The impact of a number of factors on world trade in resources

By D.Rozanov

The current development of world energy is affected by a number of differently directed factors: the depletion of some traditional deposits and the development of new, sometimes more difficult-to-reach oil shale or heavy oil deposits, efforts to build capacities for the production of liquefied natural gas (LNG) and to provide transportation infrastructure. It is necessary to spend considerable funds on the development of renewable energy sources (RES), on improving technologies for extraction and processing of resources. This is taking place with the aggravation of the political situation and outbreaks of military operations in the Middle East region, which accounts for about 43% of the world's oil production. All this causes a divergence of supply and demand, a depressive state of prices, affects the structure of the existing commodity flows and their filling.

The tendency is now to take a slowdown in the growth of the world demand for primary energy against the backdrop of the conservative energy policy of the extracting countries that do not seek to adequately reduce the production and export of fossil fuels. If in 2006-2011 the annual growth of consumption exceeded 2%, in the last three years it slowed down to 1%. The very tangible differences between the production of energy resources and the demand for them have led to a large-scale fluctuation in oil prices. The period of 2006-2010 was characterized by a shortage of production in relation to demand on average in the amount of 135 million t. (about 1.2% of world production). And the price of Brent oil soared in 2012 to a record level of $112 per barrel. High prices stimulated the growth of production, which in 2011-2015 exceeded consumption by an average of almost 90 million toe, which, in turn, led to a fall in oil prices almost three times against the record level. And even the newly formed in 2016, the deficit in energy resources in the volume of 100 million tone. did not level out the situation substantially, since the reduction was carried out in the coal sector by China and had a largely sectoral, country character (without coal, the deficit was only 25 million tons).

Due to uneven global location of oil, gas and coal deposits, as well as other natural sources of energy, about 40% of resources are redistributed through international trade channels, being an object of complex commercial and interstate relations. Calculations made according to the data of the BP show that the main resource-exporting countries with the leading Russia (such as the Middle East, Australia, Indonesia, Canada), guided by energy security interests, offer steadily increasing volumes of products to the market. From 2006 to 2016, the share of oil entering the international trade channels increased from 65.3 to 73.6% (including the share of oil products in export deliveries increased from 25 to 34%), and the share of exported gas rose from 28.8 up to 33.7% (of which a part in the liquefied form, now transported by 430 tanker gas carriers, has increased from 28 to 32%).

At the same time, the largest developing importing countries (China, India), as well as Turkey, are actively expanding their purchases of energy resources, responding to the needs of a rapidly growing economy. At the same time, developed countries over the last decade (which have already ceded the developing communities the leading half in energy resources development since 2007) either modestly trailed on the spot, or reduced the lack of resources by increasing economies. Thus, the need for energy resources in the countries of the European Union in 2006-2016 declined by almost 8% (from 1005 to 927 million toe), and in Japan by 5% (from 424 to 403 million toe) . Import requirements in the USA sharply decreased: twice  from 677 to 339 million tons. But this was not the result of rational efforts to increase the effectiveness of consumption, but years of a forceful course to increase self-sufficiency by boosting domestic production (sometimes even at the cost of unprofitable shale mining). Thus, the US demand for imported energy resources for the decade has decreased from 29% to 10-15%.

Considering the energy situation in the market of four main economic entities of China, the United States, Russia and the EU countries (leading a unified energy policy), which account for 48.6% of world production and 57.6% of energy consumption (2016) except for Russia, traditionally the first in terms of net exports, are significant net importers.

2016 was in the industrial sense very successful for the Russian energy sector. The country reached record levels for oil production (547.5 million tons, almost equaling Saudi Arabia) and coal (385.7 million tons, closing the top five). And for gas production, for the first time in three years we reached a positive trend (640.2 billion cubic meters - the second place in the world). However, the price situation was unfavorable. Since 2014, OPEC leaders - low-cost Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar have refused to regulate the market (despite the requests of Venezuela, Nigeria and Algeria with higher costs), and in December 2015 the price of oil fell below $ 40 per barrel (and the prices for oil in many respects determine their level and for other types of fuel).

