Energy & Resources Talking Points 19-08-2016


In today’s talking points: China’s Ministry of Commerce calls blocked Ausgrid sale a protectionist move; China’s zinc smelting industry slashes fees; Shale gas to underpin growth in world natural gas production; Whitehaven announces rise in profits, thermal coal up

China’s Ministry of Commerce calls blocked Ausgrid sale a protectionist move

Following the blocked sale of Australia’s largest energy grid, China’s Ministry of Commerce spokesman Shen Danyang has stated “This kind of decision is protectionist and seriously impacts the willingness of Chinese companies to invest in Australia”.  The statement comes after Australian Treasurer Scott Morrison last week announced that State Grid Corp of China and Hong Kong’s Cheung Kong Infrastructure Holdings would be prevented from buying electricity network company Ausgrid. During a speech last Wednesday, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull stated that “political responses to this mood of disaffection can have the potential to destabilise global growth, perhaps even reversing some of the spectacular gains we have made over recent decades through open markets and free trade.”

Source: Reuters

China’s zinc smelting industry slashes fees

Fees for turning ore concentrates into refined metals have been cut by 20 percent in a bid to attract raw material as ore supplies.  Ore supplies have dropped as commodities giants reduce output to cope with falling zinc prices which slumped to a 6 year low in January due to declining demand in China.  Low treatment fees are expected to lead smelters to reduce output and there have been a string of smelter shutdowns by environmental inspectors in China in recent weeks which is adding to the issue.

Source: Business Times 

Shale gas to underpin growth in world natural gas production

U.S. Energy Information Administration’s International Energy Outlook 2016 has forecast shale gas will account for 30% of world natural gas production by 2040 with China the second largest producer in the world.  China is one of only four countries to have commercial shale gas production and was one of the first countries outside North America to develop shale resources. To date it has drilled more than 600 shale gas wells and produced 0.5 Bcf/d of shale gas.  Technological improvements are expected to drive the development of shale gas resources in other countries such as Mexico and Algeria over the forecast period.

Source: US Energy Information Administration

Whitehaven announces rise in profits, thermal coal up

Whitehaven yesterday reported a profit of $20.5 million in the June year compared with its $342.7m loss in 2015.  Managing director Paul Flynn attributed the turnaround to cutting costs and reducing debt to cope with weaker coal prices.  Coal has rallied in the past couple of months however, particularly thermal coal which lifted from $US53 a tonne in 2015 to $US68 a tonne this week as a result of cuts to China’s domestic coal industry.  The state and federal energy ministers meet today in Canberra to formulate a response to increasing power and gas supply and price issues.

Source: The Australian