Libya’s acting Prime Minister and Minister of Defense Abdullah al-Thinni told reporters Wednesday that — despite the prosecutor’s order — there was no ban and Zeidan was free to leave. “If there is a warrant … if he is wanted by the judiciary, he can return and be held accountable according to the law and international norms. And this is not considered fleeing,” al-Thinni said, contradicting an earlier statement from the Ministry of Justice. Hours earlier, the North African country’s parliament dismissed the prime minister after rebels in eastern Libya said a tanker loaded with oil from a port under their control escaped a naval blockade and moved into international waters.
Libya’s prosecutor general said in Tripoli he had banned Zeidan from traveling abroad because of an investigation relating to a payment the government allegedly made last year to an armed group blocking oil ports in the east. A copy of the travel ban, dated March 11, was posted on his press office’s Facebook page marked “urgent and important.” “We order placing the aforementioned in the monitoring database and banning him from travel until he appears for the investigation,” said the order, addressed to the head of Libya’s immigration department.
Oil chaos: The vote of no-confidence came after Zeidan’s failure to stop rebels from exporting oil independently, the latest challenge in the vast desert nation’s bumpy transition. The Libyan government said late Monday it had taken control of the North Korean-flagged tanker, Morning Glory, as it tried to leave the Al-Sidra port in eastern Libya, and after having briefly exchanged fire with rebels. However, in a sign of the chaos and conflicting information typical for Libya, the rebels rejected the assertion. On Wednesday, al-Thinni said the tanker was at sea where Libyan military forces fired on it until they were called off by the U.S. Navy for fear of an environmental disaster. The oil tanker managed to sail away despite a fire on board, he said. A spokesman for Egypt’s military, Col. Ahmed Ali, said on Wednesday that its navy will monitor Egyptian waters for the oil tanker.
If the Egyptian navy finds the Morning Glory in Egyptian waters, authorities will demand to board and inspect the vessel to verify that the ship’s cargo is legal and properly authorized, Ali said. Egyptian authorities will detain the ship if they find it to be violating of any laws or regulations.
A North Korean state news agency said that while the ship had been temporarily flagged in North Korea, it is operated by the Golden East Logistics Company in Alexandria, Egypt. KCNA also wrote that North Korea notified the International Maritime Organization that the ship owners had violated North Korean law. It said Pyongyang had canceled and deleted the ship’s registry.
Oil slump: Oil production, Libya’s economic lifeline, has slowed to a trickle since the summer as armed protesters have seized oil ports and oil fields to press political and financial demands. Oil revenue in the first two months of the year was only 16% of what was expected in the budget, Deputy Oil Minister Omar Shukmak said.
We are getting that natural gas report and it should be a doozy. Reuters reports that U.S. natural gas inventories likely fell 196 billion cubic feet last week as snow and freezing temperatures in the Northeast and Midwest led to a sizable withdrawal of gas from already record-low storage, a Reuters poll of analysts showed on Wednesday. The forecast draw for the week ended March 7 is well above the date-adjusted 145 bcf withdrawal for the same week in 2013 and the 95 bcf five-year average draw for that week. The expected drop in stocks would leave total inventory at roughly 1 trillion cubic feet, the lowest level for this time of year since 2004 due to the persistent freezing temperatures and record heating demand seen this winter. That is about 49% lower than the same week last year and 46% below the five-year norm.
Reuter’s reports that power production in the continental United States increased 6.2% last week to 80,142 gigawatt-hours from a year earlier, according to data released Wednesday by the Edison Electric Institute trade association. Output climbed in seven of the nine U.S. regions defined by EEI in the week ended on March 8. The largest year-on-year percentage gain was in the South Central region, which includes Texas and Oklahoma. Output in the region rose 21.6% to 13,681 Gown, EEI said. The Pacific Southwest, which includes California and Oregon, had the biggest decline in power output for the week, down 3.1% to 4,877 GWh.For the last 52 weeks, EEI said power production totaled 4,035,473 Gown, up 0.6% over the preceding year For the first 10 weeks of 2014, EEI said output was up 5.4% from a year earlier at 811,915 GWh.
Ethanol is on the rise SBC energy says that Ethanol prices soared again as the Energy Information Administration reported a 703,000 barrel draw, with PADDs 1 East coast and Padd 2 the Midwest taking the biggest losses. The decline was a combination of huge demand and a production drop of 25,000 barrels per day on continued logistics issues. New York Harbor continues lead the charge in the physical market as April is now trading well over $3.00 while Argo is now feeling tight as spreads began to blow out again, although volumes in both markets remain sporadic. In the paper markets, the front CU was up over 10 cents today and spreads were widening again on the stock decline.
The Ukraine situation has added to the risk premium in Ethanol as Ukraine is a major corn exporter.