Monthly Archives: January 2019

Traders’awareness of shipment has increased and the price of potassium chloride has slightly loosened.

Last week (Jan. 7 – Jan. 11), TRADERS’shipment awareness increased and the price of potassium chloride eased slightly. On January 14, China’s Wholesale Potassium Chloride Price Index (CKPI) was 2321.33 points, down 5.65 points, or 0.24%. It rose 263.39 points, or 12.80%. It fell 969.26 points, or 29.46%, compared with the base period.

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Supply Situation: In terms of domestic potassium, Salt Lake units are operating normally, and the start-up rate of small factories in Qinghai maintains a low level; the arrival price of 60% crystal powder of Qinghai Salt Lake benchmark products is 2420 yuan/ton, and the regional turnover price is about 2350-2400 yuan/ton. On the import of potassium, new sources of goods such as North China have arrived at the port one after another, and the port stock has increased to about 1.59 million tons; TRADERS’awareness of cash delivery has increased, and the mainstream quotation of 62% Russian-Belgian potassium in the port has been loosened, falling to about 2550-2580 yuan/ton. As for potassium frontier trade, the market has less supply and general stock. The quotation of 62% Russian-white potassium has stabilized, and maintained at about 2250-2300 yuan/ton.

Demand: Fall fertilizer use in agriculture has ended, spring tillage fertilizer has not yet opened, the demand for potassium fertilizer is cold. Affected by haze and other weather, the start-up of enterprises continued to be limited. The overall start-up rate of compound fertilizer enterprises decreased by 0.89 percentage points to 36.07% from the previous week, which was 6.07 percentage points lower than the same period last year. The downstream demand was weak, the shipment of compound fertilizer enterprises was not smooth, and the demand for raw materials was light.

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International market: International potassium chloride prices were basically stable last week. In South America and Southeast Asia, the actual demand for potassium fertilizer is less, and the price is temporarily stable. The off-shore price of potassium chloride in Canada and Russia increased by 3 US dollars/ton at the high end and 3 US dollars/ton at the low end, which were 263-308 US dollars/ton and 244-316 US dollars/ton respectively; the off-shore price of potassium chloride in Jordan increased by 1 US dollar/ton to 273-293 US dollars/ton at the low end; the off-shore price of potassium chloride in Israel dropped by 1 US dollar/ton at the high end and 1 US dollar/ton at the low end, which was 273-317 US dollars/ton in Southeast Asia and Brazil; Prices remained stable, ranging from $300 to $320 per ton and $350 to $355 per ton, respectively.
Table 6: International Potassium Chloride Price Change Table
product                         region     Range of rise and fall(US Dollars/Tons)   Spot price (US dollar/ton)
2019-1-10      2019-1-3
potassium chloride (FOB bulk) Canada       _3-3                                         263-308        260-305
Russian Federation   4-2                                        244-316        240-314
Jordan                     _1-1                                        273-293        272-294
Israel                       _1-1                                       273-317        274-318
CFR Southeast Asia     0-0                                        300-320        300-320
CFR Brazil                  0-0                                        350-355       350-355

Source of data: collated according to relevant materials

Domestic market: The domestic market price of potassium chloride is basically stable in the near future. According to the monitoring data of the association, the wholesale price of domestic potassium chloride in all provinces dropped 45.8 yuan/ton compared with the previous week, while the prices of other provinces remained stable; the wholesale price of imported potassium chloride in all provinces increased 20 yuan/ton in Shanghai compared with the previous week, and the price of Hubei fell 6.4 yuan/ton compared with the previous week, while the prices of other provinces remained stable.
Table 7: Price Change Table of Potassium Chloride in China
Varieties
Province
2019-1-10
(yuan/ton)
2018-1-3
(yuan/ton)
Up and down
(yuan/ton)
Ring ratio
Wholesale price of domestic potassium chloride
Hubei
2,416.7
2,462.5
- 45.8
- 1.9%
Wholesale price of imported potassium chloride
Shanghai
2,230.0
2,210.0
20
0.9%
Hubei
2,693.6
2,700.0
- 6.4
- 0.2%

