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SEB – Jordbruksprodukter, 26 juli 2012

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SEB Veckobrev Jordbruksprodukter - AnalysInledning

Det är nu en månad sedan ni fick vårt senaste veckobrev. I den ändrade vi vår marknadstro från negativ till positiv. Men prisuppgångarna på jordbruksprodukter sedan dess har varit våldsammare än vad vi hade kunnat tänka oss för en månad sedan.

Den senaste månaden har majspriset stigit med 26%. Chicagovetet har gått upp med 25% och kostar nu återigen, för alla löptider, mer än Matif:s kvarnvete. Matif-vetet har ”bara” stigit med 18%. Sojabönorna med 14%. I gårdagens Dagens Industri kunde vi läsa en chock-artikel om risken för kraftigt högre ölpriser. Det har vi svårt att förstå eftersom maltkornet på Matif den senaste månaden har stigit med 13% och det senaste året med 2%.

Vi fortsätter att ha en vy om högre priser på vete, maltkorn, majs, och sojabönor.

Odlingsväder

Det är väl knappast någon nyhet att det råder torka i USA. NOAA har klassat torkan som den värsta sedan 1954. Nedan ser vi den senaste torka-rapporten. NOAA förutspår en förlängning av torkan in i oktober, vilket kan ha en negativ inverkan på höstsådden av vete.

U.S. Drought Monitor den 17 juli 2012

Southern Oscillation Index har stigit från El Niño-nivåer på mer än -8. Nu ligger indexet på -1.4. Det indikerar neutrala ENSO-förhållanden. Sådden i Argentina är i full gång och >80% är redan i marken, dock i betydligt mindre omfattning än tidigare år. Det är böndernas protest mot presidentens konfiskatoriska skatt på veteproduktionen. Både Rosario Grain Exchange och BAGE har estimerat att arealen är 22% mindre än förra året. USDA har INTE tagit hänsyn till denna minskning i sitt estimat från juli WASDE.

30-dagars rörligt SOI

Eurokrisen

Samtidigt som produktionen minskar genom torka på olika håll i världen, skakar ekonomierna i eurolandet. Nedan ser vi räntenivån på obligationer utgivna av den spanska staten, med 10 års löptid. En räntenivå på över 6% har tidigare angetts som en räntenivå som gör att räntorna spränger landets budget i framtiden. Av allt att döma ser Spanien ut att vara nästa land att följa Grekland.

SMAVG den 25 juli 2012

Under tiden, kräver stödpartierna för Tysklands förbundskansler Merkel, att Tyskland ska kräva att Grekland lämnar eurosamarbetet. Detta sker samtidigt som ratinginstitutet Moody’s tillkännagivit att de kan komma att sänka Tysklands kreditvärdighet från ”Aaa”. Tyskland har hittills gått med på att plocka upp notan för de tillgångsvärden som gått upp i rök i problemländerna i södra Europa. Eftersom Merkel och före detta franska presidenten Sarkozy valde att satsa hela Europa, istället för att låta länderna som hade problem ta itu med dem själva, har euron kommit på fall. Nedan ser vi priset på en euro i terminer av dollar. Och då ska vi betänka att USA i sig är ett imperium av skulder, det också.

Utveckling av EUR USD 2010 till 2012

Nedan ser vi eurons förändring mot fyra olika valutor, dels mot dollarn och dels mot starkare valutor.

Valutautveckling för EURUSD, EURSEK, EURAUD och EURJPY

Vete

Matifvetet med novemberleverans nådde upp till 271.50 den 19 juli, men har sedan dess rekylerat ner till 260.50 euro per ton.

Vetepriset - Utveckling under 2011 och 2012

Nedan ser vi Chicagovetet med leverans i december. Efter att motståndet på 740 cent bröts för en månad sedan har priset gått upp till 915 cent i skrivande stund. Det är en större uppgång än Matifvetet gjorde, i synnerhet när man beaktar att dollarn har stärkts mot euron under den här perioden.

Prisutveckling på Chicagovete - Diagram över terminspris

Allt höstvete är skördat i USA nu och eventuell torka kan skada vårvetet. Man skulle därför kunna tro att vårvetet stigit mer i pris i USA, men som vi ser i nedanstående diagram är det inte fallet. Vårvete av sorten Red Spring Wheat handlas på börsen i Minneapolis. Vårvetet är naturligtvis dyrare än Chicagovetet.

Red Spring Wheat-diagram

Tendens på framtida priser på jordbruksråvarorJust nu visar väderleksprognoserna att vårveteregionerna i USA kommer att ha det ganska fuktigt ända fram till efter helgen, åtminstone. Det är bra för de norra delarna av odlingsområdet, men för de södra delarna kan nederbörden vara allt för sen.

Nedan ser vi hur terminspriserna på Matif och Chicago förändrats den senaste veckan. Vi ser nu att det råder backwardation både på Matif och i Chicago. Backwardation återspeglar marknadens tro på att bristen just nu är temporär och kommer att lösas i framtiden genom mer produktion eller ransonering av konsumtionen. Den som har vete att sälja nu bör därför sälja den till marknadens höga pris nu.

