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China Becomes World’s Biggest LNG Buyer With Flurry Of Long-Term Deals

China Becomes World’s Biggest LNG Buyer With Flurry Of Long-Term Deals

China is rapidly becoming the world’s most dominant force in liquefied…



China Becomes World's Biggest LNG Buyer With Flurry Of Long-Term Deals

China is rapidly becoming the world's most dominant force in liquefied natural gas, with Chinese buyers accounting for 40% of recent long-term LNG contracts among global players, according to Nikkei Asia.

Take Chinese energy giant Sinopec Group, which reached a 27-year agreement with state-owned QatarEnergy late last year to buy 4 million tonnes of LNG annually. The imports are due to begin around 2026. As a key client, China is also negotiating to invest in a massive Qatari project to expand LNG output.

At the same time, a private-sector Chinese energy company, ENN Group, signed a contract last year with Texas-based Energy Transfer to buy 2.7 million tonnes of LNG annually for 20 years. ENN increased its purchasing agreement with NextDecade, also headquartered in Texas, to 2 million tonnes a year for 20 years as well. In addition, NextDecade has agreed to supply 1 million tonnes of LNG yearly to China Gas Holdings, whose principal shareholder is an investment vehicle controlled by the city of Beijing. Imports are to start in the latter 2020s.

Over 2021 and 2022, China closed long-term LNG purchasing contracts worth nearly 50 million tonnes a year, European research firm Rystad Energy reports. In this not so covert attempt to corner the LNG market, China has tripled the scale of purchases through long-term contracts in just two years, up from the annual volume of roughly 16 million tonnes from 2015 through 2020.

A liquefied natural gas terminal owned by China's ENN Group in Zhejiang province near Shanghai.  

In 2020 and 2021, spot transactions accounted for 40%-50% of China's natural gas imports, well above the estimated 30% for Japan. But China appears to have changed strategy to fit long-term demand. Long-term contracts offer more stability in supplies compared with spot contracts.

In 2021, China surpassed Japan as the world's top LNG importer. But last year, imports apparently dropped 18% to around 65 million tonnes on the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic. Yet China's demand for natural gas in 2030 is projected to be over 50% higher than in 2021.

Amid global efforts to reduce carbon emissions, many countries have converged on natural gas as a relatively clean bridge fuel. The Institute of Energy Economics, Japan predicts annual worldwide LNG demand will reach 488 million tonnes in 2030, up about 40% from 2020. But global supply is on track to fall short of demand by 7.6 million tonnes a month in 2025.

The China contingent are addressing the risk of being cut off from the LNG supply chain at a time when U.S. and allies work to create China-free supply chains for semiconductors. Long-term contracts are seen as a hedge against such disruptions.

Ironically, the US is already China's biggest LNG supplier based on long-term contracts. The same US that aggressively ramping up alternative semiconductor supply chains that bypass Beijing and which has cracked down on Chinese reverse engineering of US technology. And while Beijing imposed a 25% tariff on American-made LNG in 2019 during the trade war, it then started issuing waivers on the duties in 2020, and since 2021, Chinese and U.S. companies have signed a series of massive LNG deals.

China now imports about 90 million tonnes of LNG through long-term contracts, with the U.S. responsible for around 25 million. Australia ranks next at roughly 17 million tonnes, while the Middle East supplies 14 million and Russia contributes about 6 million.

Despite being extensively reliant on US long-term deal, Beijing intends to avoid dependence on American LNG, and China "is ready to expand cooperation with Qatar in natural gas and other traditional energy sectors," President Xi Jinping said during a December meeting with Qatar's Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani in the Saudi Arabian capital of Riyadh.

Additionally, Beijing is carefully diversifying suppliers in the name of energy security. Beyond tanker-borne LNG, China also brings in natural gas via pipelines. China covers just over half of its natural gas demand through domestic output, and the rest comes from Russia and Turkmenistan. The natural gas supplies are supplemented by LNG from the U.S. and other sources.

"It's best not to rely on any one country for 30%-40% of our needs," said an executive at a large Chinese oil company, a lesson which Europe learned the very hard way.

As China emerges as a dominant LNG buyer, the role of Japanese purchasers has diminished.

In 2021 and 2022, Japanese companies agreed to less than 10 million tonnes of LNG per annum in long-term contracts. Utilities are wary of large LNG contracts due to uncertainties about future demand amid the decarbonization movement, Japan's shrinking population and the restart of nuclear plants.