Data Source: China Agricultural Circulation Association

In the domestic market, port potassium arrived one after another, and large traders increased their shipments. The start-up rate of compound fertilizer enterprises remained low, the demand for potassium fertilizer was weak, and the price of potassium chloride was slightly loosened. With the increase of potash TRADERS’shipment speed and the increase of spot market circulation, the demand of downstream compound fertilizer is weak, the enterprise’s inventory is increasing, and the demand of potash fertilizer is difficult to improve in the short term. In the international market, the demand of Southeast Asia and other regions is delayed, and the international price is temporarily stable. In summary, it is expected that the domestic price of potassium chloride will be slightly loosened in the short term, focusing on the arrival of potassium in ports and domestic demand.

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Crude oil demand will increase steadily to 2020

According to RIGZONE news, according to Rystad Energy’s current long-term outlook, oil demand will grow steadily in the 1920s and peak in the late 1930s.

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Bjornar Tonhaugen, chief oil analyst at Rystad Energy, said in a recent statement: “In our long-term outlook, we now see a steady increase in oil demand to 2020, peaking at the end of the 2030s. When we adopt appropriate technology transfer and accelerate efficiency gains, this will stabilize the growth of traffic demand and demand for petrochemical raw materials to 2040.”

However, Tonhaugen warned that in the company’s “low-cost case”, oil demand could peak 10 years ago in 2027, “additional demand shifts will occur due to accelerated electrification of transport, conversion of oil and gas to renewable energy sources, and integration of biofuels and bioplastics”.

The Rystad Energy Representative added: “Even with the acceleration of transport electrification, the exploration and production industries still need to find new ways to discover or extract more oil from existing oilfields to meet the oil demand of 2040.”

Helima Croft, head of commodity strategy at RBC Capital Markets, told CNBC on Monday that demand is the biggest psychological resistance to oil.

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Norwegian crude oil production, the largest oil producer in Western Europe, hit a 30-year low

Despite cost control, efficiency gains and increased offshore exploitation, Norway, the largest oil producer in Western Europe, still has a decline in oil production in 2018 from 2017 and is expected to fall to its lowest level since 1998.

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In its annual report released last week, the Norwegian Petroleum Authority (NPD) said that the country’s oil production fell to 1.49 million barrels a day last year, 6.3% less than the 1.59 million barrels in 2017. The agency estimates that Norway’s oil production in 2019 is expected to fall by another 4.7% from last year, reaching a 30-year low of 1.42 million barrels.

NPD said that the decline in Norway’s oil production in 2018 exceeded expectations, partly because the situation in some new oilfields was more complex than previously thought, coupled with fewer new drilling than expected, leading to production in some oilfields below expectations.

In October last year, German oil company Wintershall warned that its Maria oil and gas fields in Norway did not meet production expectations due to water flooding problems. NPD Director-General Bente Nyland told Reuters this week that these issues are not yet resolved.

Sounds bad? No

The worst news is that after Johan Sverdrup oilfield and Johan Castberg oilfield in the Barents Sea, which is scheduled to start producing oil in 2022, Norway has no major oil discoveries or projects to sustain its oil production beyond the mid-1920s. According to NPD resource estimates, nearly two-thirds of undiscovered resources are located in the Barents Sea.

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NPD has warned oil production since the mid-1920s that Norway’s offshore oil production will begin to decline. Therefore, in order to maintain production levels after the mid-1920s, new large oil fields need to be discovered quickly.

NPD Director-General Bente Nyland said in his report:

“High levels of exploration have proved the attractiveness of the Norwegian continental shelf. That’s good news. However, resource growth at this level is insufficient to maintain high output beyond 2025. Therefore, more profitable resources in the next few years must be confirmed and time is running out.”

Compared with 2017, Norway’s exploration activities increased significantly in 2018, with 17 new exploration wells added. According to the company’s plan, exploration activity is expected to remain high this year, with the number of exploration wells approaching 2018 levels, NPD said.

It also pointed out that the key reasons for the increase in exploration activities were lower costs and higher oil prices, which increased the profit margins of exploration, as well as improved new seismic data in most parts of the Norwegian continental shelf. Data show that, excluding exploration, Norwegian investment in offshore oil industry will grow by 13% this year, exceeding 140 billion Norwegian kroner.