Marknaden säger att spotpriset väntas att bli lägre i framtiden. Den lantbrukare som hoppas på högre (spot-) priser för att sälja till ett högre pris, gör bäst i att sälja sitt vete spot snarast och köpa terminer.

Genom att göra det får man in pengar, som ger ränta. Terminerna kostar mindre än spot. Man kan alltså sälja x antal ton dyrare än man köper dem på, på terminsmarknaden. Detta för dem som tror på högre priser, alltså.

Terminskurvor för vetepriset - Chicago och Matif

Vi ser i terminskurvorna ovan att Chicago återigen ligger över Matif för alla löptider. Ska man prissäkra framåt i tiden ger Chicago alltså ett högre pris än Matif.

När priset är högt pga dåliga skördar finns alltid risken att politiker i olika producentländer inför exportbegränsningar, vilket förvärrar situationen på världsmarknaden. Rysslands jordbruksminister har hittills, senast förra veckan, sagt att Ryssland inte tänker införa exportbegränsningar, men med den torka som finns i fd Sovjetunionen, är det allt fler som tror att ett exportstopp kan komma. Vi kan se att ”snacket” om exportstopp på global basis ökar genom att göra en nyckelordssökning i nyhetsartiklar på nätet. Nedan ser vi ett diagram (vit kurva) för antalet artiklar per vecka som innehåller samtliga ord ”Export” och ”Ban” och ”wheat”. Den senaste veckan var det 102 sådana artiklar. I diagrammet nedan ser vi också vetepriset i Chicago (röd kurva). I den nedre delen av diagrammet ser vi korrelationen mellan prisförändringen på vete och förändringen i antalet sådana nyhetsartiklar som innehåller wheat+export+ban.

Vetepriset när det pratas om wheat, export och ban i nyheterna

Vi ser att när det blir populärt att prata om wheat+export+ban i nyheterna, stiger vetepriset mot riktigt höga höjder. Det ser ut som om det kommer att komma exportbegränsningar. Indien har redan fryst all export av vete från landet, då man har en 23% sämre monsun (nederbörd) än vanligt. I slutet av förra veckan sade det ryska jordbruksministeriet att rysk veteskörd väntas bli 45 mt. USDA förutspådde i juli WASDE 49 mt. Privata analytiker hakade på och nämnde estimat på 41 – 42.5 mt. I Ukraina är hektarskörden ca 27% lägre än förra året. I början av månaden kom som vanligt USDA med sin WASDE-rapport. För att sätta den lagerstatistiken i perspektiv med pris och historiska relationer mellan pris och utgående lager, kan vi titta på nedanstående diagram. Varje punkt är USDA:s estimat i juli, varje år sedan 1960, jämte det pris som då rådde på CBOT för en bushel av vete. Vi ser att vi nu är i icke-kartlagt territorium. Priset förefaller vara Väldigt högt i förhållande till historiska relationer mellan pris och globala utgående lager. Dock noterar vi att i juli 2008 hade vi en relation som var i närheten av dagens nivå. Jämfört med juli 2008 är priset nu lite högre (900 cent istället för 800) och utgående lager väntas (än så länge) vara lite högre. Antagligen, kommer utgående lager att reduceras i nästa rapport, och då blir priset kanske lite lättare att acceptera, i relation till 2008. USDA har en välkänd tendens att inte släppa alla dåliga nyheter samtidigt, utan en WASDEsäsong brukar bjuda på ”mer av samma sak” i konsekutiva rapporter.

Vi minns också förstås vad som hände med vetepriset efter 2008. Ett högt pris följs av mer produktion och därmed lägre priser.

Carryout stocks wheat

Maltkorn

Novemberkontraktet på maltkorn har följt med vete upp, men uppgången har inte varit alls lika dramatisk som för vete och majs. Tekniskt stöd finns tydligt och redan bekräftat som ett stöd på 260 euro. Så länge priset håller sig över den nivån finns inget pressande behov av att sälja terminer. Kommer det attraktiva höga priser kan det vara intressant att försöka få limiterade säljordrar fyllda.

Prisutveckling på maltkorn - 25 juli 2012

Potatis

Potatispriset för leverans nästa år, har inte rört sig uppåt som spannmålen, utan rör sig sidledes i ett nu etablerat prisintervall mellan 14 och 16 euro per deciton. Prisintervall handlar man genom att försöka sälja i den övre delen av intervallet och försöka köpa i den nedre. Samtidigt är man vaksam på om priset rör sig utanför intervallet. Det brukar kunna vara en indikation på att priset ska röra sig ytterligare en bit åt samma håll.

Prisutveckling på potatis - 25 juli 2012

Majs

Priset på decembermajs har som bekant rusat upp till 800 cent. När man pratar med folk i marknaden råder total samstämmighet att vi ännu inte sett toppnoteringen på majs. Sådan samstämmighet brukar i och för sig innebära att man faktiskt har sett toppnoteringen.

Det har kommit regn i USA nu men det rör sig nu bort och följs av torrt väder. För stora arealer kom nederbörden för sent, därför att majsplantorna helt enkelt är döda. På fredag kommer Stocks report från USDA.

