Mexico welcomes new president
December 1 marked the inauguration of Mexican president Andrés Manuel López Obrador. Of the many projects that he has promised, a refinery in his home state of Tabasco has already been approved along with a pledged to rehabilitate Mexico’s six refineries within three years. His aim is to end Mexico’s dependence on crude imports and in order to decrease costs.
Lopez Obrador noted that Mexico used to be self-sufficient in refined products but hasn’t built a new refinery in 40 years, depending on imports to meet over half of its domestic demand.
OPEC meeting in Vienna
Ahead of the OPEC meeting this Thursday in Vienna, Qatar has announced that it will be leaving the organisation to focus on gas. There is speculation that OPEC and Russia will agree some form of crude production cuts in order to boost prices at the Vienna meeting.
US China trade-war truce
Following the recent G20 summit in Buenos Aires, US president Trump and China’s president Xi Jinping have agreed to a truce in the ongoing trade dispute between their two countries. This news has boosted sentiment of a recovery in US soybean exports to China that should improve demand for the panamax and handymax sectors.
News that China, in a bid to reduce costs, is seeking to import more iron ore from Australia, at the expense of Brazil and South Africa has put a damper on the sentiment for capes.
Singapore bans open loop scrubbers
The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore has announced that they will ban the discharge of scrubber wash water from open loop scrubbers in port waters from 1 Jan 2020, as the IMO 0.5% sulphur cap regulation comes in to force, in order to protect the marine environment and ensure that port waters are clean. Ships fitted with open-loop scrubbers calling at Singapore will be required to use compliant fuel and those fitted with hybrid scrubbers will be required to switch to the closed-loop system, the port of Singapore will be providing reception facilities for the collection of residues generated from the operation of scrubbers.
Iron Ore exports from Saldanha Bay halted
Transnet has declared force majeure on its railway operations following a truck collision with a railway bridge that had caused structural damage to the bridge and the railway line. The state-owned company has announced that repairs are already underway and they and hope to resume rail transportation from December 9 but in the meantime, iron ore exports from some south African mines to Saldanha bay have come to a halt, putting pressure on capesize earnings.