Reuters reports that Nippon Oil Corp President Shinji Nishio told the Reuters Energy Summit that Japan may be forced to shut as much as 1 mb/d of refining throughput capacity, more than a fifth of the country's total capacity, as oil demand is falling more quickly than previously expected.
"'I think we are likely to see an even faster decline than the government's projection,' he said in Tokyo.There will be fierce competition for export markets given the wall of new refining capacity which is hitting the Asia Pacific.
Japan's trade ministry projects oil sales will fall by an average annual 3.5% to 168.2 million kl (2.9 mb/d) in the year from April 2013, from a total 3.46 mb/d last year. It has the capacity to refine 4.8 mb/d.
'Unless we cut the capacity by (1 mb/d), the nation's production will not be at an optimum level,' he said. 'When you think about the future beyond (2013), we will have to cut even further.'
Major Japanese refiners have slashed refinery production sharply in response to weakening demand, but relatively few have thus far mothballed capacity, despite a downturn in global profit margins that is likely to curtail hopes of shifting to exports."
2. C.I.C. TAKES AN ADDITIONAL $1.2 BILLION IN MORGAN STANLEY; AN OBSCURE TOW TRUCK MANUFACTURER TO BUY G.M.'S HUMMER UNIT
Jason Dean and Peter Stein at the Deal Journal report that the China Investment Corporation--one of China's sovereign wealth funds--took an additional $1.2 billion stake in Morgan Stanley yesterday.
"CIC executives and other Chinese officials have talked about how little confidence they had in US and European financial sector, thanks in large part to the heavy paper losses CIC suffered on a previous $5.6 billion stake it bought in Morgan Stanley in December 2007, plus an earlier stake in Blackstone Group. Officials said they worried about the market turmoil and the uncertainty over US and European government bailout programs.This comes a day after the news that Chinese students at Peking University laughed at Secretary Geithner's assertion that Chinese assets were safe. The article also points out that Temasek--Singapore's sovereign wealth fund--sold its entire stake in Bank of America in the middle of May. At that time the New York Times reported that Bank of America sold a consortium of sellers which included Temasek about a third of its 16% holding in China Construction Bank. Meanwhile, Joe McDonald at the Associated Press reports that Sichuan Tengzhong Heavy Industrial Machinery Co. announced yesterday that it would purchase the Hummer unit of GM.
So, the new deal is clearly a new vote of confidence by CIC–though one perhaps foreshadowed in April, when CIC Chairman Lou Jiwei said the fund was starting to see opportunities and planned to expand its overseas investments this year."
"Tengzhong's Web site says the company is privately owned, though that status can be murky in the Chinese system. Comments posted Wednesday on Chinese Web sites for car lovers asked whether China's military financed the Hummer takeover."The company is four years old and has 4,300 employees. It makes cement mixers and tow trucks--the Hummer will be its first venture into passenger cars.
3. KASHGAR PARTY SECRETARY SAYS BEIJING HAS DISRUPTED 7 UIGHUR TERRORIST CELLS THIS YEAR
The Associated Press reports that the Communist Party secretary of Kashgar, China, Zhang Jian, told China Daily that the government had uncovered seven Uighur terrorist cells in the city so far this year.
"Zhang was quoted in a Xinhua News Agency article Tuesday saying the government had broken up 591 alleged separatist and terrorist groups from 1990 until 2003.
Last July, the China Daily paper said officials had foiled a dozen terrorist cells linked to foreign-based organizations in the region, making it hard to determine if the seven marked an increase in activity.
China says militants among the Uighurs--Turkic-speaking Muslims--are leading a violent Islamic separatist movement in Xinjiang and are seeking to set up an independent state in the Central Asia border region. A series of several attacks around the Olympics last year were blamed on separatist groups."
(h/t Sky Canaves at China Journal.)
4. CHANCELLOR MERKEL SPEECH ATTACKS Q.E., DER SPIEGEL WORRIES SHE IS BEING LEFT OUT OF THE LOOP
Joellen Perry at Real Time Economics reports that German Chancellor Angela Merkel said in a speech yesterday in Berlin:
"[T]he independence of the European Central Bank must be preserved and the things that other central banks are now doing must be retracted. I view with great skepticism the powers of the Fed, for example, and also how, within Europe, the Bank of England has carved out its own small line. The European Central Bank has also bowed somewhat to international pressure with the purchase of covered bonds. We must return together to an independent central-bank policy and to a policy of reason, otherwise we will be in exactly the same situation in 10 years’ time."Meanwhile, Gregor Peter Schmitz and Gabor Steingart in Der Spiegel report that the White House views the Chancellor as difficult, and that Berlin is increasingly being left out of the loop in international financial policy decisions.
"Washington has not forgotten how she thwarted the US Treasury's attempts to solve the crisis within the forum of the G-20. The Chancellery instead used diplomatic channels to push for a meeting of G-8 states.When President Obama visits Germany en route to Normandy to commemorate the beach landing of 1944, he will visit the Buchenwald concentration camp. Well worth reading in full.