Majspriset stiger kraftigt - 25 juli 2012

De priser vi ser nu är faktiskt de högsta nivåerna på 50 år (och därmed de högsta någonsin). Nedan ser vi majspriset de senaste 50 åren, på kvartalsvis data.

Diagram över majspriset under 50 år

Nedan ser vi priset på decemberkontrakten för vete och majs. Vi ser att majs trendmässigt har stigit mycket mer än vetepriset. Man kan tolka det som att det är majspriset som trycker vetepriset uppåt. De stora problemen finns ju i majsproduktionen i USA, inte i samma utsträckning i veteproduktionen.

Prisutveckling på majs och vete - Diagram

Relationen mellan pris och utgående lager per juli sedan början av 60-talet ser vi nedan. Vi ser att vi aldrig har sett en så ”dyr” relation mellan majspris och utgående lager. Vi ser också att ett utgående lager på 40 dagar, där vi är nu, i princip är en bottennivå; att det är skrämmande tomt i lagren. När det är tomt i lagren kan priset på en så billig, men livsnödvändig vara som mat naturligtvis bli nästan hur hög som helst.

Carryout stocks corn

Det högre majspriset har dragit med sig det EU-domestika priset på etanol. Nedan ser vi priset för etanol FOB Rotterdam, inklusive importskatt, kallat ”T2”. För alla som producerar etanol med vete (i Europa) är detta goda nyheter; ”gefundenes fressen”.

Diagram över etanolpriset FOB Rotterdam

Sojabönor

Efter att sojabönspriset bröt det tekniskt starka motståndet på 14 dollar, gick priset raskt upp till 17 dollar. Som vi ser av stödlinjen inritad precis under prisuppgången, är uppåttrenden ännu inte bruten, trots den kraftiga rekylen för två dagar sedan. Ett nytt test av 17 dollar är troligt.

Priset på sojabönor stiger - 25 juli 2012

USA hade förra veckan exporterat 1400 mbu. USDA hade förutspått 1340 mbu för hela marknadsföringsåret. Det återstår 7 veckor på exportsäsongen och det blir naturligtvis en ännu högre slutsiffra än vad USDA hade förväntat sig. Enligt analytikern Noel Fryer har USDA överskattat carry-instocks.

Vädret har inte gynnat avkastningen i USA. Det är ca 7 månader kvar innan Sydamerikas skörd kommer. Det finns tecken på att t ex kycklingproduktionen i USA minskar något och att det sker ransonering bland konsumenter, men den är än så länge väldigt liten om man sätter den i perspektiv med produktionsbortfallen. Det finns alltså fundamental anledning till att priset skulle kunna gå högre.

Nedan ser vi relationen mellan pris och utgående lager, enligt USDA. USDA får med all sannolikhet sänka sitt estimat av utgående lager, så vi får tänka oss att juli-2012-punkten (den högsta i diagrammet) kommer att flyttas till vänster i diagrammet. Priset är högt, men det är inte orimligt att tänka sig att relationen kan stämma överens med de senaste årens relation mellan lager och pris.

Carry out stocks soybean

Raps

Priset på novemberterminen befinner sig alltjämt i en obruten uppåtgående trend.

Rapspriset i en uppåtgående trend

Med tanke på att rapsen noteras i euro, som är svag, kan man tänka sig högre priser framöver.

Gris

Decemberkontraktet har etablerat ett bekräftat stödområde på 76 – 77 cent. Med högre foderkostnader och den minskande lönsamheten för grisproducenterna bör det finnas utsikter för ett högre pris på lean hogs.

Prisutveckling på gris (lean hogs)

Mjölk

Mjölkpriset har stigit rejält. Först vid 19 cent per pund kom det in säljare. Nu står priset och väger och det återstår att se om 19 cent var toppnoteringen eller om det blir ett ytterligare test av 19.50 och om priset ska nå 20 cent.

Priset på mjölk når toppnotering

Socker

Vi brukar inte skriva om socker, men det är en intressant råvara för många bönder. Marknaden är också intressant för att den är ett sådant misslyckande för EU. EU har ett system med produktionskvoter för att hålla nere produktionen. Det innebär att EU inte är självförsörjande på socker. Istället har man ett system där företag i EU kan importera socker utan tull från U-länder som ett slags bistånd till dessa länder.

Problemet är att dessa länder inte förmår producera tillräckligt. Då tvingas importörerna köpa från producentländer där EU:s mycket högra importskatt tillämpas. Det gäller t ex import av socker från Brasilien. Eftersom detta pris då är det som mättar sockersuget i EU, är det det som blir marknadspriset.

Som vi ser nedan är priset på socker inom EU, såsom handlat på Euronext i London, betydligt högre än världsmarknadspriset på socker, såsom handlat på ICE i New York.

Den stora förloraren är Europeiska konsumenter, t ex europeiska biodlare, om vi nu ska nämna någon kategori inom de gröna näringarna. De stora vinnarna är sockerbolagen, t ex Nord- och Zudzucker, som alltså kan boka hela prisskillnaden som ren vinst.