It is noteworthy that Norway’s sovereign wealth fund, the so-called “oil fund”, has invested in the proceeds of its oil and gas industry since May 1996 to ensure that future generations can receive pensions. After decades of operation, the Petroleum Fund has now exceeded $1 trillion and is the largest sovereign wealth fund in the world. But the recent weakening of oil prices and the strengthening of the U.S. dollar have reduced its assets to a certain extent.

According to the ranking of the world’s top 50 oil companies published by the well-known American energy Journal PIW in 2008, Norwegian Equinor (formerly Statoil, the Norwegian national oil company) ranked 27th.

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Potassium Fertilizer Price Falling, Potassium Chloride Market Atmosphere Bad

Potassium fertilizer prices fell by 0-50 yuan per ton last week. Potassium chloride market atmosphere is not good, the price on the surface has not changed much, but there are many rumors of low prices, even some rumors are somewhat shocking, so even if the rumors are not true, but also have to worry about the future market will be like that. It is understood that the price range of 62% white potassium in the port is about 2500-2550 yuan, which is still high in the East and low in the north and south. The mainstream price of 60% Dahong granules is 2550-2580 yuan. Although the transaction is limited, the general preferential space is not large unless the core customers are big single. The mainstream price of 62% white potassium in border trade is about 2280 yuan, and the new trade is slow, mainly due to the large environmental impact. Production, the main supply order price is temporarily stable, salt lake company has not yet expressed the intention of price adjustment. Generally speaking, the demand is difficult to release in the new year atmosphere. The starting rate of the compound fertilizer industry is less than 40% for a long time. The quantity of imported potassium is more than expected. The port stock is similar to that of the same period last year. The cost also has a larger space. Therefore, the price of potassium chloride is expected to decline.

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China’s Oil and Gas Import to a New High in 2018

Recently, according to import and export statistics released by the General Administration of Customs in December 2018, China imported 462 million tons of crude oil in 2018, an increase of 10.1% over the same period last year, of which 43.782 million tons were imported in December, an increase of 2.12% annually, a record monthly high.

In 2018, China’s refined oil exports reached 58.635 million tons, an increase of 12.4% over the same period last year, of which, in December, the export volume of refined oil reached 58.66 million tons, an increase of 31.2%.

In 2018, China imported 33.481 million tons of refined oil, an increase of 13% over the same period last year, of which 3.14 million tons of refined oil were imported in December, a decrease of 2.8%.

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Ethylene: From Rapid Development to High Quality Development

In 2019, Zhejiang Petrochemical’s 1.4 million tons/year ethylene plant will be put into operation. The main competitors of China’s ethylene industry will be further diversified and the competition will be more intense.

After half a century of development, China’s ethylene production capacity has entered a rapid development stage from the initial embryonic stage, is moving from a rapid development stage to a high-quality development stage, and is accelerating from a large ethylene producer to a strong ethylene producer.

The average scale of ethylene plant in China is higher than that in the world.

China is the second largest ethylene producer after the United States

In the 1960s, the first steam cracking unit in China was built and put into operation in Lanzhou Petrochemical Company, which opened the history of petrochemical industry in China with ethylene plant as the leader. After half a century of development, China’s ethylene industry has made tremendous progress, especially since 2005, the development has been more rapid. On the one hand, China’s enterprises have completed the second round of capacity expansion and transformation relying on the original equipment. On the other hand, 12 new cracking units with a scale of over 800,000 tons per year and a batch of coal-to-olefin units have been built. The total annual production capacity has increased from 7.4 million tons to over 25 million tons, which is the second largest ethylene producer in the world after the United States, accounting for about 14.7% of the global ethylene production capacity.

Although China’s ethylene production capacity and output are growing rapidly, there is still a big gap compared with the market demand. The net import of ethylene derivatives in China accounts for 50% to 60% of ethylene equivalent consumption each year. In 2017, China’s ethylene output was 18.24 million tons and its equivalent consumption was about 42.5 million tons. A large number of downstream ethylene derivatives such as polyethylene and ethylene glycol still need to be imported. Among them, the import of polyethylene accounted for 47% of the total consumption, especially high density polyethylene (HDPE) accounted for 59%, and ethylene glycol (EG) accounted for nearly 60%.