The thinking in Berlin was that Germany would have had more influence over G-8 decisions. And that would have meant that China, the world's third largest economy and the US's biggest creditor, would not have been involved. However, the US regarded Germany's stance as unacceptable both economically and politically. In the end Berlin had to back down.
Ever since, the Germans have been shown time and again that things can be done without them. It was the Americans and the British who were behind the push to triple the International Monetary Fund's lending capacity to $750 billion. The Germans, who had originally specified a lower figure, were persuaded to fall in line.
The IMF's executive board, on which Germany has a seat, didn't even get to meet to discuss the issue. It simply had to implement the decision made at the London G-20 summit. For the first time in the IMF's history huge sums could be doled out without obligations attached. In recent weeks credit lines worth billions of dollars have been granted to Poles, Mexicans and Colombians. A leading IMF employees said: 'We have almost no control over how this money is used.'"
5. RIKSBANK SAYS LOAN LOSSES FACED BY MAJOR SWEDISH BANKS LIKELY $22.8 BILLION, 40% OF WHICH ON EASTERN EUROPE EXPOSURE
Mia Shanley and Niklas Pollard at Reuters report that the Swedish central bank, or Riksbank, said in its biannual financial stability report that it expected loan losses at major Swedish banks of 170 billion krona (~$22.8 billion) this year and next.
"The central bank said it estimated just under 40 percent of total losses were expected to stem from the banks' operations in the Baltic countries and the rest of eastern Europe.The report said that Swedish banks were sufficiently capitalized to weather the crisis, and "well-capitalized in an international comparison." (h/t Chuck Butler's Daily Pfenning.)
'It is primarily the corporate sector, both in Sweden and in other countries where the Swedish banks have operations, that is contributing to the increase in loan losses,' it said.
The Riksbank said the main scenario set out in its report was 'very uncertain' and that conditions for banks could prove more daunting than previously thought, for instance if either the regional or wider downturn worsened."
6. OBAMA IN SAUDI ARABIA TO VISIT BIRTHPLACE OF ISLAM, AL-QAEDA RELEASES OSAMA TAPE
Scott Wilson at the Washington Post reports that President Obama is in Riyadh today to discuss with King Abdullah Iran's nuclear program, the Palestine peace process, and, in all likelihood, the price of oil. On the tarmac the President told reporters:
"Obviously the United States and Saudi Arabia have a long history of friendship, we have a strategic relationship. ... I thought it was very important to come to the place where Islam began and to seek His Majesty's counsel and to discuss with him many of the issues that we confront here in the Middle East."Al-Qaeda released a new audio-tape, purportedly by Osama bin-Laden, to al Jazeera to coincide with the visit in which it accuses the President of "planting seeds [of] 'revenge and hatred' toward the United States in the Muslim world." Thomas Hegghammer at Jihadica observes that the tape did not reach the news organization by "regular channels" and deduces that bin-Laden may be feeling the squeeze. An excerpt:
"While most statements by AQ Central in recent years have been posted directly on the Internet, this one was distributed 'the old way', in a physical copy delivered by courier to al-Jazeera. As of 2pm EST, the statement has not yet appeared on the forums. Moreover, the absence of references to recent events suggests the tape was recorded several weeks ago. Finally the length of the tape is reportedly only around four minutes, which is unusually short. In all these respects, the latest tape differs from UBL’s three previous statements this year, on Gaza in January and on Gaza and Somalia in March."Worth reading in full.
7. SYRIA AGREES TO HOST US MILITARY DELEGATION IN DAMASCUS FOR DISCUSSIONS ON IRAQ
Glenn Kessler at the Washington Post reports that Syria has agreed to schedule a meeting with a US delegation of military commanders in Damascus in the coming weeks to discuss how best to put down the insurgency in Iraq.
"US officials said the administration was not committing to drafting a formal plan for improving relations, but the two visits could form the building blocks of a new relationship. Although officials from US Central Command have met their Syrian counterparts at regional security meetings on Iraq, military officials have been unable for years to have a thorough, joint discussion on the situation in Iraq."8. SHEIK OF DUBAI SAYS MIDDLE EAST NEEDS TO CONCENTRATE ON EDUCATION
Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, vice president and prime minister of the UAE as well as the ruler of Dubai, has an opinion piece in today's Wall Street Journal where he remarks that over half of the 300 million people in the Middle East are under 25 years of age, meaning that efforts to win hearts and minds should be a priority. Key excerpt:
"[P]erhaps Mr. Obama might want to consider a new American-Arab education and health-care initiative. Arabs have the primary responsibility to create a better investment climate and stronger policies concerning education and economics. This will require greater transparency in governance, a stronger rule of law, and more independent institutions of justice.Worth reading in full.