I diagrammet nedan ser vi i den nedre delen av diagrammet att relationen mellan priset inom EU och världsmarknadspriset har vidgats. Priset inom EU ligger just nu 23% högre än på världsmarknaden.

Sockerpriset - Skillnaden ökar mellan EU och världsmarknaden

Nedan ser vi terminspriserna och förändringarna den senaste veckan. De övre två kurvorna är EUdomestika terminsmarknaden. De lägre är de internationella priserna.

Terminspriserna på socker i EU och världsmarknaden

[box]SEB Veckobrev Jordbruksprodukter är producerat av SEB Merchant Banking och publiceras i samarbete och med tillstånd på Råvarumarknaden.se[/box]

Disclaimer

The information in this document has been compiled by SEB Merchant Banking, a division within Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken AB (publ) (“SEB”).

Opinions contained in this report represent the bank’s present opinion only and are subject to change without notice. All information contained in this report has been compiled in good faith from sources believed to be reliable. However, no representation or warranty, expressed or implied, is made with respect to the completeness or accuracy of its contents and the information is not to be relied upon as authoritative. Anyone considering taking actions based upon the content of this document is urged to base his or her investment decisions upon such investigations as he or she deems necessary. This document is being provided as information only, and no specific actions are being solicited as a result of it; to the extent permitted by law, no liability whatsoever is accepted for any direct or consequential loss arising from use of this document or its contents.

About SEB

SEB is a public company incorporated in Stockholm, Sweden, with limited liability. It is a participant at major Nordic and other European Regulated Markets and Multilateral Trading Facilities (as well as some non-European equivalent markets) for trading in financial instruments, such as markets operated by NASDAQ OMX, NYSE Euronext, London Stock Exchange, Deutsche Börse, Swiss Exchanges, Turquoise and Chi-X. SEB is authorized and regulated by Finansinspektionen in Sweden; it is authorized and subject to limited regulation by the Financial Services Authority for the conduct of designated investment business in the UK, and is subject to the provisions of relevant regulators in all other jurisdictions where SEB conducts operations. SEB Merchant Banking. All rights reserved.

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Analys

The self-destructive force of unregulated solar power

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SEB - analysbrev på råvaror

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Bjarne Schieldrop, Chief analyst commodities at SEB
Bjarne Schieldrop, Chief analyst commodities, SEB

Solar and wind power production has increased rapidly over the latest years as LCOE costs have fallen sharply while government support schemes have given it an extra boost as well. Solar and wind power production is totally unregulated supply. They produce whenever they produce. Fossil power supply on the other hand is fully dispatchable to the degree that we tend to take it for granted. As such we have naturally tended to underestimate the consequences of not having dispatchability in solar and wind power.

When you start out with a large, fossil-based power system it is fairly easy to add unregulated power supply from solar and wind because it can piggyback on the dispatchability and flexibility of the fossil power system. But as the share of unregulated renewable energy rises to a larger and larger share of production, the flexibility in the fossil part of the system naturally gets smaller and smaller. This problem is accentuated further  by the fact that solar power production has a very high concentration of production where 80% of production in a year is produced in only 20% of the hours in the year. Thus fossil flexibility and dispatchability is eroded much faster during these 20% hours.

Power prices typically collapse to zero or negative when demand is fully met or saturated by unregulated power supply. That again implies that solar power profitability collapse as well. And the result of that of course is that the exponential growth in solar power production which we now take for granted and which we expect will lead us all the way to zero emissions could come to a full stop as well.

This is already a rapidly increasing problem in California where more and more renewable energy is denied access to the grid because there simply isn’t enough demand for it just then or because the grid cannot handle it. But it is also becoming an increasing problem in Germany where the strong growth and high concentration of solar power increasingly is destroying the power prices just when they produce the most.

The need for biiiig, cheeeeap grid batteries are now becoming increasingly critical for the the exponential growth in solar and wind power to continue.

We fear that the self-destructive force on power prices, of exponential growth in unregulated solar power, is some kind of Solar-hara-kiri process with respect to its own profitability. And that it has the potential to develop along a curve of ”first gradually, then suddenly”. And when/if that happens the exponential growth in unregulated solar power production should naturally come to a screeching halt.

The resolution of the problem is of course the eventual arrival of biiiig, cheeeap grid batteries which then again will sett solar power production free to resume its exponential growth. 

Feeding solar and wind power supply into a fossil system is easy to start with. Then very difficult. It is easy to build unregulated solar and wind power supply into a flexible fossil system. It is easy to infuse unregulated power supply (Solar and Wind) into a power system where there is lots and lots of fossil based power. Fossil supply can then back-off and make room for solar and wind power whenever the sun is shining or the wind is blowing and then ramp up again when it suddenly disappear.  But when unregulated, renewable energy supply keeps growing it becomes harder and harder to infuse yet more of it into the system as the fossil flexibility is increasingly eroded. That’s when yet more supply of solar and wind is no longer pushing aside fossil supply but instead is starting to destroy their own prices.