Japanese LNG importer JERA, a joint venture between utilities Tokyo Electric Power Co. Holdings and Chubu Electric Power, decided at the end of 2021 not to renew a 25-year contract with Qatar to buy 5 million tonnes of LNG annually. China's Sinopec was quick to step in and has emerged as Qatar's replacement buyer.

Before LNG developers start production at new projects, they sign long-term contracts with importers to secure income and take in financing from lenders. Japanese power and gas companies once took leading roles for projects in Southeast Asia and Australia, but now Chinese players are looking to fill that function.

Tyler Durden Tue, 01/24/2023 - 20:25

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Unhappy Halloween: Here Are A Few Scary Stories For You

Unhappy Halloween: Here Are A Few Scary Stories For You

By Michael Every of Rabobank

Here’s a scary Halloween story in just two sentences:…



Unhappy Halloween: Here Are A Few Scary Stories For You

By Michael Every of Rabobank

Here’s a scary Halloween story in just two sentences: The last man on Earth sat alone in a room. There was a knock at the door... And here is another that is a little longer.

In the US, the Treasury borrowing target for Q4 set at $776bn, slightly lower than expected due to higher than anticipated revenues.

Even so, huge fiscal deficits are here to stay.

Tomorrow we find out how this will be financed, with Treasury Secretary Yellen likely to opt for short-term bill issuance. Druckenmiller just lambasted her for not locking in cheap long-term debt like “Every Tom, Dick, Harry, and Mary” in the US; and, elsewhere X quips, “Yellen's husband explaining why economists like his wife are imbeciles w/o using her name”, quoting Akerlof’s 2020 article arguing observations that contradict the existing paradigm will be dismissed if they violate the prescribed methodology,” are why economists didn’t see the GFC, or the rise in inflation and rates, coming. Yes, more bill issuance might take upwards pressure off longer-dated bond yields. However, Yellen would be doing it to splurge on spending over the next 12 months to try to ensure she stays in the job for another 62. In which case, US GDP growth will keep looking like it did in Q3, as will inflation, and the Fed may have to act again, raising both T-bill rates and Treasury bond yields.

On a related front, the details of the UAW pay deal with major US automakers are, if you will excuse the pun, striking: a 25% pay rise over the next 4 years, 8 months; Restored cost-of-living allowance of $8,800 over the contract that lifts this to 30%; Immediate 11% pay-rise for top earners, while the lowest paid get an effective 88% hike; A $5,000 ratification bonus and a $1,500 voucher towards a new car; Profit sharing, which would have been equal to $1,200 in 2022; Current temporary workers become full-time, new temps after nine months; Ford to raise 401K contributions to 10% from 6.4%; Right to strike over plant closures; An extra day off and two weeks paid parental leave; and $8.1bn new CAPEX by the firms. I recall recent conversations where I was told *the* litmus tests of whether we would see higher yields for longer was if we saw real-terms pay rises in the West. It’s certainly now a happy Halloween for the UAW, and others will surely be looking to follow that lead. Moreover, if we keep seeing income gains like that, and a more ‘income rich, asset poor’ world, maybe the declines we are seeing in consumer borrowing aren’t the same signals they used to be(?)

In Japan, today sees the BOJ meeting, with risks we could see an end to yield curve control. JPY already jumped on a report 10-year yields may be allowed to trade higher than their 1% ceiling – they were at 0.93% at time of writing. Yes, this is vastly lower than US yields at close to 5%, but not when FX hedged. In short, more bad news for bonds ahead, perhaps. Yet worse, if US yields rise further, the Dollar may benefit, leaving Japan with lower FX, higher imported inflation, higher bond yields, and higher debt servicing costs. And no way out.

The IMF argues ‘The temptation to finance all spending through debt must be resisted, as Director Gopinath claims state spending above current levels could hit $6trn (7% of GDP) in DM and $5.3trn (8% of GDP) in EM by 2030 as sustainability, defence, and industrial policies require vast budgets. In other words, a global fiscal crisis may loom, albeit with the US better placed than most. She argues for global cooperation on a minimum corporate tax rate (going nowhere), a carbon tax (rejected at the ballot box in some places, as carbon tariffs are rolled out in others), and strengthened fiscal frameworks (i.e., austerity). In short, a world arming itself to the teeth and trying to seize control of supply chains is supposed to cut spending and cooperate on taxes.   

We have a horror-story geopolitical backdrop. So much so that, “We must get used to the idea that there may be a threat of war in Europe – the German Minister of Defence”, a headline no Western newspaper is prepared to run, it seems. (What did Akerlof say? “Observations that contradict the existing paradigm will be dismissed if they violate the prescribed methodology.”) None of the EUR100bn Germany promised on defense has been usefully spent 18 months later.

