UK energy policy for the past

The UK’s two largest political parties have proposed taking back control of energy prices at a time when they have the least power over them.

The opposition Labour party plans to create publicly-owned energy companies and an “emergency price cap” on household energy bills, according to a leaked draft version of its manifesto.

Labour declined to comment on the leaked document with a “clause 5” meeting to scrutinise the draft manifesto today.

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UK energy price cap vulnerable to spikes

A UK energy price cap based on wholesale markets could still result in substantial changes to tariffs, especially if the 2016-17 winter’s price spike is repeated.

The UK’s Conservative Party, which polls put on course to win the upcoming general election, has proposed an energy price cap to be set by the regulator. The cap is likely to be based on prices at the UK’s NBP gas hub, a trading point for wholesale gas.

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Searching for the bottom line

The European oil majors’ first-quarter results are in, and the headlines are unanimous: the sector is roaring as profits are soaring.

The latter cannot be denied. Statoil’s profit was up by 74pc, Total’s by 56pc. Shell turned a four-fold increase in profit. Even BP was in the black. Compare with last year – as we must – and the bottom line is looking fine.

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One swallow doesn’t make a summer

As the first quarter’s results begin to roll in, it is already clear that Europe’s refiners have enjoyed a strong start to this year. But how long will the good times last?

In northwest Europe, reference margins for Hungary’s Mol, Poland’s Lotos and the Czech Republic’s Unipetrol are all up on the year. The story is the same in the Mediterranean region for Spain’s Repsol, while Portugal’s Galp yesterday upped its benchmark margin forecast for 2017 by 50¢/bl to $3/bl, following a strong first quarter.  Total has also reported stronger first-quarter margins, as have BP and Finland’s Neste.

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