Solar power produces 80% of its production during 20% of the hours in the year. Solar power has however a much more tightly focused production profile than wind. In Germany in 2023 some 80% of all solar power production was concentrated on only 20% of the hours of the year. For wind power the 80% share of production was spread out over 50% of the hours in the year. The reason is of course that the wind can blow both summer and winter and night and day. Solar power is instead focused during the day and during summer. It has a much higher concentration of production.

Power prices tend to collapse when demand is fully covered by unregulated power supply. When solar power production grows rapidly in a given power system then its high production concentration will eventually lead to full saturation during certain hours of the year. Demand during these hours will then be fully supplied and covered by unregulated power like solar, wind, run-of-river hydro and other unregulated supply. That is great as it means that the fossil share in these hours then are close to zero.

The problem is that power markets, more than any other commodity market in the world, are extremely sensitive to imbalances in supply and demand. A little bit too little supply and the power price can spike up to close to infinity. A little bit too much supply and the price crashes to zero or negative.

When unregulated power supply reaches full demand saturation during certain hours then power prices tend to collapse because it is so easy to get a little bit too much supply.

It is not a problem when power prices collapse for just a few hours per year. But the number of hours affected is growing rapidly many places. The US EIA highlighted in October 2023 (”Solar and wind power curtailments are rising in California”) that this is becoming a bigger and bigger problem in California. Since 2019 the power system operator there has been forced to curtail supply of unregulated power more and more. There simply isn’t enough demand in certain hours to meet the spikes in unregulated supply or the grid isn’t up to the task of distributing the unregulated supply in the system.

So when producers of unregulated supply produces the most they increasingly are denied access to sell it into the grid or if they are allowed to sell it into the grid the price is close to zero or even negative.

US EIA: Solar and wind power curtailments are rising in California

US EIA: Solar and wind power curtailments are rising in California
Source: The US EIA in October 2023

Germany is increasingly affected as booming solar production is depressing prices more and more. This is now also a rapidly increasing problem in Germany where rapid growth in supply of solar and wind power together increasingly are forcing power prices lower just when they produce the most.

Average German power prices for hour 1 to 24 for certain periods and years. Highly concentrated supply of solar power during summer and during the day is increasingly forcing power prices towards zero during these periods

Average German power prices for hour 1 to 24 for certain periods and years
Source: SEB calculations and graph, Blbrg data

It is like ”Solar hara-kiri” when increasing supply of solar power is killing its own prices and profits. It was not a big problem economically when only a few hours are affected. But as more and more hours are affected it is becoming an increasing problem. It is like ”Solar hara-kiri” where rapidly rising supply of solar power is increasingly killing its own prices. With that it is killing its profits. And if profits are killed than new-build and growth in supply will typically slow down rapidly as well. 

This is probably not a big problem globally yet as the global power system is still predominantly fueled by fossil fuels which can back off when renewable energy spikes up. But in certain pockets of the world where penetration of unregulated power supply has reached high levels it is becoming an increasing problem. Like in California and in Germany.

The volume weighted solar power price in September 2023 in Germany had a 38% discount to power prices during non-solar power hours. And the discount looks like it is rapidly getting bigger and bigger.

The monthly average volume weighted solar power price versus the average volume weighted non-solar power price weighted by the inverse profile. In Germany in September 2023 solar power producers only achieved 62% of the average price during hours of the day when the sun wasn’t shining.
The monthly average volume weighted solar power price versus the average volume weighted non-solar power price weighted by the inverse profile.
Source:  Source: SEB graph and calculations and graphs. Based on German 15 min solar power prod. extracted from Blbrg

First gradually, then suddenly. There is a clear risk here that this progresses along a process of ”first gradually, then suddenly”. This is already what we have seen over the past couple of years: The discount for what solar power earns when it produces power versus what the power price is when it is not producing is increasing rapidly as more and more unregulated power supply hits right into the ”demand ceiling”. The inflicted pain from this process so far has to a large degree been masked by incredibly high natural gas prices. So even if the profitability for solar power has been eroding, the average power price in the system has been much higher than usual due to high natural gas and CO2 prices.

Graphing all the individual hourly data for solar power and power demand in Germany in 2022 we see that solar power alone is not yet reaching full saturation versus demand.

Germany 2022: Hourly German power demand and solar power supply in 2022. A total of 8760 hours for each in consecutive order. Her showing only Demand and Solar power production
ourly German power demand and solar power supply in 2022
Source: SEB graph, German 15 min power data collapsed into hourly data, Data extracted through Blbrg

The unregulated power supply is increasingly hitting the ”demand ceiling”. If we now add all the other sources of unregulated power supply, predominantly offshore and onshore wind and run of river, then we get the following picture where we see that unregulated German power supply increasingly is hitting right up and into the ”demand ceiling”. In those instances there will be no, flexible fossil power supply left to back off and that is typically when power prices collapse or go negative.