In recent years, with the slowdown of China’s GDP growth and the increase of ethylene equivalent consumption base, the annual growth rate of ethylene equivalent consumption has slowed down. During the Eleventh Five-Year Plan and the Twelfth Five-Year Plan, the annual growth rate of ethylene equivalent consumption decreased from 10% in the Tenth Five-Year Plan to about 7%, and further dropped to about 5% in the last three years.

The scale of ethylene plant is an important factor affecting ethylene production capacity and unit production cost. In the 1960s, the capacity of the first ethylene plant in China was only 0.5 million tons per year; from 1970s to 1990s, with the introduction of new equipment and technology, the largest ethylene plant reached 300,000 tons per year, usually consisting of 10 cracking furnaces and two switching furnaces, with a capacity of about 30,000 tons per year. Since 2005, advances in materials and technology have made it possible to design and build larger ethylene plants. Most of the ethylene plants built and put into operation in China have a scale of 800,000 to 1 million tons per year. Up to now, there are 32 sets of ethylene production equipment for steam cracking process in China, with an average scale of 636,000 tons per year, which is twice as large as that in 2005, and also higher than the world average scale (585,000 tons per year).

Continuous optimization of ethylene industry development

Base layout, optimization of raw materials, diversification of process and diversification of participants

While the overall production capacity and scale have been improved, the development of ethylene industry in China has also undergone many changes, mainly in the layout, raw materials, process routes and participants.

The layout of ethylene industry is very important, which is directly related to the development of petrochemical industry and economic benefits. Before 2000, 18 ethylene plants were scattered in 16 locations of 15 cities, and the cost of public works, logistics transmission, environmental protection and management services was high. It was difficult to centralize the utilization of cracking by-products, and the processing depth of products was not enough, which seriously affected the overall competitiveness.

After entering the 21st century, the construction layout of ethylene projects in China has been improved. New large-scale projects are mainly concentrated in eastern and southern China. In 2015, the National Development and Reform Commission issued the “Petrochemical Industry Planning and Distribution Plan” for the overall layout of the petrochemical industry in the coming period, requiring new ethylene projects to be laid out in seven major petrochemical industry bases, namely, Changxing Island in Dalian, Caofeidian in Hebei, Lianyungang in Jiangsu, Caojing in Shanghai, Ningbo in Zhejiang, Huizhou in Guangdong and Gulei in Fujian, in accordance with the integration of refining and large-scale plant. To build, the annual production capacity of ethylene plant has reached more than 1 million tons. This not only takes into account the resources and market advantages, but also pays attention to the impact of logistics conditions on competitiveness, which will play a guiding role in the future ethylene distribution in China.

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In terms of cracking raw materials, resource factors are the key factors affecting the structure of cracking raw materials for ethylene plant in a country. In the 1970s and 1980s, light diesel oil accounted for more than 70% of ethylene raw materials, light hydrocarbon and naphtha only accounted for 13%, and flash oil and heavy oil accounted for about 10%. By the end of the 1980s and the beginning of the 1990s, progress had been made in the light and high quality of ethylene raw materials. The proportion of light diesel oil had dropped dramatically to about 50%, the proportion of naphtha had increased to over 30%, and there were more than 10% light hydrocarbons and hydrogenated tail oil, but light diesel oil still dominated. Since 1996, with the improvement and processing of diesel oil, the increasing utilization of light hydrocarbon resources and the increase of imported crude oil, ethylene raw materials have been developing towards light and high quality. The proportion of light diesel oil decreased to about 1/3, and the proportion of naphtha increased to about 45%.

In the 21st century, the proportion of naphtha has further increased to over 60%, light diesel has further decreased to about 10%, and there are about 10% light hydrocarbons and about 10% hydrogenated tail oil. Generally speaking, naphtha is the main raw material for ethylene production in China, while other raw materials are supplementary.

