Rising demand and rising tensions in the world caused oil futures to soar above $90.00 for the first time since last May. The Energy Information Agency report increased the amount of total petroleum use and increased hopes of more stimuli from China and Europe and even eventually from the US supported prices. Yet it was a terrorist act in Bulgaria and a bombing in Syria that turned a market that had an upward bias into what could be a full scale upward breakout. Still with rising yields in Spain and more concerns that Europe’s problems may continue to temper upward momentum, along with Israel blaming Iran for the cowardly attack that killed innocent civilians, at first oil seemed to be cautious in its response. Yet as the hours go by the uneasiness surrounding the situation will make sellers a bit more cautious.
In Syria the bombing in a sensitive secure area of the Syrian regime, could deal a mortal blow to the government. The New York Times reported that the most significant victim was Asef Shawkat — the husband of the president’s older sister, Bushra — who was the deputy chief of staff of the military after years as a top intelligence official. The others killed were Gen. Dawoud A. Rajha, the defense minister and the most prominent Christian in the government and Maj. Gen. Hassan Turkmani, a previous defense minister serving as the top military aide to Vice President Farouk al-Sharaa. The downfall makes us worry about the stockpiles of Syria’s chemical and other types of weapons.
Natural gas took off as nuclear power plants went down causing a circuit breaker on the Globex trading system. Reuters reported that a unit at Exelon Corp's 2,264-megawatt (MW) Limerick nuclear power plant in Pennsylvania shut early Wednesday. Unit 1 at Limerick was operating at full power and Unit 2 was operating at 95 percent, according to an NRC plant status report Wednesday morning. This was the fourth East Coast nuclear power plant to go down. Along with Limerick there was Nine Mile in NY, Clavert Cliffs in MD and Oconee in SC, also Vermont Yankee slipped in power due to hot water out of the river.
The news sent in a surge of buying and Platts reported that trading saw a rapid spike mid-morning Wednesday, when the contract jumped to $3.020/MMBtu, bringing volumes to levels about 20 times higher than the prior minute with more than 9,600 contracts were traded that minute. Platts said that NYMEX parent CME did not halt trading, but used circuit breakers, which included a 10-second pause in order execution. That and hot temps, will take a toll on storage. Today Reuter’s survey is looking for an increase of 34 billion cubic feet though I think it could be only 27 bcf.
While we know that the natural gas revolution has changed this country’s energy picture forever, Japan's natural gas is causing controversy. Dow Jones reports that the government's policy of promoting the use of natural gas for electricity generation may result in Japan becoming less attractive to oil producers, the head of Japan's oil refining industry body warned Thursday. Yasushi Kimura, chairman of the Petroleum Association of Japan and JX Holdings Inc. (5020.TO), told reporters that his conversations with officials in major oil producing nations indicate that the world has taken notice of the Japanese government's stated preference for natural gas for power generation. "We want the government to be aware that the world is watching which way Japan will go," Mr. Kimura said. The government has been promoting the use of natural gas in power generation as it is cheaper and results in lower carbon emissions. Most of the country’s nuclear power plants are idle due to public safety concerns after a massive earthquake last year. For the longer term, the government is focusing on renewable energy sources.