The first of three Middle-East dominoes we’ve flagged as triggers for a regional escalation already toppled: an Israeli ground war in Gaza. However, this is so far still small scale. The second domino is the entry of Hezbollah once Israel commits its forces in full – on which front, social media clips of their hide-away leader Nasrallah making an appearance like a new end-credit scene Marvel villain may be worth noting. The third domino is Iran which, as the World Bank concludes three weeks after us, risks oil back at $150 a barrel and European gas at 2022 levels. While oil will remain on the back foot unless we see the next phase of escalation, there has already been an impact on European gas, with December TTF futures up 7.1% as LNG flows to Egypt from Israel dry up, meaning they cannot flow on to Europe.

Oil itself may also react to news from Iran- and Russia-ally Venezuela, where promises to allow free(er) elections in exchange for a sanctions roll-back have immediately been broken: President Maduro called opposition primary votes a “fraud”, and the electoral court suspends “all effects” of them. The issue is now whether the US will snap sanctions back, so oil prices rise, or blink to show geopolitical weakness, in which case risks are oil prices rise for other, worse reasons.

Relatedly, China has stated it will deepen military cooperation with Russia, and is sending larger naval forces to the waters around Taiwan, after reiterating: “Once the Chinese government is forced to use force to resolve the Taiwan question, it will be a war for reunification, a just and legitimate war supported, and participated in by the Chinese people… A war to crush foreign interference.” China is also again confronting Filipino ships in their own territorial waters (which it claims) despite US warnings it will defend the Philippines. Not too far away, South Korea is preparing for a possible Hamas-style provocation from North Korea. And Russia is escalating a push to take territory around Avdiivka, while Ukraine claims it hit Crimea again.

It should be clear to all except those who Akerlof critiques that the West is facing coordinated pushbacks against their hegemony: even in their own streets and from their fat, plush universities. As Hal Brands notes, ‘Biden’s Foreign Policy Vision Is Officially Dead’. He calls for the US (and, by extension, Europe!) to accept geopolitical reality and shift to a pre-war footing – which will be incredibly expensive, require guns vs. butter choices, and/or be very inflationary, as well as disruptive to the global trading architecture.

This Daily has long argued that in the face of these threats, and the inflation threat, we would see a fiscal and monetary policy, and trade and industrial policy, fusion: we have simplified this to “rate hikes and acronyms”, i.e., QE or MMT. However, it is crucial to understand that is not a true solution if you are thinking about asset prices going up or down.

As evidence, I share a discussion with Dominique De Villepin, former PM of France. He stresses:

“Hamas has set a trap for us, and this trap is one of maximum horror, of maximum cruelty. And so there's a risk of an escalation in militarism… There's also a second major trap, which is that of Occidentalism… which today is being challenged by most of the international community… the idea that the West, which for five centuries managed the world's affairs, will be able to quietly continue to do so. And we can clearly see,… there is the idea that, faced with what is currently happening in the Middle East, we must continue the fight even more, towards what might resemble a religious or a civilizational war. That is to say, to isolate ourselves even more on the international stage.”

To follow, here are excerpts from a translated tweet from the President of Colombia, which until recently was a key LatAm US ally:

“The barbarity of consumption based on the death of others leads to an unprecedented rise of fascism, and thus to the death of democracy and freedom. It's barbarism, or the global 1933, as I call it. 1933 was the year Hitler came to power. What we see in Palestine will also be the sufferings in the world of all the peoples of the South.

The West defends its overconsumption and its standard of living based on destroying the atmosphere and the climate, and to defend it, knowing that it will cause the exodus from the south to the north, and not only of the Palestinian people; He prepares to respond with death. It does not want to reform its economic system until the market goes to decarbonize it. And he knows that the effort will be minuscule to save life on the planet...

The right wing of the West sees the solution to the climate crisis as a "final solution", the right wing dreams of Hitler again and conquers most of the rich and Aryan peoples of the West and our Latin American oligarchies, who see no other world in which to live than that of the "malls" of Florida or Madrid… We are going to barbarism if we don't change power. The life of humanity, and especially of the peoples of the South, depends on the way in which humanity chooses the path to overcome the climate crisis produced by the wealth of the North. Gaza is just the first experiment in considering us all disposable.”

In short, the ‘Global South’, with a few key exceptions, is seething with anger at what it sees as Western attempts to retain economic hegemony and living standards through a ‘painless’ climate transition that they cannot afford. From the Southern side, this is a zero-sum game. Indeed, in a world where we admit there are finite resources, it literally *is* zero-sum – with all the negative impacts that has on a diverse society and its social psychology.

