of its peers closely following what the small Nordic state is doing to achieve its targets.

“A Danish halt for further exploration in the North Sea could send a strong signal in international climate politics and may even encourage other countries to follow suit,” the council said.

Denmark produced about 30.8 million barrels of oil and a little more than 3 billion cubic metres of gas in 2019. It is the second-biggest oil producer in the European Union behind Britain but its output remains dwarfed by neighboring Norway.

The Danish Energy Agency (DEA) said in February that it had received applications from four companies – Ardent Oil, Lundin (ST:), MOL (BU:) and Total (PA:) – in the so-called eighth licensing round.

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Mexico mining output to shrink 17% in 2020, industry group says By Reuters




MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Mexican mining output will likely fall by about 17% in 2020 due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, and should recover by the first quarter of next year, the head of the country’s mining chamber said on Wednesday.

In interview with Reuters, Fernando Alanis, president of the chamber known as Camimex, also estimated that Mexican mining exports would decline by around 10% this year.

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OPEC+ keen to keep U.S. shale in check as oil prices rally By Reuters


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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A 3D printed oil pump jack in front of the OPEC logo in this illustration picture

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By Olesya Astakhova and Dmitry Zhdannikov

LONDON (Reuters) – When OPEC, Russia and their allies agreed in April to slash oil production, little did they expect that their initiative to prop up collapsing prices would be helped by a swift drop in U.S. output.

Now that crude has rallied on the back of those cuts from below $20 a barrel to $40 or more, the group known as OPEC+ faces a fresh challenge: stopping U.S. shale production delivering another surprise by recovering equally quickly.

“The plan is to stick to prices of $40-$50 per barrel because as soon as they rise any further to say $70 per barrel it encourages too much oil production, including U.S. shale,” said a Russian source familiar with OPEC+ talks on the issue.

OPEC+ sources told Reuters on Wednesday that Russia and Saudi Arabia had reached a compromise to extend into July the group’s existing output cuts of 9.7 million barrels per day (bpd), the equivalent of 10% of global output.

Those deep cuts had been due to be implemented in just May and June, before curbs were to be slowly eased.

Concerns about a resurgence of U.S. shale, which is already showing signs of revival, was one reason Moscow and Russia only backed prolonging cuts into July rather than agreeing a longer extension, two sources briefed on OPEC+ talks said.

OPEC and its partners have in the past set out policy for several months at least, but JPMorgan (NYSE:)’s Christyan Malek said the month-by-month approach was a “lesser of the evils” as global demand picks up after crashing due to the coronavirus crisis.

“Saudi and Russia are in damage control mode. It is not only about measuring demand. It is also about tracking U.S. shale on a month-by-month basis in order not to allow shale to rebound back quickly,” he said.

In recent years, even as OPEC+ cut output to support prices, U.S. production of crude and other liquids surged, soaring to 20 million bpd. But, with breakeven for shale oil producers around $50-$70 a barrel, this year’s price collapse sent U.S. output down by as much as 2 million bpd in April by some estimates.

Global oil demand, which tumbled by as much as a third in April, has been recovering slowly with the easing lockdown measures. Demand is expected to exceed supply in June.

But global inventories are still bulging, after 1 billion barrels of oil was pumped into storage when producers struggled to find buyers.

“The market is very fluid and given the uncertainty around the trajectory of demand recovery versus the risks of a second wave of the virus, OPEC has to be nimble,” said Amrita Sen, co-founder of Energy Aspects.

“By doing this month-by-month, they keep everyone on their toes, making it difficult for others to invest,” she said.

Bob McNally, founder of Rapidan Energy Group, said Moscow and Riyadh were worried enough about the outlook to want to extend the production cuts.

“But no question that crude’s unexpected rally along with faster-than-expected North American shut ins has reduced the level of concern,” he said.



Gold’s Allure to Remain ‘Feeble’ in India Until September By Bloomberg



© Bloomberg. A customer tries on rings inside a Titan Co. Tanishq jewelry store during the festival of Dhanteras in Mumbai, India, on Friday, Oct. 25, 2019. Gold sales on the most auspicious day in India to buy the metal tumbled this year as high prices and concerns about an economic slowdown saw customers limit purchases. Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg

(Bloomberg) — Demand for in India is unlikely to revive before September even as jewelers slowly reopen their stores after the world’s biggest lockdown.

Consumption in the world’s second-biggest user came crashing down in the first quarter, hit by high prices and slowing growth. With a more than two-month-long lockdown pushing the economy toward its first annual contraction in at least four decades and shops closed for most of April and May, sales may be hit further.