Far too frequently in our region, good governance strategies take a back seat to military spending. Such recklessness has cost Arabs decades in lost development. The total expenditure on conflicts in the Middle East in the last six decades has exceeded $3 trillion. In fact, the Middle East is the world's most militarized region. And how much do we spend on education? The per capita expenditure of our region's 22 nations has shrunk in the last 15 years to 10% from 20% of what the world's 30 wealthiest countries spend.
We in the United Arab Emirates are dedicated a new education paradigm, notwithstanding some recent setbacks on account of the world financial crisis. We're urging our Arab brethren to do the same."
9. ISRAELI FOREIGN MINISTER SAYS TEL AVIV WILL NOT ATTACK IRAN
Steve Gutterman at the Associated Press reports that Israel's Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said to reporters after a Moscow meeting with Vladimir Putin:
"We do not intend to bomb Iran, and nobody will solve their problems with our hands. We don't need that. Israel is a strong country, we can protect ourselves. But the world should understand that the Iran's entrance into the nuclear club would prompt a whole arms race, a crazy race of unconventional weaponry across the Mideast. That is a threat to the entire world order, a challenge to the whole international community. So we do not want a global problem to be solved with our hands."Lieberman also suggested that those most concerned about a nuclear-armed Iran were its Arab neighbors in the Middle East, more so than Israel in any case.
10. CNPC TO REPLACE TOTAL ON SOUTH PARS PHASE 11
Zahra Hosseinian and Fredrik Dahl at Reuters report that IRNA, Iran's state news agency, has reported that CNPC has replaced Total SA as the developer of Phase 11 of the South Pars gas fields. The announcement today was made to coincide with Iran's foreign minister scheduled meeting with President Sarkozy in Paris.
"It was signed in Beijing by Seifollah Jashnsaz, managing director of the state National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC), and his CNPC counterpart, ... IRNA ... said.11. USDOE OFFICIAL REMARKS ON LARGE RESERVES IN UGANDA, HERITAGE OIL IN MERGER TALKS
'The signing of the cooperation agreement between Iran and China took place as CNPC has replaced the French company of Total,' IRNA said.
Jashnsaz said the aim was to reach daily production of 50 million cubic metres of natural gas and other products.
Total had no immediate comment on the report. In Beijing, CNPC officials were not immediately available for comment."
Edris Kisambira at Kampala's East African Business Week reports that Sally Kornfield, a senior analyst in the USDOE's office of fossil energy, told a visiting Ugandan delegation in Washington DC yesterday that:
"You are blessed with amazing reservoirs. Your reservoirs are incredible. I am amazed by what I have seen, you might rival Saudi Arabia."Heritage Oil announced that it had found enough oil in Uganda to expect a return on its investment in January, estimating that its blocks by Lake Albert contain 2 billion barrels--see Daily Sources 1/13 #10. In May, Heritage announced a world class giant oil field find in Kurdish Iraq--see Daily Sources 5/6 #4. Fred Pals at Bloomberg reports that Heritage today announced that it is in preliminary discussions which may lead to a merger.
"'No agreement has been reached between the third party and the company and there can be no assurances that any agreement will be reached or even if reached, that any such agreement will be completed,' Heritage said in the statement."Last year Heritage had received an "unsolicited approach." From the story it is unclear if this is a merger discussion or a takeover.
12. U.S. COMPROMISE ON CUBAN READMISSION TO O.A.S. REJECTED
Mark Landler at the New York Times reports that a compromise fashioned by Secretary of State Clinton regarding the readmission of Cuba to the Organization of American States failed to gain any traction at the club's meeting in Honduras today. The compromise would have given Havana a road map to readmission, enumerating the steps it would have to take in order to rejoin. It was reportedly clear that there was a clear majority in favor of Cuba's readmission, though whether or not a vote would be forced on the issue was yet to be seen. It would take a two-thirds majority for the ban to be overturned.
13. A.D.P. ESTIMATES U.S. COMPANIES CUT 532,000 WORKERS IN MAY, FIVE TIMES AS MANY OFFICIAL UNEMPLOYED AS REPORTED JOB OPENINGS
Courtney Schlisserman at Bloomberg reports that ADP Employer Services has released its estimate that US companies cut about 532,000 workers from their payrolls in May. "April’s reading was revised to show a reduction of 545,000 workers, up from a previous estimate of 491,000." Barry Ritholtz at the Big Picture links to Econopic Data's graphs of Job Openings plus number of Unemployed:
There are nearly five times as many reported unemployed people as there are reported job openings.
14. EIA REPORTS CRUDE STOCK BUILD
The EIA reported that, for the week ended May 29, commercial stocks of crude oil grew by 2.9 million barrels to nearly 366 million barrels.
As you can see from the EIA's graph above, commercial stocks remain quite high, historically speaking, and the stock build was contrary to analyst expectations of a 1.5 million barrel draw, per the Bloomberg survey. Gasoline stocks fell by 200,000, versus analyst expectations of a 650,000 build, and are below the five year average historical range for this time of year. Distillate stocks continue to grow by 1.6 million barrels.