The efforts were successfully completed with the signing in early December of this year of 12 OPEC countries and 11 non-participating exporters of the Memorandum on the reduction of production, corresponding to approximately 1.9% of global production (as of October 2016). Great obligations were assumed by Russia. The agreement did not ensure the rise of prices. But it stopped their fall. And in May 2017, the agreement participants at a meeting in Vienna confirmed its continued operation until the end of March 2018.

The vulnerability of this agreement of 23 countries is explained by the position of the United States, which not only refused to participate, but took advantage of the sacrifice of such a wide range of participants - for their own gain by starting to boost shale production. By April 2017, the number of existing drilling rigs in the United States had increased to 619 units - 40% more than last year's low, and production increased by almost 0.6 million barrels per day. )

China, which has recently overtaken the United States, has headed the world energy consumption basket, has been successfully moving in many areas of energy and has had a stabilizing effect on the world market, covering its significant areas. In 2016, although China increased its energy consumption by only 1.3% (the smallest figure in two decades), it, as the world's largest player in the metallurgical and coal markets, consumed 50.6% of the world's coal production (46% of its world output volume), provided 25% of the world's generation of hydroelectric power stations (in 2006 only 15%), and 20.5% of the use of renewable energy, surpassing the US and coming out in the past year in first place in this indicator. The situation with coal in 2011-2015 was complicated by its surplus and falling prices of coking coal from $ 296 to $ 102 per ton, and from $ 120 to $ 57 per ton. In February last year, the Chinese authorities for the first time took measures to drastically reduce coal production (about 500 million tons) by 2020. The work of the mines was limited to 276 days a year (instead of the previous 330). As a result, by the end of 2016, the price of coking coal rose to $ 300 / ton, and for 800 of the most modern mines, the number of working days was restored. However, the situation remained unsustainable. The last months were very dramatic for the coal market: if in the UK in 2016 coal production was halved, then after the closure of the last three mines, its production since April of this year has stopped altogether, leaving the history of the 200-year base of the British industrial revolution.

In general, the developing countries have consistently increased energy consumption. China, India and Brazil increased it by 56% over 10 years, while the rest of the world - only 18%. As a result, the share of these countries-leaders of the developing community in energy consumption, which in 2006 was 23%, increased to almost 31% by 2016.

And the EU countries were concerned about the economical use of energy, the increase in energy efficiency. This was also subject to the expansion of commercial accounting of resource consumption, and new energy-saving equipment. For example, in the domestic sector of Western European countries, energy-saving induction cookers, cooking utensils from the new generation of special steels, multi-level dishes layout systems that simultaneously prepare a lunch of several dishes, using a single heat source (one comfort), etc., have spread. With some population growth and GDP in Western Europe, fuel consumption for the decade has not increased.

One of the most important is the supply of gas from Russia to Germany via the Baltic Highway "Nord Stream-1" with a capacity of 55 billion cubic meters. Some of them are sent by transit to Italy, Austria, other countries of Western Europe. To operate such a large volume of Germany uses the largest in Europe underground gas storage (UGS) "Reden" volume of more than 4 billion cubic meters. m (an area of ​​8 sq. km in the land of Lower Saxony). It is about 1/5 of the total capacity of German UGS. That is, we have developed a ramified infrastructure for Russian-German trade. Western European countries are interested in expanding reliable commodity flows. In April 2017, five Western firms signed an agreement to finance a half of the cost of construction of the "Nord Stream-2" (estimated at $ 9.5 billion) capacity of 55 billion cubic meters. m and a length of 1220 km by the end of 2019. However, these reasonable agreed plans may be in the orbit of recent US legislation that allows itself the arbitrariness of international sanctions.

As technical progress shifts, the qualitative aspects of energy practice. Over the past decade (2006-2016), the generation of secondary energy, electricity, increased by 29%, double the 15% increase in production of base hydrocarbons (oil, gas and coal). In addition to technological innovations, the element of interstate politics is increasingly invading the commercial and price spheres, which increases the fragility and uncertainty. According to a number of Western experts, the combination of long-term changes and short-term correction will largely determine the energy market in the coming years.
 
 
20.09.2017
 
 
 

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