Germany 2022:  Hourly German power demand (blue dots) and unregulated supply (solar, wind, run of river,…) in orange dots. A total of 8760 hours for each in consecutive order.
Hourly German power demand (blue dots) and unregulated supply (solar, wind, run of river,...) in orange dots.
Source:  SEB graph, German 15 min power data collapsed into hourly data, Data extracted through Blbrg

High unregulated power supply saturation vs demand implied lower power prices in 2022. Sorting 8760 individual power prices in Germany from Y2022 from lowest to highest shows that power German power prices were strongly related to the penetration of unregulated power supply. In the following graph, we have  sorted the data from the lowest price to the highest price in the year 2022. Prices were ireasingly depressed when unregulated power penetrated up and into the ”demand ceiling”. Natural gas prices were extreme in 2022 and overall power prices were exceptionally high for that reason as well. But the tendency of price destruction in relation to high levels of unregulated power vs demand is clear.

Germany 2022:  Hourly German power demand (blue dots) and unregulated supply (solar, wind, run of river,…) in orange dots. A total of 8760 hours. Sorted according to how hourly power prices were from lowest to highest.
Hourly German power demand (blue dots) and unregulated supply (solar, wind, run of river,...) in orange dots.
Source:  SEB graph, German 15 min power data collapsed into hourly data, Data extracted through Blbrg

The unregulated power supply penetrating vs demand was even deeper in 2023. If we make the same graph for the year 2023 from 1 Jan to 20 Oct, we can see how the unregulated power is penetrating deeper and deeper into the power ”demand ceiling”. As a result the solar power discount vs. non-solar power hours from March to September in 2023 reached an even higher discount in 2023 than in 2022.

2023 year to 20 October:  Hourly German power demand (blue dots) and unregulated supply (solar, wind, run of river,…) in orange dots. A total of 8760 hours. Sorted according to how hourly power prices were from lowest to highest. German power demand was down 8.3% YoY in H1-2023 due to the European energy crisis and still very high power prices
2023 year to 20 October:  Hourly German power demand (blue dots) and unregulated supply (solar, wind, run of river,...) in orange dots.
Source:  SEB graph, German 15 min power data collapsed into hourly data, Data extracted through Blbrg

Solar power hours and non-solar power hours is not given as a clear cut-off, but a gradual one. In the following graph given as average profiles of the year from hour 1 to hour 24. First calculated explicitly for solar power production and then the inverse is calculated from that one. These solar power profiles can then be calculated for each individual day in the year giving individual inverse-curves on a daily basis.

The daily ”solar power production profiles” and the ”non-solar power production profiles” typically looks like this graph but calculated individually per day as solar power production varies from day to day and through the seasons. The solar power production profile is explicitly given by the actual solar power production that day while the non-solar power profile is derived directly from this and the inverse of it on a daily basis.
The daily "solar power production profiles" and the "non-solar power production profiles
Source: SEB graph and calculations and graphs. German 15 min solar power prod. extracted from Blbrg

The exponential growth in solar and wind power is likely to slow down in the years to come as grid constraints and lack of power cables is holding up growth in renewable energy with waiting times for access of 5-10 years:

Offshore wind auction’s lack of bids must be ‘wake-up call’ for UK, says RWE chief”

FT: ”Gridlock: how a lack of power lines will delay the age of renewables”

FT: ”Will there be enough cables for the clean energy transition?” 

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Analys

Surge in US crude inventories dampens bullish sentiment

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Price action
Brent crude is currently trading at USD 81.4 per barrel, marking a decline from its February peak of USD 83.6 per barrel recorded yesterday (February 14th), representing a notable drop of 2.6% within a short span of time.

Ole R. Hvalbye,
Analyst Commodities, SEB
Ole R. Hvalbye, Analyst Commodities, SEB

This morning, crude prices continue to slide, following a larger-than-anticipated increase in US crude inventories (+12.0 million barrels) as reported in the US Petroleum Status Report (EIA). This uptick in inventories is attributed to a further decrease in refinery operations and a relatively softer demand for petroleum products.

Yesterday, crude prices flirted with January highs amidst geopolitical tensions in the Middle East and sustained production cuts by OPEC+. However, the surge in crude inventories observed recently, the most significant since November 2023, is tempering bullish sentiment. Notably, inventories at the ”key” Cushing, Oklahoma, exceeded expectations for this time of year (refer to page 2 in attachment).

Adding to the bearish sentiment is the widespread reduction in oil product inventories, primarily influenced by refinery outages rather than a substantial uptick in demand. Notably, US crude oil refinery inputs averaged 14.5 million barrels per day, marking a decrease of 297 thousand barrels per day compared to the previous week, with refineries operating at 80.6% of their capacity.

Recent market expectations suggest the likelihood of prolonged higher US interest rates due to persistent inflationary pressures, resulting in a stronger US dollar. This aspect contributes to weaker oil prices, as the cost of procuring oil in other currencies becomes relatively expensive, thereby impacting short-term demand dynamics.

Oil inventories

Changes in Inventories:
Crude Oil Excluding SPR: Commercial crude oil inventories (excluding SPR) increased notably by 12.0 million barrels, representing a 2.8% rise from the previous week, but still a substantial 6.8% decrease from the same period last year. However, the surge exceeds typical seasonal adjustments, indicating potential reduced crude demand, and a more well-balanced market.