As I have argued before, this doesn’t mean the South can create a new economic and financial system; they can’t. But they can destabilise the current one. Yes, de-dollarisation is not viable in terms of any replacement, some EM are now happy not to recycle their dollars back to the US, and to barter and clear bilaterally while pricing in dollars (for now). The more heated geopolitics gets, the more these choices will be made.

Against that backdrop, if the West cut rates and/or does MMT dressed up as QE, do you think EM will accept that fiat currency for their commodities and products at an exchange rate that will maintain Western standards of living? Only if forced to. And force is very much where we are at right now. And it is where the MMT will have to be channelled.

This Middle East war, on top of the Ukraine War, will partly determine which financial system holds ahead, and where: US dollars, or EM commodities, as the base of the Eurodollar-accounting collateral pyramid.

For now, the US dollar is winning thanks to higher rates. But realpolitik logic says the West needs to win in the field of arms too, tragic as that is for so many individuals. Economic and financial power flow from military power, and vice versa, even if most don’t choose to see it until the barrel of a gun is pointed at them.

Indeed, the outcome of this cluster of wars will arguably speak to the long-run status of liberal democracy, or what’s left of it, and Occidentalism. See this cluster of interviews for some extra public intellectual firepower behind that view, and the belief that the West will have to do much, much more as a result – even if markets don’t like it.

In short, those enjoying a comfortable, middle-class Western lifestyle and hoping for a quick end to this new war, and an easy energy transition at low cost, and a Happy Halloween, are likely to be disappointed on all fronts.

How was that for a scary story?

Tyler Durden Tue, 10/31/2023 - 11:00

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Drone From Yemen Intercepted Over Southern Israel As UN Warns War Spilling Outside Gaza

Drone From Yemen Intercepted Over Southern Israel As UN Warns War Spilling Outside Gaza

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) has said Tuesday its…



Drone From Yemen Intercepted Over Southern Israel As UN Warns War Spilling Outside Gaza

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) has said Tuesday its troops are busy engaged in "fierce battles against Hamas terrorists deep in the Gaza Strip" and that multiple Hamas positions and anti-tank guided missile units have been destroyed. 

A military statement also said troops had killed dozens of terrorists as tanks push deeper into northern and central Gaza, after yesterday tank units cut off a key north-south highway which links both halves of the Strip. 

Northern Gaza, Planet Labs PBC/Handout via Reuters

A statement from Hamas was cited in regional media as saying, "Israeli military vehicles are being seen on the Salahuddin Highway trying to move west," and affirmed that "Israeli forces also entered the strip from northwestern Gaza. Armored vehicles can now be seen in the al-Karam district north of Gaza City."

Amid ongoing airstrikes accompanying the ground invasion, the Palestinian death toll has surpassed 8,500 as of Tuesday. For the first time this has pushed the total number of people killed in the conflict from both sides near 10,000 - as more than 1,400 Israelis have been confirmed dead. 

A fresh New York Times report has examined satellite imagery taken Monday morning which "shows the substantial scale of one of Israel’s main advances into northern Gaza, where hundreds of armored vehicles have pushed miles past the border into urban areas on the outskirts of Gaza City." According to more from the detailed report:

Israel has so far stopped short of the rapid and overwhelming ground assault that many analysts expected. But the imagery, taken on Monday morning by Planet Labs, a commercial satellite company, shows a significant invading force: many groups of dozens of armored vehicles cutting through open fields and amassing in urban spaces.

The image provides the clearest picture yet of how far one the main lines of Israel’s invasion has moved into Gaza and the destruction it has caused. Israeli vehicles are seen as far south as the neighborhood of Al Karama, north of Gaza City. Videos released by the Israeli military had previously shown lines of tanks operating near the border area.

Many nearby buildings appear to have been heavily damaged or completely destroyed by airstrikes. Hundreds of craters from airstrikes and shelling are visible, including in homes and on roads, and apartment blocks have been flattened.

Israel has also said it has begun to attack Hamas militants inside the sprawling network of tunnels which forms the base of the group's operations in the Gaza Strip.

Regional tensions and the potential for the war to spread have grown after PM Netanyahu said in a Monday night address amid international calls for a ceasefire or at least humanitarian pause that, "Calls for a ceasefire or calls for Israel to surrender to Hamas, to surrender to terrorists, to surrender to barbarism, that will not happen."

He was also pressed by reporters over whether he would resign amid the growing scandal over Oct.7 intelligence and military preparedness failures. Netanyahu merely said he plans to "resign" Hamas: "We’re going to resign them to the dustbin of history. That’s my goal. That’s my responsibility."