In recent years, ethylene production enterprises have made great progress in strengthening the organization and utilization of light and high-quality raw materials such as light hydrocarbons in oilfields, condensates and refineries. At the same time, the refining structure adjustment makes more high-quality raw materials flow into ethylene plant. The proportion of light hydrocarbons and hydrogenated tail oil exceeds 1/3, the proportion of naphtha decreases to about 55%, and the proportion of light diesel oil decreases to less than 10%.

In terms of process route, before 2008, all ethylene production in China adopted steam cracking process. Over the past 10 years, the process route has been diversified: in 2008, Shenyang Chemical Company built its first catalytic pyrolysis (CPP) unit with heavy oil as raw material, with ethylene production capacity of 150,000 tons per year; in 2010, Shenhua Baotou Coal Chemical Company built its first coal (methanol) olefin production unit with ethylene production capacity of 300,000 tons per year.

At present, steam cracking process is still the mainstream of ethylene production in China, accounting for about 80% of the total ethylene production capacity, and coal (methanol) to ethylene accounts for about 17%. Other technologies are still in the stage of exploration, research and development or industrial transformation, including naphtha catalytic cracking to ethylene, methane as raw material, oxidative coupling (OCM) method or one-step anaerobic ethylene production, biomass ethanol as raw material through catalytic dehydration to ethylene, natural gas, coal or biomass as raw material through syngas to ethylene and so on.

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In terms of market participants, before 2005, China’s ethylene production mainly concentrated in Sinopec and PetroChina. Since 2005, with the start-up of ethylene projects of Yangba integration, Zhonghai Shell, Zhongsha Tianjin Petrochemical Company, Fujian United Petrochemical Company and Sino-Korean Petrochemical Company, as well as the start-up of several coal (methanol) olefin production projects such as Shenhua Baotou, Zhongyuan Ethylene Company and Ningbo Heyuan Petrochemical Company, China’s ethylene market has formed four major enterprises: central enterprises, joint ventures, coal (methanol) olefin production enterprises and importers. Supply system is the source pattern.

The Future of Ethylene Industry

The speed of structural adjustment and upgrading has been accelerated, and the overall level of ethylene industry has been greatly improved.

In the next few years, China’s ethylene production capacity will continue to grow rapidly. Not only are many refining projects in state-owned enterprises at the stage of construction and preparation, but also some powerful large private enterprises are expanding into the ethylene field. Some private enterprises have announced plans to use imported ethane to crack ethylene. At the same time, foreign capital is constantly entering. Some coal (methanol) to olefin projects are also under construction.

Considering the construction cycle, progress and some uncertainties, it is estimated that the ethylene production capacity in China will exceed 32 million tons per year at the end of the 13th Five-Year Plan and 45 million tons per year at the end of the 14th Five-Year Plan. With the increase of capacity base, the annual average growth rate is still about 7%.

However, from the perspective of consumption growth, with the slowdown of China’s economic growth and the increase of ethylene equivalent consumption base year by year, the growth rate of ethylene equivalent consumption will gradually slow down, “13th Five-Year Plan” will be reduced to 4%, and “14th Five-Year Plan” will also decline. Even so, China’s ethylene production still can not meet the market demand. It is estimated that China’s ethylene equivalent consumption will reach 48 million tons by 2020. It still needs to import about 20 million tons of ethylene derivatives such as polyethylene and ethylene glycol.

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With the increase of production capacity, the market participants are also increasing, and the competition is becoming increasingly fierce. China’s ethylene supply and demand gap has attracted the attention of domestic and foreign investors. Not only private enterprises and local enterprises will participate in the competition of domestic ethylene downstream products market, but also foreign capital will enter with the relaxation of foreign investment access requirements for petrochemical projects and the abolition of the restriction on the proportion of joint ventures. Basf, ExxonMobil and other petrochemical giants have announced that they will build ethylene projects solely in China.

The downstream product market of domestic ethylene will gradually form a multi-agent interactive market pattern between large petrochemical enterprises such as coal chemical industry, private petrochemical enterprises, local petrochemical enterprises, wholly foreign-owned enterprises and China Petroleum, Sinopec, China National Offshore Oil, Sinochem Group and other large-scale petrochemical enterprises and imported products. The competition will become more intense, which will play an important role in macro-policies, market norms and standards system. Influence.