Distillate: Distillate (diesel) fuel oil inventories declined by 1.9 million barrels, showcasing a 1.5% decrease from the prior week but a significant 5.4% increase compared to the same period last year (naturally from very low levels). The weekly drawdown contributed to a further decline compared to normal, and now distillate stocks remain approximately 7% below the five-year average for this time of year – indicating sustained demand or constrained production.

Gasoline: Total motor gasoline inventories witnessed a decrease of 3.7 million barrels, marking a 1.5% decline from the previous week but a modest 2.2% increase from the same period last year. This reduction aligns with seasonal expectations, albeit slightly exceeding typical adjustments.

Jet Fuel: Inventories of kerosene-type jet fuel increased by 0.1 million barrels, representing a minimal change of 0.2% from the prior week. However, compared to the same period last year, jet fuel inventories surged by 12.1%, indicative of potential shifts in air travel for the start of 2024.

Crude & Product Including SPR: Total petroleum stocks, inclusive of SPR, witnessed a modest increase of 5.9 million barrels, indicating a 0.4% rise from the prior week. However, compared to the same period last year, total stocks experienced a notable 2.4% decrease.

Crude & Product Excluding SPR: Excluding SPR holdings, total petroleum stocks increased by 5.2 million barrels, reflecting a 0.4% rise from the previous week but a 2.1% decrease compared to the same period last year. Despite the weekly increase, petroleum stocks remain below historical averages for this time of the year.

Supply and Demand:
Supply remained relatively stable, with domestic crude oil production and imports showing marginal fluctuations. However, net imports witnessed a notable decline, reflecting shifts in trade patterns and production capacities.

Demand for petroleum products witnessed a decline, as evidenced by product supplied figures. The declines in certain product categories suggest nuanced shifts in consumer behavior.

Exports and Imports:
Exports surged by 751 thousand barrels per day, indicating robust international demand for US petroleum products. Conversely, imports witnessed a decline of 437 thousand barrels per day.

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Analys

The EUA price could drop to EUR 40/ton and then be picked up by Airliners, Shipping and Utilities

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The EUA price is dropping hard along with a sharp decline in the front-year TTF nat gas contract. The typical last-round sell-off in EUA prices have typically been a final sell-off of 10-20-30%. From EUR 60/ton level it implies a price decline down to EUR 54; 48; 42/ton. The front-year nat gas price and the front-year Coal-to-Gas (C-t-G) differential is what has held the EUA price above EUR 60/ton. But if the TTF 2025 price falls down to EUR 27/ton the front-year C-t-G differential will fall all the way towards EUR 40/ton. That TTF 2025 falls to EUR 27/ton or lower seems likely to happen and the risk is high that the EUA price will be sucked down along with it. But nat gas demand is starting to come back with a lag in nat gas price declines in the EU but probably also in Asia. Thus first an over-sell in nat gas prices, then demand revival and then a rebound in both nat gas prices and EUA prices. Airliners, shipping companies and Utilities will probably buy as much EUAs they can get if the EUA price fall down towards EUR 40/ton.

Bjarne Schieldrop, Chief analyst commodities at SEB
Bjarne Schieldrop, Chief analyst commodities, SEB

Front-year 2025 TTF nat gas price falls hard and so does the EUA price. The front-month EUA price dropped 2.7% yesterday to EUR 58.97/ton and thus broke out of the sideways trend around EUR 61/ton since 18 January. Today it has sold off another 3.2% to EUR 57.1/ton.

Again it is the nat gas price which is leading the way and more specifically it is about the front-year nat gas which lost 1.9% on Wednesday and another 2.5% again ydy to a close of EUR 30.65/MWh and today it has solf off 2.8% to EUR 29.8/ton.

The EUA price has very clearly been balancing on the front-year Coal-to-Gas (C-t-G) differentials. The C-t-G differentials have been significantly lower than EUR 60/ton both at the front-end of the curve (1-2-3 month) and for calendars 2026 and 2027. But the front-year nat gas price has held up at around EUR 31/MWh quite well since around mid January. 

How far down will the EUA price go? The final sell-off could be down towards EUR 40/ton. With these dynamics the big question then becomes: How far down will the front-year nat gas contract sell? It will of course sell off too far as commodities always do. The reason commodities do this is the natural reactive chain of events which normally comes with a lag: First the price goes down before dropping hard in the final round of the sell-off. Then demand comes back with a lag to the price action. This again drives the price back up and off from the lows to a level consistent with the revival in demand. If demand instead had reacted immediately to lower prices then the hard drop at the end of the sell-off might not have happened.

Looking at previous hard, final sell-off-drops in the EUA price we can see that final drops typically have been 10-20-30% as the last final drop. If we take the EUR 60/ton as the starting point of this final drop, then we are talking an EUA price bottom of somewhere in the range of EUR 54; 48; 42/ton.