The UN is now warning that the war is spilling over into Syria, after Israel struck more targets in Syria and Lebanon overnight, and after Hezbollah fired more projectiles. Israel in the last two weeks has already struck Damascus and Aleppo international airports several times.

And related to regional tensions with Iran, Shia Houthi rebels in Yemen appear to have stepped up their threats and attacks aimed at Israel. The group's military spokesman on Tuesday announced a "third operation targeting Israel with more to come." According to Al Jazeera, a drone sent from Yemen made it to southern Israeli skies

Yemen’s Houthi rebels claim to have launched a drone attack towards Israel’s southern city of Eilat in “retaliation” for the war in Gaza.

Israel reported having destroyed an unidentified “aerial target” over the Red Sea on Tuesday morning.

It was successfully intercepted, Israeli officials have said. "The incident triggered air raid sirens in the popular Red Sea tourist resort of Eilat and sent residents running for shelter," the Al Jazeera report continues, indicating further: 

After an initial warning of a possible "hostile aircraft intrusion", the military said in a statement, its "systems identified an aerial target approaching Israeli territory".

Yesterday at the UN, Israel's ambassador Gilad Erdan in a dramatic speech, which also saw his delegation wearing yellow star of David emblems and vowing "never again", ripped the "Nazi regime" of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

"Just like the Nazi regime, the Ayatollah's regime (in Iran) sows death and destruction everywhere it touches," the Israeli ambassador to the UN said. "The Islamic Nazi regime of Iran is responsible for aiding terrorists around the globe, and working toward destroying every value the civilized world holds dear. Today the world is watching the rise of a Shiite Islamic Reich. Yet just like the rise of Nazism, the world is deafeningly silent."

Israeli Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan wears a yellow Star of David at the UN Security Council on October 30, 2023, screenshot via Maariv.

The stunt was met with criticism and pushback internationally, and especially from Yad Vashem (The World Holocaust Remembrance Center), whose chairman Dani Dayan had this to say... 

"We were deeply saddened to witness members of the Israeli delegation to the UN donning yellow badges." He emphasized that such a move trivializes and dishonors the Holocaust and its victims, and harms the reputation of Israel itself. 

Israel and the US have continued to ultimately blame Tehran for what its proxies are doing, particularly related to Hezbollah, paramilitaries in Syria, and now Houthis after it has sent a few rockets toward Israel in the last couple weeks (the first which was intercepted by a US warship off Yemen's coast). 

Tyler Durden Tue, 10/31/2023 - 09:55

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Aragen to build $30M biologics facility in India

Aragen Life Sciences is launching a new $30 million biologics manufacturing site in Bangalore due to growing demand, the India-based drug manufacturer…



Aragen Life Sciences is launching a new $30 million biologics manufacturing site in Bangalore due to growing demand, the India-based drug manufacturer said Monday.

The company’s new 160,000-square-meter site will house process development labs and GMP manufacturing suites for the production of monoclonal antibodies, therapeutic proteins and fusion proteins. The process development lab will go online sometime between July and September next year, and the first manufacturing suite will open in the third quarter of 2025.

The new facility increases Aragen’s biologics manufacturing efforts, which are currently housed at a site in Morgan Hill, CA.

India attracts biologics manufacturing

Aragen’s new build reflects an ongoing trend of manufacturers expanding their biologics footprint in India. In fact, according to a report by the CPHI, India is growing as the outsourcing hub for biologics and is “on the cusp of turning this biologics engine toward developing the next generation of innovative medicines.”

Companies could be turning to India as they look to sidestep inflation in Western countries, according to the report. Also, the cost of biologics production is also increasing in China. For example, the average cost of a recombinant protein by the gram in China ($294) is more expensive than the US ($255.29) in 2023, which is a 42% increase from China’s 2022 price of $207.

“This change represents a significant shift for China — which may now have difficulties in promoting itself as a low-cost manufacturer of biologics,” the report shows.

Mahesh Bhalgat

Syngene, another India-based CDMO, added more clients are turning away from China and into India. “There’s been a movement away from China. When we ask our clients, ‘what is in your interest?’ They say, ‘we’re looking for an alternative to China’,” said Mahesh Bhalgat, Syngene’s chief operating officer, told Endpoints News on the sidelines of last week’s CPHI in Barcelona.

Aragen chief commercial officer Ramesh Subramanian said that the choice for “China plus one is India and India alone.” Companies with relationships with China-based CDMOs look to India to “diversify” their supply chain, he added on the sidelines of the confab.

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