What to Watch

U.S. Accuses Russia of Attacking American Energy Grid

The Trump administration on Thursday issued its first sanctions on Russia for its interference in the 2016 presidential election and for wagingcyberattacks on U.S. energy infrastructure, reports The Wall Street Journal’s Ian Talley.

In connection with the sanctions, the U.S. Treasury Department and senior national security officials accused the Russian government of ongoing attacks on the U.S. energy grid, as well as water, aviation and manufacturing facilities. The U.S. said Russia also targeted American nuclear facilities with cyber attacks.

“The administration is confronting and countering malign Russian cyber activity, including their attempted interference in U.S. elections, destructive cyberattacks, and intrusions targeting critical infrastructure,” said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in a statement. “These targeted sanctions are a part of a broader effort to address the ongoing nefarious attacks emanating from Russia.”

Energy News

Oil Futures Rise

Oil prices edged up Friday, buoyed by a fall in OPEC production and an anticipated jump in demand for crude, even as some investors braced for ongoing U.S. shale output.

Brent crude, the global oil benchmark, rose 0.26% to $65.29 a barrel on London’s ICE Futures exchange. On the New York Mercantile Exchange, West Texas Intermediate futures were trading up 0.28% at $61.35 a barrel.

U.S. Government to End Tax Benefits for Pipeline Operators

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission ruled Thursday to disallow certain income-tax allowances that could spell the dissolution of many pipeline-partnership companies, report The Wall Street Journal’s Alison Sider and Christopher M. Matthews.

Shares in several pipeline firms, including Enbridge Energy Partners LP and Spectra Energy Partners LP, fell after the announcement.

“The Americans have no grounds for introducing new sanctions. We have moved to prepare our own measures in response.”

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov

Statoil Rebrands to Go Green

Norwegian oil-and-gas giant Statoil said it is taking “oil” out of its name by changing its moniker to Equinor, reports The Wall Street Journal’s Sarah Kent.

The state-backed firm has vowed to increase investment in renewable energy to between 15% and 20% by 2030, compared with 5% in 2017.

Big Number

10.6

GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association said in a new report that an additional 10.6 gigawatts of new solar capacity was brought online in 2017, down 30% from the year prior.

FutureCurve

Today: Baker Hughes releases weekly data on the number of rigs drilling for oil in the U.S.

Tuesday: The American Petroleum Institute releases its weekly forecast on U.S. petroleum inventories for the week prior.

April 18–19: IQPC hosts the Oil & Fuel Theft Summit in Geneva. Speakers include Mahmoud Al-Bayati, the director general for counter-terrorism for Iraq, William J. Waggoner, the Chief Executive Officer for the Mexico Petroleum Company and Daniel Gianfalla, a member of the national maritime security advisory committee at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Reporter’s Notebook

Wall Street Journal reporter Dan Molinski on the oil futures market. Just mentioning contango can strike fear into the hearts of some bullish oil investors, but analysts at BMI Research say the “mild contango” currently seen isn’t much to worry about. Contango is when the spot price for oil is cheaper than the anticipated price in the future. And while severe contango–a huge difference between spot and future–can be bearish, a reasonable contango can actually be normal. “We do not see the contango forming between the generic first and second month WTI contracts triggering a substantial unwinding of long positions,” says BMI. “While the long-to-short ratio remains historically elevated, backwardation along the futures curve will keep bulls in play.”

Wall Street Journal reporter Christopher Alessi on the IEA’s latest monthly oil-market report. The International Energy Agency on Thursday raised its global oil demand estimate for 2018, but warned that “signs of protectionism from the U.S.” threaten that forecast. The agency said steel and aluminum tariffs recently imposed by Washington “raise the possibility” of a global trade war, noting that a slowdown in global trade would have “strong consequences” for oil demand. However, the IEA also cited the International Monetary Fund’s recent prediction that world trade should grow by 4.6% this year, “suggesting continued support.”