Commodity trading in the festive week between Christmas and New Year has always been very light, however be it for oil markets or for metals at large, China continues to set the tone for overall sentiment. Soaring coronavirus cases (assumed but unreported) as well as the U.S.’ gradual recovery from the past week’s polar freeze have been marginally weighing on prices, bringing WTI below $80 per barrel again, OilPrice said. 

U.S. refining eyes swift restart. Refiners in the U.S. Gulf Coast are seeking to resume operation at a dozen facilities that halted operations due to the recent freeze, a total of 3.6 million b/d in operable capacity, with Port Arthur and Deer Park taking at least one-two weeks before a full return. The first Venezuela-US cargo loads now.According to media rumours, this weekend will witness the first delivery of Chevron-upgraded Venezuelan crude towards a US refinery after the recent White House waiver, a tanker loaded with asphalt-like Boscan crude.

U.S. gas output takes time to recover. As swathes of gas-producing basins have cut production by as much as 30% during the severe cold, prime amongst them the Appalachian Basin, it seems the rebound to pre-freeze levels will take several weeks if not months as U.S. production seasonally dips in the new year. 

Finland gets Its first-ever FLNG terminal.U.S. LNG firm Excelerate Energy has delivered Finland’s first-ever floating storage and regasification unit, the 5 bcm per year capacity Exemplar, to the port of Inkoo, one of the 19 new FSRU projects that will be commissioned in Europe over the next years. Argentina needs pipelines for shale growth.Despite building a new gas pipeline that is set to be commissioned mid-2023, the rapid production growth seen in Argentina’s Vaca Muerta shale play has seen offtake of gas output hit its limit of 2 Bcf per day, highlighting the need for new pipeline capacity. Chile avoids lithium workers strike.Chile’s SQM, the second-largest lithium producer globally, averted a strike at various producing units across the country after two months of arduous negotiations, however its stock continues to decline after a 11% slide over the past 5 trading sessions.

ExxonMobil sues the EU. U.S. oil major ExxonMobilis suing the European Union as it contests the bloc’s windfall tax on oil companies, arguing that Brussels is exceeding its legal authority in doing so and claiming that the levy will be discouraging further investments. Quantitative tightening delays wind projects. The consortium of Shell, EDP Renewables and Engie have asked U.S. regulators for a delay in planning the 804 MW Mayflower Wind farm south of Martha’s Vineyard, saying spiking interest rates present significant challenges to power purchase agreements.