Global nat gas demand destruction in the face of very high nat gas prices solved the energy crisis. Let’s link this back to price action in nat gas. The reason why Europe has managed the recent energy crisis (Russia/Ukraine, nat gas,…) so surprisingly well is 1) Large reduction in nat gas demand in EU due to exceptionally high prices and 2) Significant demand destruction in Asia freeing up nat gas to flow to the EU. I.e. it was global demand destruction of nat gas in response to extremely high prices globally which solved the energy crisis. It was solved by the global market.

Demand for nat gas is starting to come back as the price falls. The nominal historical average nat gas TTF price was EUR 20/MWh from 2010 to 2019. But the real average was EUR 26/MWh. So seen from the eyes of consumers in both Europe and Asia, a price of EUR 26/MWh is an historically absolutely normal price. Demand for nat gas should thus naturally accelerate back towards normal levels at current nat gas prices. Not just in Europe, but also globally in all regions exposed to nat gas prices set by global LNG prices. This is already happening in the EU. Temp. adj. demand destruction vs. normal has typically been running at around 16% from mid-2022 to December 2023. Average ytd is 14% while the last 15 days is 9%. Demand destruction is fading as the price of nat gas is falling. But do remember that this is also happening in Asia but it is harder to track.

Normal nat gas demand AND normal gas prices is not consistent as Russian nat gas exports still down 1100 TWh/yr. There is however an inconsistency here in expecting normal prices and normal demand for natural gas now onward. The inconsistency is that the EU and thus the world is still robbed of the normal flow of nat gas on pipelines to Europe. This amounts to a loss of 3 TWh/day and thus close to 1100 TWh/year. When this gas is no longer flowing to the EU it isn’t flowing anywhere. It is lost to both the EU and the world. Until that is, Russia has built loads of new pipes to Asia and new LNG terminals. And that takes years.

A return to normal prices and normal demand while the world still is missing 1100 TWh/year of Russian nat gas isn’t really a consistent outcome in our view.

Demand for nat gas will continue to revive as the price of nat gas keeps falling. But both the EU and the world still need of a nat gas price at above normal levels to induce a certain amount of demand destruction until the point in time when new LNG export facilities globally has managed to replace the 1100 TWh/year we have lost from Russia.

Front-end TTF nat gas down to EUR 27/MWh could drive the EUA price to EUR 40/ton. The dynamic sell-off nat gas, prices will likely move lower than to the level which over time is consistent with continued need for some demand destruction globally.  This because demand revival will come with a lag to the decline in prices. It is thus fully plausible that the TTF 2025 contract moves all the way down to EUR 27/MWh (or maybe even lower). If so it would imply a 2025 C-t-G differential of only EUR 40/ton for the EUA price to balance on and reference to. That could be the final hard drop in the EUA price. That’s a 30% drop from EUR 60/ton. But it won’t last because that nat gas price is likely too low vs. what is needed globally to maintain some level of demand destruction for a while longer.

An EUA price of EUR 40/ton would also be too cheap to resist for a range of market participants and they’d likely jump in and purchase with both hands. Airliners and shipping companies which will have difficulties of shifting away from fossil fuels and will need EUAs for years to come. Also utilities could step in and purchase large amounts of EUAs even if forward margins are negative. Some EU based utilities with large fossil-based assets bought truckloads of EUAs from 2011 to 2017 when the EUA price ranged from EUR 3/ton to EUR 9/ton. For them the EUA certificate is not only a marginal cost. It is also a licence to operate. The EUA price will of course not return to that level again. But if we move to EUR 40-50/ton, then it will probably trigger strategic buying by shipping companies, airliners as well as utilities.

Front-year TTF nat gas TTF price is dropping and leading the EUA price lower after a period of sideways action since mid-Jan

Front-year TTF nat gas TTF price is dropping and leading the EUA price lower after a period of sideways action since mid-Jan
Source: SEB graph, Blbrg data

But the EU and the world is still missing some 3 TWh/d or 1100 TWh/yr of piped nat gas from Russia. When Russian nat gas is no longer flowing on pipes to Europe, it is flowing nowhere.

Natgas
Source: SEB graph, Blbrg data

Nat gas demand destruction in the EU has been running at 15% to 17%  since mid-2022 in the face of high nat gas prices. But demand destruction is now fading down to 8%. Demand has started to come back as nat gas prices fall. Demand is probably also coming back in Asia, but not so easily to see.

Nat gas demand destruction in the EU
Source: SEB graph and calculations, blbrg data

EU nat gas demand destruction has started to fade.

EU nat gas demand destruction has started to fade.
Source: SEB graph and calculations, Blbrg data

Forward Coal to Gas (C-t-G) differentials vs EUA market prices. The EUA price has balanced on the front-year differential. But that has now fallen like a rock along with the fall in front-year TTF nat gas price.  Lead the EUA into a free-fall

Forward Coal to Gas (C-t-G) differentials vs EUA market prices.

The front-year Coal-to-Gas differential is a distribution of crosses between many different levels of efficiencies for coal and nat gas power plants. Averages of these are EUR 52.4/ton with Coal at USD 94.3/ton and Nat gas at EUR 29.8/MWh (both front-year 2025 prices). So EUA price is still hanging high.

The front-year Coal-to-Gas differential
Source: SEB graph and calculations, Blbrg EUA market price
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