Trafigura chief warns of rolling power outages in Europe this winter

Europe dangers rolling energy outages if there’s a extended interval of chilly climate this winter, in accordance with the chief govt of Trafigura, one of many world’s greatest commodity merchants.

Talking on the FT Commodities Asia Summit, Jeremy Weir stated there was nonetheless inadequate pure fuel within the area regardless of the promise of elevated flows from Russia.

“We haven’t obtained sufficient fuel in the mean time fairly frankly. We’re not storing for the winter interval,” he stated. “So therefore there’s a actual concern that. . . if we’ve a chilly winter that we may have rolling blackouts in Europe.”

President Vladimir Putin final month ordered Russia’s state fuel big Gazprom to start filling the storage amenities it controls in Germany and Austria, boosting hopes that exports to Europe would rise.

Nonetheless, there was solely restricted will increase in provide from Russia over the previous week and on Monday Gazprom booked decrease pipeline capability for December. Russia has denied proscribing exports to Europe however has been accused by lawmakers of attempting to place stress on Germany to hurry up the authorisation of the controversial Nord Stream 2 pipeline.

European wholesale costs eased barely final month however stay greater than 4 occasions the extent of a 12 months in the past and have risen in current days. Some industries have already minimize manufacturing because of document costs, together with Trafigura’s Nyrstar zinc enterprise, however there stay fears that the market will stay tight till the spring. Europe is closely reliant on fuel after phasing down coal-fired energy technology.

Governments could be anticipated to chop fuel provide to non-essential industries earlier than permitting the electrical energy grid to be affected, however Weir’s feedback illustrate the depth of concern within the power sector.

Weir stated the extraordinary spike in pure fuel costs had been “difficult” for the business. Some commodity merchants had been pressured to chop liquefied pure fuel positions due to margin calls — calls for for further money to cowl spinoff hedging contracts.

“At one stage, I believe the preliminary margin [payment] was one thing like 25 per cent of the worth. The market nearly turned dysfunctional in consequence,” stated Weir.

Nonetheless, Weir stated privately owned Trafigura, which is run from workplaces in Geneva however domiciled in Singapore, was set for one more “very robust” 12 months.

“You will note in our outcomes when they’re printed that we’ve actually elevated our fairness base and that the corporate is in a a lot stronger place than two or three years in the past.”

In June, Trafigura introduced document half-year earnings because it rode the wave of a restoration in demand and costs for oil and metals.

Turning to grease, Weir stated the market remained “very, very tight” and an absence of funding in new tasks meant “a three-figure quantity” was “effectively and really on the playing cards”. Brent crude was buying and selling $81 a barrel on Monday, up from $50 firstly of the 12 months as demand has elevated following the easing of lockdown restrictions.

“We aren’t seeing the substitute of reserves. Oil has gone from a 15-year reserve life to a 10-year reserve life in a brief time period,” he stated.

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Trafigura is likely one of the world’s greatest power merchants, dealing with round 6.4m barrels a day of crude oil and merchandise in accordance with its newest outcomes.

On the flip of the 12 months, it paid €7.3bn for a ten per cent stake in a gargantuan Arctic oil challenge being developed by state-backed Russian oil firm Rosneft.

Weir stated decarbonisation, or the shift to cleaner types of power, couldn’t occur on the “flick of a swap” and subsequently crude oil was going to be wanted for a while to come back.

“I really feel very strongly that we nonetheless do must spend money on these industries to offer power for the longer term,” he stated.

Weir stated Trafigura, which is increasing into renewable power and carbon buying and selling, would proceed to commerce coal whereas there was nonetheless a have to “transfer it”.

“One of many greatest issues we’ve . . . is that rising nations nonetheless want this as a type of gas,” he stated.

On the UN COP26 summit final week, India and China weakened efforts to finish coal energy. As an alternative of a dedication to “section out” unabated coal, nations on the convention agreed to “section down” the fossil gas.


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