While the lockdown, which started on March 25, is slowly being eased and jewelry stores reopen across the country, buyers are staying away as public transport systems haven’t resumed fully. People are focusing more on resuming their jobs and businesses, and only a handful have come to the stores to pick up old orders or the ones bought online during the lockdown, according to Shaankar Sen, vice chairman of the All India Gem And Jewellery Domestic Council.

“June would be a very feeble warm up,” for demand and the big purchases won’t happen before September, Sen said by phone from Kolkata. “We gauge that festival jewelry purchases have been put on hold and any kind of occasion-based purchases are also delayed now.”

Gold Imports by India Slump to Lowest in Decade on Virus Curbs

Sen, who is also the managing director of Senco Gold & Diamonds, said his company has reopened more than 70% of its 110 stores spread across 17 states.

The lockdown led to negligible sales even on occasions like Akshaya Tritiya, the second-most auspicious day to buy gold in the Hindu calendar, according to Care Ratings Ltd. Near-term prospects for the industry aren’t too bright owing to expectations of rising prices of precious metals, and the economic slowdown negatively impacting disposable incomes, it said.

World’s Biggest Lockdown to Push 12 Million into Extreme Poverty

“Customers now prefer to visit stores without their families,” said Ahammed M.P., Chairman of Kerala-based Malabar Gold & Diamonds. “They have become extremely cautious while coming to our jewelry stores.”

New Delhi-based PC Jeweller Ltd. has gradually reopened more than 50 of its stores with restricted timing and days, but the footfalls at its showrooms remain almost negligible, Chief Financial Officer Sanjeev Bhatia said in an exchange filing last week.

“Though the company is confident that as soon as the lockdown restriction will be lifted completely, jewelry demand will start picking up, it does not foresee complete resumption before the onset of the festival season in the third quarter,” he said. Buying and gifting of gold during key festivals like Diwali is considered auspicious in India.

Measures to contain the pandemic may result in stores staying shut for longer periods, according to Care Ratings. That will lead to heavy revenue losses for jewelers, stress on profitability, increase in inventory days and the lengthening of operating cycles, which could further damp borrowing abilities in future and create liquidity pressure, it said.

“I think in my whole career of about 40 years there has been no match for this year,” Sen of the trade federation said. “The whole quarter will go away and it will be difficult to make up so it will be a very bad year.”

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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Australia pins hopes on elusive gas panacea for climate, economy woes By Reuters



© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Santos-operated Moomba gas plant is seen outside Moomba

By Sonali Paul

MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Australia is working on plans for a gas-driven recovery from COVID-19 that will help the country adapt to a low-carbon future, with the conservative government tiptoeing away from its vocal support for coal.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who once brandished a chunk of the divisive fossil fuel in parliament, has hailed cleaner burning gas as the key to cutting emissions in the transition to renewable energy.

A plunge in prices for the fuel is also being touted as an opportunity to boost manufacturing, while a draft report to government on rebuilding from coronavirus put gas at the centre of its recovery plan and backed state support for the sector.

The change of focus follows a devastating summer of bushfires and heightened public worries about climate change, along with what analysts say is increasing evidence that new coal-fired power is not economically viable in Australia.

At the same time, it reflects a pragmatic choice that does not abandon fossil fuels. The coalition government still numbers some strong supporters of coal, a lightning rod in Australia’s decade-long struggle to forge a long-term climate policy.

“If you want policy that survives, you’ve got to understand the politics,” said Tony Wood, energy program director at the Grattan Institute think-tank.

Others, however, say the plan is flawed. Even with its abundant reserves, the world’s largest liquefied (LNG) exporter will not be able to supply enough cheap gas to the right domestic markets without massive assistance.

MANUFACTURER FRUSTRATION

The new focus has been welcomed by manufacturers in key industries like fertilisers and explosives which use gas as a raw material but have been frustrated by rising domestic prices and soaring exports.

“In Australia we have the crazy situation where we’re the largest gas exporter in the world, yet we’ve consigned our domestic industry to inputs that just aren’t competitive,” said Stephen Bell, chief executive at plastics maker Qenos.

Gas could help create new jobs, according to draft recommendations to the government’s National COVID-19 Coordination Commission (NCCC), which called for cheap gas as a key raw material for fertiliser, petrochemical and brick manufacturing.

The report, which backed underwriting supply, mandating some supply be kept in Australia, taking a role in pipeline development and tax incentives, targets domestic gas supply at A$4 ($2.72) a gigajoule, around half the average level in 2019.

Australia’s east coast gas prices quadrupled between 2014 and 2019. Prices have dropped 45% so far this year with the pandemic oil crash, but remain well above U.S. gas prices, the model for the manufacturing task force’s plan.

Energy Minister Angus Tayor said lower gas prices were good for cutting emissions, reducing energy prices, and for manufacturers.

“That’s why we think gas is … an important part of the mix in coming years,” he told Sky News.