In the new production capacity, with the commissioning of large ethylene projects such as Zhejiang Petrochemical Company, Hengli Petrochemical Company, Zhangzhou Gulei Petrochemical Company and Shenghong Petrochemical Company, as well as the shutdown of individual small-scale and low-profitability units, the average scale of steam cracking ethylene plant will continue to increase, reaching about 700,000 tons per year. The layout of the seven major petrochemical industrial bases will also be basically formed. The ethylene production capacity in the Yangtze River Delta, the Pearl River Delta and the Bohai Bay Rim will account for 60% of China’s total production capacity. Concentration will be further enhanced, and resources will be fully optimized and rationally utilized to achieve intensive management.

In the tide of the development of the times, the technology of new projects is becoming more and more advanced. With the adoption of the most advanced production technology and control technology in the world, the commissioning of new projects designed and constructed in accordance with the most advanced energy-saving and emission reduction standards in the world, and the continuous overall optimization of existing projects through the combination of various advanced technologies and processes, the operation level of ethylene plant has been greatly improved, which will promote the overall technical level of the domestic petrochemical industry.

The proportion of high-end products such as high-performance resins, special rubber and elastomers, high-performance fibers and their composites, functional membranes and other high-end products downstream of ethylene has increased, and the competitiveness has been increasing. At the same time, with the help of energy Internet and supply-side reform, we can accurately dock the demand of consumer market, actively grasp the frontier information, and improve the quality and efficiency of supply.

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OPEC lobbied the U.S. government and Congress for its importance to the U.S. economy.

The Wall Street Journal quoted officials of the organization as saying that OPEC was considering a radical campaign against American lawmakers and the White House. This will be the first time that OPEC has lobbied the United States in 60 years.

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The message is simple: OPEC plays a vital role in helping the U.S. economy.

Although OPEC officials do not intend to meet directly with politicians and policymakers, lobbying efforts are already on the cards.

OPEC member states are concerned that OPEC may have the impact of anti-monopoly laws. The Trump administration had previously accused OPEC of pushing up oil prices.

Over the years, the United States has filed a lawsuit against OPEC, claiming that OPEC violated antitrust laws. However, because OPEC Member States enjoy the protection of sovereign immunity, the cases have been defeated by the United States. Some members of the Trump Administration have proposed that lawsuits be instituted on the basis of avoidance of immunity, and some members of the United States Congress wish to avoid such immunities.

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The United States has proposed a so-called “No Oil Producing and Exporting Cartels Act” (NOPEC), which may put OPEC in an anti-monopoly lawsuit.

However, the bill has long been on hold, and successive presidents of the United States have said they will veto any move to incorporate it into the law. But President Trump, unlike him, has been outspoken in criticizing OPEC, accusing the organization of being responsible for high oil prices, and urging it to increase output in order to relieve the pressure on the market from oil prices hovering near four-year highs. This makes OPEC and its actual leader Saudi Arabia full of concerns about his possible promotion of the adoption of NOPEC.

Last October, the media reported that OPEC had urged its members not to mention oil prices when discussing policies because they feared that the United States would be legally hit by market manipulation.

The decision not to discuss oil prices, which is a common way for OPEC to guide market expectations, highlights the extent to which Trump’s aggressive stance in the oil market has upset OPEC.

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The Chilean Copper Industry Commission estimates that Chilean copper production will exceed 6 million tons in 2019.

According to a recent report issued by the Chilean Copper Industry Council (Cochilco), the copper production in Chile in the next 10 years is predicted according to the current investment plan for copper projects. It is estimated that Chile’s copper production will exceed 6 million tons for the first time in 2019; if considering the possible delays in the implementation of the new project, Chile’s copper production will reach 7.06 million tons by 2029, an increase of 28.3% over 2017; if the project is not delayed, Chile’s copper production will reach 8.1 million tons by 2029; if the project is seriously delayed, Chile’s copper production will reach 5.98 million tons by 2029.

