Last week, three ships carrying ethanol from the U.S. Gulf Coast were headed to China. Reuters confirmed, from multiple sources, that this is a sign that fuel exports were increasing from the U.S. to China. These ethanol shipments may be enough to surpass the total amount of ethanol exported from the U.S. to China in 2020.
With COVID-19 still dominating the headlines, this time with vaccination news, it is easy to lose sight of other note worthy incidents that would typically make headlines surrounding the crude industry. According to the Wall Street Journal, Iranian oil tankers have been struck by the Israeli Army, which were headed towards Syria over the last few months. The motivation for such an attack is due to the oil profits are considered to support extremist actions in the middle east. Iran and Syria remain under sanction with U.S. and Europe.
As new variants of COVID-19 emerge, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine has been given the green light by the U.S. FDA for emergency use. This will be the first single shot vaccine released to fight COVID-19. As early as Tuesday morning, 3.9 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will be distributed to states, tribes, territories, pharmacies, and community health centers. While the vaccine will be limited at first, Johnson & Johnson expects to increase production within the coming months. By the end of March, we should see an additional 16 million doses distributed. The company is committed to delivering 100 million doses by June and “up to a billion” by the end of 2021. Since their vaccine is one dose that will equate to as many people being treated as vaccinations.
Following a brutal year for their balance sheets, the world’s biggest oil companies are anticipating a windfall of cash flow this year. Prices have rallied significantly over the past month or so, and the massive cost-cutting from last year positions some of the biggest International Oil Companies (IOCs) to reap the benefits of high crude prices.
After 2020’s unpredicted decline in oil prices and subsequent response by OPEC+ to cut oil production as means to buoy oil prices, the world’s largest exporter Saudi Arabia, plans to reverse its position and increase its production in the coming months. This comes as WTI oil prices have traded to as low as negative $40/barrel back in April 2020, to currently trading at $60.42/barrel. Earlier this month OPEC+ leaders said they would cut production by one million barrels per day, with efforts to raise prices during the months of February and March.
The International Maritime Organization rule, IMO 2020 established strict regulations on marine vessel sulfur emissions, there are really two common ways to comply with regulation. Either limit the sulfur content in the fuel being used or add scrubbing units to the exhaust system to capture the excess sulfur oxide being expelled from the vessel’s exhaust.
For vessels not using scrubbing units on the exhaust systems, they must utilize a fuel 500ppm (parts per million) sulfur content or less, which is a considerable jump from the old “bunker fuel” previously used, which could contain up to 2000ppm sulfur.
The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CCSA) has set the date for the 2021 International Roadcheck. Plans for roadchecks this year will be May 4th through the 6th. This 72-hour road check will have enforcement officers primarily focusing on lighting and hours of service (HOS).
A third round of stimulus checks could be just weeks away from approval. The original forecasted date is March 14th, however on Friday House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi said she aims to pass President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus package in two weeks. While there are still delays that may arise, if a bill were to pass before the end of February, payments could start to arrive as early as March 8th for direct deposit checks. Biden said Friday, “I’m going to act, and I’m going to act fast.”