(GRAPHIC – Key global benchmark gas prices: https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/ce/yxmpjknqevr/AustraliaGasPrices.png)

PRICE TRAP

Analysts, however, say Australian gas will never be competitive with U.S. prices, where the gas boom has been driven as a by-product of shale oil production.

Most of Australia’s low cost gas has been produced, and the country lacks an extensive pipeline network, said Tennant Reed, climate, energy and environment policy head at the Australian Industry Group.

Gas prices will inevitably rise again as Asian demand growth rebounds and spending cuts by oil and gas producers slow supply growth, he added.

Australia’s gas producers are also unhappy at the prospect of government intervention, saying it would discourage commercial investment.

“The reality is gas costs more than it did because it is further from market, deeper in the ground, and producers need to compete for scarce capital – which risks becoming more costly if we reduce investor confidence,” said Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association chief executive Andrew McConville.

Analysts also question whether Australia could ever provide gas to manufacturers at the price they want, without hefty government support.

“The idea you could get back to A$4 gas is almost fairy dust,” said the Grattan Institute’s Wood.



U.S. sanctions four shipping firms for transporting Venezuelan oil By Reuters



© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks to the media at the State Department in Washington

(Reuters) – The U.S. Treasury Department on Tuesday said it had sanctioned four shipping firms for transporting Venezuelan oil, the latest escalation in Washington’s effort to oust socialist President Nicolas Maduro by cutting off the OPEC nation’s crude exports.

Marshall Islands-based Afranav Maritime Ltd, Adamant Maritime Ltd and Sanibel Shiptrade Ltd, as well as Greece-based Seacomber Ltd, all own tankers that lifted Venezuelan oil between February and April of this year, the Treasury Department said.

“These companies are transporting oil that was effectively stolen from the Venezuelan people,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement.

Washington sanctioned Venezuelan state-run oil company Petroleos de Venezuela [PDVSA.UL] last January, shortly after the United States and dozens of other countries declared Maduro a usurper who rigged his 2018 re-election.

Maduro blames the sanctions for Venezuela’s woes and accuses Washington of seeking to oust him in order to control the country’s vast crude reserves.

Neither Venezuela’s oil ministry nor PDVSA immediately responded to requests for comment. Afranav did not immediately respond to a request for comment, while the other three companies could not be reached for comment.

But Maduro remains in power, which some U.S. officials privately say has been a source of frustration for President Donald Trump.

Tuesday’s sanctions come after Washington in February and March sanctioned two units of Russia’s Rosneft (MM:), which became the main intermediary of Venezuelan crude in 2019. The units stopped lifting Venezuelan crude in March.

The FBI is also probing several Mexican and European companies that are allegedly involved in trading Venezuelan oil. One of those companies, Libre Abordo, said this week it was bankrupt.

Treasury also designated four tankers owned by the companies as blocked property. Those tankers had been used by Rosneft, Libre Abordo and a related Mexican firm – Schlager Business Group – to transport Venezuelan oil this year, according to PDVSA documents.

Treasury also designated four tankers owned by the companies as blocked property. Those tankers had been chartered this year by the Rosneft units, Libre Abordo and a related Mexican firm – Schlager Business Group – to transport Venezuelan oil, according to PDVSA documents.

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Russian oil output falls to 9.39 million bpd in May, close to OPEC+ goal: Ifax By Reuters



© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A well head and drilling rig in the Yarakta oilfield in Russia

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russian oil and gas condensate production fell to 39.7 million tonnes (9.39 million barrels per day) in May, near its target under a deal within the OPEC+ group, Interfax news agency reported on Tuesday, citing energy ministry data.

The figure was in line with data from sources, reported by Reuters on Monday, and down from 11.35 million barrels per day (bpd) in April.

Under the agreement between Russia and the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, a group known as OPEC+, Moscow has pledged to reduce its output by around 2.5 million bpd to 8.5 million bpd to help support oil prices. The deal does not include output of gas condensate, a light oil.

Russia usually produces 700,000-800,000 bpd of gas condensate. That means that excluding gas condensate, Russia produced 8.59-8.69 mln bpd of in May.

The ministry does not disclose gas condensate output on a monthly basis separately.

Interfax also said that Russian oil exports outside former Soviet Union in May reached 17.36 million tonnes, or 4.1 million bpd, down 14.2% year-on-year.

OPEC+ agreed to cut its combined output by around 10 million bpd, or 10% of global oil production, in May and June, with a subsequent easing of the reductions, to tackle economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.

OPEC+ may hold an online conference as early as Thursday to discuss its policy, compared with the original schedule of next week. The group is due to discuss extension of the output cuts in its current pace.

Interfax also said that Russia’s production fell by 9.2%, year-on-year, in January – May, to 293.26 billion cubic metres.

Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

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