By 2029, Antofagasta will continue to be the largest copper producer in the country, accounting for 53% of the total copper production at that time; Atacama will surpass Tarapac to become the second largest copper producer, and the copper production in these two regions will account for 13% and 12% of the total copper production respectively.

Cantallopts, Director of Public Policy and Research of the Chilean Copper Industry Commission, said that production projections provided the basis for copper price forecasts. Considering the shortage of copper in the world market and the low inventory of the product, he expects copper prices to rise to $3.05 per pound in 2019 and $3.08 per pound in 2020.

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Third-party surveys show an increase in Saudi oil and gas reserves

Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Energy, Industry and Minerals, Falkh, announced in Riyadh on September 9 that third-party auditors had surveyed 268.5 billion barrels of Saudi oil reserves by the end of 2017, higher than previously published official data. In addition, the survey also found that Saudi Arabia has 325.1 trillion cubic feet of natural gas reserves, higher than the previous 307.9 trillion cubic feet.

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The output of major oil-producing countries has declined, and the crude oil revenue has risen for the longest time in nine years.

On January 11, Beijing time, oil market traders did not receive much information about the outcome of the Sino-US trade negotiations, but optimistic expectations of progress in the negotiations helped oil prices rise. In addition, data show that crude oil production in major oil-producing countries has declined, which also supports oil prices. U.S. crude oil futures closed higher Thursday for the ninth consecutive trading day, setting the longest streak of gains in about nine years. At the same time, international Brent crude oil futures prices also set the longest continuous upward trend in more than 11 years.

West Texas Light Crude Oil (WTI) futures for February delivery on the New York Mercantile Exchange rose 23 cents to $52.59 a barrel, or 0.4%. According to Dow Jones Market Data, this means that WTI futures have reached their highest closing price since December 7 last year. At the same time, this also means that gold futures prices closed up for the ninth consecutive trading day, setting the longest continuous upward trend since January 2010, when they reached a ten-consecutive rise.

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Meanwhile, Brent crude oil futures for March delivery on the London ICE European Futures Exchange rose 24 cents to close at $61.68 a barrel, or 0.4%, the highest close since December 4. Brent oil prices also rose for the ninth consecutive trading day, the longest run since September 12, 2007.

U.S. WTI futures have stepped out of bear market on Wednesday, up nearly 24% from the 52-week low of $42.53 a barrel hit on December 24 last year.

Powell stressed Thursday that the Federal Reserve would take a flexible and patient stance, and that if economic conditions deteriorated, it might change policy. He also said that senior Fed officials’expectations that interest rates will be raised twice this year were based on the premise that “the economic outlook for 2019 is very strong”. The Fed’s interest rate hike tends to drive up the dollar, which in general causes prices of commodity futures, such as crude oil, to fall in dollar terms, because investors in other currencies will have higher costs of buying these commodities.

The U.S. Energy Information Agency (EIA) reported Wednesday that U.S. crude oil stocks fell by 1.7 million barrels in the week ending January 4. By contrast, analysts had expected crude oil inventories to fall by an average of 1.4 million barrels this week, according to a S&P Global Platts survey. In addition, the report showed that gasoline inventories in the United States increased by 8.1 million barrels last week, while distillate oil (including diesel oil and heating oil) inventories increased by 10.6 million barrels, compared with an average of 4.2 million barrels expected by analysts in Standard & Poor’s Global Prussian Survey this week, and 4.3 million barrels of distillate oil inventories.

In other energy trades on the New York Mercantile Exchange, the price of RBOB gasoline futures for February delivery rose 0.4% to $1.431 a gallon, heating oil futures for February delivery rose 1.4% to $1.906 a gallon, and gas futures for February delivery fell 0.5% to $2.969 a million British heat units.

According to a report released Thursday by the U.S. Energy Information Agency, U.S. natural gas stocks fell 91 billion cubic feet (2.6 billion cubic meters) in the week ended Jan. 4, compared with an average of 84 billion cubic feet (2.4 billion cubic meters) in the week before, according to a survey by Standard & Poor’s Global Prussian, and a five-year average of 187 billion cubic inches. Rules (about 5.3 billion